Pick ‘n’ mix grows up: from Charlotte’s Web to An Education

CoverPosh literary types call them bildungsroman, publishers call them coming-of-age novels, and we – well, we just read them and love them.  We’ve all read at least one and often they stand out in our minds.

Sometimes they’re books, sometimes  movies, and sometimes they are the best of both.

In essence (and being screamingly simplistic), the coming-of-age genre works like this:

  • The main character is young;
  • Some stuff happens to him/her;
  • They grow up.

Clearly there’s a bit of actual physical aging involved, but usually it’s more about some sort of emotional, spiritual or psychological journey towards maturity.

The transition can be from child to teenager – think Charlotte’s Web, or Anne of Green Gables, or Labyrinth.

Or teenager to adult – The Catcher in the Rye, I Capture the Castle, Jane Eyre.

Coming-of-age novels often inspire great devotion in their readers, and those who love them read them again and again. They often translate exceptionally well into movie form – think of recent well-received films like An Education, The Kite-Runner, The Secret Life of Bees, and Never Let Me Go; or older favourites like Stand By Me (from Stephen King’s short story The Body), The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off …

But I’m waxing lyrical (again).  I made the mistake of googling ‘coming-of-age’, and now have a TONNE of new titles to find, and old favourites to re-read and re-watch:

If you’re interested:

And finally!  Tell me below all the mistakes I’ve made, the titles I’ve missed, and why I should read your fave coming-of-age novel next.

2 thoughts on “Pick ‘n’ mix grows up: from Charlotte’s Web to An Education

  1. Marion H 21 August 2011 / 4:28 pm

    I adored I capture the castle a – movie and book. I also really enjoyed An Education – movie – haven’t read the book. Starter for ten by David Nicholls was a great coming of age movie and the author is now on my “For later” shelf in bibliocommons. It reminded me a bit of An education. Have you read any of the The FitzOsbornes in exile? – reminiscent of I capture the castle. Looking forward to recommendations on here!

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