5 Books Every Innovative College Student Should Read

Why even read?


This is a question a lot of people (especially college students) often ask. We are so busy with our daily lives and have little break time as is, so we typically want to be spending that time with friends or playing sports, video games, or watching TV. That being said, we spend so much time working in our lives. We aim to become better versions of ourselves and frequently forget how many people have been here before us and experienced similar things.

So I find a lot of value in Fiction books like Lord of the Rings (that’s for another article), but non-fiction books can also be amazing. They’re written by people who have tremendous amounts of knowledge or experience in a particular area. These authors have lessons and knowledge that we can learn so much from and apply to our own daily lives.

So here are five books every innovative person should read that can have immediate impacts in your daily life.


1. The Happiness Track

In this compelling book, Emma Seppala talks about the psychology of happiness. So many people live their lives in a go, go, go state, but that can be very detrimental long term. Finding what we’re happy doing, knowing how to take good breaks, and exploring our creative side not only make us happier and healthier, but also spark creativity and can lead to more success.

The lessons in this book can be applied to day-to-day life and remind us that life is too short to wash away a year (let alone 10) doing things we don’t enjoy.

2. The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup can change your perspective in pursuing any new task. This book talks about a methodology to starting a company that is meant to eliminate inefficiency. Many people will spend two years working on a product with amazing engineers and business people and the product will totally flop because nobody wants it. Eric Ries discusses a different way to approach challenges that can be applied outside of business as well.

The Lean Startup discusses forming a hypothesis about a particular idea we have, testing that hypothesis as quickly as we can, and moving forward from there as opposed to spending 2 years doing things the wrong way. The lessons from this book can apply to studying for tests, connecting with other people, and even exercising.

3. Shoe Dog

This is the most recent book I have read, and I was enamored with it. It’s a memoir by the founder of Nike, Phil Knight, and he talks about his entire journey forming the company. If you’ve ever thought about starting a company or wonder what it is like to do so, this is a must read. His story is unbelievable, with so many lessons to be learned and amazing anecdotes. Not to mention that it’s an incredibly interesting book that discusses the development of running shoes in society today (back when Knight was a kid, people would get made fun of for going on runs).

4. The Power of Habit

Have any bad habits? Or things you do that you want to change? Charles Duhigg explains how we develop habits. Although they will never truly go away, we can replace them with other habits and turn our lives around in areas that we wish we were different. It can definitely be a hard thing to do, but his perspective is different than any I have heard before. He gets down to the science and provides concrete methods for changing our bad habits.


5. Peak: The Science Behind Expertise

There are so many times in our lives when we decide that we want to pick up a new skill, be it learning how to code, playing golf, or communicating with others. Anders Ericsson explains the best way to take the skill we want to learn and get great at it. There are countless examples of people who have been practicing something for years upon years and haven’t improved, and it’s all related to the methods in which they go about practicing. Ericsson explains the science behind this growth and shows that being successful and skillful is a lot more about hard and deliberate work than it is about natural talent.


How to find the time?

I understand it’s tough to make the time for reading. But if you make a truly conscious effort, it’s a lot easier than you might imagine. There’s always Audible, which is an audiobook platform with every book you could imagine right to your earbuds. This is great if you have long commutes or walks each day. Outside of that, if you set aside 15-30 minutes each night before bed to read you’ll do some damage. And then carrying a book around that you can pick up during those 10-minute breaks you have during the day, will get you learning new things faster than you’d ever think. And once you pick up a good book, there’s not much that can stop you from putting it down. So these five books above are good examples, but there are so many amazing books out there that are easy to find and can be delivered to you in two days (or instantly with a Kindle).

I read maybe 8 books throughout all of high school, and this past summer and so far this semester have read 25. These books have absolutely changed my life, and there isn’t much I’d recommend doing more.

If you have other questions or want to talk more, feel free to email me at

Thanks for reading 🙂


–Noah Adelstein, Y’s Thoughts Director of Community Involvement

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