Books to Read Before You Graduate

If you’re ever looking for a book to read, here are eight books to read before you graduate, as recommended by teachers and students.

  • Towards a New Socialism by Paul Cockshott

“I consider Towards a New Socialism pretty much essential reading for leftists, Marxists of course, but also those with basic knowledge who are trying to gain a higher level of understanding. Today, there are many doubts about the feasibility of Marxist concepts, particularly Marxist-Leninist concepts, even among the western left; a common critique of [the] communist theory is that it’s old and outdated. Towards a New Socialism is a proof of concept for, as the title states, new socialism firmly rooted in modernity. It goes into the history of using computers for economic planning in socialist states, such as the USSR or Chile, and draws parallels between the computer-controlled stock market and central economic planning. Especially for leftists in the first world, I think this is necessary reading. While comprehensive, it’s also quite an easy-on-the-brain book.” Ethan Chen, senior.

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver, Lois Lowry. Published by Houghton Mifflin 1993, accessed via Destiny Discover

“[It] made me think about society more and the world we live in.” Francy Shimooka, sophomore.

  • Ready Player One by Ernst Cline

“It was one of the first books that got me into reading because I found the dystopian concept really cool.” Jonathan Montalvo, senior

  • Paper Towns by John Green
Paper Towns, John Green. Published by Dutton Books 2008, accessed via Destiny Discover

“I believe a lot of teens like and would like this book. It’s an original book that’s bittersweet and displays the reality of life in the perspective of teens.” Eileen Tran, senior

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies, Willing Golding. Published by Coward-McCann 1954, accessed via Destiny Discover

“…besides the fact that it wasn’t my favorite book to read I liked how it taught me about what people do when it comes to survival and how it [affects] them mentally.” Alana Willis, sophomore

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
The five people you meet in heaven, Mitch Albom. Published by Hyperion 2003, accessed via Destiny Discover

“I really enjoyed the book because (as cheesy as it sounds) it prompted me to think about life and death, and how people’s actions impact each other in seemingly inconsequential but very significant ways. Especially since I’ve lived in so many places, it made me think of all of the people who’ve impacted me unknowingly and vice versa. I think it offers a very interesting perspective on the interconnectedness of life in a way most people don’t think about in their day-to-day lives.” Rylee Montague, senior

  • All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren. Published by Harcourt 2005, accessed via Destiny Discover

“As the old saying goes, ‘You may not have an interest in politics, but politics has an interest in you.’ All the King’s Men is the best book written about American politics.  It motivated me to pursue a career in government and public service.” Mr. Ward, history and social studies teacher.

  • The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed with Standardized Testing- But You Don’t Have to Be by Anya Kamenetz

“Kamenetz is a journalist, writer, essayist and contributor to NPR reporting on issues in education. The first half of her book is a review of the origins and history of standardized testing; the good, the bad and the ugly are all in there. There were times where I was both shocked and not surprised at the same time when reading this part. Reading and re-reading this section challenges me to be aware of and work to reduce my biases when it comes to planning for and evaluating the kids who take my classes. The second half of the book are anecdotes about how teachers, schools, and other institutions around the country are doing the school thing differently. I read and re-read this section when I am struggling with how to make my lessons and assessments authentic and meaningful. I also re-read it when I seem to be in a rut with my teaching or when I hit a creative wall. It challenges me to do better by my students and it reminds me that getting to work with kids who are trying to learn (in my case science and biology) is one of the best gigs out there. You should read this book because you are about to be more in charge of your learning and education than you ever have been. The second part of the book has plenty of anecdotes about how your undergraduate experiences could be and should be different than your high school experiences.” Mr. Switzer, biology teacher.


If you are interested in more books, here are 45 more titles to add to your arsenal, recommended by our librarians.