At this time of year, we often talk with students about course selection, standardized testing, and — surprising as it may seem — the importance of keeping up with their free reading. A well-developed reading habit not only makes students stronger, more thoughtful writers, but it also introduces them to new ideas and subjects. Reading is also one of the best ways for young students to prepare for the SAT, which frequently asks students to identify vocabulary in context.
Now that the second semester is in full swing, it’s easy for reading to get lost in the shuffle of tests, projects, and homework. In order for a book to grab a busy student’s attention, it has to be truly engaging, something that can offer a fun adventure during a 20-minute break at school, introduce them to a fascinating subject on the bus ride home, or serve as a relaxing way to wind down at the end of the day. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of our counselor’s favorite reads from 2019. Once you’ve picked one up, you’ll find that it’s easy to make reading a priority!
TOP TIER’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 (to name a few)
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
I love Ann Patchett’s writing style and storytelling, and her new book doesn’t disappoint. This one is best read with a cup of hot tea in front of a fire.
Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To by David A. Sinclair and Matthew D. LaPlante
A bit science-heavy, but also delightfully hopeful. Read about all the ways epigenetics can change our future.
The Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeline Miller
Whether you love Classics or just a good story, these novelized versions of famous tales from Greek mythology and history are amazing. Two of my favorite books from the past year.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
I am thoroughly engrossed in the memoir of Chanel Miller, better known as the girl who was raped by Brock Turner. This book is powerful and a must-read for anyone heading to college, both boys and girls.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
I recently had a chance to reread this classic, one of the most critically acclaimed war novels in existence. This viscerally realistic portrait of service in the German trenches during the First World War is seen through the eyes of a young man who quickly loses his enthusiasm for battle and struggles to hold on to his humanity.
The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
A great, inspiring reminder of the importance of empowering others and seeking equality in our own lives.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
This book has everything: vivid characters, an intricate plot, and lots of surprise twists. Don’t let its age put you off — it’s a timeless thriller!
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
I recommend this book to everyone (my students, my family, random strangers…). It’s a clever, inventive mystery that is equal parts young adult realism and classic whodunit. Plus, it will keep you guessing until the very last page!
Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen
I taught this book in my Food Memoirs class, and it was a huge hit!
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguygen
I’m only halfway through this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, but it has one of the best opening chapters I’ve ever read.
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer
A gripping, thoughtful story of the past few decades of American history. Perfect for anyone who likes history, politics, or a just a well-told narrative.
Pulphead: Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan
An essay collection that sometimes reads like a memoir, this book offers funny, dynamic reflections on everything from music and TV shows to family relationships.