Although having to read more books than you can count on your hands before college is not required, it is recommended. Not only will you be one step ahead, but you will also be prepared for the type of reading that you have to do in college. Here are some recommendations that most universities and colleges require for their first-year students to read:
1. Adam Smith – “Wealth of Nations”
Although geared towards those looking for an economics-based career or education, “Wealth of Nations” can teach you more than just about money. And, though written almost three hundred years ago, most of what the “Wealth of Nations” is about is still relevant today. Most liberal arts colleges/universities require this book in general-ed curriculums.
2. Niccolo Machiavelli – “The Prince”
Every student who wants to learn how the course of history has been criticized and changed must read “The Prince.” Short, concise, and often debated, “The Prince” is often read by social science classes.
3. Thoreau – “Walden”
Some high school students will have read excerpts of Thoreau’s “Walden.” Some colleges will require a full reading. To prepare yourself, read this fascinating work of literature that will teach you a little something about man’s relationship to his world.
4. William Wordsworth – all poems
Wordsworth is one of the figureheads of Romantic poetry. Most poetry classes will require a reading of some, if not all, of Wordsworth’s poems, and most of them can be difficult to fully understand. So, prepare yourself by immersing yourself in Wordsworth’s words.
5. Ralph Ellison – “Invisible Man”
Though not as famous as his counterparts, James Baldwin and Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison contributed to African-American literature’s history by writing “Invisible Man.” As some would say, you either like it or you don’t, but the bottom line is that if you take an African-American literature class, you’re probably going to read this novel.
If you are going to a liberal arts school, you will probably have to read Sophocles (any of his plays) in your freshman year. Not written in difficult language, his plays are captivating even for readers today.
7. Chaucer – “The Canterbury Tales”
You don’t have to read it in Middle English, but you should probably read it for college. Though not required in all colleges unless you are pursuing an English degree, “The Canterbury Tales” is still a great collection of stories that provide a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in Chaucer’s time.
You may find many more ideas by asking your teachers, or by visiting your college.