Summer Reading Program
Summer Reading 2021
Saint Mary’s is pleased to announce our grade-level selections for the 2021 Summer Reading Program.
For Freshmen: Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World (2015) 320 pages
For Sophomores: Tim Marshall, The Age of Walls: How Barriers Between Nations Are Changing Our World (2018) 288 pages
For Juniors: Jill Lepore, These Truths: A History of the United States (Only Part 1, “The Idea, 1492-1799) (2018)
For Seniors: Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things are Better Than You Think (2018) 259 pages
Please see the the grade-level books selections for more information, including which classes will assess and discuss the books.
Incoming Freshman Book
Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall (2015) 320 pages
In this New York Times bestseller, an award-winning journalist uses ten maps of crucial regions to explain the geo-political strategies of the world powers—“fans of geography, history, and politics (and maps) will be enthralled” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Maps have a mysterious hold over us. Whether ancient, crumbling parchments or generated by Google, maps tell us things we want to know, not only about our current location or where we are going but about the world in general . And yet, when it comes to geo-politics, much of what we are told is generated by analysts and other experts who have neglected to refer to a map of the place in question.
All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. In “one of the best books about geopolitics” (The Evening Standard), now updated to include 2016 geopolitical developments, journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic—their weather, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders—to provide a context often missing from our political reportage: how the physical characteristics of these countries affect their strengths and vulnerabilities and the decisions made by their leaders.
All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. In “one of the best books about geopolitics” (The Evening Standard), now updated to include recent geopolitical developments, journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic—their weather, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders—to provide a context often missing from our political reportage: how the physical characteristics of these countries affect their strengths and vulnerabilities and the decisions made by their leaders.
Offering “a fresh way of looking at maps” (The New York Times Book Review), Marshall explains the complex geo-political strategies that shape the globe . Why is Putin so obsessed with Crimea? Why was the US destined to become a global superpower? Why does China’s power base continue to expand? Why is Tibet destined to lose its autonomy? Why will Europe never be united? The answers are geographical. “In an ever more complex, chaotic, and interlinked world, Prisoners of Geography is a concise and useful primer on geopolitics” (Newsweek) and a critical guide to one of the major determining factors in world affairs.
Courses in Which This Book Will be Used: Geography, English 1-2, English 1-2 (H), Faith in the Modern World, Thinking Mathematically
To download study guides for “Prisoners of Geography” click on the links below:
Incoming Sophomore Book
The Age of Walls: How Barriers Between Nations Are Changing Our World by Tim Marshall (2018) 288 pages
Tim Marshall, the New York Times bestselling author of Prisoners of Geography, analyzes the most urgent and tenacious topics in global politics and international relations by examining the borders, walls, and boundaries that divide countries and their populations .
The globe has always been a world of walls, from the Great Wall of China to Hadrian’s Wall to the Berlin Wall. But a new age of isolationism and economic nationalism is upon us, visible not just in Trump’s obsession with building a wall on the Mexico border or in Britain’s Brexit vote but in many other places as well. China has the great Firewall, holding back Western culture. Europe’s countries are walling themselves against immigrants, terrorism, and currency issues. South Africa has heavily gated communities, and massive walls or fences separate people in the Middle East, Korea, Sudan, India, and other places around the world .
In fact, at least sixty-five countries, more than a third of the world’s nation-states, have barriers along their borders. There are many reasons why walls go up, because we are divided in many ways: wealth, race, religion, and politics, to name a few. Understanding what is behind these divisions is essential to understanding much of what’s going on in the world today.
As with Marshall’s first two books, The Age of Walls is a brisk read, divided by geographic region. He provides an engaging context that is often missing from political discussion and draws on his real life experiences as a reporter from hotspots around the globe . He examines how walls (which Marshall calls “monuments to the failure of politics”), borders, and barriers have been shaping our political landscape for hundreds of years, and especially since 2001, and how they figure in the diplomatic relations and geo-political events of today.
