15 Books Every College Student Needs to Read before Graduating

College life is considered a crucial phase of a person’s life. It is the transition period when a student slowly makes his/her way to the professional world. Whatever decisions you make during this period, shapes your future. So, when you are in college, you need to make smarter choices to ensure success. And what better way there can be to get smarter than reading books by some of the best authors of all time?

If you love reading books, you are already a few steps ahead of your friends who don’t practice the same. Earlier there used to be issues with the availability of the books. You needed to visit the library and find the book of your interest. Now you can just download an entire book on your tablet, iPad or Kindle device, and read it anytime you want.

If you are not a big fan of reading, push yourself to read every day. It can not only make you more thoughtful but also allow you to develop your personality. If you don’t know where to start from, here is the list of 15 amazing books that every college student should read.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

This remarkable piece of writing is one of the modern-day classics. It became a bestseller and received a critical success at the time of its first publication. It is a story about a girl, his brother and her father, who live under extraordinary circumstances in the fictitious town of Maycomb, Alabama.

The novel impeccably describes several issues in the society, the shortcomings and the challenges people face in a small town in the Southern United States. It brilliantly portrays the compassion among the characters and their journey through a challenging series of events. Interestingly, the novel has been translated into forty languages to date.

  1. The Divine Comedy – Dante

One of the greatest names in the history of classic literature, Dante Alighieri completed his greatest narrative poem, “The Divine Comedy” in 1320. Originally written in Italian, this book describes the poet’s imaginative vision of the afterlife.

The narrative is segmented into three parts, which are Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. They described the poet’s descent into Hell with Virgil, his ascent of Mount Purgatory and finally, his arrival in Heaven. It explores the concept of human redemption in a brilliant way and examines the questions of faith, desire and enlightenment.

  1. Civilization and Its Discontents – Sigmund Freud

One of Freud’s final works, Civilization and Its Discontents gives the readers the gist of the psychoanalytic views on culture and explores man’s place in the world. Freud defines the world as a constant conflict between a man’s quest for freedom and society’s demand for compliance.

In this book, Freud explores the fact that what works for civilization may not necessarily work for a man. He describes how culture inhibits man’s instinctual drives. The book was originally published in German in 1929. However, it is now available in some of the major languages.

  1. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

This 1963 classic, which was later adapted brilliantly to a feature film, shares Burgess’s nightmarish vision of the future. The terrifying tale of good and evil has been rendered brilliantly by Burgess.

The novel satirizes the extreme political systems and is partly inspired by the seaside fights of the mods and rockers of the early 1960s. It revolves around the gang of particularly violent teenagers – the Droogs.

  1. Faust – Johann von Goethe

Goethe’s Faust revolves around the medieval myth of a disillusioned thinker of the same name, Faust, who makes an agreement with the devil, Mephistopheles. Originally published in German, this book explores the unfulfilled desires of the central character and how after having it all, he heads towards total damnation.

  1. The Art of Happiness – Dalai Lama

This book talks about the pursuit of happiness, an emotion that we all need, but don’t really know where to look for. The author of this book, Nobel Prize winner Dalai Lama, tries to explain the purpose of life and how the very motion of our life is directed towards happiness. The book shows how to beat day-to-day anxiety, anger, insecurity and other discouragements in life.

  1. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita is considered one of the classics of modern Russian literature. It depicts the Soviet life in the 1930s so accurately. Hence, it could not be published while the author was alive. In fact, it was censored when it was published in the 1960s. The novel delivers humour, philosophical depth and satire which often may appear outlandish, but still manages to spill the truth about the society.

  1. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Steinbeck’s Pulitzer prize-winning epic, The Grapes of Wrath describes a tale of the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s. It revolves around an Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who have been driven from their home and forced to travel west. Steinbeck brilliantly portrays the hard realities of America during the event of the Great Depression. This intensely human, yet elegant piece of literature is certainly of the finest American Classics that has ever been written.

  1. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Set in a dystopian future, Brave New World is a tale about genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy. This 1931 novel describes huge scientific developments in the reproductive system, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation through hypnotism, and some classical conditioning to achieve a totalitarian society. This novel explores the negative side of a seemingly successful world. Even though it was written in the 1930s, it still remains relatable for the current generation.

  1. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway

Set against the looming terror of the battlefield, A Farewell to Arms describes the story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his ardour for an elegant English nurse. This semiautobiographical piece of literature captivates the bitter truth about war and the struggle of lovers who are caught in this turmoil. With remorseless artistic instinct, Hemingway matches the horrors of human slaughter in this brilliant style of writing.

  1. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This American classic of the twentieth-century literature has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The Great Gatsby, set in the Jazz Age, follows the story of Jay Gatsby, a wealthy American. As the story focuses on Gatsby’s love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, it also gives a clear picture of the time when gin was the national drink, and sex was the national obsession. The novel was later adapted into 2013 feature film with the same title, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan.

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This bestselling novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the perfect example of what is known as “magical realism.” This novel offers plenty of reflections on loneliness, whilst describing the evils of war. Even though readers can find the magical elements in the story more often than not, there are also a number of elements in the story that give a reminder of the tangible material world.

  1. 1984 – George Orwell

Quite similar to the theme of Huxley’s “Brave New World,” 1984 by George Orwell also describes the author’s dreadful vision of futuristic London. Published in 1949, this book offers a peek into the totalitarian, bureaucratic world and a poor stiff’s struggle to find individuality in the society.

This version of a dystopian society provides a glimpse of modern life with a hint of satire. Even though it is listed among one of the most terrifying novels ever written, this masterpiece from George Orwell has been appreciated by the readers for generations.

  1. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

Even though it is originally written for the younger audiences, Charlotte’s Web has made its way into this list with its brilliant portrayal of friendship, love, life and death. Charlotte’s Web revolves around a girl named Fern, a pig named Wilbur and the title character Charlotte, the spider. All hell breaks loose when they get to know that Wilbur is about to get slaughtered.

  1. Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell

With this brilliant piece of literature, Gladwell redefines how we understand the world around us. The title, which is quite meaningful, explains the content where the author talks about the choices that seem to be made in an instant or to be specific – in a blink.

This book explores the fact how some people are brilliant at decision making while others struggle on their day-to-day lives to decide simple things. It reveals that great decision makers aren’t who analyze every information and deliberate for most of the time, but those who have mastered the art of filtering selective information that matter the most amongst a huge number of variables.

As you can see, the list explores several genres of books while offering significant lessons for the readers with each of the options. Here you have drama, magical realism, science-fiction, self-help and much more – all of which can not only entertain you but also give an insight into other significant aspects of life while preparing you for the future challenges. It is true that “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.”

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Kevin Jacobs

I'm Kevin, a Data Scientist, PhD student in NLP and Law and blog writer for Data Blogger.