Summer Reading for AP Literature 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.
The Things They Carried. A collection of interrelated short stories reveals the realistic and sometimes shocking picture of war. Each story explores the human heart and the importance of life against the backdrop of the jungles of Vietnam.
AP ENGLISH LITERATURE GROUP BOOK. All members of our class will read this book. We will begin this year with some group and individual activities on both the Community book and the AP Group Book.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Everything is Illuminated. A postmodern novel that tracks a struggling friendship as both friends explore personal histories and current ambitions, this fragmented and epistolary text invites readers to see empathy and intimacy at work within this evolving friendship.
Additionally, everyone in the class must have completed reading at least two books from two different lists/categories below:
- American Classics
- British and European Classics
- Multicultural, Dystopian, and Postmodern Novels
Every member of the class must read at least four new books this summer:
The Things They Carried
Everything is Illuminated
Two new books from two different lists/categories above.
*If you have time, you may read an extra book (or two! or three!) for extra credit.
GROUP I - DRAMA
The Cherry Orchard. Russian family at the end of the Czarist era faces the breakup of their land and way of life. Some adapt with humor; others cannot accept change.
An Enemy of the People. A doctor in a small town in Norway discovers that the mineral baths, which are the town’s chief source of income from visitors, actually are making people sick. As the doctor pursues the truth, he finds out how difficult it is to maintain integrity against the wishes of the majority who wish a cover-up.
Long Day's Journey Into Night. A family deals with a mother’s dysfunctional illness in this drama full of conflict and tension.
King Lear. An aged king divides his property among his three daughters only to discover how ruthlessly greedy they are. One faithful daughter waits until too late to reveal her love for her father.
The Merchant of Venice. A young man borrows money from a moneylender and promises a pound of his own flesh if he fails to repay the loan. Through a series of romances and disguises, the play progresses to a happy ending brought about largely through the cleverness of Portia, the female main character.
Othello. An intense drama involving hurt pride, lies, and raging jealousy, Othello reveals how easily some people can be manipulated, with tragic results.
Antigone. The daughter of Oedipus pits herself against the establishment and buries her brother, though the penalty for doing so is death.
Arms and the Man. This is a play satirizing the Romantic ideas of bravery, the glories of war, and ideal love through comic characters, situations, and language.
Saint Joan. This is Shaw’s version of the story of Joan of Arc, the French peasant girl who believed that the voice of God would lead her to inspire an army to victory.
Our Town. Two small-town families symbolize the American way of life in an earlier, simpler era. The play includes a boy-next-door romance and a sense of both the joy and pain of life.
GROUP II - AMERICAN CLASSICS
The Red Badge of Courage. A young man anticipates fighting in the Civil War with dreams of glory; the reality of battle turns out to be quite different.
The Awakening. In turn-of-the-century Louisiana society, a young woman resents the restrictions placed on her by her husband and her culture. She awakens to her own needs and shocks society by her actions.
As I Lay Dying. Multiple narrators tell the macabre and darkly comic story of a working-class Southern family traveling to bury their dead mother in her hometown cemetery.
The Scarlet Letter. In Puritan New England, a woman lives as an outcast because of her sin of adultery. Gradually the mystery of her past unfolds.
For Whom the Bell Tolls. An American goes to Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1930s) to fight with the rebel forces against the Fascist-backed government army. Classic novel of romance and heroism.
Moby Dick. Melville’s epic saga of the whaling industry at its height personifies the spirit of revenge in Captain Ahab, who pursues the white whale that caused him to lose his leg.
Wise Blood. Bizarre tale of a Georgia street-corner preacher who professes to believe in nothing, yet attracts followers without intending to.
All the King's Men. Based on a true story, this is the tale of a powerful and unscrupulous Southern governor who corrupts the idealism of his aide and attracts violence.
Look Homeward, Angel. A small town in the mountains of North Carolina is the setting for this story of a teenage boy whose mother runs a boarding house and who finds romance one summer.
GROUP III - BRITISH & EUROPEAN CLASSICS
Pride and Prejudice. In this novel of manners, Austen gently mocks the courtship of the upper class in early 19th-century England. Several characters have to learn to deal with their prejudices in order for the novel’s happy ending to result.
Jane Eyre. Jane, an orphan in Victorian-era England, endures the hardships of Lowood School to become a governess. Her new job takes her to a mysterious mansion on the moors where romance, danger, and scandal develop.
Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff, the brooding and compelling protagonist of this sweeping story, is obsessed with a lifetime love and by his passion for revenge.
The Stranger. One of the classic novels of existentialism, this is the story of a man who becomes involved in a crime through his general indifference and inability to take decisive action.
Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. (2 novellas). In Heart of Darkness, the narrator journeys to Africa to encounter a European man who has become like a god to the natives. In The Secret Sharer, a young sea captain hides a fugitive accused of murder and discovers some things about his own character.
David Copperfield. A poor boy in Victorian-era London survives through hard work, luck, and wit.
Great Expectations. A poor boy receives a mysterious inheritance which changes his “expectations” of life.
Hard Times. This satire mocks Victorian manners, morals, schools, class snobbery, and the problems created by the Industrial Revolution.
