World, they’re coming — IKEA flexible drawer organizers in hand, shrink-wrapped mattress pads warming their cars’ front seat, and a grotesque amount of SpaghettiOs packed for late-night munchies. As we speak, a new crop of high school graduates are preparing for college. We remember that time well: somehow, in only a few weeks, our bedroom became a stockpile of college “necessities” brought round by well-meaning relatives, neighbors, and family friends. While we didn’t use the towel organizer our uncle swore would be life-saving, we found that a good book, not assigned by a professor, could be a life saver. Inspired by GOOD’s post on books to give college graduates, we’ve compiled our own checklist of books every college-bound student should read before leaving home for the first time. Check out our picks after the jump and be sure to add to our list in the comments.
Betting on the Muse by Charles Bukowski
Any one of Bukowski’s poetry collections would make for the perfect congratulatory gift, especially when the recipient is high-school-aged — the poet and author is known for brash, fearless writing and taboo subjects. Betting on the Muse, a posthumous collection, exhibits Bukowski’s range — some of the pieces are riotous, others darkly misanthropic, yet all are painfully honest. What made us choose this one in particular is “The Laughing Heart,” a poem that is quiet, inspirational, and unusually celebratory for Bukowski. It contains a lesson that everyone should learn: “your life is your life./ know it while you have it./you are marvelous/the gods wait to delight/in you.”