Six Books to Help You Survive High School

So you’ve made it through the first day of school. But wait! You have to do this 200 more times this year?! How on earth will you survive? Luckily, Figment’s compiled a list of books that will help you get through high school. Giving any one of these a read will automatically make your four years at school at least somewhat more manageable. Check out our picks, then let us know what books are getting you through (or got you through) high school in the comments!

Stephen ChboskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower 

by Stephen Chbosky

This coming-of-age tale has everything that makes high school simultaneously horrible and wonderful: crazy friends, bullies, cool teachers, cliques, and, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If there’s anyone who knows how tough the teen years are, it’s Charlie. Recommended for all you wallflowers out there.


Laurie Halse AndersonSpeak

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Anderson’s book tackles some tough subjects, which is why it’s a must-read for anyone in high school. Melinda’s transformation from a victim to a victor is definitely inspiring. She’s an awesome role model for anyone who’s struggling in the perilous social seas of a new school.


John GreenAn Abundance of Katherines

by John Green

If you’re looking for something a little lighter, Katherines should be your go-to. Even though Colin has already graduated, the flashbacks to his relationships with old girlfriends (all named Katherine) give some great insight into how to survive high school. Bonus: You can impress your math teachers with Colin’s complex equations.


Melina MarchettaSaving Francesca

by Melina Marchetta

As far as harrowing high school experiences go, it doesn’t get much worse than transferring to an all-boys school when you’re a girl. Francesca has to navigate the strange world of St. Sebastian’s while dealing with a new love interest and her mom’s depression. But at the heart of the drama, this is a story about the importance of high school friendships.


Jerry SpinelliStargirl

by Jerry Spinelli

High school’s not always the kindest place for people who don’t fit in. Exhibit A: Stargirl, a ukelele-loving optimist who’s more than a little out-there. Her friend Leo chronicles her development from quirky outcast to cookie-cutter popular girl and back again. She’s a great reminder to stay true to yourself, even if it’s hard.


Holden Caulfield, JD SalingerThe Catcher in the Rye

by JD Salinger

Love this book or hate it, reading The Catcher in the Rye will at least assure you of one thing: No matter how bad high school gets, you’ll never, ever be as angsty as Holden Caulfield. And sometimes, that’s just the motivation you need to turn in that last homework assignment.


Which books got you through tough times in high school? Let us know in the comments!

23 thoughts on “Six Books to Help You Survive High School

  1. I read all the Jessica Darling books (Sloppy Fursts, Second Gelpings, etc.) the summer before 9th grade. Great for a laugh when you’re feeling down about how hard high school is!

  2. Oh my, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a must read for me. I also watched the movie this summer. I could defenitly relate to Charlie.
    My Movie Watching List:
    1. Perks Of Being A Wallflower
    2. Extremely loud and Incredibly Close

  3. I’ve read Stargirl, and I think it’s great that you put it on the list. Love that book! I am definitely going to read Perks of Being a Wallflower and An Abundance of Katherines as well. Awesome list <3

  4. A song of ice and fire (game of thrones) cuz it reminds you that no matter how bad it gets, at least you’re not in Westeros.

  5. am I the only one who did not understand “catcher in the rye”? why is it so famous? he starts whiny and ends whiny. he thinks everyone is weird, when they are trying to be nice, except for his teacher… hes a bit off i will admit it, but it has nothing that makes it special. can someone enlighten me please?????

    • We went into great detail about it when we read it in my English class. It’s all supposed to be symbolic of the world. It’s just him talking about his life and all the phonies in it. He’s trying to say everything and everyone are phonies and he really hates it. The author of Catcher in the Rye actually said That no one was allowed to make it into a movie, because than the whole story would be one big hypocritical statement.

      If you want anymore insight on the book feel free to message me, I’d be happy to tell you about it. 🙂

      • I just interpreted it as Holden’s going through those tough, angsty teenage-years and he just feels like no one understands him because he thinks a bit differently than everyone else. Like us quirky writers, Holden’s a bit off-beat. Salinger constantly comments on how Holden wants to talk to someone, but doesn’t know who or what he would say, and I think that really carries that theme through and expresses it prominently.

