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Best Books to Read For Successful College Students

Ah, college. The time in your life for exploration, for fun, and for...reading.

You'll do a ton of reading in college and most of that reading is going to related to academics - math concepts, classical novels, and journal articles. But there are a few books you can read that will actually make you a complete rockstar when it comes to the college experience.

Below, are the Top Seven Books I read outside the classroom while at Harvard, and some of the best books you can read if you are at, or are going to go to, college.

[By the way, this post contains affiliate links from Amazon. All that means is, if you click the links on this post and buy a book, Smart and Bright gets some money too! It's a great way to support us and our high-school applicants. Get reading!]

Outliers: The Story of Success

Obviously, you want to be successful in college.

But maybe it involves more than just brute intelligence or ambition.

In this book, Gladwell examines the lives surrounding the world's most successful individuals, providing unique insight to their lives.

He tackles questions like, why are most hockey stars almost never born in the fall? And why have we never heard from the smartest man in the world?

Begin your journey as an outlier here:

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World

Written by a former Navy SEAL, I saw his commencement speech when I was in my senior year of high-school.

For the longest time, I raged against making my bed. What was the point? Why bother?

As it turns out, there are many important reasons; one of which is that, if you have a bad day, you have a nicely made bed to return to.

Learn all of the simple things you can do to make life better here:

How to Lead: Wisdom from the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers

Direct interviews with all of the world's most brilliant and successful leaders? Sign me up!

For some reason, people believe that the path to success is some tightly guarded secret, meant only for the elite and lucky.

And yet, here all of those people telling you everything they know to make it happen. It's not some big secret, it just takes a lot of effort and perseverance.

Read about what made Jeff Bezos the worldwide sensation here:

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

A great book for starting out at college. Yea, sure, some people think they are beyond "self-help" books. But no, no, no. This is a reminder that you need to take life by the reigns and make it amazing from the very first second.

I read it while conducting research at FSU, and I still reflect on it many years later.

Full of memorable quotes and stories, it is hundreds of pages of non-stop inspiration.

Start being a Badass here:

Crushing College

This book was actually written by one of my high-school friends, who wrote this book as a guide for his younger brother.

He takes his entire college experience and offers first-hand advice to being an excellent college student from your very first step on campus.

He was extremely popular in high-school and this book is a milestone of his very successful career.

Start crushing college here:

Confessions of a Public Speaker

While at college, you'll likely be asked to step out of your comfort zone in one way or another - often to deliver a big presentation or speech.

For many, public speaking is a scary and difficult task. But this book is an honest guide to help you overcome mistakes and grab a room's attention.

As a very shy kid growing up, this book made me more confident and even inspired me to try stand-up comedy.

Be an awesome public speaker here:

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Written by one of the most famous Showrunners in history (yes, the mastermind behind "Grey's Anatomy" and "How to Get Away With Murder"), Shonda Rhimes shares her experience of saying yes to new experiences and opportunities for a year.

It's like "Yes Man" in real life.

What she finds is one of the most challenging, but fulfilling, times in her life. It is the perfect book to encourage you to try something new.

Start saying yes to things here:

That's our list! Of course, there are a ton of others that can leverage your time and make you a stronger student, feel free to message us with your suggestions. And, stick around on our blog by dropping your email and seeing all the other awesome books we recommend.