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Publication year 1949Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: SiblingsTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, British Literature

George Orwell’s dystopian novel1984 (also written as Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel) was originally published in 1949. Orwell was known for social and political criticism in his writing. He supported democratic socialism and opposed totalitarianism—political stances that come through in the themes of his most well-known works.Edition note: This novel is available in the public domain in many countries, and this summary is based on the electronically published version made available by Planet eBook. The edition... Read 1984 Summary

Publication year 1995Genre Book, NonfictionTags Crime / Legal

Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action is a nonfiction account of the legal case between several families in Woburn, Massachusetts, and two corporations, Beatrice Foods and W.R. Grace. When the book begins, a young boy named Jimmy Anderson gets sick. His mother, Anne Anderson, believes it is just a cold. Jimmy’s condition rapidly deteriorates, however, and soon he is diagnosed with leukemia. Approximately the first quarter of the book presents the backstory of the Andersons and several... Read A Civil Action Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Historical Fiction

Published in 2016, A Gentleman in Moscow, by American author Amor Towles, is the story of Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian nobleman who, after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, is sentenced to lifelong imprisonment in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel. The Count must adjust not only to his new circumstances in a small room in the hotel’s belfry but also to the knowledge that his way of life is disappearing under the Bolshevik regime. As the years... Read A Gentleman in Moscow Summary

Publication year 1961Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature

Clive Staples Lewis (1888-1963) C.S. Lewis was a British writer and academic, renowned for his works on Christianity, and best remembered today as the author of the children’s book series The Chronicles of Narnia. He graduated from Oxford University and taught there until 1954 when he became Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University. A Grief Observed was originally publishedunder the pseudonym N.W. Clerk and attributed to Lewis only after his death. A Grief... Read A Grief Observed Summary

Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: GlobalizationTags History: World

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage traces the emergence of six different beverages—beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola—and the roles they played in human history and culture. In doing so, Standage offers a sweeping overview of human history, ranging from the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia to contemporary America that emphasizes the continuities in our approach to drinks and drinking, as well as the changes and discoveries they are associated... Read A History of the World in 6 Glasses Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction

All American Boys is a young-adult novel published in 2015. This modern-day narrative tells the story of an incident of police brutality through the alternating voices of two high school students: Rashad, whose chapters are written by author Jason Reynolds, and Quinn, whose chapters are written by author Brendan Kiely. While Rashad and Quinn never actually meet in the novel, their lives intersect in a powerful way after a violent act of racism rocks their... Read All American Boys Summary

Publication year 1999Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Poverty, Race / Racism

All Souls: A Family Story From Southie is a 1999 memoir by Michael MacDonald. It examines his experiences growing up in the Old Colony neighborhood of South Boston, also known as Southie. The memoir examines themes of family, racism, xenophobia, police corruption, and justice, all set against the backdrop of one family’s tragedy.When the book begins, an adult Michael is returning to Southie in order to give a tour of the neighborhood to a reporter... Read All Souls Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Modern Classic Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Children's Literature, History: African

The middle grade novel A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park follows the life of one of the Lost Boys from South Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War. Based on a true story, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published the bestselling novel in 2010, and Park later wrote a companion picture book, Nya’s Long Walk. The story follows Salva Dut, based on a family friend of Park’s, who is chased from his village and... Read A Long Walk to Water Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Humor

Swedish author Fredrik Backman’s 2012 novel, A Man Called Ove, tells the darkly humorous story of Ove, a 59-year-old Swedish man struggling to find purpose in his life. When the book opens, Ove’s wife Sonja has recently died. After losing his job, Ove plans to kill himself. Ove seems at odds with the world, constantly angry at the people around him and getting into altercations with shop workers, neighbors, and even other drivers on the... Read A Man Called Ove Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, Fiction

American Dirt is a work of fiction by Jeanine Cummins published in 2020 by MacMillan Press. This guide refers to the first US edition. The controversial, cross-genre novel combines elements of a commercial thriller, literary fiction, suspense, and romance. The title refers to the land comprising the geopolitical entity that is the United States of America, and to the contempt undocumented migrants face both before and after crossing the US-Mexico border. While many critics initially... Read American Dirt Summary

Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: FateTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

Ancillary Justice, published in 2013, is author Ann Leckie’s first novel; Leckie previously published short fiction in various science fiction magazines. Leckie’s first installment of the Imperial Radch trilogy, continued in Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy, won numerous science fiction awards for best novel of the year and became the first book to win the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards. Ancillary Justice was nominated for other awards, including the James Tiptree, Jr. Award... Read Ancillary Justice Summary

Publication year 1975Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Society: EconomicsTags Business / Economics

Harold Livesay’s 1975 biography, Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business, follows the life of entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie as he builds one of the biggest manufacturing companies in 19th-century America. As Livesay narrates Carnegie’s life, he also describes the many societal shifts occurring throughout the 19th century, during which life in America and around the globe transitioned to a modern, industrial society.In the opening chapters, Livesay focuses on Carnegie’s humble beginnings. Carnegie is born... Read Andrew Carnegie And The Rise Of Big Business Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

An ILA-CBC Children’s Choices Reading List Selection, A Night Divided, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, dramatizes the experiences of the division of Germany after WWII and tells a tale of family separation from a child’s perspective. The novel explores the effects of repressive government on intimate relationships as the main character, Gerta, watches friendships and partnerships dissolve as a result of the Cold War. It is a story of individual heroism and family devotion.At the start... Read A Night Divided Summary

Publication year 1945Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: CommunityTags Satire, History: European, Politics / Government, Philosophy, Animals, Post-War Era, Allegory / Fable / Parable, British Literature

Published in 1945, Animal Farm by George Orwell (1903-1950) achieved immediate success and remains one of Orwell’s most popular works. A political satire in the guise of a moving and whimsical animal fable, the novella is about a group of farm animals who overthrow their owner, Mr. Jones, and establish animal rule. Although the animals start with high hopes for Animal Farm as a harmonious and just utopia where “all animals are equal” (19), it... Read Animal Farm Summary

Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Sociology

Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster is a 2009 non-fiction book that examines the behavior of people amid and after disasters as well as the institutional failure that can worsen disasters. Solnit explores five major disasters and detours to discuss several others while providing commentary on contemporary Western culture, anarchism, and the media’s portrayal of disaster victims.Solnit and the many sociologists she cites present an optimistic view... Read A Paradise Built in Hell Summary

Publication year 1959Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Fathers, Identity: GenderTags American Literature, African American Literature, Black Arts Movement

When Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun premiered in 1959, it was the first play by a black woman to open on Broadway, as well as the first play with a black director. The title comes from Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem,” which asks, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” The play tells the story of the Youngers, a family who lives together in a small... Read A Raisin in the Sun Summary

Publication year 1959Genre Novel, FictionTags American Literature

Published in 1959, A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, depicts a teenager’s coming-of-age at a New England boy’s boarding school during the final years of World War II. The novel explores peace and conflict in a space that is both isolated from the war and beginning to feel the compromise as the war encroaches on the campus in both literal and figurative ways. A semi-autobiographical book based on Knowles’s boyhood tenure at Exeter in New... Read A Separate Peace Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness

Ask Again, Yes, a New York Times best seller, is a multigeneration family epic that covers over 40 years in the lives of two Irish American families. A work of domestic realism comparable to works by Anne Tyler and Ann Padgett, the novel was placed on best novel of the year lists by both People magazine and National Public Radio, and it was also optioned to be developed as a limited television series.In 2011, author... Read Ask Again, Yes Summary

Publication year 1859Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: FateTags British Literature, Historical Fiction, Victorian Period, Classic Fiction

A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859, is a historical drama written by Charles Dickens. The backdrop of the novel takes place in London and Paris prior to the French Revolution. The novel, told in three parts, has been adapted into numerous productions for film, theater, radio, and television.In 1775, a banker named Jarvis Lorry travels to Dover, where he meets a young, half-French woman named Lucie Manette. Together, the pair travel to Paris... Read A Tale of Two Cities Summary

Publication year 1992Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: WarTags Military / War, WWII / World War II

Band of Brothers is a nonfiction history of one World War II company of paratroopers, Easy Company of the 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne. Through a combination of narrative, interviews, maps, and excerpts from letters, Stephen E. Ambrose follows the lives of this group of soldiers from their training in 1942, their deployments in Europe, and their lives after the war. By focusing on the lives of members of one particular company, Ambrose reveals the reality... Read Band of Brothers Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: GriefTags Humor, Sports

Beartown is a 2017 novel by Fredrik Backman. It is set in the eponymous town and focuses on the local junior hockey team. Set against the backdrop of a depressed town that is obsessed with the sport, it examines themes of parental control, the cost of keeping secrets, loyalty, family, and regret. The novel unfolds over fifty chapters and is told in brief scenes, with an omniscient narrator occasionally interjecting philosophical maxims and sketching out... Read Beartown Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: EducationTags Education

