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SUMMER READING
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2016 Summer Reading List

 

Summer reading books are available in the SEHS OverDrive collection and in print at the SEHS Library. Visit the library website for details.

 

Freshmen (entering grade 9)


All Freshmen will read two required books for summer reading:


They Dared Return: The True Story of Jewish Spies Behind the Lines in Nazi Germany, by Patrick K. O’Donnell

Written by leading combat historian and St. Edward alumnus Patrick K. O’Donnell ‘88, They Dared Return is the true story of a real life story of bravery as daring or more than Quentin Tarantino’s  Inglourious Basterds fictional Hollywood film. O’Donnell delivers a riveting narrative of the covert World War II action.


STUDY GUIDE


The Servant, by James Hunter

From the author’s website: The Servant is an allegory that teaches the timeless principles of Servant Leadership.  The story concerns a troubled executive who is also struggling as a husband, father and coach.  A former Fortune 500 executive (now turned Monk) takes him under his wing and teaches him Servant Leadership.


STUDY GUIDE



Sophomores (entering grade 10)


All Sophomores will read two required books for summer reading:

Washington’s Immortals:The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution,  by Patrick K. O’Donnell

Written by leading combat historian and St. Edward alumnus Patrick K. O’Donnell ‘88, Washington’s Immortals chronicles the story of bravery and service of a band of brothers who served heroically in the Revolutionary War. O’Donnell, who will speak at St. Edward in the fall,  combines meticulous historical detail with his flair for storytelling.   


STUDY GUIDE forthcoming


Stuff Matters, by Mark Miodownik

University professor Miodownik accomplishes a bit of a miracle here by making a discussion of materials science not only accessible but witty as well. Spinning out of a surprisingly personal introduction, this Bill Brysonesque study of steel, paper, chocolate, and more takes readers deeply inside the history of the 11 common materials captured in a photograph taken of the author relaxing on his outdoor deck…. With boundless enthusiasm, he turns considerations of the most mundane of topics into dazzling tours of ancient Rome and Willy Wonka’s factory, along with a look at the intricacies of Samurai sword making. At a time when science is maligned, first-rate storyteller Miodownik entertains and educates with pop-culture references, scholarly asides, and nods to everyone from the Six Million Dollar Man to the Luminère brothers. A delight for the curious reader. --Colleen Mondor in Booklist


STUDY GUIDE


Juniors (entering grade 11)


All  Juniors will read two required books for summer reading. The first is:


Washington’s Immortals:The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution,  by Patrick K. O’Donnell

Written by leading combat historian and St. Edward alumnus Patrick K. O’Donnell ‘88, Washington’s Immortals chronicles the story of bravery and service of a band of brothers who served heroically in the Revolutionary War. O’Donnell, who will speak at St. Edward in the fall,  combines meticulous historical detail with his flair for storytelling.   


STUDY GUIDE forthcoming

The second junior summer reading title will be assigned by Social Studies course:

Juniors in AP U.S. History will read America at 1750: A Social Portrait, by Richard Hofstadter  

From the publisher: Demonstrates how the colonies developed into the first nation created under the influences of nationalism, modern capitalism and Protestantism.

” A brilliant interpretation of Colonial society on the eve of the Revolution.” –David Herbert Donald, Commentary

>> Assignment:  Read and analyze America at 1750 and complete this document. Due: Monday August 29, 2016


All other Juniors will read The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw

"In the spring of 1984, I went to the northwest of France, to Normandy, to prepare an NBC documentary on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day, the massive and daring Allied invasion of Europe that marked the beginning of the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. There, I underwent a life-changing experience. As I walked the beaches with the American veterans who had returned for this anniversary, men in their sixties and seventies, and listened to their stories, I was deeply moved and profoundly grateful for all they had done. Ten years later, I returned to Normandy for the fiftieth anniversary of the invasion, and by then I had come to understand what this generation of Americans meant to history. It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced."  From the author, Hardcover Edition.



