reading

Must-Read Non-Fiction Books For College Students

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.

Non-Fiction:

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. 
Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Lessons from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

When I went to college for the first time, I was completely overwhelmed. I felt like I was being forced to let go of my childhood. All the students seemed happy; they gathered in circles, instinctively picking out peers to befriend. As college went by, I found myself comparing memories. I compared my childhood with my young adulthood. I wondered why I had found so much love at home and so little at college. My memories became dangerous; they trapped me in anger and kept me attached to my ego. I became angry at myself for holding onto my childhood; why couldn’t I enjoy my “adulthood?” I was in danger of becoming bitter; I felt as though I was pitted against the world.

Our memories are sometimes dangerous, but they also have the potential of being extremely liberating. If we learn to see the world in all its complexity, we can look at our memories with detachment and honesty. The ancient Buddhist poets Issa and Ryokan both experienced the sadness and isolation we sometimes feel in college. Yet, instead of becoming bitter and self-pitying, they learned from their pain. Both men learned how to “become children” again; they learned how to live in the present. Childhood is not something that is lost suddenly; it fades away, and at moments, it shines through. Issa and Ryokan taught me this. I have learned how to cultivate the freedom and appreciation children feel for every moment and keep this vivacity alive throughout college and on into adulthood. It is only pain that threatens to destroy the passion we all have for life. Here are the important lessons I have learned from them to help put college into perspective. 

Reach for Happiness

Lessons Learned from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

Issa has profound insight into the nature of the world. He believes we “walk on the roof of hell/gazing at flowers.” Most humans only “gaze” and hope for happiness, instead of reaching for it. We look backwards and forwards in time, waiting for the next “flower,” instead of appreciating the moment, whether the moment is painful or pleasurable. We look forward to college weekends, instead of enjoying the day in front of us. It is often difficult to see that time is not linear; we are not trapped on Earth, waiting to reach something greater. We are simply living every day as it comes, attempting to be present in every moment. It is natural that some of these moments will be painful and some will be joyous. Though college can be extremely stressful, that does not mean we should avoid these painful moments.

Remain in the Present Moment

Lessons Learned from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

Issa uses his memories as fuel to help him understand how to live a meaningful life. Even in a poem Issa wrote about his deceased daughter, there is a simplicity and a sense of peace. Issa recalls the “scarlet flowers/she liked to pick.” He gives no reflection; he simply remembers his daughter and her love of flowers. He seems to learn from the simplicity of his daughter; it is important to love the flowers and to be happy in the moment. Issa reflects on the past, but he does not get stuck in it. Issa seems to understand that being “here” is all you can be. The snow will fall and life will always continue. If you are a part of this world, you have a duty to be fully “here;” if you are not, you are missing out on life.

Learn From Children

Lessons Learned from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

In their self-healing, both Issa and Ryokan come back to images of children and the relationship between parent and child. This sacred relationship captures the complex nature of the world. The past is always disappearing, making room for the present. Yet, remnants of the past always remain. In modern society, we often see a clear separation between “child” and “adult”. We assume that, as we enter college, we abandon the immature child inside of us and become mature adults. However, as we age and move away from home, we are continuously tempted by the world; college tempts us to see ourselves as independent and egocentric.

Like flowers, children bloom. The world is always unfolding and bringing new things in and out of being. Ryokan refers to the “three thousand worlds,” or the multiplicity of the world we so often see as singular and linear. There is no objective world; we all have our own lives, and our lives are intertwined with the lives of everything around us. Ryokan appears to understand that there is no “winning” or “losing;” life does not pit the ego against the rest of the world. Likewise, we are not competing with our fellow students; it is not us versus them.

Ryokan knows that “if we gain something, it was there from the beginning” and that if we “lose anything, it is hidden nearby.” This mantra applies to perfectly to college life. If we experience joy, we must appreciate this joy, yet we must be careful not grow attached to it. We must love the feelings and experiences of the current moment just as children do. When we lose something, we must accept this and not curse the world for taking something away from us. Time is not linear; things that are lost will eventually be found. Perhaps we will recover what is lost in a different form, just as Ryokan did. As Ryokan aged, he seemed to grow closer to his youth. He spent his time with children, laughing and thinking about how time passes and how people change. We are all capable of recovering the innocence of our childhood and the joy we had as children.

