Academics » Summer Reading Program

Summer Reading Program

Summer Reading 2020

Saint Mary’s is pleased to announce our grade-level selections for the 2019 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.

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 .

Written in elegiac prose, 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. To answer that question, Lepore traces the intertwined histories of American politics, law, journalism, and technology, from the colonial town meeting to the nineteenth-century party machine, from talk radio to twenty-first-century Internet polls, from Magna Carta to the Patriot Act, from the printing press to Facebook News.

Along the way, Lepore’s sovereign 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 slaves 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 . They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective―from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).

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.

Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.

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