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15 Coming-Of-Age Books Like The Catcher in The Rye

Last Updated on November 25, 2023 by Louisa

The Catcher in The Rye is a classic piece of literature by J.D. Salinger that touches on themes of teenage alienation and the loss of childhood. 

It’s a heartbreaking yet profound story of one teen’s struggle to find his place in the world after being expelled from boarding school.

Holden is rebellious, angsty, and lost – a place we have all been in during our teenage years.

But it’s not the storyline of Catcher in the Rye that had me hooked, it’s his character progression and the way he learns about society.

J.D. Salinger’s ideals can have a lasting effect on the reader, sometimes making you want to delve deeper into other books like The Catcher in The Rye.

Here are some other similar books to consider reading next…

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Quick Answer: 3 Best Books Like The Catcher In The Rye!

If you need a book fast and don’t have much time, here are my top three favorite similar books!

Our Favourites!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

#1 Best Highly Acclaimed Novel

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  • New York Times bestseller
  • It turned into a feature film starring Emma Watson
  • A delightful coming-of-age story

The Book Thief

#2 Best Coming-of-Age Story

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  • One of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Best YA Books of All Time
  • About a young girl who steals books during war-torn Nazi Germany when all books are banned
  • Stunningly written and poetic

The Poet X

#3 Best in Poetry

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

  • The novel is written in verse about a teenage girl letting out her anger and frustration with her conflicting family
  • Written by an award-winning slam poet
  • Winner of The Carnegie Medal in 2019

Summary of The Catcher in The Rye

Before I go into the top similar books to The Catcher in The Rye, here is a quick summary of the story.

Holden Caulfield was just expelled from the Pencey Prep School at Christmas Time.

Conflicted about his options – to go home, tell his family, and face the music or to wander the streets of New York City seeking solace in the brief encounters he makes.

He chooses the latter. 

After wandering around Central Park, getting beaten up by pimps, shooting the bull in run-down hotels with strangers, and more, he finds that the big city of New York can be a beautiful and terrible place.

As he wanders around the city, his mind is always drawn to his little sister, Phoebe, who he feels is the only person who understands him.

Determined to escape the phonies and understand the meaning of life, Holden embarks on a coming-of-age journey. 

Catcher in the Rye is the perfect beginner classic book to read for those who haven’t read classic lit before.

Books Like The Catcher In The Rye

Now you have been reminded of the story, it’s time to take a look at the best books like Catcher in the Rye!

1. Songs of Innocence and Experience – William Blake

The Songs of Innocence and Experience is a collection of poems by William Blake, published in 1789. The poems are streams of consciousness that have themes of Paradise and the fall of Paradise.

Blake emphasizes that childhood is a part of your life where you are free and innocent but not immune to the troubles of the world and the institutions that run it.

I got similar vibes from J.D. Salinger in Catcher in the Rye and immediately thought of these poems by Blake.

The Songs of Innocence and Experience highlights that we become more aware through experience, which marks the end of childhood.

The poems have themes of fear of social and political corruption, oppression, and class.

This may be the collection of poems that inspired Catcher in the Rye.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is a compassionate, dramatic, and timeless story of youth in a quiet Southern town and the moral crisis that rocked it.

Told from the perspective of Scout, a young girl growing up in the Jim Crow South, the story tells how her father, Atticus Finch, bravely defends a falsely accused black man in a racist court and the following events.

To Kill a Mockingbird was written at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and right after the McCarthy era.

It’s a story that takes readers to the roots of human behavior and explores themes of racism, prejudice, innocence, justice, and good versus evil. 

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

Charlie, a shy teen, has always found himself on the fringes of society. That is until he meets two outgoing students, Sam and Patrick.

They bring him into their world full of friendship, first love and music.

Although Charlie’s inner struggles gradually weaken his newfound confidence as the trio prepare to part ways for college.

This moving coming-of-age work captures the life of a high schooler as he overcomes his hardships and grows through interactions with those around him.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower won several ALA awards in 2000, including Best Books for Young Adults, and eventually made its way onto the New York Times bestseller list due to its movie adaptation.

This narrative shines a light on both difficult questions and joys, making it an enthralling read for all ages.

Related Reading: Books Like A Perks of Being a Wallflower

4. The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo

Another book like The Catcher in the Rye about a teenager in angst is The Poet X, which follows a young girl named Xiomara Batista who escapes conflicts with her family by writing poetry.

Like Holden, Xiomara feels trapped and confused as she ages into adulthood.

Feeling angry and frustrated, Xiomara lets it out in lyrical prose in this heartfelt and inspiring novel-in-verse masterpiece by slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

5. The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street is a coming-of-age classic from the winner of the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature in 2019.

The House on Mango Street follows Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina who grows up in Chicago. She’s trying to invent herself into what she wants to become.

The story is written in a series of vignettes. It’s a story of childhood, moving on, and self-discovery.

6. The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old teen who can move between two worlds. The poor neighborhood she calls home and the fancy prep school where she studies.

The balance between the two is uneasy, especially after Starr witnesses a fatal shooting that kills Khalil, her best friend, at the hands of law enforcement.

Soon after his death made national headlines, the streets are lined with protesters calling Khalil’s name. But to keep Starr quiet, law enforcement and local drug dealers are trying to intimidate her.

Everyone wants to know what happened, and the only person who can answer is Starr. But does she answer the community if it means risking her life?

7. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside Munich in War-torn Nazi Germany. Each day she scavenges for food and clothes by stealing, but there’s one thing she can’t resist – books.

Only books are banned in Germany, and to own them pays a terrible price. Her foster father teaches her to read.

She shares the books with their neighbors during bombing raids. She also shared them with the Jewish man hiding in their basement.

The Book Thief is a gripping tale of love, loss, and redemption.

