Coming-of-age books can influence and prepare us for our adult life. But what is “Coming of Age”? It refers to the stage in a person’s life when they leave their childhood and enter into adulthood. It is a shift from innocence to maturity. This is a universal human experience that many films, songs, and novels have depicted. These are also formidable years. Our experiences during this phase define our character for the rest of our lives. We face life’s harsh realities like heartbreaks, competition, and loss in this phase. Due to which our character in life is formed.
All the lessons we learn, the moments we share, the losses we deal with; stays with us forever.
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In this blog post, I will let you know my 7 recommended coming-of-age books.
These are a great read and you will enjoy these. Some books might be a little bit on the traumatic side of life. But they all define the reality of life. Yes! Harry Potter also teaches you about life. Thus helping you understand the reality of life. If you have not read them then you have to read them.
Finally, I hope you enjoy these. If you have not heard them then definitely give it a try. Following are the seven heart-touching coming-of-age books worth binge-reading (or re-reading).
These amazing coming-of-age books can be great gifting for 2020 holiday season.
Table of contents:
- 1.The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- 2.Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- 3.The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- 4.Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
- 5.The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- 6.The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- 7.The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
1.The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The first book of the 7 amazing coming-of-age books that you have to read is “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. It begins with “First the colours. Then the humans. That’s exactly how I see things. Or at least, how I try.”
The Book Thief is a story told by Death itself. He begins the story of Liesel Meminger set in a period of World War II. She is a nine-year-old girl. She is travelling with her mother and brother when he suddenly dies. While burying him, Liesel steals a book from a gravedigger. Her mother gives her over to foster care. Hans and Rosa Hubermann are her foster parents now. Slowly she starts to adjust to the new life. She befriends a neighbourhood boy named Rudy. Max teaches her to read. Together they complete the book that she has stolen from the gravedigger.
Liesel starts to deliver laundry to the mayor’s wife. She discovers a library of books in mayor’s house and is astonished. Mayor’s wife allows her to read in the study. Liesel is becoming fond of reading. Once she steals a book from burning fire.
Hans shelters Max a young Jewish boy. He is keeping a promise that he had made to Max’s father. Max and Liesel become close friends. As the war intensifies and atrocity of Nazis increase on Jew people. It is becoming dangerous to shelter Max. Eventually, Max has to leave their shelter.
Leisel has to stop working for the mayor’s wife. She is in disdain and later starts stealing books from the mayor’s library to keep up her reading. The mayor’s wife finds out and she gives Liesel a notebook so that she can write her own story.
Disaster hits her town which gets bombed. Thereby killing Hans, Rosa, Rudy, and the rest of the neighbours. Rescue workers come and rescue Leisel. She leaves behind her finished notebook “The Book Thief”. Death who is watching picks up her book.
What happens next? Does she survive? Does she meet Max again? Read the book to know more.
1.2.My review of the book
The Book Thief begins with a lot of dry humour and poetic sentences that fascinates the reader. There is a mysterious aura that draws the reader right in. The imagery with the colours, the sentence sequence, and the distinct voice is a cherry on the top.
The tinge of loneliness in the tone keeps the reader hooked to every single word. The lyrical tone enhances the flow of the story. The characters, so well-constructed, haunt you long after you finish reading.
The book takes the readers on an emotional rollercoaster of a journey narrated by Death. Everything about this book makes it, unlike anything you’ll ever read. It’s amazing!
1.3.Favorite lines from the book
“The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. (Death)”
1.4.Reading formats available on Amazon
2.Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The second book in the 7 amazing coming-of-age books is the brilliant “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel. It begins with “My suffering left me sad and gloomy. Academic study and the steady, mindful practise of religion slowly brought me back to life.”
The Life of Pi begins with a stressed anonymous author travelling to India. There he meets Francis Adirubasamy. Francis offers to tell him a story that will give him faith in God. He starts to tell his story Pi a young boy and Richard Parker a Bengal tiger. He reveals that Pi got his name from Piscine Molitor, a Parisian swimming club.
