Bookworms are a dying breed in this modern age. With the epidemic of short attention spans, it can seem quite lengthy for students to focus on a single book one at a time. However, whether it is fictional or non-fiction, books are still relevant to our lives. Books have been around human existence for a long time, and they used to be the primary source of entertainment for many people. While there are several other outlets for us to gain enjoyment from today, books are still vital for our imagination.
They help us exchange information and stories between varying cultures, not to mention that it drastically improves our reading, writing, and speaking skills, as well as boosts our memory. The importance of books is still as relevant today as it was centuries ago. It consistently impacts our lives with the knowledge of our past civilisations and cultures.
As students, there is a library of books that could be relevant to you in your current educational journey. This does not only mean that you should only read books that are related to your degree choice or high school subjects. Sometimes there are novels that not only features characters that may be going through the same things you are, but is also able to offer you a word of comfort and advice to help you get through your current struggles.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 books you should read as a student:
#1 Kite Runner
A story about the unlikely friendship between two young Afghani boys, Amir and Hassan, and their journey through the fall of Afghanistan to war. The book begins between Amir and his servant’s son, Hassan, and their childhood life in Kabul. The two are as close as brothers and even participate in kite flying races in their neighbourhood together. However, after a series of traumatic events, Amir is driven by guilt even as an adult now living in California. When a situation arises and Amir is called to return to now war-torn Kabul, he seeks to find Hassan and reconcile the tragedy that tore them apart.
This book is sure to impact your life, regardless of what age or phase you are currently going through. It deals with themes of friendship, betrayal, guilt, religion, and racism. Khaled Hosseini uses powerful imagery that helps you come to realise the big consequences of the small actions you do throughout your life. As a whole, Kite Runner helps you take a deeper look into the bigger picture that is your life and of those around you.
#2 To Kill a Mockingbird
A very popular read among high school students and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, To Kill a Mockingbird is acclaimed so much for a good reason. The novel was written by Harper Lee in 1960, an era in which racism between white and black people ran a rampage in America. The story of To Kill a Mockingbird is told through the eyes of Scout Finch, a 6-year-old girl. Her father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer that is called upon to defend an accused black man for rape and assault. Through Scout’s eyes, we are given a child’s point of view on the consequences of racism, prejudice, and injustice.
This book has been well acclaimed for its powerful storytelling skills, especially with the protagonist being a 6-year-old child. This trope provides you with a childlike insight into the world of racism from an unbiased and innocent perception into the way human beings have classified what is “superior” and “inferior”. The story teaches you valuable lessons about the past, how to confronting conflict, and how we shouldn’t judge books by their cover. It emphasises the themes of having courage and bravery, even if you are the only one that is standing alone in the face of adversity. A truly remarkable book that students will greatly benefit from.
#3 A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway is one of the most acclaimed American novelists. A Farewell to Arms is his third novel that was published in 1929. It tells the tragic love story of Frederic and Catherine set in Italy in 1914. The two are star-crossed lovers during the time of World War I, but are forced to face the realities of war as Frederic is called back to the front after smuggling contraband alcohol into his room.
In this book, you can explore the relationship between the desire to serve yourself vs. your duty. It talks about the situations in which we often find ourselves standing between wanting to pursue what we want for our lives, and what we are expected to fulfill by the people around us. Whether it is our parents, teachers, and other figures of authority, we all have expectations that we feel pressured to live up to. Moreover, A Farewell to Arms offers an interesting insight into the themes of death, morality, and loyalty.
#4 Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone
The Philosopher’s Stone is the first book in the 7-book series of Harry Potter. It is the beginning of Harry Potter’s adventure to discovering the wizarding world and his very own magical qualities. First published in 1997, The Philosopher’s Stone, was loved by millions. Filled with exciting adventures from the characters of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, the book shares the valuable lessons of friendship and bravery.
A recurring theme in the Harry Potter series is that love is more powerful than hate. The character of Harry has survived throughout his adventures from the protection of love that he has received from his mother. Moreover, it is great for students to read this book as it brings a new light into the power of true friendship, and how that trumps over the idea of wealth and status. It is a children’s book, but do not let that fool you, for even in the simplest stories, you can find lessons you can treasure in your life.
#5 The Book Thief
Another historical fiction, The Book Thief tells the story of young Liesel through Death’s eyes. Set in Germany during World War II, Liesel lives with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa. While Liesel learns to adjust herself in her new home, they are greeted by an unannounced visitor, Max. A Jew. The family is plagued to keep a dangerous secret away from the rest of Germany as they fought to feed not only themselves but also a hiding Jew in an already rationed household.
