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High School English Resource List with Mature Themes Identified
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TitleauthorSummary
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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy SoldierBeah, IshmaelThis is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.
What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.
In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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A Midsummer Night's DreamShakespeare, WilliamAmong the most popular of all Shakespeare's comedies, this play humorously celebrates the vagaries of love. With its several pairs of lovers, on-again, off-again romances, magic spells, fairies, and a bumbling troupe of would-be actors, the play continues to enchant audiences. (Sexual Content, Profanity)
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A Raisin in the SunHansberry, Lorraine"Never before, the entire history of the American theater, has so much of the truth of black people's lives been seen on the stage," observed James Baldwin shortly before A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959. Indeed Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America--and changed American theater forever.  The play's title comes from a line in Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem," which warns that a dream deferred might "dry up/like a raisin in the sun." "The events of every passing year add resonance to A Raisin in the Sun," said The New York Times.  "It is as if history is conspiring to make the play a classic." (Profanity, Violence)
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A Tale of Two CitiesDickens, CharlesAgainst the backdrop of the French Revolution, Dickens unfolds a masterpiece of drama, adventure, and courage featuring Charles Darnay, a man falsely accused of treason. He bears an uncanny resemblance to the dissolute, yet noble Sydney Carton. Brilliantly plotted, the novel culminates in a daring prison escape in the shadow of the guillotine. (Violence)
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A Thousand Splendid SunsHosseini, KhaledAfter 103 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and with four million copies of The Kite Runner shipped, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel that confirms his place as one of the most important literary writers today.
Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman's love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Animal FarmOrwell, GeorgeAs ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As readers witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, they begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization—and in the most charismatic leaders, the souls of the cruelest oppressors. (Violence)
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AnthemRand, AynAnthem is a dystopian science fiction novella by Ayn Rand. Mankind has entered a new dark age as a result of the evils of irrationality and collectivism and the weaknesses of socialistic thinking and economics. Individuality and ambition have become sins. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all). Here is the story of one man willing to risk everything to rebel against a society that refuses to believe in the power or rights of the individual. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Black BoyWright, RichardRichard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi, with poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around him; at six he was a "drunkard," hanging about taverns. Surly, brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common lot. Black Boy is Richard Wright's powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Bless Me, UltimaAnaya, Rudolfo A.Stories filled with wonder and the haunting beauty of his culture have helped make Rudolfo Anaya the father of Chicano literature in English, and his tales fairly shimmer with the lyric richness of his prose. Acclaimed in both Spanish and English, Anaya is perhaps best loved for his classic bestseller ... Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will test the bonds that tie him to his people, and discover himself in the pagan past, in his father's wisdom, and in his mother's Catholicism. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world-and will nurture the birth of his soul. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Brave New WorldHuxley, AldousAldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. From the author of The Doors of Perception, Island, and countless other works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and poetry, comes this powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations. Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Cold MountainFrazier, CharlesIn 1997, Charles Frazier’s debut novel Cold Mountain made publishing history when it sailed to the top of The New York Times best-seller list for sixty-one weeks, won numerous literary awards, including the National Book Award, and went on to sell over three million copies.... Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, a Confederate soldier named Inman decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign. At the same time, the intrepid Ada is trying to revive her father’s derelict farm and learning to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic odyssey, hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Cry, The Beloved CountryPaton, AlanCry, the Beloved Country, the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s country under white man’s law is a work of searing beauty.
Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.
The eminent literary critic Lewis Gannett wrote, “We have had many novels from statesmen and reformers, almost all bad; many novels from poets, almost all thin. In Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country the statesman, the poet and the novelist meet in a unique harmony.”
Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.(Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeHaddon, MarkChristopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.    This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years. (Profanity, Violence)
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Death of a SalesmanMiller, ArthurDeath of a Salesman is a 1949 play written by American playwright Arthur Miller. It was the recipient of the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. The play premiered on Broadway in February 1949, running for 742 performances, and has been revived on Broadway four times, winning three Tony Awards for Best Revival. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Ender's GameCard, Orson ScottIn order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training. Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is. (Profanity, Violence)
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Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseJonathan Safran FoerExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close recasts recent history through the eyes of Oskar Schell, an unusually intelligent nine-year-old on an urgent quest to find the lock that matches a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center. This unlikely adventure takes Oskar through every city borough and into contact with survivors of all sorts, and it's his irrepressible voice—one that few writers could conceive as imaginatively as Foer does—that transforms the tragedy of circumstance into an exhilarating tribute to love. (Sexual Content, Violence, Profanity)
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Fahrenheit 451Bradbury, RayGuy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life. (Profanity, Violence)
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FrankensteinShelley, MaryA timeless, terrifying tale of one man’s obsession to create life—and the monster that became his legacy.

