Recommended Reads: Back to School

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!

11 thoughts on “Recommended Reads: Back to School

  1. Oh that was an interesting one! I have yet to stumble on other back to school posts. Our general back to school day is in september over here, after the « work holiday ». I always find so wierd how some go back in august 🙈

    Atomic habit is one i’d definately need right now aherm, trying to get myself to have more energy by sticking to exercising and sleeping before 1am — as of which i’m not too sure how to even start with resolving my sleeping schedule xD
    the naked roomate sounds just hilarious! I kinda wanna read this one although i’m well finished with college (well, for now – until I go into something else I guess)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think higher level education here tends to go back later (I start the first week of September, and some of my college/uni friends start even later; but the high school and middle school are already back) but yeah, it’s definitely interesting!

      Atomic Habits is really great for giving you a starting point and figuring out a plan, so I’d definitely recommend it if you don’t even know where to begin fixing your habits 😉 The Naked Roommate is pretty (American) college-specific, but I imagine it could probably make for interesting reading anyway haha

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I want to read the bujo book. To help me figure out how best to set it up for me (instead of watching all the amazing aesthetically pleasing youtube tutorials)!!
    Books that I always read for school were more study guides and cliffnotes, plus all the required reading. Except when I was doing journalism because I hated reading the news. I tried to teach myself to keep on top of world events for ‘trivia’ reasons, but it was so exhausting trying to keep on top of so many things!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel the same way about the news – it’s always changing and there’s always so much going on, so despite my attempts to be more sociopolitically aware I don’t always muster the time / energy to keep up 😅

      the Bullet Journal Method (and Ryder’s website) are definitely great resources for creating a functional system, rather than an artsy one! the book wasn’t out yet when I started my first bujo, but I went off his website rather than Pinterest and I think that really helped me stick with it! and of course, once you’re in the habit of using it consistently, it’s much easier to add colors and doodles every now and then 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. yesssssss back to school stationery shopping and planning is the best! I have so many fond memories of browsing Target sales with my mom and brother even though she’d refuse to buy anything we already had at home … which was a lot because my dad is a stationery hoarder 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been in school for a month now already, but the back to school vibes hit me after every weekend 😛 I don’t usually read nonfiction about education. But one of the ones that motivated me when I was enjoying school back in secondary was I Am Malala. It showed me how blessed I was to have the education opportunities I had and have!!

    Liked by 1 person

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