5 Books Every College Student Should Read During Freshman Year

Campuses are full of drama

Books every student should read during the holidays

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Starting college is a huge milestone in anyone’s life. It can be scary, exciting, and challenging all at the same time. As you begin your journey into higher education, you might find solace in reading stories set on a college campus just like yours.

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Enter the campus novel, which typically takes place at a university. Even if you’re not in college yet, you’ll likely recognize the highs and lows of life at any school in these titles. Keep scrolling to see our top five picks.

My Education by Susan Choi

In this subversive tale of seduction, protagonist Regina Gottlieb is not your typical naïve student lured into a romance by a seedy professor. Instead, she passionately pursues her prof’s volatile wife. Talk about scandalous!

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Paulina & Fran by Rachel B. Glaser

In this crackling debut novel, the title characters are both art students who are drawn into an intense friendship with each other, complicated by Fran eventually dating one of Paulina’s ex-boyfriends. The story is full of rare insight into the complexities of love, human connection, and obsession.


On Beauty by Zadie Smith

This humorous novel set at a New England liberal arts college dives into the various escapades and entanglements of the university faculty and students, while exploring family dynamics, the institution of marriage, and identity politics.


The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

This witty, entertaining read is a contemporary take on the college love story, involving a love triangle with Madeleine Hanna, an English major who loves Jane Austen, caught in the middle.


The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Led by a charismatic professor, a clique of clever, eccentric students push the boundaries of morality in this epic tome. The resulting story is many things: a murder mystery, an entertaining satire, and a psychological thriller.

We can’t even wait for the holidays to get here so we can start tearing through this list!

Tricia Tongco
Tricia Tongco

Tricia is a writer and senior editor at AwesomenessTV. She loves living in Los Angeles but misses the ample parking of Orange County. She has covered arts, culture, and politics for HuffPost and ATTN.