8th and 9th Grade English Summer Reading Assignment

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8th and 9th Grade English Summer Reading Assignment
For your summer reading assignment, you will choose one non-fiction book from the list attached. You will also be expected to complete notes over your summer reading. See the attached directions to learn how to do them.
The books on this list are adult works written about the real world from a mature perspective. Students and parents will need to carefully investigate the books they are interested in prior to choosing one to read. Some of the texts we will read in class (and on this list) examine mature themes and issues. Reading works that investigate difficult ethical choices and actions does not ever condone or celebrate the choices that characters make. Instead, students are encouraged to think critically, allowing students to see how the English language is used to convey the human experience in a vivid, dramatic, and unforgettable manner. If, after reading a portion of the book you have selected, you find it offensive or inappropriate, please select another book. If you need help finding a book, email me at jmorris@nyos.org. You may NOT choose a book you have already read.
The reading notes assignment is due the third day of school, Monday, July 28th.
Book List: Select one of the following non-fiction texts listed below:


  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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 about love for herself and 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.



  • Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by Marc Aronson

When this award-winning husband-and-wife team discovered that they each had sugar in their family history, they were inspired to trace the globe-spanning story of the sweet substance and to seek out the voices of those who led bitter sugar lives. The trail ran like a bright band from religious ceremonies in India to Europe’s Middle Ages, then on to Columbus, who brought the first cane cuttings to the Americas. Sugar was the substance that drove the bloody slave trade and caused the loss of countless lives but it also planted the seeds of revolution that led to freedom in the American colonies, Haiti, and France. With songs, oral histories, maps, and over 80 archival illustrations, here is the story of how one product allows us to see the grand currents of world history in new ways.


  • The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

A detailed description of the scourge of the "Spanish flu" of 1918 with interesting elements of the practice of medicine and medical school in those days. Especially appealing for students who are science oriented.


  • Rising Tide by John M. Barry

An account of the flood of the Mississippi River in 1927. Elements are remarkably similar to the Katrina disaster. Students whose bent is engineering will find the fight of man vs. nature interesting. Connects well to American history, politics.


  • Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende

What is the least we need to achieve the most? With this question in mind, MIT graduate Eric Brende flipped the switch on technology. He and his wife, Mary, ditched their car, electric stove, refrigerator, running water, and everything else motorized or "hooked to the grid," and spent eighteen months living in a remote community so primitive in its technology that even the Amish consider it antiquated.



  • Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac

After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.


  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaing guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears.


  • The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

Among his many gifts, Joseph Campbell's most impressive was the unique ability to take a contemporary situation, such as the murder and funeral of President John F. Kennedy, and help us understand its impact in the context of ancient mythology. Herein lies the power of The Power of Myth, showing how humans are apt to create and live out the themes of mythology. This classic is especially compelling because of its engaging question-and-answer format, creating an easy, conversational approach to complicated topics. For example, when discussing the mythology of heroes, Campbell and Moyers smoothly transition from the Sumerian sky goddess Inanna to Star Wars' mercenary-turned-hero, Han Solo.


  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Truman Capote reconstructs the 1959 murder of a Kansas family and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers…the story of the lives and deaths of these six people, the victims and the murderers. Ground breaking journalism that reads like fiction.



  • The following texts are by Kenneth C. Davis – known as a witty writer who captivates readers when discussing historical subjects:


Don't Know Much About History

Finally, someone who tells history like it was, without the old textbook gloss that's put so many students into premature naptime and misinformed the few who stayed awake. Davis corrects the myths and misconceptions from Columbus up through the Clinton administration, and shows that truth is more entertaining than propaganda.


Don't Know Much About Geography

Geography is the hub from which other disciplines radiate: meteorology, ecology, geology, oceanography, demographics, cartography, agricultural studies, economics, and political science. In addition to presenting geographical trivia that’ll impress your friends, Davis explores 21st-century topics of global concern, including the role of the Internet and technology in transforming the lives of people around the world, how so-called developing nations develop, sustainability, and the debates over climate change and evolutionary science.




Don't Know Much About the Civil War

Davis has a genius for bringing history to life, sorting out the players, the politics and the key events -- Harpers Ferry, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Emancipation, Reconstruction -- in a way that will enlighten even the most dedicated back-of-the-class napper. A brilliant crash course, this book vividly brings to life the people -- from Dred Scott to Abraham Lincoln -- and the everyday details that make up History with a capital H.




  • An American Childhood by Annie Dillard

The autobiography of Dillard’s 1950s childhood in Pittsburgh combines a child‘s sense of wonder with an adult‘s intelligence and is written in some of the finest prose that exists in contemporary American writing…a joyous ode to [Dillard‘s] childhood.



  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

The literary sensation of the year, a book that redefines both family and narrative for the twenty-first century. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is the moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. Here is an exhilarating debut that manages to be simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together.


  • Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming

In alternating chapters, Fleming deftly moves readers back and forth between Amelia's life (from childhood up until her last flight) and the exhaustive search for her and her missing plane. With incredible photos, maps, and handwritten notes from Amelia herself—plus informative sidebars tackling everything from the history of flight to what Amelia liked to eat while flying (tomato soup).

  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant-in the blink of an eye-that actually aren't as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others? In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of "blink": the election of Warren Harding; "New Coke"; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police.




  • Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Temple Grandin

When Temple Grandin was born, her parents knew that she was different. Years later she was diagnosed with autism. While Temple’s doctor recommended a hospital, her mother believed in her. Temple went to school instead. Today, Dr. Temple Grandin is a scientist and professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Her world-changing career revolutionized the livestock industry. As an advocate for autism, Temple uses her experience as an example of the unique contributions that autistic people can make.

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  • There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene

Not unlike the AIDS pandemic itself, the odyssey of Haregewoin Teferra, who took in AIDS orphans, began in small stages and grew to irrevocably transform her life from that of "a nice neighborhood lady" to a figure of fame, infamy and ultimate restoration. In telling her story, journalist Greene who had adopted two Ethiopian children before meeting Teferra, juggles political history, medical reportage and personal memoir.


  • Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Houston

Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp--with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton twirling lessons and a dance band called the Jive Bombers who would play any popular song except the  nation's #1 hit: "Don't Fence Me In." Farewell to Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese-American family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention . . . and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States.



  • IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq by IraqiGirl

This book uses the words of fifteen-year-old Hadiya, blogging from the city of Mosul, Iraq, to let the world know what life is really like as the military occupation of her country unfolds. In many ways, her life is familiar. She worries about exams and enjoys watching Friends during the rare hours that the electricity in her neighborhood is running. But the horrors of war surround her everywhere—weeklong curfews, relatives killed, and friends whose families are forced to flee their homes. With black humor and unflinching honesty, Hadiya shares the painful stories of lives changed forever.


  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.


  • Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-li Jiang

It's 1966, and twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, tons of friends, and a bright future in Communist China. But it's also the year that China's leader, Mao Ze-dong, launches the Cultural Revolution—and Ji-li's world begins to fall apart. Over the next few years, people who were once her friends and neighbors turn on her and her family, forcing them to live in constant terror of arrest. When Ji-li's father is finally imprisoned, she faces the most difficult dilemma of her life.

  • Diary of Frida Kahlo by Frida Kahlo


The intimate life of artist Frida Kahlo is wonderfully revealed in the illustrated journal she kept during her last 10 years. This passionate and at times surprising record contains the artist's thoughts, poems, and dreams; many reflecting her stormy relationship with her husband, artist Diego Rivera.


  • Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi

When Meb Keflezighi won the New York City Marathon in 2009--the first American to do so in 27 years--some critics questioned whether the Eritrean-born runner was "really" an American despite his citizenship status and representing the USA on two Olympic and several World Championship teams. Yet Meb is the living embodiment of the American dream. His family came to the U.S. to escape from a life of poverty and a violent war with Ethiopia; Meb was 12 at the time, spoke no English, and had never raced a mile. Yet he became an A student and a high school state and national champion. And when he stood on the platform as a silver medalist in the 2004 Olympics, Meb knew his hard work and determination had paid off. How could life be any better? Then it all came crashing down. Meb, a favorite for the Beijing Olympics, fractured his pelvis during the trials and was left literally crawling. His close friend and fellow marathoner suffered a cardiac arrest at the trials and died that same day. Devastated, Meb was about to learn whether his faith in God, the values his parents had taught him, and his belief that he was born to run were enough to see him through. Show more

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  • Dancing on My Grave by Gelsey Kirkland

The shattering story of a dream which became a heartbreaking nightmare for one of America's most famous ballerinas, Gelsey Kirkland, who chronicles her brilliant start as a dancer with George Balanchine, her legendary partnership with Mikhail Baryshnikov, her agonizing descent into drugs, and her struggles to rise again.



  • All But My Life by Gerda Weissmann Klein

The unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey.  Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of "all but her life." By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps, with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead.


  • Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz  by Eva Mozes Kor

Eva Mozes Kor was just ten years old when she arrived in Auschwitz. While her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, she and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man known as the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele. Subjected to sadistic medical experiments, she was forced to fight daily for her and her twin's survival. In this incredible true story written for young adults, readers learn of a child's endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.


  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.


  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson


Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the 1893 world’s fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims. Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works.

  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? How much do parents really matter? These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports—and reaches conclusions that turn conventional wisdom on its head. Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They set out to explore the inner workings of a crack gang, the truth about real estate agents, the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, and much more.



  • Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

A riveting memoir of a girl's painful coming-of-age in a wealthy Chinese family during the 1940s. A Chinese proverb says, "Falling leaves return to their roots." In Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah returns to her roots to tell the story of her painful childhood and her ultimate triumph and courage in the face of despair. Adeline's affluent, powerful family considers her bad luck after her mother dies giving birth to her. Life does not get any easier when her father remarries. She and her siblings are subjected to the disdain of her stepmother, while her stepbrother and stepsister are spoiled. Although Adeline wins prizes at school, they are not enough to compensate for what she really yearns for -- the love and understanding of her family.


Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.


  • Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

The luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.



  • Rescue: The Story of How Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust by Milton Meltzer

Between the years 1933 and 1945, Adolf Hitler organized the Murder of six million Jews while the world looked on silently. But not all people stood back in fear. In every Nazi occupied Country, at every level of society, there were non-Jews who had the courage to resist. From the king of Denmark, refusing to force Jewish Danes to wear yellow stars, to the Dutch student, registering Jewish babies as Gentiles and hiding children in her home, a small number of people had the strength to reject the inhumanity they were ordered to support. Here are their stories: thrilling, terrifying, and most of all, inspiring. For in the horror that was the Holocaust, some human decency could still shine through.


  • Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni

As far back as she can remember, Azadeh Moaveni has felt at odds with her tangled identity as an Iranian-American. In suburban America, Azadeh lived in two worlds. At home, she was the daughter of the Iranian exile community, serving tea, clinging to tradition, and dreaming of Tehran. Outside, she was a California girl who practiced yoga and listened to Madonna. For years, she ignored the tense standoff between her two cultures. But college magnified the clash between Iran and America, and after graduating, she moved to Iran as a journalist. In these tumultuous times, she struggles to build a life in a dark country, wholly unlike the luminous, saffron and turquoise-tinted Iran of her imagination. As she leads us through the drug-soaked, underground parties of Tehran, into the hedonistic lives of young people desperate for change, Moaveni paints a rare portrait of Iran's rebellious next generation. The landscape of her Tehran — ski slopes, fashion shows, malls and cafes — is populated by a cast of young people whose exuberance and despair brings the modern reality of Iran to vivid life.



  • Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray

Breaking night: (Urban slang) staying up through the night, until the sun rises. Breaking Night is the stunning memoir of a young woman who at age fifteen was living on the streets, and who eventually made it into Harvard. Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. In school she was taunted for her dirty clothing and lice-infested hair, eventually skipping so many classes that she was put into a girls’ home. At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep. When Liz’s mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a New York Times scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League. Breaking Night is an unforgettable and beautifully written story of one young woman’s indomitable spirit to survive and prevail, against all odds.

  • Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary by Walter Dean Myers

In his preface, Newbery Honor book author Myers notes that Malcolm X's pivotal impact on the civil rights movement of the '60s was the result of his distinctive, dramatic approach: "It was Malcolm's anger, his biting wit, his dedication, that put the hard edge on the movement, that provided the other side of the sword, not the handle of acceptance and nonviolence, but the blade." Appropriately, it is with incisive, precise prose that the author chronicles the labyrinthine path of Malcolm's life, from his 1925 birth in Omaha to his assassination in Harlem 40 years later. Seamlessly fusing historical notes on the era with the activist's story, Myers tells of Malcolm's childhood, which was greatly influenced by his father, a disciple of Marcus Garvey; his life as a youth on the streets of Harlem and Boston, where he was convicted of burglary; his self-education while imprisoned for more than six years; his crucial role in and eventual split from the Nation of Islam; and his pilgrimage to Mecca, which inspired his Organization of Afro-American Unity, established "to unify Africans on an international basis."



  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Azar Nafisi, a bold and inspired teacher, secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; some had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they removed their veils and began to speak more freely–their stories intertwining with the novels they were reading by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, as fundamentalists seized hold of the universities and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the women in Nafisi’s living room spoke not only of the books they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments.


  • The Good Life by the Nearings

"Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash...Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings' challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills."--Washington Post Book World


  • Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux by John G. Neihardt and Nicholas Black Elk

Black Elk Speaks is widely hailed as a religious classic, one of the best spiritual books of the modern era and the bestselling book of all time by an American Indian. This inspirational and unfailingly powerful story reveals the life and visions of the Lakota healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) and the tragic history of his Sioux people during the epic closing decades of the Old West. In 1930, the aging Black Elk met a kindred spirit, the famed poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt (1881-1973) on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Lakota elder chose Neihardt to share his visions and life with the world. Neihardt understood and today Black Elk is known to all.



In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey—first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.


  • The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand here sets forth the moral principles of Objectivism, the philosophy that holds man's life--the life proper to a rational being--as the standard of moral values and regards altruism as incompatible with man's nature, with the creative requirements of his survival, and with a free society.


  • Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleezza Rice

Having served under two Bush presidencies, Rice is well known for her icy demeanor and steely disposition. This memoir presents a young woman deeply attached to her devoted parents, who encouraged her at every step of her life to overcome racism, sexism, and her own personal doubts. Her mother, Angelena, was a cultured teacher who taught her piano, while her father, John, was a Presbyterian minister and later a college administrator who, despite his Republican politics, strongly admired black radicals, developing a friendship with Stokely Carmichael. He declined to march with Martin Luther King in nonviolent protests and was more inclined to sit on the front porch with a loaded shotgun to ward off white night riders. Rice presents a frank, poignant, and loving portrait of a family that maintained its closeness through cancer, death, career ups and downs, and turbulent changes in American society.



  • Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez 

Hunger of Memory is the story of Mexican-American Richard Rodriguez, who begins his schooling in Sacramento, California, knowing just 50 words of English, and concludes his university studies in the stately quiet of the reading room of the British Museum. Here is the poignant journey of a “minority student” who pays the cost of his social assimilation and academic success with a painful alienation — from his past, his parents, his culture — and so describes the high price of “making it” in middle-class America. Provocative in its positions on affirmative action and bilingual education, Hunger of Memory is a powerful political statement, a profound study of the importance of language ... and the moving, intimate portrait of a boy struggling to become a man.


  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan muses on the current state of scientific thought, which offers him marvelous opportunities to entertain us with his own childhood experiences, the newspaper morgues, UFO stories, and the assorted flotsam and jetsam of pseudoscience. Along the way he debunks alien abduction, faith-healing, and channeling; refutes the arguments that science destroys spirituality, and provides a "baloney detection kit" for thinking through political, social, religious, and other issues.


  • It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living by Dan Savage

Growing up isn't easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, and this is especially true for LGBT kids and teens. In response to a number of tragic suicides by LGBT students, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage uploaded a video to YouTube with his partner, Terry Miller. Speaking openly about the bullying they suffered, and how they both went on to lead rewarding adult lives, their video launched the It Gets Better Project YouTube channel and initiated a worldwide phenomenon. It Gets Better is a collection of original essays and expanded testimonials written to teens from celebrities, political leaders, and everyday people, because while many LGBT teens can't see a positive future for themselves, we can.



  • Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer

It was January 1692, and as an icy winter wind shrieked through Salem Village, Massachusetts, two young girls began to twitch and choke and contort their bodies into strange abnormal shapes and speak in words that made no sense. Their family tried every remedy in the book, but nothing worked. Finally a doctor announced his dire diagnosis: The girls were BEWITCHED! And then the accusations began. This book tells the gripping true story of the victims, accused witches, scheming officials, and mass hysteria that turned a mysterious illness afflicting two children into a witch hunt that took 20 lives and ruined hundreds more.


  • My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

Here is the story of a precarious childhood, with an alcoholic father (who would die when she was nine) and a devoted but overburdened mother, and of the refuge a little girl took from the turmoil at home with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. But it was when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes that the precocious Sonia recognized she must ultimately depend on herself. She would learn to give herself the insulin shots she needed to survive and soon imagined a path to a different life. With only television characters for her professional role models, and little understanding of what was involved, she determined to become a lawyer, a dream that would sustain her on an unlikely course, from valedictorian of her high school class to the highest honors at Princeton, Yale Law School, the New York County District Attorney’s office, private practice, and appointment to the Federal District Court before the age of forty. Along the way we see how she was shaped by her invaluable mentors, a failed marriage, and the modern version of extended family she has created from cherished friends and their children. Show more Show less



  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone.


  • Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost—who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs—decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish—all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life).


  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss, gravely concerned about our current grammatical state, boldly defends proper punctuation. She proclaims, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. Using examples from literature, history, neighborhood signage, and her own imagination, Truss shows how meaning is shaped by commas and apostrophes, and the hilarious consequences of punctuation gone awry. Featuring a foreword by Frank McCourt, and interspersed with a lively history of punctuation from the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, Eats, Shoots & Leaves makes a powerful case for the preservation of proper punctuation.



  • Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker

In 1997 foreign correspondent Neely Tucker and his wife, Vita, arrived in Zimbabwe. After witnessing the devastating consequences of AIDS and economic disaster on the country’s children, the couple started volunteering at an orphanage where a critically ill infant, abandoned in a field on the day she was born, was trusted to their care. Within weeks, Chipo, the baby girl whose name means “gift,” would come to mean everything to them. Their decision to adopt her, however, would challenge an unspoken social norm: that foreigners should never adopt Zimbabwean children.


  • The following texts are by Sarah Vowell – known as a writer who approaches history with wit and a sense of humor.


Unfamiliar Fishes

Of all the countries the United States invaded or colonized in 1898, Sarah Vowell considers the story of the Americanization of Hawaii to be the most intriguing. From the arrival of the New England missionaries in 1820, who came to Christianize the local heathens, to the coup d'état led by the missionaries' sons in 1893, overthrowing the Hawaiian queen, the events leading up to American annexation feature a cast of beguiling, if often appalling or tragic, characters. Whalers who fire cannons at the Bible-thumpers denying them their god-given right to whores; an incestuous princess pulled between her new god and her brother-husband; sugar barons, con men, Theodore Roosevelt, and the last Hawaiian queen, a songwriter whose sentimental ode "Aloha 'Oe" serenaded the first Hawaiian-born president of the United States during his 2009 inaugural parade.

Assassination Vacation

What do you get when a woman who's obsessed with death and U.S. history goes on vacation? This wacky, weirdly enthralling exploration of the first three presidential assassinations. Vowell takes readers on a pilgrimage of sorts to the sites and monuments that pay homage to Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, visiting everything from grave sites and simple plaques (like the one in Buffalo that marks the place where McKinley was shot) to places like the National Museum of Health and Medicine, where fragments of Lincoln's skull are on display. An expert tour guide, Vowell brings into sharp focus not only the figures involved in the assassinations, but the social and political circumstances that led to each-and she does so in the witty, sometimes irreverent manner that her fans have come to expect.

Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World

Vowell tackles subjects such as identity, politics, religion, art, and history with a biting humor. She searches the streets of Hoboken for traces of the town's favorite son, Frank Sinatra. She goes under cover of heavy makeup in an investigation of goth culture, blasts cannonballs into a hillside on a father-daughter outing, and maps her family's haunted history on a road trip down the Trail of Tears.



The Wordy Shipmates

To this day, America views itself as a Puritan nation, but Sarah Vowell investigates what that means-and what it should mean. What she discovers is something far different from what their uptight shoe buckles- and-corn reputation might suggest-a highly literate, deeply principled, and surprisingly feisty people, whose story is filled with pamphlet feuds, witty courtroom dramas, and bloody vengeance.Show more Show less




  • Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn non-conformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

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  • Made From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Starting off as a young, single woman with a desk job and a city apartment, Jenna Woginrich set out to build a more self-sufficient lifestyle by learning homesteading skills. She didn't own land or have much practical experience beyond a few forays into knitting and soap making, but she did have a strong desire to opt out of what she saw as a consumer-driven culture. After moving across the country to a rented farmhouse in northern Idaho, she learned to raise chickens, keep bees, and grow her own food.

  • I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.


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  • A Young People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

This is the young adult edition of Howard Zinn’s classic telling of American history. A Young People’s History of the United States brings to US history the viewpoints of workers, slaves, immigrants, women, Native Americans, and others whose stories, and their impact, are rarely included in books for young people.


Summer Reading Notes

Instructions and Expectations
Standard Directions: Below you will find fifteen questions to guide your required outside reading notes that must be typed. These fifteen questions serve as subtitles and should be typed verbatim before your answer. Sketchy notes will not receive full credit. Plagiarized ideas will be submitted to administration.
THIS ASSIGNMENT IS DUE MONDAY, JULY 28th.

Helpful Hints for Producing Notes:




  • Single space your answers; double space between answers.

  • Become very familiar with the questions before beginning the required outside reading or ROR. Avoid unnecessary repetition by planning where you will write what. The ROR requires you to complete an exhaustive analysis. If you are merely restating the same ideas over and over, you are not dissecting the material with enough thought or thoroughness.

  • Analyze as you go; do not wait until you have finished the book to begin your ROR response.

  • Practice preciseness, but include essential content ….you must learn to write with style, which is the ability to say in writing, with clarity, economy, and grace, precisely what you want to say.

  • To do many of the questions well, you should find yourself editing and revising. While these reading notes are certainly not a formal paper, turning in a draft that is incomplete or rushed will not be acceptable.
  • It is fine (but not required or necessary) to research criticism regarding the works read; however, do not do so in lieu of independent thinking and analysis. Furthermore, make sure the criticism you explore is from a valid source. If you use someone else’s ideas, cite them to avoid plagiarism!


  • RORs take longer to complete than they look like they do…don’t wait until the last minute!

John Doe
Ms. Morris

English I

Date


Type Original Title Here


  1. Title of work:

  2. Author and publishing date:

  3. Relevant author biography:

  4. Author’s topic:

  5. Author’s intended audience:

  6. Identify the author’s purpose:

  7. Author’s central claim/argument:

** The following items should be answered in complete sentences.**

  1. Reasoning and evidence that the author presents in support of his/her claim/argument. Be thorough and specific. Use at least eight textual references :

  2. Counterarguments (Arguments against the authors claim. Does the author address any? If so, explain.):

  3. Identify at least five writing techniques or literary devices the writer uses when conveying his/her message, and make sure to use direct text evidence with parenthetical citations. You must identify at least two examples of each technique:

  4. Identify the author’s tone with textual evidence and parenthetical citations:

  5. How does the author appeal to the reader’s emotions throughout the text? Identify multiple examples of pathos and the effect of these appeals on the reader.

13. How does the author establish credibility as a speaker on his/her subject? Lose credibility? Explain with multiple textual examples and parenthetical citations.


  1. Title’s significance:

15. Being specific, why or why wouldn’t you recommend this text to a friend?

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