Ten Books You Should Read Before Starting College

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Hi everyone, my name is Kelsie Roper and I am a tutor at Total Writing Enrichment. I’m a sophomore in the Honors College at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I’m studying English and Political Science. Today I wanted to give you a list of seven books that every teenager should read before starting college.

  1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Americanah is a book I read my sophomore year of high school and it’s still one of my favorite books today. The main character is a Nigerian woman that immigrated America and the novel follows her experiences here. I really loved this book not only because it discussed the experience of immigrants in America but also because it revealed a side of Nigeria and Nigerians that isn’t depicted in American media. I think it’s an excellent book for opening up your eyes to a life that is most likely unlike your own, and important skill to learn as you transition to college, because you’ll meet many people whose lives are drastically different from your own.
  2. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
    A book that I read in elementary school that remains relevant, even in my second year of college. It’s a story about the importance of being yourself, regardless of the attitudes and opinions of those around you. Learning to be yourself in a new environment is the key to enjoying college, and this book is a great blueprint.
  3. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
    If you haven’t read the Harry Potter Series yet, you should. It’s not just a series for kids– the books addresses important issues of prejudice and inequality within the framework of one of the most well crafted fantasy worlds I’ve certainly ever read. I personally reread the series every Christmas because of how much I still love them. So if you haven’t read the books– even if you’ve watched the movies– I highly recommend it. There’s so much in them to experience, learn from, and enjoy.
  4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    This is one of the most unique books I’ve read about World War II. The novel focuses on the fear imposed on the non-Jewish Germans that allowed the Holocaust to occur, as well as the brave few that managed to help those being oppressed. It also discusses the power of words and stories and the movements they can effect. I think as you transition into college, being aware of the power of the words that you write and speak is incredibly important as you’re getting know others and really getting to know yourself as an independent being.
  5. 1984 by George Orwell
    I read this book my senior of high-school during the 2016 election. This book, along with the turmoil of the political scene at the time really sparked my interest in pursuing political science. It’s definitely one of the most important and relevant dystopian novels and taught me so much about the power of individual thought and the ability to speak your mind.
  6. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
    I read this book two summers ago and it’s still one of my favorites. At first, it took me a few tries to start it, because it’s a book set in very unfamiliar territory to me. However, once I made it through the first fifty pages, I finished it in a day, because the characters quickly became some of the most vivid people I had ever read about. You should absolutely read this book if only to be exposed to language and characters unlike any I’m sure you’ve read throughout your school years. It’s a really unique story that’s thoroughly enjoyable and important to read as you enter your college year.
  7. Fangirl
    This books is a bit of cuter selection than the rest of the books on this list, but it’s genuinely one of my favorites out there. It’s a great book to read right before you go to school because the main character goes through many of the same things you will– meeting a somewhat strange roommate, trying to find friends, and trying to balance school work and a social life as well as trying to shrug off that perfectionism that I’m sure we’re all plagued by. This book is a really feel good story that I think has a lot of wisdom about starting college and finding you space away from the relative safety of highschool and you parent’s home.

If you want more book recommendations, reach out to Kelsie at karoper99@gmail.com!

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