20+ Best Books That Every College Student Must Read

20+ Best Books That Every College Student Must Read

If you have made it to college, I bet you have already read your fair share of books. But when it comes to success, it is not the quantity but the quality that counts.

Only the right books will give you practical advice you can follow and will be engaging enough for you not to drop the reading well before the advice comes along.

“There is no friend as loyal as a book,” wrote Ernest Hemingway. The books you will find below have already become loyal and helpful friends of thousands of students. They cover a wide range of topics: from cognitive science and motivation to job-hunting and exercise.

Each of them will be a valuable addition to your library, but together they are a magical formula for success. Reading your way through this list will take you more than a couple of hours, but it is worth it.

Mindset: Changing The Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential by Carol Dweck

Stanford professor Carol Dweck has introduced the term “Growth Mindset” to convey the idea that the human brain is flexible: it can evolve if the student does not stop learning and practicing. This book is essential because it will teach you why it is important not to give up on yourself and believe in your potential.

How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country’s Top Students by Cal Newport

A comprehensive humor-packed guide full of practical insights, How to Win at College is not only a helpful manual that will introduce all the freshmen into the exciting and somewhat intimidating college world but also an entirely delightful read.

How to Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport

Cal Newport will teach you how to study smartly and make the most of your college years while also getting great grades. Tip-based and practical, How to Become a Straight-A Student is a universal recipe for success at college.

The Motivation Hacker by Nick Winter


Nick Winter, a successful entrepreneur, shares his secret keys to motivation, using which you will not have to strain your willpower to the breaking point. When you feel your inner batteries are low on motivation, do not hesitate to resort to this reader-friendly guide.

Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold

Many undergraduates suffer from the negative effects of procrastination, which affects all aspects of students’ life, including grades, socializing, and health. This book will show you the way if you have been there too and are determined to change your habits. Arnold believes that people fail to fulfill their resolutions not because they lack willpower but because their goals are too big and vague. Instead, ‘micro resolutions’ are manageable tasks you can accomplish without extra effort. With this book, you will change your life for the better step by step.

Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell

This book is an absolute must-read for all college students because there is not a single undergraduate who has never made a mistake. John C. Maxwell proves that mistakes are an essential part of learning, and the most important thing for a student is to master the art of dealing with failures by seeing them as valuable experiences.

A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley’s

This book is a science-based manual for learning, understanding, and memorizing new information. Oakley will not only show you how your brain works but also teach you to use this knowledge to your advantage.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman

Popular stereotypes convince us that the most intelligent students are skinny nerds, while fit young people are mediocre learners. But the latest research shows that it is not true. Physical activity can help you improve your cognition and memory.

Radical Openness: Four Unexpected Principles for Success by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

‘Radical Openness’ is an inspiring new philosophy advocating free access to knowledge born out of the urgent need to embrace transparency. Yet, navigating these exciting but also dangerous waters might be challenging for college students who still have to decide how much information they can share and with whom. This book will become your wise adviser on how to survive and thrive in a globalized world held together by the digital net.

Confessions of a Recruiting Director: The Insider’s Guide to Landing Your First Job by Brad Karsh

Brad Karsh has written an extremely detailed and easy-to-read guide that will help you feel at home in job-hunting. Full of practical tips and examples of résumés and cover letters, this book is a true treasure trove for college students and recent graduates.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

In this book, Cal Newport argues that loving what you do is not enough to succeed. You need the ‘Craftsman Mindset,’ built around mastery rather than sheer enthusiasm. And once you are good at something, the passion and enjoyment will inevitably come in the package.

The Misfit’s Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch

Lidia Yuknavitch, a proud misfit and a popular writer and teacher, has written a wonderful book for everybody who does not fall within the mainstream category but still wants to be a success story. This love letter to all the misfits can help young people learn to value the weird side of themselves and the people around them.

No Fear Shakespeare series

Whether you are a fan of William Shakespeare and his plays or poems, you might enjoy them nevertheless. It’s an everlasting classic that would help you to navigate better in the world of ancient and modern literature. It is a must for anyone, regardless of their degree, who wants to enrich their vocabulary and learn how this classic influenced much popular media.

No Fear Shakespeare series allows you to overcome the fear (a nice play of words in the title) that you won’t understand this genius mind. It offers a modern translation of the original play’s text and commentary, so you can digest the text better.

