Here are some thoughtful coming-of-age suggestions for the man who is looking for something insightful (from a fellow dude):
Bellow, Saul. The Adventures of Augie March – Augie’s nonconformity leads him into an eventful, humorous, and sometimes earthy way of life.
Brown, Michael. Audrey Hepburn’s Neck – Infatuated with actress Audrey Hepburn, young Toshi comes of age in Tokyo, where he tries to make a living while balancing family secrets, American friends and lovers, and his own burgeoning identity. A first novel.
Chabon, Michael. Wonder Boys – In a story exploring the theme of the artist’s isolation, Grady Tripp, an obese, aging writer who has lost his way, and debauched editor Terry Crabtree struggle to rekindle their friendship, a sense of adventure, and purpose in their lives.
Doyle, Roddy. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha – Paddy Clarke, a ten-year-old boy who longs to be a missionary, experiences life’s joys and setbacks–specifically his ma and da’s fights–as he grows up in Liffey, Ireland, in the late 1960s. By the author of The Van. Winner of the Booker Prize.
Eberstadt, Fernanda. Isaac and His Devils – Isaac Hooker, a young genius in poor health, is spurred on to new achievements by his father, who has given up on his own early promise
Echenique, Alfredo Bryce. A World for Julius – “Like the best of Dickens’s novels, A World for Julius is a great, fat book that completely engages a reader with its characters and places—so completely that one reads with that often forgotten childhood pleasure of entering an all-encompassing, almost fairytale country of the imagination.”—New York Times Book Review
Hornby, Nick. About a Boy – Will trades his lack of enthusiasm toward children for a date with a truly beautiful woman and single mother in a comic, incisive novel about modern romance by the author of the international best-seller High Fidelity.
Irving, John. The Water Method Man – The main character of John Irving’s second novel, written when the author was twenty-nine, is a perpetual graduate student with a birth defect in his urinary tract–and a man on the threshold of committing himself to a second marriage that bears remarkable resemblance to his first…
Poirier, Mark Jude. Goats: A Novel – Fourteen-year-old Ellis departs from the Southwest to attend boarding school in the East, leaving behind his mother and the Goat Man, the surrogate father figure who has taught him the meaning of stability, commitment, and caretaking.
Sonnenblick, Jordan. Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie – Being a member of the All-Star Jazz Band, having a hopeless crush on the hottest girl in school, and playing the part of the generic role model to his younger brother, Jeffrey, is enough to keep thirteen-year-old Steven busy in his average life, but when a tragic event happens within his family, Steven begins to realize what really matters most in the world.
Bennett, Ian. Leap Years – Gr. 10-12. Bennett captures the uncanny feeling of high school in this graphic novel about teenage Jake.
Cruse, Howard. Stuck Rubber Baby – A truly eye-opening comic. The story is set in the South in the early ’60s and deals with homophobia, racism and the gay subculture of that period. The art is absolutely beautiful; Cruse is a master of the cross-hatching technique, which gives a certain “texture” to his art work and brings his pages to life. Stuck Rubber Baby is easily the most important comic book since Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
Thompson, Craig. Good-Bye, Chunky Rice – Chunky Rice, a small turtle, embarks on an ocean voyage, where he meets a shady skipper and conjoined twins, Ruth and Livonia,, but he also leaves behind his girlfriend Dandel, who sends him letters in a bottle.