There’s nothing better than lying on a beach, reading a book while cool breezes and cute lifeguards pass by. And that book may just be the perfect solution to those hour-long train rides to and from your internship each morning. But there’s nothing worse than choosing a book that seems to drone on and on, or being stuck reading twenty romance novels that all seem to follow the same plot. To help you find the perfect summer reading book to pass your time, we’ve compiled a list of the best books for each major! So head to the nearest bookstore, lie under the sun, and get ready for a fantastic summer.
For the American Studies and History Major: The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
America has been on a wild ride these past few decades, and each president has brought with him his own persona and plan. It often seems as though former presidents fall off the political radar once replaced by his successor, but that may not necessarily be the case. This book delves into the intricate behind-the-scenes details of the presidency, as well as the relationship between past and present presidents. Interesting but light enough to keep your mind relaxed, this book is perfect for the American Studies or History major on vacation!
For the Art History and Studio Art Major: Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
Vincent van Gogh is said to have shot himself in a field and then brought himself to a doctor’s office, where he eventually died, but that story has always been filled with some mystery and uncertainty. Sacre Bleu depicts the quest of van Gogh’s friends to uncover the true reason of his death, while at the same time featuring French life, art history and the inner mind of a famous painter. Moore’s book is charming, intriguing and enchanting all at the same time.
For the Astronomy and Physics Major: A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss
Krauss’ lecture about the existential questions of the world became a YouTube hit, and this book further elaborates on the scientific evidence to try to explain some of the world’s biggest mysteries. It will probably blow your mind and make you look at the universe in an entirely new way.
For the Business and Economics Major: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Our original recommendation was the ubiquitous Freakonomics, which is engrossing and fun to learn, but Kahneman’s book is the newest economics-based work that’s receiving endless praise. By incorporating psychology and exploring connections as well as areas that we might never consider, Kahneman provides an entirely new perspective on the world of economics.
For the Dance Major: Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans
Ballet is the basis of classical dance technique, and has been practiced for centuries. Homans uncovers the art’s long history by placing it in the context of the last 400 years of history as well as describing how it has changed and been adapted to different cultures and nationalities over the years. The writing is as elegant as the book’s topic, and will help every dance major gain an even stronger appreciation for ballet.
For the English Major: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
English majors have pretty much read every sort of book there is. But after a year of Shakespeare and Nabokov and Poe, nothing sounds less appealing to me than diving into another long-winded novel that, though brilliant, takes more brainpower than we have to give during vacation months. Simonson’s novel is well written, charming, and absolutely delightful with just enough wit and literariness to make it the perfect English major beach read.
For the Environmental Science and Geosciences Major: Wild by Cheryl Strayed
After experiencing an emotional trauma, Cheryl Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail completely solo. Her memoir describes her internal monologue as well as the beautiful natural sights she witnessed and her exciting, sometimes scary journey. It has a little bit of everything for an Environmental Science or Geosciences major.
For the Gender Studies Major: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
According to Steve Harvey, women are usually successful professionally but not romantically because they rely on the insights of fellow women to decode male behavior. To reverse this problem, Harvey decodes the modern man in a novel directed towards successful women who are trying to navigate their love lives. This piece is both entertaining and revealing for a Gender Studies major interested in social construction.
For the Government and International Affairs Major: The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam
The Vietnam War is one of the controversial events that defined our parents’ generation, but it’s difficult to fully understand all of the events and circumstances surrounding it such as the Baby Boomers era, the Cold War, and Watergate. This book clearly outlines all of those events to explain the United States’ foreign policy as well as the Vietnam War, and will capture the attention of Government and International Affairs majors.
For the Neuroscience, Exercise Science and Psychology Major: Spark by John J. Ratey
One of our personal favorites, Spark is all about the impact that exercise can have on the brain, both neurologically and psychologically. It explores exercise’s impact on everything from neurodegenerative disorders to academic success to anxiety, and will blow your mind. The content is complex yet clear and entertaining to read, making it perfect for summertime.
For the Music Major: A Natural Woman by Carole King
Carole King has recorded, performed, written and conducted classics over the course of her career, as well as collaborated with artists such as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, and James Taylor, while also conducting a rocky personal life. Her memoir’s portrayal of the rock ‘n’ roll world will inspire and delight Music majors.
For all Skidmore Majors: Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
We all know that the official Skidmore catchphrase is “creative thought matters.” This book puts that motto into use by describing different groups and people who have used creativity as vehicle for change and success.
What Everyone Will Be Reading: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
This is the hottest new romance on the market. A trilogy, it describes the relationship between the innocent Ana and they mysterious Christian Grey. It’s dark, sexy and romantic, and reading it will get you prepared for the frenzy surrounding the movie currently in the works.
Summer reading may still hold the memory of required lists of undesirable books from our middle school days, but after checking out some of these works, you’re bound to hit the local public library more than once. Happy summer collegiettes—we wish you lots of sun and R&R with whatever lit pick you choose!