Books I wish I read when I was a freshman

When the going gets tough, the tough turn to books. The weird, wonderful world of college does not come without any challenges and just one misstep can make students feel defeated. Whether you’re dealing with difficult groupmates or you’re being swamped with never-ending papers, sometimes it’s best to look past the required reading list and instead turn to a good read that will pick you up and get you going again.

This selection of books is perfect for the wide-eyed freshman who is still adjusting to the whole college situation. But if you’re not a freshman, these are the books you might have missed out. It’s not too late to add these to your reading list.

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

It’s been proven that a clean workspace can make you feel more motivated. If you feel like your work environment isn’t putting you in the right state of mind to study for your long test, take a tip or two from the Japanese and learn the art of decluttering. This step-by-step guide by renowned cleaning consultant Marie Kondo teaches you how to properly organize your belongings—from clothing to books. This handy manual simplifies the familiar tug-of-war between keeping something or getting rid of it. Kondo’s principle is simple: if something doesn’t spark joy in you, then let it go. It’s a simple and quick read that will inspire you to live a life of minimalism and to let go of anything unnecessary and distracting. Clear your clutter, clear your mind.

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

If Holden Caulfield were in college, he’d definitely be upset by all the big phonies. Caulfield is the 16-year-old angst-ridden narrator of the story, navigating us through the complexities and mundaneness of young adult life. Although the book was released 65 years ago, freshmen will still find it an enlightening read because of how beautifully it deals with the awkward pains of growing up without making it sound too idealistic. The narrator’s stream of thought is gritty and real, just like college. Here, making friends isn’t a walk in the park and sometimes you even lose those who you thought would be there in the long run. But for all the anxiety that Caulfield has, it’s important to remember that in the end he doesn’t accept defeat—and you shouldn’t too.

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Every once in a while, the question of uncertainty crosses the mind of the typical college student. “Should I stay in this course or shift out?” “My parents would only dismiss my feelings so why bother?” With these thoughts plaguing their minds, most individuals would opt to remain in situations that, although undesirable to them, provide a sense of security and perceived comfort in years to come. Perhaps it is with the existence of these concerns that Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist may speak the loudest and serve as a guide for wayward students.

Set in Egypt and following the adventure of young Santiago, the story relates to those uncertain of the path that they tread. It is a mystical tale filled with magic and wonder that speak of following one’s hopes, aspirations, and making the most out of circumstances that one may find themselves thrown into. The Alchemist ascertains that it is in the constant perseverance in one’s passions that they will truly shine and achieve pure satisfaction in life.

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Slaving away with your work or academics is no fun and menial tasks can be draining as well. Sometimes, students forget why they even pull off countless all-nighters as they down cups of coffee, trying to finish a paper long overdue. As we students grow older and carry upon our shoulders the weight of our burdens, we often lose track of the reason why we even dedicate so much of our time to these tasks. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince speaks of a timeless message that hits close to home on this sense of loss or longing for meaning. The Little Prince takes us on a journey across multiple planets, giving us a perspective on how shackled life can be in an effort to find our sense of wonder once more. Among many other themes, the story speaks of spirit and of how everything is given value in relation to the amount of love and effort that we pour into it.

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

Graphic by Jill T. Arteche

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The hardships and trials that accompany college life may at first seem frightening. Students often tend to find themselves lost in the throes of their new environment. More often than not, a little guidance towards the right path is all that is necessary to ease their worries.

Not to be mistaken as mere instructions and tactical maneuvers, The Art of War speaks instead of how victory on the battlefield can be predetermined before any actual battle takes place. It capitalizes on the assessment of one’s opponents, the terrain of engagement, and the orderliness of troops among many other maxims. What is most notable about Sun Tzu’s written work would be the emphasis placed on knowing oneself before analyzing other external factors. It gives importance on this mastery first and foremost as it governs over our relationships, dealings with other people, and the decisions that we will make in any undertaking. As said by Sun Tzu himself: “Know thyself, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”

Leisure reading may seem like another chore when you’re swamped with mountains of required readings. But these set of books are a different story altogether. Let them serve as food for thought that will surely leave you recharged and ready to take on whatever college throws your way.

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