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Reading Lists

The following list is a compilation of recommended reading lists for college bound students. The two sources used for this list were: The College Board’s “101 Great Books” and the American Library Association’s “Best Books for the College Bound”. Books from the two lists found in the Montezuma Community School Library are included here. For the complete lists click the following links:

The College Board

Young Adult Library Services Association

Agee, James, A Death in the Family.

The enchanted childhood summer of 1915 suddenly becomes a baffling experience for Rufus Follett when his father dies in a car accident.

Armstrong, Jennifer. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance.

Describes the events of the 1914 Shackleton Antarctic expedition when, after being trapped in a frozen sea for nine months, their ship, Endurance, was finally crushed, forcing Shackleton and his men to make a very long and perilous journey to reach inhabited land.

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice,

The book written in the early 1800’s when Austen was just 21 is the story of independent Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters who must marry rich and the arrogant, wealthy Mr. Darcy.

Bagdasarian, Adam. Forgotten Fire.

Based on a true story from the Armenian Holocaust (1915-1916), this is an eloquent touching and heart-wrenching portrait of pain and triumph during a time of tragedy.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre,

When a penniless governess falls in love with the brooding master of Thornfield, she is unaware of the tragic events that will follow.

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights.

Heathcliff and Cathy believe they’re destined to love each other forever, but when cruelty and snobbery separate them, their untamed emotions literally consume them.

Calabro, Marian. The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party.

Uses materials from letters and diaries written by survivors of the Donner Party to relate the experiences of that ill-fated group as they endured horrific circumstances on their way to California in 1846-47.

Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game.

In a world decimated by alien attacks, the government trains young geniuses like Ender Wiggin in military strategy with increasingly complex computer games.

Cather, Willa. Death Comes for the Archbishop.

The story set in 19th century New Mexico relates the mission work and experiences of two real life French Catholic priests.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales.

These stories of a motley crowd of pilgrims from all walks of life from knight to nun, miller to monk, reveal a picture of English life in the 14th century.

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening.

Edna Pontellier, an unhappy wife and mother, discovers new qualities in herself when she visits Grand Isle, a resort for the Creole elite of New Orleans.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness.

A story that follows a character named Charlie Marlowe, a ferry boat captain, whose job is to transport ivory down the Congo River in Africa.

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Last of the Mohicans.

During the French and Indian wars, a scout named Hawkeye and his companion Chingachgook weave through the wilderness of upstate New York, fighting to save the beautiful Munro sisters from the Huron renegade Magua.

Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage.

Although the exact battle is never identified, Crane based this story of a soldier’s experiences during the American Civil War on the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville.

Dante. Inferno.

The first part of the Divine Comedy where the poet Dante is escorted through the nine regions of hell where souls suffer eternal damnation appropriate to their sins.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

The story is set in the cities of London and Paris during the turbulent years of the French Revolution.

Dominic, Andie. Needles.

Andie Dominick discusses how her life changed after she was diagnosed with diabetes.

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment.

A sensitive intellectual is driven by poverty to believe himself exempt from moral law.

De Cervantes, Miquel. Don Quixote.

Don Quixote, errant knight and sane madman, with the company of his faithful squire and wise fool, Sancho Panza, set out to right the wrongs of the world.

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe.

During one of his several adventurous voyages in the seventeenth century, an Englishman becomes the sole survivor of a shipwreck and lives for nearly thirty years on a desert island before being rescued.

Dreiser, Theodore. An American Tragedy.

Based on a true murder and subsequent trial, the story depicts the harsh realities of American life, the dark side of the American dream, and one man’s doomed pursuit of love and success.

Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss.

As Maggie Tulliver approaches adulthood, her spirited temperament brings her into conflict with her family, her community, and her much-loved brother Tom.

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury.

Three brothers and a black servant tell the tale of a decaying aristocratic family from Mississippi. The first section of the book is seen through the eyes of Benji, the idiot son, the second section by Quentin, the Harvard graduate, the third section by greedy and petty-minded Jason, and the final section through the eyes of Dilsey the family’s black cook.

Fielding, Henry. Tom Jones.

A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr. Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the daughter of a neighboring squire. When Tom is banished to make his own fortune and Sophia follows him to London to escape an arranged marriage, the adventure begins.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.

