Our Summer Reading Program exists to promote the joy of reading and to extend student learning beyond the school year.
- Entering Grade 9
- Entering Grade 10
- Entering Grades 11 or 12
- What do I read next?
- Reading by topic
- Librarians' top picks
Incoming Grade 9 students should read the collection of Edgar Allan Poe short stories entitled Tales of Mystery and Imagination.
If you are a returning student, your Grade 8 English teacher will be giving the book to you; students new to ASL may pick up a copy from the admissions office or may choose to purchase the book on their own. It is a Wordsworth Edition and easily obtainable. We hope that you will also enjoy other reading adventures this summer; you may like to make choices from the lists provided in the areas below or come up with selections of your own. Enjoy a good read!
Incoming Grade 10 students should read at least two books of their own choosing.
In the early days of the school year, English 10 classes will provide opportunities around the Harkness table to share reactions to texts, favorite passages, and connections between texts. We look forward to those conversations and to sharing our love of books and language.
Lists to inspire your reading choices are in the areas below.
While you are encouraged to read extensively throughout the summer, the high school science department is requiring rising Grade 11 and 12 students to read one science book from the lists provided below. This summer’s choices center on the theme of Science Citizenship.
All of challenges we face in the world--everything from climate change to food and water access, from energy production to data protection and privacy--will be solved, at least in part, by developments in science and technology. This makes a basic understanding of science more essential than ever. Not just essential for scientists and technologists, but essential for everyone who participates in society.
This selection of books was curated by the science department faculty to help elevate your understanding of how science impacts society, and how a scientific understanding can be a tool you can use to change the world.
Stop by the Mellon Library if you wish to check out one of the books on the list. Key to subject codes: A = astronomy, B = biology, C = chemistry, CS = computer science, ES = environmental science, P = physics.
Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (reissued 2011) (B, ES)
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma explains the paradox of food choices we face today, how the industrial revolution changed the way we eat and see food today and which food choices are the most ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly” (Four-Minute Books).
Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life by EO Wilson (2016) (B, ES)
“In order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet, says Edward O. Wilson in his most impassioned book to date. Half-Earth argues that the situation facing us is too large to be solved piecemeal and proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: dedicate fully half the surface of the Earth to nature.” (Destiny).
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014) (B, ES, A)
Also reading this book: Ms. Ruff
“Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us” (GoodReads).
The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's are One by Sylvia A. Earle (2009) (B, ES)
Also reading this book: Mr. Partridge
“In recent decades we’ve learned more about the ocean than in all previous human history combined. But, even as our knowledge has exploded, so too has our power to upset the delicate balance of this complex organism. Modern overexploitation has driven many species to the verge of extinction…. Fortunately, there is reason for hope, but what we do—or fail to do—in the next ten years may well resonate for the next ten thousand. The ultimate goal, Earle argues passionately and persuasively, is to find responsible, renewable strategies that safeguard the natural systems that sustain us” (GoodReads).
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein (2014) (B, ES)
“Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It's not about carbon - it's about capitalism...Naomi Klein has upended the debate about the stormy era already upon us, exposing the myths that are clouding the climate debate. You have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. You have been told it's impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it - it just requires breaking every rule in the "free-market" playbook. You have also been told that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to this challenge. In fact, all around the world, the fight back is already succeeding in ways both surprising and inspiring” (Amazon).
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart (2001) (C, ES)
“Architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart argue that human industry need not damage the natural world. They explain how products can be designed so that, after their useful lives, they will provide nourishment for something new” (Destiny).
In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall (1971) (B, ES)
“This best-selling classic tells the story of one of world's greatest scientific adventuresses. Jane Goodall was a young secretarial school graduate when the legendary Louis Leakey chose her to undertake a landmark study of chimpanzees in the world” (GoodReads).
Longitude by Dava Sobel (1995) (AST, P)
Also reading this book: Mr. Fleming
“Longitude recounts the story of one of science's greatest leaps forward: the development of a clock accurate enough to determine a ship's longitude. The stimulus was a £20k prize offered by Act of Parliament in 1714. It took clockmaker John Harrison forty years of genius, hard work and political battles to win the prize.” (Book Drum).
