Summer Reading List: 4 Books That Taught Me Important Transferable Skills


I am an avid reader. I cry more on a weekly basis at the expense of fictional characters than I do for my real life and, to this day, have a hard time grasping the fact that Hogwarts doesn’t actually exist.

However, besides being a source of great entertainment (and emotional turmoil, apparently), some classic favourites have actually taught me a lot and played an integral part in my academic success.

My diploma should be shared with Katniss Everdeen, Bilbo Baggins, Aslan the lion, Boo Radley, Huck Finn – the list goes on and on. Following are four of my favourites and the four corresponding skills and lessons they brought forth.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Anyone who has ever tried to jump into this series at book four will understand that this is essentially impossible. From Horcruxes to Quidditch rules to the name of that creepy character you met somewhere in book three, the complexities of this book are endless.

Aside from causing you to whisper “Lumos!” whenever your power unexpectedly goes out, these books also cause your memory skills to improve since book seven still references moments you read in book one.

Need a recipe for Polyjuice Potion? An answer for an exam? No problem. You’ve got it all stored up there.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time in my third-year children’s literature course and could not understand how I had never discovered it before. Finally, after years and years of searching, I had found my fictional other half! Her wild imagination, knack for acting on a whim and the way her brain managed to compose the weirdest of thoughts meshed perfectly with my crazy self.

While other students raised their hands to complain about how boring the book was, I sat quiet and starry-eyed, mesmerized by the fictional world where I felt I now belonged. I later wrote an essay about the book and received a grade of 88%. Anne was someone I wanted to do justice to for goodness sakes, and I would not settle for giving her less than an A!

My point is, Anne made me want to learn. Find YOUR fictional soulmate and you too will learn more than you were bargaining for!

The Baby-sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin

More affectionately known as the BSC, these books not only sparked my passion for reading in the first place, but also taught me the power of detail.

For those familiar with the tales of Kristy, Stacy and Ann-Marie, you might recall how each book takes time to introduce you to what the BSC is and who its members are. Usually near the end of chapter one or two, the author segues into a brief (yet detailed) description of everyone including their age, position in the club and personal quirks.

This allowed me to get much more deeply engaged in the story and, at that age, genuinely feel like I was involved in the BSC (which, let’s be honest, is every girl’s dream). These descriptive introductions were told in such a way that still kept the story moving forward, which made them equally impressive and taught me a) the importance of detail in a story, and b) the equal importance of making it as relevant as possible.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

This was the first (and best) Jodi Picoult book I ever read, and it had me hooked after the first paragraph. It engaged and involved me to the point that, when it was over, I put it down (for the first time since I opened it), talked out loud to myself about what had just happened and bawled like a baby.

I couldn’t believe how much I felt for these characters and how sad I was to say goodbye to them now that their story was done. This book showed me the power of different writing styles and how much of an effect this can have on an audience – a lesson vital to every aspiring writer (and reader!)

Hit the library. Analyze your bookshelf. Allow yourself to get lost in Narnia or fight alongside Winston Smith in 1984. Your brain (and career) will thank you!

What are your favourite books and what lessons have they taught you?