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My Favorite Books About Coming of Age

Updated on August 1, 2013

Why are Coming of Age Stories So Popular?

Coming of age is more than just becoming legally an adult. It's when you are on the brink of adulthood, and most likely full of inner turmoil and heightened emotion! You are trying to make sense of life, make sense of who you are and trying to forge a path for yourself in the world. You are officially a grown up but really don't feel like that at all sometimes.

The coming of age genre is a popular subject to write a book or create a film about, and one that appeals to all ages. If you are well past being a young adult, you probably have some pretty nostalgic memories about the "good old days", if you are still lucky enough to be a teenager - enjoy it, you are in your prime!

Image Courtesy of St. John Publishing at Wikimedia. Public Domain Usage

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

I have also written a full review of this book, you can read it by clicking here - Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse
Bonjour Tristesse

"Bonjour Tristesse" means "Hello Sadness" in English and tells the story of when a 17 year old girl's meddling with her father's love life goes too far. The book is set over the summer time on the French Riviera.

Francoise Sagan wrote this when she was just 18 in 1954. It is beautifully written with a tragic ending.


The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye

The ultimate coming of age book in my view! The book is about 48 hours in the life Holden Caulfield, a teenager who is expelled from school and runs away to New York. Published in 1951, it was a controversial book at the time and seen as vulgar and obscene. Reading it now in 2012, you may wonder why! Catcher in the Rye is now regarded as one of the great American Novels.

There is something for everyone is this book, I loved reading it at 16 because not only did it make me laugh with it's dry humour but I could relate to what Holden was thinking. Yes, I was a pretty angst teenager!


Anne Frank's Diary

The Diary of a Young Girl
The Diary of a Young Girl

This is the diary of Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who wrote a diary whilst in hiding in Amsterdam from the Nazis in World War Two. She died with her mother and sisters in a concentration camp, and her diary was found by one of their helpers Miep after the family had been taken away.

I think everyone should read this book, if future generations can read this book and understand the history behind it the atrocities of what the Jewish people went through will not be forgotten. Apart from this, the diary is a good read and Anne's storytelling is fantastic.

Anne Frank is now world famous through her diary, with films and TV adaptations as well as books of her short stories. The Anne Frank Museum in the house where her family hid in Amsterdam is an amazing place to visit.


I'm with the Band by Pamela DesBarres

I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie
I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie

This is Pamela DesBarres true story of growing up in the 1960s in California. Pamela hung out with the like of Frank Zappa, Led Zepplin, Jim Morrison and the Rolling Stones - among many other famous bands and musicians of the time.

This is a colorful, cheeky, fun and interesting read about the music and hippy scene of the 1960s in California. After reading this aged 16, I too wanted to become a groupie! Pamela has had such an amazing life.


Are You Experienced?

Are You Experienced?
Are You Experienced?

Taking a gap year is a very typical coming of age rite of passage for people from Western Cultures, and this book is brilliant for any student about to embark (or has just come back from) their gap year. Are you Experienced was written in the late 1990s, but has not dated at all - gap year students are still the same now!

The story is about Dave who travels to India with his friend Liz, his best friends girlfriend - which is of course asking for trouble. His observations about traveling around India as a Westerner are spot on as well as his descriptions of the many backpacker types you meet when traveling. I promise you will laugh out loud!


Growing Up is Hard to Do

I really wished I had studied harder...

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 18 year old self?

See results

What's your Favorite Coming of Age Story? - Please share your favorite coming of age book or film here!

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    • NickHerc profile image


      4 years ago

      I'm with the Band, never heard before, so thank you! Looks interesting. I'll try to read it as soon as possible ;).

    • kristalulabelle profile image


      6 years ago from Wisconsin

      I really like the movie, Now and Then. It's my favorite coming of age movie of all time. Great lens!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Even as an adult, I still really like coming of age stories. To read them AND write them. I'll lensroll this to my "A Picket Fence in Pawpaw" lenses (excerpts from my own coming of age novel). It really is a great genre and never seems to lose popularity. After all, there are always new people in that demographic and those of us who've been there can always relate.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      Some great recommendations here -- something for every taste. I love historic fiction/films so would add "I Capture The Castle" to the list, the captivating story of a young girl called Cassandra in 1930s Suffolk (England). Lensrolling to my review of it.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      8 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I thought Igby Goes Down covered most bases young people run. I'm, glad I never got beat up, though.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      You've made a really striking looking lens - well done. I like your choices of books and films and I love the 'advice' in the introduction's graphic.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've always liked coming of age stories. Which is why I wrote a coming of age novel. :) I'll lensroll this to mine about "A Picket Fence in Pawpaw." Nicely done.

    • callinsky lm profile image

      callinsky lm 

      8 years ago

      Good stuff. When I was young the taboo was the 'Free to be you and me' stuff? Do you rememember that or am I that much older than you. (O;

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      Very well crafted!


    • LadyFlashman profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Mickie Gee: Thanks for your comment, much appreciated!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 

      8 years ago

      Some of the books you mention are among my favs. There a some films you talk about that I need to see. Thanks for writing this lens.


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