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  1. #1

    School outside reading assignment

    we have a assignment for outside reading, and we have to choose from a list... we're reading to kill a mockingbird right now so it's sort of related to those... wondering if anyone could give feedback on some of these books on the list. I'm putting ones that I might be interested in.

    If any are fantasy, please let me know

    Looking for Alaska
    The Road
    Brave New World
    The Left Hand of Darkness

    THE REST OF THE LIST:

    Code:
    Agee, James. A Death in the Family. 1957.
    The enchanted childhood summer of 1915 suddenly becomes a baffling experience for Rufus Follet when his father dies.
    
    Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina. 1992.
    Bone confronts poverty, the troubled marriage of her mother and stepfather, and the stigma of being considered "white trash" as she comes of age in South Carolina. ***mature content***
    
    Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of Butterflies. 1994.
    Dede, the only survivor of the four Mirabel sisters, code named Mariposas or butterflies, reveals their role in the liberation of the Dominican Republic from the dictator Trujillo.
    
    Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. 1986.
    In Gilead, a Christian fundamentalist dystopia, fertile lower-class women serve as birth-mothers for the upper class.
    
    Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower. 1993.
    Lauren Olamina, who suffers from a hereditary trait called "hyperempathy" that causes her to feel others' pain physically, journeys north along the dangerous highways of twentieth-first century California.
    
    Emecheta, Buchi. Bride Price. 1976.
    Aku-nna, a very young Ibo girl, and Chike, her teacher, fall in love despite tribal custom forbidding their romance.
    
    Faulkner, William. The Bear. 1931.
    Ike McCaslin's hunting trips for the legendary bear, Old Ben, are played out against opposing ideas of corruption and innocence.
    
    Gardner, John. Grendel. 1971.
    In a unique interpretation of the Beowulf legend, the monster Grendel relates his struggle to understand the ugliness in himself and mankind in the brutal world of fourteenth-century Denmark.
    
    Gibbons, Kaye. Ellen Foster. 1987.
    Casting an unflinching yet humorous eye on her situation, eleven-year-old Ellen survives her mother's death, an abusive father, and uncaring relatives to find for herself a loving home and a new mama.
    
    Hemingway, Ernest. Farewell to Arms. 1929.
    World War I is the setting for this love story of an English nurse and a wounded American ambulance officer.
    
    Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. 1951.
    Emerging from a kaleidoscope of experiences and tasted pleasures, Siddhartha transcends to a state of peace and mystic holiness in this strangely simple story.
    
    Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. 1932.
    In a chilling vision of the future, babies are produced in bottles and exist in a mechanized world without soul.
    
    Keneally, Thomas. Schindler's List. 1982.
    Oskar Schindler, a rich factory owner, risks his life and spends his personal fortune to save Jews listed as his workers during World War II.
    
    King, Laurie R. The Beekeeper's Apprentice, or, on the Segregation of the Queen. 1994.
    Retired Sherlock Holmes meets his intellectual match in 15-year-old Mary Russell, who challenges him to investigate yet another case.
    
    Kosinski, Jerzy. Painted Bird. 1965.
    An abandoned dark-haired child wanders alone through isolated villages of Eastern Europe in World War II.
    
    LeGuin, Ursula. The Left Hand of Darkness. 1969.
    First envoy to the technologically primitive world of Winter, Al must deal with a hostile climate; a suspicious, bickering government; and his own conventional sexual mores.
    
    McCullers, Carson. The Member of the Wedding. 1946.
    A young Southern girl is determined to be the third party on a honeymoon, despite all advice.
    
    Malamud, Bernard. The Fixer. 1966.
    Victim of a vicious anti-Semitic conspiracy, Yakov Bok is in a Russian prison with only his indomitable will to sustain him.
    
    Markandaya, Kamala. Nectar In A Sieve. 1954.
    Natural disasters, an arranged marriage, and industrialization of her village are the challenges Rukmani must face as the bride of a peasant farmer in southern India.
    
    Mason, Bobbi Ann. In Country. 1985.
    After her father is killed in the Vietnam War, Sam Hughes lives with an uncle whom she suspects suffers from the effects of Agent Orange, and struggles to come to terms with the war's impact on her family.
    
