Recommended Books for College Bound Students

Recommended Books for College-bound Students

American Literature

Agee, James. A Death in the Family. Story of loss and heartbreak felt when a young father dies.

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. Arnold deals with the conflicts of growing up on an Indian reservation and attending a white school.

Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. A collection of short stories lays bare the life of a small town in the Midwest.

Asimov, Isaac. The Foundation Series. A mathematician creates a formula that can predict the future.

Baldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain. Semi-autobiographical novel about a 14-year-old black youth's religious conversion.

Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward: 2000-1887. Written in 1887 about a young man who travels in time to a utopian year 2000, where economic security and a healthy moral environment have reduced crime.

Bellow, Saul. Seize the Day. A son grapples with his love and hate for an unworthy father.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Reading is a crime and firemen burn books in this futuristic society

Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. The author creates a new crime genre based on the horrifying slaughter of four people in a family in the Midwest.

Cather, Willa. My Antonia. Immigrant pioneers strive to adapt to the Nebraska prairies.

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. A New Orleans woman abandons her husband and children to search for love and self-understanding.

Clark, Walter Van Tilburg. The Ox-Bow Incident. When a group of citizens discovers one of their members has been murdered by cattle rustlers, they form an illegal posse, pursue the murderers, and lynch them.

Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War. Jerry Renault challenges the power structure of his school when he refuses to sell chocolates for the annual fundraiser.

Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage. During the Civil War, Henry Fleming joins the army full of romantic visions of battle which are shattered by combat.

Dorris, Michael. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. Three generations of Native American women recount their searches for identity and love.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. A black man's search for himself as an individual and as a member of his race and his society.

Enger, Leif. Peace like a River. An 11-year-old asthmatic boy narrates the story of his miraculous father and the family’s search for a wayward child.

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. The Bundren family takes the ripening corpse of Addie, wife and mother, on a gruesomely comic journey.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. A young man corrupts himself and the American Dream to regain a lost love.

Gaines, Ernest. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. In her 100 years, Miss Jane Pittman experiences it all, from slavery to the civil rights movement.

Gibbons, Kaye. Ellen Foster. Ellen faces poverty, homelessness, suicide, and domestic abuse in a memorable tale of Southern life.

Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The autistic main character has two mysteries to solve: who killed Wellington the dog and what happened to his mother.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. An adulterous Puritan refuses to reveal the identity of the father of her illegitimate child.

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. A broad comedy about a WWII bombardier based in Italy and his efforts to avoid bombing missions.

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. During World War I, an American lieutenant runs away with the woman who nurses him back to health.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Janie repudiates many roles in her quest for self-fulfillment.

Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. A novel about a power struggle between the head nurse and one of the male patients in a mental institution.

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. At great peril to himself and his children, lawyer Atticus Finch defends an African-American man accused of raping a white woman in a small Alabama town.

Lewis, Sinclair. Main Street. A young doctor's wife tries to change the ugliness, dullness and ignorance which prevail in Gopher Prairie, Minn.

London, Jack. Call of the Wild. Buck is a loyal pet dog until cruel men make him a pawn in their search for Klondike gold.

McCullers, Carson. The Member of the Wedding. A young southern girl is determined to be the third party on a honeymoon, despite all the advice against it from friends and family.

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. A complex novel about a mad sea captain's pursuit of the White Whale.

Morrison, Toni. Sula. The lifelong friendship of two women becomes strained when one causes the other's husband to abandon her.

O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find. Social awareness, the grotesque, and the need for faith characterize these stories of the contemporary South.

Parks, Gordon. The Learning Tree. A fictional study of a black family in a small Kansas town in the 1920s.

Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. The heartbreaking story of a talented young woman's descent into madness.

Poe, Edgar Allan. Great Tales and Poems. Poe is considered the father of detective stories and a master of supernatural tales.

Potok, Chaim. The Chosen. Friendship between two Jewish boys, one Hasidic and the other Orthodox, begins at a baseball game and flourishes despite their different backgrounds and beliefs.

Roth, Henry. Call it Sleep. A Jewish boy struggles growing up in a New York ghetto in the early 20th-century.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. A prep school dropout rejects the "phoniness" he sees all about him.

Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. The deplorable conditions of the Chicago stockyards are exposed in this turn-of-the-century novel.

Spiegelman, Art. The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale. A man struggles to come to terms with his parents' brutal past at Auschwitz in this seminal graphic novel.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. The desperate flight of tenant farmers from Oklahoma during the Depression.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom's Cabin. The classic tale that awakened a nation about the slave system.