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark (2017) (CS, ES)
Also reading this book: Ms. Santos
“We stand at the beginning of a new era. What was once science fiction is fast becoming reality, as AI transforms war, crime, justice, jobs and society-and, even, our very sense of what it means to be human” (Amazon). “Max Tegmark describes and illuminates the recent, path-breaking advances in Artificial Intelligence and how it is poised to overtake human intelligence” (B&N)
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall (2015) (AST, B, ES)
“66 million years ago, a ten-mile-wide object from outer space hurtled into the Earth at incredible speed. The impact annihilated the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet. But what if this catastrophe was the sign of something greater: an opening vista onto the interconnectedness of the universe itself? This is the story of the astounding forces that underpin our existence; a horizon-expanding tour of the cosmos that unifies what we know about the universe with new thinking. From the far-flung reaches of space, the makeup of the universe and our solar system's place within it, to the mysterious and elusive stuff of dark matter and how it affects life here on Earth” (Amazon).
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky (2017) (B)
Also reading this book: Mr. Kenney
“You reach out to touch someone’s arm, or perhaps you pull a trigger. What made that happen? In this extraordinary survey of the science of human behaviour, the biologist Robert Sapolsky takes the reader on an epic journey backwards through time, and through different scientific disciplines. His governing question is: what explains the fact that humans can massacre one another but also perform spectacular acts of altruistic kindness? Is one side of our nature destined to win out over the other?” (The Guardian)
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari (2017) (ALL)
“During the 20th century, humankind has managed to do the impossible: we have brought famine, plague and war under control....As the self-made gods of planet earth, which projects should we undertake, and how will we protect this fragile planet and humankind itself from our own destructive powers? Yuval Noah Harari examines the implications of our newly acquired divine capabilities, from our desperate pursuit of happiness to our dogged quest for immortality” (Destiny).
Stories of Scientists
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (2016) (ALL)
“This memoir shares the personal story of a geochemist and paleogeobiologist who studies plants at the University of Oslo. The chapters alternate between Dr. Jahren's personal and professional lives – her struggles to obtain funding, dealing with academic sexism, cut-throat competition, and bipolar disorder, combined with amusing adventures with her eccentric best friend and lab partner, Bill, and stories that reveal how research really happens in the lab, along with fascinating insights into trees, root systems and soils, and really, all sorts of flora” (Forbes).
Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist by Christopher Hollings, Ursula Martin, and Adrian Rice (2018) (CS)
“Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852), daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron and his highly educated wife, Anne Isabella, is sometimes called the world's first computer programmer and has become an icon for women in technology. But how did a young woman in the nineteenth century, without access to formal school or university education, acquire the knowledge and expertise to become a pioneer of computer science? Although an unusual pursuit for women at the time, Ada Lovelace studied science and mathematics from a young age. This book uses previously unpublished archival material to explore her precocious childhood, from her ideas for a steam-powered flying horse to penetrating questions about the science of rainbows” (Amazon).
Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks (2001) (C, B)
Also reading this book: Mr. Ringham
“In Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks evokes, with warmth and wit, his upbringing in wartime England. He tells of the large science-steeped family who fostered his early fascination with chemistry. There follow his years at boarding school where, though unhappy, he developed the intellectual curiosity that would shape his later life. And we hear of his return to London, an emotionally bereft ten-year-old who found solace in his passion for learning. Uncle Tungsten radiates all the delight and wonder of a boy’s adventures, and is an unforgettable portrait of an extraordinary young mind” (Amazon).
Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (2016) (ALL)
Ms. Luheshi is reading this book.
“Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians know as "human computers" used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women…. Even as Virginia's Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley's all-black "West Computing" group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens” (GoodReads)
Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie by Barbara Goldsmith (2004) (P, C)
“Through family interviews, diaries, letters, and workbooks that had been sealed for over sixty years, Barbara Goldsmith reveals the Marie Curie behind the myth—an all-too-human woman struggling to balance a spectacular scientific career, a demanding family, the prejudice of society, and her own passionate nature” (GoodReads).
