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If you’re on summer vacation, you might be looking for some entertainment to keep your brain moving as you work your summer job, hang out with friends, and kick back at the beach during your break. Even if you aren’t an English major, and you don’t usually have the time to read much during the semesters, you can still enjoy a great book when you have the free time to devote to it. Reading truly is for everyone — and you can find the best book to help you escape into another world or improve your own life in real time.
From nonfiction to memoirs to fantastical fiction, this list has it all. Both avid readers and those just now getting into it might find their new favorite book among these stacks. If you’re looking to build your summer reading list and get a few great page-turners in before the fall semester starts, here are ten great summer reads for college students of all kinds.
1. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Starting off with a nonfiction pick, this book tells the real-life adventures of Chris McCandless, as he leaves his old life behind and strikes out into nature. Many people find inspiration in his many adventures and his views on the world. If you’re taking some adventures of your own this summer, this can be a great companion to read along the way! And once you’re done with the book, you can check out the film adaptation.
2. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Another book for the traveling soul, Eat, Pray, Love is all about Elizabeth Gilbert’s real life travels through Italy, India, and Bali. It’s a light read all about love and life, and if you’re looking for something to inspire, this is definitely up your alley.
3. Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
This memoir is highly relatable to many young people, as it follows Patricia Lockwood and her husband’s journey as they move back in with her parents after a financial hardship. Between her unconventional family relationships and her intriguing voice, this is a book many fall in love with.
4. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami is a master of voice and lyricism, and Norwegian Wood shows off that skill while taking you along the beautiful journey of youth, college, and life in 1960’s Tokyo. This is a book that many fall in love with, and it can make the perfect summer read for those who are itching to savor a story.
5. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
On the other hand, those looking to exercise their minds for the real world might fair better with Roxane Gay’s essay collection, centering around ideas of gender, politics, race, and identity in society and pop culture. This book is iconic for so many reasons, and if you’re looking for critical reading on social justice, this is a great place to start.
6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
If you haven’t yet read The Handmaid’s Tale, this summer could be the perfect time to take it on. Taking place in a far-off dystopian future, this book can take you to another world while making sharp commentary on our current world, too.
7. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
This book is meant to show you exactly what the title says. If you love books that help you realize your potential, change your life right before your eyes and inspire you to go after your dreams, this could be the perfect summer book for you. Take it to the beach and kick back while your brain revolutionizes your next steps in life.
8. Becoming by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is a national treasure, and her memoir took the world by storm. If you want to get more insight on just how this inspiring and graceful woman came to be and made her way to the White House, this book is worth a read over the summer.
9. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Similar to Eat, Pray, Love and Into the Wild, Cheryl Strayed offers up a perfect self discovery adventure book in the real life tale of Wild. This book centers around her through-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, detailing both the physical and emotional challenges of her life. Her ups and downs are sure to inspire, so this is a great book for anyone doing some emotional or physical adventuring this summer.
10. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
If you’re looking for a fiction pick that really allows you to let go and allow the book to take you for a ride, this tale of aliens and social media stardom could be your perfect summer pick. Written from the perspective of a young adult still finding her footing in the world, this book is a great choice for college students.
Building Your Summer Reading List
Whether you’re an avid reader or you’re a little book-curious, there are so many amazing choices you can explore this summer. If you’re on the hunt for fiction, non-fiction, or a little of both, all you need to do is pick up a book and get started. Do you have a summer reading favorite that we didn’t mention?