Grade 11 Summer Reading
IB English 11: In early August, students should pick up the novel Perfume by Patrick Suskind from the school store; it is to be annotated and reread by the first English class. Also by the first class, students will read and annotate 1 NOVEL of their choice from the Canadian Literature category of the school’s Grade 11 Reading List.
English 11 students should read 1 book from the Canadian Literature category and 1 book from the Non-fiction category. It is expected that students will arrive with their books on the first day of class prepared to carry out independent analysis on their chosen texts. For example, students should be able to discuss: the function of literary devices in specific passages, how authors craft theme, and the differences between fiction and non-fiction.
Theory of Knowledge 11 students will find recommended reading and films at the end of the reading list.
IB History and Social Studies 11 students will find recommended reading and films at the end of the reading list.
All Grade 11 students will find recommended films at the end of this reading list.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Historical fiction combined with murder written by a Canadian legend! What could be better? Giller Prize winner and shortlisted for the Booker prize.
Alligator by Lisa Moore
Powerful and raw. We meet Colleen just as she has put sugar in the gas tanks of forest-clearing equipment.
All That Matters by Wayson Choy
A lively saga about the lives of the Chen family.
The Angel Riots by Ibi Kaslik
The story of an indie rock band experiencing its first taste of fame.
The Antagonist by Lyn Coady
A former hockey enforcer is driven to seek revenge on an old friend. Funny and fresh.
*Assassin’s Song by M.G. Vassanji
Young Karsan is next in line after his father to assume lordship of the shrine of The Wanderer. Prize winning author.
Beyond Measure by Pauline Holdstock
Sixteenth century Italy comes to life through the eyes of a Chiara, a slave stolen from her family in Africa.
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
A Cree woman (Birdie) with a dark secret in her past, travels to Gibsons, BC on a vision quest looking for her family home. A darkly comical novel about the experience of recovering from tragedy.
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Abducted as a young child from her village in Africa, Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in America’s South. Engrossing. Mrs. Nielson's pick.
Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam
Really interesting stories related to medicine.
Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
An adventure story about a boy who boards a huge liner bound for England from Sri Lanka. One of the most awarded writers in world.
Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant
On offbeat story featuring a tortoise and an IQ-challenged narrator which find themselves in the middle of a mystery.
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
An unforgettable coming-of-age story concerning a sixteen-year-old girl who rebels against her strict Mennonite community.
Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
A tale of love, death and redemption, set in a rural, isolated community.
Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien
A child’s eye view of the Cambodian genocide. Powerful
Deafening by Frances Itani
Born in the late 19th century, Grania O’Neill loses her hearing to scarlet fever when she is five and is sent away to a special school.
De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage
Extremely raw. Not for the faint of heart. Recounts the fate of two childhood friends in war-ravaged Beirut. Booker prize winner.
Elle by Douglas Glover
A feisty and libidinous aristocratic woman from the French Court is abandoned on an Inuit island in the far north during the 18th century.
Fall On Your Knees by Anne Macdonald
An exceptionally juicy novel about love, lust and family in Newfoundland.
Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask by Jim Munroe
Ryan is a university student dealing with the normal problems of a 22-year-old guy—plus a freakish ability to change into a fly.
Funny Boy by Shyam Selvaduarai
This poignant coming-of-age novel charts a boy’s loss of innocence as he grapples with family conflict, political realities and his homosexuality.
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
The life story of Jacob, who, as a child, witnessed his family’s slaughter at the hands of the Nazis. If you like poetry, choose this novel.
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
A cocaine-addled pornographer suffers terrible burns and becomes a gargoyle. Massive. Fantasy. Love story. Nicola Main’s pick.
The Girls by Lori Lansens
Rose and Ruby Darlen are conjoined twins attached at the head. Engrossing.
The Guardians by Andrew Pyper
Trevor, Randy, Ben and Carl are friends and schoolmates. One day, a teacher disappears.
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
Jazz musicians of African heritage in the months leading up to the Nazi occupation of Paris. Heavily awarded book. Ms. Crossley’s pick.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Get the original story of Offred fighting from within a near-future totalitarian society. Written by a Canadian legend!
Happiness by Will Ferguson
Very funny debut novel: a satire on self-help books and therapy.
