Must-Reads for PhD students

“What’s that?” you say, from beneath an ever-growing pile of papers and hardback books, “you want me to read even more things? Please get the f- out of the imaginary room that this hypothetical conversation is happening in”. Reading more after a long day of studying might be the last thing you want to do, but there are life-changing books out there that will help you study smarter, learn about yourself and prepare you for the world outside of the lecture theatre. Here are some of them.

The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides Apart from lit students, fiction is probably the most neglected genre by PhD students, and that’s a great shame, as there are a wealth of great novels that can really speak to any students. Most recent of these is ‘The Marriage Plot’, the latest novel from Pullitzer-winning Jeffrey Eugenides. Concerning the pre-and-post-graduation life of three US college students, it is one of the finest meditations of how we change through college and how it affects us once we graduate ever written.

PhD Comics Although available in book form and in syndication in over 50 university papers, the best source of these short, cynically hilarious looks at the life of a PhD student is on their website. Updated regularly, they deal with the real minutiae of the experience, from the love-hate relationship between thesis and student to the often baffling feedback given by many supervisors. Be careful as you can lose entire days to the website, but if you need a place where your frustrations are vented, it’s perfect.

The British Museum is Falling Down - David Lodge Another novel, this short comic book details that typical struggle of the PhD student: trying to get any work done in a world of constant distractions. Lodge’s PhD student protagonist has to face issues both universal (constantly bumping into someone you know at the exact moment when you have the most work to do) and the more specific (trying to not get his wife pregnant again due to their Catholicism denying them the use of condoms), but is always a painful joy to read.

The Harvard Referencing Style Guide …or whatever referencing system your university uses. You might think you know how to reference reasonably well after half a decade or more of university education, but a read of the style guide may surprise you, and give you the key to boost your work from good to great. It may even make you more adventurous with the types of media you reference, and take your thesis in entirely exciting and new directions.

The Blog Aha! I see you’re already making headway on this one. It might seem like shameless self-promotion, but the fact is that we are constantly providing tips, advice and support for PhD students right here on this very blog. If you are ever unsure of anything whilst working on your PhD, be it academic or personal, make your first stop your academic tutor and your second , where you are bound to find advice to help you get through your difficulties written by people going through exactly the same degree-based trials and tribulations.

Leave a comment

All contributors must be over 16 year olds

By submitting your comment you agree to our privacy policy.

Register with

  • Exclusive bursaries
  • Open day alerts
  • Latest PG news
Register Now!