“Becoming a Learner: Realizing the Opportunity of Education,” Second Edition (2018) is an essay by Matthew L Sanders, who wrote it with incoming college freshman in mind. Its goal is to change the perspective that higher education prepares students for a profitable career. Instead, it teaches students to become learners.In the Introduction, Sanders writes: “The hardest thing for you to know is the thing you think you already know” (xi). Many people think they know... Read Becoming a Learner Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Historical Fiction

A 2017 New York Times bestseller, Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours is a haunting and compelling work of historical fiction told in polyvocal form with two alternating principle voices narrating a story of complex family history. From chapter to chapter, the book goes back and forth between present day South Carolina (in settings of Southern power and prestige) and Tennessee in the late 1930s and early 1940s (in settings of squalor and abuse). In... Read Before We Were Yours Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Health / Medicine

Surgeon and author Atul Gawande is on a quest to determine what truly compassionate end-of-life care looks like and how to make that possible in an era of modern medicine. The writer acknowledges all the astounding breakthroughs that have made previously life-threatening illnesses manageable and childbirth safer. Infant mortality is down, clearly a gain, but human mortality is still an essential fact of life. Combatting death has been the business of modern medicine, Gawande asserts... Read Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and what Matters in the End Summary

Publication year 1987Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Relationships: Daughters & SonsTags Magical Realism, Race / Racism, American Literature, Existentialism, African American Literature

Toni Morrison’s Beloved was published in 1987. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Inspired by the real-life story of a runaway African American enslaved woman named Margaret Garner, who killed her own daughter to prevent her capture and enslavement, Beloved tells the story of Sethe, a runaway enslaved woman who takes her daughter’s life in the same manner. This study guide, which addresses physical... Read Beloved Summary

Publication year 1000Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionTags Classic Fiction, British Literature, Medieval Literature / Middle Ages

Beowulf is an epic poem written in Old English by an anonymous author around the year 1000 CE. While most of the poem was discovered intact, some of it had been destroyed, likely burned in a fire. The 1999 translation by the acclaimed Irish poet Seamus Heaney won the Whitbread Award, and was praised for its freshness and accessibility.This summary refers to the 2000 Farrar, Straus, and Giroux edition. Please note that the poem is... Read Beowulf Summary

Publication year 1987Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionTags Creative Nonfiction

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, by Gloria Anzaldúa, presents the U.S.-Mexico border as a space ripe for sociocultural, psychological, and historical deconstruction. Speaking from her own experiences growing up in South Texas, Anzaldúa redefines the boundaries between practice and theory, personal history and cultural critique, poetry and prose. Writing in both Spanish and English (and omitting translations at times), Anzaldúa writes as a Chicana, in the Chicano language, envisioning a new consciousness borne out of... Read Borderlands La Frontera Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Colonialism, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Race / Racism, History: African

Born a Crime is a comedic autobiographical work chronicling Trevor Noah’s childhood growing up in South Africa. Published in 2016, it became a New York Times Bestseller, and it’s currently being adapted into a film. Born a Crime doesn’t follow a linear timeline; rather, the narrative jumps around, offering anecdotes from Noah’s past. Before each chapter begins, there’s a prologue that’s related to the content of the upcoming chapter. Usually, these sections provide historical facts... Read Born a Crime Summary

Publication year 2013Genre Book, NonfictionTags Science / Nature

Written in 2013, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants is a nonfiction book by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. The work examines modern botany and environmentalism through the lens of the traditions and cultures of the Indigenous peoples of North America. Through a series of personal reflections, the author explores the connection between living things and human efforts to cultivate a more sustainable... Read Braiding Sweetgrass Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism, Black Lives Matter

Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is a 2020 historical and narrative nonfiction work about the nature of inequality in the United States, India, and Nazi Germany. Wilkerson is a writer and former journalist, best known for her work in the New York Times, for which she received a Pulitzer Prize. She achieved further acclaim with her 2010 work, The Warmth of Other Suns. Wilkerson has also taught journalism at many colleges and... Read Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: GenderTags Mythology, Gender / Feminism, History: European, Historical Fiction

Published in 2018, Circe retells the story of the eponymous Greek mythological figure. Although traditionally viewed as a heartless, savagely beautiful witch who lures sailors to their deaths, the Circe of Madeline Miller’s imagining is quite different. This Circe is a multidimensional, flawed, and empathetic character struggling to find meaning and worth in her immortal life. Through Miller’s detailed and honest first-person narrative, which takes place over thousands of years, the evil witch becomes relatable.The... Read Circe Summary

Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionTags Politics / Government, Crime / Legal

Steve Bogira’s nonfiction work Courtroom 302: A Year Behind the Scenes in an American Criminal Courthouse was published in 2005. Bogira, as a Chicago native and long-time writer for the Chicago Reader, is a social justice advocate and focuses much of his work on poverty and segregation.  The author begins Courtroom 302 with a scene in Chicago’s Cook County Courthouse on 26th Street in the late 1990s. On a wintry day in January, prisoners were... Read Courtroom 302 Summary

Publication year 1307Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionTags Italian Literature, Medieval Literature / Middle Ages, Christian literature

The Inferno is the first book of Dante Alighieri’s great medieval epic, The Divine Comedy: a monument of world literature. Written between 1308 and 1320, the three-part poem charts Dante’s transformative journey through Hell and Purgatory to Heaven itself. The poem’s form—terza rima, an endlessly circling pattern of interweaving triple rhymes—reflects its major theme: the wisdom, power, and love of the trinitarian Christian God. Like every book of the Comedy, Inferno ends with the word... Read Dante's Inferno Summary

Publication year 1987Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: GenderTags Gender / Feminism, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

Dawn, a 1987 science fiction novel by Octavia Butler, is the first installment in the Lilith’s Brood trilogy. The story takes place in a near-future, post-apocalyptic world. The protagonist, Lilith Iyapo, is one of the few human survivors left after a nuclear war. Lilith wakes in a featureless room, as she has many times before. Each time she has Awakened, she has been unable to determine where she is or why she is being confined... Read Dawn Summary

Publication year 1835Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: U.S., Politics / Government, French Literature

Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is a work of history and political philosophy published in two volumes, the first in 1835 and the second in 1840. Tocqueville embarked on his own political career in France but is best known for his contributions to history and political philosophy.The first volume is based on Tocqueville’s nearly yearlong sojourn in the United States, ostensibly to study its prisons and prison reform. In his introduction Tocqueville emphasizes that... Read Democracy in America Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionTags Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction

Disappearing Earth (2019) is a debut novel by Julia Phillips published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, a division of Penguin Random House. This cross-genre novel combines elements of Mystery, Thriller, Women’s Fiction, and Literary Fiction. In 2019, it was a National Book Award finalist for fiction, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, and a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. New York Times Book Review named... Read Disappearing Earth Summary

Publication year 2005Genre Play, FictionTags Play: Drama, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Social Justice

Doubt: A Parable is a 2005 play by John Patrick Shanley that analyzes an instance of doubt and suspicion in a Catholic school in the Bronx in the 1960s. In nine scenes, the play tells the story of principal Sister Aloysius’s suspicions about an inappropriate relationship between a priest, Father Flynn, and a young male student.The play opens with Father Flynn giving a sermon, utilizing a parable about a young sailor whose ship sinks and... Read Doubt: A Parable Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Relationships: FathersTags Education, Poverty

Tara Westover’s 2018 memoir, Educated, tells the story of her journey to obtain an education. Westover is the youngest of seven children who grew up in the mountains of southwest Idaho in a radical Mormon family in the late 1980s and 1990s. From an early age, Westover knew that her family was not like other families because hers did not send the children to school, did not visit doctors’ offices or hospitals, and was not... Read Educated Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Biography, NonfictionTags History: U.S.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne, published in 2010, is a work of historical nonfiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. The book narrates a history of the Comanche Nation, and also follows the fates of the Parker family, from whom the book’s central figure, Quanah Parker, descends.The Comanches... Read Empire of the Summer Moon Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Sociology, Social Justice, Poverty

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City was published in 2016 and won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. It was written by Matthew Desmond, a tenured sociology professor at Princeton University. After the prologue “Cold City,” the book has three sections with eight chapters each: “Rent,” “Out,” and “After.” These are followed by the Epilogue, “Home and Hope,” and the final section, “About This Project.”As an undergraduate at Arizona State University, Desmond... Read Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Summary

Publication year 2001Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: U.S.

