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You can change the world, but first you need books.

Reading for fun has been shown to benefit mental health, improve academic performance, and inspire people to make a positive change.

Here are 37 brilliant books to help you crack university and beyond, from essential skills and fantastic fiction to books about people who've inspired change. Take a peek below at ten books recommended in the guide, or check out the full guide.

Don't forget to also enter to win £1,000/€1,000 of National Book Tokens with our Book Bursary.

Download the full 2019 guide

Get more book recommendations with the NEW guide for 2020

What's going on?

No. More. Plastic.

No. More Plastic. What you can do to make a difference by Martin Dorey

Do you want to use less single use plastic but aren't sure where to start? Martin Dorey, anti-plastics expert, has been working to save our beaches from plastic for the past 10 years. His Beach Clean Foundation and global call to arms #2minutebeachclean has been taken up by people all over the world, and has proven that collective small actions can add up to a big difference.


It's Not About the Burqa

It's Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race edited by Mariam Khan

In 2016, Mariam Khan read that David Cameron had linked the radicalisation of Muslim men to the 'traditional submissiveness' of Muslim women. Mariam felt pretty sure she didn’t know a single Muslim woman who would describe herself that way. Why was she hearing about Muslim women from people who were neither Muslim, nor female? Here are voices you won’t see represented in the national news headlines: seventeen Muslim women speaking frankly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex, and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. 

They inspired change… and so can you!


Becoming by Michelle Obama

As First Lady of the United States of America – the first African-American to serve in that role – Michelle Obama helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the USA and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives. Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations – and whose story inspires us to do the same.


A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking

Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in this masterpiece by the world renowned physicist and one of the world's greatest thinkers.

How to be an awesome student


Freshers by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison 

For a funny and realistic story about life as a student, check out Freshers. Phoebe has been waiting all summer for uni to start and her life to finally begin. And knowing Luke Taylor is going to be there too makes the whole thing even more exciting... But Luke's relationship is secretly falling apart and campus life isn't proving to be the escape he thought it would be. When the two collide in the madness of Freshers Week, everything changes - and they both get sucked into each other's worlds in the most messy, intense and hilarious ways imaginable.


Starter for Ten

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

It's 1985 and Brian Jackson has arrived at university with a burning ambition – to make it onto TV's foremost general knowledge quiz. But no sooner has he embarked on 'The Challenge' than he finds himself falling hopelessly in love with his teammate, the beautiful and charismatic would-be actress, Alice Harbinson. Starter for Ten is a comedy about love, class, growing-up and the all-important difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Give your brain a break


Proud: Stories, Poetry and Art on the Theme of Pride edited by Juno Dawson

When you need to take a break from studying, delve into some fantastic fiction. Proud is a stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. 


Normal People

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins. Normal People is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can't.

Life hacks for university and beyond

The Roasting Tin

The Roasting Tin: Simple One Dish Dinners by Rukmini Iyer

Fed up of beans on toast? The Roasting Tin has recipes for 75 delicious one dish dinners ranging from chicken traybakes to supergrains. The concept is simple: fresh, easy ingredients, a few minutes prep, and let the oven do the work. Each chapter also includes a helpful infographic for how to build you own roasting tin dinner using whatever is in your fridge tonight. 


How to Survive the End of the World

How to Survive the End of the World (When it's in Your Own head) by Aaron Gillies

What happens when it feels like the world is ending every single time you wake up? That's what having anxiety is like – and How to Survive the End of the World is here to help. Or at least make you feel like you're not so alone. From helping readers identify the enemy, to safeguarding the vulnerable areas of their lives, Aaron Gillies examines the impact of anxiety, and gives readers some tools to fight back – whether with medication, therapy, CBT, coping techniques, or simply with a dark sense of humour.

View our free survival guide to print out and display in your university library or student union, share with book-loving students, or simply keep at home as a handy reading list.

Download the guide


Download the full guide


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Pride and Prejudice* by Jane Austen

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