High School Summer Reading Assignment

High School Summer Reading Assignment

Students entering grades 10, 11 and 12 in September are required to read a minimum of three books from this list, or from a comparable selection.

Book Reports

Students must prepare a book report for each book (for a minimum total of three reports). Reports should be about a page in length (typed, double-spaced, or neatly handwritten), and submitted on the first day of class.

The report should include:

  • Title
  • Author and number of pages
  • Explanation of the significance of the title
  • Brief summary of the plot and characters, or the content, if non-fiction
  • Reader’s impression of the main character, and how he/she changed
  • Citation of a memorable passage, and statement of what made it memorable
  • Brief evaluation statement of what the reader got out of the book

Important Note:

Please avoid titles that are taught in class: The Awakening by Chopin, Candide by Voltaire, Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury, Death of a Salesman by Miller, Metamorphosis by Kafka, Hamlet by Shakespeare, The House on Mango Street by Cisneros, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Wilde, Fast Food Nation by Schlosser, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Ehrenrich, Outliers by Gladwell, Freakonomics by Dubner, A Streetcar Named Desire by Williams, Maus by Spiegelman, Animal Farm by Orwell, The Crucible by Miller, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Twain, The Things They Carried by O’Brian, The Rent Collector by Wright, The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leyson, Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare, 1984 by Orwell, The Outsiders by Hinton, Divergent by Roth, Things Fall Apart by Achebe, The Alchemist by Coelho, The Stranger by Camus, Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky, The Joy Luck Club by Tan, Lord of the Flies by Golding, and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare.

Other Books to Read

While the summer book list provides suggested reading, other titles may be appropriate. Adult bestsellers by such authors as James Michener, Michael Crichton, Susan Isaacs, Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Stephen King are acceptable, though students aspiring to honors work or college literature study should emphasize the classics. If in doubt about a title, talk to your teacher.

In addition to reading three books, students are expected to keep aware of current events by reading newspapers or weekly news magazines such as Time and Newsweek through the summer months.

High School Reading List

Adventure and Mystery

  • The Name of the Rose — Humberto Eco
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame — Victor Hugo
  • The Tenth Man — Graham Greene
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroid — Agatha Christie
  • Innocent Blood — P.D. James
  • “A” Is for Alibi — Sue Grafton

Also acceptable: Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, Martha Grimes, Rex Stout, Helen MacGinnis, Dick Francis, Tony Hillerman, Raymond Chandler, John LeCarre, Mary Higgins Clark.


  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X — Malcolm X
  • The Right Stuff — Tom Wolfe
  • The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath
  • Life on the Mississippi — Mark Twain
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings — Maya Angelou
  • Black Boy — Richard Wright
  • Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years — Carl Sandberg (counts as 2)

Fantasy and Science Fiction

  • The Once and Future King — T.H.White
  • The Crystal Cave — Mary Stewart
  • Lord of the Rings — J.R.R. Tolkien
  • War of the Worlds — H.G. Wells
  • The Dispossessed — Ursula K. Leguin
  • The Wind in the Willows — Kenneth Grahame
  • The Tempest — William Shakespeare
  • Brave New World — Aldous Huxley
  • Out of the Silent Planet — C.S. Lewis
  • Foundation — Isaac Asimov

Animals and Nature

  • The Immense Journey —Loren Eiseley
  • Silent Spring — Rachel Carson
  • Gorillas in the Mist — Diane Fossey
  • Up on the River — John Madsen
  • White Fang — Jack London
  • Never Cry Wolf — Farley Mowat

Historical Fiction

  • Confessions of Nat Turner — William Styron
  • Beloved — Toni Morrison
  • Topaz — Leon Uris
  • Roots — Alex Haley
  • Gone with the Wind — Margaret Mitchell
  • The Sot Weed Factor — John Barth
  • A Tale of Two Cities — Charles Dickens
  • The English Patient — Michael Ondaatje


  • Jane Eyre — Charlotte Bronte
  • Middlemarch — George Elliot
  • Tom Jones — Henry Fielding
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge — Thomas Hardy
  • The Age of Innocence — Edith Wharton
  • Sense and Sensibility — Jane Austen
  • War and Peace — Leo Tolstoy
  • Madame Bovary — Gustav Flaubert
  • Wuthering Heights — Emily Bronte
  • A Passage to India — E.M. Forster
  • Sons and Lovers — D.H. Lawrence
  • A Farewell to Arms — Ernest Hemingway
  • The Scarlet Letter — Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Crime and Punishment — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Don Quixote — Miguel de Cervantes

California and the West

  • The Octopus — Frank Norris
  • Lonesome Dove — Larry McMurtry
  • The Day of the Locust — Nathaniel West
  • Tortilla Flat — John Steinbeck
  • Angle of Repose — Wallace Stegner
  • Death Comes to the Archbishop — Willa Cather
  • The Grapes of Wrath — John Steinbeck
  • Ramona — Helen Hunt Jackson

Time and Place

  • Invisible Man — Ralph Ellison
  • On the Road — Jack Kerouac
  • The Remains of the Day —Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Stones of Ibarra — Harriet Doerr
  • Snow Falling on Cedars — David Guterson
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude — G. Marquez
  • House of the Spirits — Isabel Allende
  • A Thousand Acres — Jane Smiley
  • One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest — Ken Kesey
  • The Old Patagonian Express — Paul Theroux
  • Of Human Bondage — Somerset Maugham
  • Cry, the Beloved Country — Alan Paton
  • Moby Dick — Herman Melville
  • The Portrait of a Lady — Henry James
  • The Kitchen God’s Wife — Amy Tan
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain — J. Baldwin
  • Slaughterhouse Five — Kurt Vonnegut
  • Winesburg, Ohio — Sherwood Anderson
  • Main Street — Sinclair Lewis
  • Life on the Mississippi — Mark Twain
  • Blue Highways — Wm. Least Heat Moon
  • Like Water for Chocolate — L. Esquivel
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities — Tom Wolfe
  • The Accidental Tourist — Ann Tyler
  • The Fountainhead — Ayn Rand
  • Dr. Zhivago — Boris Pasternalk
  • The Golden Notebook — Doris Lessing
  • Mrs. Dalloway — Virginia Woolf
  • The Color Purple — Alice Walker
  • Sister Carrie — Theodore Dreiser

Youth and Growing Up

  • Great Expectations — Charles Dickens
  • The Catcher in the Rye — J.D. Salinger
  • A Separate Peace — John Knowles
  • The Yearling — Marjorie K. Rawlings


  • The Natural — Bernard Malamud
  • Bang the Drum Slowly — Mark Harris
  • Days of Grace — Arthur Ashe (w/ A. Rampersad)
  • Iron and Silk — Mark Salzman
  • The Southpaw — Mark Harris
  • Reading the Fights — Joyce Carol Oates
  • Annapurna, A Woman’s Place — A. Blum
  • Death in the Afternoon — E. Hemingway

Time and Place

  • All the President’s Men — Woodward and Bernstein
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee — Dee Brown
  • Farewell to Manzanar — Jeanne Houston
  • A Night to Remember — Walter Lord
  • Path Between the Seas — David McCullogh
  • A Stillness at Appomatox — Bruce Catton
  • The Guns of August Barbara — Tuchman
  • The Feminine Mystique — Betty Friedan
  • America in Search of Itself — T.H. White
  • Hiroshima — John Hersey
  • The Good War — Studs Terkel
  • At Wit’s End — Erma Bombeck
  • Cosmos — Karl Sagan
  • My Life and Hard Times — J. Thurber
  • Coming Into the Country — J. McPhee
  • The White Album — Joan Didion