As college students, we get assaulted with required reading from all sides. Required reading is, most of the time, unwanted as it interferes with reading books we actually want to read & because it tends to be dry and boring. And then sometimes we get lucky and a professor selects something interesting and maybe even enjoyable to read for class and, being the bookworms that we are, we gladly accept these assignments. Here is a list of required reading that we've encountered that doesn't suck!
After you check out our picks, tell us what required reading you enjoyed in school!
Jamie's pick: As a Business/Marketing major, a required class is Economics--aka the bane of my existence. Bored me to death and confused the heck out of me. But then my professor assigns us to read Freakonomics and present a chapter out of it. This was one of the most interesting non-fiction books I've ever read. It's not really so much about economics but statistics and numbers and really interesting studies--crime rates dropping mysteriously or cheating in sumo wrestling. I'm not sure how scholarly it actually is as I've seen mixed reviews but I found it to be interesting and wasn't bothered one bit by my time spent reading it.
Kelly's Pick: I'm a psychology major, which unfortunately means that I mostly get assigned really boring books, usually pertaining to statistics, research methods and good old Freud. I was thrilled to be assigned The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat in my Physiological Psychology class this semester! The book is divided into short chapters about real-life patients of Dr. Oliver Sacks, some who cannot recognize faces, are eternally stuck in the 1940s, have phantom limbs and other odd psychological problems. This is even a good book for those who aren't psych students, the workings and abnormalities of the brain are fascinating."
R's Pick: I'm studying History and Political Science, and I read this for a classical Chinese political philosophy class. I'm not going to lie to you - I was expecting The Analects to be full of stuff along the lines of, "Old Master say, the richness of spring illuminate the fallen leaf of the bygone autumnal breeze." Or something like that. Well, to be fair to myself and the confused view of Confucius that I held at the time, a lot of the verses do in fact start with "The Master says," and there are a fair number of puzzling parables open to fumbling, inexpert interpretations. Oddly enough, though, a lot of my enjoyment of the Analects came from the conversations between Confucius and a slightly daft disciple of his. Whenever the guy spoke up, Confucius would shower copious amounts of flowery, analogy-filled praise on him. At first I was wondering what was up with that; then it finally struck me - Confucius was being heavily sarcastic and the guy was totally oblivious. And I was very amused. Yeah. Forget about the philosophy in all this. It's the comedy that matters.
Julia's Pick: My senior year as a Computer Science major, I took a class on computer security. The Art of Deception, written by a hacker who at one point in time was the most wanted computer related criminal in the US, opened my eyes to some of the things that social engineers can do to get your personal information & thereby into a company. It's not as high tech as you would think. This book has true hackers stories and examples interspersed with tidbits of knowledge to keep your company, and yourself, safe from hackers.
Tahleen's pick: In my senior year of college, I started to get into some really unhealthy eating habits, specifically I wouldn't be eating enough—disordered eating, it's called. Not anorexia, but still not healthy at all. At the time, I was taking my senior seminar for which we read a lot of really great books. But the one that affected me the most was Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp. It snapped me to reality about the way I was abusing my body, and it also brought to light some truths about the way women go about their lives and the way they are perceived that we either take for granted or just don't notice. This should be required reading for every woman who has ever been uncomfortable in her own body or has felt empty inside. In fact, it should be required reading for anyone, man or woman, who wants to take a closer look at their life, the way they treat others, and the way they treat themselves.
Jess' pick: In college, I double majored in International Relations and Religion. The bulk of my classes revolved around the Middle East and Islam, and so I've read a lot of military history, world history, post-colonial theory, and religious texts. One of the most influential books I read—and really enjoyed—was Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon's writing is extremely evocative, and it will make you contemplate the role of imperialism and colonialism in the Third World in different ways.