Eight Books Top College Students Are Reading to Get Ahead

You don't have to be an education major and future teacher to be an avid reader. In fact, in the course of interviewing students from all over the country, we have found that teens and twentysomethings of all backgrounds will surprise you with titles. Always on the lookout for great reads -- ValuePenguin specializes in but do more than personal finance, folks -- we asked eight of the nation's up-and-coming minds what they keep on their bookshelves for safe-keeping. Their professors didn't require them to read this sampling of nonfiction and fiction -- and you're not required to take their tips -- but these books have helped these students get ahead. See if they brighten your world, too.

1. University of Kentucky civil engineering major Macy Purcell

1776, by David McCullough -- "I had a steel design professor that would joke (I think) that he always slept with the AISC Steel Design Manual underneath his pillow. The steel manual hasn’t made that kind of impact on my life, but one book about leadership that I find particularly interesting is 1776. It is primarily the story of the Continental Army in the year 1776 as they began fighting the American Revolution. However, it gives fascinating insight into the mind and actions of General George Washington, and how he managed to lead the army through such a volatile era. Many people don’t know that Washington was a surveyor, which in itself is a key component of Civil Engineering. He was also a farmer, and I grew up on a farm as well. I think those two similarities have always attracted me to read about his life and work."

2. University of Michigan business major Ovijit Datta

How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg -- "This is definitely my favorite book about business and disrupting industries. I read this during my training at Google and was blown away by the incredible insights the execs shared regarding work culture, such as managing employees, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and providing everyone autonomy in the workplace. This book taught me a lot the technology landscape and how it has reshaped the way businesses operate through formal and informal organization. In particular, I love the chapter that talks about how Google recruits its talent, calling them “smart creatives” -- problem-solvers who don’t pursue compensation, but rather seek opportunities to bring impactful change and disrupt industries make. Many businesses focus on the end consumer satisfaction, but How Google Works has changed my perspective to emphasize satisfaction among employees first so the consequence of their happiness will be great products and services for the ultimate end consumers. Overall, it’s just an incredible journey of how Google has learned from its mistakes, established a dynamic, evolving culture for innovation both internally and externally, and taken risks (good and bad) to find new ways to disrupt industry."

3. Wesleyan College biology major Sunada Khadka

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini -- "One of the books that has had a huge impact on me as a person is. I liked the book for its simple yet poignant reflections of the life of women in Afghanistan. More importantly, this book portrayed women in a very powerful role in a misogynistic and male-dominated society and culture, and revealed how empathy, resilience, an unwavering spirit can help us build a better world for ourselves and others."

4. University of Notre Dame business major Benjamin Fouch

Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership, by Gary Wills -- "It helps any aspiring leader understand that there are different styles and methods of leadership that are best suited to certain circumstances. I also encourage people to read The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Schroeder, because it does an excellent job of demonstrating the focus, diligence, and personal sacrifice necessary to succeed."

5. Ohio State University dental hygiene major Lauren Dennis

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman -- "We were actually asked to read a book as part of our orientation. This book uses the example of a Hmong child to demonstrate how difficult it can be to provide care to a patient with both cultural and language barriers. It really helped to show me how people of various cultures may perceive health care differently than I do. It is a great read for any health professional and will open your eyes to challenges you may face in patient care."

6. Emory University business major Kyle Nelson

Grit, by Angela Duckworth -- "It’s a book that everyone can learn from and all of the older people who I have talked to about the book have said that they wished they had been able to read it when they were younger."

7. Manhattan College mechanical engineering major Antoneta Rukaj

The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, by Jack Canfield -- "I really like this one; it includes 64 principles meant to help you achieve your goals."

8. University of Pittsburgh audiology major Elizabeth Haley

Shut Up and Live! (You Know How), by Marion Downs -- "This is a must-read for audiology students. Marion Downs is a superstar in audiology. She was instrumental in starting a Universal Newborn Hearing Screening program and yet, in her book she reminds people of the importance of being balanced, healthy people. Consummate with her message, I feel it is important to keep in touch with outside interests while pursuing any graduate degree."

The article Eight Books Top College Students Are Reading to Get Ahead originally appeared on ValuePenguin.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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