Tolle, lege --Saint Augustine, The Confessions

To directly support Berkshire’s commitment to developing critical readers and writers, all our students are expected to read four books over the summer:

-       All School Read:  I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
-       The form-specific book for English class
-       Any AP or language-specific books, as applicable
-       The remainder of the four from the form-specific lists below

Please keep in mind:

  • Our list each year is intentionally broad and diverse in order to encourage students to select books that spark a particular interest or passion. Books have been carefully selected by Form with an eye to reading level and Berkshire’s curriculum—students may read up in level, but not down. 
  • Students in Advanced Placement courses must first read the specific books listed for those courses. They then may fulfill the rest of the four-book requirement from elsewhere on the list. The AP Spanish and AP French books must be read in the original language. Any student may choose to read an Advanced Placement book as one of his or her four books.

  • All English class-specific titles will be part of the core curriculum and students’ knowledge of those titles will be assessed immediately upon their return to school. 

  • Students must complete the Berkshire School Summer Reading Form for all books except the All School Read, English class-specific, and AP/language-specific titles.  Parents are encouraged to review and discuss these with their children and are asked to initial each form.  

English Form-Specific Books:

Please direct any questions about summer reading to English Department Chair:  Stuart Miller (

The complete list is below. Click to access only the Third and Fourth Form List, the Fifth and Sixth Form List, or the Required Reading for Specific Courses List.

Third and Fourth Form

Abbott, Anthony.   Leaving Maggie Hope#
“For David Lear, ten years old, there has never been anybody quite like his mother.  She can be so caring, so warm and funny, but there are times when…” (Book Cover)

Alexie, Sherman.   The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian#
“Quick read, very creative, with great messages about race and class, told from the perspective of an American Indian high school boy.” (BCM)

Baldacci, David.   The Hit
“Feeling energized by the death that was about to happen, Doug Jacobs adjusted his headset and brightened his computer screen.” (First line of the book)

Bowers, Rick.   Spies of Mississippi. The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement*
“This intriguing book looks at how the supporters of segregation--in the form of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission--gained and enforced their considerable power." (HB)

Chopra, Deepak.   Buddha#
“Outstanding! Deepak’s creative and dramatic retelling of Buddha’s life is proof that, when it comes to conveying spiritual verities, fiction can be truer than fact.”  (Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Comparative Religion, McGill University)

Collins, Suzanne.   Catching Fire
“At the end of The Hunger Games (2008), breathless readers were left in the lurch with any number of questions. Will Katniss lead an uprising against the Capitol? Does she fancy Peeta or Gale? Both? Neither?” (BL)

Dashner, James.   Maze Runner
“Thomas, his memory wiped out, is thrust into the center of an enormous maze, where other teens have constructed a survivalist society. No one knows why they’re there, or where they came from, but each day they send out runners into the constantly shifting, monster-infested labyrinth to search for a way out.” (BL)

Gay, Kathlyn.   Food:  The New Gold*
An eye-catching jacket photo leads to a well-researched presentation of worldwide issues related to food.” (BL) 

Greenberg, Paul.   Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food*
“The future of the world’s fisheries looks ominous. Beset with pollution, habitat destruction, and ever more efficient fishing technology, the oceans’ fish populations are plummeting at an alarming and ever-increasing rate. Greenberg travels the globe to find out the true extent of damage and how it might be ameliorated before species actually go extinct.” (BL) 

Haddon, Mark.   The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime#
“Understanding autism through a boy’s perspective on a mystery."  (BCM)

Hesse, Herman.   Siddhartha#
“A journey to the noble path of Buddhism.” (BCM)

Hillenbrand, Laura.   Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption*
“The author of Seabiscuit now brings us a biography of World War II prisoner of war survivor Louis Zamperini (b. 1917). A track athlete at the 1936 Munich Olympics, Zamperini became a B-24 crewman in the U.S. Army Air Force. When his plane went down in the Pacific in 1943, he spent 47 days in a life raft, then was picked up by a Japanese ship.” (LJ)

Hinton, S. E.   The Outsiders#
The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy.  The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider.” (BCM)

