Summer Reading

At Gunston, we believe that reading broadens your background and strengthens verbal and writing skills. It is also a way to discover new ideas and philosophies. As the acclaimed novelist and short story writer Richard Bausch has said, “To my mind, nothing is as important as good writing, because in literature, the walls between people and cultures are broken down, and the things that plague us most—suspicion and fear of the other, and the tendency to see whole groups of people as objects, as monoliths of one cultural stereotype or another—are defeated.”

We advise you to read many books, but require at least four books this summer—Book 1: Your grade level's required novel, Book 2. The community-wide novel, Books 3 & 4. Choose any two novels from the Summer Reading List.

Book One

Grade Level Requirement

Your English teacher will give you an assignment on your required grade-level reading once you return to school.

9th Grade: We ask our students to read J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye because it asks us to think about questions of self-identity, purpose, and the individual’s role in society. We also discuss why Salinger was such an cultural iconoclast and how The Catcher in the Rye can be read as a novel responding to World War II.

10th Grade: George Orwell’s 1984 has long been the required sophomore read on our list and has recently returned to the top of bestseller lists along with other works depicting dystopias. Politically relevant, the novel questions the degree of influence a government should have in its citizens’ lives, but perhaps more importantly, it explores the nature of truth, and how truth is represented (or not) in language.

11th Grade: Students should read either: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; OR The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara. AP US History students should read: Mayflower, Nathaniel Philbrick.

  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Abraham Lincoln called Stowe “the little lady who started the war”. This book was a major factor in making northerners aware of the evils of slavery and has become one of the most popular books of all time.
  • Killer Angels by Michael Shaara An in-depth telling of the Battle of Gettysburg that gets into the minds of the major, and minor, players of one of the most important battles in American history and the turning point of the Civil War.
  • Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick AP U.S. History students will get a head start on their studies by reading this account of the first 75 years of settlement in New England. Philbrick tells the complicated story of the natives of New England and their encounters with the colonizing English. Conflicts within both societies, and with each other,  will lead to the first major war between colonists and natives in King Phillip’s War.

12th Grade: Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy recounts the author’s work as a lawyer working in the field of social justice and in particular, the incarcerated poor. Using several of the cases he was personally involved in, Stevenson exposes the systemic racism embedded in the criminal justice system in the United States and makes a powerful argument for reform.

Book Two

Community-wide Read

Your English teacher will give you an assignment on the community read once you return to school.

This year, our community-wide read is Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Always the popular literary figure amongst high school hipsters (and Stranger Things heroes), Vonnegut's writing invites his readers to reconsider their relationship with reality. In particular, Cat’s Cradle is not only a critically humorous and relevant examination of our relationship with technology, science, and freedom, but the novel is also one of his finest. Vonnegut himself gave the book an A+.

Books Three & Four

Summer Reading List

Choose two books from this reading list and complete a Response Journal for both of your choices. The Journal will be due no later then Friday, September 8.


Achebe, Chinua Things Fall Apart

Adichie, Chimananda Ngozi Half of a Yellow Sun

Alain-Fournier, Henri The Lost Domain

Allende, Isabel The House of the Spirits

Amado, Jorge The War of the Saints

Atwood, Margaret The Handmaid’s Tale

Austen, Jane Emma

Pride and Prejudice

Balzac, Honore de The Human Comedy

Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan

Beckett, Samuel Waiting for Godot

Borges, Jorge L. Labyrinths

A Personal Anthology

Bronte, Charlotte Jane Eyre

Burgess, Anthony A Clockwork Orange

Campbell, Joseph The Power of Myth

Camus, Albert The Stranger

Carey, Peter Parrot and Olivier in America

Chatwin, Bruce Songlines In Patagonia

Chaucer,Geoffrey Canterbury Tales

Chekov, Anton The Cherry Orchard

Coetzee, J.M. Disgrace

Collins, Wilkie The Moonstone

Conrad, Joseph Heart of Darkness Lord Jim

Conway, Jill Ker The Road from Coorain

Courtenay, Bryce The Power of One

Davies, Robertson The Deptford Trilogy

deBernieres, Louis Corelli’s Mandolin

Delderfield, R.F. To Serve Them All My Days

Dinesen, Isak Out of Africa

Dickens, Charles A Tale of Two Cities Oliver Twist

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor Crime and Punishment

The Brothers Karamazov

Doyle, Arthur Conan Sherlock Holmes Stories

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Dubus, Andre III House of Sand and Fog

duMaurier, Daphne Rebecca

Durrell, Gerald My Family and Other Animals

Eco, Umberto The Name of the Rose

Eliot, George Silas Marner

Flaubert, Gustav Madame Bovary

Fowles, John The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Frank, Anne The Diary of a Young Girl

