Summer Reading 2020

The theme of this summer’s reading selections is “expand your mind.”  Students and faculty choose one of the books below and join the corresponding book club via Google Classroom (information for signing up was sent via email).  Each book club will consist of up to 10 students and four faculty members. Book groups will connect during the summer months, and finally, in the fall, the entire school community will be involved in active discussion of the summer reading book(s), both in classes and as part of a “digital poster workshop” activity during the first week of the school year.

Students should read actively and thoughtfully and may choose to annotate their book, keep a journal while reading, or record their thoughts and reactions once they have finished.  We strongly encourage parents to consider reading along and engaging in discussions with their student.  Reading is always enhanced when treated as a communal experience.


Additional reading requirements for AP/ Honors History and/or Honor English Students:  Students planning to enroll in an AP- or honors-level English or History class are required to join a second book club from the AP/Honors book list below. These students must write a 2-3 page review or response (NOT a summary...) to be submitted on the first day of classes.

Contact Dr. Heather Hunt, Academic Dean, with any questions about summer reading. 
 

THE $100 READING CHALLENGE!


Besides the required all-school read, all students are encouraged to read additional books throughout the summer. By completing additional reading and reflecting on their choices in writing, students will be eligible to win a $100 cash prize. Here are the specifics: 

  • Read at least two additional books of your choice. 
  • Write 1-2 paragraphs on each of your choices, discussing what the books meant to you. 
  • Submit your work to the Academic Dean in person or via email by 8:00 pm on September 13, 2020. 
  • A winner will be selected at random from among all eligible entries during our first All-School Meeting in September.

     

BOOK CLUBS
Students and Faculty Should Choose One


 

Club #1 

Crossover by Kwame Alexander

  • New York Times bestseller ∙ Newbery Medal Winner ∙
  • Coretta Scott King Honor Award ∙ 2015 YALSA ∙ 
  • 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults


"A beautifully measured novel of life and line."—The New York Times Book Review

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . . The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. ’Cuz tonight I’m delivering," raps twelve-year-old Josh Bell. Thanks to their dad, he and his twin brother, Jordan, are kings on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood—he's got mad beats, too, which help him find his rhythm when it’s all on the line.

As their winning season unfolds, things begin to change. When Jordan meets a girl, the twins’ bond unravels. Told in dynamic verse, this fast and furious middle-grade novel that started it all absolutely bounces with rhythm and bursts with heart. 


 

Club #3

The Truth Is by Remezcla and HipLatina

  • Named one of the best YA Latinx books of 2019 by Remezcla and HipLatina.
  • A Bustle Book Club Selection.

A powerful exploration of love, identity, and self-worth through the eyes of a fierce, questioning Puerto Rican teen.

Fifteen-year-old Verdad doesn't think she has time for love. She's still struggling to process the recent death of her best friend, Blanca; dealing with the high expectations of her hardworking Puerto Rican mother and the absence of her remarried father; and keeping everyone at a distance. But when she meets Danny, a new guy at school―who happens to be trans―all bets are off. Verdad suddenly has to deal with her mother's disapproval of her relationship with Danny as well as her own prejudices and questions about her identity, and Danny himself, who is comfortable in his skin but keeping plenty of other secrets.


 

Club #5

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

  • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
  • Winner of the National Book Award
  • #1 New York Times bestseller 

"A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South." –New York Times

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.


 

Club #7

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros 

Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.  Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.


 

Club #9

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last 15 years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.") and a galaxy full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time in between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don't forget to bring a towel!

 

Club #2

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson  

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection

“Surreal, brainy, and totally captivating.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Provocative and moving.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Hutchinson artfully blends the realistic and the surreal.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth. This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. Other things that can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.

As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.


 

Club #4

The Hate U Give By Angie Thomas

  • Goodreads Choice Awards Best of the Best
  • William C. Morris Award Winner
  • National Book Award Longlist
  • Printz Honor Book
  • Coretta Scott King Honor Book
  • #1 New York Times Bestseller!

SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD STARR CARTER moves between two worlds: the poor black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.

Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and un-flinching honesty.


