We all know that there’s going to be plenty of reading in college. You’ll have lots of textbooks and reading lists for just about every class. However, beyond that, there are a lot of books to read that are going to prepare you for life in general. These books will not be on your required reading lists but they will likely make just as much of an impact, not only on your academics, but on your perspectives in life in general.
There isn’t a fixed list that everyone is going to recommend for you to read. It’s highly subjective and different people will have different preferences, ranging from The Alchemist to something by Goethe. To get you as balanced a list as possible I went and got recommendations from a bunch of students from all over the world. What I came up with was a list of 12 books every student would do well to read. Ready? Let’s go!
Deep Work by Carl Newport
This is a pretty useful book overall, not just to help you get into the right mental state for your studies but also for work in your future life. Focusing intently on work is getting harder and harder in our world of constant distractions. I have problems with it myself and a lot of friends and students that I’ve coached have the same problem. The best book I’ve found that covers this topic is Deep Work, Cal Newport. It’s pretty effective, giving you both the theory and the techniques behind conquering your vulnerability to distractions and maintaining your concentration on your work. It’s a book I can’t recommend enough.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
This book is incredible. It is all about the experience of being human and how we can hack our humanity in ways that allow us to achieve the things we want in life by crafting the characters that we would rather have.
Your habits, from the smallest and most seemingly innocuous ones to the largest ones that either make you or break you, influence a lot more in your life than you might think. They shape your behavior and character and, by extension, your destiny. This book is all about understanding habits. By gaining a deep understanding of how they work, we can mold the right habits in ourselves and get the lives we have always been dreaming about. If I ever saw a transformational book then this has to be it. You won’t want to put it down.
Whether you believe in God or not, this little book can be a pretty powerful manual for life, with many timeless lessons that are just as relevant today as they were many centuries ago to the Israelites. You’ll get to learn a lot of important lessons in this book, from betrayal, through Judas, to the hatred of family, through the story of Joseph, to the importance of persistence in the quest to become great (the story of Jacob), the stoicism that helps you go through suffering without even giving up (the story of Job). Perhaps the greatest all these stories is the story of the greatest love of all, the love that one man can have for all of mankind (Jesus). If you’re not the religious kind, try to ignore the dogma and see past it. Look to the moral fables and you’ll find as much wisdom in this book as any other great one, and perhaps a bit more.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Stephen R. Covey is an accomplished writer famous for his “7 Habits” series. I personally loved this book and found it to be life changing in many ways. Covey describes habits in this book that, at first glance, seem rather obvious, but aren’t that common if you really think about it. One of my favourites is the maxim “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. Many of us are pretty selfish and don’t actually do that. It teaches you many useful habits that you can immediately apply to your personal and professional life for radical results.
1984 by George Orwell
This is a classic that will be relevant for many centuries hence. 1984 by George Orwell is a story about totalitarian states and the methods they use to control people and the justifications they use for it. In the world of 1984, the state has taken control and seeks to control its citizens by hijacking societal norms and the freedom of speech. It is a story about the subtle propaganda and brainwashing that surrounds us all and what we can do to avoid falling into its clutches.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
One of my favourite quotes from this book is “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.”
It is a tragic yet beautiful story that captures the state of disillusionment that most Americans felt at the time. It teaches people to understand the importance of letting the past go because, after all, it can never be returned.
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
This book is all about designing your lifestyle. Tim Ferriss challenges the long held notion that you should graduate, get a job, and go through the motions in your life without questioning a thing. He firmly believes that we are fully capable of going after the life of our dreams and that all it takes is the tweaking of our lifestyle and the setting up of the right systems to make it work. Whatever you want to do, you can do it, turn it into your full time job, and have the life you have always dreamed of.
Worldly Wisdom: Collected Quotations and Aphorisms by Josh Kaufmann
This book comes right from Josh Kaufmann, the author of The Personal MBA. In this book, interestingly enough, not a single bit of the main content comes from the author. It’s one large collection of quotes and words of wisdom from many different great people. In my opinion it’s just as great a piece of work as any original one. It’s just as important to curate as it is to create. Whenever I need inspiration to keep me going, it’s this book that I turn to. Sometimes it’s really helpful when I’m writing papers of articles and I need something to spice up my writing. It’s definitely a gem you’ll want to have in your library for the rest of your life.
5 Very Good Reasons to Punch A Dolphin In The Mouth
This isn’t a grand book about great life advice or motivation. It’s something else entirely. Like Oscar Wilde said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously”. This book gives me a hearty laugh every now and then when I need it. It’s a great way to switch our brain off at the end of the day and let a little bit of silliness take over. You will laugh to the point of tears and you will greatly reduce your stress, giving yourself the energy to face another day with strength and vigor.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
A favourite quote of mine from this book is “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 the story of a family trying to be resilient in the face of hardships in the midst of the Great Depression. It’s a story that seeks to hammer in the importance of love and support from the people close to you and how to roll with the punches in the face of life’s greatest toils and travails.
The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is as close to a fountain of wisdom as our generation is ever going to have. In this book he exerts that happiness is more often a function of the internal state of our mind than it is the state of the external environment. In the book, the Dalai Lama imparts his wisdom to us through a bunch of interviews. He says a lot of things that you will find supremely helpful, both in your college life and later on. It will help you get a deeper understanding of life and how to have more control over your sense of happiness.
Faust by Johanne Von Goethe
This play is one of grand proportions, at least in the ambition with which the plot is crafted. And yet it also manages to surprisingly be down to earth. God and Mephistopheles (The Devil) make a bet over who will win Faust’s soul. The resulting struggle takes shape in Faust’s ensuing struggle for his freedom and the supernatural journey he takes in the process. It’s a book with plenty of theory on the distinction between good and evil, how to handle disputes, and a plethora of ancient mythology.
These are some pretty important books that you’ll want to at least sample before you finish college. Not only will they keep you entertained when you need some escape from the stress of academics, but they will also teach you important life lessons that will carry you far into the future.
Scott Matthews is a writer and editor at assignment writing services. He loves to write about education and technology and loves to give students tips on how to improve their college experience. He also offers essay writing services and writes research papers for best essay writing.
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