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This is just a basic list that is best for 12th graders. There are many more books not on this list that will be suggested by specific subjects. You can find the printable list here as well as in our printable section.
The Best American Poetry 2014 (The Best American Poetry series) by David Lehamn
Since 1988, The Best American Poetry has been the leading anthology of contemporary American poetry. TheWashington Post said of the 2017 edition, “The poems…have a wonderful cohesion and flow, as if each contributes to a larger narrative about life today…While readers may question some of the selections—an annual sport with this series—most will find much that resonates, including the insightful author notes at the back of the anthology.”
The state of the world has inspired many to write poetry, and to read it—to share all the rage, beauty, and every other thing under the sun in the way that only poetry can. Now the foremost anthology of contemporary American poetry returns, guest edited by Major Jackson, the poet and editor who, “makes poems that rumble and rock” (poet Dorianne Laux). This brilliant 2019 edition includes some of the year’s most defining, striking, and innovative poems and poets. – Amazon
The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle
Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. In passionate, accessible verses of her own, Engle evokes the voice of this book-loving feminist and abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of fourteen, and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this exceptional tribute. – Amazon
You Don’t Even Know Me: Stories and Poems About Boys by Sharon Flake
In 9 stories and 15 poems, Sharon G. Flake provides insight into the minds of a diverse group adolescent African American males. There’s Tow-Kaye, getting married at age 16 to love of his life, who’s pregnant. He knows it’s the right thing to do, but he’s scared to death. James writes in his diary about his twin brother’s terrible secret, which threatens to pull James down, too. Tyler explains what it’s like to be a player with the ladies. In a letter to his uncle, La’Ron confesses that he’s infected with HIV. Eric takes us on a tour of North Philly on the Fourth of July, when the heat could make a guy go crazy. Still, he loves his hood. These and other unforgettable characters come to life in this collection of urban male voices. Sharon’s G. Flake’s talent for telling it like it is will leave readers thinking differently, feeling deeply, and definitely wanting more. – Amazon
Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill
On a bleak February day in 1963 a young American poet died by her own hand, and passed into a myth that has since imprinted itself on the hearts and minds of millions. She was and is Sylvia Plath and Your Own, Sylvia is a portrait of her life, told in poems.
With photos and an extensive list of facts and sources to round out the reading experience, Your Own, Sylvia is a great curriculum companion to Plath’s The Bell Jar and Ariel, a welcoming introduction for newcomers, and an unflinching valentine for the devoted. – Amazon
Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.
Christine Heppermann’s collection of fifty poems puts the ideals of fairy tales right beside the life of the modern teenage girl. With piercing truths reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, this is a powerful and provocative book for every young woman. E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls it “a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that’s caustic, funny, and heartbreaking.”
Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again. – Amazon
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Her father is abusive, her mother is submissive, and her church looks the other way. Confused and angry, Pattyn Von Stratten acts out and is sent to live with an aunt on a Nevada ranch. She finds the love and acceptance she craves, with disturbing consequences. – Amazon
SOLD by Patricia McCormick
Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.
An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family’s debt – then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave. Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. – Amazon
Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love by Pat Mora
Beloved children’s book author and speaker Pat Mora has written an original collection of poems, each with a different teen narrator sharing unique thoughts, moments, sadness, or heart’s desire: the girl who loves swimming, plunging into the water that creates her own world; the guy who leaves flowers on the windshield of the girl he likes. Each of the teens in these 50 original poems, written using a variety of poetic forms, will be recognizable to the reader as the universal emotions, ideas, impressions, and beliefs float across the pages in these gracefully told verses. – Amazon
Street Love by Walter Dean Myers
Your first love is totally wrong for you.
Do you follow your heart?
Or do you run away?
What am I doing? He’ll take one quick look and wish he was anywhere else but here.
I’m already ashamed of what I think he will think of me, of the life I lead…
Yes, she is the fruit that will sustain me and yes, she brings a rain that I know can chill.
But it is a rain so sweet and sings a song my soul insists that I follow, if I would exist.
As more than I have ever, ever been if my mother calls it evil, then I embrace the sin. – Amazon
How I Discovered Poetry (Ala Notable Children’s Books. Older Readers) by Marilyn Nelson
A powerful and thought-provoking Civil Rights era memoir from one of America’s most celebrated poets.