Seniors (entering grade 12)


All Seniors will read two required summer reading titles. The first is:


We Were One:  Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines who took Fallujah,  by Patrick K. O’Donnell

Patrick O’Donnell, St. Edward class of 1988, is a noted military historian and the author of several books on military history.  Though centered on more recent events – the 2004 assault on Fallujah during the war in Iraq – We Were One is written as a gripping historical account of the time O’Donnell was embedded with the troops.  With US forces continuing to engage with ISIS in the Middle East, We Were One is a relevant read for seniors just a few years younger than the story’s main characters.


STUDY GUIDE


The second senior summer reading title will be assigned by English course:

Seniors in English 4 (Course # 045)  will read The Dead Fathers Club, by Matt Haig  

Based on the plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which will be featured in senior English this year, The Dead Fathers Club is a quirky, modern update by British author Matt Haig.


Seniors in AP English, IB English, or College Credit Plus English  will choose ONE of the following to read (all synopses are from www.goodreads.com):


Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer (2014)

Area X—a remote and lush terrain—has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer. A new team embarks. As they press deeper into the unknown—navigating new terrain and new challenges—the threat to the outside world becomes more daunting.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (2014)

Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

 

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

 

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.


City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (2001)

In City of Saints and Madmen, Jeff VanderMeer has reinvented the literature of the fantastic. You hold in your hands an invitation to a place unlike any you’ve ever visited–an invitation delivered by one of our most audacious and astonishing literary magicians.


City of elegance and squalor. Of religious fervor and wanton lusts. And everywhere, on the walls of courtyards an...more 

In City of Saints and Madmen, Jeff VanderMeer has reinvented the literature of the fantastic. You hold in your hands an invitation to a place unlike any you’ve ever visited–an invitation delivered by one of our most audacious and astonishing literary magicians.


City of elegance and squalor. Of religious fervor and wanton lusts. And everywhere, on the walls of courtyards and churches, an incandescent fungus of mysterious and ominous origin. In Ambergris, a would-be suitor discovers that a sunlit street can become a killing ground in the blink of an eye. An artist receives an invitation to a beheading–and finds himself enchanted. And a patient in a mental institution is convinced he’s made up a city called Ambergris, imagined its every last detail, and that he’s really from a place called Chicago.…


By turns sensuous and terrifying, filled with exotica and eroticism, this interwoven collection of stories, histories, and “eyewitness” reports invokes a universe within a puzzlebox where you can lose–and find–yourself again.

 

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (1999)

Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods--World War II and the present. Our 1940s heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, crypt analyst extraordinaire, and gung-ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They're part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication codes while simultaneously preventing the enemy from figuring out that their codes have been broken. Their job boils down to layer upon layer of deception. Dr. Alan Turing is also a member of 2702, and he explains the unit's strange workings to Waterhouse. “When we want to sink a convoy, we send out an observation plane first... Of course, to observe is not its real duty--we already know exactly where the convoy is. Its real duty is to be observed... Then, when we come round and sink them, the Germans will not find it suspicious.”

 

All of this secrecy resonates in the present-day story line, in which the grandchildren of the WWII heroes--inimitable programming geek Randy Waterhouse and the lovely and powerful Amy Shaftoe—team up to help create an offshore data haven in Southeast Asia and maybe uncover some gold once destined for Nazi coffers. To top off the paranoiac tone of the book, the mysterious Enoch Root, key member of Detachment 2702 and the Societas Eruditorum, pops up with an unbreakable encryption scheme left over from WWII to befuddle the 1990s protagonists with conspiratorial ties.


The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears (2002)

In national bestsellerThe Dream of Scipio, acclaimed author Iain Pears intertwines three intellectual mysteries, three love stories, and three of the darkest moments in human history. United by a classical text called "The Dream of Scipio," three men struggle to find refuge for their hearts and minds from the madness that surrounds them in the final days of the Roman Empire...more

In national bestseller The Dream of Scipio, acclaimed author Iain Pears intertwines three intellectual mysteries, three love stories, and three of the darkest moments in human history. United by a classical text called "The Dream of Scipio," three men struggle to find refuge for their hearts and minds from the madness that surrounds them in the final days of the Roman Empire, in the grim years of the Black Death, and in the direst hours of World War II. An ALA Booklist Editors' Choice.


Generation A by Douglas Coupland (2009)

“Now you young twerps want a new name for your generation? Probably not, you

just want jobs, right? Well, the media do us all such tremendous favors when they call you Generation X, right? Two clicks from the very end of the alphabet. I hereby declare you Generation A, as much at the beginning of a series of astonishing triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago.

— Kurt Vonnegut, Syracuse University commencement address May 8, 1994

A brilliant, timely and very Couplandesque novel about honey bees and the world we may soon live in. Once again, Douglas Coupland captures the spirit of a generation….


In the near future bees are extinct—until one autumn when five people are stung in different places around the world. This shared experience unites them in a way they never could have imagined.

Generation A mirrors 1991’s Generation X. It explores new ways of looking at the act of reading and storytelling in a digital world.


Ghostwritten by David Mitchell (1999)

A gallery attendant at the Hermitage. A young jazz buff in Tokyo. A crooked British lawyer in Hong Kong. A disc jockey in Manhattan. A physicist in Ireland. An elderly woman running a tea shack in rural China. A cult-controlled terrorist in Okinawa. A musician in London. A transmigrating spirit in Mongolia. What is the common thread of coincidence or destiny that connects the lives of these nine souls in nine far-flung countries, stretching across the globe from east to west? What pattern do their linked fates form through time and space?

A writer of pyrotechnic virtuosity and profound compassion, a mind to which nothing human is alien, David Mitchell spins genres, cultures, and ideas like gossamer threads around and through these nine linked stories. Many forces bind these lives, but at root all involve the same universal longing for connection and transcendence, an axis of commonality that leads in two directions—to creation and to destruction. In the end, as lives converge with a fearful symmetry, Ghostwritten comes full circle, to a point at which a familiar idea—that whether the planet is vast or small is merely a matter of perspective—strikes home with the force of a new revelation. It marks the debut of a writer of astonishing gifts.


Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland (1999)           

'What did Karen see that December night? What pictures of tomorrow could so disturb her that she would flee into a refuge of bottomless sleep? Why would she leave me?'

It's 15 December, 1979, and Richard's girlfriend Karen has entered a deep coma. She only took a couple of valium washed down with a cocktail, but now she's locked away in suspended animation, oblivious to the passage of time. What if she were to wake up decades later–a 17-year-old girl in a distant future, a future where the world has gone dark?

 

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)

House of LeavesYears ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programme...more 

Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth–musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies—the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.


Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

 

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (1997)

A national bestseller and one of the New York Public Library's Books to Remember, An Instance of the Fingerpost is a thrilling historical mystery from Iain Pears.

"It is 1663, and England is wracked with intrigue and civil strife. When an Oxford don is murdered, it seems at first that the incident can have nothing to do with great matters of church and state....Yet, little is as it seems in this gripping novel, which dramatizes the ways in which witnesses can see the same events yet remember them falsely. Each of four narrators—a Venetian medical student, a young man intent on proving his late father innocent of treason, a cryptographer, and an archivist—fingers a different culprit...an erudite and entertaining tour de force." —People

 

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.


S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst (2013)

A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.

THE BOOK: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V. M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey.

THE WRITER: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumours that swirl around him.

THE READERS: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.

S. , conceived by filmmaker J. J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst, is the chronicle of two readers finding each other in the margins of a book and enmeshing themselves in a deadly struggle between forces they don’t understand. It is also Abrams and Dorst’s love letter to the written word.



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