The University of Texas at Austin
  • 68 Must-Read Books for Incoming Students

    Published: Aug. 5, 2013
    Freshman Reading Roundup 2013 Poster

    Homework before the first day of classes?

    For participating incoming freshmen, Reading Round-up is an opportunity to interact — pressure free — with some of the top professors on campus.

    Earlier this summer, 68 faculty members chose books they think new college students should read for the 11th annual campus-wide book club. (See the entire list here, along with the faculty’s recommendations.) Members of the Class of 2017 picked a book and signed up for the small group discussion sessions, which will take place August 27, the day before fall classes start.

    Still looking for that late-summer beach read? Want to start your new school year with a fresh perspective? Here’s a selection from the reading list and some insight from the professors who chose them.

    Cover of 'A Song of Ice and Fire, Vol. 1: Game of Thrones'

    A Song of Ice and Fire, Vol. 1: Game of Thrones

    by G.R.R. Martin

    Ayelet Lushkov, assistant professor, Classics

    “There’s a lot to talk about, since [A Song of Ice & Fire] contains so much: political intrigue, love, war, disappointment, and even some walking dead. A lot of these things are exactly what students come to college to learn and think about, and Game of Thrones packages it up in some unexpected ways.”


    Cover of 'A Technique for Producing Ideas'

    A Technique for Producing Ideas

    by James Webb Young

    Brad Love, assistant professor, Advertising

    “This brief but powerful book guides students through the innovation and learning processes in ways that make creativity accessible to anyone willing to work for it. Young’s tiny text represents an ideal start to university education with its tactics for viewing life through a new lens and its encouragement to look inside for a more creative version of ourselves.”



    Cover of 'All Quiet on the Western Front'

    All Quiet on the Western Front

    by Erich Maria Remarque

    Alan K. Cline, professor, Computer Science

    “The hero of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is a 19-year-old young man initially led more by the pressures of associates and society than by his own judgment. Through the story and in addition to the horrors of war, he faces questions of identity, loyalty, innocence, and sacrifice, just as many people of his age — including university freshmen.”



    Cover of 'Embassytown'


    by China Mievelle

    Shelley Payne, professor, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

    “This is a great science fiction story that, at its heart, is an exploration of the nature and power of language.”




    Cover of 'Hamlet'


    by William Shakespeare

    John Ruszkiewicz, professor, Rhetoric and Writing

    “Most everyone knows that Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ is a ghost story about revenge and murder. But why exactly is this long and violent tragedy the most famous literary work in English and a must-read for every college student? It’s worth finding out.”




    Cover of 'My Stroke of Insight'

    My Stroke of Insight

    by Jill Bolte Taylor

    Larry Abraham, professor, Kinesiology and Health Education, Undergraduate Studies

    “The author’s perspective on how the brain functions and recovers from such damage provides a captivating and compelling story for general readers and is instructive for those who seek to have a deeper scientific understanding of brain function. As a researcher in the area of neural control of behavior, I consider this book a must read.”



    Cover of 'Tender Is the Night'

    Tender is the Night

    by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Wendy Domjan, distinguished senior lecturer, Psychology

    “With all of the Gatsby publicity surrounding the movie, maybe students would like to read more about Fitzgerald, and being that psychology is more or less in my area, ‘Tender is the Night’ is appropriate. Fitzgerald used the story as a vehicle for examining the nature of obsessive love, failed marriage, psychiatric illness and his own perceptions of himself as a tragic failed artist.”



    Cover of 'The Marketplace of Ideas'

    The Marketplace of Ideas

    by Louis Menand

    Julia Mickenberg, associate professor, American Studies

    “Louis Menand provides fuel for thinking about how and why contemporary colleges and universities operate as they do, and for considering ways in which they might more effectively promote academic inquiry and the development of citizens, scholars, and professionals. Certainly these are things worth considering as students begin their journeys as undergraduates at The University of Texas at Austin.”

    • Quote 2
      Debi said on Aug. 29, 2013 at 4:04 p.m.
      When I click on the "see the entire list here along with the faculty's recommendations" link, this comes up . It says "Reading Book List There are no sessions scheduled at this time." I do not see the entire reading list.
    • Quote 2
      Aydin said on Aug. 26, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
      Bill, maybe they need classic like Crime and Punishment?
    • Quote 2
      teknomaster said on Aug. 16, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.
      Hey Bill, have you ever heard of The Lord of the Rings?
    • Quote 2
      shah karachi said on Aug. 15, 2013 at 5:49 a.m.
      Great 'common reads' to prepare fresh students! The more they read, the more skills they're going to develop in all subject areas.
    • Quote 2
      Ebony said on Aug. 12, 2013 at 9:53 a.m.
      This is so great! I am going to save the list for my reads this week! I wish I did this my freshmen year.
    • Quote 2
      Amy said on Aug. 9, 2013 at 3:57 p.m.
      Rickie, Click on the url written in the body of the article in orange. It will take you here for the entire list:
    • Quote 2
      Blake Johnson said on Aug. 9, 2013 at 1:03 p.m.
      Where are the other 60 books? May non-freshman allowed?
    • Quote 2
      Brenda said on Aug. 9, 2013 at 9:47 a.m.
      Rickie, Click on the (See the entire list here, along with the faculty’s recommendations.)above.
    • Quote 2
      Lisa O'Leary said on Aug. 9, 2013 at 4:45 a.m.
      I would like to see the entire list.
    • Quote 2
      will hunt said on Aug. 8, 2013 at 1:33 p.m.
      How cruel it is to limit a person to a single taste of such an interesting buffet. Please tell me that recordings of these events will be available.
    • Quote 2
      Jim Bates said on Aug. 8, 2013 at 12:41 p.m.
      I am always amazed at "highly recommended" and "best seller" books that turn out to be terrible! It seems some authors get a reputation due to book sales and get positive promotion on everything they write. I have had to dump several books due to the fact they were poorly written, boring, and a waste of time. Have learned that recommendation from trusted friends is a better source than ratings and review groups. Blessings! Jim Bates U.T. Class of 1965 (Pharmacy) Marshall, Texas
    • Quote 2
      Meg Wilson said on Aug. 8, 2013 at 12:15 p.m.
      Highly recommend Jane, Jacobs' Systems of Survival! Great for Freshmen, graduate students, faculty, entrepreneurs, public officials, etc.
    • Quote 2
      Bill R said on Aug. 8, 2013 at 12:14 p.m.
      How about Stephan R Donaldson, LORD FOULS BANE?
    • Quote 2
      Rickie Sherrill said on Aug. 8, 2013 at 12:03 p.m.
      There were only 8 books on the 68 Must Read page. Where are the rest? Rickie Sherrill
    • Quote 2
      Jill said on Aug. 7, 2013 at 5:02 p.m.
      Hey Bill, have you ever heard of The Lord of the Rings?
    • Quote 2
      bill said on Aug. 6, 2013 at 7:51 a.m.
      I am a diehard sci-fi fan, but Embassytown was so boring that I just quit reading it. A waste of time and money. If you think making a book with "new language" and complex sentences is good sci-fi, go ahead and see for yourself. The story line would be interesting if not for the overwhelming complexity which makes reading this book onerous, not enjoyable.
    • Quote 2
      Kyle said on Aug. 5, 2013 at 10:19 p.m.
      Are non- freshman welcome to participate? Sounds fun!
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