    Morrison, Toni. Beloved. 1987.
    Preferring death over slavery for her children, Sethe murders her infant daughter who later mysteriously returns and almost destroys the lives of her mother and sister.
    
    O'Connor, Flannery. Everything That Rises Must Converge. 1965.
    Stories about misfits in small Southern towns force the reader to confront hypocrisy and complacency.
    
    Potok, Chaim. The Chosen. 1967.
    A baseball injury brings together two Jewish boys, one Hasidic, the other Orthodox, first in hostility but finally in friendship.
    
    Power, Susan. The Grass Dancer. 1994.
    Ending in the 1980s with the love story of Charlene Thunder and grass dancer Harley Wind Soldier, this multigenerational tale of a Sioux family is told in the voices of the living and the dead.
    
    Shaara, Michael. Killer Angels. 1974.
    Officers and foot soldiers from both the Union and Confederacy steel themselves for the bloody Battle of Gettysburg.
    
    Uchida, Yoshiko. Picture Bride. 1987.
    Hana Omiya journeys to America in the early 1900s to marry a man she has never met.
    
    Watson, Larry. Montana 1948. 1993.
    The summer he is 12, David watches as his family and small town are shattered by scandal and tragedy.
    
    Yolen, Jane. Briar Rose. 1992.
    Disturbed by her grandmother Gemma's unique version of Sleeping Beauty, Rebecca seeks the truth behind the fairy tale.
    
    2009 Literature and Language Arts List (Outstanding Books for the College-Bound and the Lifelong Learner)
    (Source: Young Adult Library Services Association)
    
    Anderson, M.T. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party. 2006. Candlewick.
    The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. II: The Kingdom on the Waves. 2008. Candlewick.
    Set during the American Revolution, Octavian is raised as a pampered African prince by a society of Enlightenment philosophers who view him as an experiment. Realizing that his freedom is an illusion, Octavian sets off on a journey to find freedom and a place in the world. These books will challenge everything you have ever learned about the Revolutionary War.
    
    Cameron, Peter. Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You. 2007. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 
    James hates everyone except his grandmother. Take a look at life through this brilliant and mischievous New York teen’s eyes as he tries to figure out life and his place in it.
    
    Cisneros, Sandra. Caramelo. 2003. Knopf/Vintage.
    LaLa learns the stories of her Awful Grandmother and weaves them into a colorful family history. The “caramelo,” a striped shawl begun by her Great-Grandmother, symbolizes their traditions.
    
    Green, John. Looking for Alaska. 2005. Penguin.
    Join Miles Halter, who is intrigued by famous last words, as he heads off to boarding school in search of the “Great Perhaps.” What he finds is a beautiful but troubled girl named Alaska. ***mature content***
    
    Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. 2004. Knopf/Vintage.
    Christopher has two mysteries to solve: who killed Wellington the dog and what happened to his mother. But Christopher, who has Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism, approaches these mysteries and the world itself in a unique and special way.
    
    Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. 2004. Penguin/Riverhead.
    Years after he flees Afghanistan, Amir, now an American citizen, returns to his native land and attempts to atone for the betrayal of his best friend before he fled Kabul and the Taliban.
    
    Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. 2005. Knopf.
    Only special students are chosen to attend Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school tucked away in the English countryside. The chilling truth of their special nature slowly unfolds as we follow the stories of three former students. 
    
    Jones, Lloyd. Mister Pip. 2008. Dell Publishing/Dial Press.
    Matilda’s Pacific Island village has been torn apart by civil war. Against this harsh backdrop, Mr. Watts, a lonely British expatriate, maintains calm by reading Dicken’s Great Expectations aloud to the village children, transforming their lives.
    
    Kidd, Sue Monk. Secret Life of Bees. 2008. Penguin.
    Searching for the truth about her mother’s life and death, a grieving Lily finds the answers, love, and acceptance where she least expects it. 
    
    Kyle, Aryn. The God of Animals. 2007. Simon & Schuster/Scribner. 
    Twelve-year old Alice must face issues beyond her years. Her sister has run off, her mother won’t get out of bed, and the family horse farm is failing. Can she keep the family from falling apart?
    
