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Greater Boston Cooperative Library Association reading list--grades 11 & 12.


Doyle, Roddy. THE COMMITMENTS. The first novel in Roddy Doyle's critically acclaimed series highlights the life of the teenager Jimmy Rabbitte as he and his mates try to bring some "soul music" to Dublin's gritty North Side neighborhoods in the late 1980s.

Danticat, Edwidge. THE DEW BREAKER. All is not as it seems when a daughter and father take a trip together. This heart-wrenching novel is told in a series of connected stories set against the horrors of the Duvalier regime in Haiti.

Obama, Barack. DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE. This memoir from the newly elected senator from Illinois was written just after he finished Harvard Law School some years ago. It tells of his struggles throughout his childhood and young adulthood to understand his African heritage.

Winner, Lauren F. GIRL MEETS GOD: A MEMOIR. A young woman invites readers into her personal spiritual journey from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity.

Queen Noor. LEAP OF FAITH: MEMOIRS OF AN UNEXPECTED LIFE. Tales of palace intrigue, international affairs, and family relationships give a fascinating glimpse of the life of an Arab-American woman married to the King of Jordan.

Eugenides, Jeffrey. MIDDLESEX. A Greek-American family saga and a coming-of-age novel with a twist. A young girl learns that she is really a male and struggles with her identity as she grows into adulthood.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. THE NAMESAKE. With an ear for dialogue and an eye for detail, Lahiri chronicles the Ganguli family's journey from Calcutta to Cambridge. Tradition and cultures clash, ties are broken, and regrets hushed as family members seek identity in their new home.


Ozeki, Ruth. ALL OVER CREATION. Teenaged Yumi, daughter of puritanical Idaho potato farmer Lloyd Fuller and his war-bride wife Momoko, is a wild child who runs away from home. After years of estrangement and a troubled life, she is called home to cope and perhaps reconcile with her ailing parents.

Hoffman, Alice. BLACKBIRD HOUSE. A lonely farmhouse on the outer Cape is the setting for generations of folks who need its mystical powers to heal. Intertwined stories trace the threads that bind them under the spell of a ghostly "blackbird."

Moriarty, Laura. THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING. A mother and daughter both have some growing-up to do, but their determination and grit will have you cheering them on.

Merullo, Roland. IN REVERE IN THOSE DAYS. Anthony, orphaned by a plane crash, is raised in a warm Italian-American community by his loving grandparents and flawed uncle.

Erdrich, Louise. THE MASTER BUTCHERS SINGING CLUB. If this novel of the western plains were a play, there'd be no bad parts. Every character in this family saga is captivating and vividly drawn.

Haruf, Kent. PLAINSONG. Two old men, a pregnant teenager, a boy deserted by his mother, and a small western town experience the universals of community and the saving grace of love.

Carroll, James. SECRET FATHER: A NOVEL. A suspenseful story of family and politics set in post-World War II Germany. Three friends from the American high school cross the Berlin Wall on a lark, only to find themselves caught up in Cold War intrigue.

Lipman, Elinor. THEN SHE FOUND ME. April, the serious, studious, adopted daughter of two now-deceased Holocaust survivors, has never known her birth mother. Suddenly, she is "found" by flamboyant, flashy Bernice, who claims to be the one.


LeGuin, Ursula K. CHANGING PLANES. Ever been stuck in an airport between flights? Think about joining countless others as they "change plane(t)s" and discover truths about humanity among bizarre lands and peoples!

Herbert, Frank. DUNE. Arrakis, a desert land of fierce tribes and harsh environment, the only source of melange, the ingredient necessary for the "civilized" universe, becomes the chessboard of destiny as political ambition, treachery, and fate meet to determine the fate of not only the culture and ecology of this land, but also of the fabric of society throughout the universe.

Pratchett, Terry. MONSTROUS REGIMENT. Polly Perks disguises herself as a boy, joins the army, and goes to war. But in Pratchett's wacky world, neither Polly's enemies nor her fellow soldiers are quite what they seem.

Atwood, Margaret. ORYX AND CRAKE. Is Snowman the last human left alive on an earth peopled with the genetically designed humanoids--a race created by his best friend to eliminate war, hate, conflict--and the human race?

