Top Ten Tuesday: Book Gift Guide for Parents of a Fired Up College Student

Another week, another Top Ten Tuesday!  This is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish which challenges bloggers to create lists on the weekly topic. In anticipation of Christmas this week’s topic was: Holiday Gift Guide freebie (ten books to buy the YA lover in your life, 10 books to buy for your dad, etc.).

I chose to do a  book gift guide for parents with college students…or college students to get for themselves because these books are all fantastic and well worth your time (whether you are a wannabe philosopher or not 😉 ).


The Wannabe Philosophy Majors

Sometimes a young adult goes into college and becomes enamored with their freshman philosophy 101 class. Surrounded by the rhetoric of the liberal arts and the intellectualism they perceive in the field (whether it exists or not) they have decided that they want to be a philosophy major. They might come home for break and tell how the world should work, they might spew out bits of Plato mixed with Cartesian rhetoric and some Nietzsche thrown in for good measure. Whether they know what they are talking about or not, they will certain have a desire to look and seem smart. This means they want books that will seem intellectual when they post about reading on Instagram. The best route for such a student is the Greek classics. And what better way than some ancient Greek plays. If you have a wannabe philosophy major on your hands here is what you should get them this Christmas! (hint: avoid pronouncing the names unless you want your student to laugh and correct you)

Tragic: The Eumenides by Aeschylus

Comedic: Clouds by Aristophones

Those on Anti-Capitalist Rants

Another common trait of freshman college students is to come back as anti-capitalist. While I will not venture into determining whether this is good or bad (or maybe both?). There are common traits in this sort of student. Anger at the oppressive nature of work in a capitalist society, frustration with the way people are viewed as tools, and of course a friendly appreciation of the works of Marx. If this is the student you are book shopping for, they will simply devour these books (if they read Lanark they would appreciate the food pun).

1950s America: Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet

Post-apocalyptic Scotland and Pre-War Glasgow: Lanark: A Life in Four Books by Alasdair Gray

Those Disillusioned About College and “Adulting”

Sometimes your college student may come back shell-shocked and very worn out from their first (or second, or third, or even fourth) year of college. Such a student might be angry with the world, with the very pursuit of education and the potentially dull and lifeless desk jobs that follow. This student is tired of the status quo of the middle class and wants to experience meaningful, definable work. This student would absolute love these works by Crawford and Anderson.

Philosophy: Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford

Literature: Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

Social Justice Advocates

These are the students who come home fired up against inequality. Perhaps they were always passionate about it and found renewed vigor, or maybe their new experiences and broadened horizen while in college has given them a new passion for social justice. Either way these students want to change the world, they want to eliminate racism, sexism, and all forms of injustice from our society. They protest and they argue, perhaps sometimes badly, but always with a good heart. These two books are great for these advocates to both support and expand their passion for social justice!

Philosophy: Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life by Martha C. Nussbaum

Literature: Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor

The Politically Engaged

Finally, if you have a student that comes home angry at politics, interested in politics, or wanting to go into politics (especially if they major in Political Science or International Relations), they may need extra care. This year has not been easy (politically speaking) for anyone and if your student is fired up about modern day politics it might be helpful for them to take a step back and look at political literature of another time. Not only can such works give insight into today’s issues, but they are also fascinating reads that bring up questions about how we approach politics as a society and as individuals.

Fictional Norway – Individual Beliefs vs. Will of the People: An Enemy of the People by Henrik Isben

Communist Mexico – Religion and Government: The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene



      1. I can understand that. I’m salty towards philosophy and her many followers. It kind of ruins the allure when you take into account that the reason so many of them were able to question things like life and the universe is because they literally had nothing better to do with their lives. Meanwhile, all the peasants were wondering if they were going to starve to death lol. And I’m glad you agree about the healing power of the Snickers 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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