Good Reads: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
(original cover)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my all-time favorite books. A little treasure of a book, it was given to me by a dear friend in high school (which feels like the perfect time to read it because Charlie is struggling and finding his way through life in high school) and since then, I’ve probably read it a dozen times.  And I’ve shared it probably with just as many people. It’s a book that changes you, changes your perspective, makes you think, makes you sad, causes you to create silence in your life to look at the things around you and inside you, and try to understand it all. I think it’s easy to say that I take something new away from each time I read it, a new perspective or the same one, affected differently but deeply, and I think that’s probably true for most people who read it.

I found the review below on Amazon.com and wanted to share it because it reads less like a review and more like a friend pulling the tattered book out of their bag and setting it on a table in front of you — pages bent and certain paragraphs or quotes highlighted (or maybe like mine, the poem page earmarked because I’ve gone back to it so many times) — and sincerely telling you why you need to read it, what it’s about and how it’s relatable (which should be how all reviews read), just begging for you to read it and absorb it so you can connect, congratulate and commiserate together after you finish it. I wanted to share this particular review because I think even in the way people describe this beloved book, there’s a lot to learn in that.  I can imagine this being a book club selection and discussing it for months, and dear goodness, the things we might know of our friends if we truly talked and shared and listened after reading this book and dissecting its sadness.

I can’t find my copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower now – surely it’s with someone I gave it to or someone they gave it to, or perhaps it’s found its way to a used bookstore for someone else to discover my underlines and bent pages – that’s the magic in books, right?

Have you read The Perks of Being a Wallflower?  I’d love to know your thoughts about it.


“I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, in April of my sophomore year at college. A friend lent it to me and I had read it within twelve hours. This book reaches inside of you and pulls everything to the surface. It is a beautiful and painful story about a 15 year old boy, Charlie, moving through his freshmen year of highschool. It is written in letter form to an unknown friend. Charlie is always completely honest, whether he is describing his first “beer” party where he witnessed a girl being raped by her boyfriend, or explaining masturbation and his excitement for this newfound “activity.” Charlie is a wallflower who observes people and feels very deeply for the experiences occuring around him. His favorite Aunt Helen died in a car accident when he was six, and he holds himself accountable, and his best friend committed suicide a year before he began the letters. His English teacher realizes Charlie’s potential and brilliance and asks him to try and participate, which Charlie agrees to do. He becomes friends with two seniors Patrick and Samantha and begins to experience dances, parties, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, pot, love, bad trips and sexuality. We feel exhilerated when Charlie describes his happy moments, and we are swallowed in pain when Charlie is overwhelmed by his depression. Charlie’s realizations are eye opening for us, and we are so captivated and immersed in his life that his life and stories become a very real experience. This book is about moments, and being as much alive within each moment as possible. It is about looking around us at the world and the people and appreciating that we don’t know what their lives are like, and the pain and happiness that they experience day to day, so we shouldn’t judge them but accept them and appreciate them. A favorite section of this book, for me, was when Charlie describes the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, and how he wished the movie had been about one of the less heroic characters so the audience could have seen the meaning that this person’s life held. That moment is just one example of Charlie’s amazing intuition. This book should not be limited to a certain “category” of people. I truly believe that it would be understood, appreciated, and loved by everyone aged 12 (+ or – a few) and up regardless of gender, race, sexuality, etc. This book changes you, if only for a moment, but you are not the same upon completion, and you become more appreciative of life than ever.” – Emily, Amazon.com

P.S. Don’t get the book with the movie promotion cover.  That’s stupid. I hate movie poster books. I haven’t seen the movie – I want to and I will – but please don’t be unawesome. Get the original cover book, read it, then go see the movie.  You’re welcome.

P.S. 2 Here’s an article that the author of the book/director of the movie, Stephen Chbosky, did for the Washington Post.

P.S. 3 If anyone wants to buy me this card of a quote from the book and mail it to me so I can frame it, that’d be great. Thanks.

card by SparrowNestScript on Etsy

Don Quixote, on bravery

“it’s up to brave hearts, sir, to be patient when things are going badly, as well as being happy when things are going well…For I’ve heard that what they call fortune is a flighty woman who drinks too much, and whats more, she’s blind so she can’t see what she’s doing, and she doesn’t know who she’s knocking over or who she’s raising up.”

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Date a girl who reads

I saw this quote on Pinterest the other day and I couldn’t believe the person it was attributed to actually said it. So I looked it up.  And I was right.  He didn’t. But that’s not the point.  Because, really, the point is that it’s written beautifully and made me feel happy in my sometimes doubting skin and allowed me to realize that it’s okay that I stay up too late at night reading books in bed, building a fort around Mumbles’s (ps. I just looked up ‘s or s’s – it’s one of those ones that always haunts me while I write…apparently it’s a heated debate in the world of grammar and usage so I’ll just roll with what feels right) head so the light isn’t in his eyes when he tries to fall asleep, and that I want and need a good, cozy, comfy reading nook in the middle of a library room in my house one day kinda like this one maybe, and that I don’t want to give my books back to a secondhand shop because I want my bookcases, shelves and cupboards (sorry, lady, I can’t give up my closet) and other nooks and crannies in my house packed to the brim with books I’ve read and want to loan to friends or give to my kids one day or read again and again.  I hope a lot of people were like me and read the quote on Pinterest and thought “smart bloke…I’d like to read more of that” and looked it up and found the whole thing.  Because, like I said: it’s beautiful.  If you aren’t one of those people, allow me to make it easy:

“You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent.  Ask her if she loves Alice or if she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”
―    Rosemarie Urquico

My insides were smiling after reading it again so I kept searching for more information about this woman who is eloquent and relatable in her writing. I learned (perhaps not completely correctly, but it made sense) that she may have written the essay in response to this one, which I took to mean much about the same, although it gets you to that point in a completely different way.  That way is about doing it all wrong and missing then regretting the whole point of love and adventure and romance and playing and passion and pursuits.  About life.  I found both refreshing and entertaining and hope you did too.  And, I hope you’re a girl who reads. Or writes. Or both.  Or, if you’re a boy, that you’re searching for the ones that do.

image found here.