Looking for some great recommended books for holiday gifts? John Baylor has you covered with his list of favorite books. (Click here for the OnToCollege Reading List on Amazon).

John’s Top Three Books

  1. My Antonia by Willa Cather.  As a writer, Cather has few equals. Read My Antonia to deeply reconnect yourself with the land and with your language.
  2. Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher.  All girls should read this brilliant book to better understand, navigate, and resist society’s harsh expectations for girls.  Boys should read it to better understand what girls deal with and to stop contributing to the problem.
  3. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay.  Every teen and twenty-something should read this blunt, eye-opening roadmap for making your twenties purposeful and fulfilling. I wish I had.

Historical Reads

  • Herbert Hoover: A Life by Glen Jeansonne—a tribute to a great Iowan and American, one of our country’s most decent, yet underappreciated leaders 
  • The Wright Brothers by David McCullough—a quintessential American story that inspires 
  • Wilson by A Scott BergAnother turn of the century history lesson.  This one is about an idealistic President who once held the world in his hands
  • The Brothers by Stephen Kinzerabout the Dulles brothers who together waged their own cold war with disastrous consequences that we still feel today
  • Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin—anything by her is great (especially Bully Pulpit) but this candid autobiography will make the holidays better

Social Commentary

  • She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey—a chilling page-turner that reminds us how difficult and vital real journalism is. 
  • The Triple Package by Amy Chua—a controversial, provocative book about the three traits shared by successful immigrant groups, attributes any parent could infuse into their own children.

Sports Literature

  • Bird Watching: On Playing and Coaching the Game I Love by Larry Bird and Jackie MacMullan—I can’t get enough of my boyhood hero, whose stories inspire me still.
  • Over Time by Frank DeForda fun, substantive ride through six decades of relationships with famous sports people, written by one of the profession’s best ever.
  • Coach by Michael Lewis—a short book for parents and competitors that may be the best two-three hours a person spends all year 
  • Moneyball by Michael Lewis—not just for baseball fans, but those looking for a winning edge
  • The Game: Harvard, Yale, and America in 1968 by George Howe Colt—a window into an era, the sixties, via a game. Definitely one of the best sports books I’ve ever read, by one of our country’s most skilled writers.

Classic Literature

  • A Catcher in the Rye by JD Salingerthe book that awakened me in my youth. 

What recommended books do you have on your Christmas list this year? Don’t forget to check out our list!