The Book Thief deals with the power of friendship, words, and how kindness can go a long way. Germany in World War II was filled with racism and unspeakable cruelty towards the Jewish population that resided there. It also brings light to the fact that not all Germans were particularly on Hitler’s side of the war. It tells the story of the fear, risk, and danger the Germans felt as they tried to keep their political stance to themselves. The resistance was a terrifying thing to carry out, especially when the majority of the country was in agreement with the calls to war. With these themes in hand, you can learn about how compassion and courage to stand for those who are oppressed.
#6 The Catcher in the Rye
Published in the 1950s, The Catcher in Rye tells the story of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield as he goes around Manhattan for two days. It is a coming-of-age novel that talks about the confusion and disillusionment of teenage life. Holden wanders around the city, fleeting from one location and speaking with several people as he tries to look for the truth against the “phoniness” of the adult world.
As you grow through your teenage years and slowly enter into adulthood, you’re going to be faced with much confusion and disenchantment. We often have a magical picture of what our lives would be like when we grow up, but as you get older, you’ll eventually find yourself facing obstacles that you never had to encounter before. Growing up can be really scary, and that is what The Catcher in the Rye addresses through Holden. Through this book, you can the valuable lesson of facing your challenges because running away never works.
#7 Jane Eyre
Another classic love story, Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte in 1847, that tells the story of Jane Eyre battling through her childhood abuse as she enters the role of a governess in Edward Rochester’s estate. Though she tries to keep her distance from her employer, Jane and Rochester eventually bond and fall in love with each other. However, she discovers a horrible secret that he has been hiding from her, causing Jane to flee away.
Regardless of the story’s central theme of love, the book is not to be mistaken to be a smitten-filled novel. It is in fact filled with strong subjects of social class differences, feminist views, and the concept of having a home to belong to. Jane Eyre is a headstrong character that knows not just of her value but also keeps a strong hold onto her convictions. It is a story about owning up to your independence, speaking up for yourself, and to never forgetting that the world is a vast place. Home can always be where you make it to be.
#8 The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby was written by F Scott Fitzgerald. It is a 1925 novel about Nick Carraway who arrives in New York in search of the American Dream. He lives next door to Jay Gatsby, a millionaire who threw grand nightly parties and is also pursuing Daisy Buchannan, whom he met and loved during his youth. However, Daisy has long been married to Tom Buchannan. In Gatsby’s pursuit to win Daisy’s love, Nick is caught in between the two and witnesses as Gatsby and Daisy create an unraveling world of chaos between them and the people around them.
The novel tackles the themes of the hollow glamour of the upper class, the disillusionment of the American dream, and that money can never buy you love. The Great Gatsby brings light to the fallacy of passion against the truth of reality. The importance of being realistic and accepting the circumstances we live in is sometimes much healthier than falling for the idea of imagination. It also accepts and validates how leaving the path behind is difficult. The Great Gatsby stands as a warning of what happens when we allow ourselves to dwell too much on the past, thus creating a fantasy and hindering our growth to healthily move forward.
#9 Kim Ji-young, Born 1982
Written by Cho Nam-ju, Kim Ji-young, is a wonderful book for all women everywhere. It tells the story of a woman in her 30s as she adapts to juggling her responsibilities of work and having a family.
It is an easy to read feminist novel that addresses gender discrimination and family expectations. Told from the perspective of Asian families and culture, it is a refreshing point of view from the mainstream Western perception. The feminist movement has been brought into light through Western media, but it is still silenced heavily among Asian communities. Through Kim Ji-young, Born 1982, Asian communities are given the voice and power to speak up against the misogynistic world. By having an exposure on the struggles of women in these communities, you can find yourself learning a deeper understanding on the problems women face with the normalised culture that continues to oppress them.
#10 The Alchemist
The Alchemist tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels to Egypt in search of his treasure. Throughout his journey, he encounters kings, merchants, gypsies, mentors, and the love of his life. The novel tells important lessons on how the universe works together to bring us to the places we are destined to be and if we are to dutifully pursue our dreams, fear is irrelevant.
In The Alchemist, we are taught that if we were to set our minds on what we want, all components of the universe will work in our favor to achieve our dreams. Most importantly, it teaches us to improve on ourselves and appreciate the blessings we have been given.
That’s the end of all 10 books that you should read as a student! We hope that you found this list helpful, and that you’ll give these books a chance to change your life!
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About The Author
Journalism and Advertising major. Passionate about reading and writing, and an advocate for the truth.