Summer Reading for A. P. Writing


for Students entering Mr. Kendall's A. P. Writing Course for Fall, 2005



            Buy a spiral notebook or a marble composition book for all the writing, unless you plan to word process a lot of it. Then you might choose a half-inch three-ring notebook.


            1) Read Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and


2) George Orwell's 1984 (buy these, because we'll use them in class).


Take approximately five pages of notes on each novel. Orwell has so much "information" (new terms used in his futuristic society, re-naming familiar aspects of our so pace yourself. Twain's novel is less plot-driven, so concentrate more on his satire, the character development of Huck, and the growing friendship of Huck and Jim. If the fleeting temptation to use Cliff Notes occurs to you, resist. Highlight your book; write notes to yourself in the margins; let your fingers race across the keyboard. Own the material yourself. You can do far better.


3) The third "book" may be a full-length non-fiction work, or a collection of essays by the same author, an autobiography, or an anthology of non-fiction work (e.g. "The Best Essays of 1997", etc., series Some authors/specific works which students have enjoyed in the past include:

Virginia Woolf's A Writer's Diary (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, NY, 1953_

Annie Dillard's The Writing Life (Harper-Collins, New York, 1989)

Teaching a Stone to Talk (Harper and Row, NY, 1982)

Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek (Harper's Magazine Press, NY, 1974)

May Sarton's Journal of a Solitude (W. W. Norton & Co, NY, 1973)

Joan Didion's The White Album (Simon and Schuster, NY, 1979) and

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Lewis Thomas's Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony (The Viking Press, NY, 1980). Like Dillard, who makes me look at natural science when I had no intention of doing so, Thomas forces me to look at physics and biology, especially with the moral imperative that if we don't watch it, we'll all go up in smoke (see "The Unforgettable Fire" and the title essay).

Nancy Willard's Keeping Time: Angels, Ancestors and Stories (Harcourt Brace and Company, NY, 1993) My favorites include: "How Poetry Came into the World and Why God Doesn't Write It," ""Looking for Mr. Ames" "High Talk in the Starlit Wood: On Spirits and Stories," and "Telling Time."

Ellen Goodman's Keeping in Touch (one of several titles of hers. Others include At Large: Turning Points; Close to Home)


Ursula LeGuin's Dancing on the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places (Harper and Row, NY, 1989) My favorites included "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night," "Some Thoughts on Narrative," "The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction," and "Heroes" If you enjoy the genres, you might also like LeGuin's collection of essays on science fiction and fantasy, The Language of the Night (Harper Collins, NY, 1989

Nancy Mairs's Carnal Acts A full-length treatment of the excerpt we'll read during the year, called "On Being a Cripple . I promise you that you'll never look at "handicapped" people the same way after reading this work.)

Barbara Kingsolver's High Tide in Tucson If you liked The Bean Trees Freshman year, I don't think you'll be disappointed in her collection of non-fiction, with pieces such as "How Mr. Dewey Decimal Saved My Life," Life Without Go-Go Boots," "The Household Zen" "Careful What You Let in the Door," and the title piece.



4) Read a fourth book from the "long" list of Upper School books.


            5) Write. Take 2-3 pages of notes on the third and four books, and write at least five pages of journals on whatever you choose. That would bring the total quantity of journal pages to about 20. As an athletic coach might point out, the more you practice a skill, the easier and more naturally you will gain superiority in it. Avoid the obvious diary entry ("I got up. I ate breakfast. I watched TV . . ."). Select key moments of the summer or practice writing a profile of a person you meet, or describe an interesting setting. Be exciting. Experiment. Try different points of view in your narrative.


            6) Send me an e-mail some time in June, with "Your specific name/e-mail address" in the "subject box". That way I can hit the "reply" button and e-mail you any late breaking info, without having to resort to 37-cent stamps. Since some of you have strange and hard to understand e-mail addresses, it's important that you put your full, normal school name in the subject box.


            My e-mail address is:

if you want to have a third selection approved (if the author isn't on the list) or if you have any questions).

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