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. After her mother's death, a young Chinese-American woman learns of her mother's tragic early life in China.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck and Jim, a runaway slave, travel down the Mississippi in search of freedom.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. Billy Pilgrim, an optometrist from Ilium, New York, shuttles between World War II Dresden and a luxurious zoo on the planet Tralfamadore.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. A young woman sees herself as property until another woman teaches her to value herself.

Welty, Eudora. Thirteen Stories. A collection of short stories about people and life in the deep South.

Wolfe, Thomas. Look Homeward, Angel. A novel depicting the coming of age of Eugene Gant and his passion to experience life.

Wright, Richard. Native Son. Bigger Thomas, a young man from the Chicago slums, lashes out against a hostile society by committing two murders.

World Literature

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Okonkwo, a proud village leader, is driven to murder and suicide by European changes to his traditional Ibo society.

Allende, Isabel. House of the Spirits. The story of the Trueba family in Chile, from the turn of the century to the violent days of the overthrow of the Salvador Allende government in 1973.

Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice. Love and marriage among the English country gentry of Austen's day.

Balzac, Honore de. Pere Goriot. A father is reduced to poverty after giving money to his daughters.

Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths. An anthology of literary fireworks based on Borges' favorite symbol.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. An intelligent and passionate governess falls in love with a strange, moody man tormented by dark secrets.

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. One of the masterpieces of English romanticism, this is a novel of Heathcliff and Catherine, love and revenge.

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. A man who is virtually unknown to both himself and others commits a pointless murder for which he has no explanation.

Voltaire. Candide. This satire thrusts Candide from a world of optimism into disillusionment.

Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. A fantasy in which Alice follows the White Rabbit to a dream world.

Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote. An eccentric old gentleman sets out as a knight "tilting at windmills" to right the wrongs of the world.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. The novel's narrator journeys into the Congo where he discovers the extent to which greed can corrupt a good man.

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. The adventures of a man who spends 24 years on an isolated island.

Junot Diaz. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Outcast, and anime-loving Oscar Wao is the latest in a long line of doomed generations to suffer the dreaded fuku curse of his native Dominican Republic.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. A poor young orphan watches his fortunes rise and fall.

Dostoevski, Feodor. Crime and Punishment. A psychological novel about a poor student who murders an old woman pawnbroker and her sister.

Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss. Maggie is miserable because her brother disapproves of her choices of romances.

Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. As the youngest of three daughters in a turn-of-the-century Mexican family, Tita may not marry but must remain at home to care for her mother.

Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. In her extramarital affairs, a bored young wife seeks unsuccessfully to find the emotional experiences she craves.

Forster, E.M. A Passage to India. A young English woman in British-ruled India accuses an Indian doctor of sexual assault.

Fuentes, Carlos. The Death of Artemio Cruz. A powerful Mexican newspaper publisher recalls his life as he lies dying at age 71.

Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude. A technique called magical realism is used in this portrait of seven generations in the lives of the Buendia family.

Gogol, Nikolai. The Overcoat. Russian tales of good and evil.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. English schoolboys marooned on an uninhabited island test the values of civilization when they attempt to set up a society of their own.

Grass, Gunter. The Tin Drum. Oskar describes the amoral conditions through which he has lived in Germany, both during and after the Hitler regime.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles. The happiness of Tess and her husband is destroyed when she confesses that she bore a child as the result of a forced sexual relationship with her employer's son.

Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. Emerging from a kaleidoscope of experiences and pleasures, a young Brahmin ascends to a state of peace and mystic holiness.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Society is controlled by technology and pleasure, but a Native exposes the underbelly of this world order.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. A young man growing up in Ireland rebels against family, country, and religion.

Kafka, Franz. The Trial. A man is tried for a crime he knows nothing about, yet for which he feels guilt.

Lawrence, D.H. Sons and Lovers. In this autobiographical novel, a youth is torn between a dominant working-class father and a possessive genteel mother.

Mann, Thomas. Death in Venice. In this novella, an author becomes aware of a darker side of himself when he visits Venice.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Animals turn the tables on their masters.

Pasternak, Boris. Doctor Zhivago. An epic novel of Russia before and after the Bolshevik revolution.

Paton, Alan. Cry, the Beloved Country. A country Zulu pastor searches for his sick sister in Johannesburg, and discovers that she has become a prostitute and his son a murderer.

Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. A young German soldier in World War I experiences pounding shellfire, hunger, sickness, and death.

Scott, Sir Walter. Ivanhoe. Ivanhoe, the disinherited knight, meets Lady Rowena, Richard the Lion-Hearted, and Robin Hood during the Crusades.

Shelley, Mary W. Frankenstein. A gothic tale of terror in which Frankenstein creates a monster from corpses.

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksander. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov endures one more day in a Siberian prison camp and finds joy in survival.

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels. Gulliver encounters dwarfs and giants and has other strange adventures when his ship is wrecked in distant lands.

Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina. Anna forsakes her husband for the dashing Count Vronsky and brief happiness.

Weisel, Elie. Night. A searing account of the Holocaust as experienced by a 15-year-old boy.

Wells, H.G. The Time Machine. A scientist invents a machine that transports him into the future.

Zusak, Marcus. The Book Thief. Living in Nazi Germany, young Liesel and her adopted family lie and steal to protect a Jewish refugee hiding in their basement.


Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. An African-American writer traces her coming of age.

Ashe, Arthur and Arnold Rampersad. Days of Grace. A highly respected tennis star and citizen of the world dies of AIDS.

Baker, Russell. Growing Up. A columnist with a sense of humor takes a gentle look at his childhood in Baltimore during the Depression.

Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. A narrative of the white man's conquest of the American land as the Indian victims experienced it.

Cooke, Alistair. Alistair Cooke's America. A history of the continent, with anecdotes and insight into what makes America work.

Criddle, Jan. D. and Teeda Butt Mam. To Destroy You Is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family. After the 1975 Communist takeover of Cambodia, Teeda's upper-class life is reduced to surviving impossible conditions.

Crow Dog, Mary and Richard Erdoes. Lakota Woman. Mary Crow Dog stands with 2,000 other Native Americans at the site of the Wounded Knee massacre, demonstrating for Native American rights.

Curie, Eve. Madame Curie. In sharing personal papers and her own memories, a daughter pays tribute to her mother, a scientific genius.

Delany, Sara and A. Elizabeth with Amy Hill Hearth. Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. Two daughters of former slaves tell their stories of fighting racial and gender prejudice during the 20th century.

Epstein, Norrie. Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard. Gain a perspective on Shakespeare's works through these sidelights, interpretations, anecdotes, and historical insights.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl. The story of a Jewish family forced by encroaching Nazis to live in hiding.

Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Considered one of the most interesting autobiographies in English.

Haley, Alex. Roots. Traces Haley's search for the history of his family, from Africa through the era of slavery to the 20th century.

Hamilton, Alexander; Madison, James; Jay, John. The Federalist Papers. The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles or essays promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. They were published serially between October 1787 and August 1788. The authors of The Federalist (as they were originally called) wanted both to influence the vote in favor of ratification and to shape future interpretations of the Constitution.

Hersey, John. Hiroshima. Six Hiroshima survivors reflect on the aftermath of the first atomic bomb.

Karlsen, Carol.The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. The status of women in colonial society affects the Salem witch accusations.

Keller, Helen. The Story of My Life. The story of Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, and her relationship with her devoted teacher Anne Sullivan.

Kennedy, John F. Profiles in Courage. A series of profiles of Americans who took courageous stands in public life.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.. King's most important writings are gathered together in one source.

Kovic, Ron. Born on the Fourth of July. Paralyzed in the Vietnam War, 21-year-old Ron Kovic received little support from his country and its government.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. A treatise giving the absolute ruler practical advice on ways to maintain a strong central government.

Malcom X, with Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcom X. Traces the transformation of a controversial Black Muslim figure from street hustler to religious and national leader.

Marx, Karl. The Communist Manifesto. Expresses Marx's belief in the inevitability of conflict between social classes and calls on the workers of the world to unite and revolt.

Mathabane, Mark. Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa. A tennis player breaks down racial barriers and escape to a better life in America.

Maybury-Lewis, David. Millenium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World. Profiles members of several tribal cultures.

McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. From the Mexican War to Appomattox, aspects of the Civil War are examined.

Mills, Kay. This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer. Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper's daughter, uses her considerable courage and singing talent to become a leader in the civil rights movement.

Plato. The Republic. Plato creates an ideal society where justice is equated with health and happiness in the state and the individual.

Riis, Jacob. How the Other Half Lives. The pioneering work of photojournalist Jacob Riis details the immigrant experience in New York during the turn of the 20th-century.