Niffenegger, Audrey. THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. If you ask Henry, he first met Clare when she burst into his life at 20. But Clare says she has known Henry intimately since he appeared in her parents' yard when she was six. A spellbinding tale of a family caught in the whims and mechanisms of time travel.


Seierstad, Asne. THE BOOKSELLER OF KABUL. Just after the fall of the Taliban, a Norwegian journalist moves into an Afghani home, witnesses the extraordinary lives of ordinary people, and is particularly moved and angered by the plight of the country's women.

Pham, Andrew X. CATFISH AND MANDALA: A TWO-WHEELED VOYAGE THROUGH THE LANDSCAPE AND MEMORY OF VIETNAM. After his sister's suicide, Andrew--who was born in Vietnam, but raised in California--returns to the land of his ancestors in search of himself and his cultural identity.

Coetzee, J.M. DISGRACE. Coetzee returns to his roots in this post-apartheid novel of a father and daughter struggling to adjust to the new South Africa.

Phillips, Arthur. THE EGYPTOLOGIST. In the land of the Nile, what king could outshine the glories of Tut? A story with more twists, turns, and mystery than a pharaoh's tomb!

Foer, Jonathan Safran. EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED. This novel of the Holocaust unfolds with an earthy and robust humor until its several powerfully delivered climaxes conclude in tragedy.

Ortiz Cofer, Judith. THE MEANING OF CONSUELO: A NOVEL. Growing up in Puerto Rico in the '50s, will Consuelo accept the role her mother has given her as the protector of her beautiful but disturbed younger sister, or will she construct her own identity and future, and risk being an outcast?


Delman, Carmit. BURNT BREAD AND CHUTNEY: GROWING UP BETWEEN CULTURES, A MEMOIR OF AN INDIAN JEWISH GIRL. The intertwined stories of Delman and her grandmother, Nana-bai, provide the pattern in a memoir that unflinchingly probes the realities of their family politics.

Almond, Steve. CANDYFREAK: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE CHOCOLATE UNDERBELLY OF AMERICA. The appropriately named Almond travels around the United States and explores the candy/chocolate industry from the smallest candy maker to industry giants Mars and Hershey.

Eliot, Eve. INSATIABLE: THE COMPELLING STORY OF FOUR TEENS, FOOD, AND ITS POWER. The fictional stories of four teenage girls, based on actual cases, examine the role that food plays in their lives and address issues of body image, bulimia, and self-mutilation.

Slater, Nigel. TOAST: THE STORY OF A BOY'S HUNGER. How closely intertwined are your memories with the tastes and aromas of home? Join Slater in 1950s England as he chronicles a poignant childhood through his not-always-pleasant memories of the foods of his childhood.

Dery, Dominika. TWELVE LITTLE CAKES. As the younger daughter of Czech dissidents, Dominika leads no charmed life; but the love and optimism of her parents support her.


Sedaris, David. DRESS YOUR FAMILY IN CORDUROY AND DENIM. With a quirky wit, Sedaris makes his family the focus of these funny, sad, and loving essays.

Malone, Michael. HANDLING SIN. Raleigh Hayes and Mingo Sheffield embark on a hilarious odyssey through the South in search of Raleigh's ailing, errant father and his considerable fortune.

Bryson, Bill. THE LOST CONTINENT: TRAVELS IN SMALL-TOWN AMERICA. Ride shotgun with Bryson across 38 states and 13,978 miles, share his trenchant observations on American popular culture, and laugh out loud at some of the funniest travel writing around.

O'Rourke, P.J. PEACE KILLS: AMERICA'S FUN NEW IMPERIALISM. One of America's top satirists travels through Egypt, Iraq, Israel, and Kuwait and writes on American foreign policy in a post-September 11th world.

Hiaasen, Carl. STORMY WEATHER. Hurricanes, monkeys, and con artists are just a few of the tasty ingredients in this hilarious--and slightly twisted--salsa of a novel.

Buckley, Christopher. THANK YOU FOR SMOKING. The character of Nick Naylor has one of the toughest jobs in Washington: a chief spokesman for Big Tobacco during the 1990s, when the tobacco industry is being attacked on all sides. A cynical and hilarious take on the politics of health, money, and power in Washington, DC.


