There is no shame in spending your summer break sleeping or watching movies. However, if you’re like me, you find your brain turning to mush on free days; Instead of enjoying the time to yourself, you wish someone would text you and ask to hang out. You’ll start browsing through the books you bought long ago with the intention to read, then forgot about as soon as school began. Now there are so many, you won’t know where to begin!

Don’t despair. I’ve been in this situation several times (in case you couldn’t already tell). Some stories are only worth a brief skim-through. Others are worth staying up until 3 a. m. to finish.

Here is a list of such gripping page-turners:

1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I’m sure many of you have already read this book, or at least heard of it, as it’s been around for nearly 30 years. But it’s worth mentioning. This is one of my favorite books of all time—in fact, the only book I’ve ever read where, as soon as I finished it, I flipped back to the beginning and started reading again.

Card writes from the point of view of children, which forces him to keep the sci-fi lingo as simplistic as possible without ever being condescending. The age of his characters also helps the reader empathize and personalize an idea as complex as cosmic warfare. Card also underscores the importance of communication in conflict.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

As all WWII stories are, this book is dark. But Zusak weaves threads of light throughout, presenting us with beautiful, unforgettable characters. Not even the narrator, Death, can dampen the story to where I’d call it depressing. I suggest this book for more than the story it holds, or the characters who tell it: Zusak defies the basic rules of fiction writing, and it works. He tells on page three how it will end, and yet when the end came, I cried.

Mind you, this is the only book that has ever made me cry.

3. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

This book is great for fans of British humor! The first half of the book is a little confusing, as seemingly unrelated characters go about their odd-yet-amusing businesses. However, they all tie together by the end in Gaiman’s signature fashion. This one is especially fun on audio, if any of you plan on roadtripping.

4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

This book is great for those of you who are truly hard pressed for time this summer. Written from the point of view of an Autistic child, the chapters are quick, simple, yet thought provoking. It’s interesting to see how a child with a learning disability notices things so many of us, myself included, often overlook about society. And it even has pictures!

5. Going Bovine by Libba Bray

This is the most philosophical acid trip of a book I’ve ever read. It’s certainly not the next great piece of literature but as it underscores the idea that  individually, we are responsible for our own fates, that our lives and realities are what we decide they should be, it’s an interesting read for any college student.


Annie Pic

Annie Stokely is an English undergrad at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She writes because there is nothing she would rather be doing. Except breathing, maybe. She intends to pursue a career in freelance writing or copy editing.