Fiction Reading List

 Recommended and Approved for AP World History

F-6          Fiction – Period 6 - 1900 to present - BOOKS FOR FIRST SEMESTER

Barefoot Gen: The Day After by Keiji Nakazawa.  Semi-autobiographical account of life in Hiroshima, Japan during and after WWII.  A lot of graphic violence.

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste.  Describes events in Ethiopia leading up to and beyond the revolution that toppled Haile Selaisse.  Includes some rather graphic scenes.

Bitter Grounds by Sandra Benítez; story of several generations of women in El Salvador in the city & countryside.

Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed.  Story of a boy’s wandering around East Africa in 1935.

Bride Price by Buchi Emecheta; Forbidden love story of a young Ibo girl and her teacher.  ***

Burmese Days by George Orwell; White man’s rule in Upper Burma and India before WWII.

The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk or Palace of Desire (You only need to read one) by Najib Mahfuz (or Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize winner) Story of a family living in Cairo.  The first introduces the family and the different forces that affect it after WWI.  The second shows the conflicts of the 1920s.

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler.  Man interrogated during the Soviet Union’s treason trials of the 1930s.

Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka. (Nobel Prize winner). tragic story of traditional African culture in Oyo, an ancient Yoruba city of Nigeria, in 1946, when the king dies.

Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa. Start of Sendero Luminoso Movement (Shining Path) in Peru. ***

Destination Biafra by Buchi Emecheta.  Tells the story of Nigeria during the Biafran war.

Four Reigns by Kukrit Pramoj.  Looks at the reigns of four Thai kings, and the social and political changes in Bangkok from the end of the 19th C to WWII.

Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng.  Story of a Chinese women living in Malaysia before and after WWII

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh.  Describes life in Burma and for Burmese Indians during the British conquest, WWII and up to the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine. Tells the story of a family in Lebanon and the diversity of its history.

Heart of Redness by Zakes Mda.  Shows some the conflicts facing traditional villages in South Africa and the struggle between “modernity” and “traditionalist” stemming back to the Xhosa Cattle Killing Movement.

House of Spirits – Isabel Allende.  Chile leading up to the military overthrow of President Allende.***

Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton.  Argentina when thousands disappeared in the late 1970s.

In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.  Story of four Dominican sisters' struggle against Trujillo. ***

The Journey of Tao Kim Nam by Malcolm Bosse. The travels of man from North Vietnam to South Vietnam.

Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta. Nigerian girl dealing with the transition from girl to mother and from village girl to city woman.  Some sexual content.

Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel by Ayse Kulin. Describes Turkey at the beginning of World War II and the life of Turkish Jews there and in France.

Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood by Richard E. Kim.  Korean family’s experiences during Japanese occupation.

Of Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende.  Describes life under the Chilean dictator Pinochet.

Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff.  A couple battle entrenched poverty, racism and other ills that overwhelm their traditional Maori culture and children in a Maori ghetto of urban New Zealand.

Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Fictional tale of life in North Korea. Gripping. Some violence.

Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong.  Effects of the Vietnamese revolution on a particular family.

Pillars of Salt by Fadia Faqir. Stories exchanged by two wives in a mental hospital whose experiences typify Jordanian experience during the British Mandate.

The River Between, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. Colonial splits among Kenyans and the issue of female circumcision.

Sabriya: A Novel by Ulfat Idlibi. Story of a Damascene woman’s beleaguered life, from her country’s revolt against the French in the 1920s in an oppressively patriarchal society.

So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba.  Short story consisting of a widow’s letter during her period of mourning after her husband’s death about her life and the double standards for men and women.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Story of the lives of two women in living in Afghanistan during its turbulent years (war against the Soviets, warlord battles, Taliban rule and then life after the US invasion). ***

Tree of Red Stars by Tessa Bridal. Tells the story of a young upper class woman and those close to her in Uruguay in the 1960's, as their democracy is gradually taken over by a military dictatorship.***

The Underdogs (Los de Abajo) by Mariano Azuela.  Tells the story of the Mexican Revolution.

War in the Land of Egypt by Yusuf al Qa’id. Events in the 1973 war with Israel in Egypt from various angles.