Fromm, Erich The Art of Loving

Fuentes, Carlos Death of Artemio Cruz

Fugard, Athol Master Harold and the Boys

Fuller, Alexandra Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Gogol, Nikolai Short Stories

Golding, William Lord of the Flies

Gordimer, Nadine My Son’s Story

Grahame, Kenneth The Wind in the Willows

Grass, Gunter The Tin Drum

Graves, Robert I, Claudius King Jesus

Greene, Graham The Heart of the Matter The Quiet American

Grushin, Olga The Dream Life of Sukhanov

Hardy, Thomas Jude the Obscure Return of the Native

Heaney, Seamus Beowulf

Hesse, Hermann Siddhartha

Hosseini, Khaled A Thousand Splendid Suns

Hugo, Victor Les Miserables

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hulme, Keri The Bone People

Huxley, Aldous Brave New World Island

Ibsen, Henrik A Doll’s House

An Enemy of the People

Ionesco, Eugene Rhinoceros

Ishiguro, Kazuo Remains of the Day

Iweala, Uzodinma Beast of No Nation

Japrisot, Sebastien A Very Long Engagement

Joyce, James Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man Dubliners

Kafka, Franz The Trial

Kawabata, Yasunari Thousand Cranes

Kincaid, Jamaica Annie John

Kipling, Rudyard Captains Courageous

King, Ross Brunelleschi’s Dome

Koestler, Arthur Darkness at Noon

Kosinksi, Jerzy The Painted Bird

Kundera, Milan The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Lagerkvist, Par Barabbas

Lawrence, D.H. Sons and Lovers The Rainbow

Lawhead, Stephen R. The Iron Lance

Levi, Carlo Christ Stopped at Eboli

Levi, Primo Survival in Auschwitz

Lewis, C.S. The Space Trilogy

Lahiri, Jhumpa The Namesake

Llosa, Mario Vargas The Feast of the Goat

Makine, Andrei Once Upon the River Love

Mann, Thomas Death in Venice

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia Autumn of the Patriarch

Love in the Time of Cholera

Maugham, Somerset Of Human Bondage

Maupassant, Guy de Bel Ami

Mauriac, Francois Therese Desqueyroux

Maurice, Edward Beauclerk The Last Gentleman Adventurer

Maxwell, Gavin Ring of Bright Water

Mayle, Peter A Year in Provence

McEwen, Ian Atonement Enduring Love

Mistry, Rohinton A Fine Balance

Mortimer, John The Rumpole Omnibus

Mowat, Farley Never Cry Wolf

Nabokov, Vladimir Pale Fire

Orwell, George Animal Farm

Ondaatje, Michael The English Patient

Pasternak, Boris Dr. Zhivago

Paton, Alan Cry, The Beloved Country

Peters, Ellis A Morbid Taste for Bones

Proust, Marcel Swann’s Way

Prevost, L’Abbaye Manon Lescaut

Remarque, Erich All Quiet on the Western Front

Rilke, Rainer Maria Letters to a Young Poet

Rhys, Jean Wide Sargasso Sea

Roy, Arhudhati The God of Small Things

Sartre, Jean-Paul No Exit

Sayers, Dorothy The Nine Tailor

Seraji, Mahbod Rooftops of Tehran

Shaw, George Bernard Pygmalion

Androcles and the Lion

Shute, Nevil On the Beach

Smith, Alexander McCall The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Smith, Zadie White Teeth

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Sophocles Oedipus Trilogy

Stendhal The Red and the Black

Stevenson, Robert Louis Treasure Island

Sun, Tzu The Art of War

Suskind, Patrick Perfume

Swift, Jonathan Gulliver’s Travels

Tey, Josephine Daughter of Time

Tolkien, J.R.R. Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Tolstoy, Leo Anna Karenina

Turgenev, Ivan Fathers and Sons

Unsworth, Barry The Rage of the Vulture

Voltaire Candide

Waugh, Evelyn Brideshead Revisited The Loved One

Wiesel, Elie All Rivers Run to the Sea The Gates of the Forest

Wilde, Oscar The Importance of Being Earnest The Picture of Dorian Gray

Winchester, Simon Krakatoa

Woodhouse, P.G. Leave it to Psmith

Woolf, Virginia To the Lighthouse Mrs. Dalloway

Yeats, William Butler Collected Poems

Zola, Emile L’Assommoir

Zusak, Markus The Book Thief



Abbey, Edward Desert Solitaire

Abernathy, Ralph And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

Albee, Edward The American Dream The Zoo Story

Alcott, Louisa May Little Women

Ambrose, Stephen Undaunted Courage

Angelou, Maya I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Asimov, Isaac Foundation

