Read to Prepare for College

Most colleges provide their own recommended and/or required reading lists for entering students. Make sure you find out what specific reads are required by your college. These are some of our recommendations.

Book 1: Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

One of the most challenged books, the Catcher in the Rye has also been recognized on Time’s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. Goodreads describes it as “an all-time classic in coming-of-age literature- an elegy to teenage alienation, capturing the deeply human need for connection and the bewildering sense of loss as we leave childhood behind.”

Book 2: Caste: the Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, “gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid of human rankings.” ( excerpts from

Book 3: The Naked Roommate by Harlan Cohen

Harlan’s website says, “The Naked Roommate is your behind-the-scenes look at EVERYTHING you need to know about college (but never knew you needed to know). This essential, fully updated edition is packed with real-life advice on everything from making friends to managing stress. Hilarious, outrageous, and telling stories from students on over 100 college campuses cover the basics, and then some in this required text for students starting life in college.”

Book 4: Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford

This memoir was named one of the best books of 2021. MacMillan explains, “In the text Ashley steps into the world of growing up a poor black girl in Indiana with family fragmented by incarceration, exploring how isolating and complex such a childhood can be. As Ashley battles her body and her environment, she embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.”