7 Coming of Age Books That Should Be on Your Reading List
The teen years are the most confusing time of one’s life and only the very lucky among us remember that time as a happy drama-free period when you were hanging out with the popular kids, being invited to all the parties and your crush becoming your girlfriend or boyfriend.
Well, the majority of people go through the exact opposite – they get bullied, start hating their reflection in the mirror because of acne and their crush probably doesn’t even know they’re alive. Kids like this need guidance and it’s really hard to realize you need help or just someone to talk to when you’re in your teen years and your hormones are raging and you’re not really sure what’s happening to your body.
If you’re anything like I was in those days, you had just a few friends and you did nothing particular to stand out during high school. I was very fortunate to find my getaway in books – they can open up your mind, do miracles for your imagination and you can be absolutely positive they won’t tell your secrets to anyone. Each of the next seven books is quite a ride and they will all help you understand the teen experience and make you more mature and confident, so my sincere suggestion is to start reading.
1. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Some teens go through hell while growing up, because they don’t have that luck of being surrounded by a loving family that’s supportive and kind. If this is the case with you, it can be a lot easier for you if you realize that you’re not the only one in the world going through a series of problems of this kind and that there are others who’ve had experiences similar to yours and, unfortunately, this course of events will continue to happen to generations to come.
This amazing book written by Charles Dickens is about an orphan named Pip who lives with his sister who’s abusive and her husband who happens to be the village blacksmith. The plot begins while Pip is wandering around the churchyard near where his parents are buried when he meets a convict who escaped from prison, setting in motion a chain of events that leads the reader through an emotional rollercoaster.
2. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
This is an amazing novel that speaks about a lonely and unfortunate nine-year-old girl, set in the period of the twentieth century that shortly precedes World War II, who finds refuge in books thanks to a gentle man called Hans who taught her to read.
As this book develops, you’ll be seduced by its pages, because it’s so masterly crafted that you won’t be able to leave it until you read the whole thing and I’m sure that it will enable you to get some perspective about your life – it explores the definition of what family is and what it means to people, which really makes you think about your own relationship with those close to you.
Inspiration and proper motivation is something teens often lack and reading great literature will solve this problem for you. The Book Thief will teach you about great values and how great people were lead by them, even in the worst times in history that are now long gone and forgotten, even when around you something is happening which is the last thing that humankind should do.
3. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
Love spats are a great part of being in your teen years and I’m sure you’re familiar with love triangles by now and how emotionally challenging they can be. Well, if you place an ordinary love triangle into an ordinary boarding school and have three ordinary teens involved in a storyline that’s anything but normal, because they find out they are being grown and nurtured so they can serve as organ donors, you get this dystopian novel which will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout.
4. The Rotter’s Club – Jonathan Coe
Being a teen often involves deciding on a lifestyle and being very extreme about it – it’s easier to find acceptance if you belong to a group, right? It’s quite exciting to know that you’re not the only one enjoying something and that you belong somewhere.
It often happens that this choice of a lifestyle is related to a music genre which dictates the way you talk, the way you dress and the way you cut your hair – practically everything about you that’s visible. This amazing book will introduce you to progressive rock and punk rock, and by reading it you’ll get to know three teenagers who are trying to find self-identification in this world.
5. Absolute Beginners – Colin MacInnes
If you’re not trying to belong to a group of people who think the same way as you do, as a teen you’re seeking refuge by being an outsider – and this is something a small percentage of kids are brave enough to go with. Strangely enough, Colin Maclnnes was forty-four when he published this book, but this didn’t at all stand in the way of him writing a masterpiece.
If you’d like to learn about the origin of hipsters and the coffee bars through the eyes of an eighteen-year-old who wants to be a photographer in the early sixties, this book may be just right for you – especially now, when the hipster subculture has become mainstream.
6. The Catcher in The Rye – JD Salinger
It’s not really news that teens think they are the smartest and that they know everything – I was like that when I was a kid and each upcoming generation of teens will be prone to being obnoxious and pretentious.
Having a huge ego, while questioning the point of everything is another part of the teen experience and if you decide to read The Catcher in The Rye you’ll get to know a protagonist who thinks exactly like this, while he finds everything around him boring. Sound familiar?
7. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
This transformation that comes with teen years, when you transfer from playing carelessly with your toys and friends to start experiencing a whole new set of emotions that you can’t really pin to something precisely or even identify, is more than overwhelming.
This jump into becoming an adult through a series of changes, both physical and internal, can be easier for you when you have an amazing book right by your side to guide you through it, and Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte will become your teen Bible if you give it a chance.
It’s not easy to find the purpose of your life, even when this confusing teen period ends for you and you finally become an adult – some people never truly grow up. However, the more you work on enriching your own experience, learning about yourself by trying to understand the stories of others and their troubles will enable you to grow as a person, become self-aware and help you figure out who you truly are.
I know it sounds magical and impossible, but books can do this for you and especially these listed above if you only give them a chance.
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