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Novels for College Bound Students
Lord of the Flies by WIlliam Golding - Civilized children become savages after crashing on a deserted island. It's like P.E. when the gym teacher runs inside to use the restroom--animal heads stuck on sticks, bullying of the fat kid, the weird kid having hallucinations, and murder.
Night by Elie Wiesel - This may be the most depressing novel ever written. The fact that it's true makes it even more depressing. Read it, anyhow.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - Victor Frankenstein creates a monster and abandons it. The really ugly monster kills innocent children and can't figure out why people hate him. He vows to destroy his creator. His creator vows to destroy him. They end up destroying themselves. That's irony.
Dracula by Bram Stoker - Impress your friends, family, and relatives by telling them you've read an epistolary novel. Stoker wrote about vampires before vampires were cool. By the way, I'll take Dracula over those androgynous sissy boy vampires from Twilight any day night of the week.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller - You're probably kind of depressed after reading the first four novels on the list. Catch-22 is depressing also, but it's a funny depressing, kind of like when you're girlfriend cheats on you and you see her three months later and she's depressed because you ran over her cat her cat unexpectedly died.
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Dystopias for Tenth Graders
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Guy Montag is a fireman in the future. Fireman in the future start fires. Books are illegal and firemen burn books and the houses where they are found along with an occasional reader. Guy believes lighting books on fire is a noble profession, much in the same way a 12-year old believes having a match fight in the kitchen is an excellent way to spend a Friday night. Guy meets a really hot underaged neighbor who makes him rethink his priorities...about books.
1984 by George Orwell - 1984 chronicles Winston Smith in the year 1984, the era of Big Brother. Winston works for the Ministry of Truth, spending most of his day falsifying facts and rewriting past articles to correlate lies. The government controls every aspect of citizens' lives, installing telescreens in every home to spew propaganda and spy, and microphones in places where telescreens are not plausible. Winston engages in illegal activities by having a secret affair with a coworker in the Ministry of Truth. They go through elaborate means to keep their romantic escapades a secret, but as with all attempts to boondoggle Big Brother, they fail.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - If you're a socialist, you'll enjoy this book because it highlights the flaws of capitalism. If you're a freedom loving American, you'll love this book because it ridicules big government and socialist programs. If you're a frisky teenager, you'll find certain aspects of the book tittilating. If you're chaste, you'll like this book because it shows the danger in overt sexual promiscuity (while at the same time giving you guilt free tittilation). If you're illiterate, have someone read it to you.
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Government and History
The United States Constitution - It's supposed to form the foundation of all federal laws. Because most Americans don't ever read it, they don't recognize when their rights are being trampled. Don't be like most Americans.
The Declaration of Independence - Thomas Jefferson, with help from a committee, crafted the most influential document in the history of the world. It sets forth the philosophy that has established and ensured freedoms for billions of individuals. The philosophy is that God, not government, grants rights. Governments protect rights and when they don't, it's OK to overthrow that government.
"The Gettysburg Address" - The guy who spoke before Lincoln at Gettysburg gave a 3-hour speech. Lincoln's took about 2 minutes. Lincoln's is more famous. Too bad your history teacher didn't get the hint.
"I Have a Dream" Speech by Martin Luther King Jr. - Speaking of freedom--here's a man who understood it better than most.
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Suggested Reading for 10th Grade: Drama
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare - Murder, war, politics, deceit--sounds like it could have taken place last week in Washington. It actually took place in 48 B.C. in Rome. You may realize that Shakespeare is difficult to understand if you're not accustomed to the language. You may not realize, however, that there was a great movie version made in the 1960s starring Marlon Brando that will give you a new appreciation for Shakespeare.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare - Hamlet's crazy, I think? Maybe? He says he's seen the ghost of his dead father. Hamlet's mom? Kind of a floozy. His girlfriend? Definitely crazy and suicidal. It doesn't help that her father's a loser. Hamlet's friends? Idiots. Hamlet's readers? Brilliant!
The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Despite all the wonderful things the Puritans accomplished, they're known more for the time they got a little carried away and starting hanging innocent people for being witches on the word of delusional teens and vindictive adults.
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This is by no means an exhaustive list of novels for tenth graders. It will, however, form a solid literary foundation for the literary sophomore.