10 Books That Changed a Teen’s Life

The summer of 1975 was like no other for writer Katrina Kenison. 

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Book Slideshow One


The summer of 1975 was like no other for writer Katrina Kenison. As she describes in her short story “Grounded,” Kenison’s mom and dad put her on lockdown after an escapade in her red Plymouth Fury. Kenison’s salvation: books. “My parents kept me home but they didn’t censor my reading! And I was all over the place,” says Kenison. “Making this list made me want to go back and read some of those books again.” See how she became embroiled in a love triangle, escaped to a Greek island, lived life in the fast lane and was introduced to one of her future collaborators all from the safety of her home.

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Book slide one


Coffee, Tea or Me? The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses
by Donald Bain, Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones

Forget driving. Come fly away with the ladies of the sky in this hilarious memoir of jet-setting in the ’60s. The outrageous stories bring to life air travel's glamorous and sexy heyday.

Amazon, $13

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book slide two


Couples by John Updike  

Don’t be fooled by the staid cover—this racy book is anything but. Ten young married couples living in a fictional New England town create a community where sexual exploits abound, though not without consequences.

Amazon, $13

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Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

This classic cautionary tale released in 1971 still haunts readers today. Alice struggles between the need to please her parents and the pull of the free-love world of drugs.

Simon & Schuster, $10

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Jonathan Livingston Seagull
by Richard Bach

If you ever wondered what life as a seagull would be like, this one’s for you. According to the titular protagonist, it’s boring and difficult when you’re considered an outcast. Sounds a lot like teenage angst.

Amazon, $19

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Love Story by Erich Segal

The novel that launched a quintessential romantic plotline: rich boy meets poor girl, rich boy loses poor girl college, rich boy... It also launched the longstanding (sometimes maligned) catchphrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Amazon, $11

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Portnoy's Complant by Philip Roth

A novel so frank, Sigmund Freud himself would blush. Poor Portnoy is tragically stuck between his hormones and his hovering Jewish mother. He spends the novel explaining his woes (in explicit detail) to his psychotherapist. Get ready to be shocked.

Amazon, $10


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Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

What every young person who’s been grounded for the entire summer (or anyone who wants to get lost in someone else’s struggle for self-discovery) craves: A boy defies his father’s wishes and goes on a journey of spiritual enlightenment.

Amazon, $8



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The French Lieutenant's Woman
by John Fowles

Charles Smithson tries to navigate a love triangle with his fiancée and a mysterious woman in this romantic/gothic novel set in the 19th century.

Amazon, $11


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The Magus by John Fowles

If you’re ready for a trip down suspense and horror lane, look no further. An English teacher comes undone on a small Greek island, losing his sense of reality while playing a madman’s game.

Amazon, $15

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Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Spanning two decades, this best-selling tale follows the lives of three women through friendship, fame and drugs. It may be 50 years since this book's debut, but that bright pink cover makes it feel as fresh as ever.

Amazon, $10