Baldwin, James Go Tell it on the Mountain

Ball, Edward Slaves in the Family

Barrett, Andrea Ship Fever

Barth, John The Sot-Weed Factor The Floating Opera

Baum, L. Frank The Wizard of Oz

Bellow, Saul Henderson, The Rain King

Boo, Katherine Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Bradbury, Ray Fahrenheit 451

A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories

Brinkley, David Washington at War

Brokaw, Tom The Greatest Generation

Brooks, Geraldine Nine Parts of Desire

Brooks, Gwendolyn Selected Poems

Brown, Dee Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Bryson, Bill The Lost Continent

Buck, Pearl S. The Good Earth

Cahill, Thomas The Gift of the Jews

Capote, Truman Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Carson, Rachel Silent Spring

Carver, Raymond Where I’m Calling From

Cather, Willa My Antonia

Chappell, Helen Oysterback Tales

Cheever, John The Short Stories

Chin, Staceyann The Other Side of Paradise

Chopin, Kate The Awakening

Cisneros, Sandra The House on Mango Street

Clark, Walter The Ox-Bow Incident

Conroy, Pat The Great Santini

The Lords of Discipline

Crane, Stephen The Red Badge of Courage

Cummings, E.E. Selected Poems

Diamant, Anita The Red Tent

Diaz, Junot Drown The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

Dickey, James Deliverance

Dickinson, Emily Collected Poems

Doctorow, E.L. The March

Dorris, Michael A Yellow Raft in Blue Water

Dreiser, Theodore Sister Carrie

Durrow, Heidi The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

Egan, Timothy The Worst Hard Times

Eggers, Dave The Circle

Eisley, Loren Immense Journey

Ellison, Ralph Invisible Man

Equiano, Olaudah The Interesting Narrative & Other Writings

Erdrich, Louise The Beet Queen

Eugenides, Jeffrey Middlesex

Faulkner, William The Reivers Sartoris

Fitzgerald, F. Scott Tender is the Night

Flynn, Nick Another Bull---- Night in Suck City

Foer, Jonathan Safran Everything is Illuminated

Ford, Richard Independence Day

Fountain, Ben Billie Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk

Franzen, Jonathan Freedom

Frederic, Harold The Damnation of Theron Ware

Frost, Robert Selected Poems

Gaines, Ernest J.
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
A Gathering of Old Men

Gibbon, Boyd Wye Island

Gilman, Charlotte P. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings

Gladwell, Malcolm Outliers

Grann, David The Lost City of Z

Gruen, Sara Water for Elephants

Haley, Alex Roots

Hansberry, Lorraine A Raisin in the Sun

Hawthorne, Nathaniel House of Seven Gables

Heinlein, Robert Stranger in a Strange Land

Helfer, Ralph Modoc

Heller, Joseph Catch 22

Hemingway, Ernest
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Old Man and the Sea
Garden of Eden

Hersey, John Hiroshima

A Single Pebble

Horton, Tom Turning the Tide

Horwitz, Tony A Voyage Long and Strange

Howells, William The Rise of Silas Lapham

Hume, Ivor Noel Martin’s Hundred

Hurston, Zora Neale Their Eyes Were Watching God

Irving, John Cider House Rules

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Jacobs, Harriet Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

James, Henry The Turn of the Screw

Johnson, Charles Middle Passage

Kerouac, Jack On the Road

Kesey, Ken One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Kingsolver, Barbara Poisonwood Bible

Kingston, Maxine H. The Woman Warrior

Knowles, John A Separate Peace

Krakauer, Jon Into Thin Air

Under the Banner of Heaven

Krauss, Nicole The History of Love

Lahiri, Jhumpa Interpreter of Maladies

Lee, Harper To Kill a Mockingbird

Leopold, Aldo A Sand County Almanac

Lewis, Sinclair Elmer Gantry

London, Jack Call of the Wild

Lopez, Barry Crossing Open Ground

Northrup, Solomon Twelve Years a Slave

Maclean, Norman F. A River Runs Through It

Manchester, William Young Lion

McBride, James The Color of Water

McCarthy, Cormac The Road

No Country for Old Men All the Pretty Horses

McCourt, Frank Angela’s Ashes

McCullough, David Mornings on Horseback

Meloy, Maile Both Ways is the Only Way I Want it.

