The Continued Benefits of Summer Reading in College

As the end of the semester finally draws to a close, some of us are thinking “thank God!” while others are sad to leave Temple behind for four months. I’m a little mix of both, where I’m sad to leave my friends but happy to receive a break from academic stress.

Four months is a long time, especially if you’re like me and you’re returning to your hometown and your full-time summer job. Living back home with my family is a lot different than living with my friends in our apartment at school. I’m used to just doing me and coming and going when I please, whereas when I come home, my mom always wants to know of my whereabouts.

Like how when Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama begrudgingly returned home from New York City to her hometown in Alabama, and rather liked it.

But four months away from school is also even more of a long time when you consider what many of us want to do over the summer. Some of us might take summer courses, but for the majority, college kids don’t want to do much of anything related to school in the summer. We want to go on spontaneous trips with our friends and soak up the sun.

Some of the skills that we sharpened over the course of the school year may wear away in the four months away from college. According to Time Magazine, summer reading may very well be the solution to this.

But rest assured, I’m not talking about engagement in a rigorous program like the ones some of us, like myself, have experienced in high school. In fact, in college, a lot of us are still able to stay intellectually stimulated in the summer by other means besides classroom instruction, like career-building internships, volunteer activities, or employment (Witte). With this in mind, us college kids have pretty packed schedules in the summer that do not allow much time to devote to an exhaustive list of books to read.

Reading for leisure is not anything foreign to me, as I’ve taken honors and AP English classes all through high school and decided to major in English in college. But for most of us probably, reading is something that we do not do much for fun because it’s often a tedious task required of our academic classes during the school year. With that being said, I think it’s a pretty awesome idea to read for fun in the summer.

Reading does not always have to consist of scouring academic journals as part of a research project or reading factual articles as homework for a class.

Rather, reading novels allows one to be taken to another world without having to pay for travel. Pretty awesome, right? I can go to Rome just by reading a book and live vicariously through the protagonist’s unfolding summer romance with a hot Italian local.

And all the while, you’re enriching your brain’s ability to grasp and retain information so that you can not only subconsciously prepare yourself for the obstacles of the coming school year, but also do something good for your intellectual growth.

There are so many books out there to fit whatever your fancy is, so it’s a great thing that this vast variety exists just in case you’re not particularly into the stereotypical romance novels or sci-fi books that many enjoy.

Here are some books on my summer reading list; perhaps this will give you a start on yours.

  • Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  •  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Sydney McFadden