There are various coming-of-age books like Perks of Being a Wallflower for fans of this 1999 book by Stephen Chbosky. This epistolary novel told the story of Charlie, a shy, observant 15-year-old boy. After his friend Michael’s suicide, Charlie copes by writing letters about his life to unidentified recipients. The genuine, introspective writing sucked young readers into his adolescent woes. Millions rode Charlie’s roller-coaster ride into adulthood along with two seniors, Patrick and Sam. Each page turn kept audiences on edge wondering if Charlie would overcome past problems or fall back into depression. Chbosky spent over a year on the #1 New York Times best-seller list.
Readers also jumped at the chance to see the novel translated onto the silver screen in 2012 with Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. The successful indie film grossed over $33 million worldwide. But it has left fans grappling for more books like Perks of Being a Wallflower. Luckily, the young adult genre is bursting with other diary-style novels that give a lifelike teen voice to the politics of high school. Books like Perks of Being a Wallflower delve into real pubescent problems: friendship, sexuality, family drama, drugs, and introversion. They tell of tragedies that force characters to discover their identity and self-acceptance.
When you’re looking for an emotion-packed read, here are the top 50 books like Perks of Being a Wallflower.
#1 – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award winner portrays the life of Arnold Spirit, a 14-year-old aspiring cartoonist nicknamed “Junior.” He’s always been bullied at his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He predicts disaster when transferring to an elite white school in Reardan. But he finds both geeky and popular friends as starter on the basketball team. Junior now questions his identity, community vs. tribe.
#2 – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Diaz penned one of the most acclaimed books like Perks of Being a Wallflower and won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This coming-of-age novel introduces Oscar De León, a 300-pound Dominican teen living in Paterson, New Jersey. He has a nerdy obsession with writing sci-fi fiction. But he’s most concerned with finding love and overcoming his family’s multi-generational fukú curse.
#3 – My Heart and Other Black Holes
Aysel Seran, a 16-year-old physics nerd, suffers from severe depression. She’s ostracized by her peers over a violent crime her father committed. The “black slug” slithering inside her convinces her that suicide is the answer. But she can’t do it alone. She meets another distraught outcast, Roman, on a website called Suicide Partners. They form a suicide pact, until Aysel’s feelings for Roman develop.
#4 – The Year of Secret Assignments
In The Year of Secret Assignments, a 10th grade English teacher unites two rival schools with the Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program. Best friends Cassie, Emily, and Lydia initiate the first letters. Much to their delight, Matthew, Charlie, and Seb respond. But shy Cassie suffers a frightening experience with Matthew. Now Lydia and Emily declare war on the Brookfield Boys. Everything from lock-picking to identity theft ensues.
#5 – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Published in 2003, this mystery novel centers on Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old in Wiltshire, England. He’s a gifted mathematician who’s likely autistic. Christopher has always related better to animals than to people and pesky emotions. When his neighbor’s poodle is murdered, Christopher is falsely accused. He vows to find Wellington’s real killer, but ends up learning the complexities of a social world.
#6 – Will Grayson, Will Grayson
The New York Times best-selling author John Green brings young adults this story about two teens both named Will Grayson. In odd-numbered chapters, we meet Will Grayson 1, a heterosexual student crushing on Jane Turner. The even-numbered chapters belong to Will Grayson 2, a homosexual student who’s depressed and ostracized. Soon their paths cross and their worlds begin to intertwine. What follows is two epic tales of self-discovery.
#7 – It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Craig Gilner’s hard work has paid off. He’s been accepted into New York City’s prestigious Executive Pre-Professional High School. But Craig soon finds his life spiraling downward with mounting stress and pressures. He begins contemplating jumping from the Brooklyn Bridge. He calls a suicide hotline instead and checks into a psychiatric hospital. Along with some colorful, like-minded teens, Craig finally faces his demons.
#8 – Willow
Seven months ago, 16-year-old Willow’s life changed forever. She’s driving home her parents who have been drinking when the car spins out of control. Now Willow isn’t anyone’s daughter. She’s shipped to New York City to live with her older brother. She’s only able to numb her grief and guilt by cutting herself. But then she meets Guy at her new school. Can their intense connection guide Willow towards self-forgiveness?
