Reading guide grades 9-12 fiction achebe, Chinua


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Grades 9-12

Achebe, Chinua

Things Fall Apart

A proud village leader is driven to murder and suicide by European changes to his

traditional Ibo society
Alcott, Louisa May

Little Women

Four teenage girls struggle with poverty and individual problems, but are sustained by

their affection for one another
Allende, Isabelle

House of the Spirits

Ghosts and strange occurrences in the life an upper class family in South America
Atwood, Margaret

The Handmaid's Tale

Near the end of the twentieth century, birth control and the effects of nuclear fallout have

caused fewer births. The biblical story of Rachel is invoked to counter the declining

Austen, Jane


Young Victorian woman with not much upstairs tries to play cupid for everyone but herself
Brooks, Max

World War Z

New York Times bestseller of the human survival of the zombie apocalypse told in the haunting and riveting voices of the men and women who witnessed the horror firsthand.
Buck, Pearl S.,

The Good Earth

Peasants' lives in China in times of war during the reign of the last Emperor, beautiful

novel , won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932.
Bums, Olive

Cold Sassv Tree

Will Tweedy's enters into manhood in a small southern town at the turn of the century.

Calvino, Italo

The Baron in the Trees

Aristocratic heir refuses to climb down from his tree for dinner because of a quarrel with

his father. Delightful fantasy of escape.
Camus, Albert

The Stranger

Existential novel about a pointless murder by Nobel Prize winning author
Card, Orson Scott

Ender's Game

A young boy is trained with military games to save the world from alien attack.
Chandler, Raymond

The Big Sleep

Famous detective story by important American writer of the genre. Philip Marlowe is the

tough-guy detective with a strong sense of morality

Collins, Wilkie

The Moonstone

The first detective story ever, set in Victorian England. Who stole the mysterious

moonstone from the country house by the sea?
Craven, Margaret

I Heard the Owl Call My Name

Young minister spends his last year with the Kwakiutl Indian tribe in the Canadian

wilderness; only the reader knows that he is dying and that this is his time to understand

what life is for
Crichton, Michael

The Andromeda Strain

Terrifying biological nightmare when sterilization procedures for returning space probes prove inadequate
Dickens, Charles

David Copperfield

Dickens' most autobiographical novel (note the initials). Funny, sad, and complicated.
Dostoevsky, Feodor

The Brothers Karamazov

The story of three Russian brothers and their father -- a sensualist, an intellectual, and a priest.

Ellison, Ralph

Invisible Man

Published in 1952, this is one of the standard works of black American fiction. Young black man journeys from Deep South to Harlem
Foer, Jonathan Safran Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close A young boy deals with the loss of his father after 9/11
Gruen, Sara

Water for Elephants

This novel recounts the time spent with a traveling circus the main character joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures
Gaines, Ernest

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

In her 100 years as an African-American woman, Miss Jane Pittman experiences it all,

from slavery to civil rights
A Gathering of Old Men

Aging African American men each claim to be the sole murderer of a Southern white farmer, confounding the law


Guterson, David

Snow Falling on Cedars

The novel opens with the murder trial of Dabuo Miyamoto but takes forays into the pasts

and presents of many central characters. Guterson deals with themes such as teen love,

racism, war and confronting the past
Hammett, Dashiel

The Maltese Falcon

First of the Sam Spade detective stories; hard-boiled characters in suspenseful plot

Heller, Joseph

Catch 22

Absurd novel about World War II. Or is it a comic novel about life?

Hemingway, Ernest

The Old Man and the Sea

Old Cuban fisherman fights an agonizing battle with a giant marlin.
Hersey, John

A Bell for Adano

Pulitzer prize winning novel about an Italian-American major who searches for a replacement for the 700 year old town bell melted down by the Fascists
Hesse, Herman


Siddhartha ascends to a state of peace and mystic holiness.
Hosseini, Khaled

A Thousand Splendid Suns

An in-depth exploration of Afghan society in the three decades of anti-Soviet Jihad, civil war and Taliban cruelty. He impels us to empathize with and admire those most victimized by Afghan history and culture—women.
Lewis, Sinclair

Main Street

Story of Carol Kennicut who rejects the life of a small town as an intellectual wasteland
Maclean, Norman

A River Runs Through It

"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing." Three beautifully written stories of the West, fly fishing, and family.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Brilliant Colombian writer's most famous novel; magical realism
Marte, Yann Life of Pi A young boy survives 227 days at sea

Martin, Charles When Crickets Cry A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car, his mind on a boat he's restoring at a nearby lake. Before it's over, they'll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry...and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners.

