College Summer Reading Lists from College and University Libraries

Between One Book One Twitter and pre-college summer programs, you’ve got a few things to keep you busy — but why not take a look at summer college reading lists? These college bound reading lists will give you a better idea of the intellectual mind-set waiting for you at college – and, simply put, these are good books! My College Guide got in touch with college librarians to get their top picks for summer.

The Louis Round Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina.

Ian Lamont

But first, let’s take a peek at a summer library reading program or two at the college level. Unlike the summer reading programs you enjoyed when you were a kid, you won’t be getting stickers, candy, or other prizes for finishing a book, but there will be plenty of great books to choose from! Bates College, for example, puts together yearly reviews of books based on staff and faculty suggestions.

The University of California Berkeley creates an annual themed reading list. The 2010 theme, Education Matters, includes titles like Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi and Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas. You can also take a look at the Harvard Summer Institute on College Admissions Reading List or Swarthmore Colleges Summer Reading List for even more recommendations.

The Boise State University Albertsons Library assistant professor, Memo Cordova, shares that the campus has a “1st Year Read” (now called “Campus Read“) book selection each year, with incoming freshmen receiving a free copy of that year’s selection.” How cool is that?

Widener Library at Harvard University -- check out the summer institute on college admissions reading list!


“This year,” said Mr. Cordova, “it was Ann Patchett’s Run . Last year, it was Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson. This year’s selection [Fall 2010] is William Kamkwamba’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.” Right from the start, incoming college students share something in common!

The fantastic librarians at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill University Library sent along a list of their personal favorite books you most likely haven’t read in high school – but that you might want to borrow and read sometime before college welcome week! Their list includes:

Margaret Atwood The Handmaid’s Tale
Rachel Carson Silent Spring
Junot Díaz The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Anne Fadiman The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Neil Gaiman The Sandman
Atul Gawande Complications, Better
Tracy Kidder Mountains Beyond Mountains, Homecoming
Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Gabriel Garcia Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude
David Foster Wallace Consider the Lobster

The Robert W Woodruff Library that serves Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, and Spelman College, promptly shared this list of good reads, too! Their summer reading suggestions include:

Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart
Saul Bellow Seize the Day
Edward Bellamy Looking Backward: 2000-1887
Kate Chopin The Awakening
Michael Dorris A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
Laura Esquivel Like Water for Chocolate
Sinclair Lewis Main Street
Toni Morrison Sula
Chaim Potok The Chosen
Richard Wright Native Son

That should keep you busy for the rest of the summer! Many colleges and universities have special college reading lists – hop on the library website to find more. That leaves just one question: what’s your favorite book?

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Related posts:

  1. One Book, One Twitter: World Summer Reading Twitter Project
  2. Step Away from the TV: Pre-College Summer Programs at the University of Rochester
  3. Institution-Offered Precollege Summer Programs to Spice up Your Summer
  4. 5 Reasons A Summer College Visit Is A Smart Idea.
  5. PREFACE Program: University of South Carolina Upstate Promises First Year Success
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One Response to “College Summer Reading Lists from College and University Libraries”

  1. Memo Cordova says:

    Thanks for compiling this list! We have updated our Campus Read page to showcase this year’s newest book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

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