In his 2001 book Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America, historian Daniel K. Richter presents an account of early U.S. history from a rarely seen perspective: that of the American Indians. Using primary sources and imaginative reconstruction, the book reorients us to see the arrival of the European settlers, the growth of the colonies, and the founding of the American Republic as Natives might have experienced them, exploring would happen... Read Facing East from Indian Country Summary

Publication year 1953Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Classic Fiction, American Literature, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

The publication of American novelist Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in 1953 helped to transition the science fiction genre from the niche arena of pulp magazines and comic books to mainstream fiction. The futuristic novel takes place in a culture that has banned books. Time and place (probably Midwestern America) are unidentified, but the country is on the brink of war with an unnamed foe. “The Hearth and the Salamander,” “The Sieve and the Sand,” and... Read Fahrenheit 451 Summary

Publication year 2000Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Identity: GenderTags Gender / Feminism, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by critic, academic, and writer bell hooks is described by the author as a primer, a handbook, even “a dream come true” (ix). In the Introduction to the book, hooks describes her labor of love in writing this brief guide to feminism, and she employs a concise style that does not waver from her goal of educating readers about the fundamentals of feminism. This book is the product of... Read Feminism Is For Everybody Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Identity: Gender, Identity: DisabilityTags Realistic Fiction, Bullying, Disability, Children's Literature

Fish in a Tree is a 2015 middle-grade novel by American author Lynda Mullaly Hunt. It follows the story of a middle-school girl named Ally, who is artistically and mathematically talented but unable to read due to her dyslexia. Throughout Ally’s school career, she uses humor, misbehavior, and feigned sickness to distract from her learning difficulty, doing everything in her power to avoid writing and reading tasks. Ally’s struggles are magnified by the fact that... Read Fish in a Tree Summary

Publication year 2013Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Crime / Legal

Published in 2013, Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital is a work of nonfiction by American journalist Sheri Fink. The book, which takes place in August 2005, describes the struggle of staff and patients to survive when trapped in New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Lacking critical resources, the doctors make a drastic decision that will cause many patients to die via euthanasia. Five Days... Read Five Days at Memorial Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionTags Colonial America

Forge tells the story of Curzon Smith, a runaway slave who enlists in the Colonial Army during the American Revolution. A sequel to Anderson’s previous book,Chains, Forge begins in earnest after Curzon has been abandoned by Isabel, a fellow slave who has freed him from captivity at the end of the previous novel. Isabel has left in search of her lost sister, Ruth – an action Curzon has tried to prevent in order to keep... Read Forge Summary

Publication year 1818Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Identity: Gender, Natural World: Nurture v. NatureTags Classic Fiction, Romanticism / Romantic Period, British Literature

First published in 1818, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel by Mary Shelley. It is written in the tradition of Romanticism, a late 18th-century and early 19th-century movement that responded to the Enlightenment. Rejecting rationalism, Romantic literature often celebrated the power of nature and of the individual. Frankenstein is also considered a Gothic novel because of its emphasis on darkness, the sensational, and the wildness of nature.Shelley was the daughter of political philosopher... Read Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus Summary

Publication year 1989Genre Book, NonfictionTags Gender / Feminism, Sociology, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Published in 1990, Judith Butler's Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity is a seminal work in feminism and a foundational work in queer theory. This study guide is based on the 2006 Routledge edition of Butler’s text. Butler's primary aims in the work are to make a case for rejecting an essential female identity as the basis for feminist practice and to come up with an account of gender formation without recourse to... Read Gender Trouble Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags History: World

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World is a nonfiction book divided into three parts and dealing with the early life and rise to power of Temujin, the man who would become known as Genghis Khan. The text details his conquests and the establishment of the Mongol Empire, and the changes undergone by the empire after his death, and up until its collapse. Throughout, Weatherford makes the argument that the Mongol Empire played... Read Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Teams, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Ghost is a 2016 novel by American author Jason Reynolds. Reynolds began his writing career as a poet and published his first novel, When I Was the Greatest, in 2014. Reynolds has won several accolades, including a Kirkus Prize, an NAACP Image Award, a Schneider Family Book Award, a Newbery Medal, and a Carnegie Medal. From 2020 to 2022, he was the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and he won the... Read Ghost Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Gender / Feminism, Race / Racism, LGBTQ, Realistic Fiction

Bernardine Evaristo’s polyphonic novel of modern Britain and womanhood, Girl, Woman, Other, won the 2019 Booker Prize. Evaristo is the first black woman to receive this literary prize for books written in the English language. Employing an experimental, poetic form, the novel follows several generations of mainly black, British women interlinked by family, love, loss, and diaspora to interrogate the intersections of identity. Girl, Woman, Other is Evaristo’s eighth book. The novel’s title could be... Read Girl, Woman, Other Summary

Publication year 1939Genre Novel, FictionTags LGBTQ, WWII / World War II, Holocaust

Christopher Isherwood’s novel, Goodbye to Berlin, was first published in 1939. The novel’s narrator, who is also named Christopher Isherwood, recounts his experiences living in Berlin, Germany from 1929 to 1933. Isherwood focuses the novel on the relationships he has with his friends and acquaintances and explores both the beautiful and unseemly parts of the city he calls home, all while the rise of Nazi influence grows steadily in the background.Goodbye to Berlin’s chapters are... Read Goodbye To Berlin Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music

Go, Went, Gone, is a 2015 fiction novel by German writer Jenny Erpenbeck. It tells the story of a recently retired professor of German philology named Richard and his relationship to a group of African refugees as he attempts to help them find residences in Berlin. Most of the men arrive in Europe via boat before making their way to Berlin, where Richard first encounters them as they occupy a town square called Alexanderplatz. When... Read Go, Went, Gone Summary

Publication year 1861Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Classic Fiction, Industrial Revolution, Victorian Period, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, British Literature

Great Expectations is the 13th novel written by Charles Dickens. It was originally published as a serial in Dickens’s periodical, All the Year Round, Great Expectations, and Chapman and Hall published the novelized version in October of 1861. The novel is widely considered to be a classic example of the bildungsroman, or coming-of-age genre, and it has been adapted into numerous plays, films, and television series.Plot SummaryGreat Expectations tells the story of an orphan named... Read Great Expectations Summary

Publication year 1899Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: ColonialismTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, British Literature, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Heart of Darkness is an 1899 novel by Joseph Conrad detailing the story of Marlow, the captain of a steamboat, who travels up the Congo River to find a man named Kurtz. This guide uses the 2003 Barnes & Noble Classic edition.Plot SummaryThe novel is structured as a story Marlow tells his friends onboard a boat on the Thames. As the sun sets, Marlow becomes introspective and begins to reminisce about the time when, struggling... Read Heart of Darkness Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: RaceTags Race / Racism, Black Lives Matter

How to Be an Antiracist is a nonfiction book by Ibram X. Kendi, a writer and historian of African American History and the founder of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center. Published in 2019, this New York Times best seller proposes antiracist strategies individuals can employ to transform racist policies. This study guide refers to the Kindle edition of the book.How to Be an Antiracist sets out to define antiracist work as a set of... Read How to Be an Antiracist Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Education, Gender / Feminism, History: Asian, Middle Eastern Literature, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is an autobiographical book written by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai and published in 2013.Malala Yousafzai was born a little different. From the beginning, her father, Ziauddin, treated her differently than most fathers in Swat, Pakistan treated their daughters. He put her on the family tree, a position usually reserved for the men in the family and nicknamed her... Read I Am Malala Summary

Publication year 1983Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: NationTags Politics / Government

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism is a nonfiction work by historian and political scientist Benedict Anderson. First published in 1983, the book provides a highly influential account of the rise of nationalism and the emergence of the modern nation-state. Anderson sees the nation as a social construct, an “imagined community” in which members feel commonality with others, even though they may not know them. The strength of patriotic feeling and... Read Imagined Communities Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride

Indian Horse (2012) is a novel written by Canadian author Richard Wagamese. The story follows Saul Indian Horse, an Ojibway boy from northern Ontario who escapes his demons and rough childhood through hockey, only to succumb to alcohol after losing his joy for the game.Plot SummaryAs a young boy, Saul lives in the bush and has little contact with the outside world. His grandmother, Naomi, hides him and his brother Benjamin from the threat of... Read Indian Horse Summary

Publication year 1996Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Action / Adventure, American Literature

Into the Wild is a nonfiction book written by Jon Krakauer. It was first published in 1996 and turned into a feature film directed by Sean Penn in 2007. It has been classified as outdoor writing, travel writing, and biography.In 1993 Krakauer published “Death of an Innocent” in Outside magazine, an article that detailed the death of Christopher McCandless. The article generated an enormous response from readers, and Krakauer spent a subsequent year tracing McCandless’s... Read Into The Wild Summary

Publication year 1952Genre Novel, FictionTags Music, Modern Classic Fiction, Existentialism, American Literature, African American Literature

Invisible Man was published in 1952 and written by African American author Ralph Ellison. It won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953, and Ellison was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1985 for his contributions to American literature. In addition to his fiction, he wrote essays and was a professor, teaching at several prestigious American universities including Yale University, Bard College, New York University, the University of Chicago, and Rutgers University. He... Read Invisible Man Summary

Publication year 1935Genre Novel, FictionTags Satire, Politics / Government, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

It Can’t Happen Here, a political novel by Sinclair Lewis first published in 1935, details the rise, consolidation, and partial collapse of an American fascist dictatorship. The book is told primarily from the perspective of Doremus Jessup, an owner-editor of a small-town Vermont newspaper and self-described middle-class liberal intellectual. Jessup is 60 years old at the start of the novel. Jessup begins as a cynical but detached observer of politics but over the course of... Read It Can't Happen Here Summary

