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SSA Senior School Summer Reading 2017: Forms V and VI Summer Reading Options

Forms V and VI Summer Reading Options

FORMS V AND VI Summer Reading

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. But despite this outward appearance of strength, the Empire is internally dying. Only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, has calculated insights into what the future holds – the Empire will collapse and a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire – both scientists and scholars – and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation. But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Humanity's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun – or fight them and be destroyed. Why do civilizations rise and fall? Can you stop the decline of a civilization?

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 FLIP the Gratitude Switch: A simple formula to change the trajectory of your life  by Kevin Clayson

This powerful book is the ultimate guide on how to create real happiness in your life, through finding, cultivating, and activating gratitude no matter what your life circumstances may be – and to do it in a way that will change the trajectory of your life. This book will show you how to make gratitude something you DO not just something you FEEL, and how to change your life quickly, simply and permanently as a result. Hal Elrod says, "This is the definitive 'gratitude how-to guide,' a timeless classic . . . and it's a book that the world has needed for a long time." (from

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Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz 

As a professor at Yale, William Deresiewicz saw something that troubled him deeply. His students, some of the nation’s brightest minds, were adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think critically and creatively and how to find a sense of purpose. Now he argues that elite colleges are turning out conformists without a compass. Excellent Sheep takes a sharp look at the high-pressure conveyor belt that begins with parents and counselors who demand perfect grades and culminates in the skewed applications Deresiewicz saw firsthand as a member of Yale’s admissions committee. As schools shift focus from the humanities to “practical” subjects like economics, students are losing the ability to think independently. It is essential, says Deresiewicz, that college be a time for self-discovery, when students can establish their own values and measures of success in order to forge their own paths. He features quotes from real students and graduates he has corresponded with over the years, candidly exposing where the system is broken and offering clear solutions on how to fix it. (from

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is historical fiction. It is a bestselling novel (2009) about the love and friendship between Henry Lee, a Chinese-American boy, and Keiko Okabe, a Japanese-American girl, during the internment in World War II. This novel offers the reader an insightful, heart-felt perspective of the unfair treatment of Japanese-Americans in the US during WWII. Any students interested in history of this time period should strongly consider reading this book.


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Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

In this stunning book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers" – the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. (from


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Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

This book is so influential that it contributed a new term to the English language – a Catch-22. Read it to find out what that term means in its original context, and to see what else happens in this funny, irreverent, absurd story of a group of American airmen serving in Italy during WW2. Generally acknowledged as one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century, if not THE greatest, Heller's masterpiece lays bare the hypocrisies of those who abuse their power over others and explores the essential nature of human existence.

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Redeployment by Phil Klay

These twelve short stories, each from a different perspective from characters who are affiliated with the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combine to create a dramatic and insightful portrait of modern war and its lingering, devastating aftermath. Klay’s characters experience a range of emotions and responses to the war and the industry of war, from boredom to fear to exhilaration to guilt; the detailed accounts of life on a military base far from home are unflinching in their accuracy and specificity. Klay presents the very human face of modern war and asks that his readers take a long look before turning away.


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March: Books One, Two and Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, artwork by Nate Powell

This graphic novel memoir trilogy presents the extraordinary life of one of the pivotal figures in the Civil Rights Movement. Congressman John Lewis participated in the lunch counter sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, and the march in Selma, Alabama. Lewis shares his experiences in chilling detail, with the assistance of captivating artwork by Nate Powell. This powerful series will engage and astonish readers of all ages. March: Book Three was recently named the recipient of the 2016 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the first graphic novel to win such a prestigious award. Please note that students are required to read all three books in the trilogy.

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Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the world's greatest sports rivalry by Sid Lowe

Fear and Loathing in La Liga is the definitive history of the greatest rivalry in world sport: FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. It's Messi vs. Ronaldo, Guardiola vs. Mourinho, the nation against the state, freedom fighters vs. Franco's fascists, plus majestic goals and mesmerizing skills. It's the best two teams on the planet going head-to-head. It's more than a game. It's a war. It's El Clásico.