Pi’s family owns a zoo in Pondicherry, a city in India. Due to the political strife in India, they plan to move to Canada. While travelling with all the animals, their boat is met with a storm. Their boat sinks.
Pi survives on a rescue boat. Also on boat is a zebra, an orangutan, and a hyena. There is also a tiger hiding in the boat.
This book is the story of Pi and his life experiences in Pondicherry. Then his survival journey on the boat with the animals. They don’t have any food or water. They all are alone in a boat in the middle of the ocean. There is also a strange island filled with meerkats.
What happens to Pi? Does he survive with the animals on the boat? How does Richard Parker the tiger and Pi survive with each other? No food and water, with a predator on board, what do you think happens next? Read the book to know more.
2.2.My review of the book
Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is an exhilarating fiction that explores the meaning of humanity. The novel vividly captures the idea of fear and monotony. The book depicts how an innocent child, amidst the endless ocean, learns to fend for himself on his own. Moreover, how he survived it all with an apex predator on the same boat.
As we go through Pi’s journey, we relive his suffering, his caring for the tiger, his acceptance of his deeds. And finally, his admiration for the miracles of this world.
It is plain but wise, short but profound. The Life of Pi is thought-provoking, moving, and truly worthy of reading and re-reading. You have to read this one.
2.3.Favorite lines from the book
“If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
2.4.Reading formats available on Amazon
This is available on Amazon’s Audible. Haven’t tried Audible or don’t know what it is? Read our blog on Audible.
3.The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The third book in the 7 amazing coming-of-age books is “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. It begins with “I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek.”
The Kite Runner is a story of Amir and the events that took place in his childhood. Those traumatic events have shaped his adult life. Amir starts the story of his childhood days in Afghanistan. Where he lived with his father Baba, a servant Ali and Ali’s son Hassan. Ali and Hassan belong to ethnic minority tribe Hazaras. There is also Rahim Khan, who is Baba’s close friend.
Amir and Hasan play together. One day they get into a fight with another boy named Assef and his friends. They meet up again in a kite-fighting tournament. When the kite losses the boys run to retrieve the kite, its called kite running. Amir wins the tournament, Hasan runs to retrieve the kite. When he does not return, Amir goes to look for him. He sees Assef and his friends assaulting Hasan. But he does not do anything and runs away. Later he feels guilty and gets rid of Hasan by blaming him of robbery.
The story jumps forward, Amir is now in America. His father has passed away and he is married to Soraya. They are trying to have a child. Rahim Khan who is in Pakistan asks Amir to meet him. He tells him that Hasan and his wife are dead and their son Sohrab is in the orphanage. Amir agrees to go and find Sohrab. But when he reaches the orphanage Sohrab is no longer there. He is taken by the Taliban. Amir later finds out that Assef is the Taliban leader who has taken Sohrab.
What happens next? Will Amir be able to rescue Sohrab? Will he get over his guilt? Read the book to know more.
3.2.My review of the book
It is an epic tale of family, friendship, guilt, and secrets. Thus making it unforgettable, stirring, and heartbreaking. The Kite Runner is a beautifully written novel set in a country which is a victim of destruction. It is about the influence of guilt, the cost of betrayal, and an attempt at redemption.
The book is a tale of relationships between fathers and sons. A story of their love, their sacrifices, and their lies. It is as old-fashioned in narration as it’s contemporary in its subject. It is captivating and tender at the same time.
The Kite Runner is a powerful narrative. It will leave you with a different outlook on life and love.
3.3.Favorite lines from the book
“And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.”
3.4.Reading formats available on Amazon
4.Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
The fourth book in the 7 amazing coming-of-age books that you must read is “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green. It begins with “At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the northside of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time — between 12:37 P.M. and 1:14 P.M. — by forces so much larger than myself that I couldn’t even begin to identify them.”
Aza Holmes is a 16-year-old high school student. She suffers from OCD which often manifests as a fear of the human microbiome. She also keeps on thinking about bacterias and how they affect the human body. To the extent that she even cuts her fingers to prove to herself that she is real.
Aza’s best friend Daisy discovers that a billionaire has gone missing. That too while under investigation for fraud. The billionaire, Russel Pickett happens to be the father of one of Aza’s old friends, Davis Pickett. Thus tempted by the reward for information about Russell, Daisy takes Aza on a search for him. Here she meets Davis, who is Mr Pickett’s son.
As time passes, Aza grows closer to Davis. But she is constantly fighting with her fears and anxiety. One day Daisy tells Aza a story about a woman who insisted that the world rests on the back of a turtle. Which rests on the back of another turtle: turtles all-the-way down. Aza thinks it perfectly describes her mental state.
Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship and intimacy. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence. And that too within the ever-tightening spiral of her thoughts and fears.
What happens to Aza? Do they find out about Mr Pickett? What happens to her relationship with Davis? and Daisy? Read the book to know more.
4.2.My review of the book
This novel is a testament to the fact that John Green is a great chronicler of teenage life. So he captures even the smallest insecurities of youth. His characters, troubled and insecure, articulate themselves with confidence, wit, and geeky self-awareness.
Every conversation, throughout, zips back and forth like a game of verbal air hockey. Even Aza’s confessed lack of articulation is ironically, well articulated by her. The thought-whirlpools of Aza’s mental illness is well handled. It feels raw and convincing. They are ever-strengthening.
This novel, in the gentlest way possible, plucks the strings of those in tune with it. So the vibrations from it leave the reader in a major post-book-hangover.
4.3.Favorite lines from the book
“I thought about how we all believed ourselves to be the hero of some personal epic, when in fact we were basically identical organisms colonizing a vast and windowless room that smells of Lysol and lard.”
4.4.Reading formats available on Amazon
Check out our other recommendation on Audible by clicking here.
5.The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The fifth book in the 7 amazing coming-of-age books that you should not miss is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky. It begins with “August 25, 1991. Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you would listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.”
The fifteen-year-old, Charlie, writes the book. He writes it as a bunch of letters to an anonymous friend. Since this friend never writes back so the novel reads more like diary entries.
Charlie is in his freshman year of high school when the book begins. Charlie is the eponymous “wallflower”. He is shy, quiet, and withdrawn, but he is also observant and thoughtful. Always paying close attention to everything going on around him, even if he is only a silent witness.
Charlie grapples with the pain of the two traumatic deaths of people very close to him. One was his high school friend who committed suicide and another was his aunt Helen. He often feels like a misfit throughout high-school. His life changes when he becomes friends with Patrick and his step-sister Sam. They fold him into their group. He then starts to open up, learns to live, and makes lifelong memories with his friends.
Charlie starts to have an enormous crush on Sam. Patrick is a closeted gay who is in a secret relationship with Brad.
The book is about Charlie’s journey from “outcast” to “feeling infinite”. How this journey goes? What happens to his relationship with Patrick? How is his crush for Sam unfolds? Read the book to know more.
5.2.My review of the book
The beauty of this book lies in its sheer lucidity. What makes it special is how poignant this book is. So the emotions in this book feel real. This novel depicts the dilemma of passivity vs passion.
Far more personal than a diary, Charlie’s letters are unique. They are both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. He is, like most of us, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Through Charlie and his newfound life, Chbosky created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story. It is a stirring novel that spirits you back to the roller-coaster days known as growing up.
5.3.Favorite lines from the book
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
5.4.Reading formats available on Amazon
6.The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The sixth book in the 7 amazing coming-of-age books that you must read is “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. It begins with “Late in the winter of my 17th year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time thinking about death.”
Seventeen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster is a cancer patient. She has thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. She is always accompanied by her oxygen tank. In one of the cancer support group, she meets Augustus Waters. He had osteosarcoma, but he is now cancer-free after having his leg amputated.
They agree to read one another’s’ favourite novels. So Augustus gives Hazel The Price of Dawn. And Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction. She tells him that this is the best book that she has read of living with cancer that matches her experience. Also that she dreams of meeting the author, Peter Van Houten.
