When I taught at the University of Akron, they required all the freshmen to read the same book together over the summer. We don't do that at Ashland, but the Akron book selections are good ones. You can get these at any commercial bookstore and most public libraries.
- The Soloist, by Steve Lopez
- The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, by Wes Moore (That wasn't much of a surprise, was it?)
- The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, by James McBride
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed
- How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else, by Michael Gates Gill
- Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris
- Maus: A Survivor's Tale. I. My Father Bleeds History. II. And Here My Troubles Began, by Art Spiegelman
By the way, one of the best gadgets for the real reader is either the Barnes & Noble nook or the Amazon Kindle e-reader. (I prefer the nook.) The books are cheaper and you can carry a whole library in your pocket. Unfortunately, textbooks have been very slow to come to the e-reader world, but for general reading, they are great.