Hirsch, James S.   Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend*
“On May 24, 1951, a young center fielder who had dazzled crowds in the minor leagues left Sioux City, Iowa, traveling light: a change of clothes and some toiletries, his glove, his spikes and his two favorite thirty-four-ounce Adirondack bats.” (First line of Prologue)

Hubbard, Jenny.   Paper Covers Rock
Alex Stromm's journal tells the story of his boarding school classmate's drowning and the heavy guilt he carries from his involvement.” (HB)

Levinson, Cynthia.   We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March*
Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963 was a "dismally segregated" place, from lunch counters, parks, and department-store dressing rooms to public schools. The civil rights movement led by Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph Abernathy, and Martin Luther King Jr. intended to change all of that.” (HB)

McCormick, Patricia.   Never Fall Down
“McCormick, the acclaimed author of Sold (2006) and Purple Heart (2009), has now written a novel based on the life of Cambodian peace advocate Arn Chorn-Pond. The story begins with an 11-year-old Arn in 1975 in Battambang, Cambodia.” (BL)

McKernan, Victoria.   The Devil’s Paintbox
“This action-packed novel has all the elements of a good Western, including lively fight scenes and a main character who becomes a rugged individualist, risking life and limb for a cause he believes in.” (SLJ)

Moran, Michelle.   Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution
“Marie Tussaud, she of the wax museum, lived a long and colorful life, but the focus here is on 1788–94, when she was a young woman in Paris.”  (BL)

Morgenstern, Erin.   The Night Circus
“Le Cirque des Reves appears without warning on the outskirts of cities around the world. Only open at night, it is filled with magic and theater, each tent a sensory experience, manipulated and sustained by two young people locked in a mysterious competition.”  (SLJ)

Murray, Liz.   Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard*
“While reading Murray’s memoir, you can’t help but continuously wonder how the young woman narrated on the page could be the same woman who survived to become her author. In the harrowing tale of her childhood in the Bronx, Murray’s straightforward and no-frills prose hits hard.” (BL) 

Nix, Garth.   A Confusion of Princes
“Khemri's coming-of-age story begins with his emergence from years of genetic and technical "remaking" to take up his title of Prince, but eventually he begins to reinterpret all he's been taught about the Empire.” (HB)

Pratchett, Terry.   Dodger
“Who would have the skill, the sensibility, and the sass to put Charles Dickens into a novel and then proceed to write that novel in full-octane Dickensian style? Terry Pratchett, of course. Like his namesake in Oliver Twist, Dodger is a street urchin…” (HB)

Raffles, Hugh.   Insectopedia*
“Let's be clear: this volume is not an encyclopedia. It is an assemblage of 26 offbeat--some might say bizarre--and highly original essays and philosophical musings by anthropology professor Raffles (In Amazonia: A Natural History) in which insects are metaphors for the human condition.” (LJ)

Rappaport, Doreen.   Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust*
“With all the shelves of Holocaust books about the millions lost in the genocide, this is one of the few histories to focus in detail on Jewish resistance across Europe--those who fought back and saved others.” (BL)

Saffran Foer, Jonathan.   Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close#
“Page-turner adventure of a young boy revealing a mystery about his dad after 9/11.” (BCM)

Shalev, Meir.   My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner: A Family Memoir*
“Award-winning Israeli author Shalev delivers a punchy family memoir that examines his relationship with his grandmother. Grandma Tonia, who as a young woman immigrated to Israel and married, is obsessed with cleanliness. When her husband’s oldest brother sends an American vacuum cleaner from Los Angeles, however, she locks it in the bathroom,…” (BL)

Volponi, Paul.   The Final Four*
“A much-anticipated Final Four basketball game is played by the underdog Troy University Trojans and the Michigan State Spartans. As the nerve-racking game unfolds, flashbacks, newspaper articles, interviews, and journal entries introduce readers to four players and their previous struggles and successes.” (HB)

Wiest, Andrew.   The Boys of ‘67. Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam*
“Wiest (history, Univ. of Southern Mississippi) tells the story of the 9th Infantry Division's Charlie Company, an all-draftee unit made up of soldiers from all over the country. The members of the unit all entered the service at the same time, trained together, and went to Vietnam together.” (LJ)

