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How to Survive Your Summer Reading List

 In Articles, Essay

With school letting out for the summer, every student is entitled to a break from schoolwork.  Enjoy your free time, but remember that you most likely have some summer reading to do, too. Summer reading is a great opportunity to read a book you may not have otherwise picked up.  Rather than seeing it as an obligation, think of it as an opportunity to keep exploring!

Here are some tips to making the most of your summer reading list:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute!  Spread the reading out over the summer.  Last-minute “cramming” is one of the best ways to ensure that you a) won’t like the book, and b) won’t get anything out of it, because you won’t have time to reflect on what you just read.
  • Stay positive, and keep an open mind about what you’re reading.  If you read a book you don’t like, try to figure out why this book was chosen in the first place.  Your teachers aren’t trying to torture you with bad books, so surely there must have been something about the books on your list that make them worthwhile.  Try to determine what those “somethings” are, even if you don’t like the books!  If you really do encounter a stinker, try to determine why you don’t like it.  Calling a book “bad” isn’t good enough.  What made it bad?  Why didn’t you respond to it?  How will this reading experience influence your future reading?
  • Try to have fun with it.  Form a “book club” or reading group with a group of your friends from school.  It’s a good way to stay connected over the summer and get more out of your reading.
  • Ask for help.  Lots of students randomly pick books from their lists based on the title or synopsis.  The best way to ensure that you’ll get something out of a book is to like what you’re reading.  If you’re unfamiliar with books on your list, ask a librarian or bookseller for recommendations or check out online reviews.

Want to create your own summer reading list?  Here are some suggestions:

Books in a Series

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling (to be released on July 31st) – This is described as “the official rehearsal editions script” of the upcoming stage play. But hey – Harry’s back, and that’s good enough for me.
  • The Last Star (The 5th Wave, # 3) by Rick Yancey – The final book in post-apocalyptic “aliens have taken over Earth and are now hunting everyone down” 5th Wave series. Don’t be fooled by the forgettable “5th Wave” film that came out earlier this year – this series is good, and this final installment should be fun.
  • The City of Mirrors (The Passage, #3) by Justin Cronin – Another final installment in a post-apocalyptic trilogy. But this one’s about vampires instead of aliens, so OK.  Fans of the first two books surely know they are in for some work – this recently-released book clocks in at 624 pages.  But if the past two are any judge, all that reading will be well-worth the investment.
  • The Magicians (The Magicians, #1) by Lev Grossman – It’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe meets Harry Potter, but with more mature subject matter. The SyFy Channel recently released a not terrible reimagining of these books as a television series.


  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – an awesome futuristic tale set in a world where most people spend their time plugged into a virtual reality game called OASIS. When a kid named Wade stumbles upon the mystery of OASIS, he finds himself under siege by dark elements who are willing to kill him and his friends in order to protect their secret.  It might be set in 2044, but this book is chock-full of 80s pop culture and video game references.  Word is that Stephen Spielberg will be directing the film version of the book!
  • Room by Emma Donaghue – A haunting story about five year-old Jack, who has spent his entire life locked in a small room. The only other people Jack has ever known are his Ma, who is also imprisoned with him, and, Old Nick, the mysterious man who has held them captive there all these years, and who occasionally pays visits to Jack’s Ma.  To Jack, no world exists outside of the Room, at least until he is forced to try to escape in an attempt to save his and his Ma’s lives.
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King – A time-traveling teacher tries to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President Kennedy. That description sounds hokey, but in the hands of Stephen King it most assuredly is not.  This is King’s finest work in years.
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby – Told from alternating viewpoints, Bone Gap perfectly melds elements of fairy tales, myths, gothic romance, and magic realism into the story of Finn, who lives in a town with gaps in the very fabric of time and place. Winner of the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award for best Young Adult Fiction of the year.


  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin – It’s a Presidential election year (haven’t you heard?), and what better way to celebrate than with one of the finest Presidential biographies ever written about one of our finest Presidents. Goodwin’s account of Lincoln’s rise from backwoods lawyer all the way to the White House during a time of national crisis makes for a great read, and quite possibly will leave you shaking your head at the political antics playing our before our eyes these days.
  • Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsburg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin – Sheinkin has a knack for breathing life into seemingly dull characters and events from American history (check out his The Notorious Benedict Arnold for a great example of this). In Most Dangerous, Sheinkin tackles the Pentagon Papers, a 7,000 page collection of papers detailing the secret history of the Vietnam War.

Do you have suggestions of your own? Please feel free to let us know in the comments. Happy Reading!

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