Summer Reading 2023

  • Library Summer ReadingMALIBU LIBRARY SUMMER DISCOVERY PROGRAM: Share in LA County Library’s 2023 Summer Discovery Program, an annual celebration of reading and curiosity that encourages people of all ages to read and learn all summer long. This year’s program runs June 1 - August 13. To learn more about this summer’s reading game, programs, activities, and more, visit: or

    English Department Summer Reading Suggestions

    In thinking about how to best serve our students, the MHS English Department has made the decision that this summer there will be no formal reading assignments - note that there may be separate AP assignments (scroll down for AP assignments and recommendations). Thus, we would still like to offer these “suggestions” which  will NOT be tied to any academic grade or assignment when we get back to school in the fall. We encourage students to explore these purely optional selections as selected with thought and care by the individual teachers in our department. We release these suggestions in good faith and hope that our academic community might benefit from the joy of reading.

    - READ ON! -

    Bonnie Thoreson
    Summer Reading Recommendations

    Akata WitchAkata Witch / Akata Warrior / Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor 
    I recently discovered Okorafor, a Nigerian-American fantasy and science fiction author, and I LOVE her writing. The Akata Witch series (she is currently writing the third book) features a 12-year-old girl whose sense of not fitting in is turned on its head when she discovers a parallel magical world in which one’s supposed disabilities are actually the source of personal power. If you love Harry Potter, these books pose a very interesting contrast to Rowling’s magical universe.

    The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi DareThe Girl with the Louding Voice
    by Adi Dare
    A powerful, emotional debut novel told in the unforgettable voice of a young Nigerian woman who is trapped in a life of servitude but determined to fight for her dreams and choose her own future. Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice” — the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni's father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir. When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.  That is until she finds the resolve to speak, however she can — in a whisper, in song, in broken English — until she is heard. -

    Scholomance by Naomi NovikScholomance series by Naomi Novik
    With flawless mastery, Naomi Novik creates a school bursting with magic like you've never seen before, and a heroine for the ages--a character so sharply realized and so richly nuanced that she will live on in hearts and minds for generations to come. -

  • Eric Carrier
    Summer Reading Recommendations

    The Three-Body ProblemThe Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
    Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision. - 

    Sandman by Neil GaimanSandman by Neil Gaiman
    An occultist attempting to capture the physical embodiment of Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his seventy-year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power to reclaim his reign. From there, one of the greatest series in the history of the graphic novel genre begins… Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision. This graphic novel--a perfect jumping-on point for any reader--includes the introductions of Morpheus, Lucifer and The Endless, all intricate parts of this enduring series that is still as relevant today as ever. -

    Lonesome DoveLonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
    The Pulitzer Prize­–winning American classic of the American West that follows two aging Texas Rangers embarking on one last adventure. An epic of the frontier, Lonesome Dove is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.  -

  • Alex Mayle
    Summer Reading Suggestions

    East of EdenEast of Eden by John Steinbeck
    When asked what my favorite book is, I always say this Steinbeck classic because it’s perhaps the most compelling novel I’ve read as an adult. East of Eden is the work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: The mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence. A masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a powerful and vastly ambitious novel that is at once a family saga and a modern retelling of the Book of Genesis.  - Penguin Twentieth Century Classics 

    American WoldAmerican Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee
    Now, of all the books I’ve read recently, this is the book that I recommend the most often. I found myself mysteriously drawn to these wild animals by reading about their families, their victories and defeats, and I think there’s a reason for that. In exploring the details of their behavior, wolves, in the way they cooperatively survive in a harsh environment, have much in common with humans. This is the story of wolves’ reintroduction to Yellowstone, the conflict, triumphs, and epiphanies that follow. Blakeslee, in a true analysis of conflict in nature and what happens when that conflict infringes upon the human world, paints a complete picture of wolves’ struggle for survival in America today.

    Between the World and MeBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    In a series of essays, written as an extended letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. At its heart, the purpose of literature is to help the reader understand the human experience. Coates’ insights help us to understand the complexity of the most important challenges our country faces.

