4 Modern Novels Every College-Bound Student MUST Read

While most students complain about the reading required for their classes, many forget how much they enjoy reading on their own time. Unfortunately, assignments and deadlines really hamper the experience. Renewing your passion to read in your free time can be difficult, but the four novels I’ve suggested are all fairly fast reads. Take a step back from your archaic novels and academic texts and dive into these literary hits that are both accessible and relevant to all students.

The Road

In this sparse, but chilling story by Cormac McCarthy, you will be faced with the apocalypse on a human level. There’s no zombies, vampires, robots, or aliens, but The Road reveals that survival maybe more frightening than any creation of the imagination. The emphasis here is on the relationship between a father and son, which captures the tension and love needed to sustain a family even one as fractured as that depicted in The Road. If you’re not sold, did I mention its an extremely quick read, clocking under 290 pages and it has generous spacing throughout.

Visit From the Goon Squad

This collection of short stories form a cycle which not only complement each other but also grow in meaning as you progress through this novel by Jennifer Egan. A Visit from The Goon Squad is easy to get into for frequent and occasional readers alike. The novel focuses on a topic most students can find an interest in music and the industry built around it. It’s an engrossing read will change how you think of social media as it ends with a disturbing vision of the future that will make you question how Facebook and Twitter can be manipulated for marketing and sales.

The Handmaid’s Tale

If you aren’t scared off by the branding of this novel as a feminist dystopia, I would strongly recommend this work by Margaret Atwood. It’s an almost post-apocalyptic world, in which the ability to reproduce has become a rarity and women are valued for their fertility and little else. Atwood’s feminist perspective is fresh and full of dark wit, but never turns preachy. This work serves well as a starting point for those interested in learning about feminist literature or those who are simply looking for a fresh perspective. At the end of the day, it’s a darkly humorous book that might make you reevaluate some of your assumptions about the future.


Ok, for the last entry, I wanted to break the fiction trend and recommend a great non-fiction read by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book, Gladwell examines the keys to success, or more specifically in mastering a specific skill. He retells the stories of Bill Gates, Wayne Gretzky, and The Beatles, in order to illustrate an important point that he backs up with scientific studies -in order to master a skill, you must put in the time- 10,000 hours to be exact. This rule will make you reevaluate how you learn and dedicate your free time. As Gladwell illustrates, the way we spend our time can determine who we are and who we will become.

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Ryan Schapals

Ryan Schapals

Ryan Schapals is a senior at DePaul University studying Creative Writing and Psychology. Outside of class, Ryan can be found working in the Pysch Lab or at a local health clinic. When he's not distracted by cat videos, he tries to balance his time between playing guitar, writing prose, and running around the soccer field.