FORMS III AND IV Summer Reading
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon Spier is a seventeen-year-old with a secret – well, with several secrets. Some are his (he is gay and has not yet come out); some are the secrets of the people he cares most about (who is Blue, with whom he has been carrying on a romance by email?). When a classmate threatens to blackmail Simon, he has to decide who he is, who he wants to be, and what matters most to him. A funny, engaging novel about identity, friendship, love, and taking risks, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda explores the fear and freedom of being yourself. Note: I will be giving a brief quiz at the beginning of our book discussion to weed out those who decided to watch "Love, Simon" rather than reading Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Feed by M.T. Anderson
In a future world where internet connections feed directly into the consumer’s brain, thought is supplemented by advertising banners, and language has gone into a steep decline, a little love story unfolds. Titus, an average kid on a weekend trip to the moon, meets Violet, a brainy girl who has decided to try to fight the feed. Assaulted by a hacker who interrupts their connection, they struggle to understand what has happened to them – and to everyone around them. In his National Book Award Finalist Feed, M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world – and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now. (From M. T. Anderson's blog)
Dr. Mutter's Marvels: a true tale of intrique and innovation at the dawn of modern medicine by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia, performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools – or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the mid-nineteenth century. Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time. Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia’s renowned Mütter Museum. (Description from Amazon.com)
Anxiety Sucks! A Teen Survival Guide by Natasha Daniels
Mindfulness for Teen Worry by Jeffrey Bernstein, PhD
Is anxiety overwhelming you? Are you tired of boring, long self-help books that do anything but help? Are you annoyed by suggestions that show the author doesn’t really get anxiety? Until you have lived it – you will never understand anxiety’s insidious moves. Anxiety is no fun! Anxiety Sucks! A Teen Survival Guide is short and to the point. Teens don’t want to read long, boring books on anxiety. This book offers a death blow to the anxiety dictator living in your head.
Mindfulness for Teen Worry will show you how living in the moment will dissolve worry and help you stay grounded in the here and now. You’ll learn powerful and easy-to-use mindfulness skills to manage the four most common worry struggles teens face: school pressure, coping with friendship and relationship problems, improving body image, and handling family conflicts. You’ll discover why you worry and the long-term destructive impacts worry can have on your life. And most importantly, you’ll be introduced to simple, effective techniques to help you become more mindful – like harnessing the power of the breath and how to relax your body in times of stress. (Descriptions from Amazon.com) Note: Please read both texts.
The Binti Trilogy: Binti; Binti, Home; and Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
Okorafor is one of the leading writers of Afrofuturism, and if you enjoyed the film Black Panther, you should enjoy this series. The first novella in this trilogy won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, and the third volume has just recently been published. Here's the Amazon description of the first volume to give you a sense of the trilogy's scope:
"Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself ― but first she has to make it there, alive." Note: Please read all three titles in the trilogy.
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
This novel focuses on the life of Quoyle, a lumpy, unattractive and vulnerable man whose life seems to crumble at every turn. He is forced to move with his two daughters to Flour Sack, Newfoundland, to live with a strange, maiden aunt. There, family secrets await – but also redemption and romance. This novel has moments of outrageous hilarity but also moments of “the good kind of sad.” There are a myriad of strange and fascinating characters who populate this small town and stunning descriptions of dramatic landscape for readers to enjoy as we learn to love and appreciate and cheer on the unfortunate but intrepid Quoyle.
Family Life by Akhil Sharma
This recent novel focuses on the Mishras, immigrants to the United States in the late 1970s. At first, the parents of this Indian family can hardly believe their good luck – they are awed by the everyday conveniences of American life and the promise of a successful future for their eldest son, Birju. Tragedy strikes, however, when Birju suffers a terrible accident. Narrated by Ajay, Birju’s younger brother, Akhil Sharma’s novel focuses on the family’s response to a sudden change in fortune. Described as “an immigrant story like no other: funny and dark, unrelenting and above all, true” (Nell Freudenberger), this semi-autobiographical novel took its author twelve years to write, yet is brief and compelling enough to read very quickly. As Edmund White describes it, “Family Life is a terse, devastating account of growing up as a brilliant outsider in American culture. It is a nearly perfect novel.”
Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck
In 1943 John Steinbeck was on assignment for The New York Herald-Tribune, writing from Italy and North Africa, and from England in the midst of the London blitz. In his dispatches he focuses on the human-scale effect of the war, portraying everyone from the guys in a bomber crew to Bob Hope on his USO tour and even fighting alongside soldiers behind enemy lines. Taken together, these writings create an indelible portrait of life in wartime. (From Goodreads.com)
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Stoker crafts the definitive vampire tale that includes all your favorites: bites to the neck, stakes through the heart, and bats in the night. Stay up late and give yourself a good scare as you read this novel that’s told through the letters of Count Dracula’s victims and the reports of his hunters.
Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker
In this memoir, foreign journalist Neely Tucker and his wife, Vita, live and work in Zimbabwe during the late 1990’s. Through their volunteer work in an orphanage and in the city of Harare, where the AIDS epidemic has left many Zimbabwean children without parents, the Tuckers begin to care for Chipo, a sick baby girl who is discovered alone in a field. The Tuckers become foster parents to Chipo, and as they lovingly nurse her back to health they form an unbreakable bond with the small child. Their story reveals the struggles and obstacles they face as they try to legally adopt Chipo in a country that doesn’t traditionally approve foreign adoptions.
Slaughterhouse FIve by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim, a decidedly non-heroic man who has become "unstuck in time." He travels back and forth in time, visiting his birth, death, and all the moments in between repeatedly and out of order. The novel is framed by Chapters One and Ten, in which Vonnegut himself talks about the difficulties of writing the novel and the effects of Dresden on his own life. In between, Billy Pilgrim's life is given to us out of order and in small fragments. This novel delves into the human toll that World War II has taken on the generation of Kurt Vonnegut.