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Top 10 Books to Read Before College

Written by: Editorial Staff

March 31, 2011
Filed Under Books 


List of top ten books to read before collegeContributed by Dave Buesing, Top 10 Guru

Before you leave home for the brave new world of a college campus, there will be a million things you will want to take care of.

In between shopping for bed sheets and popping soda bottles at the club with your high school friends (you crazy kids!), you may not think you have a lot of time to catch up on essential reading. Plus, you just did your essential reading in high school, right?

Throw a party for your mind and prepare for college like a true young intellectual with this list of ten books to read before college. I assume you’ve got The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye under your belt. But what other true classics might you be missing?

Here are the top ten books to read before college:

10. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five is on the list of books to read before college

Few American authors possess the popularity and critical acclaim of Vonnegut. Although he has a vast catalogue of books worth reading, Slaughterhouse Five provides one of the best examples of Vonnegut’s unique brand of science fiction and humanism. There’s time travel, there’s World War Two, and there’s black humor peppered with brilliant philosophy. It’s a classic well worth your time.

9. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klosterman

Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs is one of the top ten books to read before college

You do a lot of reading in college, and more often than not, it’s reading of scholarly essays. Prepare for philosophical insight and cultural analysis in a fun way with Klosterman’s irreverent and intelligent take on such indispensable entertainment as MTV’s “The Real World.”

8. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice is one of the top ten books to read before college

This one’s for all the ladies out there. It’s got a whole bunch of romance, crazy love triangles (quadrangles?), and lots of dressing up. Really, it’s a lot like college. Plus, fellas, if you can start up a knowledgeable discussion of Mr. Darcy with some of the new friends on your co-ed floor, you are so going to get a date. Because the book has been around for ages, it’s also a great discount book.

7. Watchmen – Alan Moore

Watchmen is one of the top ten books to read before college

Now, at first glance, you may think this is a joke. Surely a reasonable human being would not recommend a comic book for pre-college reading. Give this one a shot, though, and you’ll be amazed. This “simple comic” deals with the complexities of the human condition, deep philosophy, and the entire meaning of life. That’s part of the reason it was voted one of Time’s 100 Greatest Novels. The other is because it’s super awesome. See what the graphic novel can do for you.

6. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Shakespeare is one of the top ten books to read before college

Ok, before you start running for the hills screaming, hear me out. I don’t really expect you to read everything Shakespeare ever wrote. But if there are some major plays you know you missed out on in high school (Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, etc.) get them under your belt now. Or, alternatively, read a Shakespearian comedy such as “As You Like It.” These plays are referenced all the time, and you’ll be in a better place if you know your Billy Shakespeare.

5. The Human Body (a DK visual dictionary) – DK Productions

The Human Body is one of the top ten books to read before college

College is traditionally seen as a time to discover yourself, but you can get a head start by learning the secrets of your body ahead of time. Better yet, educate yourself on that wildly mysterious opposite sex.
Most would agree that reading this book is a slightly more polite option than a direct Q and A. And if mom catches you looking at nude graphics? It’s called science, mom.

4. Harry Potter (the complete series) – J.K Rowling

Harry Potter is on the list of top ten books to read before college

At every college across the land, there is one guy or girl who has not entered the magical world of Harry Potter. They say things like “I know not of Ron and Hermoine and Hagrid.” Do not be that guy. You don’t want to be the only one who has avoided these bestsellers everybody loves.

3. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

Catch 22 is on the list of top ten books to read before college

One of the single funniest novels in the English language also provides an interesting and critical take on war. It’s an inevitability that opinions on war will be voiced during your college experience. Catch-22 gets you thinking about the horrors of war in a way that is never overbearing or preachy. Instead, the novel highlights the absurd. If you don’t know what postmodernism is now, you will after you read this book.

2. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

Fountainhead is one of the top ten books to read before college

When you leave home for college, it’s time for many people to really lay claim to their own uniqueness and individuality. The Fountainhead will get you thinking about how to claim that individuality in the most productive and satisfactory role for you. Ayn Rand’s philosophy can get extreme at times, but as a whole The Fountainhead is an enjoyable read that can help you establish the adult you’d like to become.

1. The Complete Joy of Home Brewing, Volume 3 – Charlie Papazian

Joy of Home Brewing is on the list of books to read before college

Despite the fact that consuming booze is illegal for most incoming college students (and shame on you for even considering it!), the primary challenge for most college students is the acquisition of alcohol. Bypass the whole fake ID fad with this lifelong learning exercise. Guys: whip up a heavy stout with a hint of cinnamon on the floor kitchen? You’ll be the life of the party! Girls: discover how to make your bathtub into a keg? Popularity called, it said it’s looking for you! I’m excited for all of you just thinking about the potential. And as always, enjoy the college experience responsibly!


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