There is little doubt that you hear over and over across campus: “I have so much reading for my classes, I cannot possible read any more.” However, I would still encourage you to read these ten classics whenever you have the time — whether over the summer, the winter break, or during the school year. Read with purpose and read with an open mind — like Jodi Picoult once said, “The act of reading is a partnership: The author builds the house, but the reader makes it a home.”
1.) Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle: I had to read this book for my philosophy class — you should read it for your humanity. Aristotle not only defines what it means to study ethics, but he also examines the definition of happiness and the various kinds of friendships that exist. This book will leave you with a deeper understanding for humankind, and your own life may even make more sense.
2.) Harry Potter (Series), by J.K. Rowling: Even though you have probably read it, — I read the series every winter break — re-reading it in college is unusually refreshing. Harry Potter is a timeless escape, allowing readers such fantasties as being atop the sky playing Quidditch. You may even be inspired to join the nationally ranked UT Quidditch team.
3.) Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen: A classic novel based on English high society, Pride and Prejudice discusses issues regarding socioeconomic class, romantic relationships, sacrifice, and above all possesses a wicked sense of humor. This book embodies a unique charm within its page, and can make you laugh on your worst days.
4.) Paradise Lost, by John Milton: While this book may seem daunting, once finished, will leave you profoundly impacted in several ways. Whether you are religious or not, Milton’s rendition of the fall of man, coupled with the creation of Earth, is a feat of language. Challenge yourself and read this book; you will not regret it.
5.) Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley: For all science lovers, the creation of a monster from recycled body-parts evokes ethical questions about the creation of life, and elicits the man versus nature debate fundamental to themes throughout history.
6.) This is Water, by David Foster Wallace: This book, while brief, provides a new way to experience the negativity of life, then putting a positive spin on it. My favorite quote from the book is below: “The capital T-Truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: ‘This is water.’”
7.) The Odyssey, by Homer: An epic in nature, this Greek epic poem will take you on a journey to countless places, both literally and metaphorically. Just as you may suffer through the curveballs UT throws at you, so does Odysseus endure the trying circumstances that mold him into a strong and versatile hero.
8.) A Farewell to Arms, by Earnest Hemingway: This book convinced me that Hemingway is truly, indeed a legend. He writes masterfully about World War I, providing a unique perspective into the medical aspect of the war, through the lens of the main character stationed in the medical corps.
9.) The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Set in the roaring 20’s, the opulence and grandeur of the era allows an escape from reality, travelling back to a time which may very well be inspire modern West Campus parties.
10.) The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank: The Holocaust is a fundamental part of the world’s history. Having a grandfather survive of one of the most atrocious concentration camps of mankind, this book personally touched me and provided a glimpse into the past. While not a lighthearted book, Anne Frank beautifully recounts her version of events. Warning: Tissues are involved.