Grade 12 Summer Reading

Books and Cinema

IB English 12: Your Grade 11 teachers will give you direction about your Grade 12 curriculum books. Please collect them from the school store this summer. In addition, please choose 1 novel under the Classic Fiction heading from this list. Read in preparation for an individual presentation in September.

English 12 students should read and annotate 1 novel from World Literature and 1 novel from Classic Fiction. 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. A book that is starred means that it is a more difficult read.

Theory of Knowledge 12 students will find recommended reading and at the end of the reading list.

History students will find recommended reading and films at the end of the reading list.

All Grade 12 students students will find recommended films at the end of this reading list.

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*Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Huck escapes from his brutal father and joins Jim, a run-away slave, for adventures aboard a raft on the Mississippi River. Simple.

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Newland Archer’s impossible love for the disgraced Countess Olenska is set in a time when “society” had rigid rules.

A Clockwork Orange by Antony Burgess
In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A love story set in Russia. Romantic and tragic.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
A bizarre journey in which a family tries to bury its mother. Black comedy. Difficult. Mr. Lundgren’s pick.

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Farina
First published in 1966, this semi-autobiographical novel is a comical story set during the Cuban Revolution.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
A satirical World War II tale emphasizing the absurdities and contradictions of war. Mr. Stanjek’s pick.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
A story of a betrayed man seeking his ultimate revenge. Full of action, suspense and adventure.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A man has committed a murder. Will he confess? Translated from Russian.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
A wild tale of vampires and werewolves.

*Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
A love story set during the Russian Revolution. Romantic! Tragic! Epic!

Dune by Frank Herbert
This Hugo and Nebula Award winner tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis. Mr. Lidstone’s and Mrs. Chatterton’s pick.

Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
This seminal piece represents a twisted journey into the American Dream. Johnny Depp’s pick. 23rd edition.

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Tale of a young science student, Frankenstein, who creates a man out of body parts.

*The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
A family of farmers flees from their farm in Oklahoma to California during the depression in the 1930s. Mr. Thompson’s pick.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Traces the growth of a boy of shallow dreams to a man of depth and character.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Enchanting tale of Gulliver’s journeys to fantastic lands. A witty satire of society and politics in the 1720s.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane falls in love with a man whose terrible secret is revealed on her wedding day. One of Mrs. Chatterton’s favorites.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The story of Kim, the orphaned son of a soldier; set in India.

Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimoore Cooper
An adventure tale about a long and treacherous journey.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
A story about a man’s lifelong efforts to atone for an act of cowardice when he was a young officer on a ship.

*Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Landmark 19th Century novel in which a woman defies the standards of conventional French society. Difficult.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhael Bulgakov
One of the Russian Greats. Equal parts fable, fantasy, political satire and slapstick. Hamish Ballantyne’s and Dr. Dorion’s pick.

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
A man turns into a beetle! Very short!

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
One of the first detective novels; an enormous diamond is taken from a Hindu temple in India.

The Odyssey by Homer
Enough said!

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Ultimate fish story!

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Fans of Kerouac appreciate this radically hip novel that many consider the heart of the Beat movement. Mr. Lidstone’s pick.

*A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
A clash of cultures in British India at the turn of the century.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The young, handsome Dorian Gray sells his soul to the devil. In exchange, his portrait that will age and he will remain young. A Mrs. Harris favourite.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Masterpiece of semi-autobiographical fiction reveals a powerful portrait of the coming of age of a young Irish man.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
English society and courtship are explored in this witty novel.

The Quiet American by Graham Greene
American intervention into third world politics is explored in this story set in Vietnam during the last days of French colonialism.

Rebecca by Daphne duMarier
Thrilling gothic novel, full of nuanced terror.

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
A young soldier tells his story of The American Civil War.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
Lucy overcomes class prejudice in English society to marry the man she loves. Quite short.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A young woman is forced to wear the scarlet letter in Puritan New England.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Set in the turbulent times of the French Revolution, a mysterious Englishman rescues doomed aristocrats from the guillotine.

Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
An Iowa farmer builds a baseball diamond in his corn field to bring back to life his hero, baseball player “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Classic science fiction. Mr. Lidstone’s pick.

The Stranger by Albert Camus
The famous tale of a man who commits a pointless murder. Translated from French. Very difficult.

*Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Abandoned in Africa as an infant, Tarzan is raised by apes and has a series of exciting adventures.

Tess of the D’ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
A country girl becomes a “fallen woman.” Gripping story.

*Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Thursten Zeale
Thurston is one of the first African American writers. She tells the story of a young girl growing up in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s.

*Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The inventor of a time machine travels into the future to witness the degeneration of life. Simple.

*Turn of the Screw by Henry James
A 19th century ghost story. Strange and very short tale.

Virgin and the Gypsy by D.H. Lawrence
Set in a small English village, the story of a secluded, sensitive rector’s daughter who meets a handsome young gypsy.

