Summer Reading

Summer Reading

Students should read at least five (5) essays from The New Kings of Non-Fiction, and one more text from the list.

Please note that the spreadsheet includes four sheets, each of which organizes the list differently. You can view the options sorted by the author’s name, the title, the genre/category, or view a shorter list with only the titles that have descriptions.

Those titles that are bolded on the list above have brief descriptions below:

General Interest Non-Fiction

Barry, Dave. I’m Not Taking This Sitting Down. One of the Pulitzer prize-winning humorist’s best collections. Barry writes about what irritates him in today’s culture—slow drivers, people who work in their bathrobes, low-flow toilets—lots of things! Definitely light weight, but always hilarious.

 Barry, John M. The Great Influenza. A detailed description of the scourge of the “Spanish flu” of 1918 with interesting elements of the practice of medicine and medical school in those days. Especially appealing for students who are science oriented.

Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. Truman Capote reconstructs the 1959 murder of a Kansas farm family and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers…the story of the lives and deaths of these six people, the victims and the murderers. Ground breaking journalism that reads like fiction.

Carter, Stephen. Culture of Disbelief (1994). God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics (2001). Cultural commentary by Yale Law School professor.

Eggers, Dave. Zeitoun.  The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina. Told with eloquence and compassion, Zeitoun is a riveting account of one family’s unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water.

Gilbert, Daniel. Stumbling on Happiness. Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for  infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink? Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight? Why can’t we remember one song while listening to another? In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight…Vividly bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there.

Gladwell, Malcolm. Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Explores the tipping point phenomenon—what causes a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. A book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant…that aren’t as simple as they seem…cutting edge neuroscience and psychology

Outliers: The Story of Success. Gladwell’s newest best seller.

What the Dog Saw: “Here is the bittersweet tale of the inventor of the birth control pill, and the dazzling inventions of the pasta sauce pioneer Howard Moscowitz. Gladwell sits with Ron Popeil, the king of the American kitchen, as he sells rotisserie ovens, and divines the secrets of Cesar Millan, the “dog whisperer” who can calm savage animals with the touch of his hand. He explores intelligence tests and ethnic profiling and “hindsight bias” and why it was that everyone in Silicon Valley once tripped over themselves to hire the same college graduate” (

Klosterman, Chuck. Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. Masterful and entertaining analysis of pop culture.

Kurson, Robert. Shadow Divers. Underwater investigation of WWII mystery U-boat shipwreck.

Redding, Stan and Frank W. Abagnale. Catch Me if You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake The amazing true story of the youngest, most daring con man in the history of fun and profit.

Richtel, Matt. A Deadly Wandering. A brilliant, narrative-driven exploration of technology’s vast influence on the human mind and society, dramatically-told through the lens of a tragic “texting-while-driving” car crash that claimed the lives of two rocket scientists in 2006. In this ambitious, compelling, and beautifully written book, Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, examines the impact of technology on our lives through the story of Utah college student Reggie Shaw, who killed two scientists while texting and driving.

Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  “Henrietta Lacks (HeLa) was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors. Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multimillion dollar industry. More than 20 years later, her children found out. This is not fiction.”

Sacks, Oliver. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales. Psychology”one of the great clinical writers of the 20th century” (New York Times) recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders…stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations



Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

Boylan, James Finney. Getting In. Three adults and four high-school seniors [take] a whirlwind tour of swanky eastern colleges that turns into a journey of self-discovery…Long-kept secrets, betrayals, and complex relationships between teens and between teens and their parents mark this raucous, sexy, and also moving novel that gives new meaning to going off to college and coming of age. This novel sneaked in because of its relevance to high school seniors! Alex Award book*

Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning. Psychiatrist’s memoir of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Has sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages…listed in a Library of Congress survey as among the ten most influential books in America as “a book that made a difference in your life.” May be of special interest to students who liked Elie Wiesel’s Night. I read this book as a senior in high school, loved it, and have never forgotten it. VFS

Hamil, Pete. A Drinking Life: A Memoir.  20 years after his last drink Pete Hamill looks back on his early life. As a child during the depression and World War II he learnt that drinking was to be an essential part of being a man, it was only later he discovered its ability to destroy lives.

Hillenbrand, Laura. Seabiscuit. Sports biography of a great American race horse in Depression era America.

Kercheval, Jesse Lee. Space. A memoir so beautifully and seamlessly written [you] will think it is fiction. Kercheval tells her own story, beginning when, at age 10, she moved with her family to a home in Cocoa Beach, Florida, in view of Cape Kennedy. Set against the promise implicit in the launching of Apollo, her touching recollection of her youth and teenage years–her strange, unhappy parents, her difficulties fitting into a new school, and her first love–speaks to universal concerns about growing up and resurrects a pivotal episode of American history and culture for a new generation. Alex Award book*

Mooney, Jonathan. The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal. Memoir. “Labeled ‘dyslexic and profoundly disabled,’ Jonathan Mooney was a short-bus rider—a derogatory term used for kids in special education.”

Rodriguez, Luis J. Always Running.  A brave, unflinching account of life in a Los Angeles street gang. Luis J. Rodríguez joined his first gang at age eleven. As a teenager, he witnessed the rise of some of the most notorious cliques and sets in Southern California and knew only a life of violence—one that revolved around drugs, gang wars, and police brutality. But unlike most of those around him, Rodríguez found a way out when art, writing, and political activism rescued him from the brink of self-destruction. Always Running spares no detail in its vivid, brutally honest portrayal of street life and violence, and it stands as a powerful and unforgettable testimonial of gang life, by one of the most acclaimed Chicano writers of his generation.

Rodriquez, Richard. Hunger of Memory.  Hunger of Memory is the story of Mexican-American Richard Rodriguez, who begins his schooling in Sacramento, California, knowing just 50 words of English, and concludes his university studies in the stately quiet of the reading room of the British Museum. Here is the poignant journey of a “minority student” who pays the cost of his social assimilation and academic success with a painful alienation — from his past, his parents, his culture — and so describes the high price of “making it” in middle-class America.

Yousafzai, Malala. I Am Malala.  On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she was shot in the head while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.