Publication year 1847Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: GenderTags Gothic Literature, Classic Fiction, Romanticism / Romantic Period, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Gender / Feminism, British Literature, Victorian Period

Jane Eyre: An Autobiography is a bildungsroman, or coming of age novel, written by Charlotte Brontë and originally published in 1847 under the male pseudonym Currer Bell by Smith, Elder & Co. of London. Through Jane’s life and experiences, Brontë examines social issues including religious hypocrisy, class discrimination, and sexism. Many literary theorists and biographers—including Brontë’s friend and fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell—have also noted numerous similarities between the novel’s events and Brontë’s personal history. The... Read Jane Eyre Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: MusicTags History: U.S., Crime / Legal

Part memoir, part exhortation for much-needed reform to the American criminal justice system, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy is a heartrending and inspirational call to arms written by the activist lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based organization responsible for freeing or reducing the sentences of scores of wrongfully convicted individuals. Stevenson’s memoir weaves together personal stories from his years as a lawyer with strong statements against racial and legal injustice, drawing a clear... Read Just Mercy Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionTags French Literature

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow is the first novel by Faëza Guène, who was only nineteen when it was published in 2004. The book was embraced and celebrated in France as reflecting the authentic voice of working-class young people, especially those of North-African descent growing up in the rundown suburban housing projects outside of Paris. Guène, the daughter of Algerian immigrants, grew up in the suburb of Bobigny, very close to Livry-Gargan, the location of the fictional... Read Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Book, Nonfiction

Killers of the Flower Moon is a 2017 nonfiction book by American journalist David Grann that tells the story of the so-called 1920s Reign of Terror, a period during which numerous Osage Nation members were killed in Oklahoma for their oil wealth—murders that for the most part went unsolved. The book details these killings and investigates who was responsible.The Osage Nation, like many Indigenous tribes of North America, had been pushed west by white colonists... Read Killers of the Flower Moon Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Science / Nature, Technology

Professor Hope Jahren’s 2016 memoir, Lab Girl, chronicles the author’s life and experience as a geobiologist. The memoir contains three parts, each spanning a major period in Jahren’s life. Autobiographical chapters are followed by brief, lyrical chapters examining various plants and their habits. These chapters on plants contain extensive use of personification, relating plant experience to that of humans.Part 1, “Roots and Leaves,” spans Jahren’s childhood to her first teaching job.The author grows up in... Read Lab Girl Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: FathersTags History: U.S.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a 2015 history of America written by Sarah Vowell. Vowell uses the perspective of the Marquis de Lafayette—a Frenchman who longed to fight with the Americans and win military glory—to give an irreverent, timely history of the United States, with relevant implications for America’s modern political situation.When Lafayette came to America, he was only 19. He was a wealthy, educated orphan who wanted to acquire personal honor and... Read Lafayette in the Somewhat United States Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: MothersTags Chinese Literature, Asian Literature

Little Fires Everywhere is a New York Times bestselling novel by Celeste Ng published in 2017. In the town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Elena Richardson rents her family’s property on Winslow Road to Mia and Pearl Warren, a mother and daughter duo who inspire her sense of charity. Mia is an artist, and her lack of rootedness and intense focus on her art unnerve Mrs. Richardson, who lives an orderly life. Their lives become further... Read Little Fires Everywhere Summary

Publication year 2005Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Realistic Fiction, Depression / Suicide

Looking for Alaska is narrated by a sixteen-year-old boy, Miles Halter, who leaves behind his mundane life in Florida to attend a boarding school called Culver Creek. He is inspired by biographies detailing the adventures of notable figures during their days at boarding school. Most of all, he is motivated by the notion of a “Great Perhaps”. Miles has a fascination with famous last words, and particularly with the last words of the poet Francois... Read Looking for Alaska Summary

Publication year 1954Genre Novel, FictionTags British Literature, Allegory / Fable / Parable

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 novel by Nobel-prize winning British author William Golding. Golding was knighted in 1988 and was a fellow in the Royal Society of Literature. In 2008, The Times named him third on their list “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.”The title of Golding’s young-adult fiction novel is a reference to Beelzebub, a prince of hell.During a wartime evacuation, an airplane crashes on a remote island. The only survivors... Read Lord of the Flies Summary

Publication year 1623Genre Play, FictionTags Classic Fiction, Elizabethan Era, British Literature

Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays. Classified as a tragedy and thought to be performed for the first time in 1606, it tells the story of a Scottish nobleman who becomes obsessed with power and is driven mad by guilt.Plot SummaryThe play opens with three witches, who make plans to meet again. In a military camp, King Duncan of Scotland hears the news of his generals’ success. Macbeth and Banquo have defeated... Read Macbeth Summary

Publication year 1946Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Holocaust, Religion / Spirituality, WWII / World War II

Man’s Search for Meaning details the author, Victor Frankl’s experience in a concentration camp and his attempts to overcome and understand the trauma of that experience. The book is in three parts: I. Experiences in a Concentration Camp; II. Logotherapy in a Nutshell; and III. Postscript 1984: The Case for Tragic Optimism.Victor Frankl was born in 1905 and later became a psychiatrist in Vienna. Although he was Jewish, Frankl was protected from arrest by the Nazis... Read Man's Search for Meaning Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Novel, Fiction

Richard Wagamese’s Medicine Walk (2014) follows 16-year-old Franklin Starlight on his journey to find the perfect burial site for his terminally ill father, Eldon Starlight, a member of the Ojibway tribe of Indigenous peoples. Frank carries Eldon on horseback into the wilderness where Eldon wishes to die in the traditional manner of Ojibway warriors—facing East so that he can see the last sunrise of his last day on earth.Eldon abandoned Franklin, who goes by Frank... Read Medicine Walk Summary

Publication year 2006Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Relationships: FriendshipTags Anthropology, Action / Adventure

Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali is a work of narrative nonfiction written by Kris Holloway and published in 2006. Told through Holloway’s perspective, the book recounts the incredible life and death of a young Malian woman named Monique Dembele and her unlikely friendship with Holloway, who came to Mali as a young American woman serving in the Peace Corps in 1989.The book follows Monique, a midwife who strives... Read Monique and the Mango Rains Summary

Publication year 2006Genre Book, NonfictionTags Crime / Legal, Sociology

Murder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance is a 2006 nonfiction book written by Dutch professor and social scientist Ian Buruma. The book investigates both the murder of Theo van Gogh, a prominent Dutch filmmaker, social critic, and opponent of political Islam in Europe. Additionally, it explores feelings of historical guilt, liberal mores, and the changing social fabric that has created tension between the native Dutch and the large, mostly Muslim... Read Murder in Amsterdam Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Western, Historical Fiction

Paulette Jiles’s novel, News of the World, tells the tale of 72-year-old Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd and 10-year-old Johanna Leonberger's journey from Wichita, Texas to Castroville, Texas in 1870, and how that journey would forever and drastically change the course of each of their lives.The story begins in Wichita, Texas, in the early spring of 1870, with Captain Kidd hanging posters advertising his reading of the news. He travels the state reading newspapers to people... Read News of the World Summary

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Publication year 1956Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Holocaust, History: European, WWII / World War II

Night, by Elie Wiesel, is a memoir recounting the author’s experience in the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz, Gleiwitz, and Buchenwald during the last two years of World War II. The book was published in France in 1958; a shortened English translation was published in the United States in 1960.In 1944, the 15-year old Wiesel, his father, mother, and sisters were deported from the village of Sighet in Hungary and interned at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration... Read Night Summary

Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionTags Asian Literature, Sociology, Korean Literature, Journalism, Immigration / Refugee

Barbara Demick’s 2010 nonfiction book, Nothing to Envy, is based on interviews with North Korean defectors from the city of Chongjin, six of whom are profiled in the book. It relays the history of modern Korea, from the end of Japanese occupation after WWII, to the division of Korea into two by the United States, to the economic rise and fall of the North Korean state in the late 20th century. There is a particular... Read Nothing to Envy Summary

Publication year 1937Genre Novella, FictionTags Classic Fiction, American Literature, Disability

American author John Steinbeck published his novella Of Mice and Men in 1937. Despite its place in the classical canon, the novella is one of the most challenged books of the 21st century due to its depiction of violence and use of profane, racist language. The novella’s title is an allusion to Scottish poet Robert Burns’s 1785 poem “To a Mouse,” in which a farmer unwittingly and regrettably kills a mouse while plowing. Of Mice... Read Of Mice and Men Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Book, Nonfiction

On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder, PhD, describes how tyrants have dismantled 20th-century republics and replaced them with totalitarian regimes, and how threats to democracies still exist today, including in America. Published in 2017, On Tyranny holds the distinction of being a #1 New York Times bestseller. Dr. Snyder is a Yale professor of European history. His short and pithy book details the methods that demagogues, including Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, have used to degrade... Read On Tyranny Summary

Publication year 2000Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Arts / Culture

