Making the Most of Your Summer: 10 Must-Reads for Rising Seniors
Summer is the perfect time to give reading a second chance. Even if you’ve been overwhelmed by your high school reading requirements and swore you’d never read again, there’s something magical about getting engrossed in a new book. I promise.
Explore other worlds and perspectives while you’re sitting at the beach or by the pool. Challenge yourself to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for twenty minutes at a time, and before you know it you’ll have finished another book.
The best part? You won’t have any tests or summaries to write at the end of all this. Instead, you’ll be preparing yourself for the reading section in the ACT/SAT and even paving the way for a smoother college-level reading experience.
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” What better way to start your summer than with The Great Gatsby, one of the great classics. If you need extra motivation to read, reward yourself with watching the movie version after you’ve finished the novel.
2. 1984 by George Orwell
Although this book was published 70 years ago, it’s still being referenced and discussed today. Between the surveillance state and the telescreen, Louis Merland at The New Yorker notes, “There are some parts of the novel whose relevance seems never to fade.”
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The narrator, Holden Caulfield, is a 16 year old New Yorker who has been expelled from prep school and is tired of the “phoniness” of others. Holden “issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure,” as readers join him over the course of two days in New York. The Catcher in the Rye is a classic novel about teenage rebellion and angst.
4. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Written by 13 year old Anne Frank, this diary documents the personal growth of a young Anne Frank, taking place during the height of Nazi occupation. She shares her experiences over the course of two years, from hiding in the secret annex until her family was captured by the Nazis.
5. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
The Things They Carried tells the story of American soldiers in the Vietnam War. Tim O’Brien “blurs the lines between fact and fiction, then examines how and why he does just that. O'Brien challenges readers to ponder larger philosophical questions about truth and memory, and brings the reader closer to the emotional core of the men's experiences.”
6. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
It’s no secret: time passes quickly. The older you get, the faster it seems to go. Water for Elephants tells the story of a man from two different points in his life, young and old. With a lesson focused on seizing the day, Water for Elephants teaches us to “go after what we want, and be happy.”
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography of writer and poet Maya Angelou. A coming of age story and “one of the first books to honestly depict the experiences of a black woman growing up in the south,” this memoir depicts heavy issues centered on racism, rape, and identity while demonstrating Angelou’s strength.
8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A historical novel that takes place in 1939 Nazi Germany, The Book Thief centers on a young girl, her love of books, and the Jewish man her family hides in their basement.
9. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime." The Kite Runner tells the story of a young boy and his friendship with his father’s servant’s son during the “devastating history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years.”
10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle is the memoir of a woman from a nomadic, impoverished family. “Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.”
One Book is Better than None
Even if you just pick one book to read this summer, you’ll keep yourself in the practice of reading and help prepare yourself for senior year. The more you read, the more perspective you’ll bring to your senior year, your college essay, and beyond.