English 12R-1 Summer Reading 2007
For your summer reading assignment this year, you will have a choice of books from which you must read 1. If you would like to start the year off with some extra credit, there is also an option for that. This assignment is due on the first day back to school. If you turn it in late, you will lose 10% every day that it is late.
Complete each of the following 2 sections. They must be typed and double-spaced, and you should use Times New Roman 12pt. font with 1 inch margins. Make sure your name and the title of the book you read is clearly visible.
1. (50%) As you read the book, complete at least 5 reader's responses. Your responses should not include plot summery. Assume I wrote the book, so you don't need to fill me in on it. Responses should include, but are not limited to, ideas such as: characterization, themes (how the book relates to life), the author's talent/craft, use of literary techniques (symbolism, irony, foreshadowing, plot twists, etc. . .), and the like. Your responses should be written in sentence form and should equal a good, full paragraph total. Although these must be typed when turned in, feel free to respond in a notebook or on post-its as you read and then later transfer these thoughts to a word processor.
2. (50%) Identify the 5 most important passages from the book. The passage may be a phrase, sentence, or group of sentences / piece of dialogue. For each of the passages, write out the full passage, with appropriate quotation marks and page citation. After the passage, analyze its importance to the book as a whole. Again, do not summarize the plot but give an analysis that explains why this passage is important to understanding the work as a whole. Your analysis should be one paragraph. A smart idea is to keep track of passages which could possibly end up as your choice as you read, and then, when you finish the book, look back at the passages you selected and choose the 5 most important.
Extra credit option: Complete 1 of the 2 requirements above for a second book from the list.
List of Book Choices (continued on back)
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ismael Beah - This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war goes beyond even the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare. Beah's harrowing journey transforms him overnight from a child enthralled by American hip-hop music and dance to an internal refugee bereft of family, wandering from village to village in a country grown deeply divided by the indiscriminate atrocities of unruly, sociopathic rebel and army forces. Beah then finds himself in the army--in a drug-filled life of casual mass slaughter that lasts until he is 15, when he's brought to a rehabilitation center sponsored by UNICEF and partnering NGOs. The process marks out Beah as a gifted spokesman for the center's work after his "repatriation" to civilian life in the capital, where he lives with his family and a distant uncle. When the war finally engulfs the capital, it sends 17-year-old Beah fleeing again, this time to the U.S., where he now lives.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon -- This novel follows the lives of the title characters, a Czech artist and a Brooklyn, New York writer--both Jewish--before, during, and after World War II. Kavalier and Clay become major figures in the nascent comics industry during its "Golden Age"; many events in the novel are based on the lives of actual comic-book creators.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood - The protagonist of Oryx and Crake is Snowman, clad only in a bed sheet and a Red Sox cap, who appears to be the last human being on Earth. He's not entirely alone, however; strange hybrid beasts such as wolvogs, pigoons and rakunks are roaming freely. As well, a group of what he calls Crakers--strange human-like creatures--lives nearby. They bring Snowman food and consult him on matters that surpass their understanding; thus, Snowman comes across as a post-apocalyptic hermit guru. As the story develops, these assorted lifeforms are revealed to be the products of
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich - During a conversation with Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper's, Ehrenreich proposes a journalistic approach to the effects of welfare reform, an infiltration of the "unskilled" work market; unbeknownst to her, she would be the one investigating. Securing funds for unexpected expenses, approximately $1000, she leaves her home and her middle-class existence, with a few personal items and her car, for a few months of low wage work. Throughout the exposÚ, Ehrenreich combats the "too lazy to work" and "a job will defeat poverty" ideals held by many middle and upper-class citizens. Highlighting problems with the argument, Ehrenreich reveals many of the difficulties associated with low wage jobs. This book is nonfiction and a real-life story.
Snow by Orhan Pamuk - A Turkish poet who spent 12 years as a political exile in Germany witnesses firsthand the clash between radical Islam and Western ideals in this enigmatically beautiful novel. Ka's reasons for visiting the small Turkish town of Kars are twofold: curiosity about the rash of suicides by young girls in the town and a hope to reconnect with "the beautiful Ipek," whom he knew as a youth. But Kars is a tangle of poverty-stricken families, Kurdish separatists, political Islamists (including Ipek's spirited sister Kadife) and Ka finds himself making compromises with all in a desperate play for his own happiness. Ka encounters government officials, idealistic students, leftist theater groups and the charismatic and perhaps terroristic Blue while trying to convince Ipek to return to Germany with him; each conversation pits warring ideologies against each other and against Ka's own weary melancholy
Hamlet's Dresser by Bob Smith -- (A memoir) Of what do we write when we write of love? In Bob Smith's case, it is Shakespeare's poems and plays. Hamlet's Dresser braids two strands of his life into a modest, heartbreaking, and soaringly affirmative memoir. A bookish, lonely child, his crush on the Bard's work became love when, as an alienated teenager, he joined the American Shakespeare Theatre as Hamlet's dresser. In time he would dress other characters, perform in small roles, become a coach and a watcher, and eventually lead senior citizens' groups in Shakespeare-appreciation courses. But this ecstatic marriage was haunted by his sad, contorted childhood: an increasingly dysfunctional mother, a distant father, and Caroline, his profoundly retarded sister. The book is thick with short passages from Shakespeare. Placed in perfect context, they leap from the pages, abrupt as panoramic pop-ups.
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse - With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, Hesse's best-known and most autobiographical work is one of literature's most poetic evocations of the soul's journey to liberation. Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. He struggles to reconcile the wild primeval wolf and the rational man within himself without surrendering to the bourgeois values he despises. His life changes dramatically when he meets a woman who is his opposite, the carefree and elusive Hermine. The tale of the Steppenwolf culminates in the surreal Magic Theater For Madmen Only! (If you would like to borrow a copy, see Mr. Seekamp, as he has many)
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer - Into Thin Air is a riveting first-hand account of a catastrophic expedition up Mount Everest. In March 1996, Outside magazine sent veteran journalist and seasoned climber Jon Krakauer on an expedition led by celebrated Everest guide Rob Hall. Despite the expertise of Hall and the other leaders, by the end of summit day eight people were dead. Krakauer's book is at once the story of the ill-fated adventure and an analysis of the factors leading up to its tragic end.
(If you would like to borrow a copy, see Mr. Seekamp, as he has many. After reading, rent the IMAX DVD Everest, which was filmed at the same time as this trip up Everest, only by a different climbing group.)
The Fall of a Sparrow by Robert Hellenga -- Woody Woodhull, a middle-aged professor of Latin and Greek at a small Illinois college, struggles to rebuild his family, devastated by a deadly terrorist attack in Bologna, Italy, in 1980 that killed Woody's eldest daughter and 85 others. Woody's wife breaks down, regroups, and becomes a nun. His two surviving daughters grow to precocious womanhood. As Woody heads toward a new life, matter-of-factly accepting the consequences of an affair with one of his students, he is determined to see justice done for the lost child for whom he never stops grieving. In Italy, finally, he seeks release from his exhausting rage when the terrorists are brought to a court of law. Hellenga has written a masterly follow-up to his widely acclaimed The Sixteen Pleasures (LJ 4/1/94) that is steeped in the sophistication of 1980s Italy and the rich atmosphere of academia, where the multilingual characters effortlessly slip in and out of several languages as they quote from the classics in their day-to-day conversations.