The Brothers Karamazov. The author probes the psychology of his characters in this story of three brothers whose rivalry, frustrated romances, greed and extravagance end in a murder trial.
Crime and Punishment. An impoverished student in St. Petersburg, Russia, plans what he thinks will be the perfect crime, but the results of his violent actions cause psychological effects, which unwind through the rest of the novel.
The Mill on the Floss. An idyllic childhood in the English countryside is marked by conflict between brother and sister, who represent rebellion and conformity.
Middlemarch. In a small English town, several interwoven stories of death, love, betrayal, and forgiveness create this panoramic description of English life and classes of the 19th century.
Madame Bovary. In 19th-century France, the wife of a respectable small town doctor resents the lack of romance and glamour in her life and begins a series of affairs which lead to her downfall.
A Passage to India. Set in India during the time of British colonial rule, this is the story of a conflict between two cultures. An Englishwoman accuses a respected Indian doctor of attacking her, resulting in a sensational trial which splits the community.
The Tin Drum. This epic saga follows the life of Oscar, a vertically and verbally challenged boy who learns to compensate for his inability to communicate by playing his drum. From his childhood in pre-World War II Germany through the war years and after, Oscar becomes a kind of cult figure with a bizarre group of followers.
The Mayor of Casterbridge. A respectable mayor of a small town in 19th-century England discovers that a foolish deed from his early life comes back to haunt him.
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The story follows the protagonist from his days as a student in a strict Catholic boys’ school through university days and young adulthood as he wrestles with questions of religion, art, and his role in life.
The Trial. The existential pursuit of the meaning of life is symbolized in this story of a man who is arrested but does not know for what crime. As he tries to find justice, the absurdities of the legal system and of modern society are revealed.
Sons and Lovers. Growing up with an obsessive mother and an alcoholic father, Paul Morel wants to be a painter. The story follows his relationship with his manipulative mother and with two women whom he loves.
Women in Love. Two sisters compare notes on their relationships as one marries her love and the other chooses her art career over marriage.
Anna Karenina. Anna renounces the conventions of 19th-century Russian society, leaves her husband, and embarks on a scandalous and passionate affair that ultimately leads to disaster.
To the Lighthouse. One of the classic novels of the Modernist movement, To the Lighthouse employs stream of consciousness to tell the story of the Ramsay family through war, death, and romance.
GROUP IV - MULTICULTURAL, DYSTOPIAN & POSTMODERN NOVELS
Things Fall Apart. Set in Africa, the story of conflict between father and son, between traditional ways and changing times, between the native culture and the imperialist influence of the British.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Angelou’s moving autobiography of being raised by her wise grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, of the prejudice and family trauma she encountered, and of the strength she learned from her experiences.
A Handmaid’s Tale. In a post-holocaust society, air, earth, and water are so poisoned that only a few people can still reproduce. A select few young women are trained to be “handmaids,” or surrogate mothers, in a kind of slavery.
Go Tell It On The Mountain. An urban black youth deals with questions of faith and awakening sexuality.
Love Medicine. Contemporary story of a Native American family told through flashbacks and several parallel story lines. Love, jealousy, post-war stress syndrome, and the supernatural are all elements in the saga.
Catch-22. World War II and military bureaucracy are targets of satire in this famous postmodern novel. Jumping around in time,the novel follows, in often hilarious style, the efforts of one soldier to escape from the war.
Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God. A young black woman evolves from the protection of her grandmother to domination by her first husband to an eventual sense of self-fulfillment and independence.
Brave New World. In an imaginary future world, genetic engineering controls one’s class, drugs and brainwashing control one’s ideas, and the government controls and discourages loving relationships.
Ursula K. LeGuin
Left Hand of Darkness. On a planet in another galaxy, people have no gender most of the time. This affects their language, culture, and how they treat one another. A visitor from Earth has to learn to deal with these people, with their harsh climate, and with their political intrigues, culminating in a dangerous chase across the planet.
One Hundred Years of Solitude. This is an epic saga of a Latin American family, the Buendias, through years of war and revolution, wealth and poverty, and undying love affairs.
Beloved. This ghost story deals with the traumatic memories of a former slave woman as she learns to deal with her past when it comes back to her in physical form.
Love. Two old women who have been friends since childhood feud over mysteries in their past. The novel uncovers the true story of their relationship and that of their families.
1984. The classic dystopian novel, 1984 warns against the abuses of a totalitarian government, which controls people’s jobs, marriages, and ideas by spying on them.
Cry, the Beloved Country. Set in South Africa, this is the story of a rural black minister whose son goes to the big city and gets into drastic trouble.
The Kitchen God's Wife. From the author of The Joy Luck Club, another saga of a modern Asian family and a daughter who comes to understand her mother through learning about her family’s past.
Native Son. This is the gripping story of a black man in Chicago who gets accidentally involved in a crime that affects his whole life.
Zoot Suit. By America’s leading Chicano playwright, this drama is based on an historical incident concerning white/Latino race relations and police brutality in Los Angeles.
Cat's Cradle. In his typical irreverent style, Kurt Vonnegut mocks everything from scientists to religion in a novel that is both funny and tragic. The foolishness of humankind is exposed through biting satire.