Summer is the perfect time to read the books you want to read, not the ones you must read (for class). This summer, check out some of these titles as you prepare for your first, or next, year at college. These books range from classics to newly acclaimed books by emerging authors.
They deal with questions of identity, power, and society in beautiful coming-of-age stories or frightening dystopias that have gained new relevance of late. They’re guaranteed to help you see another perspective and entertain along the way.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. One of Margaret Atwood’s most famous books, this is the story of America in the near future where women’s only role in society is to serve powerful men. If you haven’t already, check out the hit show on Hulu based on the novel.
“The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro. The most recent Nobel prize winner in literature, English writer Kazuo Ishiguro explores themes of class, dignity and society from the point of view of a butler reminiscing about his life in this story set in post-war England.
“Sour Heart” by Jenny Zhang. The stories of Chinese immigrants in Queens are deftly explored in witty and hilarious details from the point of view of their children in these short stories by poet Jenny Zhang.
“The Mothers” by Brit Bennett. A seventeen-year-old grieves her mother’s suicide and must grapple with secrets in this story about community, ambition, and the consequences of our choices.
“Notes of a Native Son,” by James Baldwin. One of Baldwin’s most famous works, this compilation of essays explores race, sexuality and class in 20th Century America.
“Behold the Dreamers,” by Imbolo Mbue. A Cameroonian immigrant tries to make his way in America by working as a chauffeur, and inadvertently gets swept up in the 2008 financial crisis and the secrets of his high-profile employer.
“Prep” by Curtis Sittenfield. A fourteen-year-old girl attends an elite prep school in this funny and poignant tale about class, love, and the pains of being a teenager.
“Patriot Number One,” by Lauren Hilgers. This is a deeply reported work of nonfiction about a Chinese dissident who flees to the U.S. and tries to build a new life in Flushing Queens. The book follows his family for several years as they navigate the difficulties of immigrant life with dignity and hope.
– Anjie Zheng is a contributing writer at Image Impact International.