The Wars by Timothy Findley
One of the best novels about WW I. A magnificent and challenging book.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
One of the most romantic love stories of all time, set on the wild moors of Yorkshire.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
The story of an Andalusian Shepherd boy, Santiago, who goes on a journey to Egypt. He meets interesting people along the way, and tries to fulfill a prophecy. Epic story. Amazing message—you are in charge of your own destiny, your own Personal Legend. So many people recommend this book—read it!

All That Matters by Wayson Choy
The sequel to The Jady Peony follows the lives of the Chen family in the Vancouver of the 1930s. Very readable.

*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, but he wants to go to Harvard. Set in India.

Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
In Mao’s China, the Cultural Revolution rages, and two friends caught in the flames find themselves shuttled off to the remote countryside for reeducation. Easy to read.

*The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Maori communities struggle with social problems in modern New Zealand. Booker prize winner.

Breath by Tim Winton
Interesting coming of age novel about two rival surfers in Australia.

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Oscar, a sweet, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd, dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and of finding love. Pulitzer.

Burmese Days by George Orwell
In 1930, Kyauktada, Upper Burma, is one of the least auspicious postings in the ailing British Empire. Intensely interesting satire and romance.

*Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
Set on a Greek island during World War II. A commentary on life under occupied forces. Epic. Finely Ballantyne's and David Weaver’s pick.

Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje’s new adventure novel chronicles a young boy’s passage from Sri Lanka to London on board the Oronsay. Prize winning author.

Clandestine in Chile by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A historical reconstruction of the clandestine operation that filmmaker, Michael Litín carried out in his native Chile, to make a movie, during the dictatorship period of Augusto Pinochet.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The lives of two sisters, Nettie, a missionary in Africa, and Celie, a southern woman married to a man she hates, are revealed in a series of letters. Pulitzer.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Bound together by a preternatural connection and a fascination with medicine, twin brothers come of age as Ethiopia struggles politically. Ms. Crossley’s pick.

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. IMPAC prize

Desirable Daughters by Bharat Mukherjee
“A nice hybrid, combining the suspense of a good thriller with the texture of a family epic.” Set in India and Canada.

The Elephant’s Journey by Jose Saramago
An entertaining story about an elephant’s journey from Lisbon to Vienna in 1551.

Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
Shanghai, 1941—a young British boy searches in vain for his parents, is imprisoned in a concentration camp, and witnesses the bombing of Nagasaki. Mr. Burnett’s pick.

Everytime a Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams-Garcia
After seeing a girl raped, sixteen-year-old Thulani finds motivation to move beyond his grief over his mother’s death. Easy read.

*The Famished Road by Ben Okri
The narrator is an abiku, a spirit child, who, in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death. Nevertheless, Abiku is born with a smile on his face. Booker. Difficult.

*A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Vivid and interesting story of four families who come together in mid-1970s India. Funny and moving. Booker. Mrs. Chatterton’s and Mrs. Nielson’s favorite book. Long.

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
At the heart of this sprawling, dizzying Australian novel are a son and a father.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Richly-imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer’s most celebrated paintings.

God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Nominally the story of young twins Rahel and Estha and the rest of their family, but the book feels like a million stories. Set in India. Booker.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Tale of the BiAfran struggle to create an independent republic within Nigeria during the 1960s. Winner of the Orange Prize.

*The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
A magnificent story of love and magic set in South America. Mrs. Nielson and Mrs. Chatterton both pick.

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai
A wild, sad, humorous story about the oldest son of an eccentric family in a small Indian village.

*If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
A love story and detective story. Extremely inventive: the reader of the book becomes the book’s central character. Dr. Dorion’s pick. Challenging.

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar
A young Libyan boy believes he betrayed his family and friends under the pressure of a repressive regime. Easy to read.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Set jointly in India and the US, this novel explores the lives of powerless individuals within the new global economic order.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Pulitzer prize winning collection of short stories by Indian born young female writer.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
It is 1960, and three sisters have been found dead. The official state newspaper of The Dominican Republic reports their deaths as accidental. Pulitzer.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Memories of four Chinese women, who fled their homeland and settled in the US, are revealed to their American daughters.

The Lacunae by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of J.Edgar Hoover. Long, but fascinating. Orange Prize.

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.
A Mexican love story with a twist: star-crossed lovers, a mean mother, some magic and lots of food. Translated from Spanish. Easy read.

Lili: a Novel of Tiananmen by Annie Wang
Society, culture and politics in China are revealed through the story of Lili, a young woman in modern China.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Marquez
South American story of a passion that extends over 50 years, and an exploration of the myths we make of love. Translated.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Ove, a grumpy, old curmudgeon of a character, will somehow win his way into your heart. This is a funny and yet, sad book—and everyone loves it!

*Map of Love by Ahdef Soueif
Historical fiction and a love story that explores the roots of the Middle East conflict. Mrs. Nielson’s pick.

The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
What happens after a civil war has ended? How do people go back to their lives? What do those lives look like? Nominated for the Orange Prize.

Midnight at the Dragon Café by Judy Fong Bates
It’s 1957 and Su-Jen Chou, age 6, has been brought by her mother from China to small-town Ontario. Su-Jen’s father owns a Chinese restaurant, the Dragon Café.

