Throughout the novel, books—especially exchanging books as gifts—symbolize the unifying power of stories. Books become important when Bill gives Charlie extra books to read outside of class. Though Charlie doesn’t realize it at first, this is a gesture of investment in Charlie’s development and an overture towards building a close mentorship and even friendship. Charlie’s mom also gives him her favorite books for his birthday, which establishes a bond between them that didn’t exist before. Charlie deepens his relationships with others by giving them books, because knowing which stories others would like to read is an act of care—it shows that Charlie has been paying enough attention to them to choose a book for them. At the end of the story, Charlie gives Patrick and Sam the books he read for Bill over the school year. By giving Patrick and Sam his personal copies, Charlie also is giving them pieces of himself and his journey. The book giving pattern doesn’t always go well, however, especially when Mary Elizabeth gives Charlie an e.e. cummings book and then wants to tell him how to feel about it. Sometimes, the stories are a method by which the giver is trying to impose a way of thinking onto the receiver. However, overall, sharing books is a gesture of kindness and unity: although they live through different experiences, sharing books helps the characters build overlapping frames of reference so that they can better understand and communicate with one another.
Books Quotes in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
My advanced English teacher asked me to call him “Bill” when we’re not in class, and he gave me another book to read. He says that I have great skill at reading and understanding language, and he wanted me to write an essay about To Kill a Mockingbird.
I don't know what it was, and I know we didn't really accomplish
anything, but it felt great to sit there and talk about our place in things. It was like when Bill told me to “participate.” I went to the homecoming dance like I told you before, but this was much more fun. It was especially fun to think that people all over the world were having similar conversations in their equivalent of the Big Boy.