5 Must-Read Books for Your Summer Reading List

By IvyWise on Friday, July 10, 2020

Great Books for Students Looking to Expand Their Outside Reading Lists

Whether it’s bringing your books to the beach or curling up with your Kindle at home, every student should include independent reading on their agenda this summer. In addition to getting lost in a good story, reading can help students stay academically engaged and better prepared for coursework in the fall. 

A summer reading list is an excellent way to diversify the books you’re consuming and broaden your literary tastes. From memoirs to non-fiction, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite books for students to add to their checklist this summer. 

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

This text is a must-read for science lovers and history buffs alike. Mukherjee, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, draws on his knowledge to describe the history of a scientific idea. Throughout the book, the story of Mukherjee’s own family is woven in, including a reminder that the science of genetics is not confined to the laboratory but rather relevant to everyday lives. From Gregor Mendel to Charles Darwin to James Watson and Rosalind Franklin, The Gene also traces the scientists and innovators who have shaped today’s understanding of the code of codes. 

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West is the perfect choice for students eager to think big. The novel is set against the backdrop of migrant lives and tells the story of Nadia and Saeed, two people who make a connection in night school and fall in love. As war breaks out throughout their city, they soon find themselves passing through secret doors. Exit West explores what it feels like to be uprooted and forced to “exit” your home to face the unknown. The novel was also recently selected as the University of California, Berkeley’s featured text for On the Same Page 2020, a program designed to spark conversation amongst new students around a chosen book. 

Continental Divide by Alex Myers

This novel tells the story of Ron, a Harvard student who has recently come out as transgender, and his journey out West to break his familiar connections and establish himself in a new world. The novel incorporates adventure, including romance, danger, and new friendships, as well as anecdotes that are both exhilarating and humbling. Ultimately Continental Divide is a coming of age story in which the protagonist must find the right place within himself to search for truth, happiness, and a sense of belonging. 

The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate by Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees is captivating for all readers but likely to be of particular interest to those with a passion for the environment. The book captures Wohlleben’s approach to forestry, especially his enduring interest in identifying and tracing the interconnectedness of the disparate living beings of the Black Forest in Germany. The text includes a discussion of how non-human beings are affected by both long and short term ecological challenges and offers a new way to think about the consequences of California wildfires and the impact of climate change at large. 

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

In his compelling memoir, Laymon tells the story of his early experiences in Jackson, Mississippi, his suspension from college, and his journey to New York. By attempting to name the secrets and lies he and his mother spent much of their lives avoiding, Laymon asks himself and his readers to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free. 

In addition to staying sharp over the summer, regular reading can help students refine their own writing skills and prepare to draft college application essays. If you are in the midst of your own search process and looking for expert guidance, our team of college admissions counselors can offer personalized insight. 

Related Topics
Outside Reading, Summer Planning