What Are We Reading? UChicago Student Reading Recommendations

April 1, 2019

In a school where people from all walks of life are studying different fields and engaged in different interests, a book can be the bridge to understanding these differences or pushing against assumptions. We asked University of Chicago students to tell us about the last good book they read in their free time or for a class. The books that students have chosen this year tell the stories of making a new life as an immigrant, the plight of poverty, and race in America. They also expose us to the payoffs of hard work and resilience, the science of happiness, and the stories of life and death.

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

“I always loved Michelle Obama, and being able to visit her memories was such a wonderful experience. Her spirit is so incredibly strong and the story is so unique and thought provoking.” — Book suggested by Anita O., Class of 2019

2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“I read this book so slowly because I did not want to finish it. It is a novel that will stay in your head weeks after you’ve finished reading.” — Book suggested by Gabrielle B., Class of 2020

3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“This book is captivating and well-written. It is a wonderful reminder that books were written to provide a unique insight into how others think, feel, live, and love.”— Book suggested by Isabel G., Class of 2020

4. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

“Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is a family saga about four generations of a Korean family that is set in Korea and Japan. It’s made my favorite books list.” — Book suggested by Jenny J., Class of 2022

5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

“This book made me cry so much. It captured some of the wonderful moments of Paul’s life, and it really is a must read. I recommended this book to every single one of my friends because it had such a profound impact on the way I feel, think, and experience.” — Book suggested by Shereen S., Class of 2019

6. The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

“A seminal work on the history of housing discrimination that is a required reading for anyone who cares about the effect of residential segregation on cities and schools in our country” — New York Times Review

7. The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor

“It is not a book that just tells you to think positive thoughts and your world changes. It is a description of why mindset is so important in dictating your future rather than a byproduct of other outcomes. It gives you practical tools to begin to develop your own happiness…” — Amazon Book Review

8. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

“This is the ultimate pre-college book. It’s a book that really makes you think about education, formal and informal, in a very profound way.” — Book suggested by Luke L., Class of 2019

9. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

“This book is much more than a book about food. It's a book about yearning, about hungering for many things. Food is, of course, one of those things. The book highlights the author’s hungers for companionship, for love, for acceptance, for simple courtesy. She hungers for recognition of who she is versus what she looks like.” — Amazon Book Review

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison

“Anything by Toni Morrison ends up on my favorite books list. The story concerns the life of an escaped slave, and it transformed the way I feel, think, and see. It is a must read for everyone.” — Book suggested by Lizzie H., Class of 2019