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of devoted science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life, and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts; but upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Dr. Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science-fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation, genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever. (Profanity, Violence)
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HamletShakespeare, WilliamOne of the greatest plays of all time, the compelling tragedy of the tormented young prince of Denmark continues to capture the imaginations of modern audiences worldwide. Confronted with evidence that his uncle murdered his father, and with his mother’s infidelity, Hamlet must find a means of reconciling his longing for oblivion with his duty as avenger. The ghost, Hamlet’s feigned madness, Ophelia’s death and burial, the play within a play, the “closet scene” in which Hamlet accuses his mother of complicity in murder, and breathtaking swordplay are just some of the elements that make Hamlet an enduring masterpiece of the theater. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Heart of DarknessConrad, JosephIn this pair of literary voyages into the inner self, Joseph Conrad has
written two of the most chilling, disturbing, and noteworthy pieces of
fiction of the twentieth century. (Profanity, Violence)
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Henry VShakespeare, WilliamShakespeare's history play tells the story of England's King Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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HiroshimaHersey, JohnOn August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by the first atom bomb ever dropped on a city. This book, John Hersey's journalistic masterpiece, tells what happened on that day. Told through the memories of survivors, this timeless, powerful and compassionate document has become a classic "that stirs the conscience of humanity" (The New York Times).Almost four decades after the original publication of this celebrated book, John Hersey went back to Hiroshima in search of the people whose stories he had told.  His account of what he discovered about them is now the eloquent and moving final chapter of Hiroshima. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Inherit the WindLawrence, JeromeThe accused was a slight, frightened man who had deliberately broken the law. His trial was a Roman circus, the chief gladiators being the two great legal giants of the century. Locked in mortal combat, they bellowed and roared imprecations and abuse. The spectators sat uneasily in the sweltering heat with murder in their hearts, barely able to restrain themselves. At stake was the freedom of every American. (Profanity, Violence)
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Into Thin AirKrakauer, JonWhen Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10,1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin the perilous descent from 29,028 feet (roughly the cruising altitude of an Airbus jetliner), twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly to the top, unaware that the sky had begun to roil with clouds...
Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed Outside journalist and author of the bestselling Into the Wild. Taking the reader step by step from Katmandu to the mountain's deadly pinnacle, Krakauer has his readers shaking on the edge of their seat. Beyond the terrors of this account, however, he also peers deeply into the myth of the world's tallest mountain. What is is about Everest that has compelled so many poeple--including himself--to throw caution to the wind, ignore the concerns of loved ones, and willingly subject themselves to such risk, hardship, and expense?
Written with emotional clarity and supported by his unimpeachable reporting, Krakauer's eyewitness account of what happened on the roof of the world is a singular achievement. (Profanity, Violence)
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Invisible ManEllison, RalphInvisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Johnny Got His GunTrumbo, DaltonThe Searing Portrayal Of War That Has Stunned And Galvanized Generations Of Readers--It was the war to end all wars, the global struggle that would finally make the world safe for democracy--at any cost. But one American soldier has paid a price beyond measure. And within the disfigured flesh that was once a vision of youth lives a spirit that cannot accept what the world has become.An immediate bestseller upon its original publication in 1939, Dalton Trumbo's stark, profoundly troubling masterpiece about the horrors of World War I brilliantly crystallized the uncompromising brutality of war and became the most influential protest novel of the Vietnam era. With a poignant new foreword by Cindy Sheehan, Johnny Got His Gun--an undisputed classic of antiwar literatureis as timely as ever. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Julius CaesarShakespeare, WilliamThe Tragedy of Julius Caesar is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599. It portrays the 44 BC conspiracy against the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, his assassination and the defeat of the conspirators at the Battle of Philippi. It is one of several Roman plays that Shakespeare wrote, based on true events from Roman history, which also include Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra.
Although the title of the play is Julius Caesar, Caesar is not the central character in its action; he appears in only three scenes, and is killed at the beginning of the third act. The protagonist of the play is Marcus Brutus, and the central psychological drama is his struggle between the conflicting demands of honour, patriotism, and friendship.