Wilson, G. Willow.   Alif the Unseen
Modern hacker culture and ancient Muslim mysticism collide in the debut work of fiction from Wilson, better known as a graphic novelist. Alif, the pseudonym of the Arab-Indian hero of this novel, is a young hacker living in an unnamed city in the Persian Gulf.” (KR)

Zusak, Markus.   The Book Thief
“Death itself narrates this deeply affecting tale of young book lover Liesel, her loving foster parents, and the Jew hiding in their basement.” (HB)


Anthes, Emily.   Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts*
“An elegant tour of the wild and fraught sideshow of animal biotechnology. Scientists have been monkeying with animal genes for decades. Mice are good examples; we can now manipulate them to spend all their time burying marbles or turning to the left. "We are editing their genetic codes, rebuilding their broken bodies, and supplementing their natural senses," writes Anthes” (Instant Egghead Guide: The Mind, 2008). (KR)

Bartok, Mira.   The Memory Palace: A Memoir*
“A disturbing, mesmerizing personal narrative about growing up with a brilliant but schizophrenic mother. The book is comprised of two intertwining narratives. One concerns artist Bartok's mother, Norma Herr, and her struggle with mental illness. The other examines the author's midlife struggle with a traumatic brain injury.” (KR)

Boo, Katherine.   Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity*
“While the distance between rich and poor is growing in the U.S., the gap between the haves and have-nots in India is staggering to behold. This first book by a New Yorker staff writer (and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Washington Post) jolts the reader’s consciousness with the opposing realities of poverty and wealth in a searing visit to the Annawaldi settlement, a flimflam slum that has recently sprung up in the western suburbs of the gigantic city of Mumbai.” (KR)

Cameron, W. Bruce.   A Dog’s Purpose#
“I loved the book, A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron.  It was about a dog’s journal through several lives via reincarnation and how it tries to find its purpose in each of its lives.  It’s a very good book and I highly recommend it.” (BCM)

Carroll, Sean.   The Particle at the End of the Universe*
“Even nonscientists have heard for decades about the theoretical Higgs boson, which the press often calls the "God particle." Now that confirmation of its existence has been found, Carroll (physics, California Inst. of Technology; From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time) sets himself the task of telling the subatomic ingredient's story from start to finish…”  (LJ)

Carter, Miranda.   George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm. Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I*
“Rich in concrete detail, elegant in style, and wise, fresh, and knowledgeable in interpretation, the author’s account observes a profound anachronism at play: that these three monarchs, in what they didn’t realize were the waning days of the institution of monarchy, handled foreign diplomacy as if it were a family business.” (BL)

Chaon, Don.   Stay Awake: Stories
“National Book Award finalist Chaon follows up his critically acclaimed novel Await Your Reply with this disquieting collection of 12 stories. His characters are everyday people experiencing extreme emotional situations that pull them into a strange, shadowy otherworld.” (LJ)

Chollet, Derek.   The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World*
“An elucidating collection of writing by and about the late fiery, outspoken, undeniably capable United Nations ambassador and longtime diplomat. Holbrooke (1941-2010) died suddenly at age 69, while serving his final mission as the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.”(KR)

Climate Central (eds.).   Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas and the Weather of the Future*
“An intelligent primer on what experts know about global climate change, what they don't know, and what the future could bring. Written by scientists and journalists at Climate Central, a nonpartisan advocacy group, the book begins with what everyone, climate-change skeptic included, accepts: Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps the sun's heat.”(KR)

Davis, Wade.   Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest*
“Anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Davis (The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, 2009, etc.) exhaustively charts the first epic assaults on Mount Everest by determined Englishmen after the devastation of World War I.” (KR)

Dubus, III, Andre.   Townie: A Memoir*
“Townie is a resolute story about the forging of a writer in fire and blood and a wrenching journey through the wreckage of New England’s lost factory world during the Vietnam War era. But Dubus wasn’t born into poverty, rage, and violence. His father, an ex-marine officer turned celebrated writer and adored college professor…” (BL)

