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I am starting my first year of English A HL next fall and we have two read two full-length works during summer. They gave us two lists of authors and we have to choose a book by one author from each list.

List A:

1.Amy Tan

2.Khalid Hosseini

3.Charles Frazier

4.Barbara Kingsolver

5.Michael Creighton

6.Leif Enger

7.Dara Horn

8.Toni Morrison

List B:

1.Kurt Vonnegut

2.J.D. Salinger

3.J.R.R. Tolkien

4.F. Scott Fitzgerald

5.George Orwell

6.Ernest Hemingway

7.Charlotte Brontë

8.Jane Austen

I have no idea what two books I should read :blink: So, can you suggest some that are good, interesting, or helpful for IB?

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Well from list A I've only ever read The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini and I'd really recommend it, it was a good book! Can't say much about the others I'm afraid, but I'd be happy with just the Kite Runner myself :D

List B is pretty varied and I'd say it depends what you're into. The Catcher In the Rye (Salinger) is a 'classic' book that everybody is meant to read but I didn't think it was all that special. If you like fantasy, obviously LOTR or The Hobbit are good (Silmarillion being too dense and detailed for me), Orwell is good for ideas and political interests (1984, Animal Farm and so on), Fitzgerald worth reading for The Great Gatsby (but to be honest I think it's a book you'd probably get more out of reading in a lesson than reading alone) and as for Hemingway, I really enjoyed For Whom The Bell Tolls. It's a view on the Spanish civil war and as I'm interested in that area of history I really enjoyed it.

Bronte and Austen are just boring, so I wouldn't read those unless you're big on period drama/story, in which case Jane Eyre and then probably either Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility would be the best, respectively.

Other authors I don't mention as I haven't read them :P If I were you going on what I personally enjoy, I'd read Hosseini and then either Fitzgerald or Hemingway. Out of List B, I'd say that Fitzgerald and Hemingway are also the most 'literary' in terms of IB. The former is a lighter read (Great Gatsby in any case) and the latter more dense to read.

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Apparently I'm not very well-read, as I've never heard of any of the authors on list A

From List B, Salinger's Catcher In the Rye is extremely popular in my school district for whatever reason (our IB classes didn't study that work.) If you love dystopian lit then Vonnegut's Player Piano and Orwell's 1984 are both excellent, although the latter is somewhat overused. I don't know Tolkien outside of his fantasy stuff. If you're going with Fitzgerald I don't know if you'd want to pick anything other than The Great Gatsby, and with Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Bronte and Austen both come from that 19th cent. British realm of literary work, which is obviously different from the 20th cent. Americans like Fitzgerald; if you like that kind of writing, I personally prefer Bronte's Jane Eyre over Austen's Pride and Prejudice, simply because I find the former more substantial.

Ah, Hosseini wrote The Kite Runner? =P I actually studied that novel in my Grade 9 class, so I'm pretty confident you could probably pick a novel, either by him or another author on that list, that's a little higher in difficulty, should you wish.

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I'm not too sure about List A, but concerning List B, you should definitely choose George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four, it's excellent, and you can work a lot of subjects and characters there. Or you can choose F. Scott Fitzgerald, with the Great Gatsby, it's short, but it's pretty good.

I'm not familiar with the rest on List B.

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For List A, did you mean Michael Crichton if so, then JURASSIC PARK, plus there is a nice little bonus of enjoying the movie after reading it. Also, The Andromeda Strain, Eaters of the Dead, or Congo! There are so many options from him, this is a fantastic opportunity! I'm actually quite jealous >.>

But, if you did really mean "Michael Creighton", then I am so sorry XD

For List A, George Orwell's " 1984" or J.R.R. Tolkien "The Hobbit"

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So far, I'm thinking about reading The Kite Runner by Hosseini for list A. I hope it's not too boring.

However, I'm not sure about list B. Can someone suggest me an interesting book that is both good for IB and fun?

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I would not recommend the Kite Runner actually; it is a pretty interesting book, there isn't really a dull moment, but there is not much depth compared to many other books. The book is plain and simple. I am certain it will not prepare you well for IB english.

I would recommend The Hobbit by Tolkien for sure, though I studied it in grade 7 loosely :P

Edited by Antony Cai

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Tan: The only book I've read from this author is The Joy Club, or something along those lines. Didn't particularly like the book because it focussed heavily on relationships and character interactions and Chinese culture. The Chinese culture part and the "immigrant effect" was possibly the most interesting parts of it. But on the whole, the book was a bit boring, although the structure and the way the book was organised and sequenced was very unorthodox. Sadly enough this actually would be a good book IB-wise, when examining and observing structure of prose and what-not like The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood.