Stephen King’s 2000 memoir, On Writing, details King’s formation as an author and provides writing advice. The memoir is divided into five sections: “C.V.,” “What Writing Is,” “Toolbox,” “On Writing,” and “On Living.”In “C.V.,” King provides a curriculum vitae describing how he was formed as a writer. He begins in his early childhood and describes his life with his mother, Nellie, and older brother, David. King’s father is not in the picture, and the family... Read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Summary

Publication year 1992Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: European

Published in 1992, Christopher R. Browning’s Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland explores the activities of a battalion of German police officers who are, in various ways, involved in the murder of vast numbers of Jews in occupied Poland during World War II. The men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 are largely middle-aged men from working- and middle-class backgrounds with little prior experience of military service or Nazi ideology... Read Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland Summary

Publication year 1604Genre Play, FictionTags Classic Fiction, British Literature, Elizabethan Era

William Shakespeare’s Othello is a tragedy written in approximately 1603 and published in 1622. The play begins in Venice, where Iago, a subordinate of Othello’s and a captain in the Venetian defense forces, tells Roderigo that Othello has passed him over for promotion. Instead, Othello, a Moor, has chosen the noble and popular Michael Cassio to be his lieutenant. Iago tells Roderigo that he will have his revenge on Othello but behave as a loyal... Read Othello Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: DisabilityTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Gender / Feminism, Disability

Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind, based on her own experiences parenting a disabled child, is a New York Times Bestselling novel told from the first-person perspective of 10-year-old Melody Brooks. Melody is a fifth-grade girl who, due to cerebral palsy, is unable to communicate verbally and is wheelchair-bound. The struggles and prejudice that Melody encounters provide a more intimate and personal view of the lives of people with physical disabilities. Atheneum Books for Young... Read Out of My Mind Summary

Publication year 1667Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Classic Fiction

Paradise Lost by John Milton is a long-form epic poem consisting of 12 books and more than 10,000 lines of blank verse. Published in 1667, Milton’s poem is an argument on self-determination and God’s justice explored through a creative retelling of the fall of Adam and Eve. The themes explored throughout the poem parallel Milton’s own life. He calls upon muses to help him see, an allusion to the seers in classic Greek epics and... Read Paradise Lost Summary

Publication year 1968Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Education

Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed develops a theory of education fitted to the needs of the disenfranchised and marginalized members of capitalist societies. Combining educational and political philosophy, the book offers an analysis of oppression and a theory of liberation. Freire believes that traditional education serves to support the dominance of the powerful within society and thereby maintain the powerful’s social, political, and economic status quo. To overcome the oppression endemic to an exploitative... Read Pedagogy of the Oppressed Summary

Publication year -1Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Mythology, Play: Tragedy, Ancient Greece

Philoctetes is a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles, which was first performed in ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War in 409 BC. It was performed at the ancient Greek festival of City Dionysia, where it was awarded first prize. Philoctetes takes place during the final year of the Trojan War and explores themes of friendship, trauma, deception versus morality, fate, and the individual versus the collective. This study guide uses the translation of Sophocles’ play... Read Philoctetes Summary

Publication year 1976Genre Book, NonfictionTags Health / Medicine, Anthropology

In Plagues and Peoples, William H. McNeill argues that patterns of disease have integrally influenced human history from prehistory to the modern day. Until 1976, the year of this book’s publication, the historical study of disease was treated as a footnote of minor importance compared to war, agriculture, and politics. By contrast, McNeill takes a broader view and breaks human history into two categories. The forces of ecology and humanity are equally weighed in McNeill’s... Read Plagues and Peoples Summary

Publication year 1813Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Relationships: MarriageTags Classic Fiction, Romanticism / Romantic Period, Romance, British Literature

Published anonymously in 1813 by English author Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice is an example of a “novel of manners,” which presents a realistic picture of society through the customs and manners of everyday life. By depicting complex relationships between landowners and tradesmen, those with old money and the nouveaux riche, and men and women, Pride and Prejudice offers a glimpse into the social structures of early 19th-century England. The novel’s primary focus is marriage... Read Pride and Prejudice Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Short Story Collection, Fiction

Redeployment is a 2014 book of short stories written by veteran Phil Klay. Its grim humor and unflinching look at the brutality and horrors of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars won Klay the National Book Award for fiction. The twelve stories in the collection examine themes of maddening bureaucracy, camaraderie among Marines, the cost of civilian casualties to Iraqi society and to the soldiers who inflict them, the difficulty of transitioning back into civilian life... Read Redeployment Summary

Publication year 1790Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags History: European

Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, first published in 1790, is written as a letter to a French friend of Burke’s family, Charles-Jean-François Depont, who requests Burke’s opinion of the French Revolution to date. Burke is a well-connected politician and political theorist of the late eighteenth century, though this tract would become his first significant work on the subject. In Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke speaks at length on the development... Read Reflections On The Revolution In France Summary

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Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature

Refugee is a historical, young adult fiction novel by Alan Gratz. First published in 2017, Refugee became a New York Times bestseller.Plot SummaryThe novel follows the stories of three refugee children in three different geographic locations and points in time. Each child experiences traumatic losses and personal victories as they struggle to escape the political instability of their homelands. Josef Landau is fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939. Isabel Fernandez is escaping Castro’s Cuba in 1994... Read Refugee Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Society: Nation, Identity: RaceTags Race / Racism, History: U.S.

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist (2018) is a biography of disavowed white nationalist Derek Black, authored by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eli Saslow.Derek is a former white nationalist wunderkind. Derek is the son of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and Stormfront online hate group creator, Don Black, and the godson of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, white supremacist politician, and notorious public figure, David Duke. Derek’s parents remove... Read Rising Out of Hatred Summary

Publication year 1595Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: FateTags Classic Fiction, Elizabethan Era, British Literature

Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy by the English playwright William Shakespeare. It is among Shakespeare’s best-known plays and, like its author, has been highly influential in shaping the course of English-language literature. First performed before 1597 (the date of its earliest known printing), it has been popular ever since. Like most of Shakespeare’s plays, it employs a combination of blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) and prose, with occasional deviations in form; for example, Shakespeare... Read Romeo and Juliet Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Historical Fiction

Salt to the Sea is a historical young adult novel written by Ruta Sepetys and published in 2016. Set during World War II, this coming-of-age story follows four protagonists as they both make and resist the journey to adulthood in a world characterized by war and trauma. As the characters grapple with the obstacles in their past and present circumstances, the novel explores themes related to redefining family and overcoming the past by telling the... Read Salt to the Sea Summary

Publication year 2007Genre Book, Nonfiction

Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora by author and history professor Stephanie E. Smallwood is a work of historical non-fiction that recreates the slave trade through the eyes of African slaves. Published in 2007, it won the 2008 Frederick Douglas Book Prize, awarded to the best book written in English regarding slavery or abolition. The book seeks to expand the current understanding of the Atlantic slave trade through a deep analysis... Read Saltwater Slavery Summary

Publication year 1991Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: EducationTags Education

Jonathan Kozol's 1991 book, Savage Inequalities, is a critical look at the American educational system and its failures. The main argument of the book is that a tremendous divide exists between rich and poor in education, a divide intensified by ethnic and racial prejudice. Kozol claims that in many communities and localities, American schools remain effectively segregated, more than 50 years after the criminalization of such practices. Kozol argues that while the letter of the... Read Savage Inequalities Summary

Publication year 1987Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: RaceTags History: U.S., Civil Rights / Jim Crow

Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South (1998) is a memoir by the American author and historian Melton A. McLaurin, who describes coming of age as a white person in the segregated South. McLaurin was born in 1941 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and grows up in the nearby town of Wade. The memoir takes place in the small town of Wade during the 1950s and focuses on the racism he witnessed at both individual... Read Separate Pasts Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Fantasy

Shadowshaper is an urban fantasy young adult novel written by Daniel José Older and originally published in 2015. The first book in the Shadowshaper Cypher series, Shadowshaper follows an Afro-Boricua teenager named Sierra who discovers she has a magical and spiritual family heritage. The book was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2015 and was shortlisted for the 2015 Kirkus Prize. This study guide refers the 2015 paperback Scholastic Inc. edition.   Plot SummaryAt... Read Shadowshaper Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionTags Fantasy

Son of a Trickster is a 2017 young adult realistic fantasy novel by Eden Robinson. The first book in Robinson’s Trickster trilogy, it was shortlisted for various Canadian awards and was a Canadian bestseller. Set in Robinson’s hometown of Kitimat, British Columbia, the story is informed by the author’s Haisla and Heiltsuk heritage. The novel contains mature themes including addiction, abuse, and self-harm.Plot SummaryThe protagonist is 16-year-old Jared, a Native boy who lives with his... Read Son of a Trickster Summary

Publication year 1983Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Asian Literature, Chinese Literature

Son of the Revolution (1983), written by Liang Heng with his wife, Judith Shapiro, is a memoir of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and is both the story of Liang’s own coming-of-age and a chronicle of China’s political and cultural upheaval following the Communist Party’s rise to power in the mid-1900s.Content Warning: The source material and this guide contain references to violence and death by suicide.Liang Heng is born in Changsha, a large city in central... Read Son of the Revolution Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism, Black Lives Matter

