top of page

Summer Reading List for High Schoolers

Even if you’re out of school for the summer, it’s important to at least read a book or two; keeping up with studies or at least reading over the summer is linked to better preparedness in the beginning of the school year, so regardless of your school year, you should endeavor to read at least a handful of books over the summer.

The below suggestions are a mix of young adult, historical fiction, realistic fiction, poetry, and other genres of literature. Hopefully, something speaks to you. Feel free to reach for books from other grade levels too.

Some books may also be featured in school syllabi, so it may be good to read them if a student wishes to prepare early for the school year. These books are marked with an asterisk.

For the summer before Grade 9/Year 10

  1. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction; LGBTQA+

A coming-of-age story, this book focuses on the closeted Simon Spier as someone threatens to out him after an email falls into the wrong hands. Filled with genuine and fun moments and creative storytelling, this is a story that will pull at the heartstrings and speak to teens regardless of their background.

2. Night by Elie Wiesel

Genre: Historical Nonfiction

This personal account of a Holocaust survivor is a good way to introduce younger students to much deeper themes by giving an intimate view into a dark period of history. A short yet impactful read.

3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding*

Genre: Classics

A group of schoolboys are stranded on an island without adult supervision. What starts as an adventure with a sense of freedom and excitement devolves into a harrowing story about terror, backstabbing, and survival, and innocence is shattered.

4. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Genre: Science Fiction

Matteo Alacrán was created for one purpose: as a clone, he is the answer to immortal life for El Patrón, the drug lord of a country called Opium that sits between the United States and what was once Mexico. From a young age, Matteo is ostracized by El Patrón’s household; only the drug lord seems to love him wholly. Thus, when an opportunity to become his own person comes to him, Matteo seizes it. Will he be able to escape the shadow of his creator?

5. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga*

Genre: Contemporary Literature

Balram Halwai is a multifaceted man. A servant, philosopher, opportunist, entrepreneur, and murderer, he tells the story of his life over a seven-day span, starting from his humble beginnings in the lowest caste in India to his wildly successful business in a world that did its best to work against him. A tense narrative full of twists, questionable morality, and suspense, The White Tiger is sure to captivate readers in its dark jaws.

For the summer before Grade 10/Year 11

  1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini*

Genre: Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Lauded as one of the most poignant and unforgettable works in contemporary literature, The Kite Runner is a beautifully written story about the complicated friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant against the backdrop of the violent contemporary history of Afghanistan. Exploring the themes of literacy, betrayal, redemption, and intergenerational relationships, The Kite Runner is a classic that will affect you very deeply.

2. And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Genre: Poetry

Widely considered to be one of the most fearless and innovative poets of her time, Maya Angelou writes about the strength of the human spirit to overcome debilitating obstacles in this poem. A good introduction to contemporary poetry.

3. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams*

Genre: Play; Realistic Fiction

This Pulitzer Prize and Drama Critics Circle Award winning play tells the story of Blanche DuBois, a woman who struggles with coming to terms with her past and, in the process, allows it to consume her, serving as a stark reminder of what happens when we allow ourselves to be completely haunted by the past. A great introduction to contemporary American plays.

4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley*

Genre: Horror, Classics, Science Fiction

Often regarded as one of the defining books of gothic horror and science fiction, Frankenstein tells the tale of a man who tries to play God. Believing himself to be on the cusp of greatness, Dr. Frankenstein devolves into madness and, one night, creates the Creature: a grotesque, empty husk of a being, a patchwork of limbs and body pieces sewn together. From that night, Dr. Frankenstein’s life takes a horrible and tragic turn. A great read for those who want to challenge themselves.

5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut*

Genre: Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Classics

Commonly classified as one of the world’s greatest anti-war books, Slaughterhouse-Five focuses on the infamous firebombing of Dresden but with a science fiction twist. Following the life of Billy Dickson from his early years to his time as a cultist to his time traveling through war, the story draws heavily from Vonnegut’s own experiences of being a prisoner of war in World War II. A profound and intriguing read.