Hosseini: I'm always torn with his work, but while The Kite Runner is an inspirational book and I loved it, I preferred A Thousand Splendid Suns by a wee margin. Also there's the whole feminist angle to explore in the latter which isn't so much in the former. Who am I kidding? Both of them are amazing books!

Frazier: He has written one of my all-time favourite love stories: Cold Mountain. I saw the movie as well that was nominated for an Oscar starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. It was based in the mid-1800s during the American Civil War, a deserter soldier and the prettiest girl in the village whose father was the priest and how they grew as characters. It is the most incredible book of self-discovery and some haunting characters. Definitely give it a try. Also some of the imagery and touches onto Southern American culture and topography within the book are breathtakingly lavish. This book has layers upon layers upon layers for exploration. The two main characters are so complex and ripe for exploration. I could write commentary upon commentary on this book without any trouble.

Kingslover: The only book I've ever come across by her was Prodigal Summer and it was well written but boring as all hell. I would not suggest her unless you like drama, angst, loss, and ecological undertones. It's all very philosophical because of the solitariness of the protagonist's life and her closeness with nature, it's still boring. Unfortunately, it's not completely off for IB study though.

Creighton: Never heard of him, sorry. But if you meant Michael Crichton then Jurassic Park all the way!! There's also Rising Sun and The Lost World. If you're ever bored, you should look up one of his talks on global warming, you will get some definite laughs out of it, guaranteed. His work is fiction and science fiction. So these are very different genres to analyse and the technological aspect to them. The essence of time losing its potency and what-not. But I wouldn't say they're as "meaty" for analysis as some of the others on your list, these books are about action and exhilaration and a good, fun, light read.

Enger: I think he wrote So Brave, Young, and something very recently (couple of years ago at max). It was a decent book, but nothing jaw dropping such that I would ever recommend him off the top of my head. Not very IB-ish either, IMO.

Horn: I read The World to Come a while back because it was in the recommended books section at Waterstones and seemed interesting, but I didn't get into it much. Personally I thought that the author was trying to squeeze in too much in a story with a robbery, heist, making forgeries, while simultaneously giving history lessons with Mark Chagall and the story of the family involved which had a really weird surname and it went on and on. It was hard to keep track of if you weren't hyper-aware of all the details at all times and it's definitely not one of those books you can read for a while and come back to later. She had another book come out after I think, but I never picked it up. Yeah this is a very IB book though. It's got loads to talk about, but the one thing I think it lacks is sufficient depth in any aspect. The characters being one-dimensional, the various thematic effects appearing contrived, not much matter to complement, more to criticise.

Morrison: I've read two of her books and they were very character-driven but they had these epic, almost opera-like feels to them. The Bluest Eye made for an interesting view of post-Great Depression and Recession America and the discrimination that was still ever-present for the African-Americans. The other one was Beloved which was alright, but it was clearly fictional and didn't have the believability and overall epic feel that the earlier did. In the latter I felt like she was trying too hard to make it seem theatrical and mystical, whereas in the former it was effortlessly done. Again these ones have loads to dissect and derive thousands of different meanings from based on author's intent and character motivations which are mostly, if not always, unclear. You could do a lot with either of these books. But I would argue that while the former has more depth in its themes and characters, the latter has more overall themes with ghosts and what-not thrown into the mix and it has the whole Civil War-era setting going for it, which was well enough done. But this Civil War book wasn't as good as Cold Mountain, but I am biased.

Austen: Go for Mansfield Park or Persuasion. Personally I loved all of her books, but Persuasion was my favourite (which is unconventional when it's compared to Pride and Prejudice I know). In this one, there was the usual Austen characterisation, but there was a certain darkness to it all which I think were not as obviously present in her other books. There's also a certain world weariness and wariness and maturity that comes across in the writing as she taken upon herself a very bold topic. Virginia Woolf even comments upon it in her essay A Room of One's Own, when she talks about legendary female writing figures. Anyway, the whole adultery theme with the wife being the adulteress and all the sultry and socially unsettling undertones, especially considering the time period it was written in gives a lot of matter to comment on and write about.