Looking back on her childhood in the 1950s, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson tells the story of her development as an artist and young woman through fifty eye-opening poems. Readers are given an intimate portrait of her growing self-awareness and artistic inspiration along with a larger view of the world around her: racial tensions, the Cold War era, and the first stirrings of the feminist movement.
A first-person account of African-American history, this is a book to study, discuss, and treasure. – Amazon
A Fire in My Hands: A Book of Poems by Gary Soto
Few writers capture the everyday moments of life like Gary Soto. In direct and vivid poems, he draws from his own youth in California’s Central Valley to portray the joys and sorrows of young people. His writing focuses on Latino characters, yet speaks to readers of all ethnicities. Acclaimed by educators since its original publication in 1998, A Fire in My Hands has been revised and expanded in this new edition. Old and new fans of Soto’s work will welcome the return of his compelling poems. – Amazon
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
A Doll’s House (Norwegian: Et dukkehjem; also translated as A Doll House) is a three-act play in prose by Henrik Ibsen. It premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 December 1879, having been published earlier that month. The play is significant for its critical attitude toward 19th century marriage norms. It aroused great controversy at the time, as it concludes with the protagonist, Nora, leaving her husband and children because she wants to discover herself. Ibsen was inspired by the belief that “a woman cannot be herself in modern society,” since it is “an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint.” Its ideas can also be seen as having a wider application: Michael Meyer argued that the play’s theme is not women’s rights, but rather “the need of every individual to find out the kind of person he or she really is and to strive to become that person.” In a speech given to the Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights in 1898, Ibsen insisted that he “must disclaim the honor of having consciously worked for the women’s rights movement,” since he wrote “without any conscious thought of making propaganda,” his task having been “the description of humanity.” – Amazon
On the Razzle by Johann Nestroy and Tom Stoppard
This recent hit in London is a free adaptation of the 19th century farce by Johann Nestroy that provided the plot for Thornton Wilder’s The Merchant of Yonkers, which led to The Matchmaker, which led to Hello, Dolly. The story is basically one long chase, chiefly after two naughty grocer’s assistants who, when their master goes off on a binge with a new mistress, escape to Vienna on a spree. “While preserving the beautiful intricacies of this construction, Stoppard has embellished Razzle with a dazzle of verbal wit an unremitting firework display of puns, crossword puzzle tricks and sly sexual innuendos.” London Daily Telegraph . “Apart from Jumpers and The Importance of Being Earnest there may be no script in English funnier than On the Razzle.” – Amazon
A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O’Neill
Eugene O’Neill’s last completed play, A Moon for the Misbegotten is a sequel to his autobiographical Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Moon picks up eleven years after the events described in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, as Jim Tyrone (based on O’Neill’s older brother Jamie) grasps at a last chance at love under the full moonlight. – Amazon
Hamlet (Signet Classics Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare
Considered by many as Shakespeare’s masterpiece and one of the greatest dramas of all time, “Hamlet” is the story of its titular character, the Prince of Denmark who discovers that his uncle, Claudius, is responsible for the murder of his father. Claudius has murdered Hamlet’s father, his own brother, in order to usurp the throne of Denmark and to marry Hamlet’s widowed mother. Sunk into a state of despair, Hamlet is torn between his grief over his father’s death and his desire for revenge. “Hamlet” is a work of great complexity and as such has drawn many different critical interpretations. Hamlet has been seen as a victim of circumstance, as an impractical idealist, as an opportunist, as the sufferer of a great melancholy, and as a man blinded by his own desire for revenge. Through the great deliberation with which Hamlet ponders his revenge, Shakespeare brilliantly dramatizes the complex philosophical and ethical issues that are at stake with such a violent action. The depth of characterization and literary craft that is exhibited in the work has elevated -Amazon
The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays by Tom Stoppard
Culled from nearly twenty years of the playwright’s career, a showcase for Tom Stoppard’s dazzling range and virtuosic talent, The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays is essential reading for fans of modern drama. The plays in this collection reveal Stoppard’s sense of fun, his sense of theater, his sense of the absurd, and his gifts for parody and satire. – Amazon
After Magritte by Tom Stoppard
The play begins with an astonished policeman looking through the window of a house where a group of people are posed in a bizarre, surreal tableau reminiscent of the paintings of René Magritte. Finding this suspicious, he calls in his inspector.