The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam
Stories, loosely based on family experience, of being Chinese in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
Heave by Christy Ann Conlin
Candid portrayal of a young girl’s struggles with mental illness and substance abuse and her quest for self-discovery.
His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay
Set in the mid-1990s, when Quebec is on the verge of leaving Canada, this story is an unconventional coming of age story.
Into the Heart of the Country by Pauline Holdstock
The novel follows the real-life, 18th-century exploits of Richard Norton, his son, Moses, and explorer Samuel Hearne.
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Cowboy story about three well-off English brothers who travel across the prairies in search of their missing brother.
Late Nights on Air: A Novel by Elizabeth Hay
Harry Boyd has returned to a small radio station in the North; he falls in love with a voice on the air.
The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens
Complex and absorbing historical fiction about a starving Irish family who come to the New World. One of Mrs. Chatterton’s favorites.
The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott
Featuring three sisters and set on vaudeville stages during WW I.
The Long Run by Leo Furey
Humorous and fast paced novel about a group of young boys in a Newfoundland orphanage. One boy runs away.
The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys
A young woman gardener flees from burning London, 1941, to volunteer for the Land Army.
Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
A poignant imagined retelling of the life of the maid of an important 19th-century writer.
Monoceros by Suzette Mayr
In this imaginative, quirky and devastating novel, the first chapter is narrated by the Dead Boy, harassed for being gay.
Navigator of New York by Wayne Johnston
Interesting story based on the historical expeditions of Commander Robert Peary.
No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
Humourous and suspenceful. Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge wakes up one morning to find her entire family gone.
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
An epic story of first contact between radically different worlds. A must read of every Canadian. Mr. Stanley and Mr. Jackson’s pick!
The Origin of Species by Nino Ricci
The story of one man’s pursuit of love, meaning, and guilt-free amorous encounters.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
A futuristic novel after environmental disaster by one of the best writers in the world. Mr. Lidstone’s pick.
The Outlander by Gil Adamson
A hallucinatory road novel or, more accurately, trail novel set in 1903, rich with physical adventure and barbed humor.
A Perfect Night to Go to China by David Gilmour
This story begins with the abduction of a child. Heavily awarded author.
The Purchase by Linda Spalding
A contemporary take on the antebellum novel. Governor General’s Award winner.
Quiver by Holly Luhning
This thriller is fast and wicked and dark. Travels between the present and 16th century Hungary.
*A Recipe for Bees by Gail Anderson Dargatz
The story of a woman looking back over her life as a farmer’s wife while she deals with her son-in-law’s possibly fatal illness.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die, and hired guns Eli and Charlie Sisters will make sure of it. Poignant and powerful.
Spook Country by William Gibson
A complex thriller, focused on an ex-rocker, a drug addict and an illegal immigrant, who all pursue a shipping container on the loose!
Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibbs
Lilly Abdal, orphaned at age eight after the murder of her hippie British parents, grows up at an Islamic shrine in Morocco and becomes a nurse.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events. Mystery.
Tell it to the Trees by Anita Rau Badami
One freezing winter morning a dead body is found in the backyard of the Dharma family’s house. It’s the body of Anu Krishnan. Gripping mystery.
The Tiger Claw by Shauna Singh Baldwin
A story of love, espionage and cultural tension, inspired by the life of Noor Inayat Khan, a spy who worked against the Nazis.
The Tracey Fragments by Maureen Medved
Fifteen-year-old Tracey Berkowitz has been on a bus for two days, telling her story and looking for her brother, Sonny, who thinks he’s a dog.
Unless by Carol Shields
A woman’s life disintegrates when her teenage daughter decides to abandon her family and live on the streets. Heavily awarded author.
The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro
Considered by many to be the world’s greatest living short story writer!
The Virgin Cure by Ami Mckay
A young girl is abandoned in the 1800’s, and her friends fall prey to the myth that sleeping with a virgin can heal the sick. Ms. Bigelow’s pick.
What We All Long For by Dionne Brand
A gripping and, at times, heart-rending story about four young people trying to survive in the city.
English 11 students only
A Nurse’s Story: Life, Death, and In-Between in an Intensive Care Unit by Tilda Shalof
A group of caring, witty, ICU nurses work in a big city hospital.
