Summer Reads for a Narrative State of Mind
College Application Essays
Fun Reads to Inspire your Storytelling Skills
Nothing helps you channel the style and voice of narrative writing than reading it. Writers, like Cupcake Brown, are masters of telling true stories in a fictionalized style. This is what you want to do in your college application essay–tell your stories. As you read any of these recommendations, notice how they bring everyday moments to life using sensory details, strong verbs, scene-setting descriptions and dialogue. Listen to their voices, and see how they write like they talk.
Here are some of my favorites. Most are on the lighter side (except A Piece of Cake and The Glass Castle) so they are also great for the beach, poolside or any lazy summer day:
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.
If you want to write about an adventure, nature or grief.
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
If you want to write about your crazy family.
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
If you want to write about a personal flaw (eg., a lisp), dogs, the French, almost anything.
Tender at the Bone, Ruth Reichl
If you want to write about cooking or following a passion.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling
If you want to write about your fears, opinions, romance or pop culture.
Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand
If you want to write about animals, racing, training or gambling.
Drop Dead Healthy, by A.J. Jacobs
If you want to write about health or a personal goal.
Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer
If you want to write about religion or family pressures.
Bossypants, by Tina Fey
If you want to write about coming of age, feminism or personal hang-ups.
Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt
If you want to write about gender, sexuality or a unique town, city or place.
Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Erhenrrich
If you want to write about a job, working or life struggle.
If you are interested in some other excellent non-fiction books, here are a few narrative masterpieces that are on the heavier side:
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
Hiroshima, by John Hersey
The Best and The Brightest, by David Halberstam
The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean
Almost anything by John McPhee, Joan Dideon, Anne Lammott, Tracy Kidder and Tom Wolfe.
If are you ready to tell your story, check out my Jumpstart Guide and posts about how to find a great topic, tell a story and write an anecdote.
For a step-by-step guide to writing a college admissions essay, check out my new ebook, Escape Essay Hell!