The best books on inspiring young adults to find their path in life

Who am I?

You might notice more than one theme. Beyond just being coming-of-age stories, all of these are adapted into movies. They inspired me to want to make my own story. I even went to film school. The movie dream hasn't happened yet. I just couldn’t deal with my social anxiety and the stress/pressure of filming. Years went by. The dream nearly died. Suddenly, a question turned into a spark. Maybe I didn’t have to be a filmmaker to tell my stories? I just wrote from the heart and aimed for the stars while the bonfire inside me grew.

I wrote...

Someone's Story

By B.A. Bellec,

Book cover of Someone's Story

What is my book about?

In his award-winning debut book, B.A. Bellec explodes with an endearing coming-of-age slow-burner by focusing on a group of weirdos that find and save each other from the dark depths of their minds. Someone’s Story is literally Someone’s story, as in a first-person narrative of a teenager that calls himself Someone. As he struggles to find a new footing in a new space, we encounter the many ups and downs of modern teenage life, the diculties that adjusting to adult feelings bring, and a few tear-jerking surprises along the way.

“B. A. Bellec has crafted a masterpiece of emotive and well-rounded young adult fiction.” - K.C. Finn – Multi-award-winning Author

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

By Stephen Chbosky,

Book cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Why this book?

Perks always will have a place in my heart. Stephen Chbosky made some against the grain choices with this one: his topics were controversial, it was released by MTV Books, and it is in epistolary (journal) format. What he did that I respect most is he held onto his book and eventually adapted it into a movie!

This coming-of-age story is one of the modern greats and was the piece of literature that inspired my debut novel! My main character Someone and Charlie aren’t so different…


By Stephen King,

Book cover of It

Why this book?

While on the surface It may seem like it has very little in common with the other novels on my list, but what makes It so special is that outside all the scares and horror, there is a brilliant coming-of-age story. Pennywise will go down in history as one of the best villains ever crafted, but this monster is elevated because you care about the children as they interact with this menacing, terrifying, and evil presence.

For me, where this story takes on a whole new level in my life, It became the novel I used as inspiration while penning my second novel. This book will always be connected deep into my core.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By J.K. Rowling, Mary Grandpré (illustrator),

Book cover of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Why this book?

I have a bad habit of reading books after the adaption is made. I watched the first three Harry Potter films, but I couldn’t wait. After the third movie, I saw the book for Goblet of Fire was already out and I grabbed it within days. For me, Goblet is the first experience I had reading Harry Potter and I loved it!

We have dragons and an awesome competition to move the plot, but we also have budding teenage emotions. Love. Death. Friendship. Fights. The menacing presence of Voldemort. Together everything combines to deliver a coming-of-age staple! Many of these themes show throughout Harry Potter, but Goblet of Fire will always be my favorite because I was a teenager, just like Harry. That personal experience and connection to the moments in my life are what make this special and better than the subsequent novels for me at least. This inspiration hits the pages of my debut novel and I have a few special chapters that reference this iconic series.

The Fault in Our Stars

By John Green,

Book cover of The Fault in Our Stars

Why this book?

I respect the heck out of John Green. His YouTube channel (Vlog Brothers) is awesome The Fault in our Stars hit hard! Why did I go for The Fault in our Stars? Well, I have a bias toward movies, and the movie for The Fault in our Stars is just better.

Funny, sad, raw, real.

Similar to my debut novel with the emotional punch, Fault was one of the projects I watched a few times as I edited my novel and it will always be linked to my book in my mind.

All the Bright Places

By Jennifer Niven,

Book cover of All the Bright Places

Why this book?

Sticky notes!

I use a digital sticky note Kanban system to organize everything I do. I have a day job and I write novels, plus I have chores and something that resembles a social life (most of us authors keep to ourselves though). I write almost everything into a note because I am terrified I am going to forget something.

After decades, my system is refined, but even as a teenager I was always writing future-me notes and leaving them on my desk. All the Bright Places takes sticky notes to the next level and it connected with me because of my relationship with them. This is the newest property on the list, but it slides in right next to the others because of the range of emotions the story covers.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in suicide, life satisfaction, and wizards?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about suicide, life satisfaction, and wizards.

Suicide Explore 83 books about suicide
Life Satisfaction Explore 120 books about life satisfaction
Wizards Explore 68 books about wizards

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Anne Frank, A Gentleman in Moscow, and The Road if you like this list.