Dyson, George.   Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe*
"That we live in a digital universe is indisputable; how we got there is a mesmerizing tale brilliantly told by science historian Dyson (Project Orion: The Atomic Spaceship 1957-1965, 2002, etc.) The author establishes late 1945 as the birth date of the first stored-program machine,…”(KR)

Edugyan, Esi.   Half-Blood Blues
In Edugyan's second novel, finalist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, some jazz musicians find their music and lives endangered in Nazi Germany and occupied Paris. Paris 1940. Nazis everywhere. The musicians are huddled in a shabby apartment. One of them, without papers, goes out on a reckless search for milk.”(KR)

Erdrich, Louise.   The Round House
“Erdrich continues the trilogy begun with The Plague of Doves with the story of an Ojibwe woman named Geraldine Coutts who is ruthlessly attacked one summer morning in 1988. Because she refuses to speak about the event, her husband, Bazil, and their 13-year-old son, Joe, try to answer the most basic questions,…” (LJ)

Ferreiro, Larrie D.   Measure of the Earth: The Enlightenment Expedition that Reshaped our World*
“A sophisticated work tracing the arduous mid-18th-century international expedition to the Latin American equator to determine the "figure of the earth." The reigning scientific debate of the Enlightenment concerned the shape of the earth--was it round or flat at the poles?” (KR)

Gladwell, Malcolm.   David & Goliath
“A far- and free-ranging meditation on the age-old struggle between underdogs and top dogs. Beginning with the legendary matchup between the Philistine giant and the scrawny shepherd boy of the title, New Yorker scribe Gladwell (What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, 2009, etc.) returns continually to his main theme: that there are unsung advantages to being disadvantaged and overlooked disadvantages to being ‘advantaged.’" (KR)

Gladwell, Malcolm.   The Outliers#*
“This book is about success and the qualities that the most successful people in the world possess.  Is it just hard work that makes somebody a millionaire or are there more underlying aspects we do not usually consider?” (BCM)

Grisham, John.  Sycamore Row
“A long-after sequel, of a sort, to A Time to Kill (1989), in which dogged attorney Jake Brigance fights for justice in a Mississippi town where justice is not always easy to come by. That's especially true when the uncomfortable question of race comes up, and here, it's a doozy.” (KR)

Hamid, Mohsin.   The Reluctant Fundamentalist#
“Story of a Pakistani man living the American dream who is transformed by the events of 9/11.” (BCM)

Harbach, Chad.   The Art of Fielding
“Schwartz didn’t notice the kid during the game.  Or rather, he noticed only what everyone else did--that he was the smallest player on the field, a scrawny novelty of a shortstop, quick of foot but weak with the bat. Only after the game ended, when the kid returned to the sun-scorched diamond to take extra grounders, did Schwartz see the grace that shaped Henry’s every move.” (First paragraph of book).

Harris, Bob.   The International Bank of Bob*
“While on assignment in Dubai to cover the world’s most luxurious hotels, Harris got sidetracked by the stories of the indentured immigrant laborers conscripted to build these palaces of opulence. Determined to do something to help the families of the working poor worldwide, he signed up with Kiva, an organization that allows individuals to lend money via the Internet to people in developing countries by providing “microfinancing” loans to small family businesses, for everything from buying material and supplies to the purchase of cows and goats.” (BL) 

Hazelton, Lesley.   The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad*
“A longtime reporter on the Middle East, Hazleton (After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam, 2009, etc.) carefully delineates the great events in the life of the "first Muslim," who, like the Christian prophet Jesus, was chosen as the "translator" of God's message to mankind.” (KR)

Hohn, Donovan.   Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,000 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them*
“When the writer Donovan Hohn heard of the mysterious loss of thousands of bath toys at sea, he figured he would interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, and read up on Arctic science and geography. But questions can be like ocean currents: wade in too far, and they carry you away. Hohn's accidental odyssey pulls him into the secretive arena of shipping conglomerates, the daring work of Arctic researchers, the lunatic risks of maverick sailors, and the shadowy world of Chinese toy factories.” (From the Publisher)