The play reflected the general anxiety of England over succession of leadership. At the time of its creation and first performance, Queen Elizabeth, a strong ruler, was elderly and had refused to name a successor, leading to worries that a civil war similar to that of Rome might break out after her death. (Violence)
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Jurassic ParkCrichton, MichaelAn astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.
Until something goes wrong. . . . In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton taps all his mesmerizing talent and scientific brilliance to create his most electrifying technothriller.(Profanity, Violence)
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King LearShakespeare, WilliamA king foolishly divides his kingdom between his scheming two oldest daughters and estranges himself from the daughter who loves him. So begins this profoundly moving and disturbing tragedy that, perhaps more than any other work in literature, challenges the notion of a coherent and just universe. The king and others pay dearly for their shortcomings–as madness, murder, and the anguish of insight and forgiveness that arrive too late combine to make this an all-embracing tragedy of evil and suffering. (Profanity, Violence)
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King of the Mild FrontierCrutcher, ChrisAnd once you have read about Chris Crutcher's life as a dateless, broken-toothed, scabbed-over, God-fearing dweeb, and once you have contemplated his ascension to the buckskin-upholstered throne of the King of the Mild Frontier, you will close this book, close your eyes and hold it to your chest, and say, "I, too, can be an author." (Sexual Content, Profanity)
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Kite RunnerHosseini, KhaledThe New York Times bestseller and international classic loved by millions of readers. The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Krik? Krak!Danticat, EdwidgeArriving one year after the Haitian-American's first novel (Breath, Eyes, Memory) alerted critics to her compelling voice, these 10 stories, some of which have appeared in small literary journals, confirm Danticat's reputation as a remarkably gifted writer. Examining the lives of ordinary Haitians, particularly those struggling to survive under the brutal Duvalier regime, Danticat illuminates the distance between people's desires and the stifling reality of their lives. A profound mix of Catholicism and voodoo spirituality informs the tales, bestowing a mythic importance on people described in the opening story, "Children of the Sea," as those "in this world whose names don't matter to anyone but themselves." The ceaseless grip of dictatorship often leads men to emotionally abandon their families, like the husband in "A Wall of Fire Rising," who dreams of escaping in a neighbor's hot-air balloon. The women exhibit more resilience, largely because of their insistence on finding meaning and solidarity through storytelling; but Danticat portrays these bonds with an honesty that shows that sisterhood, too, has its power plays. In the book's final piece, "Epilogue: Women Like Us," she writes: "Are there women who both cook and write? Kitchen poets, they call them. They slip phrases into their stew and wrap meaning around their pork before frying it. They make narrative dumplings and stuff their daughter's mouths so they say nothing more." The stories inform and enrich one another, as the female characters reveal a common ancestry and ties to the fictional Ville Rose. In addition to the power of Danticat's themes, the book is enhanced by an element of suspense (we're never certain, for example, if a rickety boat packed with refugees introduced in the first tale will reach the Florida coast). Spare, elegant and moving, these stories cohere into a superb collection. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Les MiserablesHugo, VictorIntroducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait that resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Life of PiMartel, YannPi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.   The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true? Life of Pi is at once a realistic, rousing adventure and a meta-tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It's a story, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God. (Profanity, Violence)
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Like Water for ChocolateEsquivel, LauraEarthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in tum-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit. Combining a relatively simple narrative with stylistic ingenuity, Like Water for Chocolate's author, Laura Esquivel, captures the essence of young adult love and ensuing conflict, and thus has been a huge success in classrooms worldwide, for its literary merit and its accessibility. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Lord of the FliesGolding, WilliamLord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature.
Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a true classic. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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MacbethShakespeare, WilliamNo dramatist has ever seen with more frightening clarity into the heart and mind of a murderer than has Shakespeare in this compelling tragedy of evil. Taunted into asserting his “masculinity” by his ambitious wife, Macbeth chooses to embrace the Weird Sisters’ prophecy and kill his king–and thus, seals his own doom. Fast-moving and bloody, this drama has the extraordinary energy that derives from a brilliant plot replete with treachery and murder, and from Shakespeare’s compelling portrait of the ultimate battle between a mind and its own guilt. (Profanity, Violence)
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Maus I: My Father Bleeds HistorySpiegelman, ArtA story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father's story and history itself. (Profanity, Violence)
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Much Ado About NothingShakespeare, William"Much Ado About Nothing" is the story of Leonato, an Italian nobleman, his daughter, Hero, and his niece, Beatrice. Following a war Leonato welcomes into his house Don Pedro, his good friend; fellow soldiers of Don Pedro, Claudio and Benedick; as well as Don Pedro's illegitimate brother, Don John. Quickly amorous relations develop between Claudio and Hero and later between Benedick and Beatrice. As wedding plans are being made for Claudio and Hero, Don John tricks Claudio into believing that Hero has been unfaithful. The wedding bliss is briefly interrupted until the truth is finally discovered and the play ends in a joyful double wedding. (Sexual Content, Profanity)
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Native SonWright, RichardRight from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Nectar in a SieveMarkandaya, KamalaNectar in a Sieve, set in India during a period of intense urban development, is a fictional history of a marriage between Rukmani, youngest daughter of a village headman, and Nathan, a tenant farmer. Rukmani tells the story in the first person, from her arranged marriage to Nathan at age twelve to his death many years later. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in AmericaEhrenreich, BarbaraMillions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk.
Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. (Sexual Content, Profanity)
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NightWiesel, ElieNight is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie’s wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author’s original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man.
Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be. (Violence)
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October SkyHickam, HomerWith the grace of a natural storyteller, NASA engineer Homer Hickam paints a warm, vivid portrait of the harsh West Virginia mining town of his youth, evoking a time of innocence and promise, when anything was possible, even in a company town that swallowed its men alive. A story of romance and loss, of growing up and getting out, Homer Hickam's lush, lyrical memoir is a chronicle of triumph—at once exquisitely written and marvelously entertaining. (Profanity)
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Of Mice and MenSteinbeck, JohnOver seventy-five years since its first publication, Steinbeck’s tale of commitment, loneliness, hope, and loss remains one of America’s most widely read and taught novels. An unlikely pair, George and Lennie, two migrant workers in California during the Great Depression, grasp for their American Dream. They hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.
Of Mice and Men represents an experiment in form, which Steinbeck described as “a kind of playable novel, written in a novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands.” A rarity in American letters, it achieved remarkable success as a novel, a Broadway play, and three acclaimed films. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Ordinary PeopleGuest, JudithIn Ordinary People, Judith Guest’s remarkable first novel, the Jarrets are a typical American family. Calvin is a determined, successful provider and Beth an organized, efficient wife. They had two sons, Conrad and Buck, but now they have one. In this memorable, moving novel, Judith Guest takes the reader into their lives to share their misunderstandings, pain...and ultimate healing. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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OthelloShakespeare, WilliamOne of the greatest of Shakespeare's tragedies, Othello tells the story of a Moorish general who earns the enmity of his ensign Iago when he passes him over for a promotion. Bleak and unsparing, this play offers a masterly portrait of an archvillain and an astute psychological study of the nature of evil. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Peace Like a RiverEnger, LeifHailed as one of the year's top five novels by Time, and selected as one of the best books of the year by nearly all major newspapers, national bestseller Peace Like a River captured the hearts of a nation in need of comfort. "A rich mixture of adventure, tragedy, and healing," Peace Like a River is "a collage of legends from sources sacred and profane -- from the Old Testament to the Old West, from the Gospels to police dramas" (Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor). In "lyrical, openhearted prose" (Michael Glitz, The New York Post), Enger tells the story of eleven-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy who has reason to believe in miracles. Along with his sister and father, Reuben finds himself on a cross-country search for his outlaw older brother who has been controversially charged with murder. Their journey is touched by serendipity and the kindness of strangers, and its remarkable conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, the most tragic of fates. Leif Enger's "miraculous" (Valerie Ryan, The Seattle Times) novel is a "perfect book for an anxious time ... of great literary merit that nonetheless restores readers' faith in the kindness of stories" (Marta Salij, Detroit Free Press). (Profanity, Violence)
