AP 11 English Language & Composition

Summer Reading Assignment

Welcome to AP English Language!  We’re excited to begin this learning journey with you.

AP Lang aims to further the critical reading skills you have developed thus far in your academic careers, and to also strengthen the effectiveness of your writing through close reading. This is a rigorous college­ level course that will require you to be independent thinkers and workers in and outside of the class.  Our reading and writing focus for this class will be primarily nonfiction.

In order to prepare for our year together, we’re asking that you develop a journal. Not a typical school writer’s notebook, but rather a notebook that collects your thoughts about what you read.  Yours could be a Hemingway’s moleskin, a Jeffersonian Commonplace Register, a Sylvia Plath-style journal, or even Virginia Woolf-like letters. You could buy a fancy leather-bound book, sew pages together to design your own, or use a plain ‘ole spiral-ring binder from Target. This is YOUR journal; it should be something you want to use.  Lines or blank?  8 1/2 x 11?  5 x 6 3/4?  Your choice!

1. Thinking About Craft (and we’re not talking macaroni)

Acquire a short book about the craft of writing.  A few are suggested below; however, you are not limited to these titles. Any of the texts listed below and many others can be found on the shelves of your local library or your favorite bookstore.

As you read, annotate and respond to ideas within your journal. Try out some of the author’s suggestions. Write out your favorite suggestions.  Reflect on how the ideas the authors suggest influence your thoughts and habits as a writer.

2. Reading Non-Fiction

At minimum we ask that you:

Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer

Without a Map - Meredith Hall

Persepolis I & II - Marjane Satrapi

The Glass Castle - Jeanette Walls

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlosser

The Stranger in the Woods - Michael Finkel

Hyperbole and a Half - Allie Brosh

Stiff - Mary Roach


3. Commonplacing Entries (7 entries, handwritten in ink)

“Commonplacing is the practice of entering literary excerpts and personal comments into a private journal…Typically the excerpts were regarded as exceptionally insightful or beautiful or as applicable to a variety of situations” (Norman Elliot Anderson).

The practice of keeping commonplace books dates as far back as the 5th century B.C.E. and was especially popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. Thinkers such as John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote them. In a letter to his friend Dr. Thomas Cooper, Jefferson wrote that he “was in the habit of abridging and commonplacing what [he] read meriting it, and of sometimes mixing [his] own reflections on the subject” (February 1814).

The practice of copying down passages written by favorite authors becomes an exploration of language; this exercise joins the practice of reading and writing, and aides writers in developing an awareness of how language works and thus improves their skills and their own style.

As you read, record quotes from the texts that are puzzling or poignant, insightful or beautiful, shocking or flabbergasting in your journal. You should copy (by hand, in ink) at least FIVE quotes from your selected text and at least ONE quote from each of the two essays you read.

4. Reflection

Reflect upon the passages you have commonplaced and the books you have read. As you reflect, you should explore questions such as:

This reflection should be recorded in ink in your commonplacing journal.  You may reflect on each passage, placing commentary after its relevant entry;  or you may respond to the passages as a whole with your commentary appearing at the end of all entries.

OVERALL: Your responses do not have to adhere to a strict paragraph structure, but they should be in complete sentences. You also do not have to limit yourself to the stated requirements. To loop back to the opening, we’re asking that you create a journal.  Not a typical school writer’s notebook, but rather a notebook that conveys your own thoughts about what you read.  

Have fun with this! After all, this is a summer assignment. The first graded assignment of the school year will be based off your work; we will ask you to reflect in writing about what you learned by doing this project, so make this an authentic learning experience for yourself. Spread out your entries over the whole summer instead of cramming them all in at the last minute on August 10. Take your journal with you when you travel. Do more than the required number of entries if so inspired. In short - engage with the project and make it your own.

Due: Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bring the books you selected to read with your journal on the first day of school.