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Summer Reading - Form III

Dear Rising Third Formers,

This year the St. Albans English Department requires that all incoming Third Formers read the following books over the summer months:
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, written with the assistance of Alex Haley; and
  • Growing Up, by Russell Baker.
In this way, we hope to provide for all Third Formers a common background with which they may begin their literary studies in the Upper School.

You are not being asked to write book reviews or to take a test when you report to school in September; rather, your teacher will refer to these texts in class discussions, asking you to compare and contrast these books with those in the Third Form curriculum. The results should be a broader perspective and deeper appreciation for all.

Of course, the School urges that you not consider yourself limited by these two books: “The more the better” should be your guiding principle. For additional suggestions, you might consult the list below.


Donna Denizé
Chairman English Department

Suggestions for Forms III, IV, and Older

List of 2 items.

  • Fiction

    Agee, James. A Death in the Family. The bitter-sweet tale of a family coping with the untimely death of a husband and father.

    Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. An autobiography of a young girl -- black, poor, and gifted -- growing up in segregated America.

    Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time. The personal story of James Baldwin's growing up in Harlem and an examination of race relations in America.

    Beagle, Peter. A Fine and Private Place. A sweet fantasy about life and love after death.

    Christie, Agatha. And Then There Were None. The story of 10 strangers, each lured to Indian Island by a mysterious host. Once his guests have arrived, the host accuses each person of murder. Unable to leave the island, the guests begin to share their darkest secrets -- until they begin to die.

    Conrad, Joseph. Victory. Written in an atypically lucid style, a terrific adventure story set in the Dutch East Indies. Evil eventually invades an idyll.

    Dixon, Steven. Garbage. Kafka and pulp fiction meet in the story of a small-time bar owner threatened by mobsters -- or is he?

    Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. A medieval murder mystery that follows the conventions of detective fiction; the story raises contemporary moral and intellectual questions and gives a provocative look at a historical period.

    Feinstein, John. A Civil War. A top sports journalist vividly recounts one year (1995) of the Army-Navy football rivalry.

    Gaines, Ernest. A Lesson Before Dying. An award-winning coming-of-age story set in the segregated South.

    Greene, Graham. The Human Factor. A well-designed spy/espionage novel set in England during the height of the Cold War.

    Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. A gifted autistic child sets out to discover who killed his neighbor's dog. A sensitive novel about a boy's painful confrontation with his family and the outside world.

    Harris, Robert. Pompeii. Young Marcus Attilius Primus, an upstanding Roman engineer, rushes to repair an aqueduct in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, which, in A.D. 79, is getting ready to blow its top.

    Johnson, Charles. Middle Passage. A classic sea saga about a newly freed slave who attempts to escape his Louisiana debts by stowing away on the first available ship.

    Killing, John Oliver. Youngblood. Chronicles the lives of an African-American family and their friends in Crossroads, Georgia, from the turn of the century to the Great Depression.

    Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. Classic coming-of-age novel.

    Llewellyn, Richard. How Green Was My Valley. Huw Morgan is about to leave home forever. As a huge slag heap has crept menacingly upon his childhood home, he remembers when South Wales still prospered, when coal dust had not yet blackened the valley.

    Martin, Valerie. Mary Reilly. The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, told by a young housemaid in Dr. Jekyll's house; terrific companion piece to the original.

    Miller, Walter. A Canticle for Lebowitz. Many would argue that this post-Armageddon novel is the best science fiction work of the twentieth century.

    Moore, Lori. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital. A middle-aged woman reflects on the summer of her 15th year.

    Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. A young man strikes out alone, drawn away from his home in the South by the promise of buried gold, adventure, and the truth of his own family's buried heritage.

    Paton, Alan. Cry, the Beloved -Country. A lyrical novel, which explores the complications and intricacies of race and personal relations in apartheid-era South Africa.

    Robinson, Lew. Officer Friendly and Other Stories. Short stories set in fictional Point Allison, Maine. Quirky, funny, engaging.

    Rosengarten, Theodore. All God's Dangers, the Life of Nate Shaw. A heroic African-American sharecropper's tale of his eighty-eight-year saga of surviving all God's dangers -- from the wrath of nature to the wrath of prejudice.

    Saltzman, Mark. Lying Awake. In this sharply focused, brief narrative, a middle-aged, cloistered nun experiences mystical visions that may or may not be the result of epileptic seizures. A quiet, understated, beautiful novel.

    Shaara, Michael. The Killer Angels. A Civil War narrative that focuses on the turning point of the war -- Gettysburg.

    Taylor, Robert Lewis. The Travels of Jamie McPheeters. A tale full of humor and adventure, narrated by a fourteen-year-old boy crossing the United States with his father in a wagon train during the Gold Rush.

