What Should College Students Read? – Toward An Answer

Giuseppe_Maria_Crespi_-_Bookshelves_-_WGA05755
Bookshelves by Giuseppe Maria Crespi, 1725

Mark Bauerlein at First Things asks What Should College Students Read? The “One Book” program at a growing number of universities has weighed in:

For several years now, colleges have chosen a book for all entering students to read and discuss. The ostensible goal is to create a common experience for everyone and to introduce them to the kinds of things students will have to study during their undergraduate years. Continue reading at First Things

The concept of a freshman “one book” is a good one, I think—with the right book. And it shouldn’t just be a reading assignment, there should be some follow-up discussion. Maybe upperclassmen and professors could be encouraged to read it too. A relatively “easy” read for summer might be good, but these are college students—so not a fifth grade reading level, and NOT twaddle. Should be a good story—probably fiction. Yes, even (especially!) STEM students should have to read some fiction.

But, which book? Oh my, that would be a tough and agonizing choice for me! I’m not too impressed with the book the article mentions; I am partial to the idea of a (more) modern classic for this, but one that has been around long enough to BE a classic.

It must also be a book that provokes discussion. That means it must contain some ideas or deal with some topic that is somewhat controversial.

With these things in mind, here’s my attempt at a short list.

  • Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • The Man Who Was Thursday, G. K. Chesterton
  • Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry

And, because no book list of mine could be complete without him . . .

  • Hard Times, Charles Dickens

I am well aware this list tilts toward my literary preferences, and there are many other wonderful possibilities. There are so many others I want to list, but they are too long (Dostoyevsky and Hugo) or probably really too specific to my tastes (Goudge and Trollope).

What would be on your list?

 

 

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