Inside the room, a rational explanation for the tableau gradually becomes apparent. Two ballroom dancers, a man and a woman named Reginald and Thelma Harris, are hurriedly getting ready for an event. A lampshade which had used bullets as a counterweight has broken and a woman crawls on the floor to look for them. The mother plays the tuba.
The inspector arrives and asks about the family’s memories of a man they had seen outside of the Tate Gallery, where a René Magritte exhibit is being held. He invents an entirely false story, accusing the family of complicity in a crime known as the Crippled Minstrel Caper. As he continues, the stage picture becomes increasingly ridiculous. For instance, the couple offers the inspector a banana as the male dancer stands on one foot. One scene is even performed in total darkness. By the end of the play, the characters are posed in another Magritte-like tableau. -Wikipedia
Two Trains Running by Andrew Vachss
Electrifying, compelling, and ultimately terrifying, Two Trains Running is a galvanizing evocation of that moment in our history when the violent forces that would determine America’s future were just beginning to roil below the surface.
Once a devastated mill town, by 1959 Locke City has established itself as a thriving center of vice tourism. The city is controlled by boss Royal Beaumont, who took it by force many years ago and has held it against all comers since.
Now his domain is being threatened by an invading crime syndicate. But in a town where crime and politics are virtually indivisible, there are other players awaiting their turn onstage.
Emmett Till’s lynching has inflamed a nascent black revolutionary movement. A neo-Nazi organization is preparing for race war. Juvenile gangs are locked in a death struggle over useless pieces of “turf”. And some shadowy group is supplying them all with weapons. With an IRA unit and a Mafia family also vying for local supremacy, it’s no surprise that the whole town is under FBI surveillance. But that agency is being watched, too.
Beaumont ups the ante by importing a hired killer, Walker Dett, a master tactician whose trademark is wholesale destruction. But there are a number of wild cards in this game, including Jimmy Procter, an investigative reporter whose tools include stealth, favor-trading, and blackmail, and Sherman Layne, the one clean Locke City cop, whose informants range from an obsessed “watcher” who patrols the edge of the forest, where cars park for only one reason, to the madam of the county’s most expensive bordello. But Layne is guarding a secret of his own, one that could destroy more than his career.
Even the most innocent are drawn into the ultimate-stakes game – like Tussy Chambers, the beautiful waitress whose mystically deep connection with Walker Dett might inadvertently ignite the whole combustible mix.
In a stunning departure from his usual territory, Andrew Vachss gives us a masterful novel that is also an epic story of postwar America. Not since Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest has there been as searing a portrait of corruption in a small town. This is Vachss’ most ambitious, innovative, and explosive work yet. – Amazon
The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, generally known as Frankenstein, is a novel written by the British author Mary Shelley. The title of the novel refers to a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who learns how to create life and creates a being in the likeness of man, but larger than average and more powerful. In popular culture, people have tended to refer to the Creature as “Frankenstein”, despite this being the name of the scientist. Frankenstein is a novel infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. It was also a warning against the “over-reaching” of modern man and the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in the novel’s subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. The story has had an influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films. It is arguably considered the first fully realized science fiction novel.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
A masterpiece of ancient Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex follows the downfall of Oedipus, the King of Thebes, as he struggles to discover the source of a plague ravaging his kingdom. But the cause of the plague may be far closer to home than Oedipus expects.
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
Cyrano de Bergerac occupies a unique place in the modern theater. Deliberately disavowing realism and contemporary relevance, Edmond Rostand’s masterpiece represents a turning back in both time and spirit to an earlier age of high adventure and soaring idealism. Its magnificent hero, Cyrano—noble of soul and grotesque in appearance, gallant Gascon soldier, brilliant wit, and timid lover, alternately comic, heroic, tragic—represents one of the most challenging of all acting roles in its complexity and mercurial changes of mood. From its original production to the present day, Cyrano de Bergerac has enjoyed a charmed existence on the stage, its unflagging pace of action and eloquence of language enchanting critics and public alike. Here, in a superlative translation, is the ultimate triumph of the great French romantic tradition—a work which, in the words of the French critic Lemaître, “prolongs, unites and blends…three centuries of comic fantasy and moral grace.”
