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Heading to College? Read These Books First

2013 September 6
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Photo by Jason B. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Photo by Jason B. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

For many colleges and universities, this week marks the beginning of the new year, which is an exciting time of seeing old friends, making new friends, choosing your classes and buying textbooks. And, for many high school seniors, fall semester represents the start of the college application process. In honor of these two annual traditions, September seems like the perfect time for a post on books that focus on this transition to college.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – Set in New Orleans in the 1950s, this historical novel from 2012 Morris Award finalist Ruta Sepetys tells the story of Josie Moraine. She is the daughter of a prostitute who is determined to make it out of New Orleans and away from the type of life that her mother has created for herself, both literally when she moves out of the brothel to live on her own above a bookshop and figuratively. Her greatest dream is to find a way to attend a prestigious college in the north. But to achieve this goal, she will have to fight against influences in her life that are trying to draw her back into the world of illicit activities and shady characters that she has so long fought against.

Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman – A group of hackers decide to undertake the ultimate challenge: find a way to get a completely unqualified classmate into Harvard University. But, a simple bet makes what seemed to be nothing more than a personal challenge into something with stakes that are quite a bit higher. A perfect read for anyone who is immersed in college applications and is looking to see the lighter side of the admissions process.

Easy by Tammara Webber – In this New Adult novel, Jacqueline is a college sophomore still reeling from the reality that she followed her boyfriend to college only to have him break up with her. When her friends drag her to a party to help her bounce back from the break up, she is rescued from an assault by a complete stranger. But when he later shows up in her economics class, she decides that she wants to learn more about him and this slowly blossoms into a new relationship. The college setting proves integral to this romance’s plot, making it the perfect read for anyone interested in reading about the college experience.

Fangirl Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell – In this novel which will be released next week, Cath is a brand new college freshman and, so far, the transition is not going well. Her previously inseparable twin sister has decided that not only would she like some distance, but in fact, she would like to not share a room with Cath for the first time ever. And her father, who is alone for the first time, isn’t handling the transition as well as any of them had hoped. But, Cath convinces herself that she is happy as long as she can continue to delve into the world of Simon Snow fanfiction, where she is something of an online celebrity. A book about growing up and learning how to be yourself apart from your family, Fangirl will particularly appeal to anyone who can identify with its introverted main character.

Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund – Amy Haskel is a junior in college when she is offered the opportunity to become one of the first women to join one of its prestigious secret societies. But, as she tentatively makes her way into this new world that is completely foreign to her, she will come to realize how much membership might change her life at college and beyond.

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando – While this book isn’t scheduled for release until December, it is definitely worth looking forward to if you like the idea of books that discuss the transition to college. It follows Elizabeth, a New Jersey girl who is headed cross-country to Berkeley for college, and Lauren, a San Francisco native who only needs to move across the bay, as they find out that they are roommates and tentatively reach out to one another in the summer before their freshman year of college. The book presents the girls’ points of view in alternating chapters and while their friendship is the major focus in the book, it also tells a very relatable story about how each of them transitions mentally from high school to college and how this impacts their relationships with family and friends.

Whether you are currently preparing your college applications, heading back to campus for the start of the new year or just interested in reminiscing about your college days, these books should offer lots of fun along the way. Let me know in the comments if you have any favorite college reads that we should add to the list!

- Carli Spina, currently reading Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

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