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Persepolis: The Story of a ChildhoodSatrapi, MarjaneWise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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PygmalionShaw, George BernardPygamalion tells the story of Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, who makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he can successfully pass off a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, as a refined society lady by teaching her how to speak with an upper class accent and training her in etiquette. In the process, Higgins and Doolittle grow close, but she ultimately rejects his domineering ways and declares she will marry Freddy Eynsford-Hill-- a young, poor gentleman. (Sexual Content, Profanity)
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Red Scarf Girl: Memoir of Cultural RevolutionJiang, Ji-LiThis accessible autobiography is the true story of one girl's determination to hold her family together during one of the most terrifying eras of the twentieth century. It's 1966, and twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, friends, and a bright future in Communist China. But it's also the year that China's leader, Mao Ze-dong, launches the Cultural Revolution—and Ji-li's world begins to fall apart. Over the next few years, people who were once her friends and neighbors turn on her and her family, forcing them to live in constant terror of arrest. When Ji-li's father is finally imprisoned, she faces the most difficult dilemma of her life.A personal and painful memoir—a page-turner as well as excellent material for social studies curricula—Red Scarf Girl also includes a thorough glossary and pronunciation guide.Supports the Common Core State Standards (Violence)
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Richard IIIShakespeare, WilliamIn The Tragedy of King Richard III, Shakespeare chronicles the rise and fall of one of history’s most repellent, and the theater’s most mesmerizing, figures.(Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Romeo and JulietShakespeare, WilliamRomeo and Juliet is a tragic play written early in the career of William Shakespeare about two teenage "star-cross'd lovers" whose untimely deaths ultimately unite their feuding households. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal "young lovers." (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Saint JoanShaw, George BernardJoan of Arc, a village girl from the Vosges, was born about 1412; burnt for heresy, witchcraft, and sorcery in 1431; rehabilitated after a fashion in 1456; designated Venerable in 1904; declared Blessed in 1908; and finally canonized in 1920. She is the most notable Warrior Saint in the Christian calendar, and the queerest fish among the eccentric worthies of the Middle Ages. Though a professed and most pious Catholic, and the projector of a Crusade against the Husites, she was in fact one of the first Protestant martyrs. She was also one of the first apostles of Nationalism, and the first French practitioner of Napoleonic realism in warfare as distinguished from the sporting ransom-gambling chivalry of her time. She was the pioneer of rational dressing for women, and, like Queen Christina of Sweden two centuries later, to say nothing of Catalina de Erauso and innumerable obscure heroines who have disguised themselves as men to serve as soldiers and sailors, she refused to accept the specific woman's lot, and dressed and fought and lived as men did.
As she contrived to assert herself in all these ways with such force that she was famous throughout western Europe before she was out of her teens (indeed she never got out of them), it is hardly surprising that she was judicially burnt, ostensibly for a number of capital crimes which we no longer punish as such, but essentially for what we call unwomanly and insufferable presumption. At eighteen Joan's pretensions were beyond those of the proudest Pope or the haughtiest emperor. She claimed to be the ambassador and plenipotentiary of God, and to be, in effect, a member of the Church Triumphant whilst still in the flesh on earth. She patronized her own king, and summoned the English king to repentance and obedience to her commands. She lectured, talked down, and overruled statesmen and prelates. She pooh-poohed the plans of generals, leading their troops to victory on plans of her own. She had an unbounded and quite unconcealed contempt for official opinion, judgment, and authority, and for War Office tactics and strategy. Had she been a sage and monarch in whom the most venerable hierarchy and the most illustrious dynasty converged, her pretensions and proceedings would have been as trying to the official mind as the pretensions of Caesar were to Cassius. As her actual condition was pure upstart, there were only two opinions about her. One was that she was miraculous: the other that she was unbearable.(Profanity, Violence)
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Shabanu: Daughter of the WindStaples, Suzanne FisherLife is both sweet and cruel to strong-willed young Shabanu, whose home is the windswept Cholistan Desert of Pakistan. The second daughter in a family with no sons, she's been allowed freedoms forbidden to most Muslim girls. But when a tragic encounter with a wealthy and powerful landowner ruins the marriage plans of her older sister, Shabanu is called upon to sacrifice everything she's dreamed of. Should she do what is necessary to uphold her family's honor—or listen to the stirrings of her own heart? (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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SiddharthaHesse, HermannIn the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life -- the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom. (Sexual Content)
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Slaughterhouse FiveVonnegut, KurtSelected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most. (Sexual Content, Violence, Profanity)