Alex and Me by Irene Pepperberg
How a scientist and a parrot discovered a hidden world of animal intelligence—and formed a deep bond in the process.
All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg
The rags-to-riches memoir of the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.
All We Know: Three Lives by Lisa Cohen
Explores the lives of three gay women who lived life on their own terms in the early 20th Century.
Arguably by Christopher Hitchens
[Hitchens] has a mind like a Swiss Army knife, ready to carve up or unbolt an opponent’s arguments with a flick of the wrist. Collected essays.
Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
by Lawrence Anthony
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolfe
The controversial and critically acclaimed book that started a new wave of feminism.
Beethoven’s Hair: An Extraordinary Historical Odyssey and a Scientific Mystery Solved by Russell Martin.
While Beethoven lay dying in 1827, a young musician snipped a lock of his hair that was passed down to present times and then investigated.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
Extraordinary look into life—and morality—in an Indian slum.
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
Historical account of General Alexandre Dumas, a tale of racism in France under Napoleon.
Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Potato Famine by Susan Bartoletti
A surprisingly interesting read!
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
An in-depth look at how and why we make decisions.
Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through the World’s Most Dangerous Country by Tim Butcher
Journalist Tim Butcher re-creates Stanley’s expedition through the Congo, arguably the most dangerous country in the world.
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Team, trust and victory: they remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism. For the rowers!
The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, A Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team by Wayne Coffey
Brain School by Howard Eaton
Howard Eaton looks at how the brain can change itself with the right program. For students with learning exceptionalities and all who are interested in neuroplasticity and education, this book looks at contemporary case-studies of remarkable success.
A Brief History of Time by Steven Hawking
The physics guru illuminates startling new theories about our world. Mr. Lidstone’s pick.
Catherine the Great by Robert Massie
A masterful and intimate portrait of a majestic monarch.
The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westall
Fourteen years ago, a family of chimps was saved from a research lab and sent to a rural sanctuary where they could be loved and cared for.
Chronicles: Volume I by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan shares his personal recollections of his life and career.
Climb by Anatoli Boukreev and G. DeWalt
The real story of the Everest disaster. Mr. Lidstone’s pick.
Columbine by Dave Cullen.
Debunks several of the myths surrounding the shooting and provides a chilling portrait of the shooters.
Common Ground by Justin Trudeau
Trudeau’s candid memoir that explores the events that shaped him over the course of his life—from his childhood to his role as the Liberal Party leader.
Demon in the Freezer: A True Story by Richard Preston
A striking portrait of small pox.
The Devil and Sherlock Holmes by David Grann
“At once a biography, a detective story and wonderfully vivid piece of travel writing...suspenseful...rollicking...”
Disaster was My God: A Novel of the Outlaw Life of Arthur Rimbaud
by Bruce Duffy
Rimbaud was the extraordinary and revolutionary 19th-century poet who then refashioned himself as an arms dealer in Africa.
El Nino: Unlocking the Secrets of the Master Weather Maker by Madeline Nash
Hard work and chance lead to the discovery of El Nino and La Nina, powerful climactic systems that we still struggle to understand.
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey Sachs
Renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs proposes how to eradicate extreme poverty.
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Mukherjee, an oncologist and researcher, writes a riveting history of cancer.
Ernest Hemingway: A Writer’s Life by Catherine Reef
Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science on The Galapagos Islands
by Edward Larson
An in-depth look at the major discoveries made on the islands.
The Extreme Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You by Misha Glenny
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
Explores the hopes and expectations of parents and families, particularly where children are not who their parents hoped they would be.
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser
A shocking look at the negative impact of the fast food industry on society.
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Luong Ung
A child’s indomitable spirit triumphs over the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge culture.
Future Tense: The Coming World Order by Gwynne Dyer
Gwynne Dyer examines how the world has been driven to the brink of disaster by the response of American military power to the false threat of terrorism.
Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin and the Race of a Lifetime by John Halperon
Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho by Jon Katz
Two teenage computer geeks leave their small hometown to seek their fortunes in Chicago.