So You Want to Talk About Race is a 2018 non-fiction book written by Ijeoma Oluo, an American author of Nigerian descent whose columns and news articles on race have appeared in The Guardian, The Stranger, and Jezebel, among other places. This guide refers to the first edition published in 2018 by Seal Press. The title gestures to the discourse that is necessary to combat racial oppression in the United States. The book made Bustle’s... Read So You Want to Talk About Race Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionTags Science / Nature

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic is a 2012 narrative nonfiction work about the relationship between animal infections and human disease. It was nominated for several awards and won the Science and Society Book Award, given by the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Biology (UK) Book Award in General Biology. In Spillover, Quammen’s narrative alternates between the outbreak and eventual discovery of recent emerging diseases, and the scientific discoveries... Read Spillover Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags African American Literature, History: U.S., Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Black Lives Matter

Ibrahim Kendi’s comprehensive history of racial thought in the US, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, was published in 2016. Organized around the lifespans of five of the most influential or representative individuals in racial thought across American history, the text spans centuries, offering an overview of the enduring and evolving forms of racist ideology in America.Kendi’s book incorporates conversations in science, literature, visual and musical arts, politics, and... Read Stamped From the Beginning Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Black Lives Matter, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Race / Racism

Jason Reynolds’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (2020) is a nonfiction book by the American authors Jason Reynolds and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. It is a self-described “remix” of Kendi’s 2016 National Book Award winner Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. An award-winning writer of young adult fiction and poetry, Reynolds frames America’s history of racist ideas for an audience of middle school and high school readers. Reynolds’s remix... Read Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Fantasy

A loose adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Summer of the Mariposas, published in 2012, follows five Mexican American sisters on an epic journey from Texas to Mexico. Drawing deeply from Mexican folklore, the book’s genre blends magical realism and fantasy. The book was a 2013 Andre Norton Award Nominee, won the Westchester Fiction Award, and made the list of 2012 School Library Journal Best Books. Guadalupe Garcia McCall was born in Piedras Negras... Read Summer of the Mariposas Summary

Publication year 1955Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & PrideTags Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature

Surprised by Joy is C.S. Lewis’s spiritual autobiography, tracing the steps that led up to his conversion to Christianity. This guide refers to the 1955 Harcourt Brace & Company/Harvest Books edition. Lewis was born in 1898 in Ireland and begins his story with his childhood in Belfast, where he and his family lived in a maze-like house full of empty attics and heaps of books. He was close with his older brother, and together they... Read Surprised by Joy Summary

Publication year 2009Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionTags Self Help, Christian literature

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion (2010) is a memoir written by Catholic priest Gregory (Greg) Boyle. The memoir relays Boyle’s experiences serving as the leader of the Dolores Mission Church in the gang capital of the world, Los Angeles. Boyle, a Jesuit, performed his earliest missionary work in an impoverished Bolivian village. There, Boyle gained two lifelong attributes: an unyielding desire to help the poor and the ability to speak Spanish... Read Tattoos on the Heart Summary

Publication year 1994Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: EducationTags Education

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom is a collection of 14 essays and interviews examining how to transform the multicultural classroom into an inclusive space dedicated to the practice of freedom for all students. “bell hooks” is Gloria Jean Watkins’s pen name, which she chooses not to capitalize so that her work is emphasized more so than her name. She is an acclaimed feminist scholar, cultural critic, writer, and educator. She’s the... Read Teaching to Transgress Summary

Publication year 1988Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Action / Adventure, Latin American Literature

The Alchemist, first published in 1988, is a novel by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho and translated by Alan R. Clarke. It tells the story of Santiago, a shepherd from Andalusia who dreams of a treasure buried beside the pyramids in Egypt. Heavy with allegory and including many fantastical and magical elements, the novel delivers a strong message of powerful life lessons and encourages the characters (and the reader) to fulfill their own Personal Legend.The novel... Read The Alchemist Summary

Publication year 1899Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Mothers, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Gender / Feminism, Classic Fiction, American Literature, Depression / Suicide, Naturalism

The Awakening is Kate Chopin’s second novel. It was first published in 1899 and is considered one of the first examples of feminist fiction.The novel opens in the 1890s Louisiana, at Grand Isle, a summer holiday resort popular among wealthy Creoles who live in nearby New Orleans. Edna Pontellier, her husband, Léonce, and their two children are vacationing at the cottages of Madame Lebrun. Léonce is a kind and devoted husband, but he is often... Read The Awakening Summary

Publication year 2011Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

The Berlin Boxing Club is the second novel by Robert Sharenow, also the author of My Mother the Cheerleader. It was published in 2011 and won the Association of Jewish Libraries Sidney Taylor Award.While a work of fiction, The Berlin Boxing Clubis based on a true story: that of the German boxing champion Max Schmeling, who sheltered two Jewish children during Kristallnacht—the night of Nazi-sponsored rioting against Jews that many see as the beginning of... Read The Berlin Boxing Club Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Graphic Novel/Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Birth, Society: War, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, History: Asian

The artist and writer Thi Bui published her autobiographical graphic memoir, The Best We Could Do, in 2017. Alternating her narrative between her present-day experiences as a new mother in New York City with her parents’ past growing up in and then escaping from Vietnam, Bui builds a complex web of intergenerational trauma and love. This is Bui’s first venture into comic book illustration. The artwork that accompanies her narrative is based on the black... Read The Best We Could Do Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Psychology

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma is a 2014 nonfiction work by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. This guide refers to the 2015 edition published by Penguin Books. Van der Kolk, a psychiatrist specializing in various forms of trauma, has worked in trauma therapy for his entire professional career, publishing numerous scientific research studies of his own and contributing to many more. In addition to being a... Read The Body Keeps the Score Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism, Black Lives Matter

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, published the essay “The Case for Reparations” in that magazine’s June 2014 issue. It was widely acclaimed and, according to the Washington Post, set a record at the time for the most-viewed article in a single day on The Atlantic website. The essay earned Coates a George Polk Award for commentary in 2014.In the essay, Coates examines the idea of the United States government paying reparations to... Read The Case for Reparations Summary

Publication year 426Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature, Italian Literature

This guide refers to the 2003 Penguin Classics edition, translated by Henry Bettenson and edited by G.R. Evans. Your page numbers may vary. Please note that this guide covers only Part 1 (Books 1-10) of the 22 books of City of God. Begun in 413 AD, only a few years after the Sack of Rome, City of God is Augustine’s rejoinder to pagan misconceptions of Christianity. In the aftermath of a disastrous and unprecedented attack... Read The City of God Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Anthropology

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure is a psychology book written by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt and published in 2018. The nonfiction work, which expounds upon an essay the authors wrote for The Atlantic in 2015, became a bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award nominee. The book argues that parents and schools, in an overabundance of caution, have taught children... Read The Coddling of the American Mind Summary

Publication year 1844Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Birth, Emotions/Behavior: RevengeTags French Literature

The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel by the French writer Alexandre Dumas, originally published in serial form between 1844 and 1846, which is reflected in the novel’s episodic structure, large cast of characters, and frequent shifts of scene. The novel has been translated into English several times, usually in abridged form. This guide follows the translation and abridgment by Lowell Blair, first published in 1956.Content Warning: The source material includes suicide, suicidal... Read The Count of Monte Cristo Summary

Publication year 1953Genre Play, FictionTags Classic Fiction, American Literature, Colonial America

The Crucible is a Tony Award-winning play by Arthur Miller. The play is a partially fictionalized dramatization of the Salem witch trials, which took place from February 1692 to May 1693. Premiering in 1953 at the height of the McCarthy trials, Miller wrote The Crucible as an allegory for the paranoia, fear-mongering accusations, and circumstantial evidence he witnessed. Accused of being a communist himself, Miller faced questioning by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American... Read The Crucible Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

The Dutch House is the eighth novel of Ann Patchett, an award-winning author of contemporary fiction. Published in 2019, the novel tells the story of what happens to Danny Conroy and his older sister Maeve Conroy when their stepmother, Andrea Smith, expels them from their sumptuous childhood home after the death of their father, Cyril Conroy. Set in the Dutch House—located in the outskirts of Philadelphia—and New York, the novel is literary fiction with fairy-tale... Read The Dutch House Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Health / Medicine

Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, is nothing less than an account of the 4,000-year quest to understand and treat cancer, a malady that continues to plague us over the centuries. Mukherjee, an Indian-American oncologist and author, received a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for the 2010 work. The autobiography opens with Mukherjee’s fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he treats a 31-year-old mother named Carla Reed, who has... Read The Emperor of All Maladies Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Identity: GenderTags Fantasy, Gender / Feminism

The Fifth Season is the first installment of author N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy—a “science fantasy” series that blends scientific explanation with the magical or supernatural elements of the fantasy genre. After its publication in 2015, the novel received the 2016 Hugo Award recognizing excellence in science fiction or fantasy writing. Jemisin was the first black woman to win the prize, and went on to break another record when her sequels to The Fifth... Read The Fifth Season Summary

