by Ishmael Beah Year Published: 11R
"This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them." - Amazon
by Walter Lord Year Published: English 9R
"First published in 1955, A Night to Remember remains a completely riveting account of the Titanic's fatal collision and the behavior of the passengers and crew, both noble and ignominious. Some sacrificed their lives, while others fought like animals for their own survival. Wives beseeched husbands to join them in lifeboats; gentlemen went taut-lipped to their deaths in full evening dress; and hundreds of steerage passengers, trapped below decks, sought help in vain." - Amazon
by John Irving Year Published: 12AP
This comic novel makes us care about Owen Meany, a character who believes he is God’s instrument. The small boy with the strange voice becomes an appealing martyr.
by Khaled Hosseini Year Published: 2007 12H
"Afghan women Mariam and Laila grow close, despite their nearly twenty-year age difference and initial rivalry, as they suffer at the hands of a common enemy--their abusive, much-older husband, Rasheed." - Follett
by Betty Smith Year Published: 9H
This book focuses on a young woman's adolescent years in early 20th century Brooklyn. It is rich in character as Francie's family and the people in her school shape the developing pattern of her life. This book gives students the opportunity to look at another period in American life and to reflect on the value systems that have shaped their own lives.
by Ruta Sepetys Year Published: 11R
"Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life--until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?" - Amazon
by Matthew Quick Year Published: 12R
"Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in broken-down Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, his dad works nights, and Finley is left to take care of his disabled grandfather alone. He's always dreamed of getting out someday, but until he can, putting on that number 21 jersey makes everything seem okay." - Amazon
by Malcolm Gladwell Year Published: 2013 10H
"Here [Gladwell] examines and challenges our concepts of “advantage” and “disadvantage” in a way that may seem intuitive to some and surprising to others. Beginning with the classic tale of David and Goliath and moving through history with figures such as Lawrence of Arabia and Martin Luther King Jr., Gladwell shows how, time and again, players labeled “underdog” use that status to their advantage and prevail through the elements of cunning and surprise. He also shows how certain academic “advantages,” such as getting into an Ivy League school, have downsides, in that being a “big fish in a small pond” at a less prestigious school can lead to greater confidence and a better chance of success in later life. Gladwell even promotes the idea of a “desirable difficulty,” such as dyslexia, a learning disability that causes much frustration for reading students but, at the same time, may force them to develop better listening and creative problem-solving skills. As usual, Gladwell presents his research in a fresh and easy-to-understand context, and he may have coined the catchphrase of the decade, “Use what you got.”
by Orson Card Year Published: 9R 9HIn order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training. Is Ender the general Earth needs? by Edith Wharton Year Published: 1911 10H
Edith Wharton's most widely read work is a tightly constructed and almost unbearably heartbreaking story of forbidden love in a snowbound New England village.
by Ray Bradbury Year Published: 10R
In this classic bestseller about censorship, firemen are paid to set books ablaze. Read about what happens when Guy Montag begins to question the status quo.
by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner Year Published: 11AP
This book uses analytical tools from economics to address a range of questions that, at first glance, might seem to be far removed from the discipline of the "dismal science." They consider questions such as how to determine if teachers are aiding in students' cheating on standardized tests, the impact of information asymmetry on the operation of the Ku Klux Klan, how the organizational structure of crack gangs resemble other businesses, and the influence of parents on child development.
by Mark Zusah Year Published: 12R and Special Class English 12
Nineteen-year-old cabbie Ed Kennedy has little in life to be proud of: his dad died of alcoholism, and he and his mom have few prospects for success. He has little to do except share a run-down apartment with his faithful yet smelly dog, drive his taxi, and play cards and drink with his amiable yet similarly washed-up friends. Then, after he stops a bank robbery, Ed begins receiving anonymous messages marked in code on playing cards in the mail, and almost immediately his life begins to swerve off its beaten-down path.