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic, and How It Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World by the World
Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas of Africa by Farley Mowat
Gretzky’s Tears: Hockey, Canada, and the Day Everything Changed by Stephen Brunt
“The Great One”—bought and sold more than once, decided that the comfortable Canadian city where hockey ruled couldn’t compete with the slushy ice of a California franchise.
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
Diamond contends that three elements—guns, germs and steel—determine why some societies become powerful and others remain powerless.
The Heart Specialist by Claire Holden
The epic story of a lonely orphaned girl who rises to the status of one of the world’s most celebrated pioneering women doctors.
The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire by Tom Zoellner
The workings of the diamond industry have been filled with clandestine meetings and covert operations.
Hitler Youth: Growing Up In Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Uses primary sources to examine the Hitler youth group.
Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
The prize-winning journalist relates how, as a young adult, he became a drug user and smuggler, who then went to prison, and eventually got out and went to college.
How Music Works by David Byrne
Part memoir, part essay, David Byrne reflects on life as a musician and a rock star.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Poetic, frank autobiography of an African American girl growing up in America.
If I Knew, Don’t You Think I’d Tell You? by Jann Arden
From cat food to death, bra size to spirituality, family to goose poop, these are the lively journals of recording artist Jann Arden.
In Code: A Mathematical Journey by Sarah Flannery
One teenager’s discoveries in the science of cryptography impact our world.
Incognito: The Secret Life of the Brain by David Eagleman
In this provocative book, neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate its surprising mysteries.
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Hirsi Ali writes about her youth in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, about her flight to Europe, and her election to Parliament.
The Ingenuity Gap by Thomas Homer-Dixon
Explains why many of the world’s problems remain beyond the understanding of everyday citizens. GNS boy!
Invisible Enemies by Jeanette Farrell
A fascinating chronicle of the facts, superstitions and social conditions surrounding seven diseases that have literally changed the course of history.
The Joy of Pi by David Blatner
This intriguing little book explores that many facets of pi.
Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance by Peter Stark
Whether the danger is hypothermia or cerebral malaria, this blend of adventure and science takes you to the absolute edges of human endurance.
Life by Keith Richards
Little Green: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution by Chun Yu
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300–1850 by Bryan Fagan
A fascinating look at how climate change influenced the course of the last thousand years of Western history.
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
He went to prison. He got out, after a very long time. He was the President of South Africa. Amazing and inspiring. Read this book.
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
A five-year old boy is lost in India. He survives and ends up being adopted to a family in Australia. Twenty-five years later, he finds his way back to his family in India. The 2016 movie Lion is based on this story. Very readable.
Longitude by David Sobel
The story of John Harrison’s 44-year quest to build the chronometer, the clock that enabled sailors to measure longitude, saving lives and fortunes.
The Magnetic North by Sara Wheeler
Circumnavigating the Arctic and meeting its people, Wheeler ranges unsentimentally through exploration, history, climate change and inexorable acculturation.
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartók
Bartók both memorializes and escapes her dangerous, psychotic, much-loved mother, musical prodigy Norma Herr.
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
Draws on research, a surprising cultural history of memory, and venerable tricks of the mentalist’s trade to transform our understanding of human remembering.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
Interesting and humorous autobiography for those who love animals.
My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber
Amusing autobiography by a witty writer.
Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts
A hefty but fantastically paced biography of the man behind the legacy. A book for people who love history, philosophy, and the complexities of pursuing power. Amusing autobiography by a witty writer. Ms. Elbert’s pick.
Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Described as a “philosophical memoir” this book described her paths from devout Muslim to “enlightened” European parliamentarian.
The Nothing That Is: A Natural Histoy of Zero by Robert Kaplan
Kaplan’s muses on the “zero of self,” on infinitesimals, on the Mayan zero, and on the nothingness of suicide: a feast for both halves of the brain.
Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Pollan examines the path our food takes from the farm to our plate.
On A Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson by William Souder
New biography to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Silent Spring. Eloquent plea to remind us of our obligations to out environment.
One Day I will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina
A Kenyan Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, this sublime memoir describes a coming-of-age rent by political troubles and suffused by a love affair with language.
The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger
An intense storm catches the North Atlantic fishing fleet off guard and unprotected. Readers follow along with sailors struggling against the elements.
