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Expanding Horizons: 20 Captivating Books Like “The Outsiders”

Step Into High-Stakes Drama and Unhinged Friendships with These Books That Evoke the Spirit of The Outsiders
by The Blinkist Team | Mar 6 2024

Explore 20 Amazing Books Like

“The Outsiders” is an iconic novel by S.E. Hinton that provides readers with a vivid and authentic portrayal of adolescence, complete with intense friendships and high-stakes drama. The story follows Ponyboy Curtis, a member of a poor gang called ‘the Greasers’, who fights against the societal norms that put them against the wealthy ‘Socs’.

The novel captures themes of loyalty, socioeconomic conflict, and the inherent struggle of maintaining one’s innocence. This article offers a list of 20 books that share similar themes and elements found in “The Outsiders”, making it a must-read for anyone who enjoys books that delve into the complexities of growing up. So, get ready to embark on a literary journey with us! 
 

The 20 best books to read if you liked “The Outsiders”

 

1. “That Was Then, This Is Now” by S.E. Hinton.

No list of books like The Outsiders would be complete without another offering from S.E. Hinton herself. Here, we delve into the life of Bryon, a teenager navigating the rocky terrain of adolescence, friendship, and life-altering choices.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • A coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of gang rivalry.
  • Raw and emotive examination of intense friendships.
  • Protagonists dealing with societal pressures and personal transformations.

 

2. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger.

Dive into the troubled mind of teenager Holden Caulfield, grappling with his identity, disillusionment, and the ‘phoniness’ he sees in the adult world.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • A teenage protagonist negotiating personal and societal conflicts.
  • A candid look at adolescent alienation and rebellion.
  • The longstanding “stay gold” theme, highlighting the struggle to maintain innocence in a corrupt world.

 

3. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding.

This classic novel immerses us in a world where a group of stranded boys descend into savagery, signifying the thin veneer of civilization.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • The exploration of innate human savagery and societal norms.
  • Concept of ‘us vs them’ reminiscent of the Greasers-Socs rivalry.
  • Examination of power dynamics and loss of innocence.

 

4. “Rumble Fish” by S.E. Hinton.

Journey alongside Rusty James, a teenager longing to live up to his older brother’s tough reputation, only to face harsh realities.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • The exploration of gang life and damaging effects of striving for misplaced ideals.
  • Struggles of characters to grapple with societal expectations and personal identities.
  • Intense brotherhood bond akin to Ponyboy’s affection for his brothers.

 

5. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

Witness through Scout’s innocent eyes the racial inequalities and prejudices in Depression-era South and the fight for justice.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • Deep social commentary underlying a coming-of-age narrative.
  • Theme of lost innocence and the harsh realities of the world.
  • Strong sibling bonds and courageous moral stands that echo The Outsiders.

 

6. “Go Ask Alice” by Anonymous.

This novel in diary form sheds light on a tormented girl’s descent into drug addiction, offering a harrowing picture of its devastating effects.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • Exploration of societal issues like drug addiction and mental health.
  • Captures the intense, often dramatic emotions of adolescence.
  • Highlights the struggle of individuals against societal norms and pressures.

 

7. “Less Than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis.

In LA’s glitzy world, privilege-clad Clay spirals into apathy and drug-addiction, revealing the emptiness beneath the glamour.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • A sharp critique of societies-created divisions.
  • Characters grapple with personal identity and moral compass.
  • A raw, unfiltered look at the stark reality beneath a façade.

 

8. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky.

The novel gives us an inside look at the highs and lows of adolescence through the letters written by protagonist Charlie.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • Exploration of adolescent issues such as mental health, sexuality, and fitting in.
  • Similar feeling of alienation and need for acceptance.
  • Pithy observations of societal subclass divisions.

 

9. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry.

In a dystopian world devoid of pain and suffering, 12-year-old Jonas discovers the cruel truth when chosen as the ‘Receiver of Memory’.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • Struggle against societal norms and finding one’s identity.
  • The pain and beauty of coming to terms with harsh realities.
  • A poignant perspective on the loss of innocence and the value of human emotions.