Scott, Mandy. DREAMING THE EAGLE. Historical fiction about Boadicaa, the British warrior queen, and her mystic civilization's struggle against the Roman invasion.

Chabon, Michael. THE FINAL SOLUTION: A STORY OF DETECTION. Does the old sleuth have a final solution for a young boy's missing parrot--a bird that may just carry the secrets upon which the outcome of a world war depends?

McBride, James. MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA: A NOVEL OF THE BUFFALO SOLDIERS IN WORLD WAR II. Based on an actual event of the war in Italy--the plot is filled with horror, but there is a moving beauty as well. And a miracle. Once read, this book is hard to forget.

Myrer, Anton. ONCE AN EAGLE. Required reading for all members of the US Marines Corps and a frequent component of the curriculum at military academies, this classic details the life of a career soldier, Sam Damon, from the battlefields of WW I through the Cold War.

Roth, Philip. THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA: A NOVEL. What if America's hero, Lindbergh, an avowed isolationist and Hitler sympathizer, had defeated Roosevelt in the 1940 election? The ramifications for American Jewish communities--annihilation of their culture through forced assimilation--become a real threat in this alternative history.

Japrisot, Sebastien. A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT. A love story that conquers the passage of time, a fabric of lies, and the horrors of war.


Bronte, Charlotte & Clare Boylan. EMMA BROWN. Boylan takes Bronte's two chapters of an unfinished novel and develops them into an intricately plotted, character-rich story topped with a fine sense of 19th-century social outrage.

Carter, Stephen L. THE EMPEROR OF OCEAN PARK. Upper-crust African American society, the law, the courts, the Ivy League, the Vineyard, and a dark family secret combine to create this complex, clever mystery.

Winspear, Jacqueline. MAISIE DOBBS. Set in England during and after WW I, this mystery takes a deep look into the scars of war, both physical and psychological, as it traces the life of a working-class girl with extraordinary gifts.

Gutcheon, Beth. MORE THAN YOU KNOW: A NOVEL. All the ingredients for a good beach read: the coast of Maine, murder, young love, ghosts, and a mystery to untangle.

Lethem, Jonathan. MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. A modern noir mystery with a protagonist/narrator who has Tourette's syndrome.

Lehane, Dennis. MYSTIC RIVER. In the working-class neighborhoods of Dorchester, three childhood friends, Sean, Jimmy, and Dave, demonstrate how relationships can be devastated by a split-second decision.

Leon, Donna. UNIFORM JUSTICE: A COMMISSARIO GUIDO BRUNETTI MYSTERY. Dr. Moro's son is found hanged in the bathroom of a Venetian military academy, and no one wants to talk about it. A dark look into Italian political corruption on a frightening scale.


Halberstam, David, ed. BEST AMERICAN SPORTS WRITING OF THE CENTURY. A selection of some of the 20th century's best sports writing profiling both great and infamous sports stars: Joe DiMaggio, Mohammad Ali, and Red Grange, among others.

Ralston, Aron. BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. Ralston, an experienced 27-year-old mountaineer, takes a short hike one Saturday afternoon. A freak accident pins his right wrist under a half-ton boulder. Five days later, still trapped and out of water, he makes the only decision that might save his life.

Grisham, John. BLEACHERS. Former high school football players gather together in their hometown as adults to celebrate the life and death of their coach.

Bissenger, H.G. "Buzz". FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: A TOWN, A TEAM, AND A DREAM. Bissinger spent the 1988 football season with the Permian High School football team and chronicles the passion that is football in West Texas. A classic.

Atkinson, Jay. ICE TIME: A TALE OF FATHERS, SONS, AND HOMETOWN HEROES. The author returns to his alma mater for a season as a volunteer assistant coach and describes the triumphs, trials, and tribulations of competing in a town with a long hockey tradition.

Lewis, Michael. MONEYBALL: THE ART OF WINNING AN UNFAIR GAME. An inside look at the Oakland Athletics baseball organization and its general manager, Billy Beane, during the 2002 season. Is it possible for a small market team to compete against the bigger franchises without going into debt?

