Some of the best summer books for students bound for college have nothing to do with academics. They range from survival guides to rites of passage.
And don’t worry, you won’t have to wade through “Moby Dick” — at least not according to this list!
1. “How to Survive Your Freshman Year: By Hundreds of College Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors Who Did”
The merits of packing this book into your suitcase when you head off to college are pretty self-evident. The best way for college-bound students to avoid their own mistakes in college is to learn from college students who have made those same mistakes in the past. From roommate issues to falling asleep in lectures, this book has you covered.
2. “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” – Alex Haley and Malcolm X
This book is an interesting summer read for college-bound students that gives an exciting overview of a critical point in US history. Malcolm X’s personal struggles to gain an education (and the regrets he expresses at never having gone to college) are also a good reminder of how lucky you are to be heading off to college this fall.
3. At Least One Shakespeare Play
A little high-brow reading the summer before your freshman year of college can’t hurt! If you’re a Shakespeare newbie, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Hamlet” are two of his top titles worth checking out.
Bored after the first few lines? Hook yourself up with a reader’s guide to accompany (not replace!) Shakespeare’s words – when you have an overview of what’s actually going down in each scene, it allows you to get into the language.
4. “Tuesdays with Morrie” – Mitch Albom
This top-notch book falls into the “rite of passage” category for students bound for college. Mitch Albom collects wisdom from a dying man and compiles the best of it into this slim little book that reminds you that the world stretches far beyond college. Warning: Tissues may be needed.
5. One Book of Poems
I hated poetry until I had that one college professor who managed to change my mind. Get a jump-start this summer and, even if you’re a proclaimed poetry hater, try to approach it anew with an open mind. Wisława Szymborska is at the top of the heap and offers uncomplicated and humorous takes on humanity. Ezra Pound is another one of the best and can be a mind-changer about poetry for even the most finicky of college-bound students.
6. “The Tipping Point” – Malcolm Gladwell
This entertaining, best-selling book on the way in which things in society become popular is definitely worth checking out the summer before you head into the trend-heavy college scene.
7. “To Kill a Mockingbird” – Harper Lee
If you somehow managed to make it through high school without reading this book, read it this summer. This southern coming-of-age novel is the perfect reminder of how important it can be to hang on to your child’s-eye-view of the world, even though you’re already old enough to be a college-bound student.
8. “The Brothers Karamazov” – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Of all the Russian “classics,” this one is (in my opinion) the best and has a little something for everyone. It’s also insanely long, so if you’re bound for an extended vacation this summer and don’t want to pack loads of books – just this one will do!
9. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” – Dr. Seuss
Odds are that somebody already gave you this top-selling book for your high school graduation. There have been many cynical rip-offs of Seuss’s classic since it came out – but this is a refreshing token against cynicism that all college-bound students should hang on to. It doesn’t mean you have to be naïve.
10. “Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years” – Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger
This last book on our list of top 10 summer reads is obviously more for the parents of college-bound students.
Worried about them smothering you or crumbling under the stress of empty nest syndrome? This experience is likely new and difficult for them too, so it’s best to try to be understanding of your parents.
Give them their own list of top books to read the summer before you head off to college — and make this the first one on the list.