Best Summer Readings for Students AP World History

One of the best things that you can do to prepare for the AP World History exam is to read as much as you possibly can. The more that you read, the more outside information that you will be able to have for the exam. If your teacher provides you with a reading list, you are already half-way prepared. But, even if you already have a reading list, you might want to think about adding a few more titles:

– National Geographic Concise History of the World: An Illustrated Time Line, by Neil Kagan. Although this is formatted more like a textbook than a book for pleasurable reading, you will be able to get a sense of the context upon which other novels might be read. This is a helpful “background” book that will introduce to you the basic and important events to keep in mind. This is a relatively inexpensive book, but even if you think that the retail price is too much, you can still order a used copy.

– Mastering Modern World History, 4th Ed., by Norman Lowe. Again, this is another book that is formatted like a textbook, but it will teach you about modern history in a way that is engaging and interesting. I found that this book was hard to put down. The information is a bit dense, but the reading is quite easy. Be prepared to start reading this right away, because it is lengthy.

– A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age, by William Manchester. This is a comprehensive text about medieval Europe. This is a difficult time to read about because there were many concepts and events happening that you need to remember for the test. Take Manchester’s interpretation with a grain of salt, however. 

– A History of Western Society Since 1300, by John P. McKay, Bennett D. Hill, and John Buckler. Get your pencil and highlighter ready for this text. This is another textbook that is great for looking up events as you read about them in other books. Think of this book as a secondary source rather than a primary one. Be sure to have this text on hand when you are reading primary sources.

– Primary Source Reader for World History, Volume II: Since 1500, by Elsa A. Nystrom. This reader will give you a chance at looking at different primary documents in order to broaden your understanding of world history. It is important to read primary sources because they give you first-hand information about events. You can then use textbooks to enhance your reading of primary documents. This is a good choice because it is comprehensive.