Summer reading you’ll actually enjoy

Six books to add to your to-read list


Photo: Miriam Brown

Juniors Laura McDowell, Elle Vaughn and Britney Pepper read during their free period. For her suggestions, Brown explored options from fantasy to memoir.

Every year students are assigned summer reading, but, let’s face it, it’s not always what you want to be reading. Here are some books chosen by a student that you’re sure to enjoy.

“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart

Cadence Sinclair Easton spends every summer with her extended family at their private island off the coast of Cape Cod. She and her three cousins, Johnny, Mirren and Gat, have an unbreakable bond, a bond that seems to fade outside of the island. During their fifteenth summer at the island, something traumatic happens, but Cadence can’t remember what. Her family tells her that some things are better off not remembered, but regardless, she spends the next two years trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. “We Were Liars” is a beautiful book, with a memorable ending, that touches on subjects like race, class, greed, prejudice and love, and ends memorably.

Miriam’s Comments: I could not put this book down and thus finished it in nearly one sitting. Tears were streaming down my face by the end, but it was absolutely worth it.


“Warriors Don’t Cry: The Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High” by Melba Pattillo Beals

In 1957, as the world watched, Melba Beals and eight other students integrated Little Rock’s Central High School after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. They became known as “The Little Rock Nine,” iconic figures in the civil rights movement. During her time at the school, Beals was threatened by her classmates and their families. She was attacked with a lynching rope, sticks of dynamite and acidic spray. However,  Beals continued with courage and dignity, taking a stand against the race lines that had existed for decades.

Miriam’s Comments: Everyone should be required to read this. It is an insightful and 100-percent-true story of the Little Rock Nine and the discrimination that took place at the time. Beals truly is a warrior.


“Saint Anything” by Sarah Dessen

Sydney is always in her charismatic brother Peyton’s shadow. Even with Peyton acting recklessly, he receives all of his parents’ affection. After Peyton drives drunk and harms another boy, Sydney feels alienated from the rest of her family. When she meets the Chathams, a fun, chaotic family running the pizza parlor next door, Sydney begins to understand what a family is supposed to be like.

Miriam’s Comments: This is a coming-of-age story about guilt and letting things go, and it provides profound statements that any teenager can relate to.


“The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change” by Adam Braun

Adam Braun started a worldwide nonprofit organization with only 25 dollars. He saw a clear need for more educational opportunities in third-world countries, so he founded Pencils for Promise, an organization that builds schools around the world. Less than a decade later, Pencils of Promise has built 344 schools. “The Promise of a Pencil” follows Braun’s journey in the creation of his organization and gives advice on how to turn a dream into a reality.

Miriam’s Comments: I received this at the upper school award ceremony last year, and I loved it. I read the book quickly and immediately wanted to go out and do good in the world.


“The Lost Hero” by Rick Riordan

In this  first installment of the “Heroes of Olympus” series, a boy with amnesia, a girl whose father has gone missing and a boy who keeps seeing ghosts are whisked away to Camp Half-Blood, a place of protection and training for demi-gods, the children of the Greek gods. All demi-gods have powers, but the three teenagers don’t even know who their real parents are, much less what powers they possess. Likewise, they are clueless to the fact that the fate of the world will soon ride on their shoulders.

Miriam’s Comments: The “Heroes of Olympus” books are an extension of the “Percy Jackson” series, but with new characters and plotlines. When I first decided to read these books a while ago, I was already a fan of the “Percy Jackson” series, and I loved this series just as much. Every chapter is packed with action, and because the writing and plotlines are not incredibly complex, the book  is easy to follow. I read this series  while taking Latin, and the infusion of Greek and Roman culture into the stories helped teach me valuable information for class about the religious, political and cultural lives of the ancient populations.


“A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail” by Bill Bryson

“A Walk in the Woods” is Bill Bryson’s tale of his hiking the Appalachian Trail, including the history and ecology of the trail, the people he meets along the way and his experiences while trying to live on a trail for several months. Bryson interjects humor into a trite journey, turning a nonprofit book into an entertaining piece that anyone, even people who don’t consider themselves readers, would enjoy.

Miriam’s Comments: I haven’t finished reading this yet, but it is already one of my favorite books. I guarantee you will be chuckling to yourself as you read it.