Before you ask, yes, I am an English major. So I may be biased when I say that reading provides an unparalleled sense of meaning in one’s life. Not only is literature entertaining, (if it’s a good enough book), but it furnishes powerful insights on human experience. Literature can help you make sense of the world, and can also help you understand who you are as a person. Here is a list of eight books you should read before graduating college.
1. “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank: I read this book over the summer and was honestly amazed by how much it affected me. For days I could not stop thinking about Anne’s story. Reading this book is such a powerful experience — it’s astonishing how much truth and wisdom is revealed by such a young girl. It’s definitely on my top ten list of favorite books, and one you should read before leaving college.
2. “1984” by George Orwell: Not only should you read this book because it is referenced quite frequently in everyday life, (ever heard of the show Big Brother?), but also because it is a work of literary genius. Both engaging and thought-provoking, this is a definite must read.
3. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger: Now that we’re (hopefully) through our awkward, angsty teenager phase, why not enjoy reading about someone else’s? In all seriousness, though, the voice that J.D. Salinger gives to the character Holden Caulfield is so different from that in the typical novel. The book is honest and real. Whether you hate Caulfield or love him by the end, this book deserves a place on your shelf.
4. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: Considered one of the greatest books of the past century, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a book you should definitely read, unless you already read it in high school. And, if you did already read it, give it a re-read. I promise you’ll get more out of it the second time around.
5. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: If you think Leo is all you need, think again. While I won’t deny that the movie version starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is wonderful, the book is even better. That sounds cliche, but it’s true.
6. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley: Similar to “1984,” this dystopian, totalitarian-regime novel will bring you to a (brave) new world of thinking about the constructs of society.
7. “Native Son” by Richard Wright: Unlike most of the novels on this list, before coming to college I had never heard of this book. Yet ever since reading it in my African American Literature class, this text has stuck with me. This book is a huge eye-opener on matters of race and privilege.
8. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen: I’m going to be honest: I haven’t read this book, so I can’t actually tell you that it’s great and wonderful. But it is arguably one of the most famous books of all time, so there’s got to be something there, right? I at least plan on finding out.