If I’ve learned anything from years of watching YouTube, it’s that timing is particularly tricky for back-to-school posts. Everyone has a different first day of classes, so you’re always going to be too early for someone and too late for someone else. (And, of course, there are always those who aren’t in school anymore and those who are but don’t want to think about it.)
So I decided to just hope for the best with this post, scheduling it after my brother’s first day of (high) school but before mine (college / uni), and doing my best to find books that will hopefully be useful no matter what grade you’re in or if you’re done with school altogether.
I’ve already seen a lot of back-to-school fiction recs floating around, so this post instead focuses on nonfiction. Personal development (or “self-help”) as a genre isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but having found all of these books helpful I wanted to share them anyway.
- Maybe it’s just me, but the start of a new semester always inspires me to reevaluate my life choices and try to become an adultier adult. To that end I consulted Queer Eye by the Fab Five: solid advice, inspirational backstories, lovely graphics, and even some mouthwatering recipes to try!
- For anyone interested in optimizing their planning system, The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll is a fantastic place to start. It’s not about the ~aesthetic~ spreads you may have seen on the web, but rather mindfulness and organization in a form that works for you personally.
- Atomic Habits by James Clear is a thoroughly researched, super accessible guide to making (or breaking) the everyday habits that have such a huge cumulative effect on your life. I’m currently reading it and have already created several lists to work on.
- For the incoming or current college freshman (or perhaps even sophomore), The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen gives a pretty good overview of the college experience, from the social (and romantic) to the academic, with personal anecdotes and tips from actual college students.
- I’ve been a longtime fan of Thomas Frank and College Info Geek (blog, YouTube channel, and podcast); to my delight but not surprise, 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (While Studying Less) turned out to be just as all-around helpful as all their other resources. Plus, it’s free if you sign up for their weekly newsletter! [This is starting to sound like an ad, but I just genuinely love their content. #notsponsored]
- I’d heard lots of great things about Cal Newport’s books, and How to Win at College is in fact one of the best college-specific compilations that I’ve ever read. (And believe me, I’ve read a lot of them.) The streamlined structure — simple, practical advice followed by some elaboration and/or rationale — makes this a quick read and easy to actually implement. Of course not every tip will work for everyone, but that’s always the case.
Do you have any special back-to-school routines? Tips for current students? For anyone who will (or is already) back in classes, I hope you have an awesome academic year!