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15 Inevitable Freshman Year Reads

The new school year is fast approaching, and all across the globe, millions of teens are gearing up for their Freshmen year of college. Little do they know, the books they are going to read will frustrate them, challenge them, bore them, but hopefully make them better people. Here are the 15 books you will definitely read during your freshman year of college. 

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

 

This 2007 Pulitzer prize winning novel by Dominican American author Junot Diaz, caught a lot of people’s eyes when it first came out. If you read just about three pages of it, it’s easy to see why. It has just about everything you could ever want in a book. Humor, curses, Spanish, Nerdisms, and most importantly, seriously powerful writing. It’s no surprise that it has worked its way in to so many entry level English class curriculum. 

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

 

This is another contemporary novel that has cemented itself has requisite reading material for Universities. Jennifer Egan’s 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner is a total knockout of a book, with its unconventional non-linear narrative and brilliant commentary on everything from technology, to the music industry. 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

 

In just a matter of decades, Toni Morrison’s writing has become essential to a college education. You’d be hard pressed to find a college that doesn’t teach every single one of her novels. As with Junot, you only need to read a couple pages to see why. Simply put, she’s probably one of the best writers alive today, and Beloved is considered to be her Opus. 

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James

 

American Psychologist William James’ groundbreaking 1902 lecture is one of the most readable ‘religious’ texts out there. Teens jaded by religious dogma and tradition might find themselves agreeing with his approach to religious experience, which is primarily psychological. 

Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes

 

 

“I think, therefore I am.” You know the quote, and by the end of your first year, you’ll know the book. Descartes pioneered what you might call, “How do I know the sky is blue?” philosophy, by doubting his very existence. It may sound juvenile, but it’s important stuff!

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

 

Believe it or not, this is the most commonly assigned Economics textbook in American Universities today. Say what you want about Marxism/Communism, it’s historically significant to say the least. And you wanna be able to hold your ground in dorm debates. 

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir 

 

Many students’ are first exposed to Feminism in their freshman year of college, and you can’t say Feminism without Simone! Her book is seminal to the philosophy, and she is one of the movement’s most important thinkers. 

The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault

 

If you’re an English major in college, you’ll start hearing words like: Postmodernism, Poststrucuralism, Formalism, and a plethora of other ‘ism’s’ that sound like gibberish. Foucault is a nice door into that mad world of Theory, and this book is a prime example of new POMO conceptions of history. 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

 

When asked what the three greatest novels of all time were, William Faulkner listed Anna Kernina three times. This gargantuan Russian realist novel is at the top of most ‘best of all time’ lists, so chances are you’re gonna have to read it. 

The Iliad by Homer

 

This one is not gonna be fun. You will most likely read excerpts in your Intro to International Relations class, as this ancient Greek text is widely accepted as the first attempt at an objective account of history, and is credited with espousing the Political Philosophies of Realism and Liberalism before they were called that.

The Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau 

 

This is a dry one, but you’re not gonna get through college without reading at least one enlightenment thinker. Classical Liberalism is the foundation of Modern Western Society, so it’s definitely worth knowing where your freedoms come from.

The Confessions of St Augustine by Augustine

 

Part conversion narrative, part elongated prayer, part autobiography, part Philosophy, part confession, just what exactly is this thing? Though it was written in 400 AD, Theologians, clergymen, and historians, have been combing through this text for millenia. It’s widely considered the most important Christian text next to the Bible. 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

 

A favorite with the folks here at Bookstr, this dystopian novel is a true modern classic. It’s also one of the most consistently banned books, so that’s gotta be good for something, right? 

 

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