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25 Essential Books That Every College Student Should Read
There is no college student who would like reading books, they say. Can you believe it? We hardly think so!
Yes, reading is fashionable. Again. And every college student is always in fashion as a rule. But a sufficient ammount of other reasons why books are worth reading for students can be found which are more essential than simple fashion following:
- books widen your vocabulary;
- books help students find new models for academic writing;
- books improve your cognitive skills;
- books expand your view of the world around;
- books let students remember grammar and punctuation rules autmatically;
- books help students learn a subject better;
- books help you avoid a social exclusion (according to this study of the Basic Skills Agency).
Every college student has their own list of must-read, or at least must-check, books; but what if we tell you there are some writing masterpieces that are worth your attention and are essential for college students to read? Check the list below!
1. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
“You may be poor, but the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to fuck up your life whatever way you want to.”
This is a story about a relationship, a love triangle which subjects first met in college. What will become more important to them: love or friendship? Is there any decision for this difficult situation, when you love but do not want to lose your best friend? Every college student should know the answer to these questions.
2. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“It is not life that’s complicated, it’s the struggle to guide and control life.”
A privileged Princeton student becomes totally disillusioned after graduation. He finds out that life is completely different behind the walls of his college, and now he has to look for his self again. It sounds so familiar to many college students today, doesn’t it?
3. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
“Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.”
This is a story about true love and friendship, when one college student has to change his life principles and attitude to everything that happens around. It teaches us to appreciate friendship and people who love us, and be ready to accept the ugly truth of life.
4. 1984 by George Orwell
“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
A world divided between three totalitarian states. A total control, elimination of all human values, and attempts to survive in this world full of hatred. Will you be able to challenge the system? Are you strong enough to remain for ever one and not to lose your individuality?
5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.”
A well known novel about the student Raskolnikov and his attempts to find his place in this life and understand who he really is. After killing an old pawnbroker, this young man tries to justify his actions. Raskolnikov’s story can make every modern college student rethink their views to moral laws and their place in society.
6. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
A novel that was called “a negative utopia” by its author. This is a story about our future world, where happiness plays an important role but individuality is not appreciated. Is it possible to stay happy, being like others? What is more important to young people: to accept things as they are, or try to resist the system?
7. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“Then he made one last effort to search in his heart for the place where his affection had rotted away, and he could not find it.”
This is a myth-novel, an epic novel, a novel-paroemia about the evolution of humanity where each of us is doomed to loneliness, and where loneliness is the only thing that dominates the world where everything is tangled with the ties of fatal love. A perfect reading for college students to understand and estimate the importance of a family and close people who support them.
8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
This book should be read to feel the disillusionment many Americans felt during the Jazz Age. This is a good lesson to young people that teaches them to assess their capabilities and understand that our past can’t be returned; so, it is always better to let it go.
9. Lolita by Vladamir Nobokov
“I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita.”
Full of humor and intrigue, this novel about forbidden love between a man and a young nymphet remains controversial today but can teach us understanding, sacrifice, forgiveness and many other traits that are so important but forgotten by so many people today.
10. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
“But life isn’t hard to manage when you’ve nothing to lose.”
The first – and the best! – book of the English literature “Lost Generation” about World War I. This is a story about the war where young and naive boys became Poor Bloody Infantry, and either died or became embittered to the limit; about the war where love is just a brief moment of rest with no past and no future; about the war you want to forget but which can’t be forgotten.
11. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
“If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”
This is a story about one family that moves to California in attempts to find a better life during the great depression; the story about the importance of love, support, and close people near you; the story about resilience and courage of a man to roll with the punches.
12. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
“Yes, man is mortal, but that would be only half the trouble. The worst of it is that he’s sometimes unexpectedly mortal -there’s the trick!”
The devil comes to Moscow. Merry mischief and melancholy sadness, romantic love and magical obsession, mystery and reckless game with the evil spirit – they all can be found in this novel. Perfect reading to find out how the evil can be more honest than a society and political regimes.
13. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
“Treat ’em like dogs, and you’ll have dogs’ works and dogs’ actions. Treat ’em like men, and you’ll have men’s works.”
This book is a part of many colleges history though it was both praised and criticized. A difficult and quite controversial period of American history many famous writers and essayists described is represented here, and it helps young people understand the principles and values of their nation to see how they have been changed since then.
14. The Stranger by Albert Camus
“If something is going to happen to me, I want to be there.”
After reading this novel, young people will understand how important their personal choice is and how indifferent the universe sometimes is. The story of a person who killed a man and did not feel guilty lets us see how absurd the world around us may be.
15. The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama
“Happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.”
The series of interviews with the Dalai Lama can help college students (and all other people actually) learn and understand how to attain fulfillment in their life and start feeling happy.
16. Faust by Johann von Goethe
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
A bet between God and Mephistopheles for the soul of Faust turns into his supernatural journey and struggle for his will and freedom. This play teaches us to understand the difference between good and evil, learn some myths of ancient history, and master the art of dispute.
17. Paradise Lost by John Milton
“Solitude sometimes is best society.”
We all know the Biblical story about Adam and Eve’s temptation into sin by Lucifer, the arrogant angel that fell from grace. But we know practically nothing about Lucifer himself. Paradise Lost helps us see the different side of good and bad, allowing to make our own impression about who is right.
18. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”
An uninhabited island; a boundless ocean; and boys with no adults supervision. This is a story about a divided society by the example of a small kids’ community. A revolution. Bloodshed. Death. It demonstrates us how important (and necessary) it is to be a good leader, to have a clear mind, to be a critical thinker, to be able to find a compromise, and to stay a human first of all.
19. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
This is a book about a young girl’s growing up, which passes through adventures, fun, and relationships with peers. She has many things to learn about, including life’s unfairness to kids, weak people, or people with a different skin color. As a result, we can see that kindness, sympathy and mutual support do not depend on your color of skin, your social status, or public opinion. It all depends on a man’s soul.
20. The Running Man by Stephen King
“Say your name over two hundred times and discover you are no one.”
In a typical small town, an ordinary man lives. Slowly but surely he sinks into the abyss of black hatred to himself and everyone who surrounds him. And when an occasion happens, it is impossible to stop him. America becomes a hell; people die of hunger, and the only way to get some money is to take part in the most monstrous game generated by a warped mind of a sadist. What are people ready to do and how far are they ready to go to get what they want?
21. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
“When a man cannot chose, he ceases to be a man.”
This is a wicked satire to a modern totalitarian society that tends to turn a young generation into so-called “clockwork oranges”, obedient to the will of their leaders. A clever, cruel, charismatic antagonist Alex, a leader of a street gang that considers violence the high art of life, runs into the iron jaws of a new state program for the criminals rehabilitation, and he becomes a victim of violence himself.
22. Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
This book is a must-read for every college student just because it describes Freud’s views and ideas that are still a major part of our culture and world’s understanding. This is a good chance to understand why we live in society the way we do.
23. A River Out of Eden by Richard Dawkins
“The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
This book is a perfect reading for college students who want to learn the process of evolution in simple and interesting way. The author gives a truly beautiful explanation of our world’s birth and development, and no one will have heart to call this story boring.
24. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
One of the most well known plays of William Shakespeare, Hamlet helps us find the answer to the eternal question we heard many times: “To be or not to be?”. This is a story that can teach us to accept the responsibility for all our decisions and deeds.
25. The Divine Comedy by Dante
“In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost.”
Who did not hear about Dante and his nine circles of Inferno? This is our chance to learn them all and understand the view of afterlife Christians had in Middle Ages. We all will have to pay for our sins, and this book teaches us not to forget about that.
How many books from this list have you read already? Do you have anything to add or change here?
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