Whether you’re sat on a long-haul flight about to go on holiday, by the beach in your favorite swimsuit or back at your parents’ house on the sofa, a good book is a must-have summer item. From bloody airport thrillers to riveting non-fiction, salacious romances to extraordinary sci-fi, there’s a book out there for everyone to explore and the endless hours of down-time until term starts again are the perfect opportunity to sink your teeth into something special.\r\nOf course, some books are more useful to read than others, particularly ahead of another year at university. Not everyone receives a summer reading list from their tutors though, which is why it can be useful to know what other universities are recommending to their students. Here are some recommendations, based upon research from the New York Times, and a survey of universities conducted by Penguin Random House.\r\nNon-fiction\r\n\n \n \n \n \n \n \n \r\nJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson\r\nThis memoir by the former lawyer Bryan Stevenson is one of the most popular summer reading picks for US universities, with at least 70 colleges over the past three years assigning it to incoming students. Tackling injustices in the legal system that Stevenson experienced first-hand, and focusing on the need for criminal justice reform, Just Mercy is compulsory reading for all of the incoming students at Ohio State this year.\r\nEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond\r\nWinner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, Evicted follows Desmond, a Harvard sociologist, as he embeds himself among eight struggling families in Milwaukee to learn more about their struggle to keep a roof over their heads. No one book can solve the housing problem in the US, but Desmond provides some fresh ideas which will transform your understanding of poverty.\r\nBecoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt\r\nTransgender rights will continue to be a campus talking point in the years ahead, and the story reported by Nutt here is likely to inspire and raise awareness of how society’s long-held views on gender and identity are being challenged. Nutt spent four years researching the story of Wyatt Maines, an adopted twin boy who transitioned into the titular Nicole, and her family and the resulting story is incredible.\r\nHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance\r\nWhile many of the selections so far have been books with a liberal viewpoint, Vance’s portrayal of the working-class white communities that elected Donald Trump as their president is essential reading no matter your political beliefs. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the universities to have this on their summer reading list, and Sheila Stoeckel, the director for teaching and learning programs at the university libraries, told the New York Times: “We’re picking books there aren’t easy answers for. If we picked a book that there was an easy answer for, it wouldn’t be as lively of a discussion or exploration.”\r\nBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates\r\nA bestselling look at race in America, Between the World and Me is on the reading list at Tulane and at least nine other colleges. Written as a series of letters to his teenaged son, Coates’ memoir follows the evolution of his thinking on race, touching upon the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the tragic examples of Ferguson and Trayvon Martin.\r\nSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson\r\nRonson spent three years meeting with victims of high-profile public shamings, from those who were viciously trolled online to others who made a mistake and were demonized for it. Providing a rare and vital insight into the damage online trolls and the court of public opinion can do, Ronson’s book is bound to have you thinking twice before sending your next snarky tweet.\r\nFiction\r\n\n \n \n \n \n \n \n \r\nFrankenstein by Mary Shelley\r\nIf you haven’t read this classic horror novel yet, now’s your chance. Forget all your preconceptions about the tale of Frankenstein’s monster as the real thing is a far cry from the lumbering green monster with two bolts in its neck and a big forehead. Shelley’s book remains as relevant as ever thanks to its views on technology and bioengineering, and is bound to provoke a wide range of talking points.\r\nReady Player One by Ernest Cline\r\nIf sci-fi is more your thing, Cline’s cult classic is a must-read. Set in 2044, in a world where most people spend all day in a virtual reality world rather than confront the ugliness of reality, the novel follows teenager Wade Watts as he searches for clues left behind by the virtual world’s creator. The only problem? He’s not the only one looking for them, and the others are willing to kill to get their prize.\r\nSilence by Shusaku Endo\r\nA popular book at religious colleges and universities, Silence is the story of two Jesuit priests who travel to 17th century Japan, a country hostile to their religion. It was recently adapted into a film by Martin Scorsese, who supposedly loved the book so much he had wanted to make it into a film for years.\r\nThe Circle by Dave Eggers\r\nThe Circle may have recently been adapted into a Hollywood film, but you’re better off reading the novel for a more complete version of Eggers’ story. Mae Holland is initially delighted to have secured a job working for The Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, but as time goes on she realizes all is not at it seems. With internet privacy and global surveillance more relevant as topics than ever, The Circle provides an ominous warning of where we may be heading.\r\nMake Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet\r\nAfter going against her parents’ wishes and attending the ultra-elite Rawlings College, Lizet’s life changes when a young Cuban boy arrives in Miami, having fled his country on a raft. This novel is on the reading list at Elon University in North Carolina, among others.\r\nPoetry\r\nCitizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine\r\nMaybe poetry is more your thing? This meditation on race stacks incidents of racial aggression on top of each other, from slips of the tongue to the treatment of Serena Williams to shine a harsh light on the impact racism continues to have on society today.