It seems like every college student has caught the reading bug recently. Obviously, reading books is a new fad, and young people are always in fashion. But thinking that swimming with the tide is the only reason why college students opt for books is wrong.

Essential Books That Every College Student Should Read

There are plenty other motivations for being a bookworm, including:

  • books enrich your vocabulary; books inspire and help students generate ideas for academic writing;  
  • books develop your cognitive thinking; books are eye-openers that broaden your horizons;
  • books make students inadvertently polish their grammar skills and recap on punctuation;
  • books expand understanding of a certain subject;
  • books help to avoid social isolation (the claim comes from a study of the Basic Skills Agency).

As a rule, every person has his/her own list of books that they think would be nice to read. Well, we do have such a list as well, but it includes universal must read books that every college student should be familiar with before setting off for an adult life. They will not only help you while away the hours but will also make a difference, and you will definitely notice their profound effect on readers.

Here is the list of the most essential books for college students!

1. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

“There is, after all, a kind of happiness in unhappiness, if it's the right unhappiness.”

This story features a relationship of three individuals who first met in college embroiled in a love triangle. What will they choose: love or friendship? Is there a way out of a predicament when you have deep affection for somebody but do not want to lose your bosom friend? If you feel like you are in the same boat or know somebody who is in the same situation, then it’s a high time you had your nose in this particular book!

2. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Experience is the name so many people give to their mistakes.”

The expectations and hopes of a privileged Princeton student were shattered by harsh reality after graduation. He discovers that life outside the premises of his college is far cry from what he envisioned. Now, he has to face the music and search for the ways to fulfill himself again. So many students can relate to this, right?!

3. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

“Life doesn't require ideals. It requires standards of action.”

One more story about genuine love and friendship. This time, however, a college student has to alter his life philosophy and attitude to the stuff that happens around. In the end of the book, we come to realize that friendship and people who love and care about us are all that matters. We learn to prefer plain truth to sugarcoated lies, and that is one of the most valuable life lessons.

4. 1984 by George Orwell

“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”

The story unfolds in the world completely controlled by three totalitarian states. The concept of freedom does not exist, human values are not cherished (on the contrary, they are removed without a single trace), and people try to survive in the universe full of animosity and despise. Dare to defy the system and preserve your individuality in a totally impersonal world?

5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“To go wrong in one's own way is better than to go right in someone else's.”

This is the famous novel about Raskolnikov – the student who struggles to find his place in the sun and unravel the secrets of his personality. After murdering an old pawnbroker, the main character seeks signs and evidence to justify his actions. This story is highly relevant to each and every contemporary student as it makes them reconsider their position on moral laws and their life purpose.

6. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

The author himself calls his novel “a negative utopia.” This story encompasses Huxley’s thoughts on our future world, where everyone is fixated on happiness but forgets about individuality. Can one stay happy if one does not differ from others? While reading, you will find out for yourself what is more important: to embrace reality as it is or to attempt to oppose the system.

7. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“The world must be all fucked up,” he said then, “when men travel first class and literature goes as freight.”

The novel written in the style of magical realism recounts the evolutionary stages of mankind. In the long run, each of us is doomed to be lonely, because loneliness is the only thing that increasingly permeates the world while everything is infused with fatal love. This is an ideal book for college students since it helps measure the significance of a family and their nearest and dearest.

8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“It occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.”

This book profoundly conveys the feeling of disillusionment that almost every American encountered during the Jazz Age. It also offers many didactic lessons; for instance, it teaches to soberly evaluate one’s capacities and come to terms with the fact that one can’t revive the past, so it’s a good idea to let it go.

9. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

“Words without experience are meaningless.”

Full of intriguing twists and hilarious gags, this story about forbidden love between a man and a young appealing girl has aroused great controversy. Nonetheless, it teaches people to understand, to make a sacrifice when needed, to forgive, and to do many other human things that are so crucial but so few and far between.

10. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

An incisive book about World War I is the cream of the crop in this genre. War is the running thread through the story where juvenile boys have to become Poor Bloody Infantry. At war, they either die or become utterly fierce and ferocious. At war, love is just a fleeting moment of peace with no past or future. Hemingway’s story is about the war one desires to erase but which can’t be erased.

11. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

“The people in flight from the terror behind – strange things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is refired forever.”

The story features an ordinary family that moves to California being in quest of a decent life in times of the Great Depression. As the story unfolds, you’ll be reminded of the power of love, support, and close people that should always stick together. You’ll also get acquainted with a man of unspeakable courage who rolls with the punches.

12. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

“Who ever told you there is no such thing in the world as real, true, everlasting love? May the liar have his despicable tongue cut out!”

The very devil visits Moscow. If you’re looking for something mysterious yet riveting, this novel will perfectly hit the spot. Innocent mischief and poignancy, passionate love and obsession, mystery, and playing with fire or better to say with the evil spirit will hold you spellbound. After reading, you may be stunned to find out that evil can be more disinterested than social or political systems.

13. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Scenes of blood and cruelty are shocking to our ear and heart. What man has nerve to do, man has not nerve to hear.”

The given book has been a part of literature syllabus in many colleges in spite of receiving notorious publicity. It portrays a grueling and controversial period of American history many renowned writers and essayist have attempted to describe. Overall, the novel aims to inculcate true principles and values of the American nation into a reader and understand their nature to see how they have been modified since then.

14. The Stranger by Albert Camus

“After another moment’s silence, she mumbled that I was peculiar, that that was probably why she loved me but that one day I might disgust her for the very same reason.”

This novel helps realize how vital personal choice is and how indifferent the world we live in sometimes is. The main character is a murderer who doesn’t feel a twinge of guilt; this story may actually open your eyes to how absurd the universe and human existence may be.

15. The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

“Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you can suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation.”

Dalai Lama’s insightful thoughts are aimed at helping people, college students in particular. It helps to find their personal fulfillment and become blissful no matter what society dictates.

16. Faust by Johann von Goethe

“What we don’t know is really what we need and what we know is of no use for us whatever…”

God and Mephistopheles bet that the former can save the soul of Faust from the latter. Their deal initiates Faust’s supernatural journey of struggle for his freedom and will. The play is particularly significant when it comes to learning to tell the difference between good and evil. You’ll also have a chance to familiarize yourself with some ancient myths and the art of dispute.

17. Paradise Lost by John Milton

“Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”

We’re all familiar with the Biblical story of Adam and Eve who were induced to commit a sin by Lucifer, the arrogant angel that sinned and was expelled from Heaven. But most of us don’t have a clue about Lucifer himself and how he became Satan. Paradise Lost is a novel story as it provides an unconventional view on good and bad and lets us decide who is right and wrong.

18. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”

The story features boys marooned on a remote island washed by a limitless ocean. They form a small community that exemplifies our contemporary divided society. Here, you experience revolutionary events, bloodshed, and death. Golding underlines the importance of a good leader and points out the value of being a critical thinker, having a sharp mind, and knowing how to compromise while maintaining human values in the first place.

19. The Running Man by Stephen King

“In the year 2025, the best men don't run for president, they run for their lives…”

In a nondescript town an ordinary man lives. He’s on the edge of black hatred to himself and people who surround him. Once, as a result of one event, it’s impossible to keep him at bay. America becomes a living hell: people perish because of hunger, and the only way to earn some money is to participate in the most appalling game devised by a perverted mind of a sadist. Opt for this book and discover what people are ready for to get what they want.

20. A River Out of Eden by Richard Dawkins

“Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous – indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.”

This book won’t go amiss for college students, especially those who have been looking for answers to the question of evolution. The author elucidates the process of human development in a readable and simple manner. The book is full of insights into out birth and growth, and no one will have heart to call it pedestrian.