What are good books for a high school senior to read before going to college?

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There is no set reading list to prepare a high school senior for college. The best way to prepare is to be well-read in a variety of genres, and to learn to read for pleasure and to suit one's own interests.  This ensures that the student has developed some independent reading skills and some life-long learning skills.  Part of the process should be reading books from different time periods and different cultures.  There should be as much diversity in gender, race, ethnicity and background of the authors as possible.  This prepares a person for relating to others, including people who are different from him or herself. 

A strong reading list will include classics from many cultures, including possibly more than one language if the student is bilingual.  Make sure that the list includes contemporary literature, too.  There should be some very old books on the list, for sure, but there should also be some very new ones.  You can find recommendations in book reviews in newspapers and magazines during any given week.  Of course, you can also look at best-seller’s lists, but just because something is trendy does not necessarily mean it is of high quality. 

Students can ask teachers for recommendations before leaving for the summer, but another place to look is the local bookstore.  Most bookstores will have staff recommendation tables or shelves.  Some universities also publish lists.  It should also be noted that there are lists abound on the internet that can be found with a quick search, but these are somewhat subjective.  While the college-bound student is headed for college with subjective lists, why not ask the people that matter?  A survey of adults in the student’s life will likely produce an interesting list of favorite books or books that made an impact professionally or emotionally.  You can also learn a lot about a person from his or her favorite book. 

Keeping a list of the books that are read over the summer before college is also an excellent idea, if for no other reason than that it will be a good conversation starter for the student’s new roommate and a roadmap of the psychological journey that the student took before starting the final step of his or her education.  Hopefully, some books do get read during that summer, in addition to social networking and video game playing!

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