Summer Reading 2023-24

  • The English Department encourages students to read over the summer.  Only English 10 Honors, 11 AP Language, and 12 AP Literature require students to read one or more  specific texts and complete an assignment either over the summer or at the beginning of the school year. (See the specific description for these courses below).

    All other English courses that are not AP or 10H levels courses strongly suggest that students select a book (or books) over the summer.  Below are specific recommendations by teachers in the English department as well as links to specific reading lists by genre and interest and level.

    Teacher recommendations that the school has to loan are starred.

    SUGGESTED READING FOR 9H/R*/R, 10 R*/R, 11 R*/R, 12 R*/NR
    Reading List Links:
    New York Public Library: Teen Book Lists
    Modern Library Top 100 Novels
    Modern Library Top 100 Nonfiction
    Suggested summer reading lists by grade

    Faculty Favorites:

    Ms. Sullivan
    The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown.  If you like “root for the underdog” stories or novels that are historically based, you might like this book.  Brown tells the story of an improbably successful 1930s University of Washington crew team over several years, bolstering the hopes of our whole nation following their journey during the Great Depression, and culminating in their quest for a gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Loved it! (grades 9-12).

    Ms. Fordham
    Born a Crime by Trevor Noah*  (grades 10-12) Noah’s memoir recounts his childhood days in South Africa. His stories made me laugh out loud one minute, and then gasp in disbelief in the next. You’ll want your own copy of this book, so you can share the stories with others and read them again and again.

    On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. In her second novel she tells the story of another family living in the Garden Heights community.  This story focuses on 16 year old Bri who wants to follow in her father’s footsteps by becoming the next world-renowned rapper. Bri’s journey to the top is filled with funny moments, plenty of frustration, and a few hard-learned lessons. (grades 9-12)

    Mr. Testa
    The Once and Future King by T. H. White (11,12) - The classic Arthurian myth retold for the 20th century. This was the inspiration for Disney’s The Sword in the Stone.

    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (11,12) - Told through rotating first person perspectives, a rural family takes the long journey to town to lay their deceased mother to rest.

    The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (9-12) - A classic detective novel where everyone is racing to acquire the priceless falcon. The road to the prize is not without danger.

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig (10-12) - Father and son set out on a road trip that quickly becomes both a mystery and a philosophical reflection on the nature of thought.

    The Day of the Locust*by Nathanael West (10-12) - Hollywood is a curious place where people go to remake themselves and anything can happen. In this novel, we see the slow unraveling of an East Coast transplant as he tries to deal with the insanity of California in the early 1900s.

    The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (10-12) - An untraditional ‘trilogy’ that examines ideas of language and identity set against the backdrop of three thematically intertwined stories.

    Mrs. Rapp
    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (Grades 9-12). This book is for those interested in social justice. It follows the teenage life of Starr and her friends, the fatal shooting of her best friend Khalil, and the protests and conversations that follow.

    Pride, by Ibi Zoboi (Grades 9-12). This book is a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. The story follows one family with Afro-Latino roots, their new rich neighbors, and their rapidly changing neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.

    The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah (Grades 9-12). This book is a story about America in the 1930’s. Millions of people are out of work, farms are drying up, and families are left to fend off brutal dust storms that threaten their livelihood on a daily basis. Some abandon their homes and everything they know, heading west to California, in search of a better life. The story is through the eyes of a heroic woman who loves her family with courage and desperation.

    Mr. Rapp
    The Summer of ‘49, by David Halberstam - Halberstam’s book chronicles the 1949 pennant race between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, focusing in part on the two major stars who drove each of the rival teams, Boston’s Ted Williams and New York’s Joe DiMaggio.  Halberstam’s book presents an engaging and fascinating portrait not only of the two teams and the two cities, but also of post war America as a whole and its love for baseball.

    Mr. Maxick
    Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

    All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon

    Ms. Godinho
    Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On & Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Raymond Obstfeld  -- In this autobiography, Kareem chronicles the various “coaches” in his life that helped him become not only one of the greatest basketball champions ever, but also an activist for social change and advancement.  Both inspiring and engaging, this quick read will leave a lasting impression.

    The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is for those interested in social justice. It follows the teenage life of Starr and her friends, the fatal shooting of her best friend Khalil, and the protests and conversations that follow.

