I’ve decided to introduce a new series on Adventures of a Bibliophile: Recommended Reading! These are books I think are kind staple books in each category – I’m planning on doing a wide range of topics in this series (but feel free to comment with topics you’d like to see!).
For my inaugural Recommended Reading post, I’m going with: College Classics! A disclaimer: I did not read all of these books in college. In fact, I read most of them in grad school, but wish I’d read them in college. I also haven’t read all the books, obviously, so I’m just picking these from what I have read. I’m sure War and Peace and a lot of other books could make this list, but I haven’t read them yet. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments. These books inspired a lot of modern literature and film, and, for me, they were definitely reads that made me look at things a bit differently. I’m calling them “College Classics,” because I think that level of maturity is required to fully appreciate them. They’re also books that really influenced my way of thinking, which is kind of an important part of college. Older and younger readers can totally read these books, but, in my opinion, they might be most effective in college.
Now that I’m done with that (long-winded) explanation, here are the five classic novels I think all college students should read:
- 1984 by George Orwell. This book is one of my all-time favorite books! As soon as I read it (at the ripe, old age of twenty-five), I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it before. I’m glad I didn’t read it in high school, because I don’t think I would have loved it as much, and I think it helped that I read it extracurricularly, because I have a weird mental block where I automatically have a hard time with assigned books. That said, this is one of those books I think everyone should read at some point in their lives.
- Beowulf. It took being assigned this classic three times – in high school, college, and grad school – for me to finally actually read it. And while it wasn’t my favorite thing ever, I do think it’s necessary reading for any reader. It inspired so many things. I think it’s really great to have Beowulf in your reading arsenal.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This is definitely a classic. And if Beowulf is the basis for modern fantasy, Pride and Prejudice is the foundation for romance. So far, I’ve enjoyed all of the Austen books I’ve read, but this one is my favorite. And the most well-written, in my opinion.
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. I remember sitting in my college apartment, on a crappy mattress on the floor, watching the snow fall and devouring this book for my 19th Century British Lit class. Yes, this book is about a monster. But it’s also about human nature and the existential crisis of not fitting in or having a home.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I’m fully expecting that, once I (finally) finish reading War and Peace, it will replace Anna on this list. But as of my writing this, I’ve only read one Tolstoy novel, and it was incredible. It was long and hard to get through and occasionally boring. But I finished it a year ago and haven’t stopped thinking about it. Tolstoy will make you think differently about history and writing and life, and if you haven’t read anything by him yet, you need to get on that.
Alright, those are my top five recommended “college” classics. It might seem like a weird list, but 1. it was hard to pick just five, and 2. even though there are a ton of other classics I love, these are the ones I definitely wouldn’t appreciate if I’d read them as a teenager.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Again, feel free to add your favorite “college” classics in the comments, and also let me know if you have any ideas for future recommended reading posts!