AP 12 Summer Reading List 2003-2004



Three of these listings will be required for the AP 12 summer reading assignment. The texts should be read before you return in September when evaluation will be conducted to demonstrate that the assignment has been completed.
These listings have been grouped according to the following categories: long novel, average novel, and play/long poem. You will be expected to select one listing from each group. An AP teacher who is familiar with each listing will grade the respective essay responses. One of your selections will be the basis for the required research paper. Thus, this assignment will greatly affect grades in two marking periods.
Many of these novels and plays can be found in the school and public library. However, if you wish to purchase a copy, which is a good idea for the book to be used for the research paper, you will find that the classics are fairly priced.
The text descriptions provided on the following pages are designed to help you make selections that suit your taste and needs. If you have any questions, the AP 12 teacher will be happy to provide the answers.

*not recommended for the research paper*

Remember, you must select one book from each group


Bleak House
by Charles Dickens
perhaps Dickens's best novel which deals with a legal system that is designed to serve itself rather than the needs of the English people. With two alternating narrative voices, the history of a family broken by expectations is traced out to its bitter end.
The Pickwick Papers
by Charles Dickens
an English Don Quixote, Samuel Pickwick, and his companions journey around England in a series of misadventures. This is Dickens's first novel and only comedy, causing his immediate rise to literary stardom. With a mixture of word play, moral justification, and slapstick, this novel makes a great research paper.
Vanity Fair
by William Thackeray
a delightful early Victorian novel that satirizes the English aristocracy through a liberated heroine. Thackeray's "rags-to- riches-to-rags again" adventure of Becky Sharp is sure to keep most insightful readers amused by the way that money makes puppets of almost everyone.
by Sir Walter Scott
one of the most popular romances of English knighthood. Awaiting the return of Richard the Lionhearted from the Crusades, Prince John plots to take control of England. Ivanhoe and the legendary Robin Hood represent the Saxons who supported their king in opposition to the corrupt Norman nobility.
Heart of Midlothian
by Sir Walter Scott
not the easiest novel to read, but definitely Scott's best, painting a beautiful picture of his native Scotland. The heroine makes a valiant journey to England in an effort to save her falsely accused sister who is soon to be executed. Veracity, courage, and family devotion are the root elements of this heroic portrait.
David Copperfield
by Charles Dickens
a very popular account of a young man (semi-autobiographical for Dickens) who must overcome numerous obstacles in life to become a successful and respected gentleman. This novel is filled with several of Dickens's most popular characters and maintains a fast moving, memorable plot.
Tom Jones
by Henry Fielding
a light and moderately loose in basic moralities novel which follows the adventures of a young heroic figure who struggles to survive the influences of sinister and destructive forces in his quest to be reunited with his true love. Fielding's friendly and charming narration make this "loss of innocence" classic a pleasure to read.
by George Eliot
perhaps the most intense psychological study of the Victorian period. Eliot's master novel pioneered a literary style that would dominate the early 20th century. The complex and intriguing plot develops a classic internal conflict over the impulses of duty and desire.
*Barchester Towers*
by Anthony Trollope
a social satire focusing on the petty power struggles of the Anglican clergy during the mid-19th century era. When a "reform" bishop is appointed by the government to lead the clergy of the Barchester cathedral, the established ministers fight back to preserve their traditions. The ironic tone and delightful characterizations are the reason for Trollope's respect as a Victorian author.
Adam Bede
by George Eliot
a powerful tale of a love triangle that results in a tragedy which nearly destroys a farming community in northern England. Eliot's fine grasp of emotional realism is reflected in her masterfully developed characters. The plot moves quickly, though the regional dialect slows down the pace.


Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
an 18th century novel which examines the rural retreats of the English aristocracy. For a young girl who is ready to begin her search for the perfect husband, the failure to see beyond first impressions provides a lasting lesson. Many of the events and characterizations parallel aspects of Austin's life.
Return of the Native
by Thomas Hardy
a novel of romantic tragedy set in the English rural heathlands. Hardy develops a natural woman who hates the rural setting and will do anything to live in the city and a sophisticated man who wants to retreat from urban society to a life of peace in the country. The unwise marriage of these opposites destroys them as well as destroying others related to them. This work is packed with symbolism and rich imagery.
The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy
the tale of a man who lets emotions lead himself to destruction. Michael Henchard, while drunk, sells his wife and child to a passing sailor. Later in life, when he finds his fortune in Casterbridge, the implications of his foul deed begin to haunt him. This selection may have the most interesting plot development and characterization in all of Hardy's novels.
Tess of the D'Ubervilles
by Thomas Hardy
a tragic romance which is set in the industrial revolution of England. Tess serves as an independent woman, ruled by her passions. This powerful novel builds upon the great Victorian tradition and creates a heroine who refuses to yield to the devastating elements of fate.
Jude the Obscure
by Thomas Hardy
a novel of the constrictions of Victorian morality that attacks the institution and the convention of marriage. As Jude and his cousin Sue battle social objections in order to be honest and true to themselves, they are confronted with a series of obstacles leading to poverty and eventual tragedy. This story makes a forceful statement from one of England's best novelists.
Wuthering Heights
by Emily Bronte
a novel of good turned evil. Engaging elements of love, hate, suspense, jealousy, and revenge, Bronte goes beyond the simple narrative of passion between two characters by using symbols, imagery, and vivid descriptions which are all open to a reader's interpretation.
Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift
a four-part satiric 18th century novel which powerfully attacks the Whigs and Tories of the English government. Swift's Gulliver travels to strange, fantasy worlds where politics, philosophy, culture, and religion come under attack. In the end, Gulliver questions the superiority of mankind to other living creatures.
Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte
a novel of poetry and tension, which creates two unlikely central figures as romantic heroes: a young woman possessing intelligence and passion but lacking charm and beauty and also an eerie and moody, even violent man who must suffer through great tragedy. Influenced by the romantic poets and the early Victorian novelists, this psychological romance is always popular.
Hard Times
by Charles Dickens
a social protest novel dealing with the harsh realities of English industrialization. While Dickens attacks the polluters and exploiters of his society, he creates an environment where reason and rationalism fail to serve as substitutes for the simple, emotional pleasures of life. Coketown is a center of pain and suffering that will continue until these people rediscover the really important things in their community.
A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
a serious "soap opera" which parallels developments in London and Paris during the time of the French Revolution. Dickens weaves a complex plot in an effort to bring the fates of all the central characters together before the climactic conclusion.
Sons and Lovers
by D.H. Lawrence
a psychological novel set in the impoverished mining communities of England. This semi-autobiographical work follows the growth of a talented young man striving to establish his own identity. His relationships with a farm girl and a separated-but-married woman cause continual struggles resulting from the young man's close attachment to his mother.
*The Warden*
by Anthony Trollope
the tale of Mr. Harding, a minister who refuses to be manipulated by political pressure within the Anglican church. Trollop attacks religious debates over church reform by creating a man with unbreakable integrity, a man who gains the respect of all who know him. He also attacks Dickens and other writers of the time with well-directed satire.
by Rudyard Kipling
set on the magical roads and hills of India, an adventure novel which presents a world of intrigue as a half-Irish, half-Indian boy employs his special skills as a participant of the British Secret Service. Short and easy to read, this story provides useful background on the attitudes and behaviors which typify the Victorian period of the British Empire.


Richard II
by William Shakespeare
a play that details the brutal downfall of wicked King Richard. Henry Bolingbroke, later to be Henry IV, returns from being banished to find his father dead and his estate gone. As he marches toward Richard, most of the English nobility join him. This historical episode is masterfully presented by Shakespeare who even devises a means for the fallen king to meet an honorable death.
Henry V
by William Shakespeare
a popular history play which focuses on young Hal who leads his army to France, proving to the world that he deserves to be king. This drama contains some of Shakespeare's most memorable speeches, delivered by a charismatic warrior-king.
King Lear
by William Shakespeare
a distressing Shakespearean tragedy centering on the betrayal of a king by treacherous daughters. This is one of Shakespeare's most "shocking" plays and uses a subplot of additional betrayal of a Lord by his son. Critics have called this drama too powerful to be performed on stage.
Major Barbara
by George Bernard Shaw
& Pygmalion
by George Bernard Shaw
two plays by England's best dramatic satirist. The first deals with the daughter of a weapons manufacturer who works for social reform, and the second (My Fair Lady) tells of a professor attempting to convert a common girl into a "lady." Both are critical about inequality and class separation in England.
by Ben Jonson
an Elizabethan play by Shakespeare's most serious competitor, Ben Jonson. The plot centers on a series of deceptions meant to punish greed and gullibility; the result is first-class comedy. The polished dialogue and characterization are quite skillfully contrived. In the end, greed is punished and virtue is rewarded.
Sir Gawain and The Green Knight
by Anonymous
a unique poem of the knights of the round table. Gawain takes up the quest of the Green Knight following the bizarre beheading contest and is manipulated in a way to prove that his sense of honor isn't as great as he assumes it to be. This medieval work is a rare example of middle English alliterative verse. To be safe, read it in the modern English translation.
Paradise Lost
by John Milton
the greatest Puritan work by the blind poet. This interpretation of "Genesis" tells of the creation and fall of man as well as the prior fall of the angels. The blank verse is packed with bold classical allusions, demonstrating the vast range of knowledge that Milton employed. It is considered by many as the most important poem in English.
The Rape of the Lock
by Alexander Pope
a mock epic based on the true story of a social embarrassment in Pope's England. A foolish gesture by a rash nobleman is turned into a classic narrative with the impact of the Iliad. Mythical, hyperbolic creatures interact with the real people as Pope weaves his most charming design in verse.
The Prelude
by William Wordsworth
an autobiographical study written for a friend in an effort to show how a poet acquires his vision. Dealing with places rather than events, Wordsworth shows how the child's point of view is superior to the man's. The poet eventually deals with his painful experiences during the French Revolution which nearly caused him to go insane.
Childe Harlod's Pilgrimage
by Lord Byron
another poet's autobiographical account, this time telling of a trip to the continent and the Middle East in early 1800. As he tells of his experiences along the way, Byron delivers personal views and insights which made the poem an instant success in its time. The lively verse and introspections make reading this poem a rewarding experience.
Richard III
by William Shakespeare
one of Shakespeare's most vicious villains designs a series of murders that place him on the throne of England. This history play focuses on the events which brought the Wars of the Roses to its bloody conclusion. Richard's ruthless abuse of power is masterly detailed.