A&E summer reading list

Great books for students looking for an exciting, fast read

Many students might not enter summer break looking for reasons to keep reading, but for those Wildcats who are sailing through the summer doldrums, there are some captivating options. While laying out on a beach towel, swinging in a hammock or on a long vacation flight, there’s no better companion than a page-turning book, whether a student is a casual reader, a speed-reader or an avid bibliophile.

As the Weber State University Signpost arts and entertainment staff, here are our top five recommendations in fiction and nonfiction for summer reading. These books are perfect for students looking for a readable, fast-paced story and are guaranteed to please even the most infrequent reader.


Peace Like a River — Leif Enger, 2001

Perhaps the sweetest novel on the list, Peace reminds the reader a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird. Narrated by an asthmatic 11-year-old named Reuben, the book follows his remarkable family’s search for their brother, Davy, after a tragic crime splits them apart.

Never Let Me Go — Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005

Named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Best Novels, this emotional story falls loosely into the realm of science fiction, but reads more like a heart-wrenching memoir. Set in a dystopian England, Ishiguro’s trio of orphans (Kathy, Tommy and Ruth) learn about affection and human purpose while the book slowly unravels a shocking mystery.

The Help — Kathryn Stockett, 2009

This book is about to become a big movie, but be one of the multitudes of fans who read it before seeing it. It’s a heart-warming story about African-American maids working for white employers in 1960s Mississippi, and it manages to change the obvious racial storylines into something deeper.

The House of the Scorpion — Nancy Farmer, 2002

When this book first came out, it won every prize for young adult literature, and since then, it’s managed to gain popularity among adult readers. Set in a futuristic Mexico, this book cleared the trail for more famous, similarly dystopian works (i.e., The Hunger Games).

So Brave, Young and Handsome — Leif Enger, 2008

The second of Enger’s books on this list, So Brave explores the exciting, mysterious Old West through the eyes of a disenchanted Western adventure novelist who accompanies a retired outlaw back to his old stomping grounds.

Honorable Mentions:

Easy read: Watership Down — Richard Adams, 1972

The classics: Treasure Island — Robert Louis Stevenson, 1883

To Kill a Mockingbird — Harper Lee, 1960

Something harder: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle — David Wroblewski, 2008



A Walk in the Woods — Bill Bryson, 1998

Famed travel writer Bryson describes trying to hike the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine, with his dysfunctional childhood friend, Stephen Katz. Though the book addresses serious topics like the trail’s history and surrounding community, it is a laugh-out-loud description of two out-of-shape men attempting something new.

The Glass Castle — Jeannette Walls, 2005

Walls’ memoir recounts her unfathomably unusual upbringing and how the extreme poverty and dysfunction of her parents shaped the lives of her and her siblings. If you haven’t read this already, you probably know at least 10 people who will want to tell you all about it.

Into Thin Air — Jon Krakauer, 1997

Krakauer, a journalist for the adventure magazine Outside, climbed Mount Everest hoping to write on the commercialization of the mountain, and was accidentally present for one of the greatest tragedies of the mountain’s history, in which eight climbers were killed during a rogue storm.

Bossypants — Tina Fey, 2011

This autobiographical book recently topped the New York Times Best-Seller List, and though it is not for the faint of heart (she can be a bit vulgar for more conservative audiences), Fey’s account of her rise up the national comedy scene as a writer and a woman could be the funniest book of the year.

Hate Mail From Cheerleaders and Other Adventures from the Life of Reilly — Rick Reilly, 2006

For those readers who want a book that can be casually read, a bit at a time, this is the right one. Though the recurring theme is sports, Reilly humorously manages to take sports beyond statistics and describe how they affect people’s lives.

Honorable Mentions:

Easy read: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid — Bill Bryson, 2006

The classics: Seabiscuit: An American Legend — Laura Hillenbrand, 2003

Something harder: Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America — Paul Tough, 2008