André Aciman’s romantic and emotional novel Call Me By Your Name is one of the most important and touching books of the 2000s.
Published in 2007, the book is all about Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old who is living with his parents in Italy.
The year is 1983 and Elio is smart and talented for his age (as well as just a bit pretentious!), which is unsurprising considering his father’s job as an academic.
Every summer, his parents invite a doctoral student to live at their home and assist the father in his work. This summer sees the arrival of Oliver, a carefree 24-year-old student who appears to be the opposite of Elio.
The two gradually slip into friendship, though Elio soon begins to be attracted to Oliver. The book covers the ups and downs as they come together and fall apart again, as well as Elio’s occasional affairs with a girl called Marzia.
Call Me By Your Name is celebrated as a beautiful coming-of-age novel, even being adapted into an award-winning film of the same name in 2017.
For those who love Call Me By Your Name, there are plenty of other similar books to enjoy, such as Lie With Me, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, The Price Of Salt, Normal People, and Norwegian Wood. Check out our list of 5 books to enjoy after reading Call Me By Your Name.
Themes In Call Me By Your Name
There are plenty of emotionally resonant themes present throughout André Aciman’s novel Call Me By Your Name that has made the book such a heartfelt success since its publication.
One of the key themes in the book is intimacy. When the story begins, Elio is an inward and closed-off youth, whose intellectualism and pretentiousness can cause him to be detached from others.
However, his intimate relationship with Oliver helps to open him up, allowing him to share more and understand himself and his feelings better.
Though intimacy is important, friendship is also key in the novel. Both Elio and Oliver want proper friendship from each other, not just love and passion.
It helps that they’re both smart and studious because the two cement their friendship through discussions of literature, music, philosophy, and other rich subjects.
Sensuality and LGBTQ+ are also important themes in Call Me By Your Name, because Elio and Oliver have an attraction for both men and women.
Elio’s affairs with Marzia, while he’s also discovering his feelings for Oliver, showcase how he is steadily discovering his sexuality and the fact that he is bisexual.
In fact, it even helps him to reflect on his past and times when he may have been attracted to men without realizing it.
Better yet, love and sexuality are treated with complete openness, with the book even taking desire as something far beyond a person’s preference.
Everybody is human, and they desire what they desire, whether it fits into a strict category or not.
Finally, time is key to the book. Oliver is only staying with Elio’s family for so long and that time limit hangs over their relationship.
Books Like Call Me By Your Name
Like Call Me By Your Name, Philippe Besson’s Lie With Me is narrated by a protagonist looking back on a love he had when he was young.
When Philippe, a famous writer, sees a young man outside a hotel, it reminds him of his similar-looking first love when he was 17.
The novel then looks at the romance between two 17-year-olds in 1984, with all its secrecy and intimacy.
There’s plenty of passion and romance for readers to enjoy with this, as well as the heartbreak of a love long gone.
It has plenty of similarities with Call Me By Your Name, with both looking back on a 17-year-old’s first love in the 1980s, and it shares various themes too, such as adolescence, intimacy, sensuality, LGBTQ+, time, and more.
In fact, André Aciman is even a huge fan of the book!
- A similarly heartfelt and heartbreaking nostalgic look at young love.
- It’s also got an 80s setting.
- The small age gap in Call Me By Your Name is really interesting, but this novel sticks to same-age love.
Themes: Adolescence, Intimacy, Sensuality, LGBTQ+, Time, First Love
You’re probably familiar with the beloved film adaptation of Call Me By Your Name, and this celebrated coming-of-age novel was also made into a beloved film of the same name (directed by the author!).
The book, which takes the form of letters written by its protagonist, is all about an introverted freshman high school student named Charlie.
He’s an extremely observant teenager and he has plenty of questions and observations as he tries to navigate that tricky path from adolescence into adulthood.
While at school, he befriends two high school seniors, Patrick and Sam. These older students help open up a world of friendship and culture to him, as well as feelings of first love and romantic complication.
It shares many themes with Call Me By Your Name, such as adolescence, first love, sensuality, and introverted people learning to open up.
It’s also filled with cultural references like the other novel, with mention of various literary and musical sources.
- The book captures the same joy of first love.
- It also shows the joy of opening up and learning to be more outgoing.
- The novel tackles some pretty heavy themes, so be aware that it goes to dark places.
Themes: First Love, Sensuality, First Love, Introversion, Culture
Adapted into the LGBTQ+ classic film Carol, The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith is about two women who begin a passionate lesbian romance.
Carol is in the middle of a divorce when she meets the clerk Therese at a shoe store. The pair take off for an affair, but Carol must choose between her new lover and her child.
The novel is groundbreaking for its early sensitive depiction of a lesbian relationship, and it shares plenty of themes with Call Me By Your Name.
For example, it’s about sensuality and LGBTQ+, as well as love against external forces and exploring one’s own identity.
- It’s got a fantastic, groundbreaking depiction of a same-sex relationship in an era where those are rarely discussed.
- It’s got a very different world to Call Me By Your Name.
Themes: Sensuality, LGBTQ+, Identity, Fighting For Love
Normal People tells the story of Marianne and Connell, two students in a small town.
On the outside, it would seem that they couldn’t be more different, with Marianne being an awkward outsider at school and Connell being immensely popular. However, the two find a deep bond in private and first love blossoms.
However, the tables turn when the pair both study later at Trinity College. At college, Marianne turns out to be popular and Connell ends up being the outsider.
The two come in and out of each other’s lives, never forgetting their beautiful first love as the years pass.
Though it may not be an exploration of sensuality and LGBTQ+, the novel is great for readers of Call Me By Your Name thanks to shared themes and explorations of first love, intimacy, time, and introversion.
- It covers the same ground of first love and the idea of a relationship staying on your mind as time goes by.
- Unlike Call Me By Your Name, it focuses on a heterosexual relationship.
Themes: First Love, Intimacy, Introversion, Time
Haruki Murakami is a particularly famous author with various heartbreaking, romantic novels to his name – and Norwegian Wood is one of the best .
The book tells the story of Toru Watanabe, a man nostalgically looking back on his youth as a college student in Tokyo.
A key focus of his reminiscences is the beginning of his sensual exploration, with relationships to the struggling Naoki and the extroverted Midori.
Fans of Call Me By Your Name will love Norwegian Wood, due to its shared themes of time, first love, sensuality, and youth.
They’re both about people looking back on their student youth, and the way that they dealt with the emotions that come from growing up.
- It’s similarly full of learning about yourself through first loves.
- It’s got a student-heavy, educational background like Call Me By Your Name.
- It doesn’t focus on a same-sex relationship like Call Me By Your Name does.
Themes: Time, Sensuality, First Love, Youth
One of the reasons that Call Me By Your Name is so beloved and emotional is that it’s rich with themes to which many readers can relate.
It’s an exploration of time and youth, looking back at the important moments in your life that have come to define a great deal of it since.
It looks at desire, intimacy, and discovering your sensuality, and is a key LGBTQ+ text. Additionally, it looks at the importance of friendship in love, as well as the way that withdrawn people can come out of their shells.
These themes are present in plenty of other great novels, such as Lie With Me and The Price Of Salt, and we’ve covered the best in our handy article.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does Oliver Call Elio By His Name?
The title of the book refers to a moment when Oliver calls Elio by his own name. This beautiful scene symbolizes the two lovers becoming the same person, an act of intimacy and sharing.
Is There A Sequel To Call Me By Your Name?
André Aciman did write a sequel entitled Find Me, which looks at the characters later in life.