• Summer Reading for Rising Sophomores (Honors) 2020-21

    COMMUNITY BOOK. You must read the following community book. The community book is one which is read by every member of the class. Parents are also invited to read the community book. During the first week of school, your English teachers will review, conduct, or oversee projects, presentations, and group seminars -- all in an effort to generate a sharing of ideas as a community.



    Mark Haddon

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Christopher 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. A murder mystery of sorts, a young boy’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.

    ENGLISH DEPARTMENT CHOICE: You must also read one book from the following list.



    Mariama Ba

    So Long a Letter. In this short novel (told in a series of letters), a recently widowed schoolteacher in Senegal tells her remarkable story. Keen insight in the life of a compelling African woman.

    Charlotte Brontë

    Jane Eyre. An orphan girl grows up in Victorian-era England and eventually becomes a governess in a mysterious mansion on the wind-swept moors. Classic romance tale.


    Inferno. What would you do if you woke up one day and realized you were in Hell? Well, this epic poem explores how one man reacts as he journeys towards paradise with the help of his kindly mentor Virgil and with his mind on his beloved Beatrice. A harrowing look at justice, punishment, and the quest for spiritual enlightenment. 

    Charles Dickens

    A Tale of Two Cities “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” So begins one of the world’s most exciting and romantic stories about the French Revolution. Besides the two cities -- Paris and London -- there are two families, two villains, and two men who look alike, who both fall in love with the same woman. Good triumphs in the end, but just barely.

    Daphne DuMaurier

    Rebecca. Mystery / romance about a young woman who marries a wealthy man, but she is troubled by a sense of his mansion’s being haunted by memories of his previous wife.

    Athol Fugard

    “Master Harold” . . . and the Boys. Set in South Africa during apartheid, this brief play explores the consequences of racism and our shared potential for empathy.


    Faust, Part One. The doctor in this play makes a deal with the devil -- and, well, you can imagine this doesn't work out the way he plans. This classic work is a touchstone of Western culture (and an excellent introduction to human "over-reaching" -- an idea you'll read about in Frankenstein, during the school year. 

    Yaa Gyasi

    Homegoing. This award-winning novel explores the legacy of slavery in Africa by focusing on the amazing stories of two sisters. These girls grow up unknown to one another in two different villages, yet fate brings them back together. Gyasi was born in Ghana and attended the prestigious Stanford writing program.


    The Odyssey. The epic poem of epic poems. Join Odysseus as he sails the wild seas, encoutners tempting sirens, a somewhat dim cyclops, dangerous flowers, and more! A classic adventure for the ages. 

    Chigozie Obioma

    The Fishermen. Set in the 1990s, this novel traces the political history of Nigeria through the story of Ben and his brothers. A compelling coming of age story with a lot of feeling.

    Alan Patton

    Cry, the Beloved Country. This novel tells the story of Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom as they navigate the beauty and terror of South Africa. One of the most famous African novels of all time, and one you won’t soon forget.

    Ferrol Sams

    The Whisper of the River. In this sequel to Run with the Horsemen, Porter Osborne continues his humorous escapades in a small southern college. His faith and heritage are challenged by the new people he meets as he decides about his future.

    Jose Saramago

    Blindness. Incredible novel of a mysterious illness that spreads through an unnamed country: one day, for no clear reason, everyone starts to go blind. Eventually, the entire nation is a nation of blind persons. Half science-fiction, half parable or allegory, this violent and gripping read was singled out in the judges’ citation when the author was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature—the highest award that can be given to a writer. Is the blindness disease a metaphor for our own pandemics like AIDS or avian flu, etc? Does it represent our inability to truly see and perceive ourselves and one another? You don’t have to have read Plato’s allegory of the cave to be haunted by this dark, stunning page-turner.

    Marjane Satrapi

    The Complete Persepolis. This autobiographical graphic novel was originally a series of comic books published in France. Eventually, all the comics were gathered into this book, which has sold millions of copies and was turned into an award-winning animated film. The story follows the life of the author as she navigates teenage years as a woman during and after the Islamic Revolution of the 1970’s. This hilarious story is beautifully illustrated and depicts all the trappings of adolescence (listening to rock music, trying new hairstyles) all while under a fierce and repressive government where such normal acts of teen rebellion could land you and your family in jail.

    George Saunders

    The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. An allegory of our times, this is the story of Inner Horner, a nation so small it can only accommodate one citizen at a time. The other six must wait their turns in the Short-Term Residency Zone of the surrounding country of Outer Horner.

    Nevil Shute

    On the Beach. Compassionate yet chilling story of a small town in Australia awaiting a wave of nuclear radiation in the aftermath of an atomic war. The characters spend their last days in their own unique ways.


    Antigone. Want to know how the Oedipus story ends? If so, read this, the third work in Sophocles' Oedipus Cycle. See one of the bravest, baddest, strongest women in all of literature stand up for her beliefs. 

    Oscar Wilde

    The Importance of Being Earnest. A play which is a hilarious attack on Victorian manners, romance, and mistaken identities.

    P.G. Wodehouse

    Right Ho, Jeeves! A house party in the country, mixed-up romances, plans that backfire, and a wise butler who knows all the answers--these ingredients come together to create Wodehouse’s comic style. The life and loves of the English aristocracy are satirized in this novel.