So far in my college career, I’ve done a lot of reading. As a journalism major, you’re pretty much expected to read a lot (in addition to writing a bunch of papers). While most of the books have been boring, there have been five that stood out to me and helped me. As I go into my sophomore year this fall, I wanted to share the favorite books that I loved during my freshman year.
Hopefully, you’ll find them useful and enjoyable, too!
1. Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
I wouldn’t exactly call myself an expert in politics, but this book made my spring politics class much more interesting. In Strangers in Their Own Land, Arlie Hochschild (a liberal woman from Berkeley) sets out to not only make sense of the country’s deep divide, but also to understand those on the conservative side who have viewpoints that are vastly different than her own.
To accomplish this, she interviews residents of Lake Charles, Louisiana, which leads to interesting discussions and observations. The people she interviews become developed characters through the course of the book and by the end of it, you really come to respect another person’s perspective, regardless of how you personally feel.
2. The Associated Press Stylebook
For anyone wanting to write a great paper, the Associated Press Stylebook is something you need to own. It’s chock full of lessons on the proper usage of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and more. If you find yourself struggling with these things, this book will help raise the quality of all your future college essays.
3. The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovack & Tom Rosenstiel
The Elements of Journalism is a book otherwise known as a crash course in journalism. Inside are the 10 principles that every journalist needs to follow, including truth and loyalty. This book provides the standard for how current and future journalists should conduct themselves when it comes to reporting the news.
In my first semester of college, I took an introduction to journalism class and this book was one of the required texts. I learned so much about journalism and the right way to practice it from this book. I highly recommend it!
4. Mightier than the Sword by Rodger Streitmatter
In addition to The Elements of Journalism, I also had to read this book for my class. It’s a little less technical than the book above, with stories that relate to events that happened in the journalism world which caused it to change for better or worse.
As someone who likes to learn by examples, it was fascinating to read about things that journalists reported, either correctly or horribly. Key events discussed in Mightier than the Sword include the iconic Watergate scandal, President Barack Obama’s election, and more, as told through the lens of the journalism industry.
5. What the Best College Students Do by Ken Bain
During my first semester, I was assigned this book to read for a college transition class. In What the Best College Students Do, Ken Bain details practices that students should be doing while they’re in college, one of which is to go beyond surface learning.
When I first read this advice, it stuck out because I’d really begun to read my assignments just to prepare for the next exam or paper I’d have to write. Bain encourages a deeper form of learning, in addition to providing more helpful tips that are useful for any incoming college freshman.
Assigned readings tend to be a little dull, but some of them subvert expectations and turn out to be enthralling or a go-to source for completing assignments. Those five favorite books I cited above became my best example.
What are your favorite books from your college career? Share them with us in the comments!
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