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30 Books to Read This Summer Before You Go Off to College

June 08, 2016 - Posted toStudying

Content 30 books to read this summer before you go off to college

Reading is probably not going to be your favorite thing to do the summer between high school graduation and the start of college. It’s time to relax and to do things that have nothing to do with academics or study. That’s understandable, but between the parties, the swimming, and the shopping for next year, take some time out to read. This list of 30 books is not meant to overwhelm you – these are just books that cover a huge variety of topics, make you a more learned college student, and will give you important insights into yourself and life in general.

Certainly you will not read all 30 before you go to college, but this list will have some topics that will spark your interest. Pick those the pique your curiosity first, and read a few. Keep the list, because as you go through the next four years, you will find other titles that will be truly relevant.

1. Who Ate My Cheese? By Steven Lundin

Labor and job forecasters are telling us that young people who are beginning their careers right now will probably change those careers a minimum of four times during their work lives. This is because change is occurring at a pace that will make careers obsolete. Lundin uses a parable about mice to explain how young people will have to learn how to identify coming changes, prepare for them, and learn to adapt quickly. Success and happiness will depend on these skills.

2. The Butterfly Effect By Andy Andrews

Everything you do matters. You will touch lives and impact them in ways you may never know. Butterflies, in flapping their wings, move molecules of air. These molecules move other molecules and so forth until entire weather systems result. Every life we touch touches another and so on. Be certain you touch lives with good. Ultimately, you can ask yourself “What if I had never been born?” Many lives would not have been as good.

3. 7 Habits of Highly Successful People  By Steven Covey

Here is a practical, insightful book about a facet of our personality that determines our success in both personal and professional lives. If we are interdependent, as opposed to dependent or independent, then we will collaborate with others and achieve great things.

4. The Power of Habit  By Charles Duhigg

Do you have any bad habits? Did you know that about 40% of what you do is based on habits you have formed? Duhigg teamed ups with neurologists for an interesting study on how the brain develops habits and how they are broken. Practical advice on how to all of your bad habits by just breaking one. This is a short read, and pretty eye-opening.

5. The Happiness Project   By Gretchen Rubin

Great advice all in a story format, and Rubin is a great storyteller. She has isolated sub-categories of happiness and studied each one over a year – one a month. Her insights into what really constitutes happiness will inspire you. Hint: A lot of it is finding the right balance.

6. Search Inside Yourself  By Chade-Meng Tan

Tan began as a software engineer for Google but is not a personal growth coach for that same company. The focus of his book is emotional intelligence, how you get it, and why it is responsible for your productivity, health, and peace.

7. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff  By Richard Carlson

If what you are worrying about right now will not matter five years from now, then it is part of that huge body of circumstances and events that can be termed “small stuff.” This book was published a number of years ago but it is totally relevant today. It’s short and will give you all sorts of practical ways for living in the now and focusing on the things that really matter.

8. Loveability: Knowing How to Love and Be Loved   By Richard Holden, Ph.D.

Love can be personal between two people or it can be universal – the common glue for the entire human race. Holden explores love at all levels, and his insights are spot on. This is a short read but a book you will want to keep – many lessons for us all.

9. The 52 Weeks: Two Women and their Quest to Get Unstuck  By Karen Young & Pam Godwin

Parts of this book are really “laugh out loud” stories. Two women decide to have a new adventure each week to get out of their ruts. The results are pretty amazing and certainly insightful. You will understand the importance of lifelong learning after the read. Great short book.

10. Prisons We Choose to Live Inside  By Doris Lessing

Lessing could be a professional paper writer, and in many ways she is. This is a book of short works, based on lectures she has given about how we are so controlled by the social mores of our affiliations – church, political parties, neighborhoods, schools, etc. We define good and bad by these influences, and this is what creates inequality, and condemnation of others. Everyone must read this book and gain some insights on how and why they label others and treat them badly.

11. The Myth of More  By Joseph Novello

Our problem, says Novello, is that we have come to associate happiness with pleasure – cars, homes, etc. – and for this reason we are never happy. Happiness comes with accepting yourself as who you are right now and shedding those “traps” that you grew up with. This book is anything but dry – it is filled with great stories.

12. The DNA of Success  By Jack Zufelt

This is a practical guide abut identifying what you really want and then going after it, step-by-step. Another book you need to keep with you for many years to come. Lot of success stories, even some of celebrities with high degrees who had difficulties understanding that, like that famous saying goes, “Success is an inside job.”

13. The Automatic Millionaire  By David Bach

You may want to skim this one over the summer, but hold onto it much longer. Here are very practical things you can do, most of them automatic, which will turn you into a millionaire by middle age. Stop with the needless frivolous expenses now and get yourself in the habit of saving instead, no matter how little. That habit will pay off big time. Lots of practical advice.

14. Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics  By Steven Dubner and Steven Levitt

If you really want some nuts and bolts understanding of some of the economic conditions we have today, here are simple, of-the-wall explanations that make sense. You will discover why drug dealers still live at home with their mothers and what the KKK and real estate agents have in common. A must read, and pretty fascinating.

15. Cosmos  - Neil DeGrasse Tyson

This is not a book but a video series. Anyone who has not yet seen this series must before leaving for college. The origins and development of the Universe is explained in lay terms but in a way that is engaging and fascinating. You will understand the magnificence of where you reside within the Cosmos.

16. A Short History of Everything  By Bill Bryson

Not to belabor science, but here is a great book that puts all of those science experiments you did in middle and high school into the grand scheme of how the world of science works. Even if you dis-like science, you will love this book and may change your mind.

17. The Invisible Man  By Ralph Ellison

This is an old book, written before the post-racial period we are supposed to be in today. It is a story of a Black man living in a storm sewer because he cannot deal with society – black or white. While set in the 1950’s, you will pause and wonder if we have really come as far as we claim.

18. Consider the Lobsters  By David Wallace

Here is another series of essays that captures Americana perfectly. You will laugh, cry, get angry, and become hopeful, but, more important, take a serious look at yourself and your perspective of reality. The little truths you walk away with will serve you well over the next four years and beyond.

19. The Fault in Our Stars  By John Green

Two 18-years olds have cancer, and against this plot are poised the issues that all young people deal with today – following your dreams though the path is rough, remaining true to yourself, finding gratitude even in the small things, and more. This is one of the most inspirational books you will read.

20. Man’s Search for Meaning  By Viktor Frankl

Holocaust survivor Frankl describes his life in a Nazi prison camp and why he thinks he survived. Above all, the lesson he has for readers is that we all must find beauty in even the most horrific of circumstances, and in being able to do that, we will triumph. You will be amazed by this man’s story.

21. Long Walk to Freedom  By Nelson Mandela

This is the Mandela that is not covered in history books – the man who spent 27 years in a South African prison to prove a point. There is nothing boring about this book, to be sure. Mandela can teach us all lessons about passion and purpose, and the worthiness of a right and proper cause.

22. What’s Holding You Back?  By Sam Horn

While you may not be keen on the self-help section of your local book store, here is one on the shelves you should grab. There are 30 lessons (one a day for a month) that will make you a more powerful person and in a good way. Read only one lesson a day and then go practice it. A good read and full of great tips. Never feel self-conscious in social situations again.

23. Up Country  By Nelson DeMille

You’re old enough now for the language and the sex. Here is page turner of a novel about a Vietnam vet who returns to that country to solve the death of a fellow soldier way back when. The Vietnam War is only a section in your history book. It will never be again after this book.

24. The Happiness of Pursuit  By Chris Gillebean

It’s all about the quest, not the arrival. While Gillebean’s quests are ones most of us will never take, the point is we all need to be “questers” in our own lives. The book is divided into chapters of questers from all walks of life, and their joy in the pursuit.

25. Awaken the Giant Within  By Anthony Robbins

Sometimes it’s the little things that count, like the vocabulary you choose to use in various social situations. Every day we make decisions about how we will interact with others, and those decisions form impressions. Here are a set of challenges of you to take control and gain self-confidence.

26. Freedom   By Johnathan Franzen

Love and friendship on a college campus. This is the story of a love triangle and the three people in it who struggle to hammer out their relationships. The message? Probably that friendship matter above all else. Don’t think this is just “chick fiction.” It has messages and insights for both sexes.

27. You Can Win  By Shiv Khera

Here is the message from the author: “Winners don’t do different things; they do things differently.” And according to Khera, it’s all about doing things that are right but also for the right reasons. This is a book of stories, each one making a great point about character.

28. Unleash the Warrior Within  By Richard Machowicz

Machowicz has translated his life as a Navy SEAL into practical advice for others, and taking this advice can mean success as you enter college life. He compares war on the battlefield with war in life – it takes knowledge, the right attitude and commitment. There are great stories here that will demonstrate his lessons.

29. The Complete Guide to Personal Finance for Teens and College Students  By Tamsen Butler

This one comes online or in a CD version. Get it. You will use it throughout the next four years, but listen to it now so that you can understand the money pitfalls you want to avoid next year. While you may have had a person finance course in high school, this piece is focused on how to establish your college budget, differences between needs and wants, how to establish credit and be responsible about it. Lots of practical advice and tips.

30. The Art of Happiness  By Dalai Lama

Unless you took a high school course in comparative religions or cultures of the Far East, you probably know very little about the Dalai Lama. He is not a monk who spends his life in quiet isolation. He is a major world figure who is very focused on the real world and its issues. When you are having the worst week ever, the advice you will get from this book will get your through it.


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