The 9 best books by male authors that tell stories of coming-of-age, overcoming adversity, and brotherhood

  • From Oscar Wilde’s only novel and Roald Dahl’s autobiography to the Colson Whitehead’s second Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, there’s something for everyone
  • This Brovember, add one of these ‘books for boys’ to your TBR list
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This Brovember, read stories of young men overcoming the odds

Every year, we rename “November” as “Brovember”, and celebrate all things boy-related. Here are our favourite books written by male authors that share an inspring story of a young man’s life.

Born a Crime

Trevor Noah’s autobiography is an inspiring read about a young child growing up in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, as he finds his identity in a world where he was not supposed to exist. Funny and uplifting, it also talks about some of the most challenging and taboo issues of our time: racism, hate, and hypocrisy.

The talented comedian couldn’t have said it better himself: “We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others because we don’t live with them …

“If we could see one another’s pain and empathise with one another, it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.”

Doris Wai

Buy a copy here

I Am the Messenger

This novel by Markus Zusak tells the story of 19-year-old Ed Kennedy, a taxi driver, who accidentally foils a robbery. After being proclaimed a hero by the media and local police, the robber leaves him a cryptic message.

Ed soon finds himself on a variety of missions that will keep the reader biting their nails and on the edge of their seats.

Rhea Mogul

Buy a copy here

The Picture of Dorian Gray

I’ve always loved the narrative arc of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Being quite a handsome and narcissistic man when I was younger, I loved Oscar Wilde’s story of a magical painting that could keep me looking sharp even if I partied too hard. However, all things come at a cost and while Gray could keep his outwardly youthful appearance, his soul was slowly poisoned by his evil deeds.

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I think this book reminds me that you can’t get things for free and debts must always be repaid in the end. It’s an important piece of fiction to read for any young man who is too full of himself.

Jamie Lam

Buy a copy here

The Outsiders

S. E. Hinton’s iconic novel is one of my favourite coming-of-age stories. Teenage gang member Ponyboy has only his friends and his brothers after the death of his parents, and he’s struggling to cope with the changes. The novel follows him as he deals with grief, growing up, and the sad realisation that “nothing gold can stay”.

Dannie Higginbotham

Buy a copy here

Wolf of the Plains

Conn Iggulden’s five-book Conqueror series. Iggulden is a brilliant storyteller who makes the life and conquests of Genghis Khan so epic that it inspires people to know more. The series starts with Wolf of the Plains, and that’s a good place to start reading it.

While he takes a lot of literary licence (don’t quote him in a history paper), Iggulden does bring the reader right into the action. (For a more accurate take on events, you might want to try Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcasts, Wrath of the Khans, episode 43 - 47.)

Susan Ramsay

Buy a copy here

The Graveyard Book

This fantasy story by Neil Gaiman is packed with peculiar adventures and eccentric characters. The story revolves around a boy, Nobody Owens, who is adopted by ghosts in a nearby graveyard after his family is murdered. The ghosts decide to take care of him collectively, and we see Bod (short for Nobody) grow up with “graveyard powers” – and get in all sorts of trouble because of his curiosity.

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Gaiman creates lovable characters and makes the story come to life. Bod’s inquisitive nature and Gaiman’s ability to place humour in this rather Gothic fiction story makes it a fun, light read.

YP cadet Faith Jung

Buy a copy here

Boy and Going Solo

Roald Dahl’s two-part autobiography gives a small insight into the great novelist and how he viewed the events that shaped his life.

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His mastery of writing is also on full display, as he weaves the stories of his life so vividly it is like watching them happen in person.

Wong Tsui-kai

Buy a copy of here

The Nickel Boys

Colson Whitehead’s award-winning novel is a fictional story set at a real school in 1960s segregated America. Elwood Curtis, a studious African American boy, is sent to The Nickel School, a juvenile reformatory institution with a dark history. He experiences cruelty at the hands of white men while forming bonds with his black peers.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning story is told between the past and the future, and while it is heart-wrenching, it’s also a tale of Elwood’s perseverance and redemption.

Amalissa Hall

Buy a copy here

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl’s beloved story of a young boy, an eccentric chocolatier and an incredible sweet-treat-making facility, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory may be for younger readers, but its messages of self-belief and family support are timeless.


Charlie’s parents and grandparents may not have much money, but the way they support the young boy in pursuing even the most unlikely dream is utterly heart-warming. The book is also a reminder that kindness and selflessness are strengths, not weaknesses.

Karly Cox

Buy a copy here

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