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.
He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her.
This was not because he was cowardly and abject, quite the contrary; but for some time past he had been in an overstrained irritable condition, verging on hypochondria. He had become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady, but anyone at all. He was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance; he had lost all desire to do so. Nothing that any landlady could do had a real terror for him. But to be stopped on the stairs, to be forced to listen to her trivial, irrelevant gossip, to pestering demands for payment, threats and complaints, and to rack his brains for excuses, to prevaricate, to lie—no, rather than that, he would creep down the stairs like a cat and slip out unseen.
This evening, however, on coming out into the street, he became acutely aware of his fears.
“I want to attempt a thing like that and am frightened by these trifles,” he thought, with an odd smile. “Hm… yes, all is in a man’s hands and he lets it all slip from cowardice, that’s an axiom. It would be interesting to know what it is men are most afraid of. Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what they fear most…. But I am talking too much. It’s because I chatter that I do nothing. Or perhaps it is that I chatter because I do nothing. I’ve learned to chatter this last month, lying for days together in my den thinking… of Jack the Giant-killer. Why am I going there now? Am I capable of that? Is that serious? It is not serious at all. It’s simply a fantasy to amuse myself; a plaything! Yes, maybe it is a plaything.”
– Taken from “Crime and Punishment” written by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
The nine stories in this collection provide a vivid portrait gallery of his typical subjects — from simple peasants and prostitutes to soldiers, government clerks, and provincial bourgeois. Brilliantly naturalistic, these short works also reveal Maupassant’s ability to observe the innumerable details of everyday life and reproduce them artfully and accurately, often with a caustic sense of humor.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley’s profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order–all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity, and perhaps also our souls. “A genius [who] who spent his life decrying the onward march of the Machine” (The New Yorker), Huxley was a man of incomparable talents: equally an artist, a spiritual seeker, and one of history’s keenest observers of human nature and civilization. Brave New World, his masterpiece, has enthralled and terrified millions of readers, and retains its urgent relevance to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying work of literature. Written in the shadow of the rise of fascism during the 1930s, Brave New World likewise speaks to a 21st-century world dominated by mass-entertainment, technology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the arts of persuasion, and the hidden influence of elites.
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer created one of the great touchstones of English literature, a masterly collection of chivalric romances, moral allegories and low farce. A story-telling competition between a group of pilgrims from all walks of life is the occasion for a series of tales that range from the Knight’s account of courtly love and the ebullient Wife of Bath’s Arthurian legend, to the ribald anecdotes of the Miller and the Cook. Rich and diverse, The Canterbury Tales offer us an unrivalled glimpse into the life and mind of medieval England.
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Born on October 21, 1772 in Devonshire, England, Coleridge was a dreamy and thoughtful boy and not one for sports or rough play. When he was eight his father died and Coleridge was sent away to Christ’s Hospital, a charity school in London where stayed for the remainder of his childhood. In 1795, Coleridge met William Wordsworth and the two poets worked closely together to found the Romantic Movement in English literature. Collected together here in this representative volume are Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s most popular poems. In “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” we find the ghostly tale of a sailor’s experience following a long voyage at sea. In “Kubla Khan” Coleridge relates an opium influenced dream of the legendary city Xanadu. In “Christabel” the story of its titular character and her encounter with a stranger named Geraldine is told. Along with these three major Coleridge compositions we find the poet’s conversation poems, a collection of eight poems which examine and reflect upon particular life experiences. The poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge endures as some of the best of the Romantic period, whose influence on later generations of poets cannot be overstated. This edition includes an introduction by Julian B. Abernethy and a biographical afterword.
Self Reliance and other essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
A new collection of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s most influential and important essays, excerpted from his “First Series” originally published in 1841
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
When Death has a story to tell, you listen.
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys
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?
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
In the past few years, Mclean has pretended to be so many different people that she hardly remembers who she really is anymore.
The adorable guy next door might be able to help her figure it out.
But is she ready for it?
