Please note: Books are rated on a score of 1-3. Books rated 1 are at an easier reading level. All books may contain mature themes or topics; parents are encouraged to read reviews on Amazon or peruse books themselves before selecting material they may feel to be too mature for their children.

Summer Reading for students entering English 12/12R

1000 Acres. By Smiley, Jane. Based on King Lear, this book follows the saga of a family—a father and his three daughters—and their lives, which end in tragedy. 3

The Agency – The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee.  “  Get steeped in suspense, romance, and high Victorian intrigue as Mary goes undercover at Buckingham Palace - and learns a startling secret at the Tower of London.” – description  2

All the Pretty Horses. By McCarthy, Cormac. This is a prize-winning novel of young men trying to maintain a way of life in a rapidly changing world. The traditional values of the West are matched against the encroachments of the modern world in a story of adventure. 2

American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  A fantasy by master Gaiman, this book is about what American Gods would be if they existed. A good versus evil novel that also has deep messages about American life and values. 2

Animal Dreams. By Barbara Kingsolver. This novel is one that tells of a young woman who is filled with bitter conflicts over her past, her hometown, and her identity.  This riveting novel takes place in Arizona and few authors capture this area better than Kingsolver.  2

Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer.  “Those interested in stories of forbidden love and family secrets will enjoy reading as Rosa is faced with her family’s mafia ties and dark secrets. This is a worthy addition to any teen collection, especially those who [gravitate] toward darker fantasy.” (Voice of Youth Advocates) 2

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami.  Hunger Games for big kids/grownups—pretty violent and amazing. A class of Japanese students is put on an island and told to kill one another until there is one left. The book is told from the point of view of all of the characters, and allows you to really get to know them. A captivating book. 2

The Birth of Venus. By Dunant, Sara. An historical novel of fifteenth century Florence at the time of the Medici’s and political and religious change. A young girl comes of age while art flourishes. 2

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.  This fascinating non-fiction best seller explores the way that intuition rules so much of how we come to know the world.  Learn how much we gain from our snap judgments of others and the ways that snap judgments guide our interactions with the people around us. 2

The Boleyn Inheritance. By Phillipa Gregory.  Follow three of the many women in King Henry VIII’s life.  In his very unstable royal court, no one is ever sure of their fate, because King Henry is very paranoid and often vindictive.  Watch how three different women fight to stay in his favor and, at times, stay alive.  Written by the same author of The Other Boleyn Girl, this novel will really entrance anyone who wants to read a fictional version of a disturbed King in England’s history. 2

The Bonesetter’s Daughter. By Tan, Amy. The complex relationship of Chinese mothers and their American born daughters is told through the eyes of the different generations. 2

Cathedral. By Carver, Raymond. Twelve short stories that are filled with danger, realism, mystery, and grief. Each story gives us a glimpse into a small portion of people’s lives and how they act and react with each other in various relationships. 2

Cruddy by Lynda Barry.  A novel about a girl who is taken on a road trip with her father and introduced to all kinds of horrible things—drugs, strange people, and danger. Graphic and mature themes. 1

Deathtrap by Ira Levin.  Sidney Bruhl is a once-successful playwright whose last several productions have flopped at the box office. He then receives a script by a novice writer named Clifford Anderson for a stage thriller entitled Deathtrap. Bruhl tells his wife Myra that the script is brilliant and he then concocts a murder plot whereby he will offer to help Anderson rewrite the script, but will instead kill him and pass the play off as his own. Needless to say, the plan quickly spirals out of control. 2

The Deep End of the Ocean. By Mitchard, Jacqueline. A woman’s child is kidnapped in front of her, and the book follows what happens afterwards. 1

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King.  Four boyhood pals in Derry, Maine, get together for a pilgrimage to their favorite deep-woods cabin, Hole in the Wall. The four have been telepathically linked since childhood, thanks to a searing experience involving a Down syndrome neighbor--a human dreamcatcher. They've all got midlife crises: clownish Beav has love problems; the intellectual shrink, Henry, is slowly succumbing to the siren song of suicide; Pete is losing a war with beer; Jonesy has had weird premonitions ever since he got hit by a car.  For all its nicely described mayhem, Dreamcatcher is mostly a psychological drama. Typically, body snatchers turn humans into zombies, but these aliens must share their host's mind, fighting for control.  For mature readers only. 2

Everything’s Illuminated. By Foer, Jonathan Safran. A young man goes on a trip with some strange characters and learns a lot about his past and his relationship to the

Holocaust. 2

Fables, Vol 1-10 by Bill Willingham.  Willingham takes on interesting source material here: the fairy tales of our youths. He then twists and twists that material around until we are left with something not quite like our memory of those "happy times." Willingham presents us with an alternate world where the characters of these tales are at war with each other. Excellently written and beautifully illustrated, I think you'll be hard pressed to stop reading after Vol. 1.  (You may choose only one graphic novel).  2

