AP English Literature Summer Reading Assignment
(note: This is the summer assignment for AP English Literature; for AP English Language scroll back to the preceding section)
As a student of AP English, you will be expected to begin next year having read at least two books from the list that follows. During the first week of school you will have an essay exam on these two works. The test will mirror, in spirit, if not exact format, the essay section of the AP English Literature exam. On such tests, you are asked to explore your reading through an analytical lens. In doing so, your use of literary devices and depth of thematic exploration are important. Thus, while it will not be required to turn in a formal journal, the English Department highly encourages you to keep an informal journal of your impressions and ideas as you read.
Here are some potential points of literary exploration for you to consider:
- How does the author’s use of setting reflect symbolic and/or archetypal concepts?
- How does the novel reflect the aesthetic conventions of its time?
- What relevant issues of social concern are explored?
- What is still relevant about the book today?
- What do you enjoy about the author’s writing style? Is it their descriptive clarity? Is it an unconventional use of language? Perhaps it is the flair the character dialogue expresses. Conversely, please feel comfortable in noting which elements of the work you found less attractive and/or effective. But remember: be able to support your assertions.
- Pay careful attention to character development throughout the novel. Which characters are most clearly explored? What do their actions, thoughts, dialogue and presence lend to the work’s overall structure (thematically or with respect to plot development, for example)?
- Please: Focus on utilizing the array of critical tools you have developed as you have evolved as a reader and writer. What literary devices do you recognize? Moreover, how do you view them as tools of the author?
Edward Albee—Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Samuel Beckett—Waiting for Godot
Charlotte Bronte—Jane Eyre
Michael Chabon—Telegraph Avenue
Joseph Conrad—Lord Jim
Charles Dickens—Oliver Twist
Fyodor Dostoevsky—Crime and Punishment
Jeﬀrey Eugenides—The Virgin Suicides
William Faulkner—The Sound and the Fury
Gustav Flaubert—Madame Bovary
Jonathan Safron Foer—Extremely Loud and
E. M. Forster—Howard’s End
Oscar Wilde—The Importance of Being Earnest
Barbara Kingsolver—Flight Behavior
Toni Morrison—The Song of Solomon
Thomas Pynchon—Gravity’s Rainbow
E. Annie Proulx—The Shipping News
Joyce Carol Oates—Foxfire
Philip Roth—American Pastoral
Brian Doyle—Mink River
William Shakespeare—The Tempest
Leo Tolstoy—Anna Karenina
John Updike—Rabbit Run
Robert Penn Warren—All the King’s Men
Edith Wharton—Ethan Frome
William J. Kennedy—Ironweed
Virginia Woolf—To the Lighthouse