6 College-Curated Books for Winter Break Outside Reading
Winter break is approaching, and instead of spending the entire break binge watching your favorite shows, consider stepping away from the screen for a bit and picking up a few books. Not only will winter break outside reading help you stay sharp during your vacation, it can also help prepare you for college coursework, which is often literature-heavy.
Outside reading is an important component of the college prep process and is encouraged for students in all stages of the college admissions process. Outside reading can help students better explore their interests and can also help boost students’ writing skills, which is critical for college application essays. To make the most of your time, strive to choose challenging books that will inspire you to think deeply and reconsider the world around you.
Not sure where to start? Our newest book list includes a diverse array of choices that were once required reading at various colleges across the country. Here are some university-approved picks that are as intriguing as they are thought provoking.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
These Pulitzer Prize-winning novel centers on a monk who witnesses the collapse of a bridge in Peru and the personal and emotional journey he undergoes as a result. The text explores universal themes such as the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition, all seamlessly woven into a captivating plot. The Bridge of San Luis Rey was also the single texted selected for the University of Pennsylvania’s 2018 Penn Reading Project.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
History buffs will love this poignant novel, which spans three centuries in Ghana and focuses on the Middle Passage and the generational trauma of slave trade. Connecticut College selected Homegoing as the school’s summer reading selection for 2017.
The Prince of Los Cocuyos by Richard Blanco
When Blanco read his poem “One Day” at Barack Obama’s second inauguration, he became not only the youngest inaugural poet, but also the first Latino, the first immigrant, and the first openly gay writer to achieve such a feat. His memoir explores his coming of age as the child of Cuban immigrants and his attempts to understand his place in America. The Prince of Los Cocuyos was selected for Duke’s Common Experience Summer Reading Program in 2017.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
This national bestseller takes place in the twelve days immediately surrounding the arrival of Hurricane Katrina and tells the story of four motherless children who are trying to protect their home and one another against unimaginable disruption. In 2017, Salvage the Bones was one of three books selected as required reading for incoming first-year students at Stanford University.
Popular: Finding Happiness and Success in a World That Cares Too Much About the Wrong Kinds of Relationships by Mitch Prinstein
Popular is a thought provoking read that explores why popularity plays such a key role in our development and ultimately how it still influences us as adults. The book is written by psychologist Mitch Prinstein, who serves as the Director of Clinical Psychology at UNC. The university selected Popular as its book choice for the Carolina Summer Reading Program in 2018.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Written as a letter to his son, Coates explores the idea of race in America. He paints vivid portraits of the people who shaped his life during his own coming of age and the experiences that have most defined him. The book sheds light on the harsh realities of American culture while remaining hopeful about our global future. Between the World and Me was recently selected as required reading for NYU freshmen.
Check out some of our past outside reading lists for some other suggestions this winter break!
- IvyWise Reading List
- 8 Reading Suggestions for High School Students
- Recommended Reading for High School Students
Whether you’re looking for a captivating plotline or a poignant memoir, the book choices above will help you stay engaged throughout winter break. If you’re looking for additional tips to prepare for university, our team is here to help. Our tutors and counselors can help students build strong study habits, find best-fit schools, and feel ready to conquer college.
Also, aim to stay on track with your college prep over the break by downloading our free College Planning Checklist!