Friday, 4 October 2013

10 Books Every Student Should Read

It’s the start of midterm season which means that it’s time to really start hitting the books! And although I know that you likely have a long reading list already, I also know that there will be a few of you out there looking for a distraction… or planning ahead for your Fall or Winter breaks, and so for that reason, I present to you the 10 books that you should try to read before you graduate:

1    Leading U: Stories from Inspirational UAlberta Alumni and Students

Edited By Emerson Csorba, Tori McNish, Kevin Pinoski, and Chelsey Van Weerden

This book (which you are invited to add to) provides insights into what it’s like to be a student… but not just any student – specifically, a U of A student! The online book is free and was pulled together by one current U of A student and three new alumni. And they invite you to add your take on life at the U of A to it. 

2    Difficult Conversations

 By Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen
Because everybody has them. Everybody. You’ll encounter them during your time as a student when you have to ask your prof for an extension on an assignment, you’ll encounter them when your friend starts dating that guy you just can’t stand, you’ll definitely encounter them when you have to work on a group assignment. And as much as I hate to say it, you’re going to encounter them after you’ve graduated and entered the work force too. So, why not prepare a little?

3    Generation Me

By Jean M. Twenge

This book provides some insights into the views that older generations possess about you. The book won’t be a perfect portrait of you, but it will let you know what stereotypes people will hold about you because of your age. And as much as it might hurt to say, you may find yourself saying “oh, that does sound like me” a few times.

4     Leadership for a Better World

By Susan R. Komives and Wendy Wagner

Because we all want to have an impact and hopefully that impact will be a positive one. This book will help to show you how you can become an agent for social change while still pursuing your studies.

5     The Prince

By Niccolo Machiavelli

Once you’ve read Leadership for a Better World you should probably know what you’re really up against! You shouldn’t read this work as a “how to lead” manual, but you should look for the truth that’s veiled behind the irony. 

6     I Was There

By Ellen Shoeck

What was it like to be at the U of A 105 years ago? 80 years ago? 30 years ago? No matter where you turn in this book, you’ll find out what the student experience was like for those who came before us.

7    The Social Animal

By David Brooks

There are both social and biological reasons that we do what we do at different point in our lives and this book explores each of them. 

8    Nosh for Students

By Joy May

You have to eat, so you should learn how to cook. This particular cook book is focused around the needs of a student, taking into account time and money. It includes vegetarian options, teaches you how to meal plan, and contains a lot of bacon recipes, because bacon is so in. But really, even if you don’t invest in this particular cook book, picking up a culinary guide is always a good idea.               

9    Outliers: The Story of Success

By Malcom Gladwell

When it comes to success, what do you think matters more: practice and timing or ambition and intelligence? Gladwell's book will help you investigate this very question.

10    The Lorax

By Dr. Seuss

Because Oh, the Places You'll Go would have been too obvious… and we should all strive to be understand how our actions can impact the world around us.

Do you agree with the list? Are there books that I've missed? Hit the comments section and share your recommendations!



  1. These are all such great suggestions! Another book that has really benefitted my friends and I is 'In Praise of Slow' by Carl Honore. He's a native of Edmonton who writes about the Slow Movement. Something that we should probably be all doing as students a little more is slowing down!

  2. I would highly recommend that book by James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation and the Loss of Aboriginal Life for all Canadians to finally learn the true story of how First Nations Plains people were subjugated by the Canadian federal government legislative policy in order to settler settlement to occur and development of the west, at all cost and no consideration for the impacts on Indigenous life. Settler expansion decimated Indigenous populations by introducing Old World diseases and impacted on the tradiitonal life of First Nations by killing the vast buffalo herds, so Indians in the west had no choice but to sign treaties, under duress, in order to secure a future for their families. However, the government lied and decieved these First Nations by signing the treaties then shortly after refusing the maintain their treaty promises they had just signed within the year, ie. they didnt fully honor the Treaty Six treaty clause 'to provide for the Indians in times of pestilence and famine" I challenge all non-Aboriginals to read this book, it will make you squirm and help you understand the current reality of modern day First Nations that still live in the west today. As Charles Darwin said: it isnt survival of the fittest, it is the most adaptable that will survive", which applies to the First Nations still today, we are still here and the Crown needs to honour the treaties, as they were promised by the previous generations! Gail Gallagher, Grad Student Native Studies


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