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Best Books List: Class of '22: Recommendations for First-Year Students

The Best Books, According to the Class of '22

Watzek Library invited the graduating class of 2022 to share book recommendations, following in the tradition of the Faculty Best Books List of previous years. More than twenty students responded, together naming dozens of books. Their reasons, where not specific to an individual book, are collected at the bottom of this page.

Books on this page are recommended to all first-year students. Please also see Recommendations by Major.

Some items must be requested from other libraries, as noted under the title. Please let us know if we can help you with the request process.

General Fiction

Essays and Memoirs

Short Stories

Mystery and Thrillers

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror



Why these books?

A number of books were recommended for their formative influence: “All of [these books] dramatically changed the way I see the world, the way I see and understand strangers,” one student wrote. Another said, “They’ve changed my perspective on the world for the better, the more radical.” “Both of these books really helped shape the way I perceive and have come to understand the world I am about to step in to. Although difficult to confront, some of these truths must be known,” reflected a third.

Some books were recommended as emotional ballast in a bewildering time: “Parts of these four years (i.e., Covid) have felt comedically absurd and of-another-world, so see the protagonists persevere despite similar challenges helped me to do the same.” Some allowed students to immerse themselves in and engage with their studies, while also offering comfort.

Many were recommended for sheer fun and enjoyment.