Live Passionately

Lessons Learned from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

Both Issa and Ryokan warn us that we must not let our memories consume us. We must not live in the past or in the future; there is only the present moment. As we go through college, we cannot look back; we can reflect on our past, but we must always remain present. In our moments of sadness, we must follow Issa and Ryokan’s lead: we must use our pain to create something beautiful. These poets found a way to honor the beauty of the world and accept the pain. Issa believed that “this world is like a rope, flailed with strands of joy and anger, pain and pleasure. All that meets will part.” Many call Issa a cynic, but truly, he is a realist; the world is filled with unbelievable happiness and unbearable pain. Sadness is an essential part of life; it reminds us that we must cherish every moment. We must live by Issa’s example and use our “cynicism” to make our lives honest and beautiful. We must also follow Ryokan’s lessons and learn to love every moment for what it is. Childhood is not something that must be forgotten as you grow up. Childhood may fade away, but, at moments, it shines through us all. We must cultivate the freedom we enjoyed as children and the passion children have for every moment of life.

Basic Studying Tips Reinvented

Everyone knows the basic studying tips: note cards, reading and notes. These are cookie-cutter study tips everyone knows, but they don’t always work for everyone. These tips below are variations on the basic tips and allow you to make studying fit your personality! If you make your studying habits your own, this allows you to learn and understand the material, instead of just memorizing it.

Note Cards

studying-tips-note-cards

 

The basic version is to write a word on one side and the textbook definition on the other. Instead, try reading as much as you can stand about the topic: read the chapter, an article, etc. Once you feel like you’ve got a grasp on the topic, that’s when you write your note cards out. Write the note cards in your own words and in whatever style fits you better: lists, prose, shorthand, anything.

Why it Works: If you understand a topic before you write about it, or take notes on it, the notes then become a review-not a lesson.

Reading

studying-tips-reading

Reading the textbook is a necessity to taking most classes. Studies have shown that just reading the textbook and rereading it until you know it is one of the least effective ways to learn material. So, this tip is for anyone who doesn’t like notes or note cards, and just reads the material. Read something other than the standard textbook. Read the material in the book for the class and then find another source-be that another book, an article, a documentary, or YouTube video about the topic- and study that one too. Sometimes reading the same book written in the same voice causes people to zone out while studying. Don’t zone!

Why it Works: Supplementing your reading with other sources will give you a better idea of the material and be more familiar with it.

Notes

studying-tips-notes

Notes can be basic: you write down things you think are important as you read. This works for some people, but for others its just going through a motion. Instead try a similar tactic to the note card strategy: read in its entirety and then take notes. Write the notes in your own words, and write them as if you’re explaining it to someone else.

Why it Works: When you’re going back through and reviewing the notes, you’ll be able to easily understand them and follow the material without having to crack the book open again.

These are variations on studying tips I’ve found to work for me.Understanding the material is the best way to remember it. Good luck hitting the books!

Comment below if they helped or if you’ve found variations of your own. 

Books To Read In 2015

We know you’re busy writing essays, taking final exams and dreaming about summer break but if you get a craving for a good book, check out some of these popular titles that you need to read in 2015!

paper-towns-john-green

Paper Towns by John Green

Written by popular young adult author John Green, Paper Towns is the story of Quentin who has loved Margo since elementary school. Unfortunately, Margo has ignored Quentin for the majority of their high school years. That is, until she shows up at his window just weeks before their high school graduation and they spend the entire night together pulling off a series of revenge-fueled pranks. Margo disappears the next day and Quentin, along with his two best friends, are determined to follow the clues Margo left behind.

While the book Paper Towns was first published in 2009, it tops our list of Books You Have to Read in 2015 because Paper Towns is coming to the big screen soon! Paper Towns is coming to theaters July 24th, 2015! Watch the trailer here.

all-the-light-we-cannot-see-anthony-doerr

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Described as “hauntingly beautiful” by The New York Times and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, All The Light We Cannot See tells the story of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy whose paths cross in occupied France during World War II. Werner, the young boy, is incredibly gifted at mathematics and earns himself a spot at an elite Nazi training school. Marie-Laure, blinded at the age of six, has fled from Paris with her father and a highly sought after sapphire from the Museum of Natural History in tow. The story that Anthony Doerr has created is far too complex to explain in a few short sentences so to find out the fates of Werner and Marie-Laure you are going to have to read this book for yourself!

go-set-a-watchman-harper-lee

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Critics are buzzing about Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee’s earliest known work. Believed to have been lost, the manuscript for Go Set A Watchman was re-discovered in late 2014. The story follows up with many of the original characters from Harper Lee’s well-known classic To Kill A Mockingbird 20 years after the story ends. Go Set A Watchman is scheduled to be released on July 14th, 2015.

