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Summer Reading

2023 Required Summer Reading for Honors/AP/ACP English Classes 9-12th grades 

Please note: students should have books available to them for classroom use, either on paper or electronically, when school starts. 




Students should choose between the titles. Read 1.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford 

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  (Parents, please note: The Invention of Wings is historical fiction depicting the atrocities of slavery and includes some mature content.)  




Choose ONE of the following books. Have the book with you the first week of school.



You want to read a classic text?


Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald- is a crazy love story filled with brilliant and ambitious characters set in Southern France and Switzerland. Be careful about dismissing the characters, especially the women, as one-dimensional. Pay attention to the framing of the story and the narrative voice. Be forewarned that some of the relationships are cringe by our standards.


A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway- is about a young American soldier serving on the Italian front in WWI who falls in love with a nurse. Even though this story deals a lot with love and wanting to run away with the person you love, it also deals a lot with what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. If you aren’t a close reader, it may be easy to misunderstand how Hemingway challenges societal expectations, but paying attention to the framing of the story and the narrative voice can help guide you. Be forewarned that, despite Hemingway’s pushing of boundaries, at times the language reflects old ways of thinking. (Same with Fitzgerald.)


1984 by George Orwell- is a dystopian novel that still gets pop culture references. In the future, an average man works for The Ministry of Truth where he edits old newspaper articles to revise the past. The world is at constant war, people are under government surveillance, love has been outlawed and life isn’t so great. Be forewarned that this novel contains images of brutal violence and disturbing imagery.



You want to read a modern text?


All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- is a story that cuts back and forth between a young German boy and a young French girl who is blind. Their lives will intersect during the bombing of German-occupied France in 1944. This story is about cruelty, evil, fear and loss, but it’s also about light and hope. You may find it helpful to use Google translate for the bits of French and German. Be aware that some critics have objected to the portrayal of the Nazi soldier.


Looking for Alaska by John Green- is a novel about a teen looking for adventure, but it’s also about love, grief, hope and redemption. Be aware that Miles's philosophical musings include the topics of alcohol, cigarettes and sex, so if these topics are inappropriate for you, don’t choose this book. The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseni- is a novel set in both the US and Afghanistan and tells the story of a young man’s attempt to reconcile his past with his present. The novel is about love, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption. Although essential to the story, the book does deal with violence and violence against children, including sexual violence, so if this topic is inappropriate for you, don’t choose this book. If you have any questions about the summer reading assignment, please see Sheila McDermott-Sipe or Maggie Guschwan. 



AP Language and Composition (11th grade)


Students enrolling in AP Language and Composition are expected to read ONE NONFICTION BOOK from those on the list below. If you find another nonfiction book you prefer, please contact your teacher for approval first. If you have questions, you can email AP teachers Erin Crowley, Susie Shelton, James Kerr, or Kathleen Mills. Please do NOT consult an older list of authors; this list has been revised. 

Students will take an assessment on their summer reading. Teachers may assign personal writing, an oral presentation, an analytical paper, or some other way in which students will be held accountable for the reading and note-taking they completed over the summer. It is not necessary to take notes on separate paper, but marking items of note in the book, either written in or on sticky notes, is a good idea. 



  • Edward Abbey - Desert Solitaire
  • Diane Ackerman - A Natural History of the Senses
  • The New Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander 
  • Hannah Arendt - Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • Sven Birkerts - The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again
  • William F. Buckley - Miles Gone By: A Literary Biography
  • Ian Buruma - Year Zero: A History of 1945, Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance
  • Nicolas Carr - The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us
  • Rachel Carson - The Sea Around Us, Silent Spring
  • Veronica Chambers (editor)- The Meaning of Michelle: 16 writers on Michelle Obama 
  • Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion, The Selfish Gene
  • Jared Diamond - Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
  • Joan Didion - The Year of Magical Thinking, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album 
  • Annie Dillard - Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  • W.E.B. DuBois - The Souls of Black Folk, The Talented Tenth
  • Barbara Ehrenreich - Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer
  • Loren Eiseley - The Immense Journey, Darwin’s Century
  • Dave Eggers - A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • M. F. K. Fisher - The Art of Eating, The Gastronomical Me
  • Shelby Foote - The Civil War, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville, The Civil War: A Narrative  
  • Thomas Friedman - The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America
  • Paul Fussell - The Great War and Modern Memory, Class: A Guide Through the American Status System
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - Colored People, 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro
  • Atul Gawande - Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
  • Roxanne Gay - Bad Feminist, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
  • Jane Goodall - In the Shadow of Man, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann 
  • Stephen Jay Gould - Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, The Mismeasure of Man
  • David Halberstam - The Best and the Brightest, The Breaks of the Game
  • Greg Lukenianoff and Jonathan Haidt  -- The Coddling of the American Mind: How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure.
  • Christopher Hitchens- God is Not Great, Hitch 22
  • Edward Hoagland- Cat Man, The Circle Home
  • Kirk Johnson- The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century 
  • Pauline Kael- I Lost it at the Movies
  • Tracy Kidder- Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Soul of a New Machine
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.- Stride toward freedom
  • Maxine Hong Kingston- The Woman Warrior
  • Naomi Klein- No Logo, The Shock Doctrine
  • Lewis Lapham- Money and Class in America, Age of Folly
  • Ursula LeGuin- No Time to Spare
  • Barry Lopez-Arctic Dreams, Of Wolves and Men
  • Bill McKibben- The End of Nature, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
  • John McPhee- Annals of the former world, Coming into the country
  • N. Scott Momaday- House made of Dawn, The Way to Rainy Mountain
  • Siddhartha Mukherjee- The Emperor of all Maladies
  • The Library Book - Susan Orlean 
  • Steven Pinker- Enlightenment Now, The Better Angels of our Nature
  • Michael Pollan- Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, How To Change Your Mind 
  • Francine Prose-Reading like a Writer
  • Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe 
  • Richard Rodriguez- Darling, Brown
  • Carl Sagan: Cosmos, Pale Blue Dot
  • Scott Russell Sanders, A Private History of Awe, Hunting for Hope, A Conservationist Manifesto
  • What We Owe One Another - T.M. Scanlon 
  • A.O. Scott- Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art 
  • Simon Schama- The Power of Art, Landscape and Memory
  • Leslie Marmom Silko- Ceremony, Almanac of the dead
  • Clint Smith - How the Word is Passed 
  • Susan Sontag - On Photography
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson 
  • Men We Reaped - Jesmyn Ward



W131 ACP (12th grade) 


Students should email W131 teachers Erin Crowley, Lauren Mark, or Susie Shelton with questions. 


No book assigned. An article will be distributed the first week of the course.



AP Literature and Composition (12th grade)


Students should read AT LEAST one of the paired sets of novels below (that is, a minimum of two novels). Students are encouraged to read more than one pairing. See AP Lit. teachers Ian Rickerby or Sheila McDermott-Sipe with questions. 


Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Awakening - Kate Chopin


Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Native Son - Richard Wright


King Lear - William Shakespeare

Moby Dick - Herman Melville


Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte


Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen


Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

Beloved - Toni Morrison