by Jon Krakauer Year Published: 1995 11H, IB HL Yr 1
"First, there is mystery: the emaciated body found in September 1992 in a bus-hut had no identity papers, just a name and a terse diary of final days. Then there is the question of personal identity: What existential longing led the twentysomething McCandless to that bus and at what cost to himself and his family? And finally, there is the majestic stage set of the American Far West, which Krakauer draws on to create his lyrical, mesmerizing testament to McCandless' odyssey. Krakauer starts with the discovery of McCandless' body and works backward, revealing that McCandless graduated from Emory University, severed contact with his family, assumed the alias "Alexander Supertramp," and began two years of vagabondage in search of Truth in living as advocated by Thoreau and Tolstoy, of whose works "Alex" was enamored. His earnestness indelibly impressed the itinerants he easily befriended--whom he, in truth, somewhat callously jettisoned--as Krakauer reveals throughout this sensitive narrative. A moving story that reiterates the bewitching attraction of the Far West." - Booklist starred (Vol. 92, No. 7 (December 1, 1995))
by Walter Dean Myers Year Published: 11RThis is the innovative story of 16-year old Steve Harmon’s trial, told with the help of Steve’s journal entries. During the opening remarks of the trial, the prosecutor calls Steve a “monster,” based on his supposed role in the shooting of a local convenience-store owner. As Steve prepares a movie script about his life, the reader becomes both a juror and a witness during the trial. by Jodi Picoult Year Published: 12R and 12R Inclusion - Search for Self - Reading and Writing for College
Nineteen Minutes deals with the truth and consequences of a small town high school shooting. Set in idyllic Sterling, New Hampshire, Nineteen Minutes offers readers a glimpse of what would cause a 17-year-old to wake up one day, load his backpack with four guns, and kill nine students and one teacher in the span of nineteen minutes.
by Malcolm Gladwell Year Published: 2008 11H
Gladwell ... sets out to provide an understanding of success using outliers, men and women with skills, talent, and drive who do things out of the ordinary. He contends that we must look beyond the merits of a successful individual to understand his culture, where he comes from, his friends and family, and the community values he inherits and shares. We learn that society’s rules play a large role in who makes it and who does not. Success is a gift, and when opportunities are presented, some people have the strength and presence of mind to seize them, exhibiting qualities such as persistence and doggedness. Successful people are the products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy, and success ultimately is not exceptional or unattainable, nor does it depend upon innate ability. It is an attitude of willingness to try without regard for the sacrifice required. This is an excellent book for a wide range of library patrons."
by Mark Twain Year Published: 11AP Language and Composition"Switched at birth by a young slave woman attempting to protect her son from the horrors of slavery, a light-skinned infant changes places with the master's white son. This simple premise is the basis of Pudd'nhead Wilson, a compelling drama that contains all the elements of a classic 19th-century mystery: reversed identities, a ghastly crime, an eccentric detective, and a tense courtroom scene."- Amazon by Emma Donoghue Year Published: 12R and 12R Inclusion - Search for Self - Reading and Writing for College
Five-year-old Jack is the narrator of this fascinating look at a world that consists of one room, an eleven-by-eleven foot space. Since this room contains the only reality Jack has ever known, the reader is granted a glimpse into his imagination’s ability to manufacture endless wonders from the most mundane objects. Jack’s “ma” struggles to create a normal life for her son even though she has been a prisoner for seven years. Ma knows that she can’t maintain her sanity much longer, so she sets out to escape with Jack’s help.
by Nellie Bly Year Published: 9H"Nellie Bly took an undercover journalist assignment to pretend to be insane to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at mental asylums. After a night of practicing deranged expressions in front of a mirror, she checked into a working-class boarding-house where she feigned insanity so well that everyone was convinced. She was then examined by several doctors, who all declared her to be insane, too.
Committed to an asylum, Bly experienced its dire conditions firsthand: horrible spoiled food; the patients mistreated and abused; unclean and unsanitary conditions. Furthermore, speaking with her fellow patients, Bly was convinced that some were as sane as she was. After ten days, Bly was released from the asylum with her editor's help and she published her experience in book form as "Ten Days in a Mad-House.'" - Amazon
by Sherman Alexie Year Published: 9R
In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. This heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written tale, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, is based on the author’s own experiences and chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he seems destined to live.
by Alan P. Lightman Year Published: 2013 12H
"Theoretical physicist and novelist Lightman presents seven elegantly provocative “universe” essays that elucidate complex scientific thought in the context of everyday experiences and concerns. In the title piece, he traces the great cosmological shakeup that has top physicists theorizing that our universe is but one of many “with wildly varying properties.” Lightman brings rigor and candor to his analysis of the coexistence of religion and science. He takes on our misperceptions about time and grapples with the “deep question” of why symmetry abounds in nature, from snowflakes to the Higgs boson. After blowing our minds with descriptions of “galaxies and stars so distant their images have taken billions of years to reach our eyes,” he wonders if we accept this realm as part of our understanding of nature. And in “The Disembodied Universe,” he considers the implications of our enchantment with the virtual cosmos at our fingertips. Ranging from ancient intuitions and calculations to today’s high-tech inquiries, Lightman celebrates our grand quest for knowledge and takes measure of the challenges our discoveries deliver." - Booklist (December 1, 2013 (Vol. 110, No. 7))
by Mark Haddon Year Published: 11R
This mystery story is told from the point of view of the 15-year old, autistic Christopher Boone. When the neighbor’s poodle is murdered, Christopher sets out to solve the mystery in the same manner as Sherlock Holmes, one of his favorite characters. The novel goes beyond a mystery as the reader views the nature of autism and the workings of the mind.
