Read Your Way to a Higher Score: Summer Reading Recommendations from our GRE Instructors (2nd Edition)


Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Read Your Way to a Higher Score: Summer Reading Recommendations From Our GRE InstructorsDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.

Just over a month ago we had our GRE instructors weigh in on the best books to read this summer if you’re prepping for the GRE (or if you just love a great novel!). We hope that you had the chance to pick up one, two, or all of the books from our first round of recommendations and are hungry for more! With only a few weeks left of summer, we would like to satisfy that hunger with a fresh batch of reading suggestions from our tried and trusted GRE instructors. Bon appétit!

Recommendations from Stacey Koprince:

The SparrowThe Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: This novel is technically in the science fiction category, mostly because it’s set in the future with some space travel and alien encounters – but it’s much more of a philosophical book dealing with social issues, what happens when two dissimilar communities collide, etc. Lots of great GRE vocab!

Children of God by Mary Doria Russel: This is the sequel to The Sparrow. It is also classified as a science fiction novel and deals with the same issues of faith, morality, etc.

Recommendation from Michael Bilow:

The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan: This is a late- 18th century comedy of manners, a play satirizing the behavior and customs of upper classes with comic situations that expose characters’ shortcomings. The play is very funny and is especially relevant in the era of social media.

Recommendation from Julia Van Dyke:

How to be Alone by Jonathan Franzen: This is a collection of fourteen essays, blending personal history and cultural criticism. These essays are challenging and contain a lot of tough vocabulary!

Recommendations from Chris Berman:

The Beautiful and DamnedThe Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald: This novel gives a harrowing look at New York City’s cafe society during the emergence of the Jazz Age. Experiencing this world through the eyes of Anthony Patch, a socialite in want of motivation, direction, and purpose, the reader is introduced to many of the social vices common to the 1920s and still common today.

Talking it Over by Julian Barnes: A love triangle between two men and a woman approaching 30, done entirely in a he said, she said, he said format. This novel is very difficult in parts and the sequel, Love, etc., is in the same style.

Recommendations from Jen Dziura:

The Optimistic Child  by Martin Seligman: One would expect a book about optimism to be pretty fluffy, but Seligman constantly warns against “mindless boosterism.” If you’re interested in education or child development, this is a surprisingly good read.

The Big TestThe Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy by Nicholas Lemann: Ever wonder why you’re taking standardized tests anyway? This book, about the history of the SAT, will explain it all. This book shows us for the first time the ideas, the people, and the politics behind a fifty-year-old utopian social experiment that changed modern America.


Have you read a great novel that has helped you to prepare for the GRE? We would love to hear your suggestions! Comment below or tweet @manhattanprep. Happy Reading!

Want more guidance from our GRE gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here

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  6. Lauren Golin October 26, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Hi, Raju. Thank you for your question. With only 40 days to go until your test, reading novels probably won’t be the most efficient method of study. These books are intended for people with a bit longer to study. If it is taking you two hours to get through articles, you should probably look for shorter passages, and focus on those so that you will be able to attack the reading comprehension passages on the test more quickly; increasing your reading speed and comprehension will be more beneficial than vocabulary study. We hope this helps!

  7. raju October 26, 2012 at 9:32 am

    how to read a novel for Gre test purpose i have only 40 days left for test. write know am reading the article unknown words am writing the meaning on the note book. is it better process are any other is their.write now am reading from articles when am reading and writng with meaning unknown word on note book its time taking for each article for 2 hours. any help for me what should i do.