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What Are You Reading?

One of our favorite things to ask students is what they are currently reading for pleasure. Too frequently the answer is nothing.

We’re big believers in developing healthy and consistent reading practices while in high school. Frequent reading improves vocabulary, enhances writing abilities, improves scores on standardized tests, and builds a habit critical to success in college. While the reading assignments prescribed in high school are a great start, we believe students should also be reading books of their choosing on topics of personal interest that are infrequently found in course syllabi and from a diverse range of authors.

The below list of books is meant as a starting point for developing your leisure reading habits, and was created with input from college admissions advisers, college admissions officers, and high school guidance counselors from across the country.


  • The Other Americans (Laila Lalami)

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon)

  • The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

  • Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

  • Mutant Message Down Under (Marlo Morgan)

  • The House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)

  • Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult)

  • Exit West (Mohsin Hamid)

  • The Parable of the Sower (Octavia Butler)

  • The Art of Fielding: A Novel (Chad Harbach)

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz)


  • The Yellow House (Sarah Broom)

  • Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

  • The Unwinding (George Packer)

  • American Born Chinese (Gene Luen Yang)

  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (J.D. Vance)

  • The Red Bandana (Tom Rinaldi)

  • Educated: A Memoir (Tara Westover)

  • The Other Wes Moore (Wes Moore)

  • Beyond the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Katherine Boo)

  • The Boys in the Boat (Daniel James Brown)

  • Mountains Beyond Mountains (Tracy Kidder)


  • Daring Greatly (Brene Brown)

  • Grit (Angela Duckworth)

  • Extreme Ownership: How US Navy Seals Lead and Win (Jocko Willink)

  • Tools of Titans (Tim Ferriss)

  • The Obstacle is the Way (Ryan Holiday)

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