AP Lang Summer Reading Update 7.20.20
Given the strange year 2020 has become, the PCSD recently decided to forgo all AP summer work for students this year. There remains an expectation that all Pittsford high school students will read two books of their choice, any two books. See below for a few ideas. If you already read the books I asked you to read, those certainly count. I certainly expect that the smart, curious, independent students that elected to take AP Lang will not only read two books this summer, but will be bursting at the seams wanting to talk about them come September. For my part, I will be looking forward to hearing from all of them.
Let me know of any questions.
Thomas M. Doeblin
Stay aware of the world around you, learn how to read sophisticated nonfiction, practice writing for a real audience, and have a little fun, try The NY Times Summer Reading contest!
If you are like me, you might be looking for a book that could shed some light on race in America. I have heard a lot of good things about How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi, White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo, So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo, and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. I am going to try to read at least one of these this summer.
There are lots of other recommendations out there, but, for what it’s worth, here are a few books and authors that I can personally recommend – in no particular order – and a couple movies:
- Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Framed as a letter to his son, this short book from 2015 gave me a lot to think about. Coates also wrote the Black Panther graphic novel, which I also recommend. I like graphic novels, and they "count" for summer reading.
- Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A 2013 novel about a Nigerian woman who immigrates to the U.S. Adichie is also known for a short book and a Ted Talk entitled, We Should All Be Feminists.
- The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead. A 2016 novel set in the time of slavery. Here, the railroad is not just a metaphor. There are descriptions of graphic violence here, and in other books on this list.
- Anything by Toni Morrison, widely considered one of the greatest American authors. I’ve read Song of Solomon, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye. All challenging; all worth it. The Bluest Eye is probably the most accessible and the shortest of these.
- Anything by James Baldwin. I’ve read Go Tell It On the Mountain and some of his essays. He was black and gay and wrote about both. The recent documentary I Am Not Your Negro is about him. It’s free on Amazon Prime right now. He was a force. I heard him speak once.
- Black Boy, by Richard Wright. I still distinctly remember reading this independently for the first time when I was in high school.
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley). The movie, starring Denzel Washington, is good too and streaming on Netflix right now.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston. One of my professors in college helped rediscover Hurston. You might read this in English 11.
- Kindred, Octavia Butler. A woman from 1970’s Los Angeles travels in time back to plantation slavery.
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass. Every HS graduate should know this book, especially since he lived in Rochester. You might read this in English 11.
Lots of contemporary ideas can be found at Well-Read Black Girl.