It would be safe to say that there is an unwritten list of must-read books that any good student should at least be aware of before they graduate from college. Among that list of books, there are certainly political commentaries and books on current events and issues. I want to submit my own small list of books that I feel any well-rounded college student should read before graduating.
My first submission actually isn’t a book, but rather daily newspapers. Anyone can flip through 24-hour news channels, but only the truly learned will read a daily newspaper. Few things sadden me more than seeing a full stack of The Signpost and a full stack of The New York Times at 10:30 in the morning. Why don’t people pick them up and read them? The newspaper provides something that news networks will never have, and that is the simple element of reading. There is too much audio-visual stimulation in the world, and the newspaper is one of the last daily fixes of reading one can get. The next time you enter any building on campus, pick up The Times and The Signpost in order to strengthen your college experience.
The second submission is the irrefutable George Orwell classic, 1984. Most people were required to read this in high school, which means most high-schoolers have read the Sparknotes to 1984 and have forgotten all about it. It’s an incredible work of fiction addressing the dangers of fascism, totalitarian governments and the destruction of the individual. This is an important book, and if you don’t understand big-brother puns, jokes or references, then you should take that as a subtle hint to pick up 1984.
The third recommendation is an extremely readable and insightful look into America and the world’s future. The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria is one of my favorite perspectives into what Mr. Zakaria calls the rise of the rest: the rise of Asia and, more specifically, a 21st-century China, India and America’s relative decline and future role within the global economy and international politics. For a modern student living in the modern world, this is an important work from one of the great thinkers of our day.
You don’t have to agree with me or with the man, but Plato’s Republic is the first major work on politics that, amazingly, continues to be the center of discussion among political theorists today. Plato’s age-old question about whether it is better to be just or unjust continues to rack the brains of modern-day philosophers. Plato’s theories and style helps the reader develop the ability to think, rather than telling the reader what to think. An important read for any modern-day college student.
The final book I’m going to recommend combines solid information with an interesting and attention-grabbing twist. There is a trend these days amongst many authors of using a zombie metaphor within a seemingly normal subject. Daniel Drezner’s book Theories of International Politics and Zombies is an adorable look into how the world confronts global issues. Using zombies as a metaphorical and troublesome people, Drezner goes over all of the basics of international law and organization and how the world would react to the zombie problem. Only a couple hundred pages, this is an insightful and fun read that would be great for a busy college student.
Some of my suggestions will never be named among classic literature, but are great reading for any student who seeks to be well-rounded and knowledgeable on a variety of subjects. Political science is so much more than the bantering we see all over television, and my hope is that, through meaningful reading, the students of today can realize that fact.