Horwitz, Tony.   Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War*
“A portrait of John Brown and a blow-by-blow account of his 1859 attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, Horwitz’s work rapidly generates narrative momentum. Horwitz also stresses Brown’s Northern financial supporters and, more pertinently, his recruits for an insurrection whose bizarre planning, which included the idea of issuing medieval pikes to slaves, augured near-certain failure.” (BL)

Hughes, Robert.   Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History*
“It is a treat to read Hughes's (former art critic, Time magazine; Goya) masterful history of its three millennia of art, politics, and culture. He visited the city first in 1959, and his lifetime of experience enables him to include a personal layer here, bringing his characteristic verve and enthusiasm for his subject fully to life.” (LJ)

Hurley, Bob.   Chasing Perfect: The Will to Win in Basketball and Life*
“Twenty-five state championships, four national championships, seven undefeated seasons: With the assistance of veteran co-author Paisner (co-author: Nobody's Perfect: Two Men, One Call, and a Game for Baseball History, 2011, etc.), Hurley tells the stories behind his remarkable success. What are the numbers that a coach or athlete must garner before they are eligible to write the how-it's-done guide to utter domination in the sport and in life? Without question, Hurley has met the requirements.” (KR)

James, P. D.   Death Comes to Pemberley
"Really, gentle reader, there are limits. When mystery grande dame P. D. James felt the mantle of Jane Austen fall on her shoulders, why didn’t she simply shrug it off? Instead, she has produced a straight-faced mystery—no zombies—in which a murdered body is found on the grounds of Darcy and Elizabeth’s stately home, Pemberley." (BL)

King, Martin Luther.   A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King*
"We've got some difficult days ahead," civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., told a crowd gathered at Memphis's Clayborn Temple on April 3, 1968. "But it really doesn't matter to me now because I've been to the mountaintop... And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land."  “These words and other are commemorated here in the only major one-volume collection of this seminal twentieth-century American prophet's writings, speeches, interviews, and autobiographical reflections. A Testament of Hope contains Martin Luther King, Jr.'s essential thoughts on nonviolence, social policy, integration, black nationalism, the ethics of love and hope, and more.” (From the publisher)

Korr, Chuck.   More Than Just a Game: Soccer vs. Apartheid: The Most Important Soccer Story Ever Told*
“It is amazing to think that a game that people take for granted all around the world was the very same game that gave a group of prisoners sanity--and in a way, gave us the resolve to carry on the struggle.” (Anthony Suze, former Robben Island prisoner – from the book jacket.)

Lane, Nick.   Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution#*
“One-line preview: If Charles Darwin sprang from his grave, I would give him this fine book to bring him up to speed.  (That was from another author, Matt Ridley, but I couldn’t say it any better myself.)” (BCM)

LaPierre, Alexandra.   Women Travelers: A Century of Trailblazing Adventures 1850-1950*
“The featured women include Fanny Vandegrift, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson, who ventured all the way from Indiana to Samoa, and Nellie Bly, journalist and social reformer, who went around the world in seventy-two days. The thirty-one women celebrated here hail from fourteen countries and traveled to the farthest reaches of our planet. Twice as brave as their male counterparts, in the face of social convention, these women set off into the unknown.” (From the Publisher) 

Lynskey, Dorian.   33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs from Billie Holiday to Green Day*
“In his first book, British music critic Lynskey delves into the protest song movement from 1939 to the present. Dividing the time into discrete sections, he focuses on particular examples but also provides information on related songs. The author traces the historical context, using valuable contemporary sources and quotations from the artists.” (LJ)

McCarthy, Cormac.   The Road#
“Apocalyptic fiction about a boy and his father trying to live.” (BCM)

McCullough, David.   The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris*
The Greater Journey is the enthralling, inspiring--and until now, untold--story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, architects, and others of high aspiration who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, ambitious to excel in their work.” (book jacket)

McDermott, Terry.   The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed*
“Superlative storytelling and crackling reportage define a pulse-pounding narrative tracing the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. To this day, the bleary-eyed visage of the 9/11 mastermind being hauled off by authorities after a successful raid on his hideout in 2003 remains the most recognizable image of the hated international terrorist.” (KR) 