Ethics in Science
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore (2016) (C)
“As the First World War spread across the world, young American women flocked to work in factories, painting clocks, watches and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous – the girls shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in dust from the paint. However, as the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. ...the very thing that had made them feel alive – their work – was slowly killing them... Their employers denied all responsibility, but these courageous women… refused to accept their fate quietly, and instead became determined to fight for justice” (Amazon).
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010) (B)
Also reading this book: Mrs. Craig
“Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. Born a poor black tobacco farmer, her cancer cells – taken without her knowledge – became a multimillion-dollar industry and one of the most important tools in medicine. Yet Henrietta's family did not learn of her 'immortality' until more than twenty years after her death, with devastating consequences” (Amazon).
The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering by Michael Sandel (2007) (B)
“Although most people find at least some forms of genetic engineering disquieting, it is not easy to articulate why. What is wrong with re-engineering our nature? 'The Case Against Perfection' explores these and other moral quandaries connected with the quest to perfect ourselves and our children” (GoodReads)
The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys' Club by Eileen Pollack (2015) (ALL)
“Based on six years interviewing her former teachers and classmates, as well as dozens of other women who dropped out before completing their degrees in science or found their careers less rewarding than they had hoped, Eileen Pollack presents a bracingly honest, no-holds barred examination of the social, interpersonal and institutional barriers confronting women (and minorities) in the STEM fields” (Destiny)
Importance of Evidence
Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller (2007) (P)
Also reading this book: Mr. Moore. Ms. Wilson is reading Energy for Future Presidents by the same author (2012).
“[This book] gives the reader the science behind the headlines - the tools of terrorists, the dangers of nuclear power and the reality of global warming. We live in complicated, dangerous times. They are also hypertechnical times. As citizens of the world today, we need to know - truly understand, not just rely on television's experts - if Iran's nascent nuclear capability is a genuine threat to the West, if biochemical weapons are likely to be developed by terrorists, if there are viable alternatives to fossil fuels, if nuclear power should be encouraged and if global warming is actually happening. This book is written in non-technical language on the science behind the concerns that the West faces in the immediate future” (Amazon).
The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan (1999) (ALL)
“Carl Sagan demonstrates how scientific thinking is necessary to safeguard our democratic institutions and our technical civilization. The book debunks the ideas of alien abduction, mediums and faith healers,and refutes the argument that science destroys spirituality” (Destiny).
Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science by Alice Dreger (2015) (ALL)
“An investigation of some of the most contentious debates of our time, Galileo's Middle Finger describes Alice Dreger's experiences on the front lines of scientific controversy, where for two decades she has worked as an advocate for victims of unethical research while also defending the right of scientists to pursue challenging research into human identities” (Destiny).
The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age by Abraham David Sofaer (2015) (B, ES)
“...David S. Abraham unveils what rare metals are and why our electronic gadgets, the most powerful armies, and indeed the fate of our planet depend on them. These metals have become the building blocks of modern society; their properties are now essential for nearly all our electronic, military, and “green” technologies. But their growing use is not without environmental, economic, and geopolitical consequences. ...He argues that these materials are increasingly playing a significant role in global affairs, conferring strength to countries and companies that can ensure sustainable supplies. Just as oil, iron, and bronze revolutionized previous eras, so too will these metals” (Yale UP).
Looking for more ideas on what to read next?
- If you liked books from English class at ASL, here’s what to read next!
- Take the BookRiot Quiz to find out what to read next.
- What Should I Read Next? Helps you search by an author or title to find similar themes/genres or other titles by the author
GoodReads, an online book community, provides reviews and lists, and even answers questions you may have about a book before you dive in.
New Pages, a book review site itself, provides links to newspapers, magazines and blog book review sites from the US and UK including some of our favorites: