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68 Must-Read Books for Incoming Students

On Aug. 27 incoming students will meet some of their professors for the first time during Freshman Reading Round-up, a campus-wide book club. Need a read? Get the list here.

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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.

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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 and 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.”


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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.”



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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.”



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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.”




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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.”




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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.”



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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.”



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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.”