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

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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 has us 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…

Quick Answer: Top 3 Picks!

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

Our Favourites!

#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

#2 Best Coming-of-Age Story

The Book Theif 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

#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 we 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 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 is a socially awkward teen who is constantly on the outside looking in. That is until he meets two charismatic students, Sam and Patrick. 

Sam and Patrick guide Charlie through the joys of friendship, first love, and music. Charlie’s underlying anguish, however, threatens to undermine his newfound confidence as his new friends prepare to leave for college.

This touching coming-of-age story depicts what it’s like to be a high school teenager. As Charlie navigates adolescence, he is forced to deal with deep questions and inner turmoil from interactions with those around him.

Perks of Being a Wallflower has won several ALA awards, including Best Books for Young Adults in 2000, and since the release of the movie, the book finally made it to the New York Times bestseller list.

4. The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo

Another book like The Catcher in the Rye about a teenage 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.

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

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is about a young girl unsatisfied with dying and being forgotten.

When given the opportunity to live forever, she takes it, knowing that everyone she knows and loves would perish, and she will live on alone.

300 years pass, and all is well until she meets a man from her past in a bookshop. All is about to change…

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue explores death, remembrance, and love. It’s gorgeously and poetically written and is full of thought-provoking messages.

If you’re looking for a book similar to The Catcher in the Rye that’s captivating and songful, then you’re going to love this book.

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

The Outsiders follows Ponyboy Curtis, a 14-year-old boy, and his battles with right and wrong in a world where he feels like an outsider.

According to Ponyboy, the world is divided into two types of people: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money and can get away with almost anything.

A greaser, on the other hand, is always on the outside and must keep an eye on his back.

Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even if it means going toe-to-toe with a gang of socs to benefit his fellow greasers.

Ponyboy and his gang’s hardships and friendships are explored throughout the novel as they live their lives as greasers.

Written through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy, it’s a novel that’s easy to digest no matter who the reader is. It’s a coming-of-age story covering friendship, hardships, and overcoming challenges.

14. On The Road – Jack Kerouac

On the Road is a novel of travel and self-discovery, as we follow a road trip inspired by American writer, Jack Kerouac, published in 1957.

It is based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends as they journeyed across the United States.

It tells the story of a man named Dean Moriarty and a young writer named Sal Paradise as they journey back and forth to see each other over three years of friendship and all the crazy adventures they embark on along the way.

On The Road explores father-son relationships, the challenges of survival, the importance of family, and the survival of human generosity and kindness.

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 Books Like The Catcher in The Rye

So there you have it, those are 15 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.

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

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Last Updated on March 26, 2023 by Louisa

Headshot of Louisa

About Louisa

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the founder, editor, and head honcho of Epic Book Society. Once a published poet at the age of 7, she aspired to become a journalist, but that career hit a wall so here she is writing about books instead. When she's not writing about books, she's teaching English to primary school kids around the world.

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