    Tangerine by Edward Bloor -- a young man is able to break away from his dysfunctional family and forge his own identity when he joins his school’s motley but gritty soccer team.  A book for anyone who roots for the underdog and for everyone who knows that when it comes to soccer, it’s more than just a game.

    Speak* by Laurie Halse Anderson --  In the wake of trauma, a young freshman must overcome depression and anxiety as she navigates her way through her Freshman year of high school.

    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  For Gamers and for 1980s lovers everywhere, this page-turner takes us to a futuristic world laid waste by neglect.  While the world falls apart, humanity has its collective heads deep in virtual reality, gaming for high stakes. When a challenge arises to compete for a prize that could reverse the decline of the world, players light up their avatars and the game begins, but will the amateurs have any chance against the corporate interests that dominate the game?

    Mr. Thielman
    Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Grades 9-12). A young narrator, Reuben Land, his nine-year-old sister, Swede, who writes epic rhyming poetry about a cowboy named Sunny Sundown, and their touched-by-God father take a quest through the American Badlands to track down Reuben’s and Swede’s missing brother. It is a touching, heroic, and magical journey.

    His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman (Grades 9-12). A sweeping fantasy series featuring the adventurous heroine, Lyra Belacqua, who teams up with witches, a battle-hardened armored polar bear, crafty canal-faring nomads, and an aeronaut to solve the mystery of missing children.


    From the list below of works from pre-nineteenth and nineteenth/twentieth century, choose ONE work from the pre-nineteenth century list and TWO works from the nineteenth/twentieth century list, and  read them carefully by the beginning of the school year.  We recommend taking notes as you read, highlighting important passages, finding patterns and progressions—all the things you should be doing as you read for an English AP/ college course. Here are some things you need to know:

    • You cannot read any work from the list that you have previously read for an English class (Yes, we can verify what you have read from your past teachers).  Also, do not choose a book that you read for your 11AP Lang research thesis.  However, if you have previously read a work from the list on your own (not for a class), you may choose to read it here as well. 
    • You can only read ONE play for your three works (So if you read Death of a Salesman from the twentieth century list, you will have read Sir Gawain or Beowulf from the pre-nineteenth century list).
    • You will have an in-class writing assignment on all THREE works the first week of class.

    Pre-nineteenth century

    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (about 1400 A.D., Simon Armitage translation)
    • Beowulf  (about 1000 A.D., Seamus Heaney translation)
    • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (1596, play)
    • As You Like It by William Shakespeare (1599, play)
    • King Lear by William Shakespeare (1606, play)
    • Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare (1597, play)
    • Othello by William Shakespeare (1608, play)

    Nineteenth century/ Twentieth century

    • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861)
    • Emma by Jane Austen (1815)
    • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
    • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (1818)
    • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1902)
    • The Awakening by Kate Chopin (1899)
    • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
    • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
    • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
    • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
    • A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1908)
    • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970)
    • Death of a Salesman  by Arthur Miller (1949, play)
    • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)
    • The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams (1944, play)

    DUE FIRST DAY OF CLASS - Sept. 5, 2023 - English 11 AP Language & Composition Summer Reading
    You will read two books and complete a dialectical journal for summer reading. 
    The first book is William Zinsser’s "On Writing Well" (any edition).
    The second book you read will be a nonfiction classic or modern classic and you will have some choice in what you pick, but you will need to decide and have your choice approved by Mr. Testa, Mr. Thielman or Ms. O'Neil-White. The book you pick must be of college level rigor. Biographies and memoirs about present day celebrities often lack this rigor, for instance, so you will want to have back ups in mind if your first choice is not approved.

    AP Language and Composition Summer Reading - View the Requirements Here

    English 10 Honors Summer Reading
    Welcome to English 10 Honors!  In preparation for the first week of school, you will be required to read one book as listed on the English 10 Honors Summer Reading Requirements and complete a written log.  If you read your book choice thoroughly and take detailed notes using the guidelines, you will be taking an important step toward preparing for the exciting challenges in the course.  Having your own copy of the book will give you more freedom in annotating the text; however, if you decide not to purchase the book, you should be able to find a copy of the book at your local public library.   Relying on internet resources in lieu of reading the text is strongly discouraged (and will make a poor first impression).

    English 10 Honors Summer Reading - View the Requirements Here