Often reading recreationally is pushed aside in the scramble to juggle school and social life; however, you won’t want to miss out on even one of the novels from this list of life altering stories. From romance to thrillers–to dry comedy, there is something for everyone. . .or will at least give you an escape from revision.
1) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a beautiful book which handles delicate topics of abuse, death, bullying, sexuality, mental illness and love in a touchingly honest way through the lovable narrator Charlie’s eyes. The story of a confused and lonely teenage boy looking for friends in a 90s high school is truly relatable even now. With many witty characters and pop culture references such as Rocky Horror and The Smiths, the novel isn’t all grim…however, it is likely that you will cry at this gorgeous novel.
2) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The narrator of J.D. Salinger’s classic novel is a troubled sixteen year old, Holden Caulfield, who in the three days the story is set, drags the reader through a wintery New York in 50s on a journey full of teenage angst and self-discovery. Through Holden’s extreme pessimistic take on life true beauty is seen, the school system is criticised and hope is restored. A book every teenager and adult alike will appreciate.
3) Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine
Don’t be quick to dismiss this memorable autobiography by Viv Albertine just because you haven’t heard of her or her band the Slits (although you should check them out). The book is a backstage view into the 70s punk scene full of hilarious antidotes on such legendary groups as The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers and more. Not to worry if punk music isn’t your cup of tea as Albertine touches on more sensitive subjects such as being a teenager, femininity and heartbreak with dry humour. The perfect present for you or the music lover in your life this Christmas.
4) Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith’s coming of age novel focuses on the lives of two mixed-race girls growing upon the wrong side of town and seeking distraction from their broken families via a community dance class. The narrator views herself as not as talented as her self-destructive best friend and the reader sees how this shapes her life as a young women. Cleverly told through memories from childhood, Smith portrays the importance of friendship in a forgettable tale.
5) Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
Fans of the Impossible Life is the story of three unlikely friends Mira, Sebby and Jeremy who try to live for the impossible whilst navigating their individual problems. Jeremy, a painfully shy teenager, finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves from those who don’t understand the life they choose to lead.
6) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train is a unique twist on the amnesia thriller genre with one of the three narrators being the unreliable Racheal Watson who has taken to alcohol since her divorce. Dark and rather depressing, the novel conveys how obsession can shape lives and how society is corrupt. A compelling read from start to finish.
7) The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
The Spectacular Now is a romance novel portraying the complex and realistic relationships young people have in high school. The two central characters, Stutter Keely and Aimee Finecky, are seemly contrasts at the start of the novel but one of the stories charms is how they develop and change. This novel is perfect for anyone who likes romances which aren’t clichéd.
8) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
This semi-autobiographical novel by the writer who popularized gonzo journalism is a drug-fuelled frenzy full of strange and twisted characters and tales. Similar to Alice in Wonderland this novel is like stepping into another world only instead of falling down the rabbit hole the reader peers into Thompson’s deranged mind. Set in 70s Las Vegas this novel is for anyone who appreciates dry humour in the mix of charming turn of phrases.
9) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Women in the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale are treated as second class citizens with the only option in life to breed. Atwood presents the theme of patriarchy in a disturbingly realistic way, portraying the main character Offred as a typical but rebellious woman seeking change. Once you’ve read the book the TV adaptation is just as moving and as the eerie novel.
10) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan are two star-crossed teens living in 80s Omaha, trying to get through their own struggles while figuring out the complicated matter of first love. Another romance that will make you ugly-cry but honestly worth the read.