  • Jennifer Gonzalez
    Summer Reading Recommendations

    The Chaneysville IncidentThe Chaneysville Incident by David Bradley
    The legends say something happened in Chaneysville. The Chaneysville Incident is the powerful story of one man's obsession with discovering what that something was--a quest that takes the brilliant and bitter young black historian John Washington back through the secrets and buried evil of his heritage. Returning home to care for and then bury his father's closest friend and his own guardian, Old Jack Crawley, he comes upon the scant records of his family's proud and tragic history, which he drives himself to reconstruct and accept. This is the story of John's relationship with his family, the town, and the woman he loves; and also between the past and the present, between oppression and guilt, hate and violence, love and acceptance. -

    The Elephant WhispererThe Elephant Whisperer: My Life With the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony 
    The true story of a South African wildlife conservationist and his efforts to save a renegade elephant herd. It is filled with challenges, heart breaks and victories as he works to create a bond with the elephants and save them from death. You will have a newfound appreciation for elephants and wildlife conservationists after reading this!

    The Princess BrideThe Princess Bride by William Goldman
    One of the few books that truly is a joy to read. A classic fairytale with a lot of action and unexpected twists, this book hooked me on reading. It has comedy, satire, love, pirates, intrigue….

    Born a CrimeBorn a Crime by Trevor Noah  
    Noah was born a crime, the son of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. These interwoven stories are equally the story of Trevor’s fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother — a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that ultimately threatens her own life. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with wit and honesty. His stories weave together to depict a lovable delinquent making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love. -

  • Rachel Stowell
    Summer Reading Suggestions

    Parable of the SowerIn the mood for something dark and prophetic?
    Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
    Written after the 1992 LA riots, this dystopian novel takes us to a Los Angeles that has no water, the police and fire departments demand payment for help, and a deadly drug is ravaging the streets. One young woman navigates this world to search for a safe place and a new way of thinking.

    This book feels so current that it’s frightening. I have never forgotten how it affected me and how I view the world, even after all these years. I am still planting fruit trees to survive the apocalypse!

    Nevermoor - The Trials of Morrigan CrowIn the mood for light magic?
    Nevermoor: The Trials of Morgan Crow by Jessica Townsend
    The first in a series of books about a young girl who is considered cursed by her entire town. Yet she is taken to a magical world where she must pass a series of trials to save herself.

    This is by far the best fantasy series I’ve read in a decade. If you love world-building and inventiveness, give this a try (and come talk to Ms. Auer or me about it in the Fall. We both love it! Each book in the series gets better and better (I promise!). And the new one comes out in November, so you can read it with us!

    Braiding SweetgrassIn the mood for something calming?
    Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
    Botanist and teacher Kimmerer takes us on a journey learning about plants, their connection to humans and how they weave through culture and family.

    I recommend reading this on audiobook. Her voice is so soothing and full of emotion. Use it as meditation and as a new way to see the world around you.

    The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyIn the mood for some good, old, plain fun?
    Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
    Arthur Dent has no idea what's happening as he gets scooped up into a space adventure with only his odd friend Ford from the planet Betelguese and his handy guide to the galaxy there to help him.

    I often go back to re-read these books and am amazed by how well they hold up after all these years.

  • AP Required Reading

    11 AP Language & Composition
    Summer Reading

    Welcome to AP Language and Composition. Here is an overview of what you should read to be prepared for our AP Language and Composition class in the fall.

    1. You have one book that you will need to check out from our library NOW! and complete over the summer: 
      Between the World and Me (memoir/personal essay), by Ta-Nehisi Coates. We will start our year off discussing this book and you will write your first essay on it. 

    For 12AP Literature

    These are modern books of literary merit that we won't have time to read in class. If you want to expand your horizons this summer, try one of these "new classics".

    Because there is no summer reading book, be ready to read the novella Signs Preceding the End of the World your first week back at school. We'll check it out from the library and immediately start reading.

    Recommended Books
    Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
    The Sellout by Paul Beatty
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood