College Students, What to Read this Summer

By GoEnnounce and Cara Beirne

After a long semester, maybe the last thing you want to think about is reading, but reading for pleasure can actually keep your mind sharp, and even be fun (we promise!). So we asked a student just like you what she recommends reading over the summer. Here’s what Cara Beirne of Johns Hopkins had to say.

During the semester, with some weeks averaging a thousand pages of assigned reading, the last thing on my mind is leisure reading.  But the summer is a different story.  It presents the perfect opportunity to read and enjoy at your own pace.

I love taking some time to reread a few old favorites.  The Hobbit, Pride and Prejudice, and The Great Gatsby are all fast reads and literary classics.  And believe it or not, they are far more enjoyable when read outside of a high school English class.

This past semester I read Heart of a Dog in my Russian literature class.  Written by Mikhail Bulgakov at the height of the period of the New Economic Policy, the novel critiques communism and satirizes the Party’s “New Soviet Man.”  My professor had a slightly overzealous sense of humor, and mistakenly described the book as “a scream.”  Nevertheless, the plot of transforming a stray dog into a foul bureaucratic official is humorous, and it is sprinkled with amusing lines and important historical references.

My father, a strong proponent of productivity and efficiency, has badgered me for years to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey.  I resisted for as long as I could, but broke down last summer.  Covey addresses goal setting, leadership, cooperation, and other skills necessary for living “with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity.”  While it may not be the most compelling beach read, this influential book lays the foundation for successful living, and its tips can be applied in the classroom, in the workforce, and in your personal life.

And finally, I love absolutely anything by Ian McEwan.  Considered by The Times to be one of the greatest British authors since 1945, McEwan is the author of some of my favorite novels: On Chesil Beach, Amsterdam, Enduring Love, and Atonement, the last of which was adapted into the Academy Award-winning 2007 film of the same name.  His beautiful prose and skill at conveying universal truths make for compelling reads.

So whether you’re settling down to read on a tropical beach or merely in an air-conditioned nook, (each sound equally appealing to me), consider one of these suggestions.  And remember, like the oft-used line from George R.R. Martin, “a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.  The man who never reads lives only one.”

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