From delving into the world of Victorian London and realising your dream to the plight of women in war-torn Afghanistan, here are 8 books recommended by college students that every high school kid must read:
Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom is a great book for any age and can be read at any pace. It documents the author’s visits to his old professor, who is dying, as he imparts wisdom to him but in a very lucid fashion. I read it at a much older age, but I wish someone had given it to me when I was growing up. It is very insightful on topics like life, family, aging, marriage and death. The takeaway from the book can be easily applied to our everyday life and relationships.
Sukanya Ghosh, 2021 postgraduate, English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
Apart from being a solid introduction to the world of graphic novels, Watchmen by Alan Moore provides an astoundingly sharp socio-political commentary, which surprisingly remains relevant even today, over 30 years after its publication. Moore’s words are brought to life in stunning detail by artist Dave Gibbons. Watchmen is a reminder of the scope and power of art when it is coupled with the written word.
Srijon Sen, third-year, English, BA, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
The book that I’ll recommend to teens would be Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. The person you identify yourself as doesn’t always align with how the world looks at you. This book attempts to explore friendship, identity, desire and a lot more through Ari and Dante. Ari and Dante are feeble manifestations of confused and yet passionate teenagers.
Tanay Thakur, first year, MA, Political Science, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad.
Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist is a must-read for everyone. Set amidst the abject poverty-stricken London, the classic illustrates the plight of the impoverished orphans. The novel sends a very strong message to today’s teenagers that no matter how hard the temptation of going off the track is, one must resist the pull and hold onto their moral compass and their character’s integrity. Their current age is ripe for shaping minds and hearts for the rest of their lives. If they can make it through these testing years maintaining their morality then life will have a reward for them.
Ishita Mukherjee, first year, BTech, Computer Science Engineering, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar
(L-R) clockwise: Anwesha Saha, Dipjoyee Aich, Hritam Mukherjee, Ishita Mukherjee, Tanay Thakur, Sukanya Ghosh, Srijon Sen, Meghna Chattopadhyay. Students
I had picked up The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom in Class IX. Albom certainly has a way of telling a story that will impact you personally. The quick but straightforward sequence of events makes the book rather unputdownable. Much like music, the story makes you laugh, cry, and transports you into another time and place. It revolves around Frankie Presto—the greatest guitar player who ever lived—and the six lives he changed with his six magical blue strings. This story has an interesting twist as it is told by “music" itself.
Dipjoyee Aich, first year, English, BA, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata
As someone who grew up reading books for breakfast, I believe there is no greater way to understand the workings of the world than reading, especially in one's formative teenage years. Based on the same belief, if there is one book I would recommend, it undoubtedly has to be Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. I read this book when I was 16 and Hosseini’s words, “Marriage can wait,
education cannot…” carved something deep in me. It is a story about two women. Quite different from one another in their ways, yet the same, they’re seen to go any and every length required for their survival in the war-torn neighbourhoods of Kabul. In Mariam and Laila, we find the resonance of every woman who has preceded them, every voice suppressed, and every life lost. A book tied with loss, anguish, longing, violence, gender and religious discrimination makes quite a challenging but engaging read for young teens.
Anwesha Saha, second year, BA, English, The Bhawanipur Education Society College
When I was 15, I came across a thin paperback compilation of O. Henry’s Short Stories at a bookstore on Park Street. O. Henry has a simple yet touching way of weaving warmth into life and narrating it with beautiful introspection. I am more drawn to short stories than novels. Although it took me some time to completely grasp the grace of his writing, I would take the book to school and read in between classes and in the dewy field when autumn evenings set in. O. Henry’s popular stories like The Gift of the Magi, The Last Leaf, Brickdust Row and The Trimmed Lamp have left an indelible impression on me with their portrayals of emotions and what it means to be humane.
Hritam Mukherjee, first-year, diploma, English Journalism, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi
The book that remains close to my heart is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. A shepherd boy is torn between keeping his flock and chasing a literal dream to find ‘the most wonderful treasures’ attracted me. His story reminds me that you should never stop dreaming and seeking to see new things. ‘Everything you need’ is a relative expression, one might need only treasures while one might need to travel. There are more things to value in life than lifeless glittering gold.
Meghna Chattopadhyay, second year, MSc, Economics, Calcutta University