The Happy Brain: The Science of Where Happiness Comes From, and Why by Dean Burnett

You have to unravel the science of becoming happy by learning about the thing which is responsible for that. Of course, we are talking about brains. The book was written by an actual neuroscientist and research associate at the Centre for Medical Education at Cardiff University, but it doesn’t mean it’s boring nonfiction.

Burnett excellently explains how our brain works, what we perceive as happiness, and what makes us unhappy. Self-help books are cool, yet the magic begins with millions of neurons and a desire to learn.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This is another classical piece of literature on this list and another example of how you can enjoy the work and challenge yourself. Dostoevsky is a great writer and philosopher whose characters are the perfect subject of study and analysis.

Sounds intense and massive, and The Brothers Karamazov is not a novel for one evening. But you won’t be disappointed as you unlock the complexity of the writing style and versatile characters that live on the novel’s pages. It is great reading about religion, ethics, morality, what we call virtue, and what free will is.

The Anatomy of Prejudices Book by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

This textbook is a must for anyone who wants to understand how the past and modern society work. No one is born prejudiced, and Young-Bruehl investigates the nature of prejudice, its earliest studies, and the multidisciplinarity of this topic.

Of course, this book is not the easiest one, and it would challenge you and your views. It is not designed to relax, but your lecturer would appreciate your knowledge about the subject. Sooner or later, this book would do you a great favor in the research field. Do not hesitate to take “hard” to read books because they are the ones that might impact your future.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is considered one of the best writers and representatives of the Lost Generation and English prose of the twentieth century. He and his works are hard to describe as Hemingway effectively uses language to submerge you in his books.

It is not enough time in the world to grasp every piece of literature that would change your life, and A Farewell to Arms is one of the first titles you should put on the list. Learning from the best, you will also notice how you become better with your words.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

It is a must-read book for any student who wants to change their life. We tend to underestimate the power of habits and how they impact our lives. Clear is here to convince us to review some of our misconceptions.

It is a book with strategies and practical advice. If you struggle with motivation or fall behind the course, it is time to get this book. Without any spoilers: just read it.

The City & the City by China Miéville


China Miéville is not your ordinary detective writer. Miéville is a master of mystery novels and fiction on the verge of the thriller genre and police procedural. You never know what you will experience with this author, and it’s working to boost your imagination and relax.

The City & The City takes place in two titular cities, mirrored and existing simultaneously. The story begins with a strange murder, and you and the protagonist Tyador Borlú have to learn who is responsible for that crime.

Nietzsche, Genealogy, and History by Michel Foucault

Any respectable academician knows who Foucault is. The man who changed the views on many aspects of our lives, the investigator and historian of knowledge, and reading any of his work would encourage you to learn more.

You may start with Nietzsche, Genealogy, and History and then proceed to other works in chronological order. You would thank yourself later as, among many other philosophers and writers, Foucault is one of the most comprehensive.

Frank Zappa famously said, “So many books, so little time.” So, waste no more time, read away, and do not forget to practice what you read. I bet the results will be forthcoming.


8 Best Books to Read for College Students

Fun fact: reading reduces stress and helps you to build your vocabulary. From fiction to nonfiction, you have various possibilities to extend your knowledge horizon if you dedicate only thirty minutes a day to a book. At the same time, with all those convenient services, you don’t have to run to a library and borrow a book; you can get it without leaving the house. So why not invest in a hobby that makes you better and gives you extra points when writing your essays and dealing with other assignments?

So, what should you read besides your ordinary curriculum?
Anything you would love to add to your skill set?
If you don’t have time to read books because you are overloaded with homework. A professional expert can lend you a helping hand with your assignment.

Of course, we all can understand the pressure and enormous amounts of materials that college students have to read. Let’s say you have to pass an exam and start preparing beforehand during the semester. But then you feel overwhelmed, your head almost explodes, and you are worried that you might forget something essential. As mentioned before: reading is not torture but also the possibility to help your anxiety and fear of low grades.

  • You advance your imagination and your memory.
  • Reading also impacts your ability to research for your future essays. The more you have read, the easier it is for you to find an appropriate reference for your case study or argumentative paper.
  • Reading makes you more prepared for applying new information and writing your essays.