  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is phenomenal. What about It’s Kind of a Funny Story? It’s a great book about what the stress of wanting to excel in school and turn out successful can do to you. Also I prefer Looking to Alaska to An Abundance of Katherines.John Green is awesome.

  7. I’ve read & loved all of the books listed, minus “Stargirl” (which is on my to-read list.) John Green’s and Melina Marchetta’s (realistic) other books have also definitely been important to me, as well as Ned Vizzini’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” In terms of movies, I love “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, and “Easy A.”

  8. Hmm. Coming of age, I’d probably recommend the Uglies series by Scott westerfeld. Not only because that’s my current obsession, but also, remember. Highschool was and never will be anything like Tally’s 16th year. But then again, it kind of. In regards to changing so much.

  9. My high school survival books:
    Perks, of course
    Smart Girls Get What They Want
    The Sky is Everywhere
    Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
    and absolutely anything by John Green or Sarah Dessen <3

  10. i loved ‘how not to be popular’ and ‘the lucy variations’ which isnt a high school book, but it is a coming of age novel. also anything by john green, and sarah dessen is pretty good too.

  11. Oh man. I have a lot of feelings about Wallflower and Speak. Where do I even begin?

    Last year, in my freshman year of high school, my English II class read Speak. There could not have been more perfect timing. I was going through some really difficult stuff at home, and Speak… Let’s just say I identify with the main character perhaps a bit too much. It helps that I found a lot of the characters (the art teacher, for instance) to be quite similar to people I actually knew (in keeping with the above example, MY art teacher), and that my English teacher was a wonderful, wonderful person.

    I also identify with Charlie from Wallflower a lot, and the book has some sentimental value to me as well (long story). I read it early in my freshman year, and interestingly, my experience ended up having some interesting similarities to Charlie’s. There’s also the fact that I have way too much in common with him…

    But yeah. I love those books.

  12. I’ve read three of the six and would like to explain more of why I think they are great books to read to get through high school.

    Speak: Although this story centers around a serious topic, there are lots of things in this book that people can relate to. Melinda is constantly pointing out things that we’ve all thought before and she is quite hilarious. She gives each of her teachers these fun names and points out what can be wrong with high school. You get to enjoy most of the book until you figure out the serious part and then it gets sad but at the same time it makes you want to stand up and say something.

    Stargirl: This book is a fantastic display of why you should stay true to who you are and not live to please anyone just because everyone else feels as if they need to please each other. The girl, Stargirl, is so unique and not afraid to be “out there.” She inspires some around her and infuriates others. High school can be a mean place but if you choose to ignore the hate, you win in the end. The second book is also great but it focuses less on high school.

    The Catcher in the Rye: You have to keep a real open mind when reading this book and when you manage to do that, you’ll really enjoy it. The main character, Holden, is very negative but a lot of his thoughts are similar to a lot of high school students. Not everyone has a perfect life or is positive all the time.

    I can’t wait to check out the other three books. 🙂

  13. In case you can’t tell from my screen name, Stargirl is my favorite book series. True, only the first book is about her and Leo in high school, but they are both beautiful and powerful. My English teacher read the first Stargirl book to us in class when I was in seventh grade, but I didn’t cry until I read it again my freshman year of high school. I deeply relate to Stargirl in so many ways. I’m socially awkward, a dreamer, a storyteller, and I’ve been betrayed over and over both by love and by friends. I cried when stargirl tried to change herself so people would like her because that was exactly what my parents were urging me to do. They already were confident in my intellect but wanted me to be popular too. It took me years to accept that this would never happen and that I should be who I am. Thank you to Jerry Spinelli and to Stargirl for getting me through High School. As painful as her story was for me to read, it will always be one of my favorites.

  14. I loved Perks of Being a Wallflower, as well as Stargirl. Other books I’ve read that helped a ton were: Flipped, Beastly, The Alchemist, The Fault in Our Stars, Go Ask Alice, The Lucy Variations, Crazy, the Percy Jackson second series, Falling for Hamlet, the Fablehaven series, the Sisters Grimm series, the Thirteenth Child…

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