 

Club #6

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones

  • NAACP Image Award Nominee

I'm Not Dying with You Tonight follows two teen girls―one black, one white―who have to confront their own assumptions about racial inequality as they rely on each other to get through the violent race riot that has set their city on fire with civil unrest.

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she's going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren't friends. They hardly understand the other's point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they're going to survive the night.


 

Club #8

The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

This beautiful and lucid guide, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness--being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness.


 

Club #10

The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh

An inspiring guide from Dolly Chugh, an award-winning social psychologist at the New York University Stern School of Business, on how to confront difficult issues including sexism, racism, inequality, and injustice so that you can make the world (and yourself) better.

Many of us believe in equality, diversity, and inclusion. But how do we stand up for those values in our turbulent world? The Person You Mean to Be is the smart, "semi-bold" person’s guide to fighting for what you believe in.

Whether you are a long-time activist or new to the fight, you can start from where you are. Through the compelling stories Dolly shares and the surprising science she reports, Dolly guides each of us closer to being the person we mean to be.


Additional reading requirements for AP/ Honors History and/or Honor English Students:


Students planning to enroll in an AP- or honors-level English or History class are required to join a second book club from the AP/Honors book list below. These students must write a 2-3 page review or response (NOT a summary...) to be submitted on the first day of classes.

Club #11 (Honors/AP Only)

The Human Stain by Philip Roth

It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished his most virulent accuser. Coleman Silk has a secret. But it's not the secret of his affair, at seventy-one, with Faunia Farley, a woman half his age with a savagely wrecked past--a part-time farmhand and a janitor at the college where, until recently, he was the powerful dean of faculty. And it's not the secret of Coleman's alleged racism, which provoked the college witch-hunt that cost him his job and, to his mind, killed his wife. Nor is it the secret of misogyny, despite the best efforts of his ambitious young colleague, Professor Delphine Roux, to expose him as a fiend. Coleman's secret has been kept for fifty years: from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman, who sets out to understand how this eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all his life, had fabricated his identity and how that cannily controlled life came unraveled.

Set in 1990s America, where conflicting moralities and ideological divisions are made manifest through public denunciation and rituals of purification, The Human Stain concludes Philip Roth's eloquent trilogy of postwar American lives that are as tragically determined by the nation's fate as by the "human stain" that so ineradicably marks human nature. This harrowing, deeply compassionate, and completely absorbing novel is a magnificent successor to his Vietnam-era novel, American Pastoral, and his McCarthy-era novel, I Married a Communist.


 

Club #13 (Honors/AP Only)


Humble Pi by Matt Parker

“Fun, informative, and relentlessly entertaining, Humble Pi is a charming and very readable guide to some of humanity's all-time greatest miscalculations—that also gives you permission to feel a little better about some of your own mistakes.” —Ryan North, author of How to Invent Everything 

The book-length answer to anyone who ever put their hand up in math class and asked, “When am I ever going to use this in the real world?” 

Our whole world is built on math, from the code running a website to the equations enabling the design of skyscrapers and bridges. Most of the time this math works quietly behind the scenes . . . until it doesn’t. All sorts of seemingly innocuous mathematical mistakes can have significant consequences.

Math is easy to ignore until a misplaced decimal point upends the stock market, a unit conversion error causes a plane to crash, or someone divides by zero and stalls a battleship in the middle of the ocean.

Exploring and explaining a litany of glitches, near misses, and mathematical mishaps involving the internet, big data, elections, street signs, lotteries, the Roman Empire, and an Olympic team, Matt Parker uncovers the bizarre ways math trips us up, and what this reveals about its essential place in our world. Getting it wrong has never been more fun.

Club #12 (Honors/AP Only)

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Named one of the best books of the year by: 

  • The New York Times Book Review
  • Time
  • NPR
  • The Washington Post
  • Shelf Awareness
  • Library Journal
  • Publishers Weekly
  • Kirkus Reviews

“The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.”—The New York Times

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.


 

Club #14 (Honors/AP Only)

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

  • Over a year on the New York Times bestseller list and more than a million copies sold.
  • The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.