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 one this summer.
Book 1: Your grade level's required novel
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 a 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 Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Bowen.
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.