Introduction to AP English Literature and Composition Recommended Reading List
If you are interested in taking the AP English Literature and Composition exam, then you need to start preparing yourself from the very beginning. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your English language and comprehension skills and get a head start on the exam. In this article, we will discuss the AP English Literature and Composition recommended reading list. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of which books you should be reading to prepare yourself for the exam.
The AP English Literature and Composition exam aims to test your critical reading and analytical skills. Therefore, the recommended reading list is curated in such a way that it not only enhances your comprehension skills but also explores various literary genres, time periods, and cultures. The reading list includes classic and contemporary literature, Shakespearean plays, poetry, and works by authors from diverse backgrounds and regions.
It is essential to read the books carefully, take notes, and analyze the themes, motifs, and literary devices used by the authors while reading. Try to understand the significance of the text in different contexts like social, historical, cultural, and political. It will help you write better essays and score high on the exam.
Let’s now explore some books that are included in the AP English Literature recommended reading list:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is considered one of the greatest literary works of horror fiction. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who creates a creature using dead body parts, but ultimately regrets his actions. The book explores themes such as ambition, morality, and the consequences of unchecked scientific experimentation.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a masterpiece that explores the traumatic experiences of African American slaves in the 19th century. The story revolves around Sethe, a former slave who ran away from the plantation but was later captured and forced to give birth to a child whom she kills to save from a cruel fate. The book deals with themes of motherhood, slavery, identity, and trauma.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Hamlet is one of the most famous plays written by William Shakespeare. The play revolves around Prince Hamlet, who is haunted by the ghost of his father and embarks on a journey of revenge against his uncle, who murdered his father and married his mother. The play deals with themes like madness, revenge, mortality, and corruption.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a novel set in the roaring twenties that explores the American Dream and the corruption of wealth and power. The book tells the story of Jay Gatsby, a wealthy young man who throws extravagant parties in the hopes of attracting his lost love, Daisy Buchanan. The book deals with themes of love, money, social class, and the decline of the American Dream.
These are just a few examples of books that are included in the AP English Literature and Composition recommended reading list. Remember that reading widely and critically is the key to success in the exam. So, pick up a book, take notes, and analyze it to improve your comprehension skills and get closer to a high score on the exam.
Classic and Timeless Literature for AP English Literature and Composition
When it comes to studying literature, it’s important not only to read what’s popular in today’s culture, but to also read what has withstood the test of time. Classic and timeless literature can help AP English Literature and Composition students gain a deeper understanding of literary devices and themes while also developing analytical skills. Here are a few must-reads:
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“Pride and Prejudice,” published in 1813, has become a staple in English literature. The novel follows protagonist Elizabeth Bennet as she navigates societal pressures and misconceptions in Regency-era England. Beyond providing a glance into the manners and customs of the time, Austen’s novel delves into themes of class, gender roles, and the importance of marrying for love rather than wealth. This classic novel has inspired many adaptations and remains a favorite of readers worldwide.
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” is often considered the great American novel of the 20th century. Set in the 1920s, this novel follows the wealthy Jay Gatsby as he tries to win back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan. The story explores themes of love, class, and the corruption of the American dream. Along with its intricate plot and dynamic characters, “The Great Gatsby” features some of the most iconic and quotable lines in American literature.
“1984” by George Orwell
George Orwell’s “1984” is a dystopian novel published in 1949 that has remained relevant throughout the years. The story follows Winston Smith, a man living in a totalitarian society where the government has complete control over its citizens. The novel delves into themes of government surveillance, propaganda, and the consequences of blindly following authority. “1984” has served as a warning against government overreach and remains a fascinating commentary on the human condition.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a novel published in 1960 that explores themes of racism, morality, and justice. Narrated by a young girl named Scout Finch, the story takes place in a small town in Alabama during the 1930s. Scout’s father, a lawyer named Atticus Finch, is tasked with defending a black man named Tom Robinson in a highly publicized trial. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a powerful story that has been adapted into films, plays, and even an opera. Its message remains relevant in today’s society.
By studying classic and timeless literature, AP English Literature and Composition students can deepen their understanding of literary devices and themes while improving their analytical skills. These books have stood the test of time and continue to captivate readers of all ages.
Contemporary Literature for AP English Literature and Composition
When it comes to contemporary literature, there are numerous options for AP English Literature and Composition students to choose from. Contemporary literature is known for its relevance to current events, diverse perspectives, and captivating storytelling. Here are some recommended contemporary reads for AP English Literature and Composition:
1. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead’s critically acclaimed novel, The Underground Railroad, is a powerful story that explores slavery and the fight for freedom. The novel follows the journey of a young slave named Cora as she escapes from a Georgia plantation and travels the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by slaves to escape to freedom in the 1800s. The novel is a gripping account of the harsh realities of slavery and the human spirit’s resilience.
2. Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beloved is a classic novel written by Toni Morrison, which tells the story of an escaped slave named Sethe, who is haunted by the ghost of her daughter, whom she killed to prevent from being taken back into slavery. The novel deals with themes of slavery, motherhood, and the impact of trauma. It is a haunting and poetic tale that offers a unique perspective on the African American experience and the lasting effects of slavery.
3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller novel written by Paula Hawkins, which has garnered much attention since its publication. The novel centres around Rachel, a woman who takes the same train every day and becomes entwined in the lives of a couple she sees from the train window. When the woman she has been watching goes missing, Rachel becomes embroiled in the investigation, and her own past comes back to haunt her. A gripping and suspenseful novel, The Girl on the Train offers much to discuss regarding the nature of memory and perception and how they shape our understanding of events.
4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a non-fiction book written by Rebecca Skloot, which tells the story of a woman who unknowingly had her cancer cells harvested and used for scientific research. The book covers a range of topics, including bioethics, race, and the relationship between science and society. The book is not only a fascinating read but also a critical examination of how science intersects with issues of race and class.
5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a highly acclaimed novel written by Junot Diaz, which explores the Dominican Republic’s history and diaspora through the story of a young man named Oscar. The book is a coming-of-age tale that deals with themes of identity, family, and the struggle to fit in. Diaz’s writing style is unique and engaging, incorporating Spanish phrases and references that add to the immersive experience.
Overall, contemporary literature is a rich and diverse field that offers much to explore for AP English Literature and Composition students. Whether it’s a classic novel or a modern thriller, these reads are sure to inspire thoughtful discussions and insightful analysis of important themes and issues.
Non-Fiction and Memoirs for AP English Literature and Composition
Reading non-fiction and memoirs is essential for students taking AP English Literature and Composition. These genres provide a platform for students to analyze contemporary issues, understand people’s experiences and perspectives, and gain insight into unique life situations. Here are some excellent non-fiction and memoirs to help AP English Literature and Composition students develop their reading skills:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: Jeannette Walls’s memoir illustrates her experiences growing up in a dysfunctional family, constantly on the run from the law. Her family lived in extreme poverty, which led to a life of hardship and often-harrowing circumstances. Walls’s beautiful prose describes her journey from shame and self-doubt to self-acceptance and understanding.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: In this book, Ta-Nehisi Coates directly addresses his adolescent son about his experiences growing up as a Black American man and the ongoing challenges and trauma that Black Americans face in America. The book contains profound insights on America’s racist systems, institutions, and culture. It’s an important book that offers a unique perspective on race in America and an opportunity to examine ourselves and our history.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: This book is one of the most significant examples of non-fiction set in the US. Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman whose cancerous cells were harvested without her consent and used in medical research. This book covers the history of medical experimentation on African Americans and its impact on society, as well as the ethical implications surrounding the use of human cells for medical research. It’s a poignant reflection on the long-standing power imbalance in medical research and the treatment of minorities.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance: In this memoir, JD Vance describes his experiences growing up in a working-class community in Kentucky’s Appalachian region. The book reveals the struggles and complexities of rural America and speaks to the decline of American working-class communities around the country. It’s an urgent call to action that inspires readers to think about the current political and social divisions within the US.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: This book is a true story of two events that occurred in Chicago in 1893: the World’s Fair and a serial killer named H.H. Holmes. The book interweaves these two stories into a narrative that reads like fiction. Not only is it gripping, but it’s also an example of exceptional research and detail. It’s an entertaining and informative book that can complement AP English Literature and Composition’s curriculum by providing more context for literary movements.
By reading non-fiction and memoirs, AP English Literature and Composition students can enhance their reading, analytical, and interpretive skills. These books offer thoughtful perspectives and important insights into social issues, race, the human condition, and more. They also provide an opportunity for students to explore different writing styles and evaluate how writers use language to convey meaning. These are just a few examples of some of the best non-fiction and memoirs available. However, these books are just a starting point. AP English Literature and Composition students should continue exploring different genres and cover diverse perspectives to develop their reading and writing competencies.
Diverse Literature Selections for AP English Literature and Composition
One of the unique aspects of AP English Literature and Composition is the diverse range of literature that students are required to read and analyze. This includes works from different time periods, regions, and cultures. The diverse literature selections for AP English Literature and Composition prepare students to be critical and analytical readers, as well as broaden their perspectives and understanding of the world around them. Here are some of the recommended readings:
1. Black Boy by Richard Wright
This autobiography by Richard Wright is a coming-of-age story set in the South during the Jim Crow era. The book explores themes of racism, identity, and overcoming adversity. It is a powerful and inspiring story that provides insights into the African-American experience during a tumultuous time in U.S. history.
2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This novel by Junot Diaz is a multi-generational epic that spans continents and time periods. The book centers around the life of Oscar, a Dominican-American nerd who is trying to find his place in the world. This book tackles issues of identity, immigration, and cultural assimilation. It is a fascinating and thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be an outsider in contemporary America.
3. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a classic tragedy that explores the themes of power, ambition, and morality. The play follows the story of Macbeth, a Scottish nobleman who becomes obsessed with becoming king. This play is full of memorable characters and iconic lines and is a must-read for any literature lover.
4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a novel set in the Roaring Twenties and explores the themes of love, wealth, and social status. The book is told from the perspective of Nick Carraway, a young man who moves to New York City and finds himself embroiled in the lives of the wealthy elite. The Great Gatsby is a timeless classic that continues to captivate readers today.
5. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things is a novel by Indian author Arundhati Roy that explores the themes of love, loss, and societal expectations. The book is set in the southern Indian state of Kerala and revolves around the lives of a family of Indian Christians. The novel is notable for its nonlinear narrative structure and vivid descriptions of the Indian landscape. The God of Small Things is a masterpiece of contemporary literature that provides insights into Indian society and culture.
These diverse literature selections for AP English Literature and Composition are just a small sample of the many works that students can explore. By reading and analyzing these texts, students will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of different cultures, perspectives, and experiences.