#9 – The Boy Next Door
The Boy Next Door begins a trilogy about Melissa Fuller, a New York City gossip columnist. One fateful day, Mel finds her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Helen Friedlander, facedown after a brutal attempted murder. She volunteers to babysit the woman’s Great Dane until her nephew, Max, arrives. Mel can’t falling for the charming, playboy photographer. Eventually, she receives a puzzling e-mail proclaiming there’s more to Max than meets the eye.
#10 – More Happy Than Not
Aaron Soto, a 16-year-old boy in the Bronx, is grappling with his father’s suicide. Despite support from his mom and girlfriend Genevieve, Aaron can’t cope. That’s until he meets the new guy, Thomas. Aaron finds himself unable to turn off new-found feelings for him. Rising tension causes him to consider an innovative memory-alteration procedure at the Leteo Institute. Is Aaron willing to forget who he is for happiness?
#11 – Hard Rain Falling
Don Carpenter’s debut 1966 novel portrays the life of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teen sneaking into fleabag hotels across Portland. He befriends a cunning pool hustler named Billy Lancing. But one heist gone awry lands Jack in reform school and solitary confinement. Meanwhile, Billy starts a legitimate business and leads a married, middle-class life. When an embittered Jack is released, the pair must face their troubled pasts together.
#12 – The Fault in Our Stars
This is one of John Green’s most famous books like Perks of Being a Wallflower. 16-year-old Hazel Lancaster is a clinically depressed teen who’s survived stage IV cancer for three years. To cope, she reluctantly goes to Cancer Kid Support Group. Unexpectedly, she meets and connects with Augustus Waters. Hazel’s story takes a serious plot twist as the kindred spirits fall in love despite terminal diseases.
Related: Top 50 Books Like Fault in Our Stars
#13 – The Color Purple
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker penned this epistolary novel in 1982. In rural Georgia, the story shares 20 years of a poor, uneducated African American woman’s life. Beginning at 14, Celie is abused and raped by her father Alphonso. To protect her sister Nettie, she agrees to marry the cruel “Mister.” Years after they’ve separated, Celie learns her husband has hidden Nettie’s letters. Her rage fuels her brave fight for independence.
#14 – John Belushi is Dead
Pink-haired rebel Hilda and goofy loner Benji are an atypical duo. They forgo parties for visiting Los Angeles’ sites of celebrity demise. Their macabre obsession drives them to the reclusive Hank. He lives in an Echo Park apartment where a silent film star once killed himself with scissors. But Hilda starts uncovering Hank’s terrible secrets. Now she must determine if her fascination with death warrants missing life.
#15 – Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
After Amy Curry’s father dies in a car accident, this California girl’s life changes overnight. Her twin Charlie is shipped to rehab and her mother receives a teaching job in Connecticut. She arranges for Amy to get to Connecticut via cross-country drive. To Amy’s chagrin, she’s given a partner in 19-year-old Roger. Unexpectedly, Amy finds herself falling in love while detouring from Yosemite to Graceland.
#16 – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Starting his senior year, 17-year-old Greg Gaines enjoys flying under everyone’s radar. He makes mediocre films with his only real friend, Earl, but doesn’t share them with anyone. That’s until Rachel happens. Greg’s mother insists he befriend Rachel who’s diagnosed with leukemia. Greg and Earl are persuaded into making a film for the dying girl. Soon Greg finds his comfortable invisibility vanishing forever.
#17 – Paper Covers Rock
Alex, a 17-year-old junior attending a boys’ boarding school, fails to save his friend from drowning. Alex and his other friend Glenn begin weaving a web of lies to investigators. Overwhelmed with guilt, he writes the truth in a journal and hides it in the library. His English teacher, Miss Dovecott, suspects there’s more to what happened at the river. Can she encourage Alex to discover his true voice?
#18 – The Catcher in the Rye
Named among BBC’s top 15 English-language novels, The Catcher in the Rye is a classic novel about 16-year-old Holden Caulfield. He’s recently flunked out of a prestigious prep school in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. For three days, Holden plays truant at a swanky New York City hotel. His escapades from Lagoon Central Park to the Lavender Room and Ernie’s Bar show the dramatic struggles of teens against growing up.