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him, as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.Page 2 of a letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra (11 June 1799) in which she first mentions Pride and Prejudice, using its working title First Impressions.Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr Darcy, have moved into their neighbourhood. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth.Though Austen set the story at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of “most loved books.” It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen’s memorable characters or themes.
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
It was the time of the French Revolution — a time of great change and great danger. It was a time when injustice was met by a lust for vengeance, and rarely was a distinction made between the innocent and the guilty. Against this tumultuous historical backdrop, Dickens’ great story of unsurpassed adventure and courage unfolds.
Unjustly imprisoned for 18 years in the Bastille, Dr. Alexandre Manette is reunited with his daughter, Lucie, and safely transported from France to England. It would seem that they could take up the threads of their lives in peace. As fate would have it though, the pair are summoned to the Old Bailey to testify against a young Frenchman — Charles Darnay — falsely accused of treason. Strangely enough, Darnay bears an uncanny resemblance to another man in the courtroom, the dissolute lawyer’s clerk Sydney Carton. It is a coincidence that saves Darnay from certain doom more than once. Brilliantly plotted, the novel is rich in drama, romance, and heroics that culminate in a daring prison escape in the shadow of the guillotine.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter
Dill isn’t the most popular kid at his rural Tennessee high school. After his father fell from grace in a public scandal that reverberated throughout their small town, Dill became a target. Fortunately, his two fellow misfits and best friends, Travis and Lydia, have his back.
But as they begin their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. His only escapes are music and his secret feelings for Lydia–neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending–one that will rock his life to the core.
Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.
The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth
Young Nikolai is searching for the answers to his three questions:
When is the best time to do things?
Who is the most important one?
What is the right thing to do?
But it is his own response to a stranger’s cry for help that leads him directly to the answers he is looking for.
This profound and inspiring book is about compassion and being engaged in each moment.
With his stunning watercolors — and text that resounds with universal truths, Jon J Muth has transformed a story by Leo Tolstoy into a timeless fable for readers of every age!
The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine: The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, which are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.
Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.
Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah. Deborah was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Had they killed her to harvest her cells? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?
A Time to Dance by Parma Venkatraman
Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.
Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps.
So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. But Finn knows what really happened to Roza. He knows she was kidnapped by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a tale of the ways in which the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.
Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulpert
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.
Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane–a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.
This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.
That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.
Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter’s senior year of high school, he is forced to examine everything he thinks he understands about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town. His cousin overdoses; his town becomes absurdly obsessed with the alleged reappearance of an extinct woodpecker; and most troubling of all, his sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, suddenly and inexplicably disappears.
Meanwhile, the crisis of faith spawned by a young missionary’s disillusion in Africa prompts a frantic search for meaning that has far-reaching consequences. As distant as the two stories initially seem, they are woven together through masterful plotting and merge in a surprising and harrowing climax.
This extraordinary tale from a rare literary voice finds wonder in the ordinary and illuminates the hope of second chances.
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.
Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.
As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister—and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.
My Sister’s Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.
A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan
After Grand-Mere Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her.
Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew. The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden.
But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever — not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history.
Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
This is the story for people who follow their hearts and make their own rules…people who get special pleasure out of doing something well, even if only for themselves…people who know there’s more to this living than meets the eye: they’ll be right there with Jonathan, flying higher and faster than they ever dreamed.
A pioneering work that wed graphics with words, Jonathan Livingston Seagullnow enjoys a whole new life.
The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken
One eye was bigger than the other. That was a mistake.
The weird frog-cat-cow thing? It made an excellent bush.
And the inky smudges… they look as if they were always meant to be leaves floating gently across the sky.
As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend, Robby, have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Jellicoe Road is a dazzling tale that is part love story, part family drama, and part coming-of-age novel. Described by Kirkus as “a beautifully rendered mystery” and by VOYA as “a great choice for more sophisticated readers and those teens who like multifaceted stories and characters.”
Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs, the boy who might be the key to unlocking the secrets for Taylor’s past, is back in town, moody stares and all.
In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her; Hannah finding her; Hannah’s sudden departure; a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear; a boy in her dreams; five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago; and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does.