McEwan, Ian.   Sweet Tooth
“In 1972, beautiful Serena Frome is finishing her maths degree at Cambridge when she is tapped by M15 for Operation Sweet Tooth, which aims to fund artists and writers with the correct political views. She's supposed to charm upcoming writer Tom Healey but instead falls in love with him and prepares to tell all when her cover is blown.” (LJ) 

Mantel, Hilary.   Bring Up the Bodies
“In her sequel to the Booker Man Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Mantel has done what only the most gifted novelist can: she has fleshed out an enigma--the historical cipher that was Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's fixer--and made us accept her interpretation of him as valid.” (LJ)

Masur, Louis.   The Soiling of Old Glory. The Story of a Photograph That Shocked America*
“Sometimes a moment can change history. This one took 1/250th of a second. Boston, April 5, 1976. As the city simmered with racial tension over forced school busing, newsman Stanley Forman hurried to City Hall to photograph that day's protest, arriving just in time to snap the image that his editor would title "The Soiling of Old Glory." The photo made headlines across the United States and won Forman his second Pulitzer Prize.” (From the Publisher)

Miller, Madeline.   The Song of Achilles
“Patroclus, exiled prince of ancient Greece and lover of the famous warrior Achilles, is at the center of this romantic tale, Miller's first novel, which also features many other mythical heroes, both human and divine, with the Trojan War as a backdrop. The interference of the Greek deities in mortals' daily lives makes for a stunning mix of larger-than-life action and authentically human emotions, while stellar writing and sympathetic portrayals of complex characters breathe new life into an ancient story.” (LJ)

Montefiore, Simon.   Jerusalem*
“When David captured the citadel of Zion, Jerusalem was already ancient.  But it was scarcely a city, just a small mountain stronghold in a land that would have many names – Canaan, Judah, Judaea, Israel, Palestine, the Holy Land to Christians, the Promised Land to Jews.” (first lines of book)

Morris, Charles R.   The Tycoons*
“How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan invented the American Supereconomy.” (book cover)

Morrison, Toni.   Home
“Frank Money was damaged emotionally as well as physically while fighting in Korea, then returns home to an America as racist as ever. What saves him from utter despair is the need to rescue his equally damaged sister and bring her back to their small Georgia town, a place he has always despised.” (LJ)

Nesbo, Jo.   Snowman
“Erica Jong meets Stephen King meets, yes, Stieg Larsson in this superb thriller, the eighth by Norwegian mystery writer Nesbo. Oslo detective Harry Hole returns, world-weary as ever, to puzzle out some very strange, and very discomfiting, events.” (KR) 

Quiñones-Hinojosa, Alfredo.   Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon*
“When the callow Quiñones-Hinojosa, or Dr. Q, made up his mind to pursue a better life and, especially, an education in the U.S., no border or barrier could have kept him from his destiny: a fate that led eventually to his becoming a Johns Hopkins University neurosurgeon, professor, and brain-cancer research scientist. Indeed, the brash teenager left all that was familiar in his native Mexico and,…”(BL)

Rose, Sarah.   For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History*
"If ever there was a book to read in the company of a nice cuppa, this is it." (Washington Post)

Stashower, Daniel.   The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War*
“The first known attempt to murder Abraham Lincoln occurred in February 1861 during his railway journey from Springfield, IL, to Washington, DC, for his inauguration. Stashower (The Beautiful Cigar Girl) details how Allan Pinkerton, head of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, managed to stop a band of rebels bent on killing the president-elect in Baltimore.” (LJ) 

Summitt, Pat.   Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective*
"The NCAA's winningest basketball coach opens up about private and public contests that have defined her. While the title of Summitt's latest work (Reach for the Summit, 1998, etc.) is a reflection of her long career as head coach of the University of Tennessee's Lady Vols--eight national championships and 1,098 victories--the substance of this engaging memoir offers an unvarnished look at defining moments behind those incomparable achievements.” (KR)

Tartt, Donna.   Goldfinch#
2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music.  “Ms. Tartt’s best-selling novel is about a boy who comes into possession of a painting after an explosion at a museum.  In a phone conversation on Monday, Ms. Tartt, 50, said the novel "was always about a child who had stolen a painting," but it was only two years into writing the book that she saw “The Goldfinch,” a 17th-century work by Carel Fabritius.  “It fit into the plot of the book I was writing in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” she said. “It had to be a small painting that a child could carry, and that a child could be obsessed by.” (New York Times)

Theroux, Paul.   The Lower River
“A joyful return to Africa turns into a nightmare for the elderly American protagonist of Theroux's extraordinary novel. As a young man, Ellis Hock loved teaching in Malawi for the Peace Corps, happiest years of his life. (Theroux did a hitch there; see his early novel Jungle Lovers.) Then he had to return to suburban Boston to run the men's-clothing store he'd inherited. Thirty-five years later, the store and his marriage having failed, he returns to Malawi for a nostalgia-induced vacation. He's warned on arrival that people are hungry and only want money, but he heads into the bush with a bagful of it,..” (KR)

Vidal, Gore.   Julian#
“This is a fantastic historical novel about the life of Roman Emperor Julian.” (BCM)

Walker, Gabrielle.   Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent*
“Scientist Walker (An Ocean of Air: Why the Wind Blows and Other Mysteries of the Atmosphere, 2007, etc.) pens a riveting "natural history of the only continent on Earth that has virtually no human history." The author's fascination with Antarctica began more than two decades ago, and it has inspired five visits.” (KR)

Wilson, Edward O.   Letters to a Young Scientist*
“The eminent entomologist, naturalist and sociobiologist draws on the experiences of a long career to offer encouraging advice to those considering a life in science. Pulitzer Prize winner Wilson (The Social Conquest of Earth, 2012, etc.), whose book's title is reminiscent of Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, is not, however, writing to one young man but to a generation of potential scientists. After a prologue in which the author assures would-be scientists of their importance in our technoscientific world,…” (KR)

Wulf, Andrea.   Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens*
“A rare, once-in-a-lifetime celestial event, a transit of Venus across the solar disk enables astronomers to measure the distance between the earth and the sun. The trigonometry of the measurement, however, requires observers to be separated by thousands of miles, which in 1761 and 1769, when transits were predicted by Edmund Halley, necessitated months and years of arduous travel to get into position. The voyages and their inevitable misadventures inspire Wulf’s enthusiastic account, which opens with the international ringmaster for 1761, French astronomer Joseph-Nicolas Delisle.” (BL)

Other Required Reading for specific courses 

All books listed here are required for specific courses.

Diaz, Junot.   The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Ishiguro, Kazuo.   The Remains of the Day 

Zola, Emile.   L'Attaque du Moulin
Recommended Edition: Flammarion ISBN: 978-2080720245

Begag, Azouz.   Le Gone du Chaaba

Steward, Sue.   Musica!: The Rhythm of Latin America - Salsa, Rumba, Merengue, and More

Borges, Jorge Luis.   El hacedorDream Tigers, Martin Fierro and El testigo, The Captive
Excerpt from Historia del rey Transparente

de Unamuno, Miguel.   San Manuel Bueno, Mártir 


Darnton, Robert.   The Great Cat Massacre

Halperin, Mark and Heilemann, John.   Double Down: Game Change 2012

Philbrick, Nathaniel.   Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

Carroll, Sean B.   Endless Forms Most Beautiful 

Le Couteur, Penny.   Napoleon’s Buttons: 17 Molecules That Changed History

Royte, Elizabeth.   Garbage Land, On the Secret Trail of Trash

Siefe, Charles.   Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking


* = nonfiction
# = community recommendations 

Reviewed by sources frequently used by educators including:

BL = Booklist
HB = Hornbook
KR = Kirkus Review
LJ = Library Journal
SLJ = School Library Journal
BCM  = Berkshire Community Members

Berkshire School

245 North Undermountain Road
 |  Sheffield, MA 01257
 |  T: 413 229 8511

Berkshire School is a co-ed, New England college preparatory boarding and day school offering a rigorous academic course of study in the northeast United States. Our campus, located in Massachusetts, has state-of-the-art academic, artistic and athletic facilities on a stunning 400-acre campus in the Berkshires.

Berkshire School received 5 out of 5 stars from over 3 Google reviews.

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