Culture

Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels

Reference
Updated June 8, 2017 26.8k views 63 items

List of famous bildungsroman books, listed alphabetically with jacket cover images of the books when available. Information for these popular bildungsroman books is included as well, such as the author's name and the book's publication date. This list includes the best bildungsroman novels, textbooks, and stories, so use it to find books you haven't already read and add them to your reading list.

The list you're viewing contains books like The Catcher in the Rye and Jane Eyre.

This list should answer the questions, "What are the best bildungsroman books?" and "What are the most famous bildungsroman books?"

Note that some books on this list might be currently out of print, but you can purchase most of these notable bildungsroman titles on Amazon with just one click.
1
A Prayer for Owen Meany ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
John Irving

First Published: 1989-03

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Novel

Original Language: English Language

A Prayer for Owen Meany was the seventh novel by American writer John Irving. Published in 1989, it tells the story of John Wheelwright and his best friend Owen Meany growing up together in a ...more
2
A Separate Peace is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
John Knowles

First Published: 1959

Subjects: Popular literature, New Hampshire, Literature, Young adult, Classics, + more

Genres (Book): Naturalism, Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fiction, Young adult literature, + more

Original Language: English Language

A Separate Peace is a coming-of-age novel by John Knowles. Based on his earlier short story, "Phineas," it was Knowles' first published novel and became his best-known work. Set ...more

More A Separate Peace 

#242 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #109 of 184 The Greatest American Novels #65 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read

3
A Wizard of Earthsea is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Ursula K. Le Guin

First Published: 1968

Subjects: Wizards, Magic, Radio

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fiction, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

A Wizard of Earthsea is a young-adult fantasy novel written by the American author Ursula K. Le Guin, first published by the small press Parnassus in 1968. Set in the fictional archipelago of ...more
4
Alice, I Think is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Susan Juby

First Published: 2000

Genres (Book): Comic novel, Bildungsroman, Young adult literature

Original Language: English Language

Alice, I Think is the first in a trilogy of comic novels written by Susan Juby. It was first published in 2000. It is set in Smithers, British Columbia and describes the struggle of a young ...more
5
Bastard Out of Carolina ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Dorothy Allison

First Published: 1993-03

Subjects: Literary, Poverty

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Fiction

Original Language: American English

Bastard out of Carolina was the first novel published by author Dorothy Allison. The book, which is semi-autobiographical in nature, is set in Allison's hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. ...more
6
Boyracers is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Alan Bissett

First Published: 2001

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman

Boyracers is the debut novel of Scottish writer Alan Bissett. It was first published in 2001 by Edinburgh-based Polygon Books. The plot concerns four male teenagers growing up in the town of ...more
7
Candide, ou l'Optimisme ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Voltaire

First Published: 1759-01

Subjects: French literature, Great Britain

Genres (Book): Picaresque novel, Bildungsroman, Satire, Philosophical fiction

Original Language: French Language

Candide, ou l'Optimisme is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled ...more
8
Caucasia is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Danzy Senna

Subjects: Massachusetts

Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction

Caucasia is a novel written by Danzy Senna. It features the coming of age of Birdie, one of two multiracial sisters.
9
Celandine is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels

First Published: 2006-08-22

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Young adult literature, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

Celandine is a book written by Steve Augarde.
10
Coin Locker Babies is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Ryu Murakami

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Bildungsroman, Drama, Novel

Original Language: Japanese Language

Coin Locker Babies, 1980 is a novel by Ryu Murakami about coin-operated-locker babies, translated into English by Stephen Snyder. The translation was published in 1995 by Kodansha International ...more
11
Cry to Heaven is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Anne Rice

First Published: 1982-10

Subjects: Italy

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Bildungsroman, Horror Film, Historical fiction, Fiction, + more

Cry to Heaven is a novel by American author Anne Rice published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1982. Taking place in eighteenth-century Italy, it follows the paths of two unlikely collaborators: a ...more
12
Derby Girl is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Shauna Cross

First Published: 2007-09-04

Subjects: Roller derby

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Young adult literature

Derby Girl is a 2007 novel by Shauna Cross. It tells the story of Bliss Cavendar, a girl from the fictional town of Bodeen, Texas whose mother wants her to compete in beauty pageants, and seeks ...more
13
Green Henry is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Gottfried Keller

