Top Choices for Independent Reading Over the Holidays
While it may be tempting to go totally on auto-pilot during the holidays, students should stay focused and mentally engaged in order to streamline the transition back to school. Independent reading is a simple and fun way to stay academically sharp over the break and to work on expanding your literary horizons.
From fiction to thought-provoking real-life stories, there are a multitude of great books out there that will appeal to every type of reader. Keep reading for some of our top choices, many of which have appeared on required reading lists at top colleges in years past.
Daughter of Fortune by Isabelle Allende
This novel was selected as part of the University of California-Berkeley’s top choices for incoming students – and with good reason. The story’s main character travels from Chile to California during the Gold Rush and embarks on a personal journey towards self-discovery. In addition to great writing, the story treats readers to an in-depth view of a defining moment in California’s history.
Educated by Tara Westover
This memoir focuses on the life of a young woman who grows up in a community that is very secluded and closed off from society. It covers her experience of going to college and stepping outside of her boundaries. This tale can be particularly relatable for many high school students who are preparing to take their own next steps and branch outside of the communities they have grown up in.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give was required reading at Texas Christian University and explores pressing social issues surrounding race and inequality. The story hinges around the shooting of a black high school student and explores how the community changes and reacts in the wake of this tragedy.
HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen
Another thought-provoking, non-fiction read, Strossen’s book was a reading choice for incoming freshman students at Washington University in St. Louis. The book explores the idea of hate speech and what would happen if it was met with more powerful speech condemning it as opposed to censorship. The university selected the text because it will “…introduce students to the spirit of inquiry and debate that is integral to the Washington University academic community.”
Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation by John Freeman
This book is compromised of pieces by 36 contemporary writers, all of whom explore life in a deeply divided country. Authors include Joyce Carol Oates, Hector Tobar, Karen Russell, Ann Patchett, and Roxanne Gay. All of the writers are invited to look beyond the numbers and the wage gaps and convey, from their own unique perspective, what it is like to live in this divided nation.
An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and An Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn
An Odyssey straddles at least four genres, according to a New York Times review, which dubs it a classroom drama, travel writing, a biographical memoir, and a work of literary criticism. The book explores the relationship of a father and a son throughout a college course about the original epic. The story was shortlisted for several awards, including the London Hellenic Prize in 2017.
Students who stick to a reading schedule throughout the winter break are likely to return to their classes feeling refreshed and ready to conquer new assignments and challenges. If you are looking for additional academic support and personalized guidance throughout the school break and beyond, our team of experts can help you reach your goals.