Publication year 1937Genre Novel, Fiction

The Flivver King: A Story of Ford-America (1937) tells two intertwined stories: that of industrialist Henry Ford (1863-1947) and that of a fictional Ford Motor Company employee, Abner Shutt, and his family. The narrative is told by an omniscient third-person narrator.The novel opens before the founding of the Ford Motor Company, when the young Henry Ford is in the process of inventing his first working automobile. It traces Ford’s progress from hopeful inventor to automobile... Read The Flivver King Summary

Publication year 1961Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: CommunityTags Anthropology, Action / Adventure

In The Forest People, anthropologist Colin M. Turnbull describes his experiences while living as a friend and observer with the BaMbuti (Pygmies) of the Ituri Forest. He shares the everyday lives of the Pygmies located in the Epulu River region and their interactions with each other and with him. The setting is the Belgian Congo, which Turnbull describes as located in the center of Africa. Turnbull had visited the Epulu BaMbuti in 1951. This narrative... Read The Forest People Summary

Publication year 1993Genre Novel, FictionTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Children's Literature

The Giver is a work of young adult fiction. It is the first installment in The Giver Quartet, which also includes Gathering Blue (2000), Messenger (2004), and Son (2012). Author Lois Lowry received a 1994 Newbery Medal for her dystopian novel, although the text, with themes considered possibly too dark for the reader's age group, was challenged throughout the 1990s. The Giver takes place in the future, in a carefully-designed community that is extremely safe... Read The Giver Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction

The Giver of Stars (2019) by JoJo Moyes is a work of women’s fiction that can also be categorized as historical fiction. Not long after its publication, The Giver of Stars became embroiled in controversy when another author, Kim Michele Richardson, noted similarities between her book about the WPA Pack Horse Librarians, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, and Moyes’s novel. Moyes is the bestselling author of Me Before You, and The Giver of Stars... Read The Giver of Stars Summary

Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Values/Ideas: ArtTags Arts / Culture

Donna Tartt’s 2013 novel, The Goldfinch, was a national best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014. It follows the life of Theo Decker from his early teens into his late twenties. The novel is told in five parts and begins when Theo is hiding out in a hotel room in Amsterdam as an adult. It moves back in time and finally makes a circle back to his adulthood, explaining the reason for his stay... Read The Goldfinch Summary

Publication year 1925Genre Novel, FictionTags The Lost Generation, Music, Modern Classic Fiction, Drama / Tragedy, Modernism, American Literature, Classic Fiction

The Great Gatsby is a fiction novel published in 1925 by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Inspired by Fitzgerald’s experiences during the Jazz Age of the 1920s, The Great Gatsby captures the prosperity and the hedonism of the era through a cast of characters who reside in the fictional Long Island towns of West Egg and East Egg. Despite a cold reaction from critics and audiences upon its release, many modern scholars include The... Read The Great Gatsby Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags History: World, Science / Nature, Technology

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History is a 2004 nonfiction work by American historian John M. Barry. It traces the history of the worst pandemic in world history, the influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919. Barry approaches the subject with a broad audience in mind, placing the story of the flu inside the broader story of medical and scientific history. While focusing on the men who fought the pandemic, Barry... Read The Great Influenza Summary

Publication year 1985Genre Novel, FictionTags Gender / Feminism, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

First published in 1985, Margaret Atwood’s sixth novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, has received numerous accolades and prizes and remains widely critically celebrated. Set in what used to be the United States but is now a repressive theocracy called the Republic of Gilead, it is narrated by the protagonist, Offred, who recounts her daily experiences intercut with memories of her life before the revolution and during her training to become a “Handmaid.”Content Warning: The source material... Read The Handmaid's Tale Summary

Publication year 1949Genre Book, NonfictionTags Psychology

Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a nonfiction work about world mythology published in 1949. Campbell, a mythology scholar and professor of literature, presents his theory of the “monomyth,” or the narrative tropes common to all storytelling traditions. The first half of the book covers the monomyth of the hero’s journey. The second half deals with similarities among a wide range of creation myths.In his Prologue, Campbell considers why people from all... Read The Hero with a Thousand Faces Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Biography, NonfictionTags History: U.S., Health / Medicine

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a non-fiction book that tells the story of Lacks and her HeLa cells, or the immortal cell line that doctors retrieved from her cervical cancer cells. Crown Publishing Group published the book in 2010, and it won a National Academies Communication Award the following year. This guide refers to the Crown 2010 first edition. Henrietta Lacks was a black American woman who died of cancer... Read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Summary

Publication year 1937Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: RaceTags Gender / Feminism, Modern Classic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction, African American Literature, American Literature

Zora Neale Hurston, a writer and anthropologist associated with the Harlem Renaissance, published her second and most famous novel Their Eyes Were Watching God in 1937. Set in Central and South Florida, the novel follows protagonist Janie Crawford’s evolution from impressionable, idealistic girl to self-confident woman.Famed for her work as an ethnographer and an author, Hurston chronicled contemporary issues in the Black community with honesty. While somewhat unrecognized in her time, Hurston’s writing came to... Read Their Eyes Were Watching God Summary

Publication year 1994Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: MarriageTags History: U.S., Religion / Spirituality, Crime / Legal

The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th Century America is a work of non-fiction published in 1994 by Oxford University Press. Historians Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz tell the little-known story of Matthias the Prophet in a dramatic and well-documented account that blends biography with true crime. The authors recount events that occurred during the Second Great Awakening, a Protestant religious revival in the United States that reached its peak... Read The Kingdom Of Matthias Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: CommunityTags Anthropology

The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail is a 2015 work of nonfiction and the winner of four awards, including the J.J. Staley Book Prize in 2018. Drawing on his expertise in anthropology, ethnography and archeology, author Jason De León, Executive Director of the Undocumented Migration Project and current Professor of Anthropology and Chicanx Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, critiques the federal border enforcement policy known as... Read The Land of Open Graves Summary

Publication year 2008Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Mythology, Immigration / Refugee, History: Asian, Poverty

Kao Kalia Yang was born in Thailand’s Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in 1980 and immigrated to St. Paul, Minnesota when she was six years old. She is agraduate of Carleton College and Columbia University and co-founder of Words Wanted, an organization committed to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services.In her memoir, The Latehomecomer (2008), Yang explores what it means to be Hmong. By remembering her time in Thailand’s Ban Vinai Refugee camp, and... Read The Latehomecomer Summary

Publication year 2006Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Religion / Spirituality, History: Middle Eastern, Immigration / Refugee

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East is a biography and memoir written by Sandy Tolan and published in 2006. Against the backdrop of the first Arab-Israeli War’s 50th anniversary, American journalist Sandy Tolan travels to the Middle East to research his assignment. Through the biography, Tolan aims to highlight how two families on opposite sides of the conflict—the al-Khairis and the Eshkenazis—are connected on a level that... Read The Lemon Tree Summary

Publication year 1995Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Mental Illness

The Liars’ Club is a memoir by Mary Karr and was first published in 1995. It won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for nonfiction and was a New York Times bestseller.The subject of the memoir is Karr’s turbulent childhood. Karr and her older sister Lecia grew up in Leechfield, Texas and lived briefly in Colorado. Their father was a World War II veteran who worked at an oil refinery and came from a modest Texan background... Read The Liars' Club Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: BirthTags Gender / Feminism, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline is a science fiction novel set in a post-apocalyptic Canada where climate devastation ravages the world and the Canadian government’s Recruiters hunt Natives for the dreams that are woven into their bone marrow. Millions have died in the wake of global warming, and those who remain have experienced such extensive trauma that they have lost the ability to dream. Dimaline describes a world plagued by natural disasters, with vivid descriptions... Read The Marrow Thieves Summary

Publication year 1994Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: War, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Military / War, Cold War

The Massacre at El Mozote, by Mark Danner, which in its first iteration appeared as a series of articles for The New Yorker, is an in-depth investigation into the events of December 1981 in the small town of El Mozote in northern El Salvador, during the country’s long civil war. Danner proceeds to not only bring these events to light, but also to place them in the global context of the Cold War of the... Read The Massacre at El Mozote Summary

Publication year 1976Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Relationships: Daughters & SonsTags History: U.S., American Revolution

The Minutemen and their World is a history of 18th-century Concord, a Massachusetts town located approximately twenty miles west of Boston. The town is famous for the Transcendentalist writers who produced their works there, but it is perhaps even more famous as the site of the first battle of the American Revolution, when the famed “shot heard round the world” was fired at the town’s North Bridge (xvi). The book’s author, Robert A. Gross, describes... Read The Minutemen and Their World Summary

Publication year -1Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: FateTags Classic Fiction, Narrative / Epic Poem, Mythology, Ancient Greece

The Odyssey is an ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer, though “Homer” is now generally believed to refer more to an epic tradition than to a specific or single person. Scholars debate when and how the poem was composed. It seems to have come into existence contemporaneously or shortly after the adaptation of the ancient Greek alphabet, which places it in the late 8th century BC. It was most likely composed orally, and even... Read The Odyssey Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, Fiction

