Summer Reading: 7 Best Nonfiction Books for College & High School Students

Sunday, December 10, 2023
7 Best Nonfiction Books For College And High School Students

We know that summer break is often a great time to take a break from the rigor of schoolwork and relax. But that doesn't mean you need to forego reading altogether - instead, the break is a great time to choose books that interest you outside of your coursework.

Fiction is often the first choice for young readers, but nonfiction books can be just as entertaining and educational. Learning from real-life people and events is what you may enjoy best!

From new titles to classics, we've compiled the seven best non-fiction books for high school students to dig into this summer!

1. Flowers in the Gutter by K.R. Gaddy

You've probably read some non-fiction about the Holocaust already as a part of your lessons on the atrocity. In Flowers in the Gutter, readers learn about something you may not associate with the period: pirates.

The book follows a group of working-class teenagers in Germany who risked their lives to resist the Nazis, known as the Edelweiss Pirates. These youth bravely distributed anti-Nazi propaganda, aided Jewish people in escaping, and sabotaged Nazi operations.

As you learn about the Edelweiss pirates, you'll be sucked into the narrative like an action-packed novel and then amazed when you remember these stories are true.

2. The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller

True crime is hugely popular, and you've probably heard of this before: Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.

But did she? This book tells the story of the Borden family and their ultimate murder, as well as the trial of Lizzie. There is a heavy emphasis on separating myth from truth in the story and many exciting details about how the legal process worked at the time and works today.

The Borden Murders is perfect for high school readers who love true crime and mystery novels alike.

3. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

For some readers, books about the past are hard to connect with and may not be the right fit. The 57 Bus is a story about two teenage girls who share a bus home from school and not much else. Sasha and Richard had very little in common - they were of different genders, races, and socioeconomic classes. But their fates become intertwined when Richard plays a "prank" on Sasha by lighting her skirt on fire.

After Richard is charged with hate crimes and faces life in prison, their lives are forever changed. The book expertly tells the story with compassion and interest, exploring their lives and circumstances and the landscape of hate crimes in the United States.

4. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Whether you're following world events today or simply loved the movie Anastasia, you likely know something about the history of Russia. In this book, Fleming dives deeper into the fascinating history of one of the best-known families in the country.

The story of the Romanovs' ending is famous: in a politically charged massacre, the royal family is killed. But did one princess survive? The Family Romanov goes beyond this mystery to dig into the history of the family and the empire.

5. Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

For lovers of science, military intelligence, or international relations, Bomb is a graphic novel adaptation of a longer book that will surely be riveting. The story follows the discovery of atom splitting in Germany and how it led to the creation of the atomic bomb.

With this discovery underway, readers will follow the story of the plotting, covert operations, massive games, and lies that allowed the weapon to exist and become an international force. Any lover of spy stories and history will have no problem getting engrossed in this graphic novel.

6. Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

Simone Biles is an internationally known legend in gymnastics, with four gold medals under her belt and even more records set. Courage to Soar is her memoir, starting with her childhood in Texas and up until her recent success. Any athlete, sports fan, or gymnast will love the behind-the-scenes stories she shares.

But beyond that, Simone is a role model for many young people today, and her triumphs make for a beautiful story.

7. I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda

In this dual memoir, authors Caitlin and Martin recount how they met when living on different continents: Caitlin's school began a program for pen pals, and Martin was a recipient. What started as a school assignment leads to a six-year correspondence that changes the course of both their lives.

Now, best friends Caitlin and Martin reflect on their similarities and differences and how they each learned to look beyond their world.


These are just 7 of the best high school books for non-fiction lovers - there are plenty more you can explore!