Summer Reading

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It is traditional in the U.S. for schools to give students a list of books to read during the summer.  The concept is twofold: one, keeping a student’s mind engaged while absent from most intellectual interaction; and two, trying to excite a student to the pleasure of reading.  So the trick is to find titles that are both stimulating and enjoyable and thoughtful.

So in the school I work at, the “Summer Reading List” has just been published. Here are the titles:

For 9th Graders:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Enders’ Game by Orson Scott Card
Ishmael: An Adventure of Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn

For 10th Graders:

Four mandatory short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne and four other Hawthorne stories of the student’s choosing.
Four mandatory short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and four other Poe stories of the student’s choosing.

For 11th Graders:  There are two levels of books. The first level has a wide choice. They MUST read the first two and then choose ONE of the remaining six:

Don’t Look Now: Selected Stories of Daphne Du Maurier   by Daphne DuMaurier and Patrick McGrath
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre

Here’s Looking at Euclid by Alex Bellos  (HOW GREAT A TITLE IS THIS!!!!!)
The Devil in the White City  by Erik Larson
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body by Armand Marie Leroi
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

The other group of 11th graders read these:

Watership Down by Richard Adams
HIGH FIDELITY by Nick Hornby
Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levit

Those in 12th Grade read:

Zeitoun by David Eggers
Like You’d Understand Anyway by James Shepherd

Those in Advanced Placement 12th Grade have a large list to choose from. Some are mandatory and some are choice, but they end up reading 5 titles in all (and for one, reading the book AND watching the film.) They are:

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
The Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
1984 by George Orwell
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick
On the Beach by Nevil Shute
A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
Demian by Hermann Hesse
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Obasan by Joy Kogawa

King Lear by William Shakespeare and the 1985 Akira Kurosawa film Ran
Educating Rita by Willy Russell and the1983 film by the same name
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and the 1994 film by the same name
The Commitments by Roddy Doyle and the 1991 film by the same name
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and the 2000 film by the same name
Equus by Peter Shaffer and the 1977 film by the same name
The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West and the 1975 film by the same name
The Color Purple by Alice Walker and the 1985 film by the same name
Beloved by Toni Morrison and the 1998 film by the same name
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck and the 1937 movie by the same name
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink and the 2010 movie by the same name

I must admit, I haven’t read (or watched) all of these titles, but I have read most. It’s a pretty eclectic list…and certainly stimulating. I have my own favorites–Zeitoun for anger, The Commitments for fun, The Hours for tears, The Color Purple for the extraordinary… I could go on, but won’t.  Have fun. Choose something for yourself, if you have the time.

So whether it’s been one year since you’ve been out of high-school or fifty-one years, give the list a look over and maybe you’ll find something to get you through the hot summer days that are already well on their way.

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6 thoughts on “Summer Reading

  1. Devil In The White City and Spy Who Came In From The Cold are both on my list. Maybe I’ll bump them up and try to get them read this summer. I’ll be on the lookout for swimming!

    • Hi Brendan. Sorry for the late reply. Your comment went into the “spam bin” which I rarely look at. Yeah, I think you’ll enjoy both books. The psychopath of White City is buried in a Catholic cementary in Yeadon. Some recent forensic stuff has been in the news lately about him.

  2. Well, well, if I went to that high school I’d be pretty disappointed at this summer list, hah! However, since I am no longer in high school and want to have some mentally stimulating literature, I am all for the “challenge.” =)

    I was thinking of skipping on “The Color Purple” until reading what you said about it. Wish to read it now. Thanks for sharing this list, I hope to read most of them this summer. Great motivation.

    • I once taught The Color Purple at a Community College class. I was the only male and the only caucasian. I learned much more than I taught. It is a very powerful book.

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