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Many will agree that one of the worst parts about college is that there is very little time for leisure reading. Between several problem sets, various essays, and hundreds of pages of reading, it’s hard to make extra time to fit in a book “just for fun.” Summer is the perfect time of the year to compensate for all those lost pages! Grab a nice spot on the beach or relax from all the school year stress and dig into your summer reading list. If you don’t have one yet, the TP staff has you covered with some of our favorite reads and tips to build your own fabulous list.

Quick tips on creating a great list

  • Look at your syllabus: While there might be some books on your syllabi that you hate and want to throw into the deepest pits of the academic abyss, if you found one that caught your eye but you never had the chance to really read in depth, consider picking it up again. Or if you really enjoyed an article, excerpt, or book, read other pieces written by that author!
  • Ask your favorite professor: If you’re tight with your professor and you loved taking a course with them, ask them for some of their favorite reading recommendations. Professors generally love talking about books and will have a wealth of great recommendations for you.
  • Hit up your local book club (or a group message with your friends): Make a blast announcement asking friends if they have any books they loved or want to read. Book clubs sound nerdy but it really helps make reading a book an enjoyable and collective experience.
  • Search for key topics: If you’re into war novels, google “best war novels of 2015” or whatever subject floats your boat. There’s generally an internet community out there for every type of genre under the sun.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Dessen always makes for a light, breezy read, but still manages to pack powerful messages.

“Sarah Dessen is known for her YA books filled with powerful girls that must tackle tough situations. Her latest novel deals with Sydney, a girl used to be invisible to her family due to her older brother. After an accident, her brother winds up in prison and Sydney finds herself finally being seen (with a lot of complications). I love this book because of the unique characters. The story just gets you hooked right away. I read it in only one sitting so it’s just the perfect light read for summer.” Recommended by Rachel Geiger

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Some call this one a modern classic.

“Insightful, cutting, and utterly relevant, Americanah follows Ifemelu, a Nigerian-born woman who immigrates to the United States for college. If you’re looking for a novel that tackles race, class, gender, and nationality with clarity and wit, this isn’t a bad place to start. Also, Adichie is a MacArthur fellow, so that’s pretty cool.” Recommended by Adam Vincent

“It’s a fantastic exploration of race in both America and England and does a great job comparing the perspectives of African and African American persons. The characters feel very real, the plot is incredibly engaging, and the themes are very relevant to every background.” Recommended by Jackson Ingram

The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner

A great one for all you education buffs out there. (If you’re a TP regular, that probably means you.)

“In The Global Achievement Gap, education expert Tony Wagner situates our school problems in the larger context of the demands of the global knowledge economy. With insights gained from visits to classrooms in leading suburban schools, he analyzes performance by considering the skills needed to get a good job and become a productive citizen. Highlighting discussions with young people and the adults who work with them, Wagner also explains the ways in which today’s generation is differently motivated to excel. A manifesto for the twenty-first century, The Global Achievement Gap is a must-listen for anyone interested in seeing our young people achieve their full potential.” Summary from Amazon, Recommended by Yong Dich

The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being by William Davies

“William Davies does a lot in this new nonfiction piece. Giving a brief history of utilitarian conceptions of happiness, followed by a critique of corporate capitalism not easily ignored, Davies examines consumer culture, business practices, and the new obsession with mindfulness and quantifying happiness, forcing us to question our immediate role and purpose in the world economy as well as our own personal lives.” Recommended by Eric Aldieri

The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement by David Graeber

Calling all self-proclaimed anarchists!

“David Graeber, an acclaimed activist and anarchist, gives us a look into the tactics and developments of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Delving into anarchist principles, tips for grassroots organization and protest, and the history of democracy as we know it, Graeber forces us to reconsider what it means to be a part of a democracy – and makes the word anarchism seem surprisingly appealing.” Recommended by Eric Aldieri

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Another read written by Adichie that’s just as compelling.

“I read a book titled Purple Hibiscus during my senior year in high school and absolutely loved it! The reason why I loved it is because PH is a coming-of-age book that chronicles the story of main protagonist Kambili who finds her voice despite all the trials and tribulations that come her way (such as her father beating her up for not being perfect in his eyes).” Recommended by Hanna Kang

The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

One of Gladwell’s most popular works and the source of the “10,000-hour rule.”

“Get ready to view this world in a whole, new, different way. Think that success is determined by hard work? Think that education is a privilege? Read this book and find just out. This book literally opened up my eyes to the possibility that everything we may think of in this world is not actually true. Well, it is true, but, the way we believe it is true may not be completely right. Read this and find out for yourself! I can guarantee you’ll love it!” Recommended by Sohil Shah



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the author

Jilliann Pak hails from the suburbs of SoCal but is currently attending school across the coast at Johns Hopkins University. When she’s not complaining about the cold weather or sleeping in the library, she’s probably eating, cuddled up into a blanket burrito, or watching Parks and Recreation, preferably all at once.

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