We’re all stuck at home and although work and school carry on online, we’re finding we have much more time to read this spring. We’ve put together a spring reading list (including 12 book-to-movie titles) to help you prep for the ACT or SAT and add some reading-for-fun to your work-from-home schedule.
That’s right – did you know that reading is a great way to prepare for the ACT or SAT Reading section? Reading regularly improves your reading comprehension skills and can help you read faster and more effectively during the test!
Whatever your schedule looks like right now, consider picking up a fresh book from one of the 20 books below. You may even improve your ACT or SAT score in the process!
ACT and SAT Spring Reading List
Books That Are Also Movies:
All of the books below have also been made into movies. You can read the book (we recommend reading the book first), then extend the experience and watch the movie!
1. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
“Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business.” via Goodreads
The movie, released under the title Love, Simon, stars Nick Robinson.
2. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
A story of four very different sisters: Meg, the proper and feminine oldest; Jo, the wild and free-spirited writer; gentle, compassionate Beth; and the youngest, refined, ambitious Amy. As they grow from girls to little women, they discover new responsibilities, dreams and the enduring comfort of family.
Little Women has also been the subject of multiple movie remakes, from a 1933 version to one starring Winona Ryder in 1994, and the most recent remake from 2019 starring Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet.
3. Emma – Jane Austen
“Beautiful, spoilt, vain and irrepressibly witty, Emma organizes the lives of the inhabitants of her sleepy little village and plays matchmaker with devastating effect.” via Goodreads
This classic Jane Austen novel has been made into at least three movies since the 1990’s: a classic interpretation starring Gwenyth Paltrow, the perfect rom-com, Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone, and a quirky interpretation that just came out in March 2020 starring Anya Taylor-Joy.
4. If Beale Street Could Talk – James Baldwin
“Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions-affection, despair, and hope.” via Goodreads
The movie, starring Kiki Layne and Stephan James, released in 2018.
5. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
“The story is of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his new love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.” via Goodreads
The 2013 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio is lavish, colorful, dark, and a welcome distraction from the times.
6. The Princess Bride – William Goldman
“What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, and Miracles. In short, it’s about everything.” via Goodreads
The movie is equally charming and packed with sword fights, poison, R.O.U.S.’ and little romance.
7. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer
“When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone’s crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind.” via Goodreads
The movie, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Maxwell Simba, released in 2019.
8. Five Feet Apart – Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis
“Stella needs to keep herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.
But then she meets Will Newman. All he wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.” via Goodreads
Respiratory illness, social distancing…sound a little familiar? The story of Stella and Will shows us what is a daily reality to many with chronic illness. You can watch the movie, starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lou Richardson, on Amazon.
9. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
“First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike” via Goodreads
The movie, starring Harrison Ford, recently released in theaters, but you can now watch it on Amazon.
10. True Grit – Charles Portis
“In the 1870s, young Mattie Ross learns that her beloved father was gunned down by his former handyman. But even though this gutsy 14-year-old is seeking vengeance, she is smart enough to figure out she can’t go alone after a desperado who’s holed up in Indian territory. With some fast-talking, she convinces mean, one-eyed US Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn into going after the despicable outlaw with her.” via Goodreads
Take your pick for the movie version: a John Wayne classic or the more recent version starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Hailee Steinfeld.
11. Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple
“Bernadette Fox has vanished. When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does.” via Goodreads
The movie, starring Cate Blanchett, released in 2018.
12. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
“Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.” via Goodreads
The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2014. The movie was released in 2019 starring Ansel Elgort.
Novels, Memoirs, and Non-Fiction
And now, a collection of novels, memoirs, and non-fiction to add to your spring reading list.
Have a taste for mystery? Try Agatha Christies’ classic murder mystery “Death on the Nile.” Interested in tales of real-life espionage? You may like “For All the Tea in China.”
13. Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie
“The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting, nothing is ever quite what it seems…” via Goodreads
14. The Alchemist – Paul Cohelo
“An Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.” via Goodreads
15. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
“A blind French girl and a German boy’s paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.” via Goodreads
16. Homo Dues – Yuval Noah Harari
“Over the past century, humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war…What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life.” via Goodreads
17. Will Grayson, Will Grayson – David Levithan and John Green
“Will Grayson meets Will Grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their world will collide and lives intertwine.” via Goodreads
18. Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry
“Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.” via Goodreads
19. For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World’s Favourite Drink – Sarah Rose
“Robert Fortune was a Scottish gardener, botanist, plant hunter – and industrial spy. In 1848, the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China – territory forbidden to foreigners – to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea.” via Goodreads
20. Educated – Tara Westover
“Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.” via Goodreads