Melville, Herman Moby Dick

Mendelsohn, Daniel The Lost

Meyer, Philipp American Rust

Michener, James Chesapeake

Milford, Nancy Zelda

Miller, Arthur The Crucible

Mitchell, Margaret Gone with the Wind

Morrison, Toni
  • Beloved
  • The Bluest Eye

McPhee, John Encounters with the Archdruid Looking for a Ship

Moore, Wes The Other Wes Moore

Morrow, James Towing Jehovah

Mortenson, Greg Three Cups of Tea

Mosher, Howard Frank On Kingdom Mountain

Naylor, Gloria The Women of Brewster Place

Nichols, Peter Evolution’s Captain

O’Brien, Tim If I Die in A Combat Zone

O’Connor, Edwin The Last Hurrah

O’Connor, Flannery Short Stories

O’Neill, Eugene The Iceman Cometh

Patchett, Ann Bel Canto

Percy, Benjamin Red Moon

Philbrick, Nathaniel Mayflower

Phillips, J.B. Your God is Too Small

Plath, Sylvia The Bell Jar

Poe, Edgar Allan Short Stories

Pollan, Michael The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Potok, Chaim The Chosen

Powers, Kevin Yellow Birds

Richter, Conrad The Light in the Forest

Ridley, Matt Genome

Robbins, Tom Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates

Russell, Karen
  • Vampires in the Lemongrove
  • St. Lucy’s Home for Girls
  • Raised by Wolves

Russo, Richard Empire Falls

Ryan, W. & Pitman, W. Noah’s Flood

Salinger, J.D.
  • Franny and Zooey
  • Nine Stories

Salter, James Dusk and Other Stories

Santayana, George The Last Puritan

Saroyan, William The Human Comedy

Saunders, George
  • Tenth of December
  • Bad Decline in CivilWarLand

Schama, Simon Rough Crossings

Shaara, Michael The Killer Angels

Shteyngart, Gary Absurdistan

Simon, Neil The Good Doctor

Sinclair, Upton The Jungle

Skloot, Rebecca The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Smith, Betty A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Sobel, Dava Longitude Galileo’s Daughter

Starita, Joe The Dull Knives of Pine Ridge: A Lakota Odyssey

Stegner, Wallace Angle of Repose

Steinbeck, John Of Mice and Men

Stowe, Harriet Beecher Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Strayed, Cheryl Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Strout, Elizabeth Olive Kitteridge

Styron, William Lie Down in Darkness

The Confessions of Nat Turner

Tan, Amy The Joy Luck Club

Tartt, Donna The Goldfinch

Teal, J. and M. Life and Death of the Salt Marsh

Thoreau, Henry D. Walden

Thomas, Lewis Lives of the Cell

Tilghman, Christopher Right Hand Shore

Tubman, Harriet The Moses of her People

Tuchman, Barbara A Distant Mirror

Twain, Mark The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Pudd’nhead Wilson

Updike, John Rabbit, Run

van den Berg What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

Vonnegut, Kurt Slaughter-House Five Cat’s Cradle

Walker, Alice The Color Purple

Walls, Jeanette The Glass Castle

Wallis, Velma Two Old Women

Warner, William Beautiful Swimmers

Warren, Robert Penn All the King’s Men

Watkins, Paul Stand Before Your God

Welty, Eudora The Robber Bridegroom

Wharton, Edith Ethan Frome

Wilder, Thornton The Bridge of San Luis Rey Our Town

Williams, Tennessee The Glass Menagerie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Wilson, August Fences

Winch, Julie A Gentleman of Color

Wolfe, Tom The Right Stuff

Wolff, Tobias This Boy’s Life

Wouk, Herman The Caine Mutiny

Wright, Richard Black Boy Native Son

Wright, Austin Tappan Islandia

Yoon, Paul Once the Shore Snow Hunters

Summer Reading Response Journal


For the two books you choose to read from the Reading List, we ask that you write a journal response of at least 500 words for each book. You may use first person (“I”) in your responses. Your journal entries should be Times Roman, 12 point, double spaced.

Here are some suggestions for writing about different components of the books:

  • Personal reaction to characters, events, themes, recurring imagery and/or symbolism
  • Pose questions and attempt to respond to themIdentify significant quotes and comment upon them
  • Imagine you are one of the characters and then write from his or her perspective

You should avoid plot summary in your responses. Summer reading journals will be assessed in relation to the depth of engagement, as well as clarity of writing.