    Theroux, Paul. The Mosquito Coast. Dark and often funny adventure story narrated by the fifteen-year-old son of a counter-culture father who takes his family to live in the jungle of an unnamed Central American country.

    Tolkein, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. Any part of the classic fantasy series deserves a read.

    Weisel, Elie. The Accident or Dawn. Two gripping novellas about the Holocaust.

    White, T.H. The Once and Future King. A wonderful retelling of the King Arthur legend by a writer whose awareness of the totalitarian threat posed by Hitler adds dimension to a story of how idealistic heroes are eventually brought to grief by evil (four volumes, best read separately).

    Wolff, Tobias. Old School. The narrator and protagonist of this 1960s novel is a scholarship student at a New England prep school that invites literary stars to the campus. Seniors write pieces to be "judged" by the guest; the winner enjoys a private meeting with the literary luminary. Having missed out on an audience with Robert Frost and Ayn Rand, the novel's protagonist is determined to meet with Ernest Hemingway.

    Wright, Richard. Native Son. The fierce story of Bigger Thomas, in the privileged white world of Chicago, and the brutal murder of a white woman.
  • Non-Fiction

    Baker, Russell. Growing Up. Chronicles the writer's beginnings in the Great Depression, his family life and early career as a journalist.

    Capuzzo, Michael. Close to Shore: a True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence. Recreates the summer of 1916 when a rogue great white shark attacked swimmers along the New Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching the most extensive shark hunt in history.

    Frank, Anne. Anne Frank; The Diary of a Young Girl. An account of a young girl and her family hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II.

    Gunther, John. Death Be Not Proud. A father's powerful story of his son's courageous battle against cancer.

    Halberstam, David. The Teammates. Famed journalist and baseball aficionado recounts the lives and friendship of four ballplayers from the legendary Boston Red Sox teams of the 1940s: Ted Williams, Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr.

    Hillenbrand, Laura. Seabiscuit: An American Legend. He didn't look like much. With his smallish stature, knobby knees, and slightly crooked forelegs, he looked more like a cow pony than a thoroughbred. But looks aren't everything. The author tells the story of the horse with "heart" that became a cultural icon.

    Herrigel, Eugen. Zen in the Art of Archery. A Western philosopher studies archery in Japan as a way of seeking Zen enlightenment.

    Hersey, John. Hiroshima. Eyewitness accounts of Hiroshima's destruction by the atomic bomb.

    Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm. A true account of a terrible storm in 1991, which wrecked a commercial fishing boat and killed its crew.

    Kingston, Maxine Hong. China Men. Patriarchal forebearers and succeeding generations journey from homelands to the Gold Mountain, examining the relationship between China and the United States, as well as between men and women.

    Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior. An account of growing up Chinese-American in California.

    Krakauer, John. Into Thin Air. A suspenseful first-person account of the 1996 ascent of Mt. Everest that left 10 dead.

    Leavy, Jane. Sandy Koufax, A Lefty's Legacy. Part biography and part cultural history, this book recounts the legendary career of baseball's Sandy Koufax. It also contains interviews with Koufax's friends, teammates, and opponents which reveal the great depth of Koufax's humanity.

    Maas, Peter. The Terrible Hours. Chronicles the true story of 33 American sailors trapped aboard a sunken submarine, just prior to World War II, and the man who attempted their rescue, Navy officer Charles "Swede" Momsen.

    Malcolm X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. A modern classic that traces the struggle for identity, as told to Alex Haley.

    Maraniss, David. When Pride Still Mattered. An in-depth, highly readable biography of football Hall-of-Fame coach Vince Lombardi, for whom the Super Bowl Trophy is named.

    Massie, Robert K. Nicholas and Alexandria. An unforgettable account of the extraordinary imperial dynasty of Tsar Nicholas II, his doomed empire, and a revolution that would change the world forever.

    McPhee, John. Levels of the Game. A great non-fiction writer profiles tennis players Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner, whose backgrounds, styles, and personalities embody very different levels of play and understanding.

    Preston, Richard. The Hot Zone. The nation's capital threatened by a potentially catastrophic biological accident.

    Saltzman, Mark. Iron and Silk. An American college grad journeys to mainland China to teach English and learn martial arts.
Located in Washington D.C.,  St. Albans School is a private, all boys day and boarding school. For more than a century, St. Albans has offered a distinctive educational experience for young men in grades 4 through 12. While our students reach exceptional academic goals and exhibit first-rate athletic and artistic achievements, as an Episcopal school we place equal emphasis upon moral and spiritual education.