Your Essential Summer Reading List: 6 Books for College Students

May 27, 2020
Girl laying while reading a Kindle

While this summer might look different than years past due to the global pandemic still in effect, many things haven’t changed. You can still lounge in a hammock, by a pool, or on a beach (safely, of course), and devour a good book. Whether you’re looking for a beach read or an inspiring biography—we’ve got you covered. We put together the essential summer reading list with six books for college students, organized by genre. 

Motivation and Self-Help

From how to embrace your authentic self to following your passions, these books from successful thought leaders will offer you both practical insights and actionable steps forward. 

  • Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams: She rose to national prominence in 2018 as the first black female governor nominee in the U.S. But even before she made those headlines, Stacey Abrams was an entrepreneur, activist, and career politician. In this book, Abrams draws from her experience in the business and nonprofit sectors to teach young or marginalized people how to stand in their leadership and make a real difference.    
  • The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau: In an ambitious and intrepid journey to see all the countries on earth before turning 35, Chris Guillebeau encountered many so-called “questers” in pursuit of their wildest dreams. As he interviewed these people, Guillebeau found a link between commitment to goals and acceptance of personal identity. This thrill of pursuit, he concludes, is one of the main ingredients to satisfaction in life. 

Autobiographies and Memoirs

Especially while you’re considering your own future, autobiographies are the perfect inspo books for college students. If you’re curious about two recognizable culture-shifters and who they were before they turned into household names, then consider one of these profound and stirring options. 

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama: Humanity knows her as the former U.S. First Lady and one of the defining women of this century, but Michelle Obama’s road to the White House was just as impactful as the work she did once there. This memoir transports readers back to Obama’s formative years in the South Side of Chicago. You’ll see her evolve from her career and motherhood to the weight of fame, scrutiny, and influence. Her story is not one to be missed.       
  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei: He’s celebrated for his role as Lieutenant  Sulu of the USS Enterprise, and to this day, George Takei remains one of Star Trek’s most high-profile actors. However, through this comic book-style narrative, the outspoken equal rights advocate explores a darker time in his life as a Japanese-American child in a WWII internment camp. Takei pulls zero punches, which makes this book a powerful read.   

Fiction and Beach Reads

There’s nothing like sitting outside and being transported to a world away by an intriguing novel. Whether it’s on the beach, boat, or backyard these fiction books are definitely page-turners and made for reading in the sun. (Just don’t forget the SPF!) 

  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: The American South is a land of deep history and stark conflict which makes it the ideal setting for this fiercely resonant book by fiction writer Brit Bennett. Her two main characters, a pair of twin sisters, leave their black Southern community as teenagers and part ways soon after. One leans into her racial identity, while the other passes for white and casts aside her origins. But still, this family bond cannot be erased.   
  • The Water Keeper by Charles Martin: Part suspenseful mystery and part wistful romance, this novel by prolific author Charles Martin introduces readers to Murphy Shepherd, the lone resident of an island on Florida’s Intercoastal Waterway. The quiet existence Murphy leads is thrust into peril when he saves a woman from drowning, then learns she is on a mission to find her lost daughter—a search that uncovers a syndicate of human trafficking. 

Want More? Join the EPOCH book club for recommendations on the best books for college students!

If you’re on the lookout for more titles to immerse yourself in this summer, join our EPOCH Book Club on Facebook or Instagram. Each month, we dive into a new bestseller from a dynamic author, and we welcome you to join in the discussion!   

This upcoming month we’re reading The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner, check out the schedule below.

books for college students

Happy reading! 🤓