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How summer reading can prepare you for the upcoming school year

We get it. Summer is your time away from school. You get to enjoy the sunshine, go to the lake, catch up with friends, or even take up a summer job to earn some extra cash. But just because you’re away from school doesn’t mean you can’t still be learning. In fact, summer is a great time to build skills and habits that you don’t have time to form during the school year. (Read our tips for growing your personal devotions time during the summer).

One of the skills at the top of our recommended list? Reading.

Reading is a skill that’s not only essential for school, but also beneficial to cultivate for your whole life.

Whether you’re looking for the best books for college freshman or for motivational books for college students, we have the reading tips and the book recommendations for you.

Benefits of reading over the summer

  • It will exercise your brain: The rest that you get over the summer will help you come back to school in the fall refreshed. Reading can be a relaxed way of keeping your brain engaged. Explore some motivational books for college students to get ideas for how you can excel when you start your semester.
  • It builds skills and knowledge for your course work: School comes with a fair amount of reading. The better reader you are, the more easily you will be able to consume information in your classes, and the more you will succeed. If you really want a jump-start on your coursework, read a book related to one of your fall classes to build your knowledge-base.
  • It can be free (or cheap) entertainment: One amazing, underutilized resource offered in most metro areas is the public library system. This offers you a wide array of types of books that you can borrow, for free, on your very own library card (also free, no credit-check needed). Let your imagination run wild, put away your phone, and read. If you don’t have a library nearby, you can order many great classics on Amazon for less than dollars each. Classic works of literature can be some of the best books for college freshman, as it will lay a foundation for some of your core education.
  • It can inspire you to be a better person: Reading motivational books for college students will help inspire you to have a more fulfilling experience during your college years. Be compelled to learn more, to find deeper friendships, to grow spiritually while you’re in college. And what better time to build inspiration than during the summer? You’ll kick off your school year with momentum.

What should you read over the summer?

There are nearly infinite options for you to choose from as you create your summer reading list. One simple guiding principle to follow as you create your list is to aim for variety.

Start by choosing one fiction book and one non-fiction book to read. Your fiction pick can become your relaxing before-bed book that will give you those 20 minutes of no-screen time to help you drift peacefully off to sleep. Your non-fiction selection can be a great fit for daytime reading, when your level of focus is slightly higher and you’re more able to take in complex information.

When choosing a fiction book to read, narrow down your choices by selecting a genre of interest. Do you like science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, or something else? Asking your local librarian for suggestions within that genre will undoubtedly lead you to a great book.

College students, or soon-to-be college students can often find non-fiction books related to personality assessments to be helpful reading material. As you enter your formative college years, understanding the details of your tendencies, your working style, your strengths, and your weakness can help you succeed. Check out books like the StrengthsFinder Assessment or read about the Enneagram.

Faculty at North Central University, a private Christian university in Minneapolis, MN, put together their recommended list of the 10 best books to read for spiritual encouragement. It’s a great resource if you’re just beginning college and need the best books for college freshman, or if you’re generally just searching for motivational books for college students.

10 best books for spiritual encouragement

(According to the faculty at North Central University)
  1. Sacred Rhythms: Arranging our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton (Submitted by Greg Leeper, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Research)
  2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth (Submitted by William Tibbetts, Director of School of Business)
  3. The Fear of the Lord, by John Bevere (Submitted by Jeff Deyo, Worship Arts Specialist, College of Fine Arts)
  4. Confessions by St. Augustine (Submitted by Greg Leeper, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Research)
  5. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, by Tim Keller (Submitted by William Tibbetts, Director of School of Business)
  6. Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, by Frederick Buechner (Submitted by Chris Woelfle, Resident Director)
  7. The Heavenly Man, by Brother Yun (Submitted by Jeff Deyo, Worship Arts Specialist, College of Fine Arts)
  8. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Submitted by Greg Leeper, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Research)
  9. Discover Your True North, by Bill George (Submitted by LaToya Burrell, Associate Professor of Business Administration)
  10. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Submitted by Chris Woelfle, Resident Director)