 

10. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.

This allegorical novel shows how power can corrupt and how supposedly equal societies often have inherent inequalities.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • A deep critique of societal structure and power dynamics.
  • The cyclical pattern of oppression, akin to the Greasers-Socs class struggle.
  • Exploration of the harsh realities beneath idealistic facades.

 

11. “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles.

The bond between two boys attending a boarding school during World War II explores the depths of friendship, rivalry, and the loss of innocence.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • The struggles of coming-of-age in a less than ideal environment.
  • Touches upon the theme of class struggle akin to the Socs-Greasers divide.
  • Storyline emphasis on friendship, loyalty, and personal identity.

 

12. “Tex” by S.E. Hinton.

This novel depicts the life of Tex McCormick balancing the throes of teenage years, the chaos of family issues and the weight of potentially life-changing decisions.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • Strong focus on family bonds, echos of the Curtis brothers.
  • Tension between socioeconomic classes, comparable to Greasers vs. Socs.
  • Depiction of characters in moral and identity crisis.

 

13. “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck.

It’s the poignant tale of two displaced ranch workers during the Great Depression, highlighting the limits of the American Dream.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • Societal hardships and the struggle for survival.
  • Strong bond between two main characters, echoing the camaraderie among the Greasers.
  • Exploration of dreams, loyalty, and the harsh reality of their world.

 

14. “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier.

A tale of a young boy who stands against societal expectations, highlighting the political infighting within a private Catholic school.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • Coming-of-age elements with strong societal commentary.
  • A protagonist struggling against widely accepted norms.
  • The conflict between maintaining integrity and societal pressures.

 

15. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey.

This novel unveils power dynamics within a mental institute, emphasizing the conflict between individuality and societal conformity.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • The theme of ‘individual vs society’ strongly accentuated.
  • Rich plot filled with power dynamics.
  • Thought-provoking social commentary underlying the narrative.

 

16. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie.

Arnold, a Native American teenager, straddles two worlds: poverty-stricken life on the reservation and his new, affluent school outside it.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • Discussion on class and cultural divisions.
  • A coming-of-age story with societal tensions at the forefront.
  • The struggle of being an outsider, striving for acceptance.

 

17. “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson.

A rape survivor navigates high school, struggling with trauma and the burden of a terrible secret.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • Protagonist wrestling with personal demons while navigating hostile social environment.
  • Deep exploration of serious societal issues.
  • Emotional intensity akin to the dramatic elements in The Outsiders.

 

18. “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich.

This book delves into the hidden world of low-wage American workers, providing a sobering perspective on poverty and economic insecurity.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • A keen analysis of socioeconomic disparities.
  • Unveiling the harsh realities of life for the economically disadvantaged.
  • Emphasizes the struggle of navigating a world that seems rigged against them.

 

19. “Marathon Man” by William Goldman.

In this thrilling novel, a graduate student gets entangled in a deadly conspiracy, mirroring the high-stakes drama in The Outsiders.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • The experience of an innocent individual thrust into a dangerous world.
  • Showcase of undying loyalty and courageous action.
  • Exploration of character under extreme pressure.

 

20. “The Pigman” by Paul Zindel.

Two high school students befriend an elderly man, unravelling his lonely life and finding solace in an unlikely friendship.

Elements in common with The Outsiders:

  • The exploration of unusual friendships and their transformative power.
  • Characters coming to grips with the realities of life.
  • Use of first-person narrative, providing a deeper look at characters’ emotions.

This carefully curated 20-book list deepens your literary journey, offering narratives that echo the spirit of “The Outsiders”. From exploring the often harsh realities of adolescence and the grip of societal divisions, to tackling deeper societal issues such as poverty and class struggles.

There’s a compelling blend of coming-of-age dramas and societal commentary for every avid Outsiders fan. So, pick up your next book and let the reading adventures begin! Happy Reading!

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