The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an incredibly emotional coming-of-age film with music as one of its core pillars. Charlie uses music as an escape, but also as a means of expression. His friends Patrick and Sam receive mixtapes with songs that remind him of memories with them or feelings he felt with them. It’s a powerful medium. And though the songs bring out a number of emotions in listeners, we readers might want something more literary to relate to. That’s why I’ve put together a list of books that correlate to each of the songs on Charlie’s mixtape.
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
This book corresponds to “Asleep” by The Smiths. The song expresses a feeling of despair, sorrow, and not wanting to wake up. Knowing Charlie’s story, it sadly makes sense that this is the first and last song on his playlist. The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a novel that provides perspective and solidarity on the topic through Lex’s story of putting her life back together after losing her brother.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
If you like “Vapour Trail” by Ride and “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac from the playlist, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is the book for you. The songs are about life changes – knowing that something good is going to end but accepting it and going through transformative experiences. This novel captures that feeling as Addie makes a bargain to live forever, but has everyone she ever meets forget her. The story follows her journey to make an impact on the world and those around her.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Milan Kundera tells an incredible story of the complicated nature of relationships. A young woman is in love with a man who can’t decide between loving her or his womanizing behavior and one of his mistresses who also has a faithful lover. This novel encompasses the painful unrequited love that the songs “Scarborough Fair” by Simon & Garfunkel, “Night in White Satin” by The Moody Blues, and “Dusk” by Genesis express in their lyrics.
The Shadow and Bone Series by Leigh Bardugo
Alina Starkov faces many challenges throughout the series as she discovers her Grisha powers and how to control them. One of these is keeping her loved ones safe. She tries to do this by distancing herself from her love. If she stays away from him, she believes he will live a better life. Similarly, “A White Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum and “Gypsy” by Suzanne Vega are girl-leaves-boy songs. They are parallels of each other as the woman leaves her lover and doesn’t want them to chase after her.
No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai
A young man is stuck between the breakup of tradition in a northern Japanese aristocratic family and the influence of Western ideas. As a result, he feels “disqualified from being human.” He feels othered and has a sense of alienation from those around him who he doesn’t understand. “Time of No Reply” by Nick Drake conveys the same feeling of being invisible. The desire to reach out is there, but no one sees it.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Charlie included a few songs that aren’t so sad and dark. “Dear Prudence” by The Beatles is more upbeat and encouraging for someone to stop hiding from the world. It’s about taking advantage of what it has to offer and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson carries a similar message. Amid a heartbreaking and funny journey of love and mistakes, Lennie figures herself out in an honest and loveable way.
Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin
Earthsea Cycle is a fantasy series that matches the call to daydreams in Smashing Pumpkins’ “Daydream.” The song is about the desire for daydreams to be true because real life isn’t great. At the same time, Earthsea is a fantasy series that allows readers to escape the world and enter a new one.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist is personally one of my favorite books. Its message is timeless and applicable regardless of which stage of life you’re in. Seize the moment, make the most of what you have, and be accepting of what the universe gives you because your only responsibility is to follow your individual dreams. Charlie’s mixtape includes two songs that follow a similar sentiment: “MLK” by U2 and “Blackbird” by The Beatles. They have a “light at the end of the tunnel” kind of message that inspires listeners to endure.
Make sure to add these to your TBR and Charlie’s songs to your playlist. Set your preferred mood with the songs playing softly in the background as you read some of these great books.
For more of Bookstr’s recommendations, keep reading here!