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Seven non-fiction books every university student should read

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Published: 7 September 2020

University of Sunderland in London student reading in the library

Reading is one of the best things you can do for your mind. As a student at the University of Sunderland in London, you’re probably reading a lot - journal articles, textbooks, or even just the notes you’ve made in class. But reading for pleasure and to grow can be as important as studying.

With tomorrow being International Literacy Day we thought we’d celebrate by talking about some of the books you can read now to get you ready for your future careers - whatever path you choose. 

1) Think and grow rich by Napolean Hill

This book was originally published in 1937, making it something of a classic. The author studied hundreds of successful people to work out the thirteen things he argues are key to doing well in life whether that’s with money, your career or your studies.

2) How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

Like the title suggests, this book gives you a huge list of tips and tricks for making friends. Getting to know people and growing your network is a really useful skill and a great way to improve your career prospects. It’s all about making real, long-lasting connections, so well worth the read.

3) The start-up of you by Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn, sets out a path for people just starting out on their careers. Whether you’re thinking of launching your own company or want to make your way up the career ladder quickly, this book is for you.

4) Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

Ed Catmull is one of the founders and creatives behind Pixar. In this book, he tells the story of what inspired him to work in digital animation and how that passion led to him helping to found one of the most successful film companies in the world.

5) Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell’s ‘outliers’ are people he thinks of as the best, brightest and most successful business leaders in the world. In this book, he asks the question: ‘how do they achieve so much?’ He says that we think too much about what successful people are like and not enough about where they’re from. He talks about how our cultures and families influence the people that we grow up to be.

6) What colour is your parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles

First published in 1970, this book has been updated and reprinted every year since and is thought of as one of the most important career books you can buy today. Nelson Bolles recommends networking over sending out lots of CVs and working out what you’re best at and enjoy the most, then going for a career that takes advantage of that.

7) Designing your life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

A New York Times bestseller, this book helps you to get organised through journaling and design. You’re given a series of exercises to do that give you a sense of structure. You’ll come away from this book with a roadmap to your goals and a plan on how to achieve them.

Reading is a skill and hobby that can last you a lifetime. Not only does reading increase your literacy (your ability to read and write) but there are studies that show that people who read tend to have higher incomes. We’d love to hear about the books you’re reading now and the ones you’d recommend. Share your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can get help and advice on your career goals by setting up a one-to-one meeting with the University of Sunderland in London Careers and Employability service. Get in touch with them at or visit their website for more.

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