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  • Olivia Swindler

Summer Required Reading

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

Right about now, across the United States, three students are finished with the assigned reading for the summer. The rest will remember about 24 hours before the new school year begins. For the three of us nerds who looked forward to their summer reading list, I have compiled an adult version, in case you, like me, miss homework.



Caste - This might be my favorite book of 2021. I loved it, and I think about it almost every day. This book goes down as required reading, IMO. Well stated and researched, I cannot recommend this book enough!


Alexander Hamilton - If you, like me, find yourself humming along to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat, read the book that inspired the musical!! Ron Chernow is so detailed in his recounting of the founding father’s life and legacy. Highly recommend!


The Four Winds - The summer before my sophomore year, I had to read The Grapes of Wrath. It was then I swore off all books about the dust bowl...until this one! I loved this book! In true Kristin Hannah fashion, the details and storytelling are amazing.


Boys and the Boat - Complete transparency, I put off reading this book for a long time because it follows my rival university’s crew team...but even so, this book is so inspiring. It combined my deep love of both sports and history. (But, Go Cougs!)


Team of Rivals - This book had been on my to read list for a long time before I picked it up at the end of last year. If you love presidential biographies, this is a book for you. I had a hard time putting it down. I highly recommend!


Homegoing - This book is just stunning. It is another one that I think about all the time. It is a family saga unlike anything I have ever read. Read this book.


David and Goliath - It is no secret that Malcolm Gladwell is one of my all-time-forever-favorites. This was the first book I read by him, and it has a soft spot in my heart.


The Things We Cannot Say - If you are looking for a different historical fiction perspective on WWII, read this book. And then buy a lot of tissues. Read this book.

Say Nothing - This book is an amazing history of the troubles in Northern Ireland. If you are looking to expand your historical non-fiction reading, this is a good one. I loved listening to it on audio!


Dear Martin - I had a hard time putting this book down. If you want a YA racial justice book and have already read The Hate U Give, pick this one up. Required reading, in my opinion.


Interior Chinatown - This might be in my top five for 2021. Written like a screenplay, this book tells the power story of Willis Wu. The storytelling, the characters, the themes, everything about this book was a win for me.


Born a Crime - I love Trevor Noah. His autobiography was so powerful. I learned so much about the history of South Africa and his own story. I highly recommend this book!


The Body Keeps Score - This book is super buzzy as we all deal with the shared trauma that is COVID-19, but it lives up to the hype. It is a must read, as we all grief and learn how to grow from our trauma.


This post contains Bookshop affiliate links. I earn a small commission when you make a purchase using these links (plus, you support independent bookstores).

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