With finals around the corner, many underclassmen are working hard to make it to summer vacation and graduating seniors are about to take the world by storm.
However, 42 percent of college students will never read another book after they graduate. While this may seem like a sad statistic, it’s not hard to understand why. After college, there is no incentive to read anymore.
These numbers should not discourage students from reading. In fact, with so many great books out there, it’s hard to figure out which are worth reading and valuable to understanding the world.
To help students, I have compiled a list of the top five books every student should read before they graduate.
- This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The first book that pops into your head when you hear F. Scott Fitzgerald’s name is The Great Gatsby. While that book has excellent merits, This Side of Paradise proves Fitzgerald’s success is not a fluke.
The story can still resonate with students today, as it is about a Princeton graduate who discovers how different life is after college—something many of us will face shortly.
- 1984 by George Orwell
Since 1949, Orwell’s tales of a dystopian future have been captivating audiences with its bleak depictions of a future of erased individuality.
Hannah Rodriguez, English junior, said 1984 is one of her favorite books of all time.
“I still get shocked when people say they have not read this excellent book,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not often a book can outlive the date it predicted the world to be terrible and still be frighteningly accurate.”
She said shades of 1984 can even be seen in the world today.
“With the way politics are run in the world, I am afraid a future like this may not be too far ahead,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not something to get worked up on, but if more people read this book, they may understand exactly how the world and the media shape our political structure, and in turn, shapes humanity.”
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare
We have all read a Shakespeare play or two, but Hamlet is one everybody should read at least once in their lives.
The theme of the play relates to how we accept our personal responsibilities for our thoughts and actions.
Every character is a force to be reckoned with, and is not always who they appear to be in the story. While the ending has been well-known for a few hundred years, there is a deeper meaning when you know the thoughts of the characters in the scene, as well as the actions leading to the finale.
This is an incredible tale of revenge at its finest, yet it makes you wonder if Hamlet’s actions paid off .
- The Stranger by Albert Camus
Camus’ absurd tale of human nature and actions will stick with audiences. The Stranger helps shape the importance of personal choices and how strange the universe can be.
Ashley Parker, English freshman, said her outlook on life changed after reading the book.
“I just knew I would never be able to see the world in the same light again,” she said. “Camus’ writing just ingrains itself in you and makes you realize how strange and mysterious the world is sometimes, and that you can be just like his narrator and just feel indifferent to it all. It can be a lot to take in.”
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar is Plath’s only novel. It is about a young woman’s descent into insanity. A heartbreaking tale that will leave readers speechless and haunted long after the last page is turned.
Elena Lara, English sophomore, said she had to put the book down while reading it for the first time.
“I was crying too hard,” Lara said. “I could not believe all that Esther went through, and to know that Plath based it on her experiences with mental illness just crushed me.”
It’s a hard book to digest, but Lara said she was able to continue reading it and even recommends it to potential readers.
“These are feelings and thoughts people deal with every day, and it just breaks me,” she said. ” I recommend it to all my friends so that they can have a different view, and enlighten them on feelings and emotions they may not completely understand.”