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Snow Falling on CedarsGuterson, DavidA “finely wrought, flawlessly written” novel (New York Times Book Review), set on a small island in the Puget Sound, that is “at various moments a courtroom drama, an interracial love story, and a war chronicle” (San Francisco Chronicle). “Guterson has fashioned something haunting and true” (Pico Iyer, Time). Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Song of SolomonMorrison, ToniMilkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Sophie's WorldGaarder, JosteinOne day Sophie comes home from school to find two questions in her mail: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" Before she knows it she is enrolled in a correspondence course with a mysterious philosopher. Thus begins Jostein Gaarder's unique novel, which is not only a mystery, but also a complete and entertaining history of philosophy. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnTwain, MarkTHE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in England in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. Commonly named among the Great American Novels, the work is among the first in major American literature to be written throughout in vernacular English, characterized by local color regionalism. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry Huck Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective). It is a direct sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The book is noted for its colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River. Satirizing a Southern antebellum society that had ceased to exist about twenty years before the work was published, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism. (Profanity, Violence)
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The Bean TreesKingsolver, BarbaraThe Bean Trees is bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver’s first novel, now widely regarded as a modern classic. It is the charming, engrossing tale of rural Kentucky native Taylor Greer, who only wants to get away from her roots and avoid getting pregnant. She succeeds, but inherits a 3-year-old native-American little girl named Turtle along the way, and together, from Oklahoma to Tucson, Arizona, half-Cherokee Taylor and her charge search for a new life in the West.Written with humor and pathos, this highly praised novel focuses on love and friendship, abandonment and belonging as Taylor, out of money and seemingly out of options, settles in dusty Tucson and begins working at Jesus Is Lord Used Tires while trying to make a life for herself and Turtle. The author of such bestsellers as The Lacuna, The Poinsonwood Bible, and Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver has been hailed for her striking imagery and clear dialogue, and this is the novel that kicked off her remarkable literary career. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Bluest EyeMorrison, ToniPecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing. (Sexual Content, Violence, Profanity)
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The Canterbury Tales (Selected Sections)Chaucer, GeoffreyOne spring day, the Narrator of The Canterbury Tales rents a room at the Tabard Inn before he recommences his journey to Canterbury. That evening, a group of people arrive at the inn, all of whom are also going to Canterbury to receive the blessings of "the holy blissful martyr," St. Thomas à Becket. Calling themselves "pilgrims" because of their destination, they accept the Narrator into their company. The Narrator describes his newfound traveling companions.The Host at the inn, Harry Bailey, suggests that, to make the trip to Canterbury pass more pleasantly, each member of the party tell two tales on the journey to Canterbury and two more tales on the journey back. The person who tells the best story will be rewarded with a sumptuous dinner paid for by the other members of the party. The Host decides to accompany the pilgrims to Canterbury and serve as the judge of the tales. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Catcher in the RyeSalinger, J.D.The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The CrucibleMiller, ArthurFrom Arthur Miller, America’s most celebrated playwright, a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria, inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist “witch-hunts” in the 1950s. Written in 1953, just after Miller received a Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman, The Crucible mirrors the anti-communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “witch-hunts” in the United States. Within the text itself, Miller contemplates the parallels, writing “Political opposition...is given an inhumane overlay, which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized behavior. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence.” (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New PhysicsZukav, GaryGary Zukav’s timeless, humorous, New York Times bestselling masterpiece, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, is arguably the most widely acclaimed introduction to quantum physics ever written. Scientific American raves: “Zukav is such a skilled expositor, with such an amiable style, that it is hard to imagine a layman who would not find his book enjoyable and informative.” Accessible, edifying, and endlessly entertaining, The Dancing Wu Li Masters is back in a beautiful new edition—and the doors to the fascinating, dazzling, remarkable world of quantum physics are opened to all once again, no previous mathematical or technical expertise required.
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The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne FrankFrank, AnneDiscovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank's remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the "Secret Annex" of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short. (Profanity, Violence)
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The Grapes of WrathSteinbeck, JohnThe Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers.
First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads-driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.
A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America.
