Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bildungsroman or the coming of age genre

This Side of Paradise - Penguin book cover
Last night at bookclub we discussed This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This debut novel was published in 1920 and follows the wealthy, charismatic and good looking Amory Blaine from his boarding school days, to Princeton and life in New York City post WW1. We all really enjoyed it and like the book nerds we are read passages aloud, talked about the themes and issues emerging and then found similarities in the story with recent TV teen dramas we've been watching! We've actually never in 2 years discussed a book in as much detail! We loved the lyrical, poetic style of writing and the rise and fall of the main character from youth to adulthood. We thought besides the style of writing, it could easily have been written today - the story is timeless! We started describing the book as a coming of age novel and decided we'd read another coming of age novel this month. So I googled coming of age novels (of course) and came across this word - Bildungsroman. I was fascinated to discover that this is the fancy word for the coming of age genre and has certain key characteristics like: psychological and moral growth on the journey from youth to adulthood ending in some sort of personal growth! Aha my inner me screamed! I *heart* bildungsroman! I always love coming of age stories be they books, movies or TV! We settled on our next book - A Hero Aint Nothin but a Sandwich and I set out to think about all the other bildungsroman I'd experienced and loved! Here is a list of some I've read and watched that I think represent the genre - of course there are many, many more!
  • Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
  • Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger
  • Charlotte's Web - E. B. White
  • Secret History - Donna Tartt
  • Forever - Judy Blume
  • Oranges are not the Only Fruit - Jeanette Winterson
  • Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi
  • How I live now - Meg Rosoff
  • Harry Potter - Series
  • Hunger Games - Series
  • Dead Poets Society
  • Almost Famous
  • Pump up the Volume
  • Heathers
  • Basketball Diaries
  • Rushmore
  • Donnie Darko
  • Virgin Suicides
  • Stand by Me
  • My Girl
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Vampire Diaries
  • Skins
  • Gossip Girl
  • OC
  • Dawsons Creek
  • Degrassi
  • Beverly Hills 90210
  • Twin Peaks
  • Buffy


  1. Thank you for the lists. I'm familiar with most of these, but there are a couple of books which I haven't read- yay!

  2. My favourite book of that type is The Go Between by LP Hartley. Had to read it for school and thought I'd hate it, but it's a great read.