#19 – Norwegian Wood
From the author of Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, this novel is about Toru, a quiet college student in Tokyo. He’s devoted to Naoko, a troubled young woman. But their relationship is stained by the tragic death of their best friend. Toru finds himself adapting well to campus life. Naoko finds the pressure too unbearable and retreats within herself. Meanwhile, Toru meets the lively, gregarious Midori. Is Naoko and Toru’s love bound for tragedy?
#20 – Ballads of Suburbia
High schooler Kara McNaughton maintains a Stories of Suburbia notebook. Clippings of newspaper articles about tragic events from suburbs across America are laminated inside. She includes “ballads” written by her friends. But Kara never writes her own before being forced to leave Chicago. Four years later, Kara returns to face the music about one disastrous night in Scoville Park and the bad boy who left her to die.
#21 – The Antagonist
Gordon Rankin Jr. proclaims himself “King Midas in reverse.” For his mammoth size, coaches, friends, and his tiny father have used Gordon as the enforcer. He reluctantly follows their expectations until a vicious plot twist forces him to flee. Now approaching 40, Gordon discovers Adam, an old friend, published a novel about his traumatic life. Outraged, he pounds out his own story in an angry barrage of emails.
#22 – Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Vera Dietz has been in love with her best friend and troubled neighbor, Charlie Kahn, forever. She’s been his confidant and kept his secrets, until he betrays her. When Charlie dies in mysterious circumstances, Vera knows more than she tells. She moves on to college and a full-time pizza delivery job, but she can’t put Charlie behind her. Especially when Charlie’s ghost manifests and begs her to clear his name.
#23 – King Dork
Like other books like Perks of Being a Wallflower, King Dork is being adapted to film. This YA novel follows 14-year-old Tom Henderson during his sophomore year of high school. He’s a skinny, near-sighted dork dealing with rampant bullying. After finding his father’s copy of The Catcher in the Rye, his life gets complicated. Tom’s suddenly caught in the middle of several mysteries involving fake, naked, and dead people.
#24 – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Saenz
It’s the summer of 1987 and two 15-year-olds from different universes collide. Aristotle is a disgruntled teen with a convict brother. Dante is a know-it-all who’s openly homosexual. The unlikely pair meet at a local swimming pool. As they spend more time together, Dante and Ari find a special, lifelong friendship. It’s through their connection that the boys learn important truths about themselves.
#25 – Dear Mr. Henshaw
Beverly Cleary’s Newbery Award-winning title explores the emotions of Leigh Botts, a sixth-grader. After his parents’ divorce, Leigh must cope with moving to a new school and lingering anger toward his absentee father. But one English assignment helps him escape. He must write to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw. When Mr. Henshaw responds, the two form an unlikely friendship that helps Leigh transition into adolescence.
#26 – Super Sad True Love Story
Super Sad True Love Story takes us to a near, dystopian future where the United States is terminally indebted to China. Middle-aged Lenny Abramov, son of a Russian immigrant, is obsessed with living forever. He works for an Indefinite Life Extension company when he meets and finds refuge with Eunice Park, a young Korean-American. Could falling in love redeem a country falling apart?
#27 – Love, Rosie
Irish author Cecelia Ahern crafts this epistolary tale about Rosie and Alex. Best friends since childhood, their love seems destined. That’s until Alex and his family leave Dublin for Boston. Rosie and Alex vow to stay connected through emails and texts. As years pass, the young adults grow apart with lives on different continents. But soon Rosie and Alex discover destiny isn’t done with them yet.
#28 – The Beginning of Everything
Fans of books like Perks of Being a Wallflower will adore this witty novel about Ezra Faulkner, the 17-year-old varsity tennis captain until tragedy strikes. A car accident shatters his leg and his athletic career. Returning for his senior year, Ezra finds himself shunned by his jock friends. He instead joins his old friend Toby on the debate team. Here he meets Cassidy, a transfer student with a secretive home life.
#29 – Attachments
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder are two inseparable colleagues working for The Courier. They spend all day baring their personal gossip and anxieties over the office email. Unbeknownst to them, Lincoln, the newspaper’s new Internet security officer, is tasked with reading them. Somehow he can’t seem to turn Beth and Jennifer in for misusing company resources. Even worse, Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth and unable to introduce himself.
