Summer Reading

2019 Summer Reading

Rising Sixth Form - American Studies

All American Studies students must read the following:

 

  1. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (978-0-618-70641-9 )
  2. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (978-1-4000-3342-3)
  3. The following short stories:

Below are 10 songs we’ll be studying this year. Listen to them and think about the questions they raise about the American experience:

  1. Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin
  2. Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland
  3. My Old Kentucky Home by Stephen Foster
  4. Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream by Bob Dylan
  5. America, the Beautiful by Ray Charles
  6. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Indigo Girls
  7. This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
  8. The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen
  9. Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday
  10. This is America by Childish Gambino

Think about these discussion questions: we hope these questions will help introduce some of the themes of the course and the ways we will approach literature.

  • How do each of the authors deal with the connection between history and identity? What role does the past play in our understanding of ourselves and in creating opportunities for the future?
  • What role does storytelling play in each work? Why do we tell stories? What role do they play?
  • Each of these works (including the short fiction and the songs) speaks to the American identity in a unique way. You’ve studies ancient, world, and European cultures. From your reading, what makes the American identity unique or distinctive?

Prepare for the following assessments for when you return to class in August.

  • Objective quizzes offer you the chance to confirm that you have met the baseline expectation of completing the reading
  • Essays will assess your use of specific textual references to connect the themes and content of the works to one another
  • A Harkness discussion will ask you to relate your reading to essential questions of the course using specific textual support

Rising Fifth Form - European Studies

All European Studies students must read the following:

  1. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester (ISBN: 978-0060839789)
  2. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel by Anthony Marra (ISBN: 978-0770436421)

Think about these discussion questions: we hope these questions will help introduce some of the themes of the course and the ways we will approach literature.

  • Consider the essential questions of the course as you read both books this summer. How do we create order and stability? What is the impact? How has group identity in European states emerged and evolved? How do we know what is “true?" In a story, what is reliable, and what is significant?

  • Compare and contrast the role of women—both the individual female characters and the place of women in the society—in each story. Where do the individual characters and the expectations for women in general overlap? Where do they diverge?

  • For each book, what is the Meaning of the Work as a Whole (MOWAW)? What does the author want to have us understand or consider?

  • Consider the narrative form of each work. How does the chosen form fit or enhance the content? What is the author trying to accomplish with these choices? Is it effective?

Prepare for the following assessments for when you return to class in August.

  • An objective quiz (approx. 25-30 points) offers you the chance to confirm that you have met the baseline expectation of completing the reading.

  • An in-class essay will assess your ability to emulate the writing style of one our summer essayists.

  • A Harkness discussion will ask you to relate your reading to essential questions of the course using specific textual support

Rising Fourth Form - World Studies

All World Studies students should read the following:

  • Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali
    • Edition: REV 06
    • Author: Niane, D.T.
    • ISBN 13: 978-1-4058-4942-5
    • ISBN 10: 1-4058-4942-8
    • Publisher: Pearson
    • Publisher Imprint: Longman, Inc.
  • Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic
    • Edition: 2006
    • ISBN 13: 978-0-14-303967-9
    • ISBN 10: 0-14-303967-9
    • Publisher: Penguin Random House Llc
    • Publisher Imprint: Penguin Classics
    • Author: Narayan, R. K.
  • Monkey: A Journey to the West
    • Edition: 1992
    • Author: Kherdian, David
    • ISBN 13: 978-1-59030-258-3
    • ISBN 10: 1-59030-258-3
    • Publisher: Penguin Random House Llc
    • Publisher Imprint: Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Think about these discussion questions: we hope these questions will help introduce some of the themes of the course and the ways we will approach literature.

  • Monkey, Ramayana, and Sundiata are epic tales for the nations of China, India, and Mali. As World Studies scholars read them, they should consider what values are at the heart of them.
  • How do these stories shape the culture and national identity of these three very different nations?
  • Students should also pay attention to the shared patterns of the stories.
  • All three are about heroes who must go on a quest to restore balance to the world, gaining allies and facing villains along the way. What other specific similarities exist?
  • How do these stories connect to other stories the students have read such as The Odyssey, The Aeneid, or Gilgamesh?

Prepare for the following assessments for when you return to class in August.

  • An objective quiz offers you the chance to confirm that you have met the baseline expectation of completing the reading of all three books.
  • An analytical paper will assess your ability to craft a compelling thesis concerning authorial intent of one of the summer reading books and then support it with specific textual evidence and reasoned analysis.
  • An in-class essay will assess your ability to compare and contrast specific characters and themes from the other two summer reading books.
  • Several Harkness discussions will ask you to relate your reading to essential questions of the course using specific textual support.

