Playlist with Feelings: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Hey you. Were you once or are you now an angsty teenager? Me too! If you haven’t read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, please take a moment and go read it now. I’ll be here when you get back. If you have, let’s talk.

I was given a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by my best friend in 10th grade. We had just finished reading The Catcher in the Rye and I was all about Holden Caulfield, but Charlie helped me find comfort in the uncertainty of getting older. I loved that while Holden stumbled through 288 pages of phony-spotting, Charlie spent a year learning how to “participate” by making friends and mixtapes. I loved that I could watch the same movies, read the same books and poems, and listen to the same music as the characters in the book because it made them seem more real. A few years later, I loved that Stephen Chbosky told me it was alright to be queer because, as it turned out, I was.

My renewed interest in the book is twofold: a) I’m living with my parents right now and revisiting old books and b) it’s being made into a movie that will be released in 2012. When I first heard this, I wanted to cry because who even likes film adaptation? But then Stephen Chbosky said he would be writing and directing it and he cast Emma Watson as Sam and chose actual real-life Pittsburgh as the filming location and I decided that everything was going to be alright.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has had a couple of cute articles (and one hilariously appropriate one) about how filming is going and I’m getting excited, so I thought we could listen to Charlie’s mixtape together.

One Winter

Asleep by the Smiths
Vapour Trail by Ride
Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel
A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procol Harum
Time Of No Reply by Nick Drake
Dear Prudence by the Beatles
Gypsy by Suzanne Vega
Nights In White Satin by the Moody Blues
Daydream by Smashing Pumpkins
Dusk by Genesis (before Phil Collins was even in the band!)
MLK by U2
Blackbird by the Beatles
Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

And finally…

Asleep by the Smiths (again!)

You can listen to the One Winter playlist here.

So, would you like to share your thoughts about this book and/or movie? Do you have favorite parts? Do you also wish that Big Boy was an Eat’n’Park?

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. Why haven’t I made this mix already?? Asleep by the smiths has been a favorite since I read this masterpiece, pre-lesbian awakening, dozens of times in high school. Must re-read with queer eyes. I think the definition of Sam’s unconventional beauty has become my point of comparison for beautiful women, at least the image of Sam in my head anyway. Which isn’t too far off from Emma Watson, I suppose. Obviously the infinite tunnel scene is imprinted permanently in my memory. And if this movie ruins the depiction of it, I will never forgive them!

  2. i loved this book immensely and can’t wait for the movie (the key is to keep your expectations low so you enjoy it). for some reason i never picked up any queer vibes from it, then again I was super closeted and the boy who gave me his copy thought we had a “juno-ish” relationship which only added to the confusion cocktail.

  3. I have loved this book to death. It has scribbles in the margins of every page and the spine is falling apart, but I still haven’t been able to make myself love the idea of the movie. One of my favorite things about Perks is that it’s completely anonymous. Charlie and Sam could be anyone you see on the street, they’re everyone and no one at the same time. I feel like attaching well-known faces to those characters, part of the charm of the book is lost. I’m going to go drown my sorrow and worries about the film by re-reading the book.

  4. During my 9th grade Christmas vacation, I was forced to go visit my mail-order druid uncle who lives in Colorado. I was also an angsty little emo teen. I spent most of the vacation watching all-day marathons of Law and Order – except for the night I locked myself in the bathroom with a bar of chocolate to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for about the fifth time.

    I look back on this fondly.


    I read this during my junior year of high school. A year later my good friend (who was gay) committed suicide with his mother and I found this book in his room in their apartment when I was helping clean it out. I kept it even though he had checked it out from the library.

    It is still really, really hard for me to listen to the song Asleep.

  6. this book changed my life, no lie.

    also, it starts on august 25, 1991, which is my birthday TO THE YEAR which made me feel like i have a special connection to it.

    which i think means i get to hook up with emma watson in the near future

  7. Totally tracked down all of these songs (there was a lot of torrenting entire albums to get one song) and made it into a mixtape when I was sixteen after I read Perks for the first time. Have I ever listened to Genesis since? NO, but this is where I discovered Nick Drake & the Smiths so I’m pretty indebted to Charlie for that.

    I hope this playlist is the entire soundtrack to the movie.

  8. Weird coincidence, but this book is how I discovered auto-win and therefore autostraddle. I read Perks of Being a Wallflower and then googled a quote from it. Riese had quoted it/talked about it and her blog came up in the search results. The rest, as they say, is history.

  9. I have so many feelings about this book. SO MANY FEELINGS I can’t even begin to explain. it opened the door to so many new kinds of literature,new books new films new music (the smiths!) and I had never before in my life identified with a character so damn much.
    having felt like an outsider and a freak like forever this boook gave me hope like none had before. I adore and it often makes me cry. I’m both nervous and excited for the movie. even if the book getting popular kinda scares me.

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