Pierce, Charles P. SPORTS GUY: IN SEARCH OF CORKBALL, WARROAD HOCKEY, HOOTERS GOLF, TIGER WOODS, AND THE BIG, BIG GAME. Insightful and acerbic prose on the exploits of athletes, great--Tiger and Magic--and small--Wolf Man, the lottery-winning traveling wrestler.


Brown, Larry. FAY. 17-year-old Fay moves from one bad decision and relationship to another in this bluntly written novel of the rural poor.

Dunant, Sarah. BIRTH OF VENUS. In 15th-century Florence, the lavish city is inundated by plague, the threat of invasion, and the fury of a fundamentalist monk, and a spirited 14-year-old girl is forced to become a woman before she is ready to renounce her childhood.

Brown, Dan. THE DA VINCI CODE. The mega-hit that exposes the secret society that hid the truth about Mary Magdalen. It's got it all--the Louvre, the Vatican, car chases, spies, henchmen, rituals, riddles, romance, and murders. You'll never look at The Last Supper the same way.

Samson, C.J. DISSOLUTIONS. It's 1537 and Cromwell secretly plots to close all the monasteries in England and seize their lands. He sends a hunchback lawyer to investigate a murder in Sussex, but more murders, intrigue, and suspicion dog the visit. History and mystery in top form!

Lehr, Dick & Mitchell Zuckoff. JUDGMENT RIDGE: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE DARTMOUTH MURDERS. Meticulously researched, this captivating true crime story recounts the murders of Half and Susanne Zantop by two local high school students. A modern-day In Cold Blood.

McDonell, Nick. TWELVE. Set during the Christmas and New Year's season of 1999, this coming-of-age novel depicts the darkest side of New York City's high school drug culture. Written by a 17-year-old prep school student.

Krakauer, Jon. UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN: A STORY OF VIOLENT FAITH. The history of the Mormon faith from the first appearance of the Angel Moroni to the present day, combined with a gruesome true story of cold-blooded murder that rivals any fiction.


Alexander, Caroline. THE BOUNTY: THE TRUE STORY OF THE MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY. What kind of cover-up was devised to hide the real truth about one of the most famous mutinies in history? How did powerful English families concoct a tale that has been accepted as truth for centuries and that deprived a brave man of his reputation and honor?

Larsen, Erik. THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: MURDER, MAGIC, AND MADNESS AT THE FAIR THAT CHANGED AMERICA. As the walls of the "White City," Chicago's World Fair, rise skyward, as the first Ferris wheel is set in motion, a serial killer lures young women to horrible deaths.

Roberts, Cokie. FOUNDING MOTHERS; THE WOMEN WHO RAISED OUR NATION. It couldn't have been done without them! Roberts's chatty take on the women behind (or in some cases, in front of) the men of the American Revolutionary period is both good history and good fun.

Alexander, Robert. THE KITCHEN BOY: A NOVEL OF THE LAST TSAR. Among the servants of the Romanovs imprisoned by the Red Guards was a young boy who secretly witnessed the execution of the royal family. Decades later, now an old man in America, he leaves a tape recording of those awful days for his granddaughter, who finds another mystery she must solve.

Saylor, Steven. A MIST OF PROPHECIES: A NOVEL OF ANCIENT ROME. On the eve of a civil war, a beautiful young seeress falls dead into the arms of Gordianus the Finder. To find her murderer, he must interview and investigate seven of the most powerful women in ancient Rome.

Coren, Stanley. PAWPRINTS OF HISTORY: DOGS AND THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS. An historical investigation by Coren on the roles dogs have played in the lives of mankind over the last couple of millennia. Wonderful anecdotes about historical figures ranging from Florence Nightingale to Robert the Bruce; a real treat for dog lovers everywhere.

Perrottet, Tony. ROUTE 66 A.D.: ON THE TRAIL OF ANCIENT ROMAN TOURISTS. Perrottet matches his travels with those of earlier folk, finding some changes (not all for the better) and a surprising number of similarities. Good fun, and may surprise readers who think guys in togas are boring.


Clifton, Lucille. BLESSING THE BOATS: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, 1988-2000. Foxes and cancer, family and aging, dreams and race--these are just a few of the subjects Clifton tackles in her sparse and honest poetry.

