Books that other readers and listeners suggest before college


Here’s the second part of my post on which books MPR listeners and readers think are good preparation for college.

It’s a compilation of suggestions from readers and listeners who tuned in to our Midmorning show on the subject last week.

Some good stuff:

  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder
  • Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders. “It talks about the Victorian house, but trashes the patriarchy of the times. It’s a screech of fury about people telling you what to do.”
  • At Play In The Fields Of The Lord by Peter Mathiesson
  • A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age by William Manchester
  • The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (Official Edition) by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.”It’s a government work of literature — in its questions, in its laying out of the chronology and context about what seemed chaotic, what our failures were. It’s fascinating to read about this failure of imagination.”
  • The Millionaire Next Door: Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. “Financial discipline early in life saves a lot of grief, especially since uncertain times are likely to be the norm in the future.”
  • Something Good for a Change: Random Notes on Peace Thru Living by Wavy Gravy.

    “It is a good book to remind college students to not take themselves too seriously, but also remind them that they can have a positive effect without losing their sense of humor..I’m a philosophy major!”

  • Beneath the Wheel by Hermann Hesse. “It’s a great novel that helped me to appreciate childhood, relationships, and how to value academics for the right reasons.”
  • East Is East by T. C. Boyle
  • A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
  • Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1 by Naguib Mahfouz
  • Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen.”It’s a great book on life and all the things that can happen even if you don’t plan for it.”
  • The Octopus: A California Story by Frank Norris
  • Politics and the English Language and Other Essays by George Orwell. “It which was especially important to me at 18, because it emphasizes the power of language to shape our perceptions both for good and ill. Now I would also pair it with essays by Audre Lorde, especially “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action,” because it comes at a similar theme from a perspective that does not come from a place of privilege. Today we are assaulted with language that manipulates us, and these essays encourage people to both value the power of language and be cautious about it.”
  • Generation Kill by Evan Wright
  • Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey. “Basic street smart psychology. They will probably get some of it covered anyway, but this book is so pragmatic and straight forward coverage of Myers-Briggs psychology.”
  • The Float Plane Notebooks by Clyde Edgerton. “Probably Clyde Edgerton’s best work. It is exceptional in its creative use of voice, its exquisite development of characters in a particular place and time. It’s also great fun.”
  • Moby Dick, or, The Whale by Herman Melville.”A great read if you read it with the understanding that it is a journal, not a novel. Once you understand that you are reading a journal, or an expose of the life and times of a whaler, then it is incredible.”
  • The Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses anthologies of short stories, by by Bill Henderson and The Pushcart Prize Editor.”Important because wherever you go to school, you will be faced with writing short stories. These are selected from magazines, and they are incredibly good. If you want to accept whatever grade you are given, don’t bother. If you want to prepare by reading great short stories, these are dynamite.”
  •  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  •  Drown by Junot Diaz
  • Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman