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Reading Recommendations: Fiction, Science & Technology
By Elijah Koome
“When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch?” (Stanford)
“Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world.” (Princeton)
Strange as it may sound, the above prompts respectively form part and parcel of the college application to Stanford and Princeton, two of the most prestigious universities in the world. These are by no means the only universities that directly ask applicants to reflect on the books they have been reading. As a rule, colleges in the US expect applicants to be intellectually curious. They expect students to go out of their way to seek knowledge and engage with ideas through reading. To be a successful applicant to most US universities, you must therefore ensure you are reading widely and consistently.
But you should not read only because your prospective colleges expect you to do so.
You should read because reading equips you with a largesse of useful vocabulary. If you are a reader, you won’t be dumbfounded when you come across words like “pestiferous” in your SAT test. If you are a reader, you will be perfectly comfortable weaving words like “lackadaisical” in your next essay. As a reader, you will understand the value of spicing up your writing with metaphors and other devices that capture and sustain the reader’s attention.
And when the time for college application comes, you will laugh all the way to your dream school with your exemplary essays (you will have to write many-- Stanford alone requires eleven).
Wondering whether it’s too late and where to get started with reading? It’s not. If you haven’t been reading before, the summer is a great time to get started. Over the years, Hale consultants have curated excellent reading recommendations that will help you hit the ground running.
In this first installment of the blog, we are focusing on books in the fiction and technology categories. In the next installment of this blog post, we shall focus our recommendations on business & entrepreneurship, politics and gender issues.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas- A gripping story of injury and vengeance featuring all the intrigues of nineteenth century France.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley- A young scientist creates a monstrous humanoid creature in his lab.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain- A scathing, witty satire of nineteenth century American South.
Don Quixote by Cervantes- A “knight” sets out on a quest, inspired by the melodramatic stories from books on chivalry.
Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson- Pirates, buried treasure, high seas.
Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky- A quasi-philosophical ramble by one of Dostoyevesky’s most famous creations.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - A classic coming of age story told from the perspective of a young disenchanted teenager.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - The perfect introduction to America as a foreigner, and more specifically, a black person.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel - A fantastic story of a boy and his beloved animals stranded in the sea.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut - An American classic about a soldier who witnesses the horrors of the second world war.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - A deeply touching tale of life in the war-torn Afghanistan.
Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee - A realistic portrait of family tensions and life after graduation.
Science and Technology
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba - Learn of how an innovative boy saves his village from chronic droughts.
Steve Jobs: The Man who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal - Learn all about one of the most gifted and persistent individuals who transformed the way we live and work through the creation of Apple.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance - Learn all about one of the most eccentric and entrepreneurial figures of our age.
AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee - Read to learn more about the fascinating world of AI and what it means for the future.
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari - Read to learn more about expected trends of our future from one of the most well-regarded thinkers of today.
Headstrong: 52 Women who Changed Science by Rachel Swaby - Learn all about the unjustly unrecognized women who changed the shape of the world.
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking - If you are interested in astrophysics and mysteries of the universe, dive into this to learn from one of the greatest minds that ever lived.
The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee - A vivid and comprehensive “biography” of one of the most terrifying diseases of today: cancer. Read to learn more about an enemy that has befuddled physicians for ages.
Cosmos by Carl Sagan - Read this classic to get a grasp of the awe-inspiring nature of our universe.
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene - Another powerful book that illuminates many of the mysteries of our world and the universe.
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