If you loved Catcher in the Rye for its writing style, then you’ll love The Book Thief, whose words burn with intensity. 

8. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – Robert Dugoni 

According to Booklist, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s coming-of-age story is “a novel that, if it doesn’t cross entirely over into John Irving territory, certainly nestles in close to the border.”

Sam Hill has always been different, seeing the world through a different lens. He was born with red pupils, which led to bullies calling him “Devil Boy” or Sam “Hell.” 

His mother refers to his ocular albinism as “God’s will,” which is of little comfort to Sam, who is buoyed by his parent’s faith.

But Sam believes God sent a friend he desperately needed, Ernie Cantwell and Mickie Kennedy, who uprooted everything he knew about boys and girls.

Forty years later, Sam is ready to return to the small town where it all began and learn about what made him, changed him, and defined him.

Related Reading: Robert Dugoni Books In Order

9. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue – V. E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue tells the story of a young woman who, unsatisfied with mortality, accepts a way to live forever.

Despite knowing that all of her loved ones will eventually pass away and she will be left alone in the world, Addie takes the offer.

300 years later and her tranquil life is interrupted when in a bookshop she meets someone from her past. It is here that Addie’s life begins to change as she delves into questions about death, memory and love.

This brilliant novel poetically captures its messages through beautiful writing which is sure to captivate readers like The Catcher in the Rye does.

If you’re seeking a story that’s enchanting and filled with thought-provoking ideas, then The Invisible Life of Addie Larue awaits your choice!

Related Reading: Books Like The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

Christopher John Francis Boone is a 15-year-old boy living with his father, Ed, who sees the world differently.

Though he can name all the world’s countries and capitals and every prime number up to 7,057, he has little comprehension of human emotions.

One day, Christopher discovers the dead body of Wellington, the neighbor’s dog, and begins to look into the dog’s death.

Despite his father’s repeated cautions, Christopher examines the crime site and interviews the residents of his street.

During his investigation, he uncovers a more complicated conspiracy than was initially evident.

This is the story of an eccentric teenage kid who clings to order, copes with family turmoil, and attempts to make sense of the world as he sees it.

On a deeper level, this novel is about difference, being an outsider, and viewing the world unexpectedly and revealingly.

11. The Topeka School – Ben Lerner

The Topeka School is a Pultzer Prize finalist and one of the New York Times’ top 10 books of the year.

The story follows a tender family drama in the American Midwest, just at the turn of the century.

It follows Adam Gordon, a senior at Topeka High School. His mother is a famous author and his father is a psychiatrist.

Adam is known for his love of debating and is expected to win a national championship before starting college. He’s popular and well-liked. 

He’s also the guy who introduces the loner, Darren Eberhart, into society. Although he doesn’t know it, Darren is one of his father’s patients.

The Topeka School is written from multiple perspectives. It unmasks society’s ideals and reveals that every perfect family has problems.

12. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger


If you liked The Catcher in the Rye, then it’s possible you will enjoy some other books by J.D. Salinger.

Franny and Zooey is a collection of two novellas entitled “Franny” and” Zooey.” The novellas are about two siblings, the youngest of the Glass family.

Franny is an undergrad at a liberal arts college and goes to visit her boyfriend for the weekend.

She feels disenchanted by all she sees and turns to spiritualism to face it.

On the other hand, Zooey has his story set after Franny’s weekend. It occurs at the family’s New York City apartment, where he witnesses his sister, Franny, suffer a spiritual and existential breakdown.

Zooey believes he is helping Franny by offering brotherly love, understanding, and words of advice.

13. The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton

Ponyboy Curtis embarks on a journey of self-discovery as he struggles to make sense of the morality of his world. He sees the world divided into two factions: Socials and Greasers.

Socials are privileged with money, making them seemingly impervious to consequences, whereas Greasers face constant prejudice and bullying from those around them.

Ponyboy is a Greaser and fiercely proud of it, but even so, he’s not afraid to confront socialites for the sake of protecting his own kind.

As Ponyboy and his gang navigate life as society’s underdogs, the story explores themes of friendship, hardship, and moral fortitude like never before.

Written through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old boy, this coming-of-age novel is an accessible read that speaks to readers regardless of age or background.

The Outsiders takes us on an eye-opening adventure that emphasizes the beauty in finding one’s place in life.

Related Reading: Books Like The Outsiders

14. On The Road – Jack Kerouac

On the Road is a timeless classic that has left its mark on contemporary culture.

Written by American author Jack Kerouac, it follows the journey of a young writer named Sal and his friend Dean, straddling between two cities, as they take in all the madcap experiences that come their way.

The novel serves as both an exploration of life’s highways and a chronicle of self-discovery.

Along their travels, readers are witness to the significance of family ties, growing pains, and human generosity – reminders of how much beauty there can be found in everyday life.

Kerouac’s captivating prose allows us to share on this wild ride with vivid descriptions and unique insights – offering a powerful reminder that just when you think you know where your journey will end up… life throws another curveball at you!

15. Journey to the End of the Night – Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Journey to the End of the Night is a 1932 novel by French author Louis-Ferdinand Céline. 

It’s a semi-autobiographical book about the adventures of Ferdinand Bardamu during WWI colonial Africa.

It’s also set in the United States and the poor neighborhoods of Paris, where he worked as a doctor.

The novel has a pessimistic view of humanity and has some thought-provoking coming-of-age elements. It has been regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest novels.

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books like the catcher in the rye

Final Word on Best Books Like The Catcher in The Rye

So there you have it, those are the best books like The Catcher in the Rye, and as you can see, many diverse books are out there that tell of teenage angst, rebellion, and awakening into adulthood.

I hope you found something that interests you on this list. If you have any other suggestions, let me know in the comments!

Headshot of Louisa

About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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