Here are 10 books college students should read that helped me better understand myself, grow as a leader, and figure out the keys to working with people. They’re books I read in my mid-twenties, but ones I wish someone had recommended to me sooner.
Sure, you’re already spending gross amounts of money on textbooks. But reading for the sake of it is an investment in your future, and I can honestly say each of these books has had a positive impact on my life and career.
1. The Twelve Pillars
By Jim Rohn
Jim Rohn is legendary in the personal development world. This has been my favorite book by him. Twelve Pillars is one of the sneakiest personal development books I’ve read. You’ll take away a lot about life and personal growth without feeling like you’re being told how to live.
2. When The Past Is Present: Healing The Emotional Wounds That Sabotage Our Relationships
By David Richo
The subject of family and trauma can be a slippy slope, but this book helped open my eyes to the burdens and baggage I was carrying around as a young adult. College is a time where you can (and should) reinvent yourself. Richo’s book helped me see what type of feelings I was projecting and how I was showing up for others in my new environment.
3. Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son
By George Horace Lorimer
Another short gem full of wisdom. I stole this book from Ryan Holiday’s reading list. Similar to Rohn’s book, but with different examples of how you should carry yourself if you want to be successful.
4.Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
By Chris McDougall
This story captures the author’s journey to the south of Mexico to live and learn from the Tarahumara, a group of people famous for running 100-mile ultramarathons and playing a sort of ball game where they run 20-50 miles. Every time I read Born To Run, I’m inspired in new ways. Feeling inspired is a premium in college and right after, so any book that gives you motivation, I think it’s worth the time investment.
5. Man’s Search For Meaning
By Victor Frankl
Man’s Search For Meaning is a glimpse into the truly horrific environment of a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. It offered me perspective my own troubles and left me with a powerful message about finding positivity and purpose, even in dire circumstances.
6. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
By Robert M. Pirsig
The story uses a father-son a motorcycle trip across America as a means of dissecting logic, thought structure, and human nature. It will make you think harder than you have in a long time. A college professor actually recommended it to me. It book contains one of my favorite quotes I’ve ever found in a book:
“….but ultimately, that kind of motivation is destructive. Any effort that has self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in disaster…
When you try to climb a mountain to prove how big you are, you almost never make it. And even if you do, it’s a hollow victory. In order to sustain the victory, you have to prove yourself over and over again in some other way, again and again and again, driven forever to fill a false image, haunted by the fear that the image is not true and that someone will find out.”
By Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio is an American investor and hedge fund manager with a net worth of billion dollars. In Principles, he talks about his philosophies on work and life, such as “always remain radically truthful and transparent.” Whether you’re planning to enter corporate America after college or not, this is a great book for setting up the early stages of your career.
8. How To Win Friends and Influence People
By Dale Carnegie
This book is one of my all-time favorites. To this day, I aim to re-read it once a year. Each time I do, I get a little bit better at working with people, which has a ripple effect on other areas of my life. If you have aspirations of being a leader, running a team, or anything else that involves successfully working with people (hint: that’s every job) you should totally read How To Win Friends and Influence People.
Thanks for checking out my list of books college students should read. Check out the blog for more college student tips.