Young, handsome, fabulously rich and mysterious Jay Gatsby hosts spectacular parties. Beneath the surface of his glamorous life Gatsby is hiding a secret, a silent longing that can never be fulfilled for the beautiful Daisy.

Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary.

The heroine, Emma Bovary, a bored provincial housewife, abandons her husband to pursue the libertine Rodolphe in a desperate love affair.

Frazier, Charles. Cold Mountain.

Inman, a wounded Civil War soldier, endures the elements, The Guard, and his own weakness and infirmity to return to his sweetheart, Ada, who is fighting her own battle to survive while farming the mountainous North Carolina terrain.

Gaines, Ernest. A Lesson Before Dying.

When Jefferson’s attorney states, “I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this,” disillusioned teacher Grant Wiggins is sent into the penitentiary to help his slow learner gain a sense of dignity and self-esteem before his execution.

Garner, Eleanor. Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany.

During the Great Depression, Eleanor's family moves from America to Germany, but the war breaks out as her family is crossing the Atlantic, and for years Eleanor struggles to keep her American identity despite the turbulence and upheaval around her.

Gibbons, Faye. Ellen Foster.

Casting an unflinching yet humorous eye on her situation, eleven-year-old Ellen survives her mother’s death, an abusive father, and uncaring relatives to find for herself a loving home and a new mother.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies.

After a plane crash strands them on a tropical island while the rest of the world is ravaged by war, a group of British schoolboys attempts to form a civilized society but descends into brutal anarchy.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

This is the tragic story of the beautiful Tess who is exploited by her father for social advancement, has a child as the result of rape by her employer’s son, falls in love with and marries the rector’s son but ultimately is rejected by him. This late 19th century novel focuses on the rural lower class of Victorian England.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter.

In seventeenth century New England, Hester Prynne is condemned by Puritan law to wear a scarlet "A" as the symbol of the sin she has committed.

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22.

A bombardier, based in Italy during World War II, repeatedly tries to avoid flying bombing missions while his colonel tries to get him killed by demanding that he fly more and more missions.

Hemingway, Ernest. Farewell to Arms.

World War I is the setting for this love story of an English nurse and a wounded American ambulance officer.

Homer. Iliad.

This Greek epic poem from 9th century BC (?) details the events of the few days before the end of the Trojan War.

Homer. Odyssey.

The second of Homer’s epic poems that tells the tale of Odysseus on his way home after the Trojan War.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World.

In a chilling vision of the future, babies are produced in bottles and exist in a mechanized world without soul.

Keneally, Thomas. Schindler’s list.

Oskar Schindler, a rich factory owner, risks his life and spends his personal fortune to save Jews listed as his workers during World War II.

Kingsolver, Barbara. The Bean Trees.

When a baby is abandoned in Taylor Greer’s car, she learns that responsibilities and independence are not mutually exclusive in this story of family and community.

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.

A young girl tells of life in a small Alabama town in the 1930’s and her father’s defense in court of an African American accused of raping a white woman.

Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt.

Lewis tells the tale of George Babbitt and his daily struggles to rise to the top of his profession while maintaining his reputation as an upstanding family man.

London, Jack. The Call of the Wild.

Buck, half St. Bernard, half Scotch shepherd dog, is stolen to the Klondike, reverts to the wild, and becomes the leader of a pack of wolves.

McCullers, Carson. The Member of the Wedding.

Frankie Addams, a motherless twelve-year-old raised by her father and the family's African-American cook, struggles with conflicting feelings about her brother's upcoming wedding.

Malamud, Bernard. The Fixer.

Yakov Bok, victim of a vicious anti-Semitic conspiracy, is in a Russian prison with only his indomitable will to sustain him.

Mason, Bobbi Ann. In Country.

After her father is killed in the Vietnam War, Sam Hughes lives with an uncle whom she suspects suffers from the effects of Agent Orange, and struggles to come to terms with the war’s impact on her family.

Mckinley, Robin, Beauty.

Kind Beauty grows to love the Beast at whose castle she is compelled to stay and through her love releases him from the spell which had turned him from a handsome prince into an ugly beast.

Mori, Kyoko. Shizuko’s Daughter.

After Yuki's mother commits suicide, the 12-year-old girl must live with her distant father and his resentful new wife. Cut off from her mother's family, Yuki learns to rely on her own inner strength to cope with the tragedy.