*Middlesex by Geoffrey Eugenides
A riveting and complicated tale of a young girl who grows into a man. The story begins generations before the protagonist’s birth, in a small Greek village. Pulitzer.

*Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushie
Two children born at midnight on August 15, 1947—the moment at which India became an independent nation—are switched in the hospital. Best of the Bookers.

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
On a tropical island shattered by war, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, who reads Great Expectations to the children each day.

Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
Allie Fox is going to re-create the world. Abominating modern America, he abandons civilization and takes the family to live in the Honduran jungle. Mr. Burnett’s pick.

Nanjing by Ha Jin
The award-winning author’s new novel unfurls during one of the darkest moments of the twentieth century: the Rape of Nanjing.

Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya
A woman’s struggle to find happiness in a changing India

The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Meet Mma Ramotswe, the endearing, engaging proprietress of the first and only detective agency in Botswana.

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembqa
Novel by a young African woman about growing up in then Zimbabwe.

Obasan by Joy Kogawa
Story of Japanese Canadians during Second World War as told through the eyes of a child.

*Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
Traces three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad. Set in Cairo. Translated. Nobel prize.

Paradise by Toni Morrison
Morrison, a Nobel laureate, explores the relationship between race and gender in this elegantly composed story set in southern United States.

The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer
To Julie Summer, the mechanic she meets at a garage in a foreign country is initially merely an interesting person to add to her circle of rich bohemian friends.

Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende
The story of Chilean Aurora del Valle, her extraordinary family, her turbulent childhood, and her journey of self-discovery. A great historical fiction read! Mrs. Nielson’s pick.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Kambili’s devout father, in public a respected Nigerian businessman, punishes his family at home in this coming-of-age drama set against political turmoil.

Red Sorghum by Mo Yan
A novel of family and myth in China told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty. Translated.

Remembering Babylon by David Malouf
A white man who, after living for sixteen years with the aborigines, finds his whiteness unsettling. Booker prize winner. Short and engaging.

Ru by Kim Thuy
The story of a young woman forced to leave her affluent Saigon home during the Vietnam War to live in a crowded Malaysian refugee camp. The story then takes us to Quebec where the young woman struggles to fit into society. Winner of Canada Reads, 2015.

The Sea of Poppies by Amitov Ghosh
A vibrant saga about a ship voyaging across the Indian Ocean just before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. Great book. Booker short list.

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron
In Barcelona, young Daniel is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a massive sanctuary where books are guarded from oblivion. Adventure. Ms. Crossley’s pick.

Silent House by Orhan Pamuk
Haunting novel set in country on the verge of a coup. Author is recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Small Island by Andrea Levy
The riveting story of Queenie Bligh begins in Jamaica and ends in post World War II London. One of Mrs. Chatteron’s favourites. Orange Prize.

Song of Kahunsha by Anosh Irani
Ten-year-old Chamdi, raised from infancy in a Bombay orphanage, imagines a place called Kahunsha, a city where there is no sadness. One of Mrs. Chatterton’s picks.

The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
Set in Kabul under the rule of the Taliban, this extraordinary novel takes readers into the lives of two couples.

The Swinging Bridge by R. Espinet
Mona, a young Indo-Caribbean woman who grew up in Trinidad, must confront the secrets of a winding family history begun on the Indian continent.

Tell It To The Trees by Anita Rau Bandami
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 Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Stunning novel about the Vietnam War. Funny and moving. Mr. Lundgren’s pick.

Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye
Three Senegalese women struggle with family and gender roles, expectations and limitations. Winner Prix Goncourt.

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mystery surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Orange Prize.

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
Very exciting story of the famous Australian outlaw gang. Booker award winner.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Wild and funny story told by a young English woman of white and African heritage.

What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin
A “juicy” read told by a woman whose husband takes two wives. Set in India.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
A brutal view of India’s class struggles is cunningly presented in Adiga’s debut about a racist, homicidal chauffeur. Savagely Funny. Booker prize winner.

Theory of Knowledge recommended reads for Grades 11 and 12:

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

Cinema – all optional

Films everyone should watch before they go to university.


Throne of Blood (Kurasawa)

The Seventh Seal

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind


Being John Malkovich

Inside Out

The Truman Show

The Matrix


The Princess Bride

2001: A Space Odyssey


The Dark Knight

A Beautiful Mind

Waking Life

The Oxford Murders


12 Angry Men (1957 version)

American History X

Fight Club

Cinema for history students specifically – all optional

The History Boys
Comedy. British Grammar School boys and their pursuit of entry into Oxford/Cambridge

Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Stopped Worrying and Loved the Bomb
Stanley Kubrick’s 1960s political satire on the Cold War

Thirteen Days
Cold War (Cuban Missile Crisis)

Bridge of Spies
Cold War (U 2 Incident)

Before Night Falls
Cuban under Castro Persecution of gays

Sophie Scholl
The Final Days of Nazi Germany and Youth Resistance

Russian Revolution

Frost Nixon

All the President’s Men

The Pianist
Warsaw Ghetto

Life is Beautiful