Fall is my favorite time of the year for so many reasons, not least of which is that it’s back to school time! This is the first fall since I’ve finished grad school, and I kind of wish I could join the ranks of those buying new school supplies, taking notes in class, and spending my afternoons studying with a cup of coffee. Yes, I love school, I’m a nerd. Can I please go back?
As you probably already know, I’ve been making an effort over the past two years to read a lot more nonfiction, and I am definitely enjoying it. I think it’s changed my life for the better, and I definitely think it’s something everyone should try to do. And I think college (or university) is a great time to do so. You’re learning and changing so much during that time, and I think reading more can only help.
Today, I wanted to share five books that I think all college students should read. Each of these books gave be a better sense of myself and my beliefs and the world around me, and I really think college is the perfect time to dive in.
We Should all Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Everyone should read this book. Period. It’s less than fifty pages, so you don’t really have an excuse. It helped open my eyes to the ways in which sexism is still prevalent in our society. I was a feminist before reading this book, but there was a lot I overlooked or ignored just in my every day life, and that was only contributing to the problem. I think college culture might be a very different place if more students read this book.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I’ve read a few memoirs over the past few years that affected me deeply, but none more so than this one. This book really hit home, and showed me just how short life really is. Yes, goals are good, but other things are important, too (and I don’t mean partying). This book made me look at life differently, and I wish I’d gained those insights when I was a few years younger.
A Nation of Immigrants by John F. Kennedy. Even though I had studied immigration in a historical context, and try to pay attention to politics, but it was so enlightening to see the history of immigration from a political perspective. Especially since JFK actually cared about people and also had a great understanding of the political side of immigration. I think it’s important to understand why and how other people live, and why immigration is so important to American culture.
Hunger by Roxane Gay. My life may have been very different if I’d read this book in college (which I couldn’t have done because it probably wasn’t written back then). It is the book on this list that I read most recently, and it definitely had a huge impact. It made me more comfortable in my own skin and more accepting of myself. I loved this book, and I think it’s a valuable read for anyone.
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. I think everyone should read this book – it would be particularly valuable for teachers, parents, and middle through high school students – but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. This is a book about autism by an autistic 13-year-old. It is really all about understanding and empathy, especially with regards to neurological differences. If everyone read books like this one, the world would be a much better place
Are there any books you think belong on this list? What nonfiction book has had the most impact on you? Let me know in the comments!