Grade 12 Summer Reading
IB Literature 12: Your Grade 12 curriculum book to be read over the summer is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. It is expected that you will read the book twice: once to experience the story as a whole, and once to annotate with knowledge of the full text. This should be completed by the first class. Please collect the text from the school store before you leave for this summer. For success in this course, we highly recommend that you read outside your comfort zone over the summer and have provided a list of diverse and critically-acclaimed books in the World Literature list below.
English 12 students should read and annotate George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1 BOOK from Non-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.
Adrift by Steve Callahan
In this true-life adventure, Callahan survives 76 days on the Atlantic in a five-foot rubber raft.
Alive by Piers Paul Read
Based on story of 32 rugby players who survived a plane crash and spent 70 grueling days in the Andes.
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.
A Brief History of Time by Steven Hawking
The physics guru illuminates startling new theories about our world. Mr. Lidstone’s pick.
Chronicles: Volume I by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan shares his personal recollections of his life and career.
Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
Schiff’s lucid, engaging biography makes us realize how little we know of Cleopatra.
The Concubine’s Children by Denise Chong
A granddaughter writes about her grandmother’s life in China and BC.
Crazy Horse by Larry McMurty
Crazy Horse became the greatest of all Sioux warriors by defeating Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn
Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You by Misha Glenny
British writer Glenny’s history of how cyber-crime went from the domain of lone-wolf hackers to a highly organized criminal underworld.
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.
Discipline and Punish by Michel 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.
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood
by Alexandra Fuller
In this book, Alexandra Fuller looks back, with affection and humor, at her unusual childhood.
Driven from Within by Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan makes it clear that the basis for his phenomenal success came from the inside out, thanks in part to those who guided him along the way.
E=mc2 by David Bodanis
Ever wondered what that Einstein was about? This sparky ‘biography’ of the equation weaves together the lives and discoveries of the scientists who led up to Einstein’s work, lending perspective and personality to its uses—from the bomb to nuclear power. For the science-minded and literary lovers alike!
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.
Flatland by Edwin 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.
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 Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jennette Walls
Compelling memoir about making it on your own when your parents are homeless.
A Good, Good Pig by Sy Montgomery
The story of Hogwood, a pot bellied pig. For animal lovers.
The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire by Tom Zoellner
An exploration of the workings of the diamond industry full of intrigue.
Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier and Marc Lizano
Graphic Novel. Dounia, a grandmother tells her granddaughter the story of her life as a young Jewish girl in Paris. Dounia’s neighbours and friends risked their lives to hide her from the Nazis.
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
The journals of recording artist Jann Arden.
Into the Wild by John Krakauer
Putting the tragic death of Christopher McCandless, who died alone in the Alaskan wilderness, into a broader perspective.
Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse
by David Brown
Whose idea was it? The human stories and faces behind American scientific and technological innovations and achievements.
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.
In Your Face: The Beauty of Culture and You by Shari Graydon
In an upbeat, casual style, Graydon looks closely at the concept of beauty, never denying the difficulties of resisting current trends as she exposes the “sneaky strategies” behind media hype.
The Joy of Pi by David Blatner
This intriguing little gem explores that many facets of pi.
Katie.com: My Story by Katherine Tarbox
The true story of a young woman who begins an online friendship with a man who is not what he claims to be, and how she fights back.
Klee Wyck by Emily Carr
Carr records her travels to native villages on coastal BC.
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.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Very funny memoir.
Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold
by Michael Benanav
A travel log of the author’s trip from Timbuktu, Mali to Taoudenni, Mali via camel caravan.
The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
Everything you always wanted to know about the English language, including the history of swear words.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
Interesting and humorous autobiography for those who love animals.
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.
Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made
by David Halberstam
The story of one of basketball’s greatest stars.
Once a Dancer by Allegra Kent
The history of a true artist and Prima Ballerina by 16.
Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Elizabeth Crawford
Eight-year old Jeanne struggles to overcome her family’s slaughter during the Rwanda genocide.
Postcards From France by Megan McNeill Libby
A delightfully irresistible, charming account of a young girl’s year abroad.
Pretty Good for a Girl: Autobiography of a Snowboarding Pioneer
by Tina Basich
Promised the Moon: The Untold Story of the First Women in the Space Race by Stephanie Nolen
The history of women in aviation and as astronauts is revealed in this compelling story.
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
This is the memoir of a remarkable teacher in the Islamic Republic of Iran, who secretly read banned classic works of literature to seven of her most dedicated students.
Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill
The story of Douglas Bader who, after losing both his legs in an air crash, became one of the great heroes of the Battle of Britain.
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
This story is told by a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism making it a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine.
Red China Blues by Jan Wong
Memoir. Wong writes of her ‘six-year’ romance with Maosim, and how it crumbled as she learned the harsh realities of Chinese communism.
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
A funny and vivid account of America’s early space program for the first astronauts.
River Town by Peter Hessler
For the first time in half a century, the little Chinese town of Fuling has an American visitor. With a keen eye for cultural ripple effects, Hessler describes his Peace Corps teaching experience in a rural community coming to terms with a conflicted history and facing a future overshadowed by the Three Gorges Dam. Excellent for armchair travellers!
Rocket Boys: A Memoir by Homer H. Hickham
Against overwhelming odds and with little knowledge of rocket science, Hickham and his high school buddies win the National Science Award for rocketry.
Say It Loud! The Story of Rap Music by Maurice K. Jones
From a village in West Africa to a street in Brooklyn, to MTV, rappers make the Scene.
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.
The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon 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.
Sleights of Mind by Macknik and Martinez-Conde
Two neuroscientists use amateur magic to explore how our minds work.
Terrible Hours: The Man Behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History by Peter Maas
Chronicles the true story of American sailors trapped aboard a submarine just prior to World War II.
Terry by Douglas Copeland
Published for the 25th anniversary of his remarkable run, this book honors the life of Terry Fox.
They Fight Like Soldiers They Die Like Children by Romeo D’Allaire
Reflections on child soldiers in general and Canada’s foreign policy as it relates to them in particular.
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
Amazing account of the author’s near death experience in the Andes Mountains. According to Mr. Lidstone, everyone should read this book!
Touch the Dragon by Karen Connelly
Connelly writes about her experiences and feelings while an exchange student for one year in Thailand.
Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson
A brilliantly written account of a young woman’s odyssey through the deserts of Australia.
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 pick.
Under an Afghan Sky: A Memoir of Captivity by Melissa Fung
Memoir of her 28 days held captive by insurgents in Afghanistan.
Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the World’s Last Dinosaur
by Carl Safina
This book is Safina’s personal journal of the migration of the leatherback, loggerhead, and green turtles.
The Universe and the Teacup by K.C. Cole
Uses real life stories and humour to show us why math is fun, awesome and incredibly powerful.
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.
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!
Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded by John Scalzi
A series of essays exploring topics ranging from the 9/11 attacks to internet trolls.
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.