As students, we’re often overwhelmed by reading. Few books stand out to us as being eye-opening. If you’re looking for something refreshing, these ten books are bound to leave you feeling touched and inspired. They’re a must for every student!
1. To Kill a Mockingbird
I am aware of the cliché here, but almost every student has read this book at some point in their academic lives. If you haven’t—get on it now! This book discusses racism in beautiful prose. It’ll make you sit and reflect on the horrors of history, and leave you philosophising about youth and friendship.
2. The Giver
This is a book that will leave you staring at its final page in disbelief. You simply won’t want it to be over. In a black and white world, we are forced to consider reality and justice. We follow Jonas as he is forced to recognise the truth of his overbearing, dystopian society. This book was deemed controversial for its critique of politics, religion and blind-following behaviours—all the more reason to read it!
3. The Bell Jar
In her semi-autobiographical novel, Plath opens our eyes to mental illness. Truly one of the most beautifully written books on the shelves, The Bell Jar will make you think about strength, gender, and the pressures of life.
4. The Road
The dark, desolate prose of The Road might not make it seem like the best candidate for this list of inspiring books. However, McCarthy’s depictions of The Man and The Boy create heartbreaking images of family, love and sacrifice. His images of apocalyptic ‘ash’ make us question humanity. This is definitely a book which will leave you feeling more appreciative of life and aware of social corruption.
5. The Catcher in the Rye
This J.D. Salinger novel has faced heavy criticism for ‘lacking’ plot. However, Holden Caulfield’s critique of his ‘phony’ world leave us feeling critical of social stereotypes and values. We are also prompted to think more critically about social perceptions of mental illness, and how this affects the individual. It is, overall, an incredibly awe-inspiring book, and one that will stick with you forever.
6. Jane Eyre
We couldn’t write a list of inspiring books without including this Charlotte Brontë classic! Centred on the intelligent and strong-willed Jane, you’ll find yourself feeling shocked, entertained and inspired by Jane’s sharp wit and the novel’s gothic imagery.
7. A Little Life
This inspiring book was only published in 2015! The merged stories of four college friends as they encounter life obstacles will leave you feeling awe-struck. Hanya Yanagihara embeds mystery into this forlorn tale, persuading us to open our eyes to the realities of mental health and toxic relationships.
8. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects
This work of nonfiction definitely makes it onto our list of inspiring books! Mary Wollstonecraft (who, if you didn’t know, was the mother of Mary Shelley who, if you didn’t know, wrote Frankenstein). This book practically approaches women’s rights and was written well ahead of the values of the 18th century. It definitely stands the test of time and is a book everyone should read!
This novel was one of the first to speak out strongly about women’s rights! It also showcased a cast of female lovers and transgender characters. Djuna Barnes initially struggled to publish Nightwood because of its content. However, with our growing support of the LGBTQ+ community, it remains an inspiring book today.
10. The Messenger
Australian writer Marcus Zusak finds himself on this list because of his novel’s inspiring story arc. The Messenger encourages us to become better people, to attend to the needs of others, and to rid ourselves of toxic traits. It represents gamble, risk and ambiguity through playing cards—symbols which add a nice, creative touch to the overall novel. Definitely give it a read!
Which books do you think deserve a place on this list? Let us know in the comments!
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Creative writing major at the University of Melbourne! One of the few arts kids drinking coffee instead of tea. Slowly crying my way through Ulysses.