war-and-peace

Top 10 Influential Books to Read Before University

These ten books are thought-provoking classics that will undoubtedly broaden your literary horizons!

When you first start at university, it can be difficult to get the balance between studying and socialising right, and particularly to keep reading purely for pleasure. However, if you are looking for some brilliant books to enjoy before you go, take a look at the list below.

These ten books are a mixture of literary classics that every educated person will have heard of, as well as some more modern greats, and unusual but still equally inspiring reads that are perhaps slightly less well-known.

So, if you are looking to expand your literary horizons, or just to enjoy some of the greatest literature around, why not pick up one of these fantastic books this World Book Day and get reading?

1. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat’s Cradle is the perfect pre-university novel. The book gets you thinking about religion, science and politics.

Vonnegut’s cleverly woven tale uses satire and irony to hook the reader as we follow the protagonist, Dr Felix Hoenikker, creator of the atomic bomb, and the deadly ice-nine – a chemical which, if unleashed, can freeze the whole planet.

Despite being first published in the 1960’s the themes of this novel are still hugely relevant, which is why it remains a cult classic to this day.

Buy from Amazon for £5.95

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

In this dramatic novel, we follow Jane Eyre from adolescence to womanhood.

Her journey has many ups and downs and twists and turns. There is romance, and violence all set against the dark and brooding landscape of northern England.

In this remarkable book, we are guided all the time by the voice of and Eyre who appeals directly to the reader throughout, making it impossible not to become entirely engrossed in this romantic story.

Buy from Amazon for £1.99

3. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude follows seven different generations of the Buendía family as they live out their lives in the fictitious town of Macondo in Columbia.

Throughout the book, the reader is urged to think about war, death and the great and magical miracles which can so often occur in one’s lifetime.

The novel carefully mixes fact and fiction, fantasy and realism and makes us wonder how history, whether real or not, can have an effect on the present and future, leaving the reader contemplating how one can ever really know the truth about anything.

Buy from Amazon for £5.97

4. 1984 by George Orwell

First published in 1949, 1984 examines what society could look like in the future.

Despite the fact that the year has long since passed, the description of a society where ‘Big Brother’ is watching wherever you go, where independent thought is condemned and history has been abolished or amended to fit with the current party ideal is still a hugely interesting and relevant one today.

1984 is designed to leave the reader feeling disturbed and questioning perhaps how controlled our everyday lives are by things we have come to accept as the norm.

Buy from Amazon for £6.29

5. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Kafka on the Shore is a genuinely original work and shows Murakami at his creative best.

It follows the stories of two characters, Tamura, a teenage boy who has run away form home, and Nakata, a simple older man who ends up murdering someone very early on in the story.

This book is one where a suspension of disbelief is very much required, cats can talk, fish fall from the sky and the world of dreams and reality happily converge. Part Greek tragedy, part murder mystery and with a good helping of romance, this is a truly exceptional work where many questions are left unanswered in a world where the laws of physics and conventional ideas of guilt and innocence do not apply.

Buy from Amazon for £6.29

6. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

A surreal and strange novella, Metamorphosis sees the protagonist Gregor Samsa transform into a monstrous insect-like creature, the reason for which is never made clear.

The plot follows Gregor attempting to adjust to his new life as a repellent and horrific beast and his family who try to look after him despite being horrified by his appearance. Metamorphosis is one of the seminal works of the 20th century and continues to be widely studied in many schools and universities across the country.

It inspires readers to consider both how society sees them, and how they see themselves and their place within it.

Buy from Amazon for £4.50

7. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman is one of the most exciting and refreshing works of its kind.

The book is a celebration of feminism and discusses many of the issues women face in contemporary society in an original and often hilarious way.

Not just one for the ladies, How to be a Woman gives a great insight into the life of a modern day woman and is brave, irreverent and humorous throughout.

Buy from Amazon for £6.29

8. The Iliad by Homer

Not one for the faint-hearted, the Iliad is Homers epic poem covering a few weeks during the final year of the Trojan War.

The Iliad is the ultimate intellectuals read, covering concepts of time, rage, war and fate and had a great influence on many of the future works of art and literature that came after it.

Buy from Amazon for £14.88

9. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How To Make The Most Of Them Now by Meg Jay

If you want to head off to university feeling totally inspired then this may be the book for you.

While self-help type books may not appeal to everyone, Jay’s upbeat and inspiring advice does not feel typical of the genre, and you certainly don’t need to have any issues to enjoy it. What it does is suggest how you can usefully spend this important decade of your life, rather than letting it pass you by.

If you do not find this sort of thing hugely irritating, it is pretty useful, and may give you a different perspective on how to use your time.

Buy from Amazon for £21.28

10. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace is a true classic.

It follows the fates and fortunes of several families during the Napoleonic wars, their lives were cleverly intertwined through glittering balls and tension-filled councils of war. Tolstoy’s themes ask the reader to think about the concepts of free-will and fate throughout this epic story.

Buy from Amazon for £3.85

These ten fantastic reads should certainly give you some food for thought this World Book Day. So if you find yourself looking for a new story to get stuck into before heading off to University, why not give one of these a try?