When you go to college, you meet new people, see new places, and learn new things. You undoubtedly have a lot to learn the next few years, so why not get a jump start? Books are one of life’s greatest teachers. They can influence how you see yourself and the world around you. With every book you read, you’re exposed to new perspectives that will help you understand others and open yourself up to all the possibilities ahead.
Taking the time to read improves your ability to focus, enhances your vocabulary, strengthens your empathy, and provides new experiences through a variety of characters. In a university setting, where people from all walks of life are studying different fields and engaged in different interests, a book can be the bridge to understanding your differences and pushing against your own assumptions.
We’ve created a two-part blog series full of must-read books for college students as a starting point to prepare you for this exciting chapter in life. While reading fiction takes you to the imaginative world, non-fiction unfolds the reality; you get to know real people and their lives. Reading about the experiences of others can teach you valuable life lessons, help you avoid pitfalls and make the most of new opportunities. In this first part, we’ll explore non-fiction titles. Be sure to check back for part two – fiction titles!
Some of these titles may be familiar, others may not – but they all have a valuable story to share. These books cover everything from overcoming obstacles and following your dreams, to learning valuable life lessons about self-discovery, and more.
The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Dr. Meg Jay
Rather than falling in line with what everyone else their age is doing; this book helps twenty-somethings think about the choices they’re making now and how those can positively or negatively affect them later in life. The book covers topics ranging from self-care and healthy relationships to finding a meaningful career. Bonus: Check out this TED Talk where author Dr. Meg Jay shares three pieces of advice for how twenty-somethings can reclaim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives.
Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg
Following her first bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sandberg has enlisted the help of experts for Lean In for Graduates, a handbook that offers instruction and inspiration for the next generation. Lean In for Graduates includes the full text of the original book as well as new chapters on finding your first job, negotiating your salary, listening to your inner voice, and leaning in for women of color and millennial men.
How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1936, has been rebooted to include the complexities of modern times and will teach you how to communicate with diplomacy and tact, project your message widely and clearly, be a more effective leader, increase your ability to get things done, and optimize the power of digital tools.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes a deep dive into why habits exist and how we can manipulate them to our advantage. This book explores an interesting argument: The key to exercising regularly, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. By harnessing this power, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
I Want More Pizza: Real World Money Skills for High School, College, and Beyond by Steve Burkholder
By realizing that he had many questions about financial literacy while in high school and college, Burkholder became an educator and wrote this book to help other learners like him. The book offers actionable, easy-to-understand information to help students build good habits and learn how to live within their means.
Designing Your Life: How to Build A Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
In this book, Burnett and Evans show us how design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of who or where we are, what we do for a living, or how young or old we are. The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology can be used to design and build your career and your life, a life of fulfillment and joy, constantly creative and productive, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.
Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes, the mastermind behind TV favorites like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” chronicles how one little word changed her life forever. An introvert at heart, she explains how saying “yes” for one year impacted her in ways she did not expect. The book chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun – when Shonda learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes!
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
“Hidden Figures” follows the interwoven accounts of four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama
Nobel Peace Prize award winners His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships, they are two of the most joyful people on the planet. In this book, you get to explore the Nature of True Joy and confront the Obstacles of Joy—from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death. They then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness.
Whichever you choose to start with – cross some of these off your reading list, and trust me, they’ll leave you feeling more prepared for the adventures ahead!
Stay tuned for part two: Must Read Fiction Books for College Students.
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