O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find.

This is a collection of short stories about the social life and customs of the rural inhabitants of the American southern states.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm.

A political satire in which the animals take over running the farm, but find their utopian state turning into a dictatorship.

Pasternak, Boris. Doctor Zhivago.

This novel is a sweeping saga of the experiences of Yury Zhivago a young doctor during the Russian Revolution, Lara, his mistress, and his anti-Marxist views.

Potok, Chaim. The Chosen.

A baseball injury brings together two Jewish boys, one Hasidic, the other Orthodox, first in hostility but finally in friendship.

Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass.

Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front.

This 1929 novel is the author’s attempt to confront and rid himself of graphic and haunting memories of his time serving in the German army during World War I.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye.

An adolescent boy, knowing he is about to be dropped by his school, spends three days and nights in New York City.

Shaara, Michael. Killer Angels.

Officers and foot soldiers from both the Union and Confederacy steel themselves for the bloody Battle of Gettysburg.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet.

Hamlet a tragedy and one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays details Prince Hamlet’s revenge on the death of his father, King Claudius.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth.

In this Shakespearean tragedy, Scottish nobleman, Macbeth, and his Lady Macbeth violently seize the throne of Scotland and pay the price with disastrous results.

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

One of the most popular of Shakespeare’s comedies, the play includes several lovers, on-again, off-again romances, magic spells, fairies, and a troupe of bumbling would-be actors.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet.

It is the classic Shakespearean tragedy about the love between Romeo of the Montagues and Juliet of the Capulets, two feuding families who deny their happiness.

Shaw, George Bernard. Pygmalion.

One of Shaw’s best plays, Pygmalion is the story of the relationship between the spunky cockney flower-girl, Eliza Doolittle, and phonetics professor, Henry Higgins, who attempts to transform Eliza to speak and act like a lady.

Solzhenitzen, Alexander. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

This is a short novel describing in detail the struggle of one prisoner to survive a typical day in a Stalinist labor camp.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

An Oklahoma farmer and his family leave the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression to go to the promised land of California.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island.

When a boy and his mother search the belongings of a deceased sailor who owed them money they find a treasure map. An interested family friend outfits a ship to sail to the location on the map but discovers too late that half his crew is comprised of pirates.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The story of an old slave Uncle Tom, who is cruelly treated by plantation owner Simon LeGree.

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels.

A satire written in the form of a journal of the voyages of a ship’s physician Lemuel Gulliver, from Lilliput, the land of six inch inhabitants, Brobdingnag, land of giants, Laputa, an empire of wise men, and finally Houyhnhnmland, the land of the Yahoos.

Thackery, William. Vanity Fair.

The story of two boarding school friends, quick witted, social climbing, Becky Sharp who was born into poverty but is determined to move out of poverty by marrying rich, and dull, sweet, rich Amelia Sedley.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden.

The author writes of his experiences studying flora and fauna and of simplifying his life alone in a small hut at Walden’s Pond near Concord, Massachusetts from 1845 to 1847.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

A young boy and an escaped slave float down the Mississippi River and have many adventures along the way.

Voltaire. Candide.

The melodramatic adventures of Candide who is forced into the army, robbed, flogged, shipwrecked, separated from his beloved, and tortured by the Inquisition satires the optimistic notion that: “ All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.”

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple.

Told in the form of letters by the main character, Celie and her sister, Nettie, the story is about Celie’s development and rise from brutality and oppression in her youth to happiness and liberation as an adult.

Watson, Larry. Montana 1948.

David's life is profoundly affected by the events of the summer of 1948 when his father, the town sheriff, is forced to choose between loyalty to his family, or seeking justice for young Sioux women who claim to have been molested by David's uncle, a doctor and war hero.

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass.

This is a collection of poems begun in 1855 and revised and added to until the author’s death in 1892. The title of the book I comes from the themes of fertility, universality, and cyclical life.

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray.

A remarkably handsome youth, Dorian Gray, meets Lord Henry Wotton and is corrupted into a life of terrible evil.

Wright, Richard. Native Son.

Partially based upon a real case the novel is the story of black youth, Bigger Thomas, a product of the Chicago slums, who commits two murders, is defended by a communist lawyer, and subsequently condemned to death.
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