Christmas 2010 Great new Books for College Students

These last minute book buys for college students are Christmas gifts that will appeal to literary lovers and history buffs, to cultural observers and bloggers, and to late night readers and book club organizers.

A recent article in The New York Times Magazine described the parallel lives of Jay-Z and George Washington. These two “American hustlers” have books out which chronicle their lives and their rise to mythic status.  Decoded, Jay-Z’s memoir, offers up biographical details, cultural commentary, and musical insights.  Ron Chernow’s biography, Washington, is a meticulous analysis of the first president’s military career, political life and family life.  These two selections allow readers to learn lessons from the lives of others through biography and memoir.  And college students returning to history classes will look for ways to insert Jay-Z’s name into essays and discussion about the founding fathers to the shock of their professors.

In contrast, Mark Twain’s recently released autobiography from beyond the grave no less, will give college students the opportunity to impress English professors with commentary from this self-portrait of one of America’s most important and insightful writers.  Twain’s razor wit and critique of the Gilded Age he witnessed in the late 1800’s ring remarkably true for the new Gilded Age of the early 21st century.

Literary lovers will also enjoy reading Oprah’s latest book club picks, Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Students who prefer using an e-reader should take a moment to remember the original Dickens format of the published serial and imagine readers in the 19th century waiting for each installment.   Then think of your old junior high copy of one of these classics, dog-eared and highlighted, torn under the weight of your textbooks in your locker.  Now you can read the classics on a Nook or Kindle flipping electronic pages in the 21st century.

For college students looking for some leisure reading before heading back to campus with a reading list full of nonfiction textbooks, the boxed set Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson is a great gift.  This best-selling trilogy includes The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  This boxed set is for college students who still like the feel of a book in their hands as they stay up late rustling each page to get to the end of this satisfying thriller.

Another great book choice for leisure reading is Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.  This book is technically categorized as a Young Adult book but appeals to a wider audience with its realistic and relatable main character and intriguing story that moves from modern day Brooklyn to modern day Paris and then shifts into the past and the history of the French Revolution.  College students will not be disappointed by the characters and plot and wide array of musical references.

Book Club favorite The Help by Kathryn Stockett is a great gift for college students.  This book set in the South during the 1960’s is the story of a woman who decides to shed light on the relationships between the white women of the South and the African-American women who work as maids in their homes.  

College students seeking answers to life’s most challenging questions about religion, politics, science and culture should look no further than the new release The Daily show with Jon Stewart presents Earth (the book): A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race by Jon Stewart.  The audio version of the book which is getting excellent customer reviews is a great gift for students who need something to listen to on the long drive back to campus after the holidays.

For students looking for more straight forward or straight shooting answers to tough philosophical questions, the book How to Live, or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell hits the target.  In this biography of Michel de Montaigne, Bakewell seeks answers to the question “How to Live” by exploring Montaigne’s essays and by explaining their relevance today.

And for philosophy of a different kind, give the gift of Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern to college students on your Christmas list.  For those dreaming of the blog or twitter page that goes viral and turns into a book deal and then a sitcom on CBS, this is an inspiring book.  The dream can happen if your blog or twitter page is full of witty observations and musings that make people laugh out loud or read passages out loud to others in the room which is what the customer reviewers are saying about Halpern’s book.