For the summer before Grade 11/Year 12

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen*

Genre: Historical Fiction, Classics

Elizabeth Bennet can hardly stand Mr. Darcy, a rather stubborn and rude gentleman who moves to her vicinity with his friend. As the two clash over Elizabeth’s family, social pressures, and each other, Elizabeth comes to realize that perhaps they had more in common than previously thought. A classic, Pride and Prejudice explores the faults of a society from a restrictive time in a witty and insightful manner.

2. The Stranger by Albert Camus

Genre: Philosophical novel

A man finds himself drifting through the world, until one day, he suddenly decides to kill someone. A short yet impactful read, The Stranger explores the meaninglessness of life, absurdity, and relationships.

3. The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela

Genre: Historical fiction, Realistic Fiction

The Underdogs tells the story of a group of commoners who find themselves pulled into the Mexican Revolution, and follows the psychological transformations that each person undergoes as a result. Pulling from the author’s own experiences during the revolution, the book is seen as one of the most touching stories about the Mexican Revolution in contemporary literature.

4. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

Genre: Poetry

Loaded with allusions from both Western and Eastern literature, “The Waste Land” is a volatile poem that shifts between a satirical voice and a more earnest voice by abruptly changing between points of view, location, and time. This poem is divided into five sections that touch upon a wide variety of themes, such as disillusionment, death, self-denial, and judgement. A deep read for any ambitious reader.

5. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

One night, Yeong-hye has a blood-soaked nightmare that begins to haunt her every waking thought. In order to purge her mind, Yeong-hye decides to go vegetarian. However, in a country where doing so is taboo, Yeong-hye’s decision becomes an accidental tipping point for a snowball of events that threaten to permanently destabilize Yeong-hye’s body and mind, changing her forever.

For the summer before Grade 12/Year 13

1. The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Genre: Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Told from two different points of view set in two different time periods, The Things We Cannot Say follows modern-day Alice as she unveils family secrets to do with Nazi-occupied Poland and Alina Dziak in 1942 as Nazi soldiers push into Poland as Alina loses her family, home, and fiance as war sweeps through Europe during World War II. In this interweaving of two poignant stories, both women make sacrifices to overcome intense obstacles. A deeply affecting and beautiful read.

2. The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

A collection of very personal and intimate short stories that explore the South Asian American diaspora in the west and their experiences visiting India, The Interpreter of Maladies focuses on the process of assimilation in a new world and the feeling of “othering” in the old. About a range of individuals from children to the elderly who are mostly from the middle to upper classes, this collection, which won the Pulitzer Prize, the Pen/Hemingway Award, and the New Yorker’s Debut Book of the year when it was published in 1999, is sure to tug at your heart as you are given a deep look into the souls and experiences of each character.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Genre: Historical fiction, Classics

A tragic and turbulent story, Wuthering Heights follows the development of the volatile relationship between two families, the Earnshaws and the Lintons, and Mr. Earnshaw’s adopted son, Heathcliff. Though it originally drew a lot of controversy because of its “scandalous” content that ran adverse to traditional Victorian morality and religious and societal values, Wuthering Heights is now widely considered to be one of the most influential Romantic and Gothic novels of our time. Perfect for readers who want to challenge themselves.

4. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Genre: Beat Generation, Stream of Consciousness

Set against the backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use prevalent in the poetry scene of the Beat Generation in the 1950s, On the Road is based on Jack Kerouac's adventures with Neal Cassady’s cross-country road trips. With lyrical language that is unraveled through a stream of consciousness and told with the passion of youth yet the somberness of a serious introspection, On the Road outlines a quest for meaning and genuine life experiences, capturing the American spirit of freedom and hope. A good, deep read for advanced readers looking for something different.

5. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Genre: Poetry

Leaves of Grass is a poetry collection that is loosely connected through Whitman’s philosophy of life and humanity, celebrating nature and the interactions between it and humans. Though at times heavy in dreamlike or fantastical language, Leaves of Grass is not religious or spiritual; it focuses primarily on grounding the reader in the body and celebrating its miracles.

Want a more personalized reading list and a holistic plan on how to improve and prepare for your English classes over the summer? Dragon Prep offers consulting services to help guide your child’s pre-college process. For more information, call or WhatsApp 9835 8011 or visit


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
bottom of page