The best books about young people finding themselves without a phone

Maddy Lederman Author Of Edna in the Desert
By Maddy Lederman

The Books I Picked & Why

Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer

Book cover of Into the Wild

Why this book?

The unraveling of what people long for in the wild, and what they’re willing to endure to find it, is as compelling as going to the places on these pages. I was afraid of the sadness defining this book, but McCandless and seekers like him, including the writer, push us to contemplate a deeper relationship with nature and ways of being more fully alive.  

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The Catcher in the Rye

By J.D. Salinger

Book cover of The Catcher in the Rye

Why this book?

In this quintessential coming of age story, Holden realizes that the rules governing society may be more aspirational than he was led to believe, and that adults can be unreliable and phony. I read this book when I was around his age, I also found these truths hard. We're still young and uncertain if we can trust our ability to decipher it all. It’s a tough time. 

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By Jane Austen

Book cover of Emma

Why this book?

I love a comedy about a young woman who becomes a better person and realizes her boyfriend is the cute guy who’s always hanging around. Emma thinks she knows what everyone else needs to do, but (spoiler) she needs to figure herself out first. Her surprising inner shift makes this one of my favorite Jane Austen novels.

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Anne of Green Gables

By L.M. Montgomery

Book cover of Anne of Green Gables

Why this book?

I admire Anne’s ability to entertain herself, her tendency towards joy, and her rambling imagination, but she has issues with impulse control and reading people. In this way, the character from my book, Edna, is like her. As with many older books, there’s outdated thinking about being female in this one, but contemporary girls are also working out gender roles and obsessing about their looks. It's another classic story about becoming a better person, and to a lesser degree, about the possibilities with a nearby boy. 

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The Psychology of Making Life Interesting

By Wendell White

Book cover of The Psychology of Making Life Interesting

Why this book?

The title appeals to me, and the list of books I love is overwhelming. I’m rounding out my recs with this out-of-print, self-help book published in 1939 that I came across it in a second-hand bookstore. You can open the guide to almost any page and find something simple and deep, or if not, old phraseology like, Preventing Unwholesome Behavior Due to Tedium, is amusing. Technology may be changing the way people meet and how we process information, but we have most of the same emotional needs as before.

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