• rosebwong

Ten Books to Read Before College

Updated: May 14, 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 Thecensorshipfiles.wordpress.com



When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi


What happens when a Stanford neurosurgeon is diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer? Kalanithi, who passed before this book was published, studied English literature and considered becoming a writer, so this memoir is both an insightful look at a doctor’s transition to patienthood, as well as a beautiful and masterfully-written ode to death and the human body.



Courtesy of Paperlovestory.com



The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas


This classic tale follows a young sailor who is wrongfully accused of treason and goes around the world to regain his freedom and seek revenge. In the many wild twists and turns, the protagonist, and you, will learn a few unexpected lessons about pride and forgiveness. I remember reading the abridged version in middle school and sitting on the couch dumbfounded at multiple points in the story. You won’t regret picking up this book.



Courtesy of Variety