books every university student should read

10 Brilliant Books for Ambitious University Students

By Manik Rege


Have you watched Disney’s latest film, ‘Coco?’

I just saw it yesterday. And yes, I did leave the theatre crying like a kid. But it wasn’t merely the animation or the character sketches that melted my heart. I was blown away by the story’s underlying moral, which explains “we are all a part of those who came before.’ 

Deep, eh? The philosophy might be hard to articulate but no other form of media captures it quite like books do. Being one of our most ancient forms of communication, books manage to perfectly brew the essence of enlightened minds, making them accessible to curious thinkers across time and space.

So in a humble attempt to help you stand on the shoulder of some enlightened giants, we’ve put together a small list of 10  great books every university student should read.

From psychology to communication, and modern business to healthy living, this small list covers books that’ll make you street-smart to not just survive but thrive in an increasingly competitive job market.

  1. How to Win Friends & Influence People ~ Dale Carnegie
  2. The 48 Laws of Power ~ Robert Greene
  3. Contagious: Why Things Catch On ~ Jonah Berger
  4. The Lean Startup ~ Eric Ries
  5. On Writing Well ~ William Zinsser
  6. The Intelligent Investor ~ Benjamin Graham
  7. Getting Things Done ~ David Allen
  8. The War of Art ~ Steven Pressfield
  9. Elon Musk ~ Ashlee Vance
  10. How Not to Die ~ Michael Greger

Since we acknowledge and appreciate your ambition, we’ve included suggestions for more related titles after every synopsis. You can purchase the books from any of the links provided below their respective reviews.

Happy reading and perusing! Stay curious.

1. How to Win Friends & Influence People

~ Dale Carnegie

From group projects in college to business presentations at work, you’ll have to work with diverse personalities throughout your life, regardless of what industry you are in. To complicate it further, each member of your team will have different views, emotions, and backgrounds.

So how do you rope ’em all together and ensure that you survive all the differences and feuds, all the while moving towards a common goal?

Carnegie seems to have figured it out, and he’s made the secret formulae publicly available through his seminal study of what makes people tick. Motivation, as he explains, is the cornerstone of our behavior.

Once you learn the skill of knowing what people want, you can easily win them over with some easy mental tricks, nicely laid out in this title. If you had to pick just 1 book to read from our list, you should most definitely open up this treasure trove!

You can bite this brain-candy at: 

If you like this book, you might also want to check out: 

2. The 48 Laws of Power

~ Robert Greene

Carnegie’s classic teaches you how to appear on the stage. Parellely, Greene provides guidance on the strings you’ll need to pull behind the curtains if you want to stay in the limelight long after your act is done.

We often foolishly believe that performance, hard work, and honesty are the cornerstones of success. But when you step into the corporate world, you’ll realize that the good guys seldom make it up the ladder.

To win the race, you must plot strategies, often at the cost of your own values and relationships.

It’s a bloody jungle, after all, so you can choose to be prey or strap up for the hunt. This book is the finest hunting gear in stock. Green outlines 48 Laws of Power to help you use your masters, subordinates, friends, enemies, media, and the mobs to harness limitless power.

A word of caution, though- reading the laws is like taking bitter medicine- you’ll be appalled to discover the savage side of man. But you’ll get over the shock soon, rest assured, and be well on your way to the shimmering carpet de rouge.

You can bite this brain-candy at: 

If you like this book, you might also want to check out: 

3. Contagious: Why Things Catch On

~ Jonah Berger

We know you’re just a student and there’s no real commercial brand you have to manage just yet. But we still think you ARE managing a brand, kind of. Just go look in the mirror. Do you see it? And do you get our point?

When you graduate very soon, you’ll be competing against thousands of other options who’ll be applying for your dream job along with you. To get hired, or if you’re an entrepreneur- to get invested in, you’ll need to sell yourself as the best product available on the market- for your managers, consumers, and staff as well.

In other words, you’ll have to convince others to put their trust, time, and money in you. But as every social psychology student learns, people hate to be ‘told to do something.’ We simply don’t take orders well.

So instead of launching your ideas on others faces, you’ll need to find a way to pull them towards you by giving a strong reason to support your big wild dreams.

You’ll have to make people want to listen to your story and share it ahead. This is exactly what ‘Contagious’ explores- how to harness ‘word-of-mouth’ to promote products, ideas, and dreams.

In her exciting and accessible style, Berger teaches you how to flint social fire and light up your career like a Broadway show. You should definitely read this piece if you want to learn about how and why most of us stay average anonymous Joes while a selective few redefine the meaning of fame itself…

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If you like this book, you might also want to check out:

4. The Lean Startup

~ Eric Ries

There are 2 types of graduates in this world. First, there’s the majority who dream of getting hired by Google, Apple, and the likes. Then, there are idiots who have the itch to pave our own damn paths.

They want to create their destinies, make their luck, and prove everyone who told them, “You can’t do it!” horribly wrong.

Does that description fit you? Do you have a bug in your brain that keeps telling you to chat your own course? If its a confident yes, then Ries’ text is a perfect guide to kickstart your entrepreneurial adventure.

