Books You Should Read Before University
For many, university required reading lists put a sour taste in the mouth for new students. But, there's a reason why reading books is part of the education experience. Books widen your perspective on the world and help you relate socially and empathetically to your fellow men and women. Here are 10 recommended reads to crack the summer before hopping off to your chosen university:
1. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Many students read this one in English class for good reason. It's a tightly knit depiction of early 20th century American life and all its grandeur. Its themes are eternal: temptation, material wealth, romantic love, and the power the past holds over our lives.
2. "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë
Often required reading at many schools, this tale follows an orphaned governess through her troubled childhood to her also difficult adulthood enveloped in love and heartbreak. This Victorian classic is a classroom favorite for discussions on gender relations, social class and autonomy. With themes on social advancement, moralism, and elements of the supernatural, Jane Eyre is the epitome of a Victorian novel.
3. "To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf
This novel paints a family portrait using stream of consciousness techniques, making every character seem as real as your best friend. It's also a study of life and death written in an innovative way.
4. "Paradise Lost" by John Milton
A long work in verse can be intimidating, but divided into sections, this one is manageable and worth all the effort. The story of the fall of man has never been so compelling, and the cast of characters - Adam, Eve, and Satan - is already familiar. Be sure to get a version with footnotes, as some of the Biblical names and places may be obscure to modern readers.
5. "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley
A horror story that inspired so many others in its genre is worth picking up. Dr. Frankenstein's dilemma of creating something he cannot control has wide implications in our age of the internet and countless other new technologies.
6. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
The now classic romantic comedy is worth a read if not for the wide cultural implications it provokes. Austen is a wordsmith, and her world is an entertaining world to dive into.
7. "My Ántonia" by Willa Cather
Memories swirl around this Midwest tale like beautiful dust. Cather's novel is a beguiling account of immigrant life in late 1800's America.
8. "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka
If you woke up a giant insect one morning, how would your day progress? This early modern work of unparalleled imagination is surprisingly simple in structure and readable in one sitting, telling a story that is rich in symbolism.
9. "Beloved" by Toni Morrison
Morrison's ghostly tale of a post-Civil War African-American family is haunting and elegiac. There's a restless, explorative quality to her prose that perfectly mirrors the state of the nation following the bloody conflict.
10. "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville
Though the length of this one may deter some folks, the adventuresome qualities of Melville's writing lend it epic status. Plus, as far as professors are concerned, any one of them will be more than impressed you made it through this masterwork.
Happy page turning!