Posh 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.
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:
- The Princess Bride (book FIRST, please, and then the movie)
- I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
- Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry series
- Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Austen’s Emma (for a bit of posh)
If you’re interested:
- Find more books and movies with a coming-of-age theme
- Read about bildungsroman and other things literary in the Source – check out the Books and Reading listings
- Find more posts in the Pick ‘n’ mix series
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.