Study after study tells us that reading is the key that unlocks the door to better writing, an understanding of history and culture, scientific curiosity and an imaginative mind. Yet when most teenagers think reading, they think “homework.” So, we challenged ourselves this to create a list of the most entertaining, hilarious and engrossing books from varying genres. For all you reluctant readers, this summer reading list is for you!

For the student who’d rather be texting with friends…

Emergency Contact, by Mary H.K. Choi (2018)

Penny Lee is an incoming freshman at the University of Texas who falls in love with the local barista through text, even though they rarely meet. The whole novel is told in a series of text messages, and explores the very real relationships that people can build through this means of communication. Critics extol the novel for introducing a whole new literary genre.

For young men who think they hate to read…

All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (2015)

Jason Reynolds is the coolest young adult writer around; he addresses important themes of social justice in a way that is never preachy but gets students talking. This novel tells the story of two high school students – one white, one black – who experience an instance of police brutality from two very different perspectives.

For anyone who loved The Diary of Anne Frank…

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (2005)

Liesel Meminger, a young girl living in Nazi Germany during World War II, recognizes the power of written words and steals books to share with her friends and a Jewish refugee hiding in her step parent’s basement.

For the student who can’t bear to read but might muster a comic book…

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986)

Graphic novels are a great entry point for reluctant readers. Watchmen offers an alternate history of superheroes, and tells the story of modern America along the way. But don’t be fooled by the cartoons: many critics view this work as one of the great literary feats of the 20th century.

For students looking for a great mystery…

The Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson (2018)

Candice Miller finds a letter in her attic addressed to her grandmother, who had fled town in shame. Candice uncovers a mystery of an injustice that happened, and she may be the only person who can solve a riddle to help her grandmother.

For anyone who loves a fast-paced survival tale…

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (2001)

Pi Patel’s parents decided to sell their zoo and move to Canada, but on the journey across the ocean their boat sinks. The only survivor is Pi, who clings to life on a tiny life boat. But Pi is not alone on this boat; he is accompanied by a Bengal tiger. The trip is both a fast-paced survival tale and a fantastical exploration of human fortitude.

For the reader who also wants to watch the film (afterwards, of course)…

Into the Wild, by Jon Krakaur (1996)

Based on a true story of Christopher McCandless, a bright MIT grad who decides to leave behind all of his belongings and embark on a solo hike across the frozen Alaskan wilderness. He finds solitude and friendship, but the consequences prove deadly.

For the reader who loved Twilight:

Shadowshaper, by Daniel Jose Older (2015)

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a summer spending time with friends and making art. Then she uncovers the Shadowshapers, a supernatural force that connects with sprits through music, paintings and stories. Sierra learns that her grandfather once battled the Shadowshapers and must fight to salvage her family’s past, present and future.

For the reader who dreams of space…

The Wanderers, by Meg Howrey (2017)

Three brave astronauts must spend a year and a half in a space simulation to prove that they are the most suited crew for NASA’s upcoming journey to Mars. If they complete the simulation, they will be the first humans to reach Mars. But first they have to face themselves and each other in a claustrophobic simulation that becomes increasingly real.

For anyone who likes a good post-apocalyptic tale:

The Strange Bird, by Jeff VanderMeer (2018)

A creature born in the laboratory, the Strange Bird is half-bird and half-human. When the lab where she was created is under attack from the scientists who created her, she must adapt to survive in a highly technological world filled with drones and satellites that have forced the collapse of human and hybrid civilizations.

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