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10 Essential Books Every College Student Should Read 

As a collegegoer, books are an important part of your life. You carry a world in your hands that can be entertaining, yet full of insights, and can help you make sense of the world around you as you welcome various transformations in your own life. They widen your vocabulary, help find new ideas and models for academic writing, improve your cognitive skills, and expose you to conflicting yet enthralling new ideas that may help you shape your principles and thinking in a new way. They help widen the horizons of your mind as you draw inspiration from people, ideas, and thoughts around you and try to make this world a better place to live, while bettering yourselves. We have curated a list of 10 masterpieces worthy of your attention.

  1. ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943.

The Little Prince (French: Le Petit Prince) is a novella that reminds you to take a break and think about the things that matters the most. The story follows a young prince who visits various planets in space, including Earth, and addresses themes of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss. Despite its style as a children’s book, The Little Prince makes observations about life, adults, and human nature. This is not a book for children. It’s for adults who remember being children and feel nostalgia for the simple comfort of childhood innocence but know they can never go back to it.

Memorable quotes:

“Where are the people?” resumed the little prince at last. “It’s a little lonely in the desert…” “It is lonely when you’re among people, too,” said the snake.”

“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it”.

“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies”.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3LBoGuz

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960.

This classic novel provides keen insight into racial injustice that can be valuable to a college student who may be experiencing a culturally diverse environment for the first time. This is a book about a young girl’s growing up, which passes through adventures, fun, and relationships with peers. She has many things to learn about, including life’s unfairness to kids, weak people, or people with a different skin color. As a result, we can see that kindness, sympathy and mutual support do not depend on your color of skin, your social status, or public opinion. Due to its immensely rich context and immediate success among people, the book was awarded with a Pulitzer Prize and has become a classic modern of American literature.

Memorable quotes:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it”.

“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience”.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3HTzeTM

3. 1984 by George Orwell, 1949.

Written in 1949, The novel is set in Airstrip One, a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation. The superstate and its residents are dictated to by a political regime euphemistically named English Socialism, shortened to ‘Ingsoc’ in Newspeak, the government’s invented language. The superstate is under the control of the privileged elite of the Inner Party, a party and government that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as “thought crime”, which is enforced by the “Thought Police”. A world split between three different states. An entire control, elimination of human worth, and efforts to live in this world filled with hatred.

This novel about government control of the masses is even more relevant today, especially in the times of paid media, fake news and propaganda, this novel about dystopia holds a special place in literature. When virtually every college student owns some form of computer and/or mobile device that makes it easy to track and monitor their activities. This is a story about our future world, where happiness plays an important role, but individuality is not appreciated.

Memorable quotes:

“What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself; who gives your arguments a fair hearing and simply persists in his lunacy?”

‘“The best books . . . are those that tell you what you know already.”

“Big Brother is Watching You.”’

Buy Here: https://amzn.to/3Lzl0JT

4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, 1988.

Originally written in Portuguese, this is the tale of a young Andalusian shepherd in his journey to Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding treasure there. The novel is an allegory of a man fighting against odds to reach his fate and has been filmed and adapted into theatrical musicals. This story about miracles and destiny will give you faith in higher powers and influence of destiny in your life. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams. It is an international bestseller and has been translated into more than 70 languages so far. The book is relatively, with only around 167. The theme of this book is about finding one’s destiny or purpose in life.

Memorable quotes:

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3uT437w

5. Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru, 1946.

The Discovery of India was written by the Indian leader, Jawaharlal Nehru (later India’s first Prime Minister) during his incarceration in 1942–1945 at Ahmednagar fort, in the present-day Indian state of Maharashtra, by British colonial authorities before the independence of India. This book analyses in depth the philosophy of Indian life as Nehru argues that India was a historic nation with a right to sovereignty. The journey in The Discovery of India begins from ancient history, leading up to the last years of the British Raj. Nehru uses his knowledge of the Upanishads, Vedas, and textbooks on ancient history to introduce to the reader the development of India from the Indus Valley Civilization, through the changes in socio-political scenario every foreign invader brought, to the present-day conditions.

