There is no shortage to summer reading lists — for kids and adults — but here is a unique one, a collection of recommendations from college admissions officers and counselors. It was assembled by Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling at  The Derryfield School in Manchester, New Hampshire, who annually asks college admissions deans and high school counselors to send him recommendations of books that are great summer reads for parents, students and everybody else. The list includes books about college, other non-fiction and great fiction. You can see last year’s list here, the 2013 list here in The New York Times, and this year’s, below, following an introduction from Barnard.

By Brennan Barnard

“No more pencils. No more books. No more teacher’s dirty looks.” In the immortal words of Alice Cooper, “school’s out for summer!” There is nothing more freeing than the last day of school each June, when months of laziness, long sunny days and lack of responsibility abound. Perhaps, sports, work and other commitments increasingly encroach upon the sacred institution of summer vacation, but nonetheless the end of the school year evokes joy among students and educators alike.

And then there is summer reading. Two words that can reduce even the most studious and intellectual engaged high school student to a sullen, bitter teenager. I can still recall the panic and spite I felt during the week before Labor Day as a young person. This was the annual moment when I finally owned up to my procrastination and opened the books that had been assigned by my teachers. I was not much of a reader and obligatory reading was especially painful. All I wanted to do was play outdoors with friends. As an adult, summer reading is a much more celebrated concept. It means an opportunity to hopefully complete the array of partially begun titles on my nightstand.

At The Derryfield School, summer reading has an interesting twist that would have been much more palatable for me as a high school student. Every faculty member chooses a favorite book and students can pick a title from this diverse list. Some students choose books based on their most adored teacher and some based on the brief summary provided. Then there are likely students (like I would have done) who choose the shortest book on the list regardless of topic. During the first week of school, faculty members gather with students who read their recommendation for an engaging discussion.

Inspired by this practice, I solicited summer reading recommendations from colleagues in college counseling and admission from high schools and colleges across the nation. Here is what they are reading:


Recommended by: Timothy Pratt, Dean of College Advising, St. Paul’s School, NH

Recommended by: Courtney M. Skerritt, Associate Director of College Counseling, The Hockaday School, TX

“Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City” by Kathryn Edin and Timothy Nelson

Recommended by: Vicki Englehart, Dean of College Counseling & Guidance, Lake Highland Preparatory School, FL

Recommended by: Liz Pleshette, Director of College Counseling, Latin School of Chicago, IL

“Primates of Park Avenue” by Wednesday Martin

Recommended by: Rhody Davis, Director of College Counseling, Viewpoint School, CA

Recommended by: Jon Reider, Director of College Counseling, San Francisco University High School, CA


Recommended by: Brennan Barnard, Director of College Counseling, The Derryfield School, NH

Recommended by: Jeffrey Durso-Finley, Director of College Counseling, Lawrenceville School, NJ

Recommended by: Mark C. Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling, Colorado Academy, CO

Recommended by: Jennifer Delahunty, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Kenyon College, OH


Education Related:

The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan

Recommended by: F. Sheppard Shanley, Senior Associate Director of Admission, Northwestern University

Recommended by: Morning Celeste Naughton, Senior Associate Director of Admission, Warren Wilson College, NC

Recommended by: Vernon Castillo, Senior Associate Dean of Admissions, Union College, NY

Recommended by: Susan Dyment, Director of College Guidance, Sant Bani School, Sanbornton, NH.

Recommended by: Matthew J. DeGreeff, Director of College Counseling, Middlesex School, MA

”The Road to Character” by David Brooks

Recommended by: Stephanie Balmer, Head of School, The Harpeth Hall School, TN

“Whistling Vivaldi” by Claude Steele

Recommended by: Martha C. Merrill, Dean of Admission & Financial Aid, Connecticut College, CT

Recommended by: Noel Blyler, Associate Director of College Counseling, Charles Wright Academy, WA

Recommended by: Joe Freeman, Assistant Director of College Counseling, Randolph School, AL

Recommended by: Mimi Csatlos, Director of College Counseling,Virginia Episcopal School, VA

“Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

Recommended by: Susan B. Zarwell, Director of College Guidance, University School of Milwaukee, WI

Recommended by: Jennifer Rohan Beros, Assistant Director of College Counseling, University School, OH

Recommended by: David S. Bonner, Director of College Counseling, King Low Heywood Thomas, CT


Recommended by: Michael Stefanowicz, Assistant Director of Admission, Saint Michael’s College, VT

Recommended by: Peter C. Jennings, Director of College Counseling, Concord Academy, MA

Recommended by: Corie McDermott-Fazzino, Assistant Director of College Counseling, Portsmouth Abbey School, RI

Recommended by: Debra Shaver, Director of Admission, Smith College, MA

All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

Recommended by: Ryan Ricciardi, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Bowdoin College, ME

Recommended by: Matthew Cohen, Associate Director of Admissions, Skidmore College, NY

Uprooted by Naomi Novick

Recommended by: Alison Slater, Senior Assistant Director of Admission, Denison University, OH

“The End of College” by Kevin Carey

Recommended by: Stuart B. Titus, Associate Director of College Counseling, St. George’s School, RI

Recommended by: Paul Sunde, Director of Admissions, Dartmouth College, NH

“Redemption Road” by Lisa Ballantyne

Recommended by: Julie Ramsey, Director of Admissions, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

 (Correction: First name of author of “College: What It Was, Is and Should be” was incorrect in earlier version. It is Andrew, not Anthony.)