    Maguire, Gregory. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. 2007. HarperCollins. 
    The Wizard of Oz retold from the point of view of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. You’ll never think of Oz the same way again. 
    
    McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. 2008. Knopf/Vintage. 
    After an apocalyptic catastrophe, a father and his young son embark on a grim and perilous quest following the road to the sea.
    
    Murakami, Haruki. Kafka on the Shore. 2006. Knopf/Vintage. 
    Reality and fantasy converge in this story of a Japanese runaway’s quest to find his long-lost sister and mother.
    
    Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America. 2005. Knopf/Vintage. 
    This is a fascinating alternate history that takes a hard look at one of America’s legendary heroes, Charles Lindbergh, and at how bigotry and fear can shape politics. 
    
    Sebold, Alice. Lucky: A Memoir. 2002. Little Brown/Back Bay. 
    “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.” With these words, Sebold recounts the brutal rape that she was “lucky” to survive. Tragedy and hope combine as she makes her way through a survivor’s maze of emotions. ***mature content***
    
    Thompson, Craig. Blankets. 2003. Top Shelf Productions. 
    A young man questions his faith and experiences bittersweet first love in this autobiographical and groundbreaking graphic novel.
    
    Zusak, Marcus. The Book Thief. 2006. Random House/Knopf. 
    Living in Nazi Germany, young Liesel and her family choose to lie and steal to protect a Jewish refugee hiding in their basement. Narrated by Death, this is not your typical World War II story.
    Last edited by clonewars222; April 30th, 2009 at 05:44 PM.

  2. #2
    and I like to party. Seak's Avatar
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    The Road by Cormac McCarthy is really good; post-apocalyptic (plus it's super short and lots of pages are filled with dialogue). It stayed in my head for a while after I read it.

    I also really liked Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. (It's also really short - about 150 pages I think)

    Brave New World by Huxley is futuristic, sci-fi. I haven't read it yet, but I hear it's great.

    I wish I would have done something like this when I did summer reading. That would have gotten me out of some really crappy books.
    Last edited by Seak; April 30th, 2009 at 06:03 PM.

  3. #3
    Anotter one Trin's Avatar
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    Huh, that's quite a list, and there's a couple of great books too

    The Road is one of my last year's favourites - a great post-apocalyptic fiction. I'd definitely recommend it. I've also read Brave New World and The Left Hand of Darkness, but didn't like them half as much as The Road. Brave New World is a classic, though, and The Left Hand of Darkness is definitely well-written, so neither of them is a bad choice.

    About other books ... I heard that Parable of the Sower is a very good post-apocalyptic book but haven't read it myself. Books like Siddharta, Beloved, Schindler's List and Farewell to Arms are classics, so you might want to read them just because of that. I've read the first two - Siddharta was ok and Beloved was actually very good - and I tried to read Farewell to Arms but gave up after 50 or so pages. The Kite Runner, Kafka on the Shore and The Curious Incident of the Dog are pretty popular these days and I hear they're good; I've read only The Curious Incident and liked it a lot.

    I've never heard of any of the other books ... I hope this helps

  4. #4
    I've gotta vote for Brave New World just because a lot of the themes have entered into common speech (like "soma"). And it's a great book.

    I haven't read it myself, but everyone I know loves Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, but apparently the technology is a little dated.

  5. #5
    Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. 1986.
    Slow moving, but Atwood's prose is beautiful and rich. There's debate among s.f. fans that it's not really science fiction; at the very least it is associational. The main reason for the debate, I think, is that they dispute the politics as not ever being possible. I'm not so sure, myself.

    Faulkner, William. The Bear. 1931.
    Sort of Moby Dick in the old South told in Faulkner's usual prose, rhythmic and flowing but sometimes hard for readers new to him to get used to. It's a coming-of-age tale, which might be why your teachers connected it to To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm a bit surprised by this because it's a novella rather than a full novel, or at least I've only ever seen it packaged with Faulkner's short stories.

    Gibbons, Kaye. Ellen Foster. 1987.
    Another coming-of-age tale, and a well-told, involving story. Also short. Think of Ellen Foster as a sort of female Huck Finn.

