The Best Books For The College Student’s Soul

Being a young, growing person in such an environment as college, it’s impossible to skate through life without the effects of your emotions reaching you at some point, and we’ll be the first to say that it can be ridiculously challenging. Dealing with the stress of relationships, self-acceptance, and mental illness is a daunting task, but we’ve made a list of some extremely hope inspiring and soul nurturing books you can pick up on both good and bad days. Our generation tends to stray from literature, but sometimes its amazing, and arguably necessary, to see the healing affects of beautiful writing and creativity. Read on if your soul needs a little chicken soup.

1. Get Happy! by Dr. Anthony Gunn

This book is the perfect start to the list; it’s basically a compilation of all the tiny things you didn’t know made such a difference in your life. Being full time students, our days are reliant on small tasks, like getting to class or going to bed early, and Gunn describes how we can improve on even behaviors that small to make a big difference. Each page presents a small entry about happiness, followed by a matching quote, and it’s pretty much the best thing to pick up in a moment of doubt or stress, or for a quick pick me up amidst a busy day. Whether you struggle with negative thinking, self image, or anxiety related stress, there’s something to learn from this little book of sunshine. Reading this book comes with new perspectives on your daily behaviors, whether those be toward others or yourself. Dr. Gunn emphasizes the control we have over our own happiness, one page at a time, making for a genuinely interesting and encouraging book for the soul of even the busiest college student.

Best Books For The College Student's Soul

2. 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson

Not quite belonging to the quick-read category on the list, this one is a detail oriented, anecdote-lined look into clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson’s take on living successfully. This book is anything other than cliche or sugar coated, as Peterson expresses that these principles are but responses to life’s suffering. The rules themselves are simple yet eye-opening, ranging from being precise in your speech to assuming the person you’re talking to knows something you don’t. Also drawing on lessons from some of humanity’s oldest myths and literature, this book is thought provoking on another level. This one is definitely a book for the soul of an open-minded person; Peterson raises some ideas that spark some real self-evaluation. For anyone whose interest is peaked but isn’t too fond of a long read, Peterson also has a YouTube channel that has some really cool subject matter, like videos on personality traits, a message to millennials, and existentialism, if you want to go there.

Best Books For The College Student's Soul

3. ZAUM Series by Sonoma State Students

This one’s a special shoutout to the ZAUM staff and contributors at Sonoma State for producing a consistently beautiful literary magazine. With a mission statement of pushing aesthetic boundaries and challenging conventional literary norms, the student-produced magazine both honors creativity and promotes written expression. The ZAUM series showcases poetry, prose, and artwork by college students across SSU’s campus and throughout the United States. Currently working on its 24th edition, the magazine is released yearly and never fails to include amazing content. Our favorite pieces range from poems to short stories to photographs, touching on experiences of loss, love, and and everything along the way. All written through the eyes of other young people, the content of ZAUM is infinitely heart stirring and worth more than a few reads. This one is a book for the soul of the college student who loves art and ingenuity.

Best Books For The College Student's Soul

4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff  by Richard Carlson

The cover reads “simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life,” and that subtitle says it all; all of the small things in life make up the big picture, so why not enjoy them, and do them with a purpose? Similar to the first book on our list, this manual (if you will) on managing stress gives super simple tips for alleviating daily anxieties and easing emotional roller coasters. This little book for the soul speaks to your inner peace, inspiring awareness and control of your mental state, something people are continually aspiring for. From having a flexible schedule, to expressing admiration, to taking out the trash, Carlson shines light on small, yet significant behaviors that are ultimately good to consider trying out in the long run. There’s also a bunch of different editions, so you can even take the book for the soul of a stressed parent to your mom on one of her difficult days.

Best Books For The College Student's Soul

5. Phenomenology of Human Understanding by Brian Cronin

This one’s a book for the soul of a more left-brained college student; those STEM majors who think in a more methodic, formulaic way could really appreciate the perspective on the human mind brought forth by this book. If you’re willing to do some careful introspective thinking, this book encourages you to wonder just how we as humans process our thoughts, create opinions, and ultimately understand concepts. While some might enjoy poetry, this book brings a different type of satisfaction, as it encourages you to do some soul searching on a new and intellectual level.

6. Poetry and Prose Collection by R. M. Drake

If you were all for the Milk and Honey, love and loss vibes, then these more than aesthetically pleasing writing collections might be right down your alley. Focusing largely on acknowledging self-worth and fortifying only healthy relationships, Drake uses beautiful and vivid language to speak to those with aching or unappreciated hearts. To the college student that just got out of a bad relationship or is looking for some guidance in building a new one: read and get to know your mind. Poetry and prose have an amazing way of healing, and R. M. Drake has an amazing way with words. If you’re thinking that reading a book sounds like a chore, at least follow Drake’s instagram and get a snippet of some beautiful writing.

Best Books For The College Student's Soul

What’s your number one way to nurture your soul? Let us know how you positively manage stress and anxiety in the comments.

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Comments, Questions & Rants
Sarah Hunter

I am currently a second year student at Sonoma State University in Northern California majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. I particularly love poetry, lyrics, and short stories, and I have a growing interest in fashion!