The Overstory is a 2018 novel by Richard Powers. Weaving together numerous character narratives, it is the story of a collection of environmental activists and their struggles to make their protests heard by society. It won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.Plot SummaryThe Hoel family are descended from Norwegian immigrants who moved from New York to a farm in Iowa. Nicolas Hoel, a young artist who lacks direction returns home for Christmas and finds his... Read The Overstory Summary

Publication year 1959Genre Book, Nonfiction

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is a sociological study of the ways individuals encounter each other. Published in 1956 by Erving Goffman, it focuses on the relationship between an individual carrying out a particular role in society (what Goffman calls a “performance”) and those who are present but not participant (whom he calls “observers”) in the activity. While the text begins with a general introduction to Goffman’s methodology, with Chapter 1 solely an... Read The Presentation Of Self In Everyday Life Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: The Past, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags LGBTQ

The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood is a memoir published in 2014 by Richard Blanco, President Barack Obama’s inaugural poet. Blanco describes his childhood living in Miami with parents and grandparents who’d immigrated to America from Cuba. It offers a picture of his family’s nostalgia for Cuba and his simultaneous struggle to relate to a world he’s never seen. His book recounts his quest to reconcile his Cuban heritage with his American upbringing... Read The Prince of Los Cocuyos Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Religion / Spirituality

In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, published in 2012, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt presents a new way to understand the often-contentious moral divides in politics and religion. Haidt looks at the topic in three separate parts. First, he works to give a clearer picture of how the mind works. Secondly, he presents a framework for understanding the different moral values that emerge between different cultures and political parties... Read The Righteous Mind Summary

Publication year 1850Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Life/Time: The PastTags Classic Fiction, Romanticism / Romantic Period, Allegory / Fable / Parable, American Literature, Colonial America

The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 novel by writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. The work, Hawthorne’s first full-length novel, is a classic of the American Romantic era. More specifically, its treatment of topics like sin, insanity, and the occult make it a work of Dark Romanticism—a movement related to the Gothic genre that includes works by Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville. The Scarlet Letter is also a piece of historical fiction; it is set in the... Read The Scarlet Letter Summary

Publication year 1982Genre Book, NonfictionTags Philosophy

The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff, is an introduction to the philosophy of Taoism. Hoff uses Winnie-the-Pooh and other characters from A.A. Milne’s well-known children books to exemplify and explain these principles. The primary character, Pooh, exhibits many qualities that produce contentment. The literal meaning of Tao is “the way,” and the goal of the way is the kind of contentment that Pooh possesses.Many of the book’s passages are devoted to Taoist concepts such... Read The Tao Of Pooh Summary

Publication year 1990Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Society: WarTags Military / War, American Literature, Creative Nonfiction, Vietnam War

Published in 1990, The Things They Carried is a collection of interrelated short stories about the Vietnam War written by Tim O’Brien. The historical fiction collection has been hailed not only as an essential piece of literature about the Vietnam War, but as a workshop in fiction writing itself. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a New York Times Book of the Century. It... Read The Things They Carried Summary

Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Realistic Fiction, Animals

The Tiger Rising is a children’s novel by two-time Newbery Award-medalist, Kate DiCamillo. Published in 2001, The Tiger Rising is DiCamillo’s second book and was a National Book Award Finalist. Following the death of his mother, 12-year-old Rob Horton packs away his grief the way he packs his clothes when he and his father move to Lister, Florida. However, Rob’s discovery of a caged tiger in the woods and the friendship of an angry girl... Read The Tiger Rising Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionTags Mystery / Crime Fiction

Published in 2016, The Trespasser is a crime fiction novel by Tana French. Set in contemporary Dublin, Ireland, the story follows Detective Antoinette Conway, the lone female member of the famous Murder Squad, whose routine domestic murder case turns out to be anything but. The Trespasser is the sixth novel in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. Called the “First Lady of Irish Crime” by The Independent, French was born in the United States but resides... Read The Trespasser Summary

Publication year 1994Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: U.S.

The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America is a work of narrative, historical non-fiction written by John Demos, a professor of history at Yale University. Published in 1995, it won the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Set in 18th-century New England, The Unredeemed Captive explores the historical events surrounding a Mohawk raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts on February 29, 1704. The... Read The Unredeemed Captive Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: U.S.

Published in 2010, The Warmth of Other Suns is a sweeping ethnography of the Great Migration—the mass exodus of African-Americans from the South to Northern and Western US cities dating from approximately 1914-1970. The book traces the history of racism in the Jim Crow South as well as the reasons, successes, and failures of those African-Americans who left the place of their birth in order to seek better economic and social opportunities elsewhere in the... Read The Warmth Of Other Suns Summary

Publication year 1776Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: EconomicsTags Business / Economics

Adam Smith was a Scottish economist, philosopher, author, and public intellectual, born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. He studied at University of Glasgow, Balliol College, and Oxford, and lectured at the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh and Glasgow University. His principal writings are The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations. The Theory of Moral Sentiments is a work on moral philosophy, while The Wealth of Nations is a pioneering, revolutionary work on economics.The Wealth... Read The Wealth Of Nations Summary

Publication year 1953Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Society: EconomicsTags Business / Economics

The Worldly Philosophers, first published in 1953, is a nonfiction work on the history of economics, written by American economist and historian Robert L. Heilbroner, the Norman Thomas Professor of Economics, Emeritus at the New School for Social Research, New York. Currently in its seventh edition, published in an updated and revised form in 1999, the book is regularly assigned to economics undergraduates, providing them with an overview of western economic thought. The Worldly Philosophers... Read The Worldly Philosophers Summary

Publication year 1958Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Society: ColonialismTags Colonialism / Postcolonialism, African Literature, History: African , Heinemann African Writers

Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, is Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s first novel. Simultaneously portraying the traditions and beliefs of Nigerian Ibo culture and engaging with the narrative of European colonialism in Africa, Things Fall Apart uses one man’s story to speak for many.Achebe’s plot centers on Okonkwo, a passionate man focused on reaching the apex of masculine virtue in his home village, Umuofia. As a child, Okonkwo notices his father’s “feminine” and dishonorable behaviors:... Read Things Fall Apart Summary

Publication year 1938Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags The Bloomsbury Group

Three Guineas is a book-length essay structured as a letter from Virginia Woolf to an unnamed correspondent who has asked her for help with his efforts to “prevent war” (3). Three years after receiving the letter, and amidst the rise of fascism across Europe, Woolf has finally decided to respond. As a pacifist, she feels compelled to find a way to prevent another World War, though she is perturbed by the correspondent’s ideas, which ignore... Read Three Guineas Summary

Publication year 1956Genre Novel, FictionTags Mythology, Classic Fiction

C.S. Lewis’s final novel, Till We Have Faces, is a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. The novel is narrated by Orual, the Queen of Glome, and is framed as a complaint against the gods. Orual is the eldest of three sisters; her siblings are Redival and Istra—whom Orual calls Psyche. Orual is an ugly child who resents Redival’s beauty and whose only friend is her tutor, a Greek slave called the... Read Till We Have Faces Summary

Publication year 1960Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Modern Classic Fiction, Classic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, American Literature, Southern Gothic

To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel written by Harper Lee and originally published in 1960. The book is widely regarded as an American classic and, until recently, was the only novel Lee had published. To Kill a Mockingbird was inspired by events and observations that took place in Lee’s hometown. Set in the Great Depression, from 1932 to 1935, the novel is narrated by a young girl named Scout, whose coming-of-age experiences closely mirror... Read To Kill a Mockingbird Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction

Trampoline is an illustrated novel written by Robert Gipe. Ohio University Press published the novel in 2015. The story takes place in the fictional Canard County, located in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. The narrator, Dawn Jewell, tells the story of the holiday season when she was 15 years old. Dawn is intelligent, creative, and thoughtful. She lives with her grandmother, whom she calls Mamaw, because her own mother, Momma, is too addicted to drugs... Read Trampoline Summary

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Uprising is a novel of historical fiction by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The story revolves around a 1911 New York fire at The Triangle shirtwaist factory that killed 146 immigrant workers. The Triangle firefollowed a citywide strike led by the shirtwaist workers that served to summon great public interest. Thus, the fire was perceived as not only a great tragedy, but an inciting symbol for the Labor Movement in the Industrial Revolution.Haddix’s narrative interweaves the perspectives of... Read Uprising Summary

Publication year 1986Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: CommunityTags Anthropology, History: Middle Eastern

Lila Abu-Lughod’s Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society, first published in 1986, is the anthropologist’s first ethnography on the Awlad ‘Ali Bedouin peoples of North Africa. Over years of research and ‘ishra (living with) the Awlad ‘Ali, Abu-Lughod, initially interested in women’s experiences in the community, is drawn to poetry, specifically that which women recite in intimate, private settings. As she lives in and learns from the villagers, she explores the purpose... Read Veiled Sentiments Summary

Publication year 1986Genre Book, NonfictionTags