#30 – Anatomy of a Misfit
Blonde-haired, lip-glossed Anika Dragomir is Pound High School’s third most popular girl. But inside she’s a mix of diabolical thoughts and vampire blood. She keeps it locked down to keep her social standing from the wicked Becky Vilhauser. That’s until loner Logan McDonough returns from summer break hotter than ever. Anika must now choose between maintaining her popularity status or following her heart and becoming a reject.
#31 – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Living in post-World War II England, writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her new book subject. Who would expect her to find it in a letter from a stranger, Dawsey Adams? As she responds to his correspondence, Juliet’s drawn into Dawsey’s world on the island of Guernsey. Here she begins a remarkable conversation with wonderfully eccentric members of a book club.
#32 – Skyscraping
Set in 1993 New York City, Skyscraping centers on Mira, a 17-year-old girl starting her senior year. She thinks she has everything worked out. She’s the yearbook editor, a senior mentor, and ready to apply to Columbia. But then life comes crashing down. Mira discovers her father has a male lover and is battling HIV. She’s left struggling to reconnect her family’s fabric while defining herself.
#33 – Hold Still
After her best friend Ingrid commits suicide, Caitlin is left immobilized. She’s unable to cope and refuses to visit a therapist. At a heart-wrenching low, Caitlin suddenly discovers Ingrid’s journal. Reading the words left behind by Ingrid serves as her vehicle for renewed hope. Similar to books like Perks of Being a Wallflower, Caitlin begins a self-healing journey that includes new friendships and first love along the way.
#34 – Twisted
Laurie Halse Anderson
High school senior Tyler Miller is a socially inept wallflower like Charlie. That’s until he’s caught tagging the school with graffiti and forced to spend the summer doing hard labor. Now his bulky physique makes him stand out. Tyler even catches the eye of the school’s queen bee, Bethany Milbury. A subsequent string of events alters Tyler’s school life but leaves him questioning his place in the world.
#35 – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Eva Khatchadourian is a smart, cynical New York writer. An impulsive marriage to Franklin bears fruit in a baby boy named Kevin. From birth, Eva is ambivalent about him. As the child grows, he becomes silent and hostile. The story horrifyingly fast forwards to high school when Kevin massacres seven students and two teachers. Eva’s left grappling with guilt and trying to understand her son’s deadly violence.
#36 – Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
James Sveck, a sophisticated 18-year-old of divorced parents, refuses to follow the adult world’s assumptions. Though he’s accepted to Brown, James doesn’t want to attend college. He wants to move to a small Midwestern town. Meanwhile, he’s working at a Manhattan art gallery. James suddenly develops feelings for his mother’s assistant, John. After devising a fake online identity to catch John’s attention, the unexpected occurs.
#37 – Thirteen Reasons Why
Two weeks ago, Clay Jensen’s classmate and crush Hannah Baker committed suicide. Now he’s inexplicably found a box of cassette tapes outside his home. Hannah’s voice hauntingly tells him there were 13 reasons why she killed herself, and Clay is one of them. Hannah’s recorded words lead him on a tour across town to witness her pain firsthand. What Clay discovers could forever change his life.
#38 – Looking for Alaska
Miles “Pudge” Halter is sick of his bland home life. His obsession with famous last words makes him crave the Great Perhaps. So he packs up to enroll at Culver Creek Boarding School. Here he discovers a world that’s anything other than boring. Down the hall lives Alaska Young, a gorgeous yet self-destructive girl. She pulls Miles into her utterly fascinating life and claims his heart. But tragedy awaits.
#39 – Dear Exile: The True Story of Two Friends Separated (for a Year) by an Ocean
Kate Montgomery and Hilary Liftin
Two YA authors teamed up for this moving story of two best friends estranged by distance. Kate, an idealistic teacher, takes a Peace Corps assignment in rural Kenya. Hilary, a budding professional, braves the singles scene in New York City. Over the course of one year, the women exchange letters portraying the importance of friendship.
#40 – The Princess Diaries
Mia Thermopolis is an ordinary ninth grader living in Greenwich Village. She’s positive there’s nothing worse than being a tall, flat-chested freshman who’s failing algebra and invisible to her sexy crush, Josh. But she’s mistaken. Mia discovers her eccentric artist mother is dating her algebra teacher. Then her absent father returns and reveals he’s the crown prince for a small European country named Genovia. How much can this indisposed princess handle?
