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10 Books You Should Read Before College

10 Books You Should Read Before College

Before you pack up and jet off to college, there are a few books you should probably have checked off your list. Why? These books are classics, with morals and life lessons that will not only prep you a little in tackling life as an adult, but provide you with some culture that reading effortlessly instills. So as you lay around these final weeks of summer, wondering what you should do with yourself, consider picking up one of these 10 books you should read before college.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

With a plethora of great role models (Atticus anyone?), and a racial crisis at the forefront that has clear ties to modern events, this novel that was middle school required reading for most of us is absolutely worth a second perusing.

2. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This tale of opulence and extravagance in the roaring twenties delves into the intricacies of friendship, loneliness, and tragedy; making it relatable to humanity as a whole. Exploring vanity through the poetic writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald creates a beautiful and meaningful read.


3. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

In order to truly understand modern sexism and feminism there are certain novels one has to read; this is certainly one of them. In a dystopian society full of inequality and injustices, Offred, a servant to the affluent forced to reproduce, remembers her past and strives for small independences and rebellions within her enslavement. The nature of the dystopian society hits a little too close to home, reminding us of aspects of our own.

4. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

This semi autobiographical account of Plath’s own struggle with mental illness during college paints a deeply relatable picture for many adolescents. Another essential feminist text, it delves into the world of treatment facilities, self worth, and the pressures of collegiate life in America. Trigger Warning.

5. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

This story about Jesus Christ’s heritage and the Holy Grail thrust into the modern day adventures of a dashing Harvard symbolist is both an incredibly exciting read and a fun way to learn a lot of true facts about history, art, and religion. An instant bestseller, it sparked worldwide interest in Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail. Many religious groups have denounced the book as they consider it an assault on The Roman Catholic Church, but it provides an interesting alternative view of certain aspects of Christianity and Catholicism.


6. Lucky – Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones author Alice Sebold’s memoir about her rape as a student at Syracuse University is a touching, realistic account of the life of a rape victim. In a world where 54% of sexual assault victims are ages 18-34 the true story of a young woman’s struggle with her assault and her experiences afterwards is an important book for both victims, and those who wish to understand them. Trigger Warning.

7. Zeitoun – Dave Eggers

A must read for any conscious person living in post 9/11 America, this is the account of a Muslim family’s experience in and surrounding post Katrina New Orleans. Covering compassion, discrimination, and everything in between, this is both an eye opening and entertaining read.

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8. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

This is a fictional series of letters to God from a poor, uneducated, young black woman named Celie, born to an abusive father, separated from her beloved sister, and forced into marriage. This novel explores abuse, rape, empowerment, and lesbianism in a series of power struggles between Celie and those who are in control of her life. Trigger warning.

9. The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

The quintessential adolescent novel, this classic explores teen angst and isolation through the eyes of eighteen year old Holden Caulfield, wandering New York City in search of identity and belonging.

10. Asking For It – Kate Harding

This nonfiction book exploring rape culture in America is written in an entertaining and intelligent way. A true eye opener that all collegiates should read teaches us about what it means to be a bystander, a victim, and an advocate. Trigger warning.


What are some other books everyone should read before college? Share in the comments!

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