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7 Coming of Age Books That Should Be on Your Reading List

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.

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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.

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    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.

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      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.

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        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.

        Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/THC13xRi_q0 via pexels.com

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        Vladimir Zivanovic

        CMO at MyCity-Web

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        Last Updated on July 10, 2020

        How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

        How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

        We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

        We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

        So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

        Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

        What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

        Boundaries are limits

        —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

        Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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        Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

        Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

        Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

        How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

        Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

        1. Self-Awareness Comes First

        Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

        You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

        To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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        You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

        • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
        • When do you feel disrespected?
        • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
        • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
        • When do you want to be alone?
        • How much space do you need?

        You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

        2. Clear Communication Is Essential

        Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

        Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

        3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

        Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

        That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

        Sample language:

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        • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
        • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
        • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
        • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
        • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
        • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
        • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

        Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

        4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

        Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

        Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

        Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

        We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

        It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

        It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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        Final Thoughts

        Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

        Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

        Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

        The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

        Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

        Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

        They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

        Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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