War of the Rats by David Robbins. Stalingrad snipers during WWII.

Weep Not, Child by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.  Story of a young boy, as he grows up amidst the Mau Mau war and the conflict between the African natives and the British colonial rulers and the Indian merchants.

When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head.  Botswana in the 1960s during independence versus South Africa’s oppression of its black population.

Winter of the World by Ken Follett. Long but great read (or listen) about events in Europe from 1933 to 1949. 

Women of the Algiers in Their Apartment by Assia Djebar.  Collection of stories (denounced in Algeria) about urban Algerian women freed from colonialism to face a regime that subjugates them as it celebrates the liberation of men.

F-1       Fiction - Period 1 - 8000 BCE to 600 BCE – BOOKS FOR FIRST SEMESTER

Day of the False King: A Novel of Murder in Ancient Babylon by Brad Geagley.  Sequel to Year of the Hyenas set in ancient Babylon.

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.  Unique reexamination of early history.  Really makes you think. ***

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Re-creation of the life of Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob, from her birth and happy childhood in Mesopotamia through her years in Canaan and death in Egypt. Sexual content. ***

Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd.  Traces the entire turbulent course of English history (over 10,000 years) through the lives of five families that reflect the changing face of Britain.

Year of the Hyenas: A Novel of Murder in Ancient Egypt by Brad Geagley.  A mystery set in Ancient Egypt.

F-2      Fiction -  Period 2 - 600 BCE to 600 CE – BOOKS FOR FIRST SEMESTER

The Gardens of Light by Amin Maalouf, Dorothy S. Blair.  Recreates the life of Mani, Persian mystic who founded the Manichaean religion and was eventually executed on the grounds of heresy.

Mahabharata; R. K. Narayan, trans. Story of the “cousin’s war” of Prince Arjuna.  Sanskrit tale that illustrates the principle beliefs of most Hindus.

Roman Blood – by Steven Saylor. First in a series of mysteries set in Ancient Rome, chronicling real life events in Rome’s tumultuous period from Republic to Empire.  Followed by: Arms of Nemesis, Catalina’s Riddle, The Venus Throw, A Murder on the Appian Way, Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome, Last Seen in Massilia, A Mist of Prophecies, The Judgment of Caesar.  Any and all can be read for the summer project. ***

Three Kingdoms: Chinese Classics (Classic Novel in 4-Volumes) by Luo Guanzhong, Moss Roberts (Translator). Martial epic of a long drawn out battle in China.  Alternately start with

Water Margin:  Outlaws of the Marsh

F-3      Fiction - Period 3 - 600 CE –1450 BOOKS FOR FIRST SEMESTER

The Book of Saladin: A Novel by Tariq Ali. Fictional memoir of Saladin, the Kurdish liberator of Jerusalem. *** 

The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, The Chinese Nail Murders, or any of Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee novels.  
Classical Chinese detective stories; reveal ancient Chinese society, culture and government. ***  

Dante's Daughter by Kimberley Burton Heuston.  Story of Dante, his daughter and their times.

Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.  Mystery novel about Richard III and the deaths of his two nephews. An excellent look at how history is written. ***

In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh.  An Indian student does research on a mysterious slave of a Jewish merchant working the Indian Ocean trade routes; also examines life in postcolonial Egypt.

Monkey (part of a longer piece called Journey to the West), Arthur Waley trans.; Tang Chinese folk tales (written in the Ming dynasty) that cover some of the basic principles of Taoism and Buddhism.

Samarkand by Amin Maalouf.  Story of Omar Khayyam, a poet, mathematician, and astronomer; and fanatical cult leader Hassan, who commands an invincible army of assassins. ***

A Sultan in Palermo by Tariq Ali. Story of Muhammed al-Idrisi’s (Muslim cartographer) in 12th C Sicily where Arab, Norman and Christian culture clash.

Sundiata, an Epic of Old Mali translated by D.T. Niane.  Oral epic of the founder of the kingdom of Mali.

Temple of a Thousand Faces by John Shors. Interesting story of the invasion of the Khmer Empire by the Chams.