The Grapes of Wrath summed up its era in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin summed up the years of slavery before the Civil War. Sensitive to fascist and communist criticism, Steinbeck insisted that “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” be printed in its entirety in the first edition of the book—which takes its title from the first verse: “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Great GatsbyFitzgerald, F. ScottThe Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s. The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Handmaid's TaleAtwood, MargaretThe Handmaid's Tale is not only a radical and brilliant departure for Margaret Atwood, it is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population. The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment's calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The House on Mango StreetCisneros, SandraAcclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers. (Sexual Content, Profanity)
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The Hunger GamesCollins, SuzanneIn the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed (Violence)
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The IliadHomerDating to the ninth century BC, Homer’s timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to the wrenching, tragic conclusion of the Trojan War. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb Introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it coexists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace. (Violence, Sexual Content)
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The Importance of Being EarnestWilde, OscarHere is Oscar Wilde's most brilliant tour de force, a witty and buoyant comedy of manners that has delighted millions in countless productions since its first performance in London's St. James' Theatre on February 14, 1895. The Importance of Being Earnest is celebrated not only for the lighthearted ingenuity of its plot, but for its inspired dialogue, rich with scintillating epigrams still savored by all who enjoy artful conversation.From the play's effervescent beginnings in Algernon Moncrieff's London flat to its hilarious denouement in the drawing room of Jack Worthing's country manor in Hertfordshire, this comic masterpiece keeps audiences breathlessly anticipating a new bon mot or a fresh twist of plot moment to moment. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. (Sexual Content, Profanity)
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The JungleSinclair, UptonUpton Sinclair's The Jungle, is a work of fiction describing the lives of immigrants working in Chicago's meatpacking industry. (Profanity, Violence)
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The Picture of Dorian GrayWilde, OscarThe Picture of Dorian Gray scandalized readers when it was first published in 1890. Written in Wilde’s signature style, the story has gone on to become an enduring tale of man’s hubris and narcissism.
The well-known artist Basil Hallward meets the young Dorian Gray in the stately London home of his aunt, Lady Brandon. Basil becomes immediately infatuated with Dorian, who is cultured, wealthy, and remarkably beautiful. Such beauty, Basil believes, is responsible for a new mode of art, and he decides to paint a portrait of the young man. While finishing the painting, Basil reluctantly introduces Dorian to his friend Lord Henry Wotton, a man known for scandal and exuberance. Wotton inspires Dorian to live life through the senses, to feel beauty in everyday experience. Dorian becomes enthralled by Wotton’s ideas, and more so becomes obsessed with remaining young and beautiful. He expresses a desire to sell his soul and have the portrait of him age, while he, the man, stays eternally young. A tragic story of hedonism and desire, The Picture of Dorian Gray is Oscar Wilde’s only published novel. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The PrinceMachiavelli, NiccolThe highly exalted and infamous discourse containing observations and instructions on the significance of a rise to power. For nearly half a millennium, its logical and direct analysis of diplomacy, war-craft, and human nature has commanded a wise ruler in all who read it. No collection of political philosophy and history is complete without it. (Violence)
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The RoadMcCarthy, CormacThe searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece.
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other. The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Sound and the FuryFaulkner, WilliamThe Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character’s voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece and  one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The StrangerCamus, AlbertThrough the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless
murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the
nakedness of man faced with the absurd." (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Sun Also RisesHemingway, ErnestThe quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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The Taming of the ShrewShakespeare, WilliamA robust and bawdy battle of the sexes, this ever popular comedy captivates audiences with outrageous humor as Katharina, the shrew, engages in a contest of wills–and love–with her bridegroom, Petruchio. Their boisterous conflict is set off against a more conventional romantic plot involving the wooing of Katharina’s lovely and compliant sister, Bianca. Rich with the psychological themes of identity and transformation, the play is quintessentially lighthearted, filled with visual gags, witty repartee, and unmatched theatrical brilliance from Petruchio’s demand, “Kiss me, Kate!” to the final spectacle of the wedding feast. (Profanity, Sexual Content)
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The Tao of PoohHoff, BenjaminThe how of Pooh? The Tao of who? The Tao of Pooh!?! In which it is revealed that one of the world's great Taoist masters isn't Chinese--or a venerable philosopher--but is in fact none other than that effortlessly calm, still, reflective bear. A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh! While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is. And that's a clue to the secret wisdom of the Taoists.
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The Theban PlaysSophoclesThe legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes inspired Sophocles to create a powerful trilogy of mankind's struggle aginst fate.
KING OEDIPUS tells of a man who brings pestilence to Thebes for crimes he doesn't realise he has committed, and then inflicts a brutal punishment on himself. It is a devastating portrayl of a ruler brought down by his own oath. OEDIPUS AT COLONUS provides a fitting conclusion to the life of the aged and blinded king, while ANTIGONE depicts the fall of the next generation through the conflict between a young woman ruled by her conscience and a king too confident in his own authority. (Sexual Content, Violence)
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The Things They CarriedO'Brien, TimA classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling. 
