Let's Get Reading! A Summer Book List from Notre Dame Counselors

Author: Shannon Rooney

Our admissions counselors aren't just knowledgeable about all things Notre Dame—they're also well-read. If you're looking to beef up your summer reading list before school starts this fall, check out these book recommendations from counselors and add them to your TBR (To Be Read) pile. 


Maria Finan

Assistant Director

Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

If you're looking for a sports story that is true but reads like fiction, this is the perfect exploration of the Depression in America, the rise of Nazism in Germany, and the importance of teamwork. The story is as informative as it is beautifully written—and timely with the summer Olympics in Tokyo.

1984 by George Orwell 

Perhaps the classic dystopian novel, with one of the most impactful endings I've ever read. It's a book that continues to be relevant as we think about the role of government, technology, and surveillance in our lives. Orwell created a new vocabulary that we still use today—a must read classic!

Emily Laplaca

Emily LaPlaca

Assistant Director

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime mixes humor, lessons in history and culture, and vulnerable stories of Trevor Noah's personal hardships to deliver a must-read memoir.

Brendan Corsones

Brendan Corsones

Senior Assistant Director

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A haunting suspense novel about the secrets and lies that seek to tear a wealthy family apart.

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara 

A piece of historical fiction about the Battle of Gettysburg. This character-driven story retells the pivotal battle through the eyes of various historical figures.


Mary de Villiers

Director of International Admissions

The Premonition by Michael Lewis

The pandemic of the past year and a half has been experienced by all globally in a multitude of ways. Michael Lewis, who also authored Moneyball and The Big Short, takes an in-depth look at the trajectory of the American response to COVID-19 with a focus on unexpected but fascinating medical visionaries.

America Calling by Rajika Bhandari

Through an intimate account of her own journey, Rajika Bhandari discusses the trials and tribulations international students face in the U.S. Her book examines the shared experiences of those who come to the U.S. in a quest for a better life and the role of higher education in the U.S.'s relationship with the world.

Zach Klonsinski

Zach Klonsinski

Assistant Director

Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark

Clark does a fantastic job explaining how Europe accidentally and only somewhat inevitably fell into WWI through a mess of alliances and reluctant compliance. His exploration of "who started" the Great War is thought provoking, narrative challenging, and an "easy" read for a piece of historical nonfiction.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

According to European narratives, the Americas were a vast, untouched world upon their arrival. Mann uses compelling evidence and argument to offer proof otherwise—in fact, the population of the Americas in 1491 possibly outnumbered the rest of the world combined at that point in history. Why and how this false narrative took root challenges unfamiliar readers to reimagine much of the interactions between these European explorers—and later their colonists—and the people who had already made the Americas their home.

Alisa Fisher

Alisa Fisher

Senior Associate Director

The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self by Martha Beck

A book about the power of discovering, speaking and living the truth about who you are. One of my favorite authors.

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron

Wise words on developing a compassionate life.

Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri J. M. Nouwen

How to live spiritually in a secular world. A book you may read several times.

Erin Camilleri

Erin Camilleri

Director of Transfer Enrollment

China: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd

A sweeping piece of historical fiction about the Opium Wars in China.

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

The saga of how the lives of the inventor of wireless and of Britain’s second most famous murderer (after Jack the Ripper) intersected during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

Want even more book recommendations?

Here are eight suggestions from Notre Dame professors.