Augustus manages to contact Van Houten and gets invited to visit him in Amsterdam. They travel to Amsterdam to meet him where they learn that he is unlike anything they expected. He is a mean-spirited drunk. This disheartens them but then they decide to have a good time in Amsterdam. This is the best day of her life. Next day Augustus informs her that his cancer has returned and is spreading fast.
It is a tale of two teenagers who share a sharp wit and an aversion to the conventional. And a love that sweeps them on an unforgettable journey.
What happens next? Does Augustus survive? Does Hazel survive? What happens to their relationship? Read the book to know more.
6.2.My review of the book
Expect a constant battle with emotions throughout this masterpiece. John Green builds a story out of the gloom and tragedy of cancer. We are immersed in the traumatic lives of the characters. Yet there is beauty and humour throughout the story.
There is a “candle in the wind” for each of those whose lives this uncaring disease touches. The story has laughter and tears. The courage and wit, the energy and despair all keep you on an unpredictable ride of emotion.
John Green takes you on a journey both devastating and heartfelt. Every instance from the story makes us want to know Hazel and Augustus better. Every quote from this book indents itself on the reader’s heart. No wonder people call it a “modern classic”.
6.3.Favorite lines from the book
“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”
6.4.Reading formats available on Amazon
Did you know you can try Audible for 3 months free of cost? Read about Audible in our blog here.
7.The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The seventh book in the 7 amazing coming-of-age books that you have to read is the superb “The Harry Potter” Series written by J.K. Rowling. It begins with “Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
The Harry Potter series comprises seven spectacular books. They revolve around the life of a young, orphaned boy named Harry Potter who lives with his Aunt and Uncle. Harry’s parents were wizards i.e. someone with magical powers. So he is also suspected of having special skills. But he is not sure of it. He gets accepted into the wizarding school, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
In Hogwarts, he meets and befriends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The three find themselves in peculiar (often dangerous) situations. They always tackle these situations together. There are many humorous and thrilling experiences in the book.
As many characters come and go, we are introduced to Voldemort, the antagonist. He had killed Harry’s parents but could not kill Harry. Voldemort got destroyed in the incident. This incident left a mark on Harry’s forehead. This made Harry very famous in the wizarding world.
The series tells the story of the three friends’ life and experiences. Voldemort comes back to power and starts his take over of the wizarding world. Only Harry can stop him once again.
Is Harry able to stop Voldemort? What happens to the three friends? Does Voldemort take over the wizarding world? What is the connection between Harry and Voldemort? Read the series to know more.
7.2.My review of the book
The series is often regarded as the greatest of all time. While they are often regarded as Children’s books, the Harry Potter series is far more than that. The plot matures throughout. Once you start reading the first book, you enter a universe that you won’t want to leave anytime soon.
The journey is long and one that will stay with you for life. Every character, every subplot, every twist in the series will make you want more. The complexity of the characters will leave you hooked to them throughout. You smile, you shiver, you cry, you mourn and in the end, you know that this series is a home you never knew you had.
Harry Potter is an integral part of most people’s childhood. And those who fall into the category know that they wait for their Hogwarts letter every day. And above all, they pity the muggles around them.
If you want to pick the first one to read amongst the 7 amazing coming-of-age books to read then this is the one. You should not miss this one.
7.3.Favorite lines from the book
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”
7.4.Reading formats available on Amazon
These 7 amazing coming-of-age books that you have-to read showcase love, loss, heartbreak, friendship, and death. Therefore familiarising you with the many lessons that life has to offer. These books won’t fail to move you. Anyone who reads them once finds a special corner in their heart for cherishing them forever.
“So many books, so little time.” – Frank Zappa
All of these 7 brilliant coming-of-age books allow us to experience stories that we might never experience in our lifetime. 2020 has been a tough year for all because of the Covid-19 lockdown. So with winter coming, keep yourself warm with a nice book.
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Let us know your recommended coming-of-age books in the comments section below.