Rising Third Form - Ancient Studies

Students will begin their exploration of the Humanities in the summer, as they view a PBS Empires series on “The Greeks,” read some Greek myths, and then select one of four novels that serve as a prelude to themes of the Ancient Studies course.

Part One:
Students should begin with a brief introduction to Greek history by viewing the three 50-minute episode of the PBS Empires series, The Greeks: The Crucible of Civilization.  Students can set their historical bearings by encountering such figures as Cleisthenes, Themistocles, Pericles, and Socrates in Fifth Century Athens.  Click here for a link to all three episodes. 

Part Two:
Summer reading commences with three chapters from Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton, a classic retelling of many of the great legends from the ancient world.  The required sections for the summer reading include the chapters on Homer’s epic tales of the Trojan War, the Iliad and the Odyssey:

  • Chapter 13: The Trojan War (251-276)
  • Chapter 14: The Fall of Troy (277-290)
  • Chapter 15: The Adventures of Odysseus (291-319)

Students may, of course, read more widely in Hamilton if they choose; many of the myths are engaging and enjoyable in their own right. 

Part Three:
Summer reading culminates in the selection of ONE of four novels that have strong links to the themes and / or content of the course. (See more about each book below.) 

  • Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire: a historical fiction set in ancient Sparta 
  • Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain: a historical fiction set in Civil War North Carolina  
  • Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West: a prize-winning contemporary fiction set in a nameless country on the brink of war
  • Barbara Kingsollver’s The Bean Trees: a modern classic that moves from rural Kentucky to the American West

Each of these works all will give us great points of departure for discussion and writing at the start of the year and throughout our journey back to Greece and Rome.

We hope these choices give every student a novel to embrace and to enjoy. You need read only one of your choice, but we encourage you to read more if you feel so inspired. You can’t go wrong with any of them!


Ordering Information and Amazon Reviews

Required:
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton

  • Grand Central Publishing / Hachette (reprint edition, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0446574759
  • Edith Hamilton’s brief synopses of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey will introduce all new students to the foundational texts of western literature and allow us to move swiftly to Homer’s epics in the fall term. Her chapter on “The House of Thebes” will serve later in the fall for our reading of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Antigone; her chapter on The Aeneid will get us ready for Virgil’s Aeneid in the spring. Students can also dive as deeply as they wish into Hamilton’s account of the Olympian gods and the minor deities, the stories of love and adventure, and the sagas of the great families of mythology. These tales are well-told and timeless.  Hamilton’s work has itself become a classic.

 

Novel Options (choose one): 
 

Option One:
Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield

  • ISBN-10: 0553812165
  • Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire brings to life the experiences of ancient Spartans who joined with their rivals from Athens to defend Greece against the Persian invasion. Sparta and Athens represent two poles in ancient Greek society; at first rivals and then allies, these two cities ultimately fought a devastating war against each other. For students who want to know how Sparta could produce such valiant warriors, Pressfield will offer insights that will propel our discussions in history throughout the fall term.

Option Two:
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

  • ISBN-10: 0802126758
  • Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain is a modern classic set during the Civil War and inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. Among other literary virtues, Cold Mountain will give students some sense of the mountainous terrain of Western North Carolina that they will experience during the Third Form Camping Trip in the first week of school.

Option Three:
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

  • ISBN-10: 0735212201
  • Exit West is a magical realism novel that recounts the story of two migrants who leave an unnamed country during civil war and journey to Greece, England, and eventually the US in hopes of starting over. The magical part – a magic door that they can step through - is like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because it gives them a passageway to somewhere else. There is overlap with works we read in Ancient Studies through themes of journey, travel, war, family separation, and being homesick. Though no mythological gods or goddesses, there is the connection to religion and prayer as a source of guidance and comfort.

Option Four:
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

  • ISBN-10: 0062277756
  • The Bean Trees is a highly readable novel of true literary merit. Though the story is modern and far removed from the ancient Mediterranean, the thematic connections to Ancient Studies are many and strong: leaving home and finding home, coming of age, mentors, exile, patriarchy, heroism, and justice—in particular when does one apply one’s own moral code and when does one comply with the collective.  Kingsolver’s work will serve as a useful reference point throughout the year.

Quantitative Reasoning 1 & 2 Optional Reading Challenge

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Brown, Roediger & McDaniel.

Contact your math teacher for information on earning extra credit. 

Humanities Seminar

The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance (ISBN: 0-8021-3041-0)