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The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

This "boisterous, highly entertaining, altogether original novel" (The Washington Post) is set in the pre-Civil War Kansas territories, where pro-slavery forces clash with militant abolitionists. The novel is narrated by a ten-year-old slave boy (nicknamed "the Onion") who, disguised as a girl, falls in with John Brown's militia. Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and other historical figures all make appearances in this surprisingly funny, award-winning work that has earned comparisons to Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


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What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly overshe’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super-skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over. (from


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The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

The Things They Carried blurs the distinction between fiction and memoir as it recounts Tim O'Brien's experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War. Through a series of war stories as hallowed as they are haunting, O'Brien (who serves as both author and fictional character) explores the nature of truth, the weight of guilt and trauma, the subjectivity of memory, and the redemptive power of storytelling.


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Their Life's Work by Gary M. Pomerantz

Just as every citizen of the United States should know the story of our country and its founding fathers, every member of Steelers Nation needs to know the story of the Empire that was the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers and its players. “Mean” Joe Greene. Franco Harris. The Chief. These figures forged a team, a dynasty, and ultimately a legacy that has endured long after Harris scored the final touchdown to secure victory in Super Bowl XIV. Pomerantz tells the story of the greatest football team in NFL history in a way that celebrates its players’ heroics and acknowledges their humanity. Honor the memory of the late Dan Rooney by reading the book while wearing your favorite jersey. “Here we go.”

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The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo  

by Tom Reiss

This Pulitzer Prize-winning work of nonfiction details the life of Alexandre Dumas, father of the famous author of the same name. Alex Dumas rose to prominence in the French military during their revolution in an era when attaining such a position was unheard of for a black man. His life was full of daring feats of bravery and selfless acts of valor; these later become the fodder for the many novels his son would write, such as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. If you’re looking to read an exciting story of adventure, adversity, dignity, and love, this is the book for you!


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Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures is a true story about the African-American women who were the "computers" at NASA during the Space Race. With empathy and detail, Shetterly tells the story of three African-American women who handled the pre-computer-era calculations for NASA and its predecessor, NACA. Set in 1960s Virginia, this book chronicles the lives of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan, who were excellent mathematicians and engineers despite facing discrimination at home, at school, and at work.


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Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut’s novel about World War II has this as one of its messages: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be” (v). The protagonist, Howard W. Campbell, Jr. describes himself as “an American by birth, a Nazi by reputation, and a nationless person by inclination” (17). To what degree are we responsible for our actions? Vonnegut pursues these ideas with a compelling narrative. Mother Night was first published in 1966 and still holds poignancy today.


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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This novel, winner of the 2016 National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, follows Cora, a slave on a Georgia cotton plantation, as she makes her bid for freedom. But this is not a traditional historical novel: Whitehead's "Underground Railroad" is a literal railroad that takes Cora from state to state. And these states, South Carolina and North Carolina and Tennessee and Indiana, are not as they were but as Whitehead imagines them to be, places where evil and kindness take on unexpected forms. At one point in the novel, Cora sees a performance in which a black slave is played by a white man who has rubbed burnt cork on his face. "People always got things wrong," she thinks, "on purpose as much as by accident." Whitehead creates a fictional history of slavery and racism, trying to get right experiences that, in their horror and power, are beyond our imagination.


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The Virginian by Owen Wister

The western is one of America’s most important and influential contributions to world culture. And it was Owen Wister’s The Virginian, first published in 1902, that created the familiar archetypes of character, setting, and action that still dominate western fiction and film. The Virginian's characters include: the hero, tall, taciturn, and unflappable, confident in his skills, careful of his honor, mysterious in his background; the heroine, the “schoolmarm from the East,” dedicated to civilizing the untamed town, but willing to adapt to its ways – up to a point; and the villain, who is a liar, a thief, a killer, and worst of all, a coward beneath his bluster. Its setting – the lonely small town in the midst of the vast, empty, dangerous but overwhelmingly beautiful landscape – plays so crucial a role that it may be regarded as one of the primary characters. And its action – the cattle roundup, the capture of the rustlers, the agonizing moral choices demanded by “western justice,” and the climactic shoot-out between hero and villain – shaped the plots of the thousands of books and movies that followed. (from Barnes&

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