Beyond Required Summer Reading: HHS Staff and Students Recommend Your Next Beach Read

Beyond Required Summer Reading: HHS Staff and Students Recommend Your Next Beach Read

Jack Alfandre, Contributing Writer

Students at Hastings High School have a lot on their plate for required summer reading, with (even more pressure) longer reading requirements placed on the incoming Juniors and Seniors. However, not all reading has to be a chore for school. There are tons of books out there that you might want to read just for the fun of it! I interviewed a few big readers at our school to get some recommendations for summer book reads and advice on how to get into reading.


The first person I talked to was our librarian, Ms. Arianna Grassia, who had a number of great things to say. When I asked for some recommendations for books that she loved, she said, “I read a book earlier this year called Parachutes by Kelly Yang. [which is] her first young adult option, and it was really a fantastic story.” Another book Ms. Grassia recommended is called Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence. The book primarily discusses  smartphone addiction and how young people have constant access to devices and distractions that can heighten their anxiety levels. 

I also asked Ms. Grassia about some books she might recommend to people interested in different genres, such as fantasy, science fiction, and romance. 

“For sci-fi, I would definitely recommend Dune,” Ms. Grassia said, noting that the novel “is a classic of the genre, in addition to the fact that the Dune movies that are coming out right now are wonderfully done.” 

For the fantasy genre, she recommended Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury. “This is sort of a witch tale / family legacy book. It is a really exciting potential new series, so I would absolutely recommend it.” 

For thrillers, Ms. Grassia recommended a few books, including, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and How We Fall Apart by Holly Jackson. Finally, for books in the nonfiction genre, she recommended Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. This book is about the rise and fall of Theranos, the Silicon Valley medical tech company that ended up scamming investors out of millions. 


Next, I talked with history teacher, Mr. Brad Hunt, who is also an avid reader, on some books he would recommend as well as how he suggests teenagers can get into reading for pleasure. He recommends the series Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty, which is his all-time favorite. He also really likes the historical fiction novels of James Clovelle. Cloud Cuckoo Land, a book Mr. Hunt is reading now, and Lost City of Z were two recent novels that he recommends to students. 

For the nonfiction readers out there, he recommended The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander which “is hugely informative on [subjects] like systemic racism.”  

As for becoming a bigger reader, Mr. Hunt said an important step is to look for books that have to do with subjects you are interested in and to avoid trying to “be fancy with your reading list. Just find stuff that is exciting and compelling to you.” The bottom line, said Mr. Hunt, was to read books that appeal to you, and if you aren’t feeling the book, put it down and pick up a new one. 


The last person I interviewed was Catie Cho, a junior at Hastings High School. Catie had several recommendations including anything by Sarah J. Maas, Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon, and The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. One of her favorite books is We Are Okay by Nina LaCour; as Catie describes it, LaCour’s novel is a beautiful book about a college student and her relationship with her best friend after her grandfather’s death. 

I asked Catie how and why she reads over the summer. She told me she reads whenever she can because she knows it is good for her. If she’s on her phone too much, she reminds herself that she can be doing something else like reading. When I asked how she likes to do her summer reading for school, she said she plans when to read and structures it efficiently because she knows she needs to complete the assignments on time. 


While you may have a lot of reading to do over the summer, try to make a little more time and start reading a book for fun. You never know how much you might like it until you try it!


The link to access summer reading for each grade can be found here: 

Summer Reading 2022


More information about books in article on Google Books (linked):



Dopamine Nation


Blood Like Magic

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

How We Fall Apart

Bad Blood

Lonesome Dove

Cloud Cuckoo Land

The Lost City of Z

The New Jim Crow

Super Fake Love Song

The Inheritance Games

We Are Okay