Janeczko, Paul B., ed. BLUSHING: EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE IN POEMS AND LETTERS. A fine collection expressing the highs, lows, joys, despairs, and wonders of love.

Pearl, Matthew. THE DANTE CLUB. Professors James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and publisher T.J. Fields meet regularly at club member Longfellow's Cambridge house to work on the translation of Dante's Inferno. The Harvard Corporation is adamantly opposed, and soon some members of Boston society begin dying in the most grisly fashion. Only the Dante Club sees the connection.

Yumoto, Kazumi. THE LETTERS. Her eccentric old landlady encourages six-year-old Chaiki to write to her dead father, promising to take the letters to him when she dies. Years later, Chaiki remembers the strange woman who helped her and many others deal with loss.

King, Stephen. ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT. In his usual approachable style, King tells us his story and that of his craft. Aficionados of King's fiction and all aspiring writers will be entertained and empowered by this work.

Housden, Roger. TEN POEMS TO LAST A LIFETIME. The author's commentaries on his selections will lead you through the construction and spirit of the poems, and the poems themselves may inspire you to make your own list for "a lifetime."


Southgate, Martha. FALL OF ROME. Jerome Washington is the only black teacher at the Chelsea School, an elite New England boys' prep school. A new English teacher and a black student on campus force him to reevaluate his beliefs about race, class, and education.

Perrotta, Joe. JOE COLLEGE. Danny is torn between his life as a Yale junior and his spring break job on his father's lunch truck, "The Roach Coach."

Summer, Lauralee. LEARNING JOY FROM DOGS WITHOUT COLLARS: A MEMOIR. How does a homeless girl end up at Harvard? Summer is a smart, resourceful optimist who defies the odds.

Wolff, Tobias. OLD SCHOOL. A scholarship boy at a literature-obsessed prep school struggles with subtle but pervasive class-consciousness, intellectual honesty, and the fine line between truth and fiction.

Sittenfeld, Curtis. PREP: A NOVEL. Finally, a prep school novel with a female protagonist! Meet intelligent and introspective Lee Fiora, a scholarship student from Indiana, who spends four years navigating (and occasionally stumbling on) the minefields of boarding school life.


Gawande, Atul. COMPLICATIONS: A SURGEON'S NOTES ON AN IMPERFECT SCIENCE. The author belies the myth of infallibility and humanizes his profession through fascinating and sometimes painful stories of his patients.

Ray, Janisse. ECOLOGY OF A CRACKER CHILDHOOD. This eloquent memoir and environmental call-to-arms combines stories of Ray's junkyard childhood with her tales of the endangered long-leaf pine woodlands of southwestern Georgia.

Kaufman, Kenn. KINGBIRD HIGHWAY: THE STORY OF A NATURAL OBSESSION THAT GOT A LITTLE OUT OF HAND. Ever think of bagging school and hitting the road? Kenn Kaufman spent his dropout year hitchhiking and chasing birds from one end of the continent to the other.

Kidder, Tracy. MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS: THE QUEST OF DR. PAUL FARMER, A MAN WHO WOULD CURE THE WORLD. Kidder attempts to understand what motivates Dr. Farmer to spend part of each year in the halls of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital and the rest in broken clinics in Haiti, living among the poorest of the poor.

Fouts, Roger & Stephen Tukel Mills. NEXT OF KIN: MY CONVERSATIONS WITH CHIMPANZEES. Fouts is one of the first scientists to teach American Sign Language to chimpanzees; his account helps us to understand some of the thoughts and feelings of our closest primate relatives, and he inspires the reader to become an advocate for the many chimpanzees who are cruelly treated in research facilities around the world.

Silverstein, Ken. THE RADIOACTIVE BOY SCOUT: THE TRUE STORY OF A BOY AND HIS BACKYARD NUCLEAR REACTOR. You may want to cheer for this science geek Boy Scout, but his story is real, and what he is doing is more disturbing and dangerous than he realizes.

Roach, Mary. STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS. Ever wonder what happens to those bodies that are not buried or cremated, but instead are donated to medical science? Roach provides a fascinating and comprehensive overview of the multitude of uses experienced by human cadavers.
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Date:Jul 1, 2005
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