Pleasanton High School


English 4 AP Preferred Summer Reading List

The books include a wide variety of different genres, cultures and styles. Students are not required to read these books over the summer, however, reading over the summer keeps students stimulated and prepares them for the next school year! 

AP Literature Recommended Reading


No, there isn’t a test over this.  BUT…if you are serious about this AP Lit thing, and your mom wants you to read a book this summer anyway, why not try one of these?  Read one or read them all, and then watch the movie.  The important thing is that you keep reading and thinking.


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Best friends Huck and Jim set out on an adventure in the Civil War Era South.  Escape from an abusive father, stolen gold, and a search for freedom make this one of my favorite books.  It examines the concepts of slavery, freedom, and family.


Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya – This novel set in 1960’s New Mexico follows Antonio Marez and his family when they take in a curandera named Ultima. Antonio reflects on his childhood as he struggles with traditional Hispanic culture vs. the morality of the Catholic Church.  It explores the influence of culture on faith, family drama, and identity.  I haven’t read it myself, but it comes highly recommended and is on my personal summer reading list.


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – This is the novel that invented the true crime genre.  It is the true story of the brutal murder of a family in Kansas in 1959 as the author digs deep into the psyche of the murderers to discover what could make a person kill an entire family in cold blood.  Truman Capote was Harper Lee’s cousin and is supposedly the inspiration for the character Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird. Think about the author’s craft.  Is this novel fact, or fiction, or both?


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Don’t let the length of this book frighten you.  Jane Eyre is one of my favorite female protagonists of all time. Orphaned as a child in 1867, she takes charge of her own future, finding love on her own terms.  Action, romance, mystery – it has it all.  The 2011 movie starring Mia Wasikowska (the girl in Alice in Wonderland) is my favorite.  If you like this book, then read anything by Jane Austen.  They explore the concept of love as a positive or destructive force in our lives.


The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan – Based on her mother’s life, Tan explores the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters.  There are sections from different points of view, both mothers and daughters.  It doesn’t matter that the characters are Chinese, the fears and conflicts are universal.  This is a great book for the beach.  Focus on the power of storytelling.


The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane – At a time when war was often glorified, this novel of the Civil War gained fame for its realistic battle scenes.  Henry Fleming worries about whether or not his courage will hold in the face of battle, and what happens if it doesn’t.  Think about courage vs. self-preservation, and how it applies today.


If none of these look interesting, there is a more comprehensive list at