    Hemingway, Ernest. Farewell to Arms. 1929.
    Not my favorite Hemingway, but most anything by Hemingway in this time period is worth being familiar with.

    Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. 1932.
    Probably a core book for anyone who wants to know the evolution of science fiction. I also found it pretty funny in spots.

    Morrison, Toni. Beloved. 1987.
    I think this is one of the great ghost stories of the 20th century, right up there with Henry James' "Turn of the Screw" and maybe even a slight notch stronger than Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. Emotionally wrenching in spots, and maybe all the moreso for being based on a true story.

    O'Connor, Flannery. Everything That Rises Must Converge. 1965.
    O'Connor is a great craftsman, but I question her compassion for her characters and I sense something of a puppet-master behind them. That said, I am in a minority of, roughly, one on this. Further, in spite of my reservations, the short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find," which I believe is in this collection, is an exception. It's a terrific, suspenseful, moving short story.

    Yolen, Jane. Briar Rose. 1992.
    A mostly fine novel, though I have reservations about the success of the frame story and especially one particular sub-plot of it. Still, the book is riveting when it gets to telling the grandmother's story. Well worth reading.


    Good luck with your choice. As others have noted, I wish I'd had such a long, diverse list to choose from.

    Randy M.
    Last edited by Randy M.; May 2nd, 2009 at 10:36 AM.

  6. #6
    I'm thinking of the Road, it seems like the closest to science fiction lol

  7. #7
    Mod Lady Moderator Eldanuumea's Avatar
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    Ursula LeGuin and Octavia Butler are top-notch fantasy/sci-fi authors.

  8. #8
    Peckish hippokrene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seak View Post
    Brave New World by Huxley is futuristic, sci-fi. I haven't read it yet, but I hear it's great.
    I wouldn’t call it great.

    It’s a quick read with some interesting social ideas and it’s part of our literary heritage.

  9. #9
    Mod Lady Moderator Eldanuumea's Avatar
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    What makes Brave New World interesting and relevant is that Huxley foresaw so many things that we take for granted. The "feelies" - movies where the viewer can connect somehow and feel what's happening - that's virtual reality. Soma, the drug that makes everything somehow smoother, surely is a forerunner of all of the mood-stabilizing pharmaceuticals so many of us depend upon these days.


    If you want to read a mind-opening novel, try Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein. That should be on your reading list.

  10. #10
    Peckish hippokrene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldanuumea View Post
    What makes Brave New World interesting and relevant is that Huxley foresaw so many things that we take for granted. The "feelies" - movies where the viewer can connect somehow and feel what's happening - that's virtual reality. Soma, the drug that makes everything somehow smoother, surely is a forerunner of all of the mood-stabilizing pharmaceuticals so many of us depend upon these days.
    I disagree.

    Soma is a fantasy happy pill. The idea is that it produces an instantaneous euphoria with no lessening of potency over time, no crashing, no harm to the body or brain, and a ‘benign’ addiction.

    Soma is what people wish modern mood-stabilizers were. It’s the ‘perfect high’ that humanity has sought since before history began. Huxley didn’t come up with the idea, at most he might have been the first to put it in pill form.

    However, the reality of modern mood-stabilizers is nothing like Soma. From what we know of the human brain, a Soma-like drug isn’t possible.

  11. #11
    It's called pot.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Eldanuumea View Post
    What makes Brave New World interesting and relevant is that Huxley foresaw so many things that we take for granted. The "feelies" - movies where the viewer can connect somehow and feel what's happening - that's virtual reality. Soma, the drug that makes everything somehow smoother, surely is a forerunner of all of the mood-stabilizing pharmaceuticals so many of us depend upon these days.


    If you want to read a mind-opening novel, try Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein. That should be on your reading list.
    Ugh, to each his own but I recommend you stay far far away.

    Anyways, haven't read too many books on the list, Siddahartha, Brave New World and Left Hand of Darkness. None of them blew me away but I didn't hate them either (looking at you Stranger in a Strange Land). Brave New World is probably considered more of a classic then the others so maybe it's your best bet. Too bad Slaughterhouse 5 or One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, or Catch 22 weren't on the list, those were great reads.

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