2017 Pre-AP Novel List

We will read several novels over the course of the 2017-2018 school year. Students are required to procure their own copies (print or digital) of novels. Many novels are available free from multiple sources online. The school has limited copies of certain novels available for checkout; contact me for details. Here’s more information about the works we will read:

Summer Reading

Required for all students
East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (ISBN 0142000655; https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001BC5HXG)

“In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. The masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.” (Amazon)

Class Novels

For each genre we study, students will select one novel. If students select a shorter novel, they will have additional readings to complete (these will be provided). Please research novels carefully to ensure that you choose a novel that you are willing to read. Some novels have mature themes.

Genre: Dystopian

  • Matched, by Ally Condie (2010)
    • For Cassia, nothing is left to chance–not what she will eat, the job she will have, or the man she will marry. InMatched, the Society Officials have determined optimal outcomes for all aspects of daily life, thereby removing the “burden” of choice. When Cassia’s best friend is identified as her ideal marriage Match it confirms her belief that Society knows best, until she plugs in her Match microchip and a different boy’s face flashes on the screen. This improbable mistake sets Cassia on a dangerous path to the unthinkable–rebelling against the predetermined life Society has in store for her. As author Ally Condie’s unique dystopian Society takes chilling measures to maintain the status quo, Matched reminds readers that freedom of choice is precious, and not without sacrifice. –Seira Wilson” (Amazon)
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (1931)
    • “Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto of Aldous Huxley’s utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a “Feelie,” a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young woman has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. Huxley foreshadowed many of the practices and gadgets we take for granted today–let’s hope the sterility and absence of individuality he predicted aren’t yet to come.” (Amazon)
  • Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
    • “Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith. His wife spends all day with her television “family,” imploring Montag to work harder so that they can afford a fourth TV wall. Their dull, empty life sharply contrasts with that of his next-door neighbor Clarisse, a young girl thrilled by the ideas in books, and more interested in what she can see in the world around her than in the mindless chatter of the tube. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag is moved to make some changes, and starts hiding books in his home. Eventually, his wife turns him in, and he must answer the call to burn his secret cache of books. After fleeing to avoid arrest, Montag winds up joining an outlaw band of scholars who keep the contents of books in their heads, waiting for the time society will once again need the wisdom of literature.” (Amazon)

Genre: Gothic

  • Dracula, by Bram Stoker (1897)
    • “A naive young Englishman travels to Transylvania to do business with a client, Count Dracula. After showing his true and terrifying colors, Dracula boards a ship for England in search of new, fresh blood. Unexplained disasters begin to occur in the streets of London before the mystery and the evil doer are finally put to rest. Told in a series of news reports from eyewitness observers to writers of personal diaries, this has a ring of believability that counterbalances nicely with Dracula’s too-macabre-to-be-true exploits. An array of voices from talented actors makes for interesting variety. The generous use of sound effects, from train whistles to creaking doors, adds further atmosphere. Lovers of mysteries and horror will find rousing entertainment in this version of a classic tale.” (Amazon)
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1818)
    • An origin story nearly as famous as the book itself: One dreary summer on the shores of Lake Geneva, amid discussions of galvanism and the occult and fireside readings from a collection of German ghost stories, Lord Byron proposed a game. Each of his guests—eighteen-year-old Mary Godwin and her future husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, among them—would try their hand at writing a tale of the supernatural. Unable at first to think of a plot, Mary was visited one sleepless night by the terrible vision of a corpse, a “hideous phantasm of a man,” lurching to life with the application of some unknown, powerful force. The man responsible, a “pale student of unhallowed arts,” fled in horror from his creation, leaving it to return to the dead matter from which it had been born. But the monster did not die. It followed the man to his bedside, where it stood watching him with “yellow, watery, but speculative eyes”—eyes of one who thought, and felt. The novel that Mary Shelley would go on to publish, the legend of Victor Frankenstein and his unholy creation, and their obsessive, murderous pursuit of each other from Switzerland to the North Pole, has been the stuff of nightmares for nearly two centuries. A masterpiece of Romantic literature, it is also one of the most enduring horror stories ever written. (Amazon)
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
    • “The young Robert Louis Stevenson suffered from repeated nightmares of living a double life, in which by day he worked as a respectable doctor and by night he roamed the back alleys of old-town Edinburgh. In three days of furious writing, he produced a story about his dream existence. His wife found it too gruesome, so he promptly burned the manuscript. In another three days, he wrote it again. “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was published as a “shilling shocker” in 1886, and became an instant classic. In the first six months 40,000 copies were sold. Queen Victoria read it. Sermons and editorials were written about it. When Stevenson and his family visited America a year later, they were mobbed by reporters at the dock in New York City. Compulsively readable from its opening pages, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is still one of the best tales ever written about the divided self.” (Amazon)

