Questia’s summer reading list and other ways to keep your mind sharp over summer break

Summer readingSummer break is here and at last, and now that your schedule has opened up, make productive use of the time! Have fun while keeping your mind sharp by taking in some summer reading, checking out museums, doing volunteer work and playing brain games. As a gift to our readers, we’ve even opened up TEN great books for free to enjoy throughout your summer break!

Questia’s summer reading list

Questia has great reads available online, not just for school but for your down time. Search for books by title or author from a catalog of 5,000 free books. Among this treasure trove you’ll find the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created one of the most enigmatic and admired characters in all of literature, Sherlock Holmes. The great detective has been portrayed numerous times in film and on television. The latest iteration of the character is the creation by the BBC, where Holmes and his friend Doctor Watson live in contemporary London. But, there’s nothing like enjoying the adventures of Holmes, the original CSI expert, in their original form including Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Try losing yourself in a long novel this summer. On Questia, you’ll find romance, history, adventure and drama within the pages of such classics as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

If reading time is limited, short stories are the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon:

Thirty-Two Stories: Edgar Allan Poe is one of the greatest writers of short stories in American literature. With chilling themes that include murder, jealousy and guilt, you’ll find yourself leaving the light on when you go to bed and listening for strange noises in the night.

Dracula: Vampires are all the rage these days, but nothing comes close to Dracula. Bram Stoker’s tale of the undead was the first novel to introduce the immortal character of the Count, who survives on the blood of the living. The story of Dracula is sure to chill your blood on a hot summer day.

Tarzan of the Apes: You can’t beat a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs for good, clean adventure and fun. You may think that you know Tarzan from the many depictions in films, but none of those movies does justice to the original character. For example, did you know that Tarzan could speak perfect English?

Integrity: For a more contemporary read, you might try “Integrity” by Yale law professor, Stephen L. Carter. In this nonfiction work, Carter examines why integrity is so important to our society and why it is so difficult to achieve.

Join a book club

Summer reading can be a solitary activity if you prefer, but joining a book club can provide a new social experience. Try to locate clubs in your area, or visit an online book club like the where you’ll find spirited discussions such as “Twilight vs. Harry Potter.”

Hit the museums

Summer is the perfect time for cultural exploration such as going to museums. Check with your local library or historical society for leads on museums in your area. Or, look into some virtual museums if you’re not able to make it in person. Most of the world’s museums now have some kind of online presence. has compiled a list of many online museums around the world.

Work or volunteer

Even if you find yourself waiting tables this summer, you’ll notice that your brain is going to be challenged to stay sharp and problem-solve. And, because making an income isn’t always in the cards, consider volunteering as a way to learn new skills and make valuable career connections. Try sites like to find opportunities in your area.

You can even tutor your classmates by volunteering to be a peer tutor. Nancy Falchikov described the benefits of tutoring in her book, Learning Together, in which she says, “Reciprocal Peer Tutoring (RPT) has resulted in higher examination scores and lower levels of subjective distress than control conditions (Fantuzzo, Dimeff and Fox, 1989a). In addition, RPT received higher satisfaction ratings from participants than a more traditional type of learning engaged in by those in control conditions.”

Play brain games

What the heck, it’s summer and you’re entitled to have some fun, right? Play games that also challenge your mind by checking out sites such as:

  • Smart-Kit
  • Sporcle
  • FreeBrainAgeGames
  • Prevention
  • Learn4Good

Lewis Harrison explains in The Journal article, “Those Brain Games are Good for Us” that “computer-based tests, which challenge the individual according to ability, produced significant improvements, particularly in what it called fluid intelligence, or general problem-solving ability.” Other choices include crossword puzzles and Sudoku. You’ll find versions online, in print and in download form for your phone or tablet.

Keep your mind sharp with these fun and educational activities this summer, and you’ll return to school in the fall ready to hit the ground running. Now, grab a glass of lemonade and head outside with your eReader to enjoy that summer sun!

Need help deciding where to start? Check out this infographic from for even more ideas on how to spend your summer depending on your year in college.

How To Spend Your Summer

College students: For a chance to win one of three $50 Visa gift cards, tell us what you think about the student loan rate hike that Congress is currently wrestling.

6 replies
  1. Teshome Gedefa says:

    thanks for your interesting information regarding how to pass this summer without boring. Please send me the book through email. Thank you

    with all the best

  2. genehorsewilson says:

    Thanks for sharing timely suggestions for use of my inmost self…I didn’t know was still there until I seen your resources over the past few months, now for the summer months…thanks!


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  1. […] For more ideas on how to spend your summer vacation, check out our recent blog post, “Questia’s summer reading list and other ways to keep your mind sharp over summer break.” This entry was posted in College Success Tips and tagged career advice, resume, summer […]

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