6 classic books every student must read

Some books just perfectly capture the experience of being young learning about life – which is a big part of the student experience.

If youre thinking about studying in the US, youll definitely want to read on, for our round-up of the books that deserve a spot on every student bookshelf…

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Steven Chbosky 

best books

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”

The peaks and pains of high school life… written in the form of letters to an unknown reader, this books charts a year in the life of Charlie, a lonely American freshman.

We follow Charlie’s journey as he makes friends, falls in love, and becomes aware of hidden memories from his past.

Why its a classic student book: You’ll learn about life at an American university… and realise that wherever you’re from, it’s normal to feel lonely sometimes.

2. The Secret History – Donna TarttStudent reader 2

“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.” 

The price of being accepted by an elite… Richard is fascinated by a clique of Ancient Greek students at his college in Vermont.

He works his way into their group but begins to realise that darker bonds are holding them together than simple friendship.

Why its a classic student book: It makes US university campus life seem much more glamorous and mysterious than the reality of all-night study sessions, launderettes and microwave pizza!

3. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

Student reader 1

“I am a restlessness inside a stillness inside a restlessness.”

Teenage ideals are challenged by reality… set in the 1930s, 17-year old Cassandra Mortmain lives in a crumbling English castle with her eccentric family.

Life is dull for her and her sister, Rose, but things begin to change when two rich American brothers become their landlords.

Why it’s a classic student book: It depicts the pain of first love in a timeless way, from the perspective of a narrator who’s both entertaining and honest.

4. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. SalingerStudent reader 5

“People never notice anything.”

The not-coming-of-age novel…17-year old Holden is disillusioned with the world around him.

We follow him over a two-day period when he escapes his upmarket boarding school to drift around New York City, reflecting on his past and the “phoniness” of adults.

Why its a classic student book: Over 60 years on, it’s still easy to relate to Holden’s fears about maturity and his search for connection with others – especially when you’re outside of your comfort zone.

5. On the Road – Jack Kerouacclassic student book

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”

The book that launched a thousands trips… Based on various journeys taken by Kerouac and his friends across 1940s America, this is a novel that celebrates adventure, risk and the road less travelled.

Why its a classic student book: Because if you want to study abroad, you probably already have an appetite for adventure – and this is the ultimate adventure.

6. Ghost World – Daniel Clowes

classic student books

“I guess that’s the problem… I feel like I want to become a totally different person.”

Finding beauty in boredom… After finishing high school, Enid and Rebecca while away a long, dull summer by making dry observations about life in their small American town.

But what will happen when summer ends and they both have to move on with their lives?

Why its classic student book: A classic 90s graphic novel with some of the best dialogue you’ll ever read – you’ll perfect your language skills while learning about real life in the US.

You might also like: 5 dream study spaces, and 6 tips for saving money on textbooks and our favourite bookshops from around the world.

Find out more about studying in the UK and US with INTO Study.

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1 Response

  1. April 20, 2016


    On each weekend, we all friends together used to watch movie, as enjoyment is also necessary in life.

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