Rogosin, Donn. Invisible Men: Life in Baseball's Negro Leagues. Negro League players finally gain recognition for their contributions to baseball.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. In the mid-19th century, Thoreau spends 26 months alone in the woods to "front the essential facts of life."

Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. This classic in political literature examines American society from the viewpoint of a leading French magistrate who visited the U.S. in 1831.

Tuchman, Barbara. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century. Tuses the example of a single feudal lord to trace the history of the 14th century.

Williams, Juan. Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-65. From Brown vs. the Board of Education to the Voting Rights Act, Williams outlines the social and political gains of African-Americans

Yolen, Jane. Favorite Folktales From Around the World. Yolen frames these powerful tales with explanations of historical and literary significance.

Science and Nature

Abbey, Edward Abbey. Desert Solitaire.

Attenborough, David. The Living Planet: A Portrait of the Earth. Various habitats expand the vision of Planet Earth.

Bronowski, Jacob. The Ascent of Ma. A scientist's history of the human mind and the human condition.

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Carson's original clarion call to environmental action sets the stage for saving our planet.

Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. The classic exposition of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Hawking, Stephen. A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. Cosmology becomes understandable as the author discusses the origin, evolution, and fate of our universe.

Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There. Leopold shares his present and future visions of a natural world.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. In the mid-19th century, Thoreau spends 26 months alone in the woods to "confront the essential facts of life.”

Social Science

Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth. Explores themes and symbols from world religions and their relevance to humankind's spiritual journey today.

Dubner, Stephen, and Levitt, Steven. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. The authors apply economics to explain social phenomena.

Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point. Gladwell theorizes change is possible when balance is shifted in a different direction.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. Gods and heroes, their clashes and adventures, come alive in this splendid retelling of the Greek, Roman and Norse myths.

Kotlowitz, Alex. There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in Urban America

Lafayette and Pharoah Rivers and their family struggle to survive in one of Chicago's worst housing projects.

Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools. Kozol's indictment of the public school system advocates equalizing per pupil public school expenditures.

Terkel, Studs. Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession. This kaleidoscope covers the full range of America's views on racial issues.


Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. Powerful, symbolic portrayal of the human condition.

Brecht, Bertolt. Mother Courage and Her Children. A product of the Nazi era, Mother Courage is a feminine "Everyman" in a play on the futility of war.

Chekhov, Anton. The Cherry Orchard. The orchard evokes different meanings for the impoverished aristocrat and the merchant who buys it.

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll's House. A woman leaves her family to pursue personal freedom.

Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus. First dramatization of the medieval legend of a man who sold his soul to the devil.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. The tragedy of a typical American who, at age 63, is faced with what he cannot face: defeat and disillusionment.

O'Neill, Eugene. Long Day's Journey into Night. A tragedy set in 1912 in the summer home of an isolated, theatrical family.

Sarte, Jean Paul. No Exit. A modern morality play in which three persons are condemned to hell because of crimes against humanity.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet,Macbeth, Twelfth Night, others.

Shaw, Bernard. Man and Superman, Saint Joan, Pygmalion, others.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Classical tragedy of Oedipus who unwittingly killed his father, married his mother and brought the plague to Thebes.

Stoppard, Tom. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.Two bit players from Shakespeare's Hamlet are thrust into a terrifying and surreal new situation.

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. Comedy exposing quirks and foibles of Victorian society.

Wilder, Thornton. Our Town. The dead of a New Hampshire village of the early 1900s appreciate life more than the living.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. Blanche Dubois' fantasies of refinement and grandeur are brutally destroyed by her brother-in-law.

Wilson, August. The Piano Lesson. Drama set in 1936 Pittsburgh chronicles black experience in America.


Angelou, Maya. And Still I Rise. Poems reflecting themes from her autobiography.

Brooks, Gwendolyn. Selected Poems. Poetry focusing on the lives of African American residents of Northern urban ghettos, particularly women.

Cummings, E.E. Complete Poems, 1904-1962. Prepared directly from the original manuscripts, preserving the original typography and format.

Dickinson, Emily. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. A chronological arrangement of all known Dickinson poems and fragments.

Donne, John. The Complete Poetry of John Donne. Poems distinguished by wit, profundity of thought, passion and subtlety.

Eliot, T.S. The Waste Land. A poem of despair by one of the most important modern poets in English.

Frost, Robert. The Poetry of Robert Frost. Collected works reflecting both flashing insight and practical wisdom.