Here’s a list of recommended books for college-bound students from OnToCollege’s John Baylor. These books can help high school students prepare for college planning and admissions. 

John’s Top Three:

  • 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.
  • Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher PhD & Sara Gilliam
    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 avoid contributing to the problem.
  • 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.


  • The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
    A quintessential American story that inspires.
  • Wilson by A. Scott Berg 
    Another turn of the century history lesson, about an idealistic President who once held the world in his hands.
  • The Brothers by Stephen Kinzer 
    About 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 is so charming and difficult to put down

Classic Literature & Social Commentary

  • A Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger 
    he book that awakened John Baylor in his youth.
  • The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America by Amy Chua & Jed Rubenfeld
    A controversial, provocative book about the three traits shared by successful immigrant groups, attributes any parent could infuse into their own children.


  • Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter by Frank Deford
    A fun, substantive ride through six decades of relationships with famous sports people, written by one of the profession’s best ever.
  • Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life by Michael Lewis
    A short book that may be the best two-three hours a person spends in months
  • Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
    Not just for baseball fans, for those looking for an edge to get into and win any game
  • 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 and by one of our country’s most skilled writers.

Click to find these recommended books for college-bound students on the OnToCollege Recommended Books List on Amazon.

AND, these eBooks can help you on your college planning journey: