Claire McGowan.

Starting university is a massive step, and no doubt, nerve wrecking. Recently, I’ve read books and thought about how much I would love to have read these before I started university myself, and convince myself everything would be ok. So I thought I would do a post for anyone who’s a little nervous to be on this new journey.

1) Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell.

‘In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you.’

Cath and Wren are twins, and have been huge Simon Snow fans for what seems like forever, and Cath in particular is great at being a fan. But when they both move away to start to college, Wren decides she doesn’t want to be roommates with Cath, which puts Cath completely outside of her comfort zone. She is left with a roommate and a boy who is constantly round the flat, and if that wasn’t bad enough, she has to start writing her ‘own’ stories.

I really wish I had read this before university, this book sums up exactly how I felt before and even during the beginning of university. Cath is portrayed as being highly anxious in new situations she hasn’t had to face without Wren, even going to the canteen seems like a big deal for her. I remember finding it a big deal going into new buildings and trying to figure things out on my own was pretty scary, and talking to new people seemed overwhelming. But I think I simply adore this book, because I relate to it so much, and I’m sure so many others feel the same way.


2) Coraline – Neil Gaiman

‘Because’ she said, ‘when you’re scared, but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.’

When Coraline has moved house, she finds a mysterious door, which at first is layered with bricks. But one night, she discovers it is a passageway to another world, one almost exactly like hers, except she has an ‘other mother’ and ‘other father’ who have buttons for eyes. Everything seems better in this world, until she discovers that they want to keep her forever, and sew buttons into her eyes, she realises the danger she is in, and has to sort everything before it is too late.


The quote above sums things up for me. University can be terrifying if you are new to trying things for the first time. University means getting used to a new way of life, coping with doing things on your own, and when Coraline has to rescue her family and the ghost children, she has to get used to accepting help from a cat and doing things by herself. University is scary, but I found it is honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done and it is something you have to make the most of.

CAROLINE 23) The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

‘If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.’

Bod has lived in the graveyard since his family were murdered. Being raised and educated by ghost’s means he has no knowledge of the outside world except that it is dangerous. But as Bod grows older, he is more curious, and the more curious he becomes, the more he finds out about the real reasons why he was never supposed to leave.

I suppose I love this for two reasons, 1, because of the literary references, such as Hero and Leander (literature student) and 2, because the moral is similar to Coraline. (Spoiler alerts) – When Bod discovers who murdered his family, he has to battle them alone and in the end, has to face the world on his own, a new place which he hasn’t had the chance to explore properly. It reminds me of being to open days at university, but still having the fear of getting lost in a new place. I love this book, it seems the moral is to seize an opportunity when you can.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK4) The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

‘Her only friends on the estate were books, and books can talk but not listen.’

Holly Sykes is trying to prove she can handle the world on her own by moving in with her ‘boyfriend.’ But when she finds him cheating on her with her best friend, she is distraught. Her only option is to go back home, but she is determined, and forces herself to not give in so goes with the only other alternative she has – running away. Along the way, she is pushing herself into new things, like handling money on a budget, getting a job. The only thing is, she is no ordinary teenage runaway, she was once a sensitive child and contacted by ‘the radio people’ and as she goes further into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality.

Within the first few pages I liked this book (as well as it being a book with a pretty front cover), there is something that reminds me of how it first was trying to live on a budget, meeting new people, getting to new places and being placed in new situations. It is worth a read, even if it is a little complicated to understand.

THE BONE CLOCKS5) The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

‘Enjoy it. Because it is happening.’

Whilst Charlie isn’t the biggest geek in school, he’s not popular. He is caught between trying to live his life but also run from it, but when he meets Patrick and Sam, his life is changed. Suddenly he’s navigating through uncharted territory, like first dates and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Whilst he has troubling issues to deal with, he learns that finding himself with people who understand him, helps him get through his problems.

I love this book, it reminds me of what it was like trying to find people on my course and who related to the same things as I did. As terrifying as it can be, Charlie in the book takes a chance to make himself known in small ways, and I felt like this is how I did things regarding university. That’s ok, going to university itself is one big challenge, so taking your time to figure things out at university is absolutely fine.

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER6) Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

‘Life is the most spectacular show on Earth.’

Jacob is orphaned and penniless, and so takes a wild chance, and jumps a freight train in the dark transforming his life forever. He lands a job with the ‘Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers’ most spectacular show on earth, but by night he’s falling in love. Having no experience with working in a circus, Jacob finds himself with new challenges and dealing with threats to his job within the circus.

This sums up university for me in so many ways. The idea of taking a chance and trying something new, meeting new people, new challenges (cooking for yourself, washing, getting organised) and dealing with everyday situations is all part of university and finding yourself.