When my younger sister announced to the family that she had been accepted into an out-of-town university and would be moving away in September, I started to reflect on my own university experience. What came to mind were long hours of studying, late nights writing lengthy papers, and going to lectures in my pajamas. The most particularly difficult for me, however, were the demanding readings from textbooks and course kits. These kept me so busy that I nearly forgot the joy of reading leisurely.
Books are the best outlets for unwinding. They help us become motivated and inspired; they even provide us with an escape into another world. And so, it is in honour of my sister Tiffany that I have compiled this list of the top ten books for students in need of inspiration, or an entertaining page-turner. If anything, I hope these books help students by providing a momentary escape when their studies become a little too overwhelming.
1. Little Princes by Conor Grennan
If you ever lose your motivation to work hard, or doubt you can make a difference in this world, then pick up this book. In Nepal there is an orphanage of children that are victims of human trafficking. Upon learning this, Conor Grennan became committed to returning these “little princes” to their families, and inspired to open a new orphanage to protect the children of Nepal. This epic personal memoir proves how one person can truly make a difference by reaching out and helping people. To find out more click here.
2. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Happiness Project is the book to read when the stress of school is starting to get to you. Put down your textbook for a few hours and enjoy reading about one woman’s year-long project on how to reach life’s full potential. Every month, Gretchen Rubin practiced a new technique to achieve “happiness,” allowig her to create to a personal definition of what it means to be “happy.” It is a funny and meaningful read that will remind you to find pleasure, fun and happiness in your own life (while you’re spending all those hours in the library cramming!) To find out more click here.
3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.” Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.” Self-discovery, love and fate are themes in this modern classic. Written like a parable, The Alchemist is the story of a shepherd boy named Santiago and his journey to find treasure. This book will inspire you to continue working towards your dreams. Most importantly, this book will remind you of the love of reading, especially in those moments when you just can’t read one more chapter of that textbook! Put down your assigned readings and click here.
4. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared By Jonas Jonasson
The title alone will be enough to intrigue you and keep you immersed in this page-turner! Already a huge hit in the UK with over two million copies sold, the story begins with Allan Karlsson escaping his old age home to avoid going to his 100th birthday party celebration! This book is perfect for any student needing a good read when they have a day off, or need to unwind after finishing their last exam! Intrigued? Click here.
5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Just released in paperback, The Night Circus invites its reader to a circus of dreams that is only open at night. Two magicians train their apprentices to battle to the death, but fate intervenes and Celia and Marco fall in love before they realize they are opponents. This read is suspenseful, romantic, and full of delightful imagery that you can indulge in. It is a guilty pleasure when you should be cramming for finals. Treat yourself because all work and no play isn’t for everyone!
6. The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, Amanda Pressner
Is travelling on your to-do list after graduation? Imagine three friends in their late twenties who quit their jobs and leave their lives behind to backpack around the world. By reading The Lost Girls, you travel with Jennifer, Holly and Amanda as they make their way through New Zealand, Kenya and Southeast Asia (just to name a few!) This inspirational memoir will satisfy your urge to get up and take off when you’re stressed about your studies. To find out more click here.
7. The Tale of Two Nazanins by Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Susan McClelland
In 2006 Nazanin Afshin-Jam became a Canadian success story and a celebrity within the Iranian dissident community when she was titled the first runner-up for Miss World. On the other side of the world, a Kurdish girl also named Nazanin was facing execution for stabbing the man who tried to rape her. Using her celebrity-status as a platform for justice, Nazanin tried everything within her power to save Nazanin from her fate. This book will not only inspire and motivate you to study, work hard and become the best person you can be, but it will also make you take a second and feel thankful for the opportunity to go to school and learn. To find out more about this incredible story click here.
8. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
This is a beautiful novel is full of love, scandal and longing. Transitioning from the Italian Coast in 1962 to present day life in California, elderly Pasquale Tursi comes to America to find a woman who stayed in his hotel fifty years prior. He remembers the first time he saw her and from this moment on, many characters’ lives are forever changed. If you’re a fan of old Hollywood you’ll love that the filming of Cleopatra (starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) is a setting in this engaging and amorous novel. Highly recommended for anyone who is looking for their next great read. Check out the book everyone’s raving about and click here.
9. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
In need of a good laugh? Put down your agenda and pick up this book. Caitlin Moran is one hilarious personality and a “rockstar feminist”. The smart and witty memoir uses Caitlin’s own personal experiences to discuss the challenges young girls and women face, including bras, Brazilians and boyfriends. To learn more about this laugh-out-loud book click here.
10. When God Was A Rabbit by Sara Winman
Moving, inspiring and sentimental; this book is a must-read for any university student away from home who finds themselves missing their family and friends. It is the story of Elly and her brother, Joe, and it spans over 40 years of their lives. Out of fear that Elly has been robbed of her childhood due to a dramatic experience, Joe gives her a rabbit which she names God. Although there are dark subjects covered in this story, in the end we learn life goes on and with love and hope you can get through any hardship that may come your way. Beautifully written, Winman makes you feel for these characters and will make you want to call up your family and friends to tell them you love them and that you’ll be home to visit soon.
Whether you are returning to school or starting the exciting and terrifying first year, I wish you all the best of luck. Have fun, work hard, and don’t forget to read a book or two!