girl-on-the-train-paula-hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

If you loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, you will love this book! This psychological thriller follows our main character Rachel as she rides the commuter train each and every day into London, even after she is fired from her job. Through the train window, Rachel sees the same houses and the same people in their yards every day and begins to feel like she actually knows them. She gives the people names and imagines what their jobs and lives are like. While looking out the window one day, Rachel thinks that she sees something happen to the girl she has named “Jess”. When news stories about a missing girl named Megan (who turns out to be “Jess”) start surfacing Rachel decides to tell the police everything she has seen from the train window. Did I mention that Rachel is drunk for most of this book? That puts an interesting spin on things when an unreliable drunk shows up at the police station with information on Megan’s disappearance. The twists and turns of this story keep you guessing not only “Who did it?” but “What actually happened?” right up to the last page.

the-residence-inside-private-world-of-white-house-kate-andersen-bower

The Residence: Inside the Private World of The White House by Kate Andersen Brower

Being the President of the United States is a tough and very public job, but what do we really know about the on-goings of the first family when the cameras are off and the world isn’t watching? In this 2015 release, we hear from employees at the White House that have been there day in and day out through ten different administrations over a span of fifty years. Written after hundreds of hours of interviews with butlers, chefs, florists, maids and other White House staffers, we catch an inside glimpse of what life was really like at the White House from the Kennedy Administration, through the days of Nixon and Reagan and the scandal-filled Clinton years, all the way up to the current first family, the Obama’s.

jk-rowling-very-good-lives

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

Bestselling author J.K. Rowling, best known for her Harry Potter series, gave a very moving speech during commencement at Harvard University in 2008. Now available in written form, this speech doles out words of wisdom for anyone who has come to a crossroads in their life. The perfect graduation gift or perfect for when you need a boost of inspiration and motivation, Very Good Lives does not disappoint. Proceeds from the book will be donated to J.K. Rowling’s foundation Lumos, which focuses on ending the institutionalization of children worldwide. Find more information on Lumos here.

redeployment-phil-klay

Redeployment by Phil Klay

Redeployment, winner of the 2014 National Book Award, describes the unseen lives of an American soldier on the frontlines. Author Phil Klay is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and uses his experience in Iraq to tell a story that civilians cannot even begin to imagine as truth. This book is sure to leave you with an undying gratitude for those fighting overseas as well as a new found outlook on exactly what it takes to fight for your country.

ember-in-the-ashes-sabaa-tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Readers have been patiently waiting for this debut fantasy novel from author Sabaa Tahir to be released and the wait is finally over! This novel, just released on April 28th, has been described by early reviewers as having “the addictive quality of The Hunger Games, the fantasy of Harry Potter and the brutality of Game of Thrones.” We can’t wait to get our hands on this one!

What books are on your list to read this year? Let us know in the comments!

The 5 Best Books of 2014 (so far)

The Fault in Our Stars written by John Green

7-22 The Fault in our Stars

Arguably, one of the most buzzworthy books of the first half of 2014. Its popularity skyrocketed almost overnight, gripping its readers and tearing at their heart strings. It was originally intended for young adults, but college students and even older adults have relished in this tragic young love story. Therefore it’s not surprising that the book was both successful in print and at the box-office.

All the Light We Cannot See written by Anthony Doerr

7-22 All the Light We Cannot See

Almost as soon as its release in May, this book has been on many best sellers lists (and rightfully so). It carefully weaves historical fiction to the backdrop of war to create a hard to put down read. For those who cannot get enough of World War II history, this may certainly be the book you’re looking for.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century written by Thomas Piketty

7-22 Capital_in_the_Twenty-First_Century_(front_cover)

A bestselling book on economics and development? This certainly does not happen every day. Piketty brings fresh, easily understandable language for those who are unfamiliar with economics and blends it with interesting concepts and charts. This overtly large book (it’s close to 700 pages) have kept readers engaged and thus lifted itself to the top of the nonfiction best sellers list.

Gone Girl written by Gillian Flynn

7-22 gone girl

This mysterious thriller is sure to leave you at the edge of your seat with the many plot twists and suspenseful circumstances that can only be found in a book by Gillian Flynn. This book has been receiving lots of buzz lately. It has a movie in the works and has been on bestsellers lists since its release.

The Goldfinch written by Donna Tartt

7-22 The_goldfinch_by_donna_tart

An extremely smart novel whose popularity has been unmatched in recent years. Donna Tartt successfully brings the reader into the time and place, allows them to feel emotions portrayed and brings all her characters to life. It’s no wonder that the Goldfinch has been given praise for all over the world.