The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O’Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three.
Taught everywhere—from high school classrooms to graduate seminars in creative writing—it has become required reading for any American and continues to challenge readers in their perceptions of fact and fiction, war and peace, courage and fear and longing. The Things They Carried won France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Their Eyes Were Watching GodHurston, Zora NealeOne of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Things Fall ApartAchebe, ChinuaThings Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a "strong man" of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo's fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Three Theban PlaysSophoclesThe legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes inspired Sophocles to create a powerful trilogy of mankind's struggle aginst fate.
KING OEDIPUS tells of a man who brings pestilence to Thebes for crimes he doesn't realise he has committed, and then inflicts a brutal punishment on himself. It is a devastating portrayl of a ruler brought down by his own oath. OEDIPUS AT COLONUS provides a fitting conclusion to the life of the aged and blinded king, while ANTIGONE depicts the fall of the next generation through the conflict between a young woman ruled by her conscience and a king too confident in his own authority. (Sexual Content, Violence)
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To Kill a MockingbirdLee, HarperHarper Lee's Pulitzer prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep south—and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred, available now for the first time as an e-book.One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father-a crusading local lawyer-risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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To LiveHua, YuAn award-winning, internationally acclaimed Chinese bestseller, originally banned in China but recently named one of the last decade’s ten most influential books there, To Live tells the epic story of one man’s transformation from the spoiled son of a rich landlord to an honorable and kindhearted peasant.
After squandering his family’s fortune in gambling dens and brothels, the young, deeply penitent Fugui settles down to do the honest work of a farmer. Forced by the Nationalist Army to leave behind his family, he witnesses the horrors and privations of the Civil War, only to return years later to face a string of hardships brought on by the ravages of the Cultural Revolution. Left with an ox as the companion of his final years, Fugui stands as a model of flinty authenticity, buoyed by his appreciation for life in this narrative of humbling power. (Sexual Content, Profanity, Violence)
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Twelfth NightShakespeare, WilliamSeparated from her twin brother Sebastian after a shipwreck, Viola disguises herself as a boy to serve the Duke of Illyria. Wooing a countess on his behalf, she is stunned to find herself the object of his beloved's affections. With the arrival of Viola's brother, and a trick played upon the countess's steward, confusion reigns in this romantic comedy of mistaken identity. (Sexual Content)
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Viva El ToroRay, BlaineThe 4th novel in a series of four easy novels for 2nd- (or 3rd-) year high school students. An American teenage girl goes to Seville to live with a Spanish family and to attend high school. The family takes her to her first bullfight. She is horrified when the bull is killed. Later, on a date, with great misgivings she goes to another bullfight, and something extraordinary happens. (Violence)
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Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two ActsBeckett, SamuelFrom an inauspicious beginning at the tiny Left Bank Theatre de Babylone in 1953, followed by bewilderment among American and British audiences, Waiting for Godot has become of the most important and enigmatic plays of the past fifty years and a cornerstone of twentieth-century drama. As Clive Barnes wrote, “Time catches up with genius … Waiting for Godot is one of the masterpieces of the century.”
The story revolves around two seemingly homeless men waiting for someone—or something—named Godot. Vladimir and Estragon wait near a tree, inhabiting a drama spun of their own consciousness. The result is a comical wordplay of poetry, dreamscapes, and nonsense, which has been interpreted as mankind’s inexhaustible search for meaning. Beckett’s language pioneered an expressionistic minimalism that captured the existential post-World War II Europe. His play remains one of the most magical and beautiful allegories of our time. (Sexual Content, Profanity)
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Wild ThornsKhalifeh, SaharWild Thorns is a chronicle of life in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (Profanity, Violence)
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Writing America: Language Composition in ContextJolliffe, DavidThe first of its kind, Writing America teaches students the rhetorical skills needed for AP Language while engaging them in reading and writing about timeless issues and contemporary concerns. Using compelling American themes and selections, Writing America gives focus to rhetorical study and writing development through cultural, social, and literary perspectives. Jolliffe and Roskelly help students understand the ways various types of texts and images craft powerful messages for audiences while helping them compose similarly powerful texts themselves.
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