Survival Guide: Some Recommended Reading for Incoming Freshmen Boys by Jake Meyer, ’08


It’s that time again. Bucknell is starting to flower[1] with new students who, by the time you’ve read this, have done at least one of the following things:

  1. Walked out the back door of the cafeteria and set off the alarm that I’m sure is ONLY active during the first two weeks of school.[2]
  2. Tried to hook up with a girl/guy they have no business trying to hook up with.
  3. Hooking up with a girl/guy they have no business hooking up with. [3]
  4. Looked at Natty Ice beer can and said, yes, this is something I can drink for four years.
  5. Go somewhere and read extremely publicly. Super extreme public reading bro. Everyone can see that copy of the Metamorphosis, and guess what they’re ALSO going to pretend they liked that book, no matter how shitty it actually is.

I can’t really help you with the first four but I’d like offer some reading advice. Nothing fancy, just a few books that you absolutely, positively need to read to survive those first weeks. Within a month, you’ll know if Bucknell is for you or not. It’s kind of like eating Horseradish: you love it or you’re gagging[4]. So prepare yourself mentally to love fall in Pennsylvania, to see more pearls before 9AM than is probably healthy, and at some point commit to the fact that everyone is weirdly good-looking[5].

So without much further ado, here is my recommended reading list:

1. I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe allegedly based some of his highly stylized and sexualized rendition of college life on Bucknell. I will say that it covers some things pretty accurately, but I think it’s much closer to the college experience you tell your friends about as opposed to what actually happened. This “sex everywhere, drugs everywhere, study when its convenient” is exactly what everyone hopes/fears that college will be like. Its an awesome mental preparation for the over the top parties you will find at Bucknell…

That being said, Incoming Freshmen, my advice to you is to be completely undeterred by the fact that you’re not on any frat party lists. Trying to sneak into parties is a time honored tradition at Bucknell[6].

2. The Pick-Up Artist by Neil Strauss

I realize that Neil Strauss’ tome on the art of seduction is a pretty salient choice. But I think its pretty vital for most people to read it, think about it, and then decide “do I want to be the kind of douchebag who only cares about picking up girls” early in their college career. It’s a totally reasonable decision to make and it candidly saves you a lot of time and waffling on majors. If the answer to your question is yes, apply early to the Management school. If no, can I recommend English as a focus[7]?

3. David Rakoff’s gamebreaker[8] of poem “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace”

I don’t have a really snarky, funny, or insightful comment to go with this. It’s just awesome and sad and makes you want to give everyone a high five while staring into their eyes. Quick excerpt:

“We’re creatures of contact, regardless of whether

we kiss or we wound. Still, we must come together.

Though it may spell destruction, we still ask for more —

since it beats staying dry but so lonely on shore.”

I know, right? As DJ Cucumber slice would say “Its off the meat rack-azoni”[9]

So essentially these three choices are the books that you will need to survive Bucknell. Not “The Wasteland,” and certainly not a textbook you would buy at the BU bookstore (and at those prices!).

To put it simply, there will be a point in your four years where you will want to find love and will not find love. You will turn to a forced, mechanical social process – be it a blind date or a Lil John song – and you will feel like you need to know the rules, or that everyone but you knows them. That is when you will read The Pick-Up Artist and it won’t help you, but you will try again.

There will be a night that you are searching for the party that you had heard about, where there is distant music in the background. Before you spend the rest of the night searching for it, remember Charlotte Simmons and go back to your friends.

And finally, there will be one person who you will love and who will not love you back. Read David Rakoff and remember that love is not a game for the timid.

Safe Travels, class of 2016.

[1] Do I understand the sexual nature of  that phrase? I mean, yeah.

[2] WHY IS THAT ALARM THERE? What happens on that patio that is so sacred, so divine, no freshman feet may trod upon it.

[3] This is the worst possible thing that can happen to a young man at Bucknell. To quote John Cusack in High Fidelity “You need to bat your own weight.”

[4] Don’t you dare. Be decent.

[5] Everyone at Bucknell is so good looking, it is literally jarring to leave campus and be surrounded by average people.

[6]  My favorite story about this is when some kid named Nate put on UnderArmour and covered his upper body in Vaseline. He showed up to the front door and asked to be admitted, was told he couldn’t, and then proceeded to run around the frat – no one could get a hold of his slippery arms to kick him out and so he was allowed to stay

[7] If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: the myth of taking English to meet girls is the worst trick our parents ever played on us. The girls in those classes are focused on their work and their boyfriends.

[8] NBA STREET REFERENCE!!! That video game was 72% of my childhood

[9] NBA STREET REFERENCE!! Oh man. Its so good. It tastes so good on your lips


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