Tusk and Stone by Malcolm Bosse. A young Brahmin book in 7th C India is kidnapped, sold, becomes a soldier, then a mahout and then a stone carver. ***

The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour. A young man’s travel throughout Christian & Islamic Europe & Western Asia.  Not great literature, attitudes towards gender are troubling, but good on cultural exchanges.  ***


F-4      Fiction – Period 4 - 1450 CE –1750 CE BOOKS FOR SECOND SEMESTER

Aztec by Gary Jennings.  Long, gripping tale of Mexico before and during the arrival of Spanish. Sexual content. ***

The Examination by Malcolm Bosse.  Two brothers in 16th C China travel to the capital for an examination while navigating various challenges in strife-filled China.

Inca Moon by Patrick Carmichael.  Mystery set in the Inca Empire under the reign of Thupa Inka (Topa Inca)

The Incas:  A Novel by Daniel J. Peters.  Fabulous story of the Incas. Sexual content. ***

Inés of My Soul: A Novel by Isabel Allende.  Story of the founding of Chile.

Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier.  Tells the story of how tapestries were created in 15th C Europe.

Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf. Adventures of real-life Hassan al-Wazzan from his birth in Spain, to North Africa, Timbuktu, Cairo and finally to Rome of Pope Leo X. ***

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk. Story about 16th century Istanbul and imperial illustrators.

The Samurai by Shusaku Endo. Samurai trip to the Philippines, Mexico, Spain, Rome and back with a priest. 

Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa. Look at the period of unification in Japan under Tokugawa, Nobunaga and Hideyoshi.

The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan – Love story about the emperor and empress of Mughal India, could also read the sequel – Feast of Roses

Year of Wonders-A novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks. The story of a young woman and village in which she lives when the plague arrives in 1666. Sexual content.


F-5      Fiction - 1750 CE –1900 CE - BOOKS FOR SECOND SEMESTER

Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres.  Tells the story of the decline of the Ottoman Empire from the perspective of a small Anatolian town of Eskibahce and the life and career of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. ***

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang  Graphic Novel about the forces at play leading to the Boxer Rebellion in China

Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka.  Gripping fictional account of Japanese contact with the West.  ***

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende.  Tells the story of a Chilean woman traveling to California during the gold rush with a Chinese friend.  Some adult content.
The Dawning:  A Novel by Milkwa Bajic-Poderegin, translated by Nadja Poderegin.  Follows four generations of a family in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Focuses on nationalism, religion, class and gender issues facing the family.

Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade by Assia Djebar.  Story of a girl, Algeria, and occupation by the French.

The Glassblowers by Daphne DuMaurier.  Story told by a family split by the French revolution.

Hadji Murat by Leo Tolstoy. Tells of 19th C Russian encounter with its Muslim neighbors and then inhabitants.

Island Beneath the Sea:  A Novel by Isabel Allende, tells the story of a slave at the time of the Haitian Revolution.

Land:  A Novel by Pak Kyong-Ni.  Tells the story of Korea from the late 18th to the present.

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson.     Life of a freed African American slave in New Orleans who ends up on a slave clipper and helps the slaves stage a revolt.

Morenga by Uwe Timm.  A historical novel set in the early 20th Century, about a black African leader and a bloody civil war in German-occupied Southwest Africa.

Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom by Katherine Patterson.  Describes China during the Taiping Rebellion.

The Rock of Tanios by Amin Maalouf. Depiction of social and political turmoil in Lebanon during the 1880s.

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. Tells the tale of people from a variety of backgrounds on a ship in the Indian Ocean in 1838. *** Can also read River of Smoke by the same author.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville. Story of a family’s move from London to Australia in the 19th C.

Segu by Maryse Conde.  Chronicles a family near present-day Mali (and beyond) in the 18th C as their traditions are challenged by the slave trade and Islam.***

Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport.  Follows the women of a matriarchal Hawaiian family through multiple generations, starting in the 1800s and going until the present. Explicit sexual content. ***

The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi, by Arthur Japin.  Novel based on the true story of two Ashante princes, who are sent to Holland in 1837 which expose them to the slave trade, life in Holland and in Indonesia.

This Earth of Mankind by Parmoedya Ananta Toer. Tells the tale of Dutch Java and colonialism and modernity.  The novel was dictated by Toer while in prison to others who passed it out for transcription.

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