Matheson, Richard

I Am Legend and other stories

Robert Neville is the last surviving man on Earth...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville's blood.
McCarthy, Cormac

No Country for Old Men

In west Texas, a young Vietnam vet is hunting when he comes upon the carnage of a drug deal gone bad. Both heroin and a suitcase of cash remain at the site, along with a number of bodies. The main character decides to take the money although he knows he'll be hunted (and hunted he is) but believes he can outsmart the hunters.
McCullers, Carson

The Member of the Wedding

Fed up with her life in a Mississippi town, Frankie Adams changes her name and plans her escape to the world at large.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Young girl searches for beauty among lonely outcasts in small Southern town

McMurtry, Larry

Lonesome Dove

This is the ultimate cowboy novel; this Pulitzer Prize winner captures life on the frontier.
O'Brian, Patrick

Master and Commander

Dazzling story of the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, told from the vantage of Captain Jack Aubry and his mysterious friend Dr. Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon, naturalist and British spy. If you like this one, you are in luck: there are 17 more!
Orwell, George

Animal Farm

Animals turn the tables on their masters
Paton, Alan

Cry the Beloved Country

The tragedy of South Africa under apartheid. A country Zulu pastor searches for his sick sister in Johannesburg only to find that she has become a prostitute and his son a murderer. Written in free verse, it rewards those who stay with it

Pearce, Donn

Cool Hand Luke

Out of his experiences working on a chain gang, Donn Pearce created Cool Hand Luke, war hero turned "pretty evil feller," whose refusal to "git his mind right" becomes part of his fellow convicts' mythology of survival.
Picoult, Jodi My Sister’s Keeper Anna was genetically engineered to be a perfect match for her cancer-ridden older sister. Since birth, the 13-year-old has donated platelets, blood, her umbilical cord, and bone marrow as part of her family's struggle to lengthen Kate's life. Anna is now being considered as a kidney donor in a last-ditch attempt to save her 16-year-old sister. As this compelling story opens, Anna has hired a lawyer to represent her in a medical emancipation suit to allow her to have control over her own body.
Potok, Chaim

The Chosen

Masterfully written story of two boys growing up devoutly Jewish in New York City who

explore questions of faith, family and identity both group and individual

My Name is Asher Lev

Jewish artist paints a crucifix and nearly destroys his family
Remarque, Erique Marie

All Quiet On the Western Front

Realistic novel of war in the trenches of World War I
Rhys, Jean

The Wide Sargasso Sea

How Rochester met and fell in love with a character who reappears in Jane Eyre.

Shute, Nevil

On the Beach

After the war is over, a radioactive cloud begins to sweep southwards on the winds, gradually poisoning everything in its path. An American submarine captain is among the survivors left sheltering in Australia, preparing with the locals for the inevitable. Then a faint Morse code signal is picked up, transmitting from the United States and the submarine must set sail through the bleak ocean to search for signs of life.

Sinclair, Upton

The Jungle

Cruelty of unregulated industrialization and immigrant life in the early 20th Century.

Popular indignation inspired by this work led to significant reforms
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Exposure of the Russian labor camps
Toole, John Kennedy

A Confederacy of Dunces

An American comic masterpiece featuring Ignatius J. Reilly, a “huge, obese, fractious, fastidious” latter-day Gargantua. This story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans' lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures.
Twain, Mark

Pudd'nhead Wilson

Two children whose identities are switched at birth--humorous and incisive satire of

racism in 19th century America.
Wharton, Edith

House of Mirth

Tragic novel by a superb artist about a lonely woman without money in a society where

there is no guarantee of security
White, Theodore H.

