I've always considered myself to be a pretty big reader — I spent most of my childhood going to the library and having my nose buried in a book. However, as I went into high school and college, I found that I had less and less free time to spend reading. It also became harder to find books that I really loved.
Each of the following books helped pull me out of my reading slump and reminded me how much joy could be found in reading. They also have some great lessons in them and have made me feel so many emotions.
So, if you're looking for a great read, here are five books I think are perfect for college students.
1. "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
This classic novel is set in the 1930s and centers around a young girl named Scout and her father Atticus. Atticus is a lawyer who is set to defend a Black man who was wrongly accused of rape, and watching this event play out affects how Scout views prejudice in the world around her.
I remember reading this book for the first time in eighth-grade English class. I got so invested that I ended up reading way ahead and finished it a week before we were supposed to, it was just so good. Reading it again now, with more knowledge of the cultural and societal contexts, reaffirms that this is a great book to teach about injustice. Through the eyes of young narrator Scout, it's enlightening to see just how simple kindness and fairness can be.
2. "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie, a freshman in high school, narrates this novel in the form of letters to an unknown friend. The letters document his friendship with two older seniors, their experiences together, and his relationship with his family. It shows the ups and downs of his mental health throughout the year, as a sort of slice-of-life story.
In my personal opinion, this novel is the perfect depiction of high school. It's so far from many other books and movies because it captures what it's really like for many teenagers with trauma, anxiety, or depression. I still think about this book often now that I'm in college, thinking about how it feels to decide to stop watching from the outside and to start living how you want.
3. "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
"The Book Thief" tells the story of a young girl named Liesel who lives in Nazi Germany. It is uniquely narrated by Death and tells how Liesel learns to read and write and how her family hides a Jewish man named Max in their basement.
There is a lot of literature on World War II, but I've always found that this book has been what's stuck with me the most. It's heartbreaking at a lot of parts, but it truly makes you feel how terrifying that time period was. I also loved how it showed how important books and writing are and how they can impact a young child.
4. "More Happy Than Not" by Adam Silvera
What if you could decide what memories you could remember and which you could forget? This book considers that question through the eyes of a teenager named Aaron. It begins when Aaron is coping with his father's recent suicide, and Aaron, despite being with his girlfriend Genevieve, begins to have feelings for his new friend Thomas.
This book honestly completely blew me away. I thought it would be a cute, fun read, but it ended up really making me think about my own feelings and how I deal with them. The way it deals with race, class, and sexuality is so great because it all weaves its way into the story. I got so caught up in it that I read most of it in one sitting, something I rarely do. You'll want to give Aaron a big hug, because he really needs it.
5. "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath
Taking place in the 1950s, Esther Greenwood is a college student stuck in confusing period of her life. After losing sight of what she wants to study and leaving the guy she always wanted to be with, she feels lost, which spirals into feelings of mania and depression.
I'm actually currently reading this book, and I really understand why it's considered to be a classic. I was so surprised by just how much I related to the character of Esther. Historically, there were not many stories of mental illness in women before "The Bell Jar', so it really paved the way for so much literature today. It's also semi-autobiographical of Plath's experiences, making even more heavy-hitting.