AP Summer Work

AP Literature and Composition Summer Reading

Advanced Placement Literature and Composition

Summer Reading – Optional but Recommended

To: West Seattle High School Senior, Class of 2022

Ms. Hopkins


Next year’s AP English class is an academically challenging course that will require you to read constantly, write frequently, and think relentlessly. One essay on the AP Literature exam, the Literary Argument, demands that students have a wide range of challenging literary works from which they can draw. The goal of this summer’s reading, however, is not only to prepare you for the exam, but to initiate you into the conversation about ideas through books by reading classic and contemporary works.  While this summer assignment is optional, it is recommended to improve your reading skills, prepare for the class, and in September, I will ask all students to write about a novel or play you have recently read. So, as you head into summer break (and your senior year), please plan the following assignment into your schedule.

If you choose to take this challenge, reading is due by the start of school: September 2021.  If you have any questions, write to me at kwhopkins@seattleschools.org


  • Read one “Classic” text and one “Contemporary” text.
  • Read the chosen books, taking notes or annotating as needed. These notes are for you: I will not collect or evaluate them.
  • Read/skim/scanHow to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. (Note: There aremanyused copies of this book online for only a couple dollars.)
  • When we return to school, you will write an in-class essay on a book you have recently read and you may want to use the ideas from Foster’s book as a guide to analyze the literature you read.


The following list of books include recommended titles for classic and contemporary texts. While there is no required order, you might consider reading Foster’s book first as a way of preparing to read the two novels, to identify and analyze the features of literature.  Or, focus on reading the novels and use Foster’s bookif you have time to review and analyze their features. 

As you have time and interest beyond the two books, I encourage you to read as many as you can on this list or explore the included list of my favorite fiction (next page).

Classic: (choose one)

  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  • Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley 

Contemporary: (choose one)

  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
  • Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Adiche
  • Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • There, There, by Tommy Orange
  • The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead


While you can purchase these texts online, many for used prices, you can also access texts through the Seattle Public Library, Library Link option in the Student SPS Portal, or download the Libby app to access e-books and audio books.  Some classic novels can even be found online with their full text.

More of Ms. Hopkins’s Favorite Fiction:


  • Beowulf
  • Beloved, Toni Morrison
  • Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  • Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  • Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin
  • My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
  • Mythology, Edith Hamilton
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  • King Lear, William Shakespeare
  • The Stranger, Albert Camus
  • The Tempest, William Shakespeare
  • Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker 


  • A Burning, Megha Majumdar
  • A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (contemporary King Lear)
  • Gilead, Marilynn Robinson
  • Girls Burn Brighter, Shobha Rao
  • Grendel, John Gardner (contemporary Beowulf)
  • Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee
  • Lila, Marilynn Robinson
  • March, Geraldine Brooks
  • Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
  • On Earth We are Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong (LGBTQ+ author)
  • Pet, Awaeke Emezi
  • Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward
  • The Dutch House, Ann Patchett
  • The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  • The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • The Street, Ann Petry
  • Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis (story of Cupid & Psyche)