Courses in Which This Book Will be Used: Sophomore Epistemology, World History, AP World History, English 3-4, English 3-4 (H), and Scripture. (Also, if applicable: Islamic History, Latin American History, East Asian History, African History, Perspective on Diversity, Public Policy, American Government, Economics)
To download study guides for “The Age of Walls” click on the links below:
Incoming Junior Book
These Truths: A History of the United States (Only Part 1, “The Idea, 1492-1799) by Jill Lepore (2018)
In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, an urgently needed reckoning with the beauty and tragedy of American history .
Lepore’s groundbreaking investigation places truth itself―a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence―at the center of the nation’s history. The American experiment rests on three ideas―"these truths," Jefferson called them―political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. And it rests, too, on a fearless dedication to inquiry, Lepore argues, because self-government depends on it. But has the nation, and democracy itself, delivered on that promise?
These Truths tells this uniquely American story, beginning in 1492, asking whether the course of events over more than five centuries has proven the nation’s truths, or belied them. Along the way, Lepore’s chronicle is filled with arresting sketches of both well-known and lesser-known Americans, from a parade of presidents and a rogues’ gallery of political mischief makers to the intrepid leaders of protest movements, including Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist orator; William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate and ultimately tragic populist; Pauli Murray, the visionary civil rights strategist; and Phyllis Schlafly, the uncredited architect of modern conservatism.
Americans are descended from enslaved people and slave owners, from conquerors and the conquered, from immigrants and from people who have fought to end immigration. "A nation born in contradiction will fight forever over the meaning of its history," Lepore writes, but engaging in that struggle by studying the past is part of the work of citizenship. "The past is an inheritance, a gift and a burden," These Truths observes. "It can’t be shirked. There’s nothing for it but to get to know it."
Courses in Which This Book Will be Used: United States History, AP U.S . History, Junior Epistemology, American Literature, and AP English Language. (Also, if applicable: Islamic History, Latin American History, East Asian History, African History, Perspective on Diversity, Public Policy, American Government, Economics)
Incoming Senior Book
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things are Better Than You Think (2018) By Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund 259 pages
“One of the most important books I’ve ever read―an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.” – Bill Gates
Factfulness: The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.
When asked simple questions about global trends―what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school―we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.
In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases. It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.
Courses in Which This Book Will be Used: Government and Law, Economics, Odyssey of Youth, Short Story, AP English Literature, Physics, AP Environmental Science, Physiology, Chemistry, Islamic History, Latin American History, East Asian History, African History, Perspective on Diversity, Public Policy, Philosophy, Psychology, Statistics, Math Analysis, Intro to Calculus and AP Calculus
Please choose one of the following books to read over the summer. You will discuss and write about your chosen book in the first weeks of school in the fall. Note: AP students, please do not choose from this list; AP Language and AP Literature assignments are separate and at the bottom of this list.
Lower Division Options (Rising 9th/10th graders)
Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just...gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
The modern fantasy classic that Entertainment Weekly named an “All-Time Greatest Novel” and Newsweek hailed as a “Top 100 Book of All Time.” Philip Pullman takes readers to a world where humans have animal familiars and where parallel universes are within reach. Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal--including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world. Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want.
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokski
Best-selling author Rick Riordan introduces this adventure by Roshani Chokshi about twelve-year-old Aru Shah, who has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur? One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again. But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.
Upper Division Options (rising 11th/12th)
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy. [Note: Contains some superhero/action violence]
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic. A smart, funny, gorgeous retelling starring all characters of color. [Note: Contains some language)
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
In America, it is soccer. But in Great Britain, it is the real football. No pads, no prayers, no prisoners. And that’s before the players even take the field. Nick Hornby has been a football fan since the moment he was conceived. Call it predestiny. Or call it preschool. Fever Pitch is his tribute to a lifelong obsession. Part autobiography, part comedy, part incisive analysis of insanity, Hornby’s award-winning memoir captures the fever pitch of fandom—its agony and ecstasy, its community, its defining role in thousands of young men’s coming-of-age stories. Fever Pitch is one for the home team. But above all, it is one for everyone who knows what it really means to have a losing season. [Note: Contains some language)
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How Christopher Johnson McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild. When McCandless's innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless's uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer's storytelling blaze through every page. [Note: Contains some language; Some scenes of peril)
Advanced Placement Assignments:
AP Language Students: A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
AP Literature Students: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley