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Ten Books to Read Before College

Updated: Feb 22

This article was originally written and published by Rose Wong in 2020.

Books have a way of transporting you from your hometown to the other side of the planet, teaching lessons and sharing with you emotions that you may not experience otherwise. College, in its full potential, will challenge you personally and academically, and one of the best ways to prepare for it is by broadening your worldview, as well as vocabulary, through reading.

A good reading portfolio should be diverse, in its stories, authors and writing styles. Some of these books may have been part of your high school required reading, and the rest should have made the curriculum, but did not.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

For those who aren’t aware of the backstory, in 2015, recent college graduate Miller was drugged and raped by a Stanford freshman on campus. Her victim impact statement was released after her assailant’s sentence hearing, but she was anonymously referred to as Emily Doe. The statement, and her story, became viral, but no one knew who Emily was—except that she is a girl in every neighborhood in every county in America. Last year, in her memoir, Emily Doe decided to tell us her name—Chanel Miller—but more importantly, why.

Courtesy of Buzzfeed

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

This is memoir writing at its finest. I highly recommend any aspiring writer to study this book and Jesmyn Ward’s literary style, which is both delicate and urgent. Rather than start from the beginning, the author tells you where the story ends, and moves with you backwards. Set in a small Mississippi town in the early 90s’, Men We Reaped not only shows how systemic racism impacts black communities long after slavery ended, but also how black women and men are affected differently.

Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Set in the Deep South during the Great Depression, the book brings together the horrors of systemic racism and poverty with an idealist’s heroism and the sweet innocence of his children. I highly recommend watching the movie starring Gregory Peck after reading the book—Don’t let the black and white deter you; you will be thinking about the scenes for weeks to come.

Courtesy of