Playing with Fire
by Theo Fleury
Hockey player Fleury’s talent was such that despite a growing drug habit, Gretzky believed in him.
The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Jan Francisco Manzano
by Margarita Engle
Juan Francisco Manzano was born in 1797 into the household of wealthy slave owners in Cuba. His poetry was his outlet. Written in verse.
Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat
Nemat tells of her harrowing experience as a young Iranian girl at the start of the Islamic revolution.
The Reason you Walk by Wab Kinew
When Wab Kinew’s father is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Kinew travels to Northern Ontario, and discovers more about his father’s past, and life in a residential school.
Remember D-Day: The Plan, the Invasion, and Survivor Stories by Ronald J. Drez
Discusses the events and personalities involved in the momentous Allied invasion of France.
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
A funny and vivid account of America’s early space program for the first astronauts.
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson, most famously know for coaching the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers, explores the balance between spirit and sport. Discover the zen that shapes world-class athletes and changes regular lives.
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Hailed for prose that is “full of beauty and vigor and bite” This book is revered by everyone seriously interested in protecting the natural world.
Saul Steinberg: A Biography by Deirdre Bair
“Gripping” biography of New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg who laid the groundwork for today’s generation of graphic novels and novelists.
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
A racehorse that every one had given up on became not only a winner but also a great hero of the Depression years.
The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes
The science that reveals our genetic ancestry.
Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire
An eyewitness account of the murder of over eight hundred thousand Rwandans while serving as a UN Force Commander during 1993 and 1994. Ms. Waugh's pick.
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein
Klein explores how politicians enact legislation during times of distress that would never pass under normal conditions.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
In a lively, entertaining book on science, Bryson has documented the advent of the universe in just under 500 pages. Mr. Lidstone’s pick.
Spark the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey
This book examines the connection between exercise and the brain. Dr. John Ratey argues that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction. Check out the fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, that has put the local school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores.
Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan
A biography of Svetlana Stalin, a woman fated to live her life in the shadow of her father, the dictator, Joseph Stalin. Non-fiction. Great for history students.
The Starship and the Canoe by Kenneth Brower
An engrossing tale of a father and son separated by their remarkable journeys, both metaphysical and real, through BC and Alaska.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
A riveting story of the roller-coaster life and intense personality of a creative entrepreneur.
The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
Amazing biography about the author’s father, Arthur Phillips Sr., a convicted felon and incorrigible Shakespeare lover.
A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter’s Journey from a Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring by Nahlah Ayed
Personal journey from Palestinian refugee camp, to Canada as an immigrant, then back to the Middle East reporting on the Arab Spring.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
A World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption: an Olympic runner spends 47 days on a raft on the open ocean, after his plane is bombed. Mr. O’Callaghan’s and David Weaver’s pick.
Under the Bridge: The True Story of the Murder of Reena Virk by Rebecca Godfrey
The tragic story of the murder of a young girl in Victoria, BC.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
On July 4, 1845, the author moved into a cabin he had built on the shore of Walden Pond. For many readers, a life changing book of philosophy.
War by Sebastian Junger
Through the account of war in Afghanistan, Junger explores the nature of war.
Water by Marq deVilliers
A stark warning and possible solutions to the looming crisis of global water shortages.
The Weather Makers: How We Are Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery
Our environmental behaviour makes us all “weather makers” who “already possess all the tools required to avoid catastrophic climate change.”
What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response
by Bernard Lewis
This book looks at the striking differences between the Western and Middle Eastern cultures from the 18th to the 20th centuries.
When A Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin
Deeply moving account of the death of a father played out against the backdrop of the collapse of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe. Ms. Elbert’s pick.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
What makes life worth living in the face of death? A memoir written by the doctor who becomes the patient. A must-read for those considering a career in medicine. Sad. Mrs. Nielson’s pick!
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson
Winterson describes growing up with a very unconventional mother. A humourous reflection on a not so humourous upbringing.
A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates recounts her struggle to keep herself going in the wake of her husband’s sudden death. Brilliant.
The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation
by Gayle Green
A great pick for Biology.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Heartrending autobiography written by marvellous writer.
