Books Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels

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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 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 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

3
A Wizard of Earthsea is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Ursula K. Le Guin 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 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 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 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 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 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
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 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 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 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 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 Deathly H... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
J. K. Rowling 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

15
How the Garcia Girls Lost Thei... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Julia Alvarez 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 Ingenious Pain is a book by Andrew Miller.

17
Inkdeath is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Cornelia Funke 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 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 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 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

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

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

26
Mala onda is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Alberto Fuguet Mala onda is a bildungsroman novel and social commentary by Alberto Fuguet. It is also Fuguet's debut novel, first published in 1991. Mala onda is set in Chile during a ten-day period in late ...more

27
Mansfield Park is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Jane Austen Mansfield Park is the third novel by Jane Austen, written at Chawton Cottage between February 1811 and 1813. It was published in May 1814 by Thomas Egerton, who published Jane Austen's two ...more

28
Metroland is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Julian Barnes Metroland is an English novel written by Julian Barnes and published in 1980. Philip Larkin wrote a letter to Barnes saying "that he had much enjoyed it, despite his prejudice against ...more

29
Nervous Conditions is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Tsitsi Dangarembga Nervous Conditions is a novel by Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga, first published in the United Kingdom in 1988 by the Women's Press. The semi-autobiographical novel focuses on the story of ...more

30
Norwegian Wood is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Haruki Murakami Norwegian Wood is a 1987 novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The novel is a nostalgic story of loss and burgeoning sexuality. It is told from the first-person perspective of Toru Watanabe, ...more

31
One Morning Like a Bird is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Andrew Miller One Morning Like a Bird is the fifth novel by English author, Andrew Miller, released on 4 September 2008 through Sceptre. The novel received mostly positive reviews.

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Other Voices, Other Rooms is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Truman Capote Other Voices, Other Rooms is a 1948 gay novel by Truman Capote. Other Voices, Other Rooms is written in the Southern Gothic style and is notable for its atmosphere of isolation and decadence. ...more

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Otilia's Riddle is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
George Călinescu

34
Pather Panchali is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay Pather Panchali is a novel written by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay and was later adapted into a film of the same name by Satyajit Ray. Pather Panchali deals with the life of the Roy family, both ...more

35
Punahou Blues is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Kirby Wright Punahou Blues by Kirby Wright is a wonderfully witty novel, written with sentiment and humor and will undoubtedly make you flash back to your own school years. It is set on the island of Oahu ...more

36
Ragged Dick is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Horatio Alger, Jr. Ragged Dick; or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks is a Bildungsroman by Horatio Alger, Jr. serialized in Student and Schoolmate in 1867, and released as a full length novel in May ...more

37
Rule of the Bone is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Russell Banks Rule of the Bone is a 1995 novel by Russell Banks. It is a Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age story about the 14-year-old American narrator, Chappie, later dubbed Bone, who, after having dropped ...more

38
Swamplandia! is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Karen Russell Swamplandia! is a 2011 novel by Karen Russell. Set in the Ten Thousand Islands, off the southwest coast of Florida, it is the story of the Bigtree family of alligator wrestlers who live on ...more

39
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Mark Twain The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. The story is set in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, inspired by ...more

40
The Anatomy Lesson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
John David Morley The Anatomy Lesson is a novel by John David Morley, inspired by Rembrandt’s painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.

41
The Book of Khalid is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Amin al-Rihani The Book of Khalid is a novel by Arab-American writer Ameen Rihani. Composed during a sojourn in the mountains of Lebanon, it is considered to be the first novel by an Arab-American writer in ...more

42
The Cat's Table is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Michael Ondaatje The Cat's Table is a novel by Canadian author Michael Ondaatje first published in 2011. It was a shortlisted nominee for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

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The Catcher in the Rye is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. A controversial novel originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage ...more

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The Changelings is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Jo Sinclair The Changelings is a novel by Jo Sinclair first published in 1955 by McGraw Hill. Features tomboy protagonist Judith "Vincent" Vincent, a 12-year-old who is the newly deposed leader of ...more

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The Farthest Shore is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Ursula K. Le Guin The Farthest Shore is a young-adult fantasy novel by the American author Ursula K. Le Guin, first published by Atheneum in 1972. It is the third book in the series commonly called the Earthsea ...more

46
The God of Animals is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
The God of Animals is the debut novel by Aryn Kyle first published in 2007.

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The L-Shaped Room is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Lynne Reid Banks The L-Shaped Room is a book written by Lynne Reid Banks.

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The Land of Green Plums is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
Herta Müller The Land of Green Plums is a novel by Herta Müller, published in 1994 by Rowohlt Verlag. Perhaps Müller's best-known work, the story portrays four young people living in a totalitarian ...more

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The Lonely Voyage is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
John Harris The Lonely Voyage is an adventure novel by English author John Harris. It is his first novel.

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The Longest Journey is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Famous Bildungsroman Books and Novels
E. M. Forster The Longest Journey is a bildungsroman by E. M. Forster.