Faithful Place by Tana French.  A mystery set in Dublin, this twisty turn novel will have you guessing throughout. Who killed the main character’s girlfriend, and what does it have to do with him and his family? 1

Fast Food Nation. By Eric Schlosser.  This gripping non-fiction book examines how the fast food industry came about and changed the way Americans eat, do business, and live. 2

The Farming of Bones. By Edwidge Danticat. This powerful moving tale of genocide is beautifully written and hard to put down. 2

Feed by M.T. Anderson. This science fiction novel describes the world of Titus and his friends, who are average middle class teenagers of the future. The feed, implanted in everyone’s brain, allows them to instant message friends in their minds, download memories from a party, and receive direct-marketed images from retailers in their brains.  After Titus meets Violet on the moon during spring break, however, he begins to see the world differently. 1

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.  “A scholar and a journalist apply economics theory to nearly everything.”  After reading this book, you will look at the world in a different way. 2

Goldengrove by Francine Prose. When Nico’s 17-year-old sister dies, she finds her parents unable to comfort her. Will having a relationship with Margaret’s boyfriend help soothe her loss? 1

Grendel. By Gardner, John. The first adversary of Beowulf tells his side of the story. 2

The Help. By Kathryn Stockett. A young white woman in the early 1960s in Mississippi becomes interested in the plight of the black ladies' maids that every family has working for them. She writes their stories about mistreatment, abuse and heartbreaks of working in white families' homes, all just before the Civil Rights revolution. 2

The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent. Sarah Carrier, the narrator, is the daughter of Martha Carrier, an accused witch in 1692 Salem. Join her as she and her family experience the horrors of that period in American History. 1

How to Read Literature Like a Professor. By Thomas Foster.  This excellent non-fiction guide gives you great tips on how to read literature in a more sophisticated and scholarly way.  It is very reader friendly and will surely give you some great tips on how to impress your English teacher. 1

In Defense of Food. By Michael Pollan.  A guided tour of 20th century food science, a history of "nutritionism" in America and a snapshot of the marriage of government and the food industry. 2

In the Heart of the Sea:  The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick  This non-fiction tale relates the story of the Essex, a whaleship that set sail from Nantucket in 1819 on  a routine voyage, and was rammed and sunk by an enraged sperm whale in the South Pacific.  The twenty-man crew was sent adrift in three tiny boats and experienced everything from starvation to cannibalism to death.  2

In These Girls Hope is a Muscle. By Madeleine Blais.  This non-fiction account of a high school girls’ basketball team’s struggles to be champions captures both the personal conflicts and inspiring stories behind this group of young women.  2

The Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.  Learn about all the ways that we trick ourselves into seeing what we want to see in the world.  This fascinating non-fiction best seller shows us how often people miss what is right in front of them. 2

The Iron Codex Series (includes Iron Thorn and The Nightmare Garden) by Caitlin Kittredge.  “The only girl at the prestigious School of Engines of Lovecraft Academy, Aoife Grayson is terrified that she will follow her mother and brother into the hereditary madness that strikes on the sixteenth birthday, now just a few weeks away. Determined to escape that fate, she sets off to her never-met father’s estate, with her friend Cal and a cocksure but very appealing hired guide. Here, she tumbles into a magical world she recognizes from her father’s journals and her mother’s mad ravings. Kittredge’s richly descriptive narrative captures all the details of clockwork, inventive machinery, foggy mists, ghastly ghouls, and creative landscapes. There’s plenty of tame but satisfying romance, too, and plot twists galore. Aoife is a caustic-tongued, feisty, and independent young woman, with plenty of nerve and courage. The abrupt ending signals a sequel, which can’t come too soon.” – Booklist description. 2

The Lady and the Unicorn. By Chevalier, Tracy. Love, romance, and tapestry-making. A story of the creation of the Unicorn tapestries. 1

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow: This YA novel tells the story of a “hacker” high-schooler who gets detained by the Department of Homeland Security and vows to fight back and bring them down. 1

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards.  Hinges on the birth of fraternal twins, a healthy boy and a girl with Down syndrome, resulting in the father's disavowal of his newborn daughter. ( The novel follows the choices that the father has made and the repercussions it has on his family and the abandoned daughter. 1

Mists of Avalon by Miriam Zimmer Bradley.  A Re-creation of the Arthurian legend following the clash between Christianity and paganism that led to the demise of Camelot. 2

