OVERVIEW: In preparation for your upcoming AP language and literature courses, it is important for you to develop a strong background in literature and lifelong habits of reading as well as build skills of language appreciation and comprehension. For summer reading, you are required to read a MINIMUM of one of these books.
THE LIST: We have selected a variety of books from a variety of perspectives for you to read, enjoy, contemplate and then respond to in writing when you return to school in the fall. Do you have to read all of these delightful, provocative novels? Of course…well, okay you may choose one, but we strongly encourage you to read several.
FINAL WORD: To meet the requirement of the Summer Reading assignment, you MUST read ONE book from this list. During the first two weeks of school, you will be engaged in two in-class experiences: (1) a book sharing activity in mentorship; (2) a timed write in your Language Arts class. The book you read to meet this requirement may NOT be used toward completion of the semester Independent Reading (IR) assignment. However, any additional books read from the list may be applied toward IR.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The characters Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn have become classic American heroes. Their adventures include wild and funny pranks, yet their misadventures are also serious in their commentary on American culture. In Huck Finn, Huck (who is Tom’s sidekick in Tom Sawyer) journeys down the Mississippi with escaped slave Jim.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
This novel follows the lives of two Jewish cousins before, during, and after World War II. They are a Czech artist named Joe Kavalier and a Brooklyn-born writer named Sam Clay. In the novel, Kavalier and Clay become major figures in the nascent comics industry and into its “Golden Age.”
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
A woman returns to her hometown in Arizona to face her sick father, her past, her identity, romance, and an environmental catastrophe that threatens the town.
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing Vol. 1 by M.T. Anderson
In colonial Boston, in a utopian intellectual colony where his teachers refer to themselves by numbers rather than names, Octavian learns that he himself is an experiment as he discovers the evils beyond his idyllic life—troubling webs of racism, slavery, power, and privilege.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley
Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X's 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion novel that outlines Malcolm X's philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Written in 1899, this novel tells the story of a twenty-eight-year-old woman’s self-discovery when she turns to the sensuous and primal and away from society and convention.
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
In 1959, a white man dyes his skin and impersonates a black man in order to understand what life is like as an African-American in the Deep South.
Brothers and Keepers by John Wideman
In this memoir, Wideman relates the experience of his brother, who is serving a life sentence for his part in a robbery-turned-murder, their relationship, and his own departure from his roots, exploring questions of family, racism, and trust.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Follow the misadventures of Ignatius, a modern Don Quixote as he struggles to fit in with a society he detests.
Fool’s Crow by James Welch
After the Civil War, the Lone Eaters of the Blackfeet Indians begin to see their culture leak away as entering white men violate treaties and subsume their land. At the same time, the Lone Eaters continue to draw strength from ceremonies, dreams, and spirits.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Set within the caste-system of India, this is a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" that lay down "who should be loved, and how. And how much."
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
After losing their farm to the Oklahoma Dust Bowl during the Depression, the Joad family travel to California, where they encounter injustice and exploitation, but also trade their insularity for a sense of universal community.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Elderly Leo, a Polish New Yorker who has escaped SS officers, lost lover and son, and written a novel published under a different man’s name, connects with fourteen-year-old Alma, who is struggling to care for her mom and brother after the death of her father.
House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
The story details the life of the Trueba family, spanning four generations, and tracing the post-colonial social and political upheavals of Chile. The story is told mainly from the perspective of two protagonists (Esteban and Alba) and incorporates elements of magical realism.
Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
Krakauer retraces a young man’s steps during the two years between college graduation and his demise in an abandoned bus in Alaska where he had survived for approximately 119 days in the wilderness.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of Jane, including her bleak childhood, growth to adulthood, work as a governess, and her love for Mr. Rochester.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
A journalist, Sinclair uncovers the corruption of the American meatpacking industry, including the exploitation of women and children, terrible working conditions, and food safety issues (i.e. workers being ground up with the meat).
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
In New York in the summer of 1974, the lives of ten people—heroin addicts, mothers who have lost their sons in Vietnam, artists, a street priest, a judge—are told as they converge below a French tightrope walker’s promenade on a cable to and from the two World Trade towers.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
A hermaphrodite ("Calli," "Cal") recreates the story of his/her ancestry, immigrant parents, and present life. Constructing a colorful portrait of Detroit in the 1930s and 40s, he transcends stereotypes of gender.
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
With a mixture of screenplay and diary formats, this book tells the story of Steve Harmon’s murder trial.
My Jim by Nancy Rawles
Told from the perspective of Sadie, the wife of Jim (who is the escaped slave character who travels with Huck in Huck Finn), this novel chronicles their experience beginning with Jim’s birth on a plantation, encompassing their shared childhood, marriage, and forced separation, and charting the emotions of his escape and presumed death and their struggles after emancipation.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Thirteen stories cover thirty years, describing the lives of hard-nosed junior high teacher Olive from Maine, her family, and her acquaintances.
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni
Nine people decide to tell each other their stories when an earthquake traps them in the basement of an Indian consulate in an American city.
Papertowns by John Green
Two high school seniors, Q and Margo, play revenge pranks one night at Margo’s suggestion; later Q and his friends follow clues to search for Margo when she disappears mysteriously.
The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth
Charles Lindbergh, famous pilot, anti-Semite, and isolationist, defeats Roosevelt in a presidential election and then proceeds to make an "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, throwing America’s Jewish citizens into anxiety and fear.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A father travels through a post-apocalyptic nightmare world, sustained by his love for his ailing son amidst starvation, cannibalism, and darkness.
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The novel, set in post-war Barcelona, concerns a young boy, Daniel, whose quest is to unravel the secrets and mysteries contained within a book procured from the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books.”
Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
The story of Billy Pilgrim, a man who has become "unstuck in time." He travels back and forth in time, visiting his birth, death, all the moments in between repeatedly and out of order.
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
This memoir of a girl’s experience growing up Chinese-American in California portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and ambiguities of the two worlds in which she lives: the world of her mother’s stories and the world of white "ghosts" and very real oppression that surrounds her.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
Two American sixteen-year-olds with the same name cross paths in unexpected ways as they find out who they are.