Memorable quotes:

“India has known the innocence and insouciance of childhood, the passion and abandon of youth, and the ripe wisdom of maturity that comes from long experience of pain and pleasure; and over and over again she has renewed her childhood and youth and age”

“Without that passion and urge, there is a gradual oozing out of hope and vitality, a settling down on lower levels of existence, a slow merging into non-existence. We become prisoners of the past and some part of its immobility sticks to us.”

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/34GNBwl

6. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1932.

Largely set in a futuristic World State, whose citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story’s protagonist. A Brave New World is a dark and satirical look at a utopian future where individuals do not fit into the system. Student should read this book and explore the question of whether it is more important to accept things as they have always been or to fight for the things that will make you happy.

Memorable quotes:

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3Jsmdkv

7. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967.

It’s funny, it’s profound and it has to be read to be believed. In some ways, the book has an odd reputation. This is a hilarious yet philosophical and highly political novel by Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, written in the Soviet Union between 1928 and 1940 during Stalin’s regime. The devil comes to Moscow. Merry mischief and melancholy sadness, romantic love and magical obsession, mystery, and a reckless game with the evil spirit – these can all be found in this novel. Perfect reading to find out how evil can be more honest than society and political regimes. The Master and Margarita is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century and as a masterpiece of magical realism.

Memorable quotes:

“Manuscripts don’t burn” – “(рукописи не горят)

“And a fact is the most stubborn thing in the world.”

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3BnJlO5

8. The Stranger by Albert Camus, 1942.

The Stranger, also published in English as The Outsider, is a 1942 novella by French author Albert Camus. After reading this novel, young people will understand how important their personal choice is and how indifferent the universe sometimes is. The story of a person who killed a man and did not feel guilty lets us see how absurd the world around us may be. While an interesting question, the book raises so many other philosophical questions beyond this. What I found the most interesting of these is, “what truly defines humanity or makes someone human?” During Meursault’s trial, he is constantly accused of not showing remorse and therefore as being cold and inhuman. He is most definitely human though, just rather detached. This raises the question of whether one should be expected to exhibit certain characteristics in certain situations to “keep their humanity”. The book is a classic early modern work of anomie, alienation, and a general indifference to life.

Memorable quotes:

I realized then that a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison. He would have enough memories to keep him from being bored”

“It is better to burn than to disappear”

Buy Here: https://amzn.to/3rP5K3F

9. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, 1987.

The novel is a nostalgic story of life, loss, and burgeoning sexuality. It is told from the first-person perspective of Toru Watanabe, who looks back on his days as a college student living in Tokyo. This is a story about true love and friendship, when one college student has to change his life principles and attitude to everything that happens around. It seems that the transition into adulthood is more demanding, more stressful. It also seems that there are more casualties, as more teenagers fail to make the transition and end up committing suicide. Murakami writes about the transition almost like it’s a game of snakes and ladders. You can climb into the future, success, and normality, or you can slide into darkness, failure, and death. It teaches us to appreciate friendship and people who love us, and be ready to accept the ugly truth of life.

Memorable quotes:

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

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

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3rN9z9I

10. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, 2011.

This book presents itself as a brief history of everything since the dawn of time in a surprisingly captivating way. It’s filled with interesting facts and perceptive observations that will make you consider many things you hadn’t before. And thanks to the author’s style of writing, the complex topics covered are easily digestible. If you’re looking for a book that appeals to your curiosity about the human experience, why we are the way we are, reading this book will challenge you and your perceptions of the world. Giving you an interesting layer to add on it each time.  It is a stimulating and refreshing history of the world.

Memorable quotes:

“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations”

“Consistency is the playground of dull minds”

“There are no gods, no nations, no money and no human rights, except in our collective imagination.”

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3Lxv9Hf


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    Career Ahead, the flagship handle of Career Ahead Magazine, is dedicated to molding the next generation of professionals and entrepreneurs. Our mission is to educate and inspire today's ambitious minds to become the icons of tomorrow. As the ultimate tool and resource, we cater to young students, budding entrepreneurs, and innovative startups, providing them with the knowledge and inspiration needed to navigate their paths to success. Through in-depth articles, insightful analysis, and inspiring stories, Career Ahead empowers its readers to forge their futures in the ever-evolving world of work and enterprise.

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