Genre: Bildungsroman

  • Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (1861)
    • In what may be Dickens’s best novel, humble, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman—and one day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of “great expectations.” In this gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward, the compelling characters include Magwitch, the fearful and fearsome convict; Estella, whose beauty is excelled only by her haughtiness; and the embittered Miss Havisham, an eccentric jilted bride.” (Amazon)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (1969)
    • Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.” (Amazon)
  • A Separate Peace, by John Knowles (1959)
    • “Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II,A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.” (Amazon)

Genre: Victorian

  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy
    • The ne’er-do-well sire of a starving brood suddenly discovers a family connection to the aristocracy, and his selfish scheme to capitalize on their wealth sets a fateful plot in motion. Jack Durbeyfield dispatches his gentle daughter Tess to the home of their noble kin, anticipating a lucrative match between the lovely girl and a titled cousin. Innocent Tess finds the path of the d’Urberville estate paved with ruin in this gripping tale of the inevitability of fate and the tragic nature of existence. SubtitledA Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, Thomas Hardy’s sympathetic portrait of a blameless young woman’s destruction first appeared in 1891. Its powerful indictment of Victorian hypocrisy, along with its unconventional focus on the rural lower class and its direct treatment of sexuality and religion, raised a ferocious public outcry. Tess of the D’Ubervilles is Hardy’s penultimate novel; the pressures of critical infamy shortly afterward drove the author to abandon the genre in favor of poetry. Like his fictional heroine, the artist fell victim to a rigidly oppressive moral code. “ (Amazon)
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
    • “Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel describes the passionate love between the courageous orphan Jane Eyre and the brilliant, brooding, and domineering Rochester. The loneliness and cruelty of Jane’s childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit, which prove invaluable when she takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall. But after she falls in love with her sardonic employer, her discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice. Ever since its publication in 1847, “Jane Eyre” has enthralled every kind of reader, from the most critical and cultivated to the youngest and most unabashedly romantic. It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and as a moving and unforgettable portrayal of a woman’s quest for self-respect.” (Amazon)
  • Middlemarch, by George Eliot (1872)
    • In the fictional town of Middlemarch, selflessness, social reform, and romantic love struggle to survive against human foolishness, economic missteps, and societal ideals. Young and intelligent, Dorothea Brooke hastily marries Casaubon, a middle-aged scholar working tirelessly on his “masterpiece,”The Key to All Mythologies. Their union soon sours, and Dorothea becomes trapped in a difficult situation that worsens upon the death of her husband. Elsewhere in town, Tertius Lydgate, an idealistic young doctor, is caught in an ill-fated union with the sweet but superficial Rosamund Vincy. Intertwined within the lives of these two unfortunate couples is the handsome artist Will Ladislaw, who is sympathetic to Lydgate’s ideas about science and medicine, and who develops feelings for his uncle’s wife—Dorthea Brooke.” (Amazon)

Genre: Drama

  • Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare (tragedy)
    • Shakespeare may have writtenJulius Caesar as the first of his plays to be performed at the Globe, in 1599. For it, he turned to a key event in Roman history: Caesar’s death at the hands of friends and fellow politicians. Renaissance writers disagreed over the assassination, seeing Brutus, a leading conspirator, as either hero or villain. Shakespeare’s play keeps this debate alive. (Amazon)
  • Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare (comedy)
    • A delightfully comic tale of mistaken identities revolves around the physical likeness between Sebastian and his twin sister Viola, each of whom, when separated after a shipwreck, believes the other to be dead. Filled with superb comedy, this entertaining masterpiece remains one of Shakespeare’s most popular and performed comedies.(Amazon)
  • Richard III, by William Shakespeare (history)
    • InRichard III, Shakespeare invites us on a moral holiday. The play draws us to identify with Richard and his fantasy of total control of self and domination of others. Not yet king at the start of the play, Richard presents himself as an enterprising villain as he successfully plans to dispose of his brother Clarence. Richard achieves similar success in conquering the woman he chooses to marry. He carves a way to the throne through assassination and executions. (Amazon)