The Year of Finding Memory by Judy Fong Bates
Zamba by Ralf Helger
The inventor of “affection training” tells of his relationship with a lion cub.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
A 1960s classic; descriptions of nature, the difficulties of living in a technological society, and everything you need to know about motorcycles. Great for ToK!
For Theory of Knowledge 11 students specifically:
Note: these are all recommended reads, but not required.
Sleights of Mind from Macknik and Martinez-Conde
Two neuroscientists use amateur magic to explore how our minds work.
The Universe and the Teacup from Cole
Uses real life stories and humour to show us why math is fun, awesome, and incredibly powerful.
Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded from Scalzi
A series of essays exploring topics ranging from the 9/11 attacks to internet trolls.
E=MC2 from Bodanis
Breaks down the world’s most famous equation into a series of stories and histories exploring each symbol in it.
The Undercover Philosopher from Philips
How to become an effective critical thinker through the power of reason. The author exposes various popular beliefs, shams and outright lies.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions from Kuhn
The seminal text on the nature of scientific revolutions.
River Out of Eden from Dawkins
An exploration of the significance of evolutionary reasoning and the life sciences.
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea from Dennett
One of the foremost philosophers of science, Dennett explains how Darwin’s theory has ramifications that go far beyond biology.
Bad Science from Goldacre
Hilariously entertaining anecdotes exploring the ways that science and math are used and abused by the popular media and advertising.
The Mother Tongue from Bryson
Everything you always wanted to know about the English language, including the history of swear words.
A Short History of Nearly Everything from Bryson
Pretty self-descriptive: a history of the world delivered in Bryson’s hilarious prose.
Proofiness from Seife
How math is used and abused by popular media, and how to spot it.
The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets from Singh
Did you know that a large number of Simpsons writers are mathematicians? This book explores some of the mathematical ideas incorporated into the long-running show, in suitably entertaining fashion.
Ethics: The Fundamentals from Driver
How can you decide what is right and what is wrong? This is an eminently readable introduction to basic ethical decision making.
Longitude from Sobel
The story of how we figured out where we are in the world, delivered through tales of history’s most famous explorers.
The Language Instinct from Pinker
A challenging but seminal text about how human beings learn language and the distinctions between human and non-human language use.
Gender Trouble from Butler
In this text Butler discusses different ways to understand gender, and argues that in important ways gender is performative rather than biological.
Discipline and Punish from Foucault
A history and discussion of different systems of punishment, arguing that our beliefs about punishment have a profound effect on how we behave in our everyday lives.
Second Sex from de Beavoir
A massively influential feminist text showing the ways women have been, historically, relegated to secondary status in ways that we often do not recognize.
Demon Haunted World from Sagan
An immensely readable examination of humanity’s susceptibility to superstition, and a passionate argument in favour of the scientific method.
Flatland from Abbott
On the one hand, a satire of social values in Victorian England, and on the other a brilliant exploration of the implications of mathematical dimensions.
How the Mind Works from Pinker
An expansive overview of our best theories about what the mind is, where they comes from, and how they function.
How to Think About Weird Things from Schick and Vaughn
This book will make you a better thinker by showing the difference between science and pseudo-science, and teaching you how to be constructively skeptical.
Recommended reads for enrichment for Grade 11 and 12 history students:
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Novel, WW I.
Resistance by Anita Shreve
Novel, WW II.
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
Paris 1919 by Margaret McMillan
The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman
Enigma by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
The Cold War – A New History by John Lewis Gaddis
Post War by Tony Judt
Histories of the Hanged, Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and Britain’s Gulag by David Anderson
King Leopold’s Ghost, A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hoshchild
Team of Rivals (Lincoln) by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Gulag by Anne Applebaum
Soviet Union’s political prison system.
Lawrence in Arabia – War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson
*Films everyone should watch before they go to university.
A Life Aquatic
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Being John Malkovich
The Truman Show
The Princess Bride
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Dark Knight
A Beautiful Mind
The Oxford Murders
12 Angry Men (1957 version)
American History X
Cinema for history students specifically:
Cradle Will Rock Great Depression
The Grapes of Wrath Great Depression
Mississippi Burning African American Civil Rights
Selma African American Civil Rights Movement