SAT Summer Reading List 2021

This is why you need an SAT summer reading list. Summer seems like the perfect time to raise your SAT reading score. And it is. But please don’t spend the summer merely doing test after test….practice question after practice question, hoping to see your reading score improve. It might improve a little. But to see your SAT reading skills improve, you need to read more.

Don’t read the same dusty classics this summer!

Students tell me all the time that they hate reading. But I think they hate reading the kinds of books they are forced to read for school. Nobody likes forced reading. Nobody. I love to read, but if you tell me that I have to read 100 pages of a book before Tuesday, I will find cleaning my kitchen and bathroom endlessly fascinating instead of reading the book.

Part of the problem is that the books that are marketed as “good for you” are written in ways that students find inaccessible. Some classics have flowery descriptions and subtle humor that are difficult to understand on first reading. So the conclusion that these students come to is that they hate reading because they hate reading those kinds of books.

so Let’s try something different with my SAT Summer Reading List

I love genre fiction. Genre fiction are books that fall into the categories of Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Thriller, Horror and Western. Often these types of books are considered “garbage.” But trust me, there is poorly written literature and some fantastically written genre fiction.

This past year and a half has been a horror show filled with boring online classes, months stuck inside at home and buzz of anxiety. So let’s have a good summer reading fun (and productive) books.

Important caveat to Summer Reading lists

Not all books are great for all people. Just because a book is loved by millions does not mean that you will love it. Do some research on Goodreads or read the first few pages on Amazon to get a sense of whether you will enjoy the story. There are thousands of great books out there and it is just a matter of finding the ones that are right for you.


I love mysteries. They let you enjoy a story while racing to figure out what happened before you reach those last few pages. Here are some of my favorites.

A is for Alibi is one of my favorite books for students who want expand their vocabulary with a quick read.

Science Fiction

I love giving international students Science Fiction because the world building helps them develop their interpretation skills. The author will use a word (that isn’t in the dictionary) and reader needs to develop an understanding of tat word’s meaning through context.

Illuminae looks daunting but the story is so good.


Fantasy allows for magic to exist in the world. Magical people or magical creatures allow us to ignore the rules of reality.

Shadow and Bone has turned non-readers into readers.


While romance outsells all other types of books, it is often disregarded and criticized. Don’t believe it. Romance writers include Harvard professors, Lawyers, Doctors, and a myriad of other professionals who care deeply about their novels.


Sometimes the world is a scary place and reading a scarier book makes life not so bad. Watch out for the Vampires, Zombies and other Monsters. These choices are on the tame side of horror. If you want the really scary stuff, try Stephen King and Clive Barker.


Westerns used to be unbelievably popular (Romance for men). But they have become less so recently. If you are in the mood for some realistic fiction but set in another time, try one of these. Be warned though, many Westerns portray racist and classist views that don’t align with modern sensibilities.

Speculative Fiction

These books take a “what if” approach to history and current events. What if the world were slightly different.

SAT Reading List choice for 2021: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


Thrillers are fast-paced stories with non-stop action or twists and turns. I find these books are great for students who find the pace of most books too slow.

Looking for something shorter on your SAT Summer Reading List?

I have 12 weeks of articles that you can use to improve your vocabulary and reading skills. The link is through the picture below.

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