Summer Reading List
American Literature and Composition - 11 CP
Select one novel from List A and one from List B:
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Catch-22 is a satirical novel that moves back and. forth from hilarity to horror - both
outrageously funny and strangely affecting. It is set in the closing months of World War
II in an American bomber squadron off Italy. This is the story of a bombardier named
Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met
keep trying to kill him. His efforts to avoid bombing missions is part of the "catch" in
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
In early colonial Massachusetts, Hester Prynne is ostracized by her seventeenth-century
Puritan community for refusing to reveal the identity of her child's father. As a young
woman, she then endures the consequences of her sin of adultery and spends the rest of
her life in atonement.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
An African-American family is united in love and pride as they struggle to overcome
poverty and harsh living conditions, in the award-winning 1959 play about an embattled
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twin.
Huckleberry Finn is the main character, and it is through his eyes that the South is revealed and judged. His companion, a runaway slave named Jim, provides Huck with
friendship and protection during their adventurous journey along the Mississippi.
Though often controversial because of Twain's realistic portrayal of the South prior to
the Civil War, the novel transports readers back to the age of slavery only to discover that
Huck and Jim are able to look past their differences and find the meaning of true
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie was pieced together from -Williams' own tortured life and is an in-depth study of futility and failure. Centering around the life of the protagonist, a hopeless young man with grand aspirations, who is stuck forever in a menial job at a shoe-box
factory. Amanda Wingfield, his mother, lives in a St. Louis tenement, clinging to the
myth of her early years as a Southern belle. Her daughter Laura, who wears a leg brace, is
painfully shy and often seeks solace in her collection of small glass animals. Amanda's
son Tom is desperate to escape his stifling home life and his warehouse job. The Glass
Menagerie is considered by many as Williams' finest play.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
One person the citizens of Eaton are inclined to judge is Janie Crawford, who has married
three men and been tried for the murder of one of them. Janie feels no compulsion to
justify herself to the town, but she does explain herself to her friend, Phoeby, with the
implicit understanding that Phoeby can "tell 'em what Ah say if you wants to." Hurston's
use of dialect enraged other African American writers who accused her of pandering to
white readers by giving them the black stereotypes they expected. Decades later,
however, outrage has been replaced by admiration for her depictions of black life, and
especially the lives of black women.
A Farewell to Arms Hemingway, E.
While serving with the Italian ambulance service during World War I, an American
lieutenant, Frederick Henry, falls in love with his English nurse, Catherine Barkley, who
tends to him after he is wounded. They are separated and he returns to his post. Henry
deserts during the Italians' retreat after the Battle of Caporetto, and the reunited couple
flee to Switzerland. Tragedy strikes again, and Henry is left desolate.
The Piano Lesson by August Wilson
Set in 1936, The Piano Lesson is a powerful play from this Pulitzer Prize-winning author.
A sister and brother fight over a piano that has been in the family for three generations,
creating a remarkable drama that embodies the painful past and expectant future of black
Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
A young child of Cherokee descent is abandoned when thrust into the arms of a woman
who eventually adopts her - only to find that the adoption is not legal. While the
Cherokee nation fights to bring her back to her family, a series of unlikely events bind the
two families. This story is written in an earthy, witty style and is truly heartwarming.
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
Crane's first novel is a tale about a pretty young slum girl driven to brutal excesses by
poverty and loneliness. It was considered so frank and realistic that the book had to be
privately printed at first. It is considered a classic American novel written by an early
American writer whose realistic style led to the artistic movement that would change the
Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor
In this thought-provoking and beautifully written novel, Gloria Naylor explores complex
issues of social class within the parameters of a black affluent community. While on the
outside the residents of Linden Hills seem to revel in the glamorous lifestyles and social
status they work so hard to obtain, the reality is quite different. Naylor allows the reader a
glimpse behind the Porches and the Beverly Hills style mansions into the souls of several
Linden Hills residents. With each one of their stories we begin to understand the price
paid for material success.
Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska
This is a story of an early twentieth-century American immigrant Jewish family, a family
without a son to lighten their load or brighten their lives. Sarah, the narrator, describes
with urgency and in detail the lives she, her sisters, and her mother live to support their
revered, torah-reading father: their crowded shared rooms so he can study undisturbed;
the numerous jobs everyone works just so their father can buy books, clothes, etc. The
father's constant and often impossible demands cause a struggle within Sarah to remain
loyal to him and the family.