12 books every college student should read

Photo Courtesy of Amazon

By USM Library Staff

  1. The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

By Florence Williams

Staff Recommender: Sarah Lucchesi, Learning Services Librarian

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your schoolwork is to give your brain a break. This book explores the benefits of a little time in nature, which can clear your mind and help with perspective. If classes have you stressed, try putting some of the techniques in this book to the test!

  1. On Tyranny: 20 Lessons From the Twentieth Century

    Photo Courtesy of Amazon

By Timothy Snyder

Staff Recommender: Mary Holt, Library Specialist

One can read this 128 page book that gives clear and concise advice on how to spot and potentially prevent tyranny in the time it takes to watch roughly two episodes of Riverdale.  One of Snyder’s recommendations for defeating a tyrant is, in fact, reading books (including the Harry Potter series).

  1. Photo Courtesy of Amazon

    Harry Potter Series

By J. K. Rowling

Staff recommender: Ed Moore, Coordinator-Gorham Learning Commons

These books have: coming of age, defeating fascism, magic, heroism, tragedy, laughter, an academic setting, interpersonal conflicts, secret courage, a gay wizard, eccentric families, diversity, and a flawed hero.


4. Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day

By Sam Bennett

Staff recommender: Maureen Perry, Research Librarian

Let’s face it: Most of us procrastinate at one time or another, in some aspect of our lives. Even if you don’t do so often, you’ll find useful project-planning tips. Bennett avoids a judgmental or “one size fits all” approach. For projects in or out of school, check this out.

  1. The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

By Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird

Staff recommender: Daniel Lawrence, Research Specialist

This is the book I wish we could give to every entry-year student. It distills 5 habits of mind that are key for thinking deeply about challenges that matter to us — whatever they maybe.

  1. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter & How to Make The Most Of Them Now

By Meg Jay

Staff recommender: Monica McMillan

The title says it all! The author wants twentysomethings to answer some well thought out questions dealing with jobs, the future, relationships, money and more. This should be required reading in college!

  1. The Jungle

By Upton Sinclair

Staff recommender: Bill Grubb, Coordinator of Reference & Instruction

A best-seller in 1906, The Jungle is still relevant in its portrayal of corporate greed at the expense of the poor and vulnerable. Forging life as an adult it’s best to know what humanity is really like. The Jungle pulls no punches.

  1. Gift from the Sea

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Staff recommender: Roberta Ransley-Matteau, Cartographic Cataloger, Osher Map Library

Written in 1955 it is a timeless and thoughtful book about serenity, love, finding solitude and light. Amidst a 21st century world filled with technical distractions and social media this book can bring a sense of peace and quiet amid the noise and haste.

  1. So You Want to Talk About Race

By Ijeoma Oluo

Staff recommender: Jessica Hovey, Library Specialist

A recent release, this book unpacks the challenging topic of race and provides the reader with tools to engage in constructive dialogue about racial bias and prejudice. Oluo presents her points with clarity and humor, establishing a conversational tone throughout. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, which is read by Bahni Turpin, and can be requested through the library catalog. This book will better position you to listen, understand, and take action against systems of oppression and exploitation.

  1. Teach Yourself How to Learn: Strategies You Can Use to Ace Any Course at Any Level

By Saundra McGuire

Staff recommender: Paul Dexter, Director of Academic Retention Initiatives

Most college students were never taught how to learn, resulting in lots of wasted time and frustration both inside and outside of the classroom. The author uses a conversational tone and engaging exercises to help students learn effective strategies for making the most of every class, assignment, and study session.

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic

By Stephen Covey

Staff recommender:  David Nutty, Director of Libraries

One of the most read personal effectiveness and leadership books remains as relevant as when it was published in 1989. The principles in Covey’s 7 Habits still provide an effective roadmap for the steps from personal vision, leadership and management to the paradigms of interdependence with others and within organizations. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” is equally good advice for relationships and for work.  

  1. Children of Blood and Bone

By Tomi Adeyemi

Staff recommender:  Sarah Lucchesi, Learning Services Librarian

Adeyemi’s debut novel, the first in a work-in-progress series and currently in production for a movie adaptation, explores themes of race, gender, power structures, and social justice through the lens of magic and mythology. Absolutely captivating, you will want to stay up all night to read it (so don’t tell your professor we told you to!).


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