It is easier to deal with a hardship or understand a situation when you have somebody that can relate to your experience. That somebody does not necessarily have to be real; you can find her in your local library. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” There are four common situations that most students encounter at least once in their college experience: loneliness, falling in love, uncertainty about the future and embarking on a new adventure. Below are book recommendations from myself and some other lovely contributors for books you should read if you are going through one of these stages.

Loneliness

What you should read: “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers, as suggested by information literacy librarian of Coates Library, Anne Jumonville.

Why: “The characters are all quirky and they are all isolated from each other. But they do find each other in some way and make connections that are not dismissive of their experiences of being lonely and it’s ultimately hopeful.”

Falling in Love

What you should read: “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart, as suggested by assistant professor of English, Jeffrey Rufo.

Why: “The story’s main characters/narrators are a pair of star-crossed lovers (think ‘Lost in Translation’ meets ‘Moonrise Kingdom’) named Lenny and Eunice. The book takes on the form of Lenny’s autobiographical novel-in-progress and is periodically interrupted by transcripts of email/text exchanges between various characters. He’s a schlubby middle-aged loser, whereas Eunice is a young Asian-American beauty. For all their differences, they’re united by, above all else, a shared lack of self-esteem. Both are burdened with their parents’ high expectations, and both are plagued by unlucky experiences in love. Slowly, they begin to forge an unsteady alliance against the world. Shteyngart is writing about more than just love, though. He shares with us his vision of the near future. In this way, the novel is satirical, but  sadly so.”

Uncertainty About the Future

What you should read: “Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas” by Maya Angelou, as suggested by junior Megan Hageney.

Why: “When I ponder the prospects of my future, I freeze.  In these moments, Maya Angelou is my foil because she is a woman of action. In this book, in her beautiful prose, she chronicles her life in the early twenties.  It shows her making mistakes, following whims, being encapsulated by her passions, returning home and even redefining home. After reading about this woman who has led a hundred different lives, this book teaches me that nothing is permanent and this fluidity is part of the adventure so we need to embrace it. ‘Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas’ inspires me to do.”

Embarking on a New Adventure

What you should read: “On the Road” by Jack Keroauc, as suggested by sophomore Heather Knudson.

Why: “‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac is the perfect book to read before embarking on a new journey, whether you are traveling the world or turning over a new leaf in your life. This story of a roadtrip across America is full of random adventures and a haze of mixed emotions. Kerouac’s prose mimics perpetual motion, with his rambling sentences and spirited descriptions of so many strange and wonderful situations.”