You’ll learn how to understand your consumers, design profitable ideas, bootstrap your own ventures, ‘pivot’ your business according to changing situations, and build a classic team to stay with you through it all…

You can bite this brain-candy at: 

If you like this book, you might also want to check out: 

5. On Writing Well

~ William Zinsser

The world might be turning towards visual content but we aren’t going to abandon words anytime soon, rest assured. In fact, millennials are making up for the lack of reading in the past few decades; all major film and Netflix producers are banking on literary hits; and the hunger for a good story or piece of advice in at an all-time high.

Considering all these trends, it might be a wise choice to pick up Zinsser’s handy tips and polish your writing before you sit down to sketch out your first CV. Yes, good writing is a skill that can be picked up- Actually, its always learned through observation, rejection, and practice.

So if you think that writing is an ‘art’ that only comes to people ‘naturally,’ prepare to be surprised after discovering the strategies sketched here. Once you read this book, you’ll never read any other book in the same manner. Zinner completely changes your outlook about the written word.

You can bite this brain-candy at: 

If you like this book, you might also want to check out: 

 6. The Intelligent Investor

~ Benjamin Graham

Who hasn’t dreamt of sailing the Bahamas on a private yacht stacked with gourmet wine and fresh coral catch? We’re all fighting to make big bucks and this book helps us to ensure our financial victory in the long run.

By effectively balancing theory and practical advice, Graham breaks down the nuances of managing your money regardless of what the volume is or isn’t.

We’d strongly recommend his advice to any and all students who wish to earn at least 10 times more than what they get for their pocket money…

You can bite this brain-candy at-

If you like this book, you might also want to check out: 

7. Getting Things Done

~ David Allen

Missed your assignment deadline? You can probably apply for an extension. Reached late for class? Most professors are kind enough to let you walk in.

But when you put on office shoes, you’re expected to run faster than the speed of light. Showing up a minute late might just spell your entire career.

Therefore, time management is an extremely crucial skill for people of our age, regardless of the industry we’re planning to lead ahead.

David Allen’s book is surely the best guide on this topic because it manages to cram centuries of practical advice on productivity, in under 300 pages.

It teaches you how to build a “collection bucket” to stock ideas outside of your mind and stay sharp, keep a “next actions” list to avoid thinking in the present, and do a weekly review of all your tasks, among other interesting tips.

Follow the principles laid out by our seasoned life coach, and you’ll never run out of time- or chase after it!

You can bite this brain-candy at: 

If you like this book, you might also want to check out: 

8. The War of Art

~ Steven Pressfield

the war of art book amazon

Innovation isn’t ‘creating things out of thin air,’ like we think it to be. Artists don’t just get lucky with an apple falling on their head; ideas don’t sprout out of the blue. Rather, artists simply borrow ideas already available in the world and reconstruct them to suit current and future needs.

Your initial attempts at innovation will often fail because your links are weak. As you read, observe, and experiment, the links start getting stronger- and your ideas start to make more sense.

Remember, no one catches the solution to anything out of thin air. No one has a completely successful first day at their new job.

Nobody just becomes a respectful somebody out of sheer luck. It takes years of screaming and awkward silence before the applause finally kicks in.

However, reading Pressfield’s book will definitely help you speed up this process. He delivers beautiful insights on why and how we keep ourselves from unleashing our full creativity and also suggests a simple remedy to overcome these inner artistic battles.

Whether you’re going through a block, or wish to start off on your journey as a creator, this book is a seminal guide on the tools you’ll need to splash colour on the canvas of your dreams.

You can bite this brain-candy at:

If you like this book, you might also want to check out: 

9. Elon Musk

~ Ashlee Vance

He’s a legend in startup circles. He haunts the dreams of young innovators across the planet..and who knows, maybe even beyond. He’s humanity’s brightest and boldest visionary- the living exemplification of what it means to push one’s limits and dream filthy big.

Elon Musk has come a long way since he first started his career at the age of 12 by selling a self-made video game called Blastar for just 500 bucks. Now his net 20.6 billion dollars, last we checked- yeah, let that seep in.

Vance provides a riveting account of his struggles, triumphs, and failures with Tesla Motors, PayPal, SpaceX, and many other ventures he’s helped get off the ground.

Filled with anecdotes from his personal and professional lives, this book will give you a sneak peek into the life of an entrepreneur. We advise you to read the awesome story and use it as a boost to mint your own.

You can bite this brain-candy at: 

If you like this book, you might also want to check out: 

10. How Not to Die

~ Michael Greger

No matter how much knowledge you gain from reading these and hundreds of other books, your ideas are pretty much useless if you aren’t alive to sell them to the crowd.

To stay alive, you need to take good care of your body and attend to all its needs. But that’s easier said than done.

With mortality rates skyrocketing out of proportion- no thanks to junk food, pollution, rising stress levels, and sedentary lifestyles- it’s becoming increasingly hard to figure out a practical solution for our complicated ailments

Fret not, because this book outlines some little steps you can take to reverse all major medical issues and rejuvenate into a smoothly-functioning body. We won’t reveal the cool diet Greger recommends; but then again, it’s pretty obvious from the cover, innit?

You can bite this brain-candy at: 

If you like this book, you might also want to check out: 

With good wishes for a long and healthy life, we conclude our lineup for the top 10 books every university student should check out before embarking on his or her first job.

Hopefully, sifting through the pages of these intellectual gems will give your mind a good energy boost!

But if you’d like some more support with regards to your career development and university selection, do get in touch with us on Facebook at fb.com/educationstreet.

Wish you all the very best in all your future endeavors! Keep growing!

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