Reading on your own is an excellent way to prepare for the ACT exam – it isn’t necessary for your only method of preparation to be reading short, boring passages and answering tedious questions about them. A better test prep goal is to substantially increase the amount of time you spend reading, and to read broadly across genres. You can read any book you like, at any pace you like, and consider it ‘ACT prep’!
While by no means comprehensive, the following authors have works that are at a level and in a format similar to those typically found on the ACT. As you search for interesting books to read, these might spark your interest.
Jeffrey Eugenides – Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides, The Marriage Plot (mature themes)
Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits, Daughter of Fortune, Maya’s Notebook (mature themes)
Oliver Sacks – Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia, Uncle Tungsten, Hallucinations
Atul Gawande – in The Best American Science Writing (with other authors), The Checklist Manifesto, Being Mortal
Amy Tan – The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Bonesetter’s Daughter
Temple Grandin – Thinking in Pictures, Animals in Translation
Ann Fadiman – The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Stephen Hawking – The Theory of Everything, The Grand Design, A Brief History of Time
Jhumpa Lahiri – Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, The Lowland
Michael Pollan – The Botany of Desire, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food
There are many ways to find books that interest you. Investigate the Pulitzer Prize winners for the past several years, create a Goodreads account to get personalized recommendations based on books you’ve already read, and look through even more lists like the following:
List of books with multicultural themes / characters and this list too (because the ACT always has at least one passage on a minority ethnic group, especially concerning the immigrant experience)
List of popular autobiographies and biographies (because the ACT always has at least one passage written in first-person, and generally contains an account of someone’s life through an autobiography / biography / memoir)