If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she just might be able to change her future.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Jacob Janowski’s luck had run out–orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was the Great Depression and for Jacob the circus was both his salvation and a living hell. There he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but brutal animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this group of misfits was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
Here I stand A Life of Martin Luther by Roland H. Bainton
A vivid portrait of Martin Luther, the man of unshakable faith in God who helped bring about the Protestant Reformation The Reformation of the sixteenth century was a vast and complicated movement. It involved kings and peasants, cardinals and country priests, monks and merchants. It spread from one end of Europe to the other and manifested itself in widely differing forms. Yet in spite of its diverse and complex character, to begin to understand the Reformation you need know only one name: Martin Luther. Since it first was published more than fifty years ago, Roland H. Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther has sold millions of copies, and it remains the definitive introduction to the great Reformer and is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand this towering historical figure. “The most readable Luther biography in English.” —Time magazine “A sound and well-rounded picture of the man and his role in history.” —Chicago Tribune
Outliers: he Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell
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.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Scholosser
In 2001, Fast Food Nation was published to critical acclaim and became an international bestseller. Eric Schlosser’s exposé revealed how the fast food industry has altered the landscape of America, widened the gap between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and transformed food production throughout the world. The book changed the way millions of people think about what they eat and helped to launch today’s food movement.
In a new afterword for this edition, Schlosser discusses the growing interest in local and organic food, the continued exploitation of poor workers by the food industry, and the need to ensure that every American has access to good, healthy, affordable food. Fast Food Nation is as relevant today as it was a decade ago. The book inspires readers to look beneath the surface of our food system, consider its impact on society and, most of all, think for themselves.
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens–until the day its complacency is shattered by a school shooting. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened before her very own eyes–or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show–destroying the closest of friendships and families. Nineteen Minutes asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else, and whether anyone is ever really who they seem to be.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
First drink. First prank. First friend. First love.
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words—and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A modern classic, this stunning debut marked #1 bestselling author John Green’s arrival as a groundbreaking new voice in contemporary fiction.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.
In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.
“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” –Randy Pausch
One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.
If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.
Survivors Club: The True Story of a Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein
In 1945, in a now-famous piece of World War II archival footage, four-year-old Michael Bornstein was filmed by Soviet soldiers as he was carried out of Auschwitz in his grandmother’s arms. Survivors Club tells the unforgettable story of how a father’s courageous wit, a mother’s fierce love, and one perfectly timed illness saved his life, and how others in his family from Zarki, Poland, dodged death at the hands of the Nazis time and again with incredible deftness.
Working from his own recollections as well as extensive interviews with relatives and survivors who knew the family, Michael relates his inspirational Holocaust survival story with the help of his daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat. Shocking, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, this narrative nonfiction offers an indelible depiction of what happened to one Polish village in the wake of the WWII German invasion in 1939.
This thoroughly-researched and documented middle grade nonfiction book can be worked into multiple aspects of the common core curriculum
Unbroken: An Olympians Journey from Airmen to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillebrand
On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary sagas of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he had been a clever delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and stealing. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a supreme talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war came, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a sinking raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would respond to desperation with ingenuity, suffering with hope and humor, brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would hang on the fraying wire of his will.
Featuring more than one hundred photographs plus an exclusive interview with Zamperini, this breathtaking odyssey—also captured on film by director Angelina Jolie—is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the ability to endure against the unlikeliest of odds.
Kisses from Katie by Katie J. Davis
What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because they think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person and didn’t even speak the language?
A passion to follow Jesus.
Katie Davis Majors left over Christmas break of her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved by the people of Uganda and the needs she saw that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, adopted thirteen children in Uganda and has established a ministry, Amazima, that feeds and sends hundreds more to school while teaching them the Word of Jesus Christ.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
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.
The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy. Taking its place alongside the classic works of postcolonial literature, this ambitious novel establishes Kingsolver as one of the most thoughtful and daring of modern writers.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
We arrive at this crossroads over and over again, and every day. And we get to choose.
Starting out or starting over, making a career change or making a life change, the most life-affirming thing you can do is to honor the voice inside that says your have something special to give, and then heed the call and act. Many have traveled this road before. Here’s how you can, too. #choosemust
An inspirational gift book for every recent graduate, every artist, every seeker, and every career change.