When I first started college, I expected to experience a number of things that I only knew about based on the things I saw on TV or heard about from the few times my sister would come back for the holidays. Firstly, there’s the academic side to it all. I knew that I would spend countless hours working my ass off if I wanted to even dream about graduating with honors. I knew that some lecturers being the way they are, I’d have to play teacher’s pet if I wanted to appease their incredibly big egos. Yet, I also had to be able to differentiate between the lecturers who valued “kissassery” and the ones who actually appreciated an opinion that didn’t coincide with their own. Secondly, there’s the opportunity to mature. I knew that this would be the moment that I could reinvent myself to be someone better than the girl who survived high school.
There are a dozen more things that I could blab on about but the main point I’m trying to make here is that, while some parts of college were predictable, the majority of my college experience was unexpected. There were times when I cried over failed exams, there were many Halloween parties celebrated with amazing people, and moments where I thought that I should just throw in the towel. One of the many things that helped me to keep my sanity through the ups and downs of this self-imposed educational prison known as college was books. Yep, books. If I wasn’t able to escape into a novel once in a while during my college life, I think I would’ve suffered from intense depression. Thankfully, I’ll be graduating shortly and, ironically, I got this book in the mail recently called The Infographic Guide to College which is a how-to book on navigating college. While the book came too late for me, it made me reminisce about a few books that I read while in college and that helped in relieving a generous amount of stress.
With The Infographic Guide to College having been recently published and with all those nostalgic feelings looming around, I thought that I’d put together a list of some of the books that helped me maintain my sanity throughout college. Check them out below!
A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal
During the first years of college, you’re still unsure of the career you want to pursue. Hell, you’re probably even still unsure of the person you want to be. A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal shows young adults what accepting yourself looks like. Allie Johnson dislikes how she looks, particularly her nose. She secretly wants to have a nose job done but feels as if the only people she can trust with this secret are the friends she’s made in a chat room. Over the course of the novel, Allie slowly realizes that she’s beautiful with or without the surgery and that self-love comes from accepting the person you are and not the image of perfection that is often displayed in the media.
People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann
I can’t even remember how I came across this self-help book but I’m glad I did. If you aren’t familiar with Jen Mann, she’s a suburban mum who blogs about all the things and people in her life that piss her off, hence the name of her blog and her book. The book is just a combination of some of her blog posts with a few additional experiences that weren’t posted on her blog. It’s crazy how easy it is to relate to some of the stories she writes about. For the times that you can’t identify with the stories, you can momentarily forget about your college woes and laugh at the hysterical situations she manages to find herself in.
Local Girl Swept Away by Ellen Wittlinger
When you’re at college, one of the highlights of your college experience is your friends. Sometimes you make friends that last a lifetime and other times your friendships don’t last even a semester. Local Girl Swept Away by Ellen Wittlinger is an amazing novel that shares the story of a group of friends whose lives are shaken up when the girl they all look up to suddenly vanishes. Jackie goes through an intense period of emotional growth despite grieving her presumably dead friend and the twist at the ending of the novel is the frosting on top of Jackie’s personal development cake.
Breaking Up is Hard to do, But You Could’ve Done Better by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell
Besides focusing on graduating and having meaningful friendships, one of the most monumental parts of college is relationships. Whether you’re the one issuing the breakup or the one receiving the awful news, overcoming a breakup is like going through a near death experience; you’re not entirely sure about what just happened and you’re trying to make sense of it all. Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell’s illustrated book depicts the stories of many people who have had their heart broken in an odd or cruel way. While this might seem like a depressing book, Hilary has mentioned that she hoped the book would make those who have gone through or are going through a breakup feel better about the situation through her art. It’s a great way to overcome a terrible moment in life and her book definitely gave me the courage to laugh at my past college relationships.
Is America She Gone? by Beverley-Ann Scott
Throughout my college years, I’ve read dozens upon dozens of books that focus on people from all around the world. What I found myself doing in the last semesters leading up to graduation is indulging in books that focus on Caribbean youths. It’s so important to understand your culture and the surroundings you live in and what better way to do just that than to read novels by authors in your region. Beverley-Ann Scott is an amazing Trinidadian storyteller and I got hooked on her books after reading her first novel, The Stolen Cascadura. Is America She Gone? shares the story of a woman named Sandra who leaves her small island and works illegally in America for six months so that she can provide for her children. Unfortunately, Sandra meets upon many obstacles and even suffers being estranged from her children. The Sandra that returns from America isn’t the same and this behavior is sadly passed on to her kids. While the novel tells Sandra’s tale, it showcases Trini culture in a way that few books have done.
There are so many more books that have helped me during my years at college and I really wish that I got a copy of The Infographic Guide to College sooner (even though some of the info doesn’t really relate to me) so that I would have had some semblance of direction while navigating this insane period of my life. However, if you’re still going through the choppy waters of college life, you should definitely give this book a read.
Check out the video below for more info on the book!