I have a confession to make: I never grew up. At least, with books. I mean, I’ve tried to read the classics and textbooks for school and weird angsty poetry but something always brings me back to the good ol’ days of hiding behind the awesomeness of the YA novel. Yes, even now in college. Unfortunately, my high school experience was pretty lackluster. It was great, of course, in a lame kind of way, but these books make me nostalgic for all the shenanigans I missed out on; shenanigans like first love, crazy amounts of hallucinogens, and the use of melodramatic taglines like “we are infinite!!!”
And as it turns out? Young adult is back in! Kind of. With The Perks of Being a Wallflower now on the big screen, I’m hoping my lack of grown-up reading will be totally justified as Emma Watson-covered copies of Perks fly off the shelves.
So, I urge you sit down with these hipster-filled sob fests instead of y’know, your adult college work. Because papers and lectures and professors are the worst and coming-of-age stories are gold. Also, it will justify my theory that I am totally normal for reading this at age 20. You’ll notice certain series about sparkly vampires or tributes are not included on this list, because well, meh.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
As you’ve probably gathered by now from movie trailers, Perks is about this high school freshman named Charlie who somehow isn’t noticed by anyone even though he’s the most adorable thing to happen to life. Eventually, he parties with some cool seniors, discovers good music, and falls for the mess-of-a-girl with a boyfriend. Tears and melancholia ensue. If you’re down for the 2 hour version, the movie was a worthy endeavor indeed. Plus, the Rocky Horror Picture Show! What’s not to like?
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
This book was originally published as a “real” diary of an anonymous girl who gets into all kinds of crazy shit after running away from home, but was later revealed as a work of fiction by some psych doctor in an effort to woo kids away from “the LSD.” It’s supposed to be scary, but it’s kind of fascinating in a depressing way, and therefore makes a perfect rainy afternoon read (if, y’know, California would freaking rain). And by that I mean you can totally finish it in a matter of hours and feel totally awful about life.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
You might recall a super average 2008 movie of the same name back when Michael Cera was a thing and Kat Dennings still wore lots of lipstick, but I am here to tell you that THE BOOK IS SO MUCH BETTER. One summer, while I may or may not have been on a break at a camp job, I stumbled across this book in the camp library and proceeded to read it for the entire day. The two co-authors alternate writing the chapters in Nick or Norah’s voices and mention all the best pop culture references and actually make you feel like you’re watching really good television except holy crap it’s words and a book and crazy! Long story short, Nick and Norah are musical soulmates but also regular soulmates and take lots of driving around and debauchery to realize it. Also, the story takes you on a journey around New York City, which is super hip and JUST READ IT.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
This book deserves all the things. John Green, author and god of the internets, wrote it with so many feeling-y feelings and it’s perfect. Based on Green’s time spent at an Alabama boarding school, it follows the new kid at school and his relationships with a new group of friends. Unless you can keep your shit together, do not read this in a public place ever. k thnx bye.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
A bit on the older side like Go Ask Alice, this one is still pretty epic. You might also remember an average movie starring lots of famous people, but for me it’s the book that first captured my love of gritty teen drama. The book follows a greaser gang as they battle their rivals the Socs and adolescent boy emotions. I remember looking at the cover a million times, trying to figure out Soda and Pony and Johnny, thinking this was so interesting compared to stupid boring suburbia but also wtf was a switchblade and why did everyone carry them and did the author really write this when she was 15?!