Today you turn 18 years old. You're nearly a man now, Biebs. You're so young, yet you've accomplished so much. What challenges will you take on next?
You are cute and talented and have millions of teen girls throwing themselves at your feet. If I were
twelve eight five years younger, I'd be right there with them. You appear to have it all: closets full of hoodies, Segways for every tour stop, a best-selling memoir under your belt, a 3-D concert movie highlighting your first 16 years of life and hair so shiny I can see my own face in those luscious blond locks.
But you're young. So young. You're living a grand life, one that many people aspire to have, but I worry that despite your fame and fortune, you're missing out. You still have so much to learn, to see, to do and to feel. But with your touring schedule, media obligations, Justin Bieber-branded product development and high maintenance hair-care regime, you don't have enough time to experience everything a young man should experience.
So, what better way to get that little extra that makes life so sweet than through the power of the written word? Make time on those long plane rides, the down-time during your sound check, before you drift off to sleep. Books are the latest in celebrity accessories, you know. Okay, maybe not. But you can start the trend. After all, a true celebrity starts trends, they don't follow them.
With that in mind, here is a short reading list to get you started on these life experiences. You can thank us for it later. Preferably with an autographed picture.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
You may be living the dream now, but eventually you're going to feel trapped and boxed in. There are so many people telling you what to do, where to go, what to say and, worst of all, who to be. Every teenager feels this way at some point or another, but as a pop star hundreds of entertainment industry professionals and millions of fans are invested in, what you experience must be more intense than we could even imagine. Eventually, you may feel like a cog in a machine or a prop in a play, replaceable, expendable, not the special individual that you are. When your existential crisis hits (and it will, as few teen idols escape this inevitable questioning of existence and fame), put down your electric razor and pick up The Catcher in the Rye instead. People thinking you are broody and intellectual will be cooler than bald and insane. You'll thank me for it later.
C'mon, Get Happy: Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus by David Cassidy
With the mega-fame, mega-bucks and mega-million-dollar smile, you have the kind of life that very few people have known. So it makes sense to seek wisdom from those who have walked the path of fame before you. Enter David Cassidy, the Justin Bieber of the 1970s. David lived through it all -- obsessed, star-struck fans, a decadent lifestyle, lack of privacy and independent thought -- fearing his fame, and fearing who he would become when it was all gone. When David got older, he saw the value in passing on this wisdom to the next generation of teen pop idols. Why else would his autobiography exist? Even though David was recently eliminated from The Celebrity Apprentice, demonstrating his less-than-stellar business savvy, he still has a lot to offer. Not every 1970s teen idol made it through that decade as well as David did. There's a reason for that.
The Guy Book: An Owner's Manual for Teens by Mavis Jukes
You're growing up. You got a girlfriend and a haircut. (As for your decision to chop your golden locks, well, I just hope you fare better than Felicity did.) You're on top of the world and how you have avoided the socially stigmatizing journey that is puberty is beyond us. If you are indeed a boy and not a puppet, it is only a matter of time before your voice cracks, your skin betrays you and what's going on up -- and down -- there confuses and scares you. This is why several of our readers suggested you take home this treasured read. This unabashed, no-holds-barred book will answer every one of your questions no matter how silly, even ones your mom, friends, producer, publicist and even Usher won't answer for you. We can't tell you what you'll go through, but we can tell you this: it's going to be okay.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Imagine living inside a bubble where every move you made, no matter how big or small, was scrutinized and punished or rewarded accordingly. Oh wait, you don't have to. You live it. Unlike Katniss Everdeen, you aren't literally battling for your life. Lucky you. However, she tackles the Hunger Games with wit, integrity, passion, savvy and tenacity: characteristics any successful teen star needs. The critique of contemporary culture Suzanne Collins offers in her smart YA novel might hit too close to home, but that shouldn't bother you. Self-actualization is yet another road through which great art can be made.
Let Us Compare Mythologies by Leonard Cohen
Your lyrics hold promise. The ring of "She had me going crazy, oh I was star-struck / she woke me up daily, don't need no Starbucks" reveals your poetic soul. But these lyrics are, well, (I'm just going to come out and say it since we're friends now) a tad juvenile. And for a 16-year-old pop star, that's okay. But if you consider yourself a true artist, your work needs to grow and mature as you do. So why not take a moment to read up on some of Canada's greatest poets/singer-songwriters? Leonard Cohen is a legend, as deft onstage performing to crowds as he is alone with a pen and a pad of paper. If you take the time to get to know a master's work, you might, if you're lucky, savvy and work hard, create art that will last longer than a Top 40 summer smash. It might even score a 50th anniversary reprint.
We know you're a busy guy, and these five reads might take some time to get through. That's okay. Savour them, contemplate them. Learn from them. But most of all, enjoy them.
And if you need help deciphering them, give us a call.
Top Image: Justin Bieber (Canadian Press)