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Best diary books for how it feels to be a teenager

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4

There's something about the diary or journal format in a book that really helps you get under a character's skin. After all, you're privy to their first-person, most innermost thoughts. The relationship between the reader and this character feels so close that it can almost feel like a friendship.

This must be why diary books are at their most powerful when you are a pre-teen or a young teenager: battling through puberty, everyday life, and trying to figure out who you are and want to be.

Below are some of our favourites for capturing the highs, the lows, and the very, very funny bits. 

For readers 12+.
  • I Capture the Castle

    Dodie Smith
    Penguin

    17-year-old Cassandra lives an eccentric existence with her bohemian family in a crumbling castle in the English countryside, in this delightful classic coming-of-age story.

  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4

    Sue Townsend
    Penguin

    The first book in the Adrian Mole series, this was a publishing sensation back in the 1980s, but still has the power to entertain pre-teen, teen and even adult readers, and make them double up with laughter.

  • Spud

    John van de Ruit
    Penguin

    Spud gets a scholarship to a smart boys’ school where he soon joins in with a mad bunch of boys – the Crazy Eight.

  • Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging

    Louise Rennison
    HarperCollins

    Welcome to the world of Georgia Nicolson - an angst-ridden teenage girl who keeps a diary to record the rollercoaster of emotions and experiences she faces every day

  • Diary of a Crush: French Kiss

    Sarra Manning
    Hodder Children's Books

    First published as a hugely popular serial story in Just 17 magazine, French Kiss is the first in a trilogy following the tumultuous relationship between Edie and her on-off boyfriend Dylan.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    Stephen Chbosky
    Simon & Schuster

    High school student Charlie prefers to look on life from the sidelines, but he can't be a 'wallflower' for ever, and soon finds himself grappling with the challenges of adolescence.

  • OMG! Is This Actually My Life?

    Rae Earl
    Walker Books

    When Hattie is sent to her room for being sick in her step-father's fish tank, she decides to start writing a diary and sort her life out.

  • The Isobel Journal

    Isobel Harrop
    Hot Key

    Subtitled ‘Just a Northern Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens’, this beautifully-presented book from 18-year-old debut author Isobel Harrop is a vivid scrapbook of teenage life.

  • Boys Don't Knit

    T S Easton
    Hot Key Books

    'I'm aware that keeping a diary is considered part of the female domain, but in my life, with the family and friends I'm stuck with, it is the only reason I haven't run away and gone to live in the woods...'

  • My So-Called Life

    Joanna Nadin
    Oxford University Press

    'Why is life never like it is in books? Nothing interesting ever happens to me...Even my name sucks. In other words, my life is earth-shatteringly normal.'