The Once and Future King

Beloved retelling of the story of King Arthur; source for both Disney movie, Sword in the

Stone and musical Camelot.
Wright, Richard

Native Son

Set in Chicago, this first major novel by the author of Black Bov tells of a young man's

victimization by racism and his inevitable lashing out.
Brown, Dee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

The Native American point of view on the old West and Westward expansion
Capuzzo , Michael

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

In 1916, a rogue shark traveled inland along a New Jersey creek, terrorizing residents of nearby towns. Capuzzo reconstructs events with a novelist's flair and a scientist's attention to detail, and his pacing is relentless as the story moves from cultural history and shark physiology to close-ups of the crazed, disoriented beast slicing through the water.
Covington, Dennis

Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake-Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia

After Covington covered the trial of a preacher convicted of attempting to murder his wife with rattlesnakes, he was invited to attend a snake-handling service in Scottsville, Ala. He found the service exhilarating and unsettling; he felt a kinship with the people, ultimately joining the snake handlers.
Darwin, Charles

Voyage of the Beagle

Readable account of Darwin's voyage on the Beagle. His observations on the voyage

later led him to formulate his revolutionary theory of natural selection

Davis, Sampson, et al

The Pact

Growing up in broken homes in a crime-ridden area of Newark, N.J., these three authors could easily have followed their childhood friends into lives of drug-dealing, gangs and prison. They tell harrowing stories of being arrested for assault and mugging drug dealers, and of the lack of options they saw as black teenagers. But when their high school was visited by a recruiter from a college aimed at preparing minority students for medical school, the three friends decided to make something of their lives.

Durrell, Gerald

My Family and Other Animals

Hysterically funny stories about the four children in the Durrell family as they move to

Corfu with their comical mother
Edelman, Bernard

Dear America: Letters Home from the Vietnam War

More than twenty-five years after the official end of the Vietnam War, Dear America allows us to witness the war firsthand through the eyes of the men and women who served in Vietnam. In this collection of more than 200 letters, they share their first impressions of the rigors of life in the bush, their longing for home and family, their emotions over the conduct of the war, and their ache at the loss of a friend in battle.
Green, Hannah

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

With the help of an understanding doctor, a teenage girl struggles to overcome

Haley, Alex

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Malcolm X's story from street hustler to religious leader
Helfer, Ralph


True story of a boy and an elephant caught up in the swirl of 20th century history. The story spans 70 years and takes the reader from a small German circus town to the teak forests of India and eventually to New York City in the 1940s.
Herriot, James

All Creatures Great and Small

Amusing and moving vignettes of a Yorkshire veterinarian's rural practice
Hersey, John


Six survivors reflect on the aftermath of the first atomic bomb

Hyerdahl, Thor

Kon Tiki

Six men on a small log raft sail 4,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to test a theory, based in folklore, as to where the Polynesian people came from. If you like Kon Tiki try Aku Aku by the same author
Krakauer, Jon

Into Thin Air

Gripping story of Mount Everest expedition that went tragically wrong
Kuper, Jack

Child of the Holocaust: A True Story

Set in Poland during World War II; an eight year old Jewish boy comes home to find that all of

his family and friends have been rounded up by the Nazis, leaving him entirely on his own to


Lewis, Michael


Lewis remembers his high school baseball coach, Coach Fitz, a man so intense a room felt "more pressurized simply because he was in it." At the New Orleans private school Lewis attended in the late 1970s, Coach Fitz taught kids to fight "the natural instinct to run away from adversity" and to battle their way through all the easy excuses life offers for giving up.
Luttrell , Marcus

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10

Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive.
Marx, Jeffrey

Season of Life

True story of a former NFL football star and volunteer coach for the Gilman High School football team. A moving story that will resonate with athletes, coaches, parents – anyone struggling to make the right choices in life.

Robbins, Alexandra

The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids

Robbins follows the lives of students from a Bethesda, Md., high school as they navigate the SAT and college application process. These students are obsessed with success, contending with illness, physical deterioration (senior Julie is losing hair over the pressure to get into Stanford), cheating, obsessed parents and emotional breakdowns.

Shirer, William L.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Massive study based on Nazi files and personal observation by foreign correspondent and historian

Revised April, 2011


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