The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto "Che" Guevara.  These travel diaries capture the essence and exuberance of the young legend, Che Guevara. In January 1952, Che set out from Buenos Aires to explore South America on an ancient Norton motorcycle. He encounters an extraordinary range of people-from native Indians to copper miners, lepers and tourists-experiencing hardships and adventures that informed much of his later life. 2

My Jim. By Nancy Rawles.  In her moving retelling of the story of escaped slave Jim from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Rawles shifts the focus to Jim’s wife, Sadie, whose unspeakable losses set the tone for Jim’s flight. 2

Needful Things by Stephen King.  Of grand proportion, the novel ranks with King's best, in both plot and characterization. A new store, Needful Things, opens in town, and its proprietor, Leland Gaunt, offers seemingly unbeatable bargains to Castle Rock's troubled citizens. Among them are Polly Chalmers, lonely seamstress whose arthritis is only one of the physical and psychic pains she must bear; Brian Rusk, the 11-year-old boy whose mother is not precisely attentive; and Alan Pangborn, the new sheriff whose wife and son have recently died. These are only three of the half-dozen or so brilliantly drawn people met in the novel's one-month time span. As the dreams of each strikingly memorable character, major and minor, turn to nightmare, individuals and soon the community are overwhelmed, while the precise nature of Gaunt's evil thrillingly stays just out of focus. For mature readers only. 2

On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft.  By Stephen King.  This non-fiction piece is split into two interesting parts.  Part 1 tells the personal story of today’s most prolific fiction writer while the second section gives you his very poignant advice on how to be a great writer. 2

The Once and Future King by T.H. White.  Tells the story of the youth and reign of King Arthur, the establishment of the round Table, and the search for the Holy Grail. 2

A Practical Handbook for the Actor by Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeline Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto, Scott Zigler.  6 working actors describe their methods and philosophies of the theater. All have worked with playwright David Mamet at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. 2

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.  Owen Meany, a dwarfish boy, accidentally kills his best friend’s mom and then believes that God is speaking through him. 2

Prep. By Curtis Sittenfield.  Lee Fiora, a student from a small, Mid-western town, is being thrown into a life of privilege at a Northeastern Prep School outside Boston.  This loner character struggles with self-esteem issues, relationships, and finding her own voice and identity. The novel contains many mature issues, so enlightened readers only. 2

The River Why by David James Duncan.  This captivating and exuberant tale is told by Gus Orviston, an irreverent young fly fisherman and one of the most appealing heroes in contemporary American fiction. Leaving behind a madcap, fishing-obsessed family, Gus decides to strike out on his own, taking refuge in a remote riverbank cabin to pursue his own fly-fishing passion with unrelenting zeal. But instead of finding fishing bliss, Gus becomes increasingly troubled by the degradation of the natural world around him and by the spiritual barrenness of his own life. His desolation drives him on a reluctant quest for self-discovery and meaning -- ultimately fruitful beyond his wildest dreams.  2

The Robber Bride. By Atwood, Margaret (You may also read The Handmaid’s Tale). A story of the friendship of three women and how it changes them. 3

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. About a group of college friends that get into a LOT of trouble, in the style of Killing Mr. Griffith. 2

Still Alice. By Lisa Genova.  Follow the story of a Harvard professor who suddenly finds herself suffering early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  2

The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman.  These two books complete the fantasy trilogy begun by The Golden Compass.  Those readers who read--and loved--Book I (or the movie) will also love Books II and III, the exciting continuation and conclusion of Lyra's journey.  Not to be missed! 

Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster.  Essays about Jen’s life, dealing with weight loss, body image, relationships, and life in general. Very funny! 1

The Third Witch by Rebecca Reisert. A YA novel that retells Macbeth from the POV of a young witch (one of the three in the play).  A well-written & engaging coming-of-age novel with plenty of interesting links to the play's events and characters.  Readers of Macbeth will enjoy the links to the play and fantasy readers will like the premise that witches can do magical things in this world. 2

This I Believe:  The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. Jay Allison (ed.).  This collection of essays relates varied accounts of a unique group of individuals. 2

Three by Ted Dekker.  The main character is told in the opening pages that unless he confesses his deepest sin, his car will be blown up. Problem is, he doesn’t know what it is. What follows is a thrill ride as the main character tries to figure out who is hunting him and why. 1

The Tipping Point. By Malcolm Gladwell.  This non-fiction examination of our culture will leave you thinking for months.  2

Velocity or Intensity by Dean Koontz.  Either one of these books will take you on a thrill ride. Both of them deal with main characters struggling with evil outside forces. Warning: Scary! For those who like thrillers ONLY. 1

A Walk in the Woods. By Bill Bryson.  The humorous account of life on the Appalachian trail is a must read for any nature lover.  Bill Bryson lets you know about the challenges of the trail as well as all the interesting characters you would meet along the way.  1