2021 Upper School Summer Reading List

June 09, 2021

Please choose a total of three (3) texts to read this summer.  At least two (2) of your texts should be selected from the lists of different departments, while your third choice may be a text that does not appear on this list.

Note: 9th graders in the FIRE program and other students taking AP Literature and Composition, APES, APUSH, Writing and Rhetoric, and The Plays of Shakespeare have specific texts to read that will count towards your total of three. The primary reading for FIRE this year is Apeirogon by Colum McCann. 




How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

Jane Eyre (pairs with Wide Sargasso Sea) by Charlotte Brontë

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Wide Sargasso Sea (pairs with Jane Eyre) by Jean Rhys

Whose Names Are Unknown, Sanora Babb

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina García

The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari 

Tribe by Sebastian Junger 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Gulp by Mary Roach 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time by Gaia Vince

AP Literature and Composition Required Reading

     - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (We recommend The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, David M Shapard, ed., but any print edition will do. You must bring your copy with you on the first day of class.)

The Plays of Shakespeare Required Reading 

     - The Elizabethan World Picture by E. M. W. Tillyard

Gothic Fiction Required Reading

     - The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction by Nick Groom

Writing and Rhetoric Required Reading 

     - Apeirogon: A Novel by Colum McCann

Freshmen Required Reading

     - Apeirogon: A Novel by Colum McCann, here is a brief introduction to the book from Dr. Crowe


Fine Arts



Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters by Chip Kidd

Invisible Cities By Italo Calvino

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles

Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light by Leonard Shlain

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde (Goodreads Author)

Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative by Danielle Krysa

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren

The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Frida Kahlo, Carlos Fuentes (Introduction), Sarah M. Lowe (Introduction)

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration From The Private Sketchbooks Of Artists, Illustrators And Designers by Danny Gregory 

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

Annie Leibovitz at Work by Annie Leibovitz

Performing Arts



Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece by Ashley Kahn

Sing For Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family by Daniel Bergner

This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin

How Music Works by David Byrne

Evenings With the Orchestra by Hector Berlioz, Translation by Jacques Barzun

Other People's Shoes: Thoughts on Acting by Harriet Walter

Will In The World by Stephen Greenblatt

Finishing The Hat/Look I Made A Hat by Stephen Sondheim

Sondheim & Co. by Craig Zanan

Everything Was Possible by Ted Chapin

Global Language 

Please note that you do NOT need to be a student of the language in order to read and enjoy these books in English. Students taking AP French must read one of the French-only texts that they have not already read.




The Plague by Albert Camus

(La peste in its original French)

Small Country:  A Novel by Gaël Faye

(Petit pays : roman in its original French)

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

(Madame Bovary in its original French)

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow:  A Novel by Faiza Guene

(Kiffe kiffe demain in its original French)

Nineteenth-Century French Short Stories (a dual-language book)

In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez  (En el tiempo de mariposas in Spanish)

Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes


Paper copy of novels for Chinese II students: (Students pick one to read)

My Teacher is A Martian

The Secret Garden

A Journey to the Center of the Earth

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

(Persepolis in its original French)

Common Knowledge about Chinese Culture (bilingual book)

Readings in Chinese Culture Vol. I (Paper copy) for Coming Chinese III 

Readings in Chinese Culture Vol. II (paper copy) for Coming AP Chinese

Introduction to French Poetry (a dual-language book)



Students taking APUSH must read one (1) of the three texts in bold.



The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundati Roy

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America by Wendy Warren 

The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America by John Demos

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol Karlsen 

Unruly Waters: how rains, rivers, coasts, and seas have shaped Asia’s history by Sunil Amrith 

Plutopia: Nuclear families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters by Kate Brown 

Frederick Douglass Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Eagan

American Dialogue: The Founders and Us by Joseph J. Ellis

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Churchill’s Secret War: the British empire and the ravaging of India during World War II by Madhusree Mukerjee 

First Principles: what America’s Founders learned from the Greeks and Romans and how that shaped our country by Thomas Ricks 

Coffeeland: one man’s dark empire and the making of our favorite drug by Augustine Sedgewick

Empire of Guns: the violent making of the Industrial Revolution by Priya Satia 

Fifth Sun: a new history of the Aztecs by Camilla Townsend 

The Boston Massacre: A Family History by Serena Zabin




The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoki Ogawa

The Fractal Murders by Mark Cohen

The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt

Properties of Light:  A Novel of Love, Betrayal and Quantum Physics by Rebecca Goldstein

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

Hidden Figures:  The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margo Lee Shetterly

Blown to Bits:  Your Life, Liberty and Happiness After the Digital Explosion (2nd edition) by Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, Harry Lewis, Wendy Seltzer

What If?:  Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Math with Bad Drawings:  Illuminating the Ideas that Shape Our Reality by Ben Orlin

Physical Education

     - Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

     - The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

     - Fast into the Night by Debbie Clarke Moderow

     - Wild: From Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed

     - Strong by Kara Goucher

     - Norwich by Karen Crouse


The text in bold is required reading for APES students and recommended for AP Bio students.

     - The Sixth Extinction, An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

     - The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell

     - Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman

     - A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

     - he Illustrated Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

     - Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins

     - Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Dr. Brittney Cooper

     - Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

     - How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

     - I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

     - Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

     - Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

     - Raising Our Hands by Jenna Arnold

     - Redefining Realness by Janet Mock 

     - Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

     - So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

     - The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

     - The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

     - The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

     - The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace            Lee Boggs

     - The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

     - Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

     - This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga

     - When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-                 Century America by Ira Katznelson

     - White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo,           PhD

     - I, Rigoberta Menchú, Rigoberta Menchú 

     - Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, de las Cazas 

     - We shall overcome, César Chávez 

     - You want me white, Alfonsina Storni 

     - To Julia de Burgos, Julia de Burgos 

     - Self Portrait, Rosario Castellanos 


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