C. Brontë: She is amazing! Emma is a classic, Jane Eyre is alright but it doesn't hold a candle to the other. I would read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë just for kicks if I sat down with Emma ever. Any of the Brontë sisters' books is filled to the very brim with literary features and iB-worthiness. Although Emily's work was much more gothic than Charlotte's.

Tolkien: I would go with The Hobbit, it's one of my all-time favourite, feel-good books. There is no stopping the number of things you can derive from that book. people have written dissertations about it, it's fantastic.

Orwell: You might consider 1984 and Animal Farm, really amazing dystopian novel and sociological study respectively. But personally I've always had a soft spot for Coming Up For Air. Yet the earlier two are much more suited for IB, the last is more of a guilty pleasure read.

Hemingway: Farewell to Arms is a good read, but my personal favourite is one of his less appreciated works - True at First Light. The former is an interesting war-based book (but still not as good as Cold Mountain, you can tell I'm a bit obsessed with that book). The latter is alright for some light reading when you're bored, not typically IB IMO.

Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby, that goes without saying, it's one of those books you just have to read. It's also an IB prescribed list favourite.

Salinger: Catcher in the Rye goes without saying as others have suggested, but Franny and Zooey makes for a good past time on a rainy Sunday afternoon. But again the former is an IB favourite for schools to assign, while the latter is just good fun and a much shorter (and tbh a more tolerable) read.

Vonnegut: Breakfast of Champions is a must-read and Slaughterhouse Five is a good book to pass the time as well. The former has more to analyse and draw conclusions from the latter. But they're both very rich in content for IB standards.

Hope that helps you make a decision.

Edited by Arrowhead

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From List A, I enjoyed The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.

From List B, I absolutely loved Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. 1984, by George Orwell, is also good, and I quite liked The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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I am starting my first year of English A HL next fall and we have two read two full-length works during summer. They gave us two lists of authors and we have to choose a book by one author from each list.

List A:

1.Amy Tan

2.Khalid Hosseini

3.Charles Frazier

4.Barbara Kingsolver

5.Michael Creighton

6.Leif Enger

7.Dara Horn

8.Toni Morrison

List B:

1.Kurt Vonnegut

2.J.D. Salinger

3.J.R.R. Tolkien

4.F. Scott Fitzgerald

5.George Orwell

6.Ernest Hemingway

7.Charlotte Brontë

8.Jane Austen

I have no idea what two books I should read :blink: So, can you suggest some that are good, interesting, or helpful for IB?

Maybe Amy Tan, Bonesetter´s Daughter, and F Scott Fitzgerald, Great? both are pretty standard IB books but great for their look at the American dream and disillusionment....

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I only know Amy Tan from list one so I'm afraid I'm no help there. But from list two, there's loads of great authors to choose from. My personal recommendations:

The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald: I'm actually doing this one right now for my summer reading assignment and there's load of stuff to analyze. A lot of the symbolism, themes, etc. are laid out not so subtly too so it should be easy to pick it out. Plus, it's a short read and you're probably going to read it at some point in the future anyway.

The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger: Basically the same advice I gave for the Great Gatsby: lots of room for analysis, not too difficult to write about, short, and you're probably going to need to read it anyway.

Jane Eyre by Bronte: This novel is longer than the previous two I mentioned but I do think its worth a glance. The first few chapters are quite slow but once you get to the meat of the book with Rochester and Jane I think it really picks up. There's lots of Biblical ideas woven through out that could make for good analysis as well as some early feminist ideas. Like I said, longer than the previous too but a good read.

Persuasion by Austen: I just finished reading this book not too long ago and it's quite excellent. Though it might be obvious to go for Pride and Prejudice, I think Persuasion would be a good way to go as well. It's Austen's last completed novel and it definitely feels more mature than her previous works. There's this fantastic anguished declaration of love in the book that's a real killer. Not too long of a book either.

The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway: A love story between a man and a woman in the 1920s. Lots of Lost Generation stuff. Short read. Great if you love Hemingway's writing style.

I would also recommend to you Player Piano by Vonnegut since I've just finished reading it and I thought it was really good. It didn't strike me right off as IB material though and I'm sure there are more famous works by Vonnegut that your IB teachers were thinking of when they put his name on the list. But Vonnegut's writing style is easy to follow and the book is quite fascinating. I'd put it aside for some leisure reading if you Google the plot and find it interesting. So I'd say if you're still unsure, just go to the library and flip through a few pages from each book and pick which one you like best. Happy reading!

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