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman

Original Language: German Language

Green Henry is a partially autobiographical novel by the Swiss author Gottfried Keller, first published in 1855, and extensively revised in 1879. Truth is freely mingled with fiction, and there ...more
14
Harry Potter and the Dea... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
J. K. Rowling

First Published: 2007-07-21

Subjects: Wizards, Education, Literature, Coming of age, Schools, + more

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Magic realism, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction, + more

Original Language: English Language

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final novel of the Harry Potter series, written by British author J. K. Rowling. The book was released on 21 July 2007 by Bloomsbury ...more

More Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 

#65 of 1,233 The Best Novels Ever Written #27 of 300 The Greatest Children's Books That Were Made Into Movieslisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

15
How the Garcia Girls Los... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Julia Alvarez

First Published: 1991

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Fiction, Novel

Original Language: English Language

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents is a 1991 novel written by Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist Julia Alvarez. Told in reverse chronological order and narrated from ...more
16
Ingenious Pain is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Andrew Miller

First Published: 1997-02-20

Subjects: Europe, Feeling

Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel

Ingenious Pain is a book by Andrew Miller.
17
Inkdawn is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Cornelia Funke

First Published: 2008

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Bildungsroman, Young adult literature, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language, German Language

Inkdeath is a 2007 young adult fantasy novel by Cornelia Funke. It is the third novel in the Inkheart trilogy, following Inkheart and Inkspell.
18
Inkheart is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Cornelia Funke

First Published: 2003-09-23

Subjects: Classics, Italy

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language, German Language

Inkheart is a 2003 young adult fantasy novel by Cornelia Funke, and the first book of the Inkheart trilogy. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of ...more
19
Inkheart trilogy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Cornelia Funke

Genres (Book): Fantasy, Alternate history, Bildungsroman

Original Language: German Language

The Inkheart trilogy is a series of three fantasy novels written by German author Cornelia Funke, comprising Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath. The books chronicle the adventures of teen Meggie ...more
20
Invisible Man is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Ralph Ellison

First Published: 1952

Subjects: Literary, Literature, Classics, United States of America, Places

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel, Social commentary, + more

Original Language: English Language

Invisible Man is a novel by Ralph Ellison, published by Random House in 1952. It addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans early in the twentieth century, ...more

More Invisible Man 

#165 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #29 of 184 The Greatest American Novels #90 of 1,233 The Best Novels Ever Written

21
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Charlotte Brontë

First Published: 1847-10-16

Subjects: Popular literature, Social class, Morality, England

Genres (Book): Romance novel, Bildungsroman, Fiction, Novel, Gothic fiction, + more

Original Language: English Language

Jane Eyre is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published on 16 October 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. of London, England, under the pen name "Currer Bell." The ...more

More Jane Eyre 

#27 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #16 of 169 Books You'll Never Finish Reading #20 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read

22
Lives of Girls and Women... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Alice Munro

First Published: 1971

Subjects: Canada, Literary

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Fiction

Lives of Girls and Women is a short story cycle by Nobel Prize–winning author Alice Munro, published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson in 1971. All of the stories chronicle the life of a single character, ...more
23
Look Homeward, Angel is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Thomas Wolfe

First Published: 1929

Genres (Book): Roman à clef, Bildungsroman, Autobiographical novel, Künstlerroman

Original Language: English Language

Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life is a 1929 novel by Thomas Wolfe. It is Wolfe's first novel, and is considered a highly autobiographical American Bildungsroman. The character of ...more
24
Looking for Alibrandi is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Melina Marchetta

Subjects: Literary, Education, Young adult, Adolescence, Fathers and Daughters, + more

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fiction, Young adult literature

Original Language: English Language

Looking for Alibrandi is the debut novel of Australian author Melina Marchetta, published in 1992. A film adaptation was made in 2000.
25
Maestro is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Peter Goldsworthy

First Published: 1989

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman

Original Language: English Language

Maestro is a 1989 novel written by Australian author Peter Goldsworthy. It is a bildungsroman which deals with the themes of art and life. The novel was shortlisted for the 1990 Miles Franklin ...more