On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Deep down, On The Road is a brilliant commentary on this youthful wanderlust, and it is a book with a serious message for people who see travel as a redemptive, life-defining exercise. Kerouac’s astonishing literary style will keep you glued throughout – the entire book was composed in one breathless three-week writing binge, lending it a hyperkinetic, immediate quality that few other writers can match. Get it from the library now.
The Republic – Plato
One of the most amazing things about the Republic, though, is just how many intellectual fields it covers. Plato touches on epistemology, ethics, political theory, criminology, gender studies, the nature of the self, and even poetry. For students of almost any discipline, the Republic has something to say.
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude carries with it a great, majestic sense of tragedy. Again and again, we see the Buendias – and by extension, Latin Americans as a whole – repeat the same mistakes, constantly tearing Macondo apart with strife. Marquez’s masterpiece is a powerful statement on the nature of history and the need for mankind to grab a firm hold of our destiny.
Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky
Chomsky therefore argues for the existence of a massive “politico-media complex”, where the media, politicians and corporations are all in cahoots in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of way. Needless to say, Manufacturing Consent is a must-read for any up-and-coming young social critic, and an incisive critique of the role of mass media in a capitalist system.
The Age of Reason – Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre shows us, slowly, painfully, how freedom suffocates Mathieu – lacking direction, the multitude of choices available to him is also his downfall. Anyone who has found themselves lost and wondering which path to take should read this book.
The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Why is it required reading for uni students? Apart from allowing you to more easily conform to the cool-hip-socialist-Guevara-student stereotype which pervades campuses, The Communist Manifesto is essential for understanding the social and economic upheavals of the last 150 years. Labour unions, political parties, economic theorists, environmentalists, civil rights movements – all of these owe a debt to the egalitarian ideas which Marx lays out in the Manifesto.
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
While comparisons are frequently drawn with George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, it is really Brave New World has more to say about our modern world. Neil Postman famously wrote that “in 1984… people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture… reduced to passivity and egotism.”
Whoa, Jersey Shore is on! To hell with books. See ya.