I LOVE utilizing the bountiful time I have during summer break to catch up on reading books that I haven’t had time to read during the school year. There are so many days throughout the academic year that I wish that high school students were encouraged to select books to read at their leisure, just like the good ol’ middle school days.
However, I tend to see the opposite nowadays – high school students are becoming increasingly reluctant to read just about anything. Whenever I enter the library at my school to study or read in my spare time, I notice that the overwhelming majority of students gravitate toward the computers, not toward the multitude of books lining the library’s walls.
With this (disheartening) fact in mind, I hope to inspire students my age to pick up a book once in a while – not because they’re being forced to, but because they genuinely have an interest in reading more often.
Whether you’re a high school student struggling through Shakespeare or a middle schooler obsessing over Veronica Roth, here are books that I love reading to help enrich my [lack of] summer education:
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
If you’re a self-help book addict like me, this book is perfect for you! The Happiness Project gives eye-opening insight as to how you can change your life in realistic, measurable ways to boost your happiness levels.
Throughout the book, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin provides scientifically proven facts on how anyone can be a much happier person by the most mundane methods, including cleaning your room, expressing your gratitude, using good manners, and asking for help when you need it.
Personally this book has inspired me become more conscious of the activities I do throughout the day, even if I’m simply willing myself not to complain about trivial matters. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the science of happiness, or anyone who would love to possess a more jovial personality!
- The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College by Stefanie Weisman
I’m actually extremely surprised by how many students don’t know about this book. I treat this book almost as religiously as my planner – it is so incredible!
In this book, Stuyvesant High School valedictorian and Columbia University alumnus Stefanie Weisman goes into exceptional detail about how to succeed in high school and in college. She helps you find your “Why?” factor to your success and guides you through a plethora of tips on exam preparation, essay writing, active reading, getting an adequate amount of sleep at night, and so much more. Weisman even includes pieces of advice from her colleagues and other intelligent, diligent students and graduates.
If you’re praying that you get accepted to Harvard one day or would like to know the inner workings of a successful student’s brain, I highly recommend purchasing this book now! It helps you out a ton, especially if you’re in a super competitive academic environment.
- Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success – Online and Off by Michelle Phan
If you’re a natural-born girly girl like me, you’ll be enthralled by this book! Michelle Phan – the very first beauty guru I’ve ever watched on YouTube – released this informative, yet creative book about how to embrace and enhance your inner and outer beauty! She also includes advice on how to ace a job interview, find your passion, have a consistent skincare regimen that’s perfect for your own skin type, be smart and safe on the Internet, and much more. In a way, it’s your very own guide to living a feminine life while working your way up to success. As the blurb of the book states, Phan helps you “put your best face forward.”
If you have an affinity for makeup, fashion, business, professionalism, and everything else in-between, this book is the perfect match for you!
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
If you’ve never read this novel before, you’re probably wondering, “Why is a boring American classic included on this list?” Well, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is quite the opposite of a “boring” piece of literature – it’s a masterpiece.
On the surface, this book is about a dystopian, futuristic society in which books are banned and “firemen” are assigned to burn down any building that possesses any form of literature. However, upon closer analysis, Bradbury’s novel is a seemingly eerie parallel to what our current world has become.
This will always be one of my favorite books of all time. In fact, if I were stranded on a deserted island and only had three books with me, this would definitely be one of them.
If you’ve never read this in your English class yet (and I truly hope you already did!), please give this a read. Although it appears to be another lackluster American classic to many students, it truly is an insightful read that will have you questioning the world around you.
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
And yet another self-help book makes it on the list! Brené Brown – writer and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work – writes a short, yet compelling book about how you can fully accept shame, fear, and vulnerability into your life in order to become a much happier and more confident person. Through her witty humor and charming narrative voice, Brown gives the reader profound, scientifically-proven ways on how to let go of certain habits – such as comparing yourself to someone else or doubting yourself – and how to cultivate better, healthier values to replace them, like creativity and self-compassion.
I highly suggest reading this book if you want to skyrocket your levels of courage, compassion, and joy. This book is truly fascinating for anybody at any age!
- It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Trigger Warning: This section of my blog post mentions sensitive topics, such as depression and suicide. If you do not feel comfortable reading about these subjects, please skip down to the end of my blog post! Thank you for understanding ♡
Those who know me very well know that I am a huge mental health advocate. I love raising awareness to mental illnesses – not just depression and anxiety, but also bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, PTSD, and many others across the board. I love speaking about my personal experiences with mental illness and how they have shaped me into the person I am today.
In a way, Ned Vizzini’s book helped me crack out of my shell of “severely negative mental health stigma” and encouraged me to open up about my story and to reach out to those feeling the same way as I once did.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story tells of a young man named Craig Gilner who struggles with severe depression and anxiety and nearly attempts suicide one night due to the overwhelming pressures of school. Throughout his stay at a mental hospital, he meets friends whom he can relate to, and realizes that there are alternative solutions to his troubles rather than relying on suicide.
Unfortunately, Vizzini killed himself in December 2013. Every time I read his book, I am reminded of just how gifted he was as an author and what a wonderful impact he has created on the lives of those with mental illnesses and those who are merely curious about those who are inflicted.
I sincerely hope that this helps you find books that you’d be interested in reading throughout the summer and all year round! If you have any other excellent book recommendations, please let me know and I will happily head over to Barnes & Noble to buy them (and hopefully make another blog post about them)!
As always, I will write again soon. ♡