5 Novels Every College Student Should Read

Wave Learning Festival
4 min readDec 6, 2022


by Puja Sarkar, Press & Written Media Team

Reading is undoubtedly an important habit to hold on to. In college, it might be difficult to find the time to read your favorite books or anything outside the curriculum. However, some novels remain timeless in the stories they tell, the lessons they impart and the social commentary they make. It is worthwhile finding the time to read these novels as it can add insight into the struggles a college student might face and offer a momentary escape.

Here are five novels you might want to add to your reading list:

This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

This Side of Paradise is one of the books that every single college student should make a point to read before they graduate. The famous book, also Fitzgerald’s debut novel, is humorous and romantic. The author, who was twenty-three years old when he wrote it, follows the journey of a Princeton student (the protagonist) Amory Blaine, who loses hope in life after graduation. The story is semi-autobiographical.

In order to live and express his genuine identity consistently, Amory must find his unique personality and move past the frail mirage of himself. He finds integrity in self-knowledge and true freedom in wisdom. The story demonstrates his development into a persona that transcends selfishness, which can offer poise and balance to life, and expresses himself through his actions and in his community.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

The dark and satirical world of Brave New World depicts a dystopian future where the protagonist Bernard feels out of place. He is recognized as an Alpha who is at the top of the caste hierarchy in the novel’s society. However, for some misfortune, he is physically smaller than Alphas are supposed to be. As such, this contributes to his inferiority complex and makes him feel like an outsider. This book should be read as it explores the debate over whether it is more necessary to fight for the things that will make you happy or accept things as they have always been.

Written in 1931 and released in 1932, the dystopian novel is largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy. It foreshadows enormous scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that combine to make a dystopian society. The society is challenged by the story’s protagonist.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Any college student majoring in English, the arts or literature is likely to already have To Kill a Mockingbird on their required reading list. Recently, it is also being read in many high schools. If you are yet to read the book, it should make it to the top of the reading list.

Along with themes of love and Scout and Jem’s coming of age, the book also examines topics of racial prejudice and injustice. It was released at a crucial juncture in the American civil rights struggle and struck a chord with readers from many backgrounds. One of the fundamental questions being addressed in his take is ‘How do I get along with people who are different from me?’ — a question we all ask ourselves when confronted with a different culture.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

This is a tale of true friendship and love. A college student is forced to alter his outlook on the world and his guiding beliefs. The story teaches us to value friendship and the love of those around us while also being prepared to face the unpleasant realities of life. Simply said, Norwegian Wood’s message is to keep living. The hardships of the three major characters (Toru, Naoko, and Midori) and the diverse strategies they use to deal with the losses in their life serve as a visual representation of this message.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A well-known book about the student Raskolnikov and his efforts to realize who he truly is and find his place in the world. This young man tries to defend his murder of a senior pawnbroker. Every contemporary college student should reevaluate or contemplate on their beliefs about morality and their place in society after reading Raskolnikov’s story.

Raskolnikov is an underprivileged student who lacks the resources to pursue his aspirations. Raskolnikov prefers to spend time in his room contemplating ways he may solve his difficulties rather than hanging out with his friends and enjoying his youth. As a result, he conducts a horrific experiment that inevitably ends in failure and running his life. It’s best that college students steer clear from taking such drastic decisions while being in the depths of academic stress and an existential crisis.

At the end of the day, fictional stories offer insight into the real world and the struggles we face. Reading novels would give any college students comfort, advice and hopefully, make them feel less lost.

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Wave Learning Festival is a nonprofit committed to combating educational inequity. Learn more about us at wavelf.org.