by Mitch Albom Year Published: 9R
After dying in an accident, amusement park maintenance man Eddie finds himself in the five heavens of the five people who have significantly affected his life.
by Lois Lowry Year Published: 10RIn a grim story set in a totalitarian community somewhere in the future, in a world devoid of conflicts, poverty, divorce, unemployment, and injustice, or so it seems, Jonas awaits with fear the Ceremony of the Twelves and the assignment that will be his life-work. by Jeannette Walls Year Published: 2009 11H, IB HL Yr 1
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
by John Steinbeck Year Published: 12AP"First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads-driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity." - Amazon by Yann Martel Year Published: 2003 12H – Twentieth Century Literature as Philosophy
Martel’s imaginative and unforgettable book is a story of adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year old Pi Patel is raised in India, where he tries on various “faiths.” Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family, and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26 foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450 pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
by Tim O'Brien Year Published: 11H
The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and, of course, the character Tim O'Brien who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of 43. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships we see their isolation and loneliness, their rage and fear. They miss their families, their girlfriends and buddies; they miss the lives they left back home. Yet they find sympathy and kindness for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the mine field, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other, because in Vietnam they are the only family they have. We hear the voices of the men and build images upon their dialogue. The way they tell stories about others, we hear them telling stories about themselves.
by Malcolm Gladwell Year Published: 2000 10H
"Gladwell, a New Yorker staff writer, offers an incisive and piquant theory of social dynamics that is bound to provoke a paradigm shift in our understanding of mass behavioral change. Defining such dramatic turnarounds as the abrupt drop in crime on New York's subways, or the unexpected popularity of a novel, as epidemics, Gladwell searches for catalysts that precipitate the "tipping point," or critical mass, that generates those events. What he finds, after analyzing a number of fascinating psychological studies, is that tipping points are attributable to minor alterations in the environment, such as the eradication of graffiti, and the actions of a surprisingly small number of people, who fit the profiles of personality types that he terms connectors, mavens, and salesmen. As he applies his strikingly counterintuitive hypotheses to everything from the "stickiness," or popularity, of certain children's television shows to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, Gladwell reveals that our cherished belief in the autonomy of the self is based in great part on wishful thinking." - Booklist (Vol. 96, No. 12 (February 15, 2000))
by Todd Strasser Year Published: 1981 Special Class English 11
"Presents a fictionalization of a real experiment at a California high school in which a history teacher started a fascist youth movement in an effort to show his students that the Holocaust could indeed happen again." - Follett
by Zora Neale Hurston Year Published: 12AP
One of the most poetic works of fiction by a black writer in the first half of the twentieth century, this novel is also one of the most revealing treatments in modern literature of a woman's quest for a satisfying life.
by Harper Lee Year Published: 9HThe story follows the family of Atticus Finch, a respected lawyer, who defends a black man accused of assaulting a white woman in the deep south of America during the depression. by Laurie Halse Anderson Year Published: 11R"High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn't believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father's boss's daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy, and Tyler's secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in school, in his family, and in the world." - Amazon by Neal Shusterman Year Published: 10R"In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called "unwinding." Unwinding ensures that the child's life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child's body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound." by Cheryl Strayed Year Published: 2011 11H, I HL Yr 1
"Strayed tells the story of her emotional devastation after the death of her mother and the weeks she spent hiking the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail. As her family, marriage, and sanity go to pieces, ...[c]onvinced that nothing else can save her, she latches onto the unlikely idea of a long solo hike. Woefully unprepared (she fails to read about the trail, buy boots that fit, or pack practically), she relies on the kindness and assistance of those she meets along the way, much as McCandless did. Clinging to the books she lugs along—Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich—Strayed labors along the demanding trail, documenting her bruises, blisters, and greater troubles." - from Booklist (December 15, 2011 (Vol. 108, No. 8)).