Books to read when having an existential crisis

April 29, 2015, 12:43 p.m. | By Sarah Trunk | 9 years, 2 months ago

It's already close to the end of the year, and that means that you're worried about one or more of these things: college, your future, APs, exams, next year, college, becoming an adult, leaving home, finding yourself or college. It can seem like all you want to do is to throw yourself into the nearest project, or to ignore all your responsibilities. But what if there was a person who related to your pain, who was trying to figure it all out, just like you? What if they could help you get back on your feet and find your purpose?

With that in mind, here is a list of SCO's top five books to read when you are having an existential crisis.

I am the Messenger
If you're lost, confused, worried about your future, counting the many impressive achievements of your peers, such as Mozart or some kid who won the spelling bee, and are seriously considering running away and burying yourself in obscurity, you are not alone. Ed Kennedy in "I am the Messenger" by Markus Zuzak is just as bland and underachieving as you are. Ed struggles to deal with becoming an adult, taking on responsibilities and most of all creating meaning out of his home and his friends. Maybe this is a common theme in coming of age novels, but Zuzak nails the feeling of extreme, hopeless pessimism that comes with growing up in beautiful and perfectly executed prose.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
So maybe you're still worried about your impending adulthood. After all, how are you supposed to pay taxes and make yourself food and interact with other adults? Aren't you supposed to have things figured out by now? Where's the manual about how to become an adult? But, as Mexican-Americans Aristotle and Dante of El Paso, Texas discover in Benjamin Alire Sáenz's novel, adulthood is too complex for a set of guidelines. They will help you grapple with what it really means to be an adult, and how to see the world in a different way.

Please Ignore Vera Diatz
Vera Diatz is a fairly average, hardworking senior in high school, in love with her best friend. And although this may sound like the beginning of almost any given teen romance book, Vera's best friend dies suddenly, and Vera is left with the aftermath of an intense and broken friendship and a hoard of secrets she doesn't want to deal with. Her struggle to come to terms with what has happened and her struggle to navigate the extremely complex landscape of her life is certainly worth reading, and it doesn't hurt that A.S. King's writing is incredible. She captures the emotions of a teenage girl in a unique and utterly real way, and she gives us a lot of perspective about a fairly common issue.

Life of Pi
In the world we live in, religion is hard to come to terms with. Many Blazers struggle to reconcile the religious tradition they've grown up with and their own beliefs. In Yann Martel's "Life of Pi," concepts of faith and truth are constantly present, making both protagonist Pi Patel and the reader question what they truly believe in. Pi's faith in God and his journey to understand what that means is fascinating. Plus "Life of Pi" is filled with villains, tigers, shipwrecks, peril and all kinds of adventure to fulfill your desire for finding that something else.

Catcher in the Rye
If you are fifteen, feel like you are surrounded by phonies, afraid of growing up (still), want to run away and somehow haven't read "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, you should. Written from the perspective of seventeen-year-old Holden Caulfield, "Catcher" is an incredible look into the mind of an angsty teenager, complete with love, fear, anxiety and a nagging sense of meaninglessness. It's a classic, too, so it can help give you bonus points as swanky parties with snobs and phonies.

One of the best ways to help you figure out your life is through other people's experiences. Being able to relate to characters and follow their journey can help you start yours.

Tags: Life of Pi Catcher in the Rye I am the Messenger Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Sarah Trunk. Hello! I'm Sarah, and I'm one of the managing editors for SCO this year. I like writing about things and reading mystery novels. Enjoy our site! More »

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