Yeh, big deal Steppenwolf along with all of Hesse that was published in the late '60's by Batam Paperbacks if I remember correctly was required reading in my 10th grade English class. If one were stalking along the wide sweep of popular culture through the newly erected Malls as an inquisitive intellectual literate teenager invariably one would chance upon mass marketed posters and plastic laminated artsy bookmarkers emblazoned with quotes and interpretive "Op" art from and about Hesse's post- modernist neo-romantic novels and novelettes. It is fairly obvious why a young adult of those times would find solace in the expose of alienation and the identification with the social conditions that foster that alienation portrayed by Hesse's works. And after all as the English teachers kept reminding their classes, the German author was awarded the Noble prize for literature so he just had to be a good writer. Besides that, one should now ponder upon the motive of the current pope considering the age and milleau he is adverting to by his public "admission" of reading "Steppenwolf" and take such ponderings to heart. Especially if one is a Catholic I'd guess. Otherwise if not a catholic a person should remain respectfully cautious and polish up on their metaphysics just to be safe.
Perhaps what is most strange is that a novel written by a man in a his 50s in order to cope with a midlife crisis should appeal so much to adolescents 40 years after he wrote it.