#41 – The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie
Published in 2006, this YA novel follows Bindy Mackenzie, an Australian Year 11 student living in Sydney’s suburbs. She’s a studious go-getter striving for perfection. When school starts, Bindy’s horrified to learn she must take FAD, a Friendship and Development course. During the first project assigned by her teacher, Try Montaine, Bindy discovers she’s widely disliked. So she begins a revenge mission and everything goes downhill.
#42 – Love Letters to the Dead
Ava Dellaira’s debut epistolary novel portrays Laurel, a freshman coping with the recent passing of her older sister May. Her English teacher gives a bizarre assignment to write a letter to a dead person. Laurel picks her sister’s favorite musician, Kurt Cobain. But soon she has a notebook filled with letters to famous dead people, from Amelia Earhart to Heath Ledger. Through these missives, Laurel begins discovering her own truths.
#43 – Me Before You
Louisa Clark is an ordinary, young girl living in a tiny English village. She accepts a badly needed job working for Will Traynor. Once a thrill-seeking, multi-millionaire executive, Will is left paralyzed after an extreme sports accident. He’s left moody, bossy, and depressed with his wheelchair-bound life. But Louisa refuses to treat him with kid gloves. She vows to show Will that life’s still worth living.
#44 – I’ll Give You the Sun
Fans of books like Perks of Being a Wallflower will enjoy this Printz Award-winning novel. Fraternal teenage twins Noah and Jude are inseparable. Noah, a budding artist, is falling for the charming boy next door. Jude, an adrenaline junkie, prefers diving off cliffs. But family tragedy strikes and tears the twins apart. Years later, Noah and Jude receive a second chance. Can they repair their sibling love?
#45 – Belzhar
Jam Gallahue, a 15-year-old Jersey girl, is grieving after her first love, Reeve Maxfield, dies. Her parents send her to a boarding school for “emotionally fragile” teens. Here she’s selected by the legendary Mrs. Quenell for a course titled Special Topics in English. Each student is assigned a leather journal to record their stories. While writing, Jam finds herself transported to her former life and confronting the inner demons she battles.
#46 – Ella Minnow Pea
Ella Minnow Pea takes place on the fictional island of Nollop. Over a century ago, the famed Nevin Nollop invented a 35-letter panagram called “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog.” The islanders have erected a statue in his honor. But then the “Z” tile mysteriously falls. Residents ban the letter until more tiles drop. Now the only letters remaining are LMNOP. Can Ella save their language?
#47 – Bridget Jones’s Diary
Helen Fielding’s famously hilarious novel portrays the daily chronicle of Bridget Jones, a 30-something single English woman. Suffering post-holiday stress, she vows to find inner poise with her New Year’s resolution. Bridget vows to lose poundage, stop smoking, exercise, and develop a functional adult relationship. But she soon goes majorly off-course and sleeps with her boss. Follow Bridget’s diary entries for a year of disgraces and victories.
#48 – The Glass Castle
In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls provides a well-written memoir. As daughter of Rex and Rose Mary Walls, Jeannette lives nomadically with three other children. Her brilliant father teaches her physics, geology, and about living fearlessly. That’s until the money runs dry. The Walls retreat to a gloomy mining town in West Virginia. As family dysfunction escalates, Rex turns to alcohol. Jeannette and her siblings are left fending for themselves.
#49 – Go Tell It on the Mountain
Go Tell It on the Mountain is an American classic sharing the story of John Grimes, an intellectual 14-year-old living in 1930s Harlem. With an absent father, John’s raised by his mother who eventually marries a minister. His tyrannical stepfather, Gabriel, preaches at a storefront Pentecostal church. During a Saturday night service, John questions his sexuality. Can he embrace his desires when his own nature is sinful?
#50 – This Boy’s Life
Set in 1955, Toby and his mother, Rosemary, are separated by divorce from his father and brother. To cope, his mother keeps them constantly on the move. This time, they’re moving from Florida to Utah with plans to strike it rich mining for uranium. Eventually, Rosemary falls for Dwight Hansen, who takes them to Concrete, Washington. Toby’s left fighting for self-identity under the unremitting hostility of his new stepfather.
If you’re left with a book hangover after Chbosky’s coming-of-age classic, turn to these books like Perks of Being a Wallflower for more poignant, voice-driven reads about the messy symptoms of growing up.