Required Reading Lists

Our Required Reading Lists Collection features poems, fiction, short stories, and other texts frequently studied in academic contexts. With texts spanning from the ancients, such as Plato, through contemporary literary giants, this well-rounded Collection represents the breadth and enduring appeal of literature and its study.

Publication year 1891Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: Animals, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Natural World: EnvironmentTags Animals, Science / Nature

Publication year 1922Genre Poem, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: GriefTags Lyric Poem

Publication year 1710Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: ClassTags Satire

Publication year 1849Genre Poem, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Romanticism / Romantic Period, Grief / Death

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Identity: Race, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, Race / Racism, Relationships, Social Justice

Publication year 1909Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: AnimalsTags Lyric Poem

Publication year 2011Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Community, Society: EducationTags Fantasy, African Literature, Afrofuturism

Publication year 1959Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Masculinity, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, American Literature, Classic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Military / War, Relationships, History: U.S., Cold War

Alas, Babylon is a 1959 novel by Pat Frank. Written during the Cold War, it is one of the earliest post-apocalyptic novels to deal with the potential consequences of nuclear war. It examines themes of nationalism, natural selection, deterrent force, and resilience.Plot SummaryAs the novel begins, Mark Bragg sends a telegram to his brother, Randy. The telegram includes the words, “Alas, Babylon,” their code for the onset of a nuclear attack. Mark is an officer... Read Alas, Babylon Summary

Publication year 1865Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Fantasy, Victorian Period, Classic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by British author Lewis Carroll (1832-1838) is a classic work of nonsense literature first published in 1865. Originally intended for children, the novel has become a perennial favorite of adults thanks to Carroll’s sophisticated wordplay and humor. Carroll’s work has influenced or inspired authors as diverse as James Joyce and Neil Gaiman, surrealist painters like Salvador Dalí, and the philosopher Gilles Deleuze. The novel has never been out of print and... Read Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Summary

Publication year 1929Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: War, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Military / War, Historical Fiction, WWI / World War I

All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque which details the experiences of German soldiers at the frontlines of World War I. At the heart of the novel are graphic portrayals of trench warfare and the psychological trauma inflicted on the soldiers as a result. The novel presents a realistic portrait of a horrific war and provides unflattering accounts of the elite classes responsible for such mass destruction. The... Read All Quiet on the Western Front Summary

Publication year 1946Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Relationships: Family, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Southern Literature, Politics / Government

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren is a fictional political novel originally published in 1946 by Harcourt Brace & Company. Robert Penn Warren was an acclaimed novelist and poet from the American South. Along with fellow Southerners Cleanth Brooks and John Crowe Ransom, he was a leading proponent of the literary critical approach known as New Criticism. His best-known novel, All the King’s Men follows the political rise and fall of Governor Willie... Read All the King's Men Summary

Publication year 1998Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Mortality & Death

Publication year 1921Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: Nation, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Lyric Poem, Harlem Renaissance, Race / Racism

Publication year 2006Genre Graphic Novel/Book, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: ImmigrationTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Bullying, Race / Racism, History: Asian, Immigration / Refugee, Chinese Literature

American Born Chinese is a graphic novel published in 2006 by the American author and illustrator Gene Luen Yang. Through three interweaving stories that span from the 16th century to the present, the novel explores issues of Chinese American identity, anti-Asian racism, and assimilation. American Born Chinese is the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award. The novel also won both the Printz Award from the American Library Association and the... Read American Born Chinese Summary

Publication year 1893Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: NationTags Lyric Poem, Inspirational, American Literature

Publication year 1595Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags British Literature, Play: Comedy / Satire, Fantasy, Fairy Tale / Folklore, Arts / Culture, Love / Sexuality, Relationships, Animals

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comedic play by William Shakespeare that was likely first written and performed around 1600. The first certifiably recorded performance took place in 1604. Set in the Greek city-state of Athens, the play centers on an impending marriage. Before the wedding, the characters find themselves in a forest where a group of fairies manipulates and tricks them. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most popular and most performed... Read A Midsummer Night's Dream Summary

Publication year 1990Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: Birth, Relationships: Family, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags History: U.S., Health / Medicine, Gender / Feminism, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on her Diary, 1785-1812 is a 1990 nonfiction biography of midwife Martha Ballard by American historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Using Martha Ballard’s diary as a primary source, Ulrich utilizes a microhistorical approach to evaluate the life of Ballard, the history of Maine’s Kennebec River region, and the themes of social medicine, women’s role in the economy, and religion’s place in everyday life. A Midwife’s Tale won... Read A Midwife's Tale Summary

Publication year 1985Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Sociology, Philosophy, Technology, Information Age, Education

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business is a nonfiction book by Neil Postman, published in 1985. Postman was a professor of education and communication at New York University with a special interest in the role of technology and media in society. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York in Fredonia and a master’s degree and doctorate from the Teachers College of Columbia University. In... Read Amusing Ourselves to Death Summary

Publication year 1957Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Business / Economics, Politics / Government, Philosophy

Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: War, Relationships: MothersTags Historical Fiction, Animals, WWII / World War II

Publication year 1884Genre Poem, FictionTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Gender / Feminism, American Literature

Publication year 1920Genre Poem, FictionTags Lyric Poem, Military / War, WWI / World War I

Publication year 1916Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Art, Identity: LanguageTags Classic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Irish Literature, Modernism

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the 1916 debut novel by Irish author James Joyce. The novel tells the story of Stephen Dedalus, a thinly-veiled alter ego for Joyce, who embarks on a journey of artistic awakening. As a landmark novel in the history of literary modernism, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has been hailed as one of the most important works of the 20th century and... Read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary

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Publication year 1914Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Classic Fiction, Irish Literature

“Araby” is a short story by Irish writer James Joyce. The story is a part of Joyce’s renowned Dubliners collection, first published in 1914, which portrays daily life in the Irish city of Dublin in the early 20th century. In “Araby,” a young boy falls in love with his friend’s sister and attempts to purchase her a gift from the Araby Bazaar. The short story has been adapted as a song and a short film... Read Araby Summary

Publication year 1929Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: Literature, Identity: SexualityTags Gender / Feminism, Philosophy

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, first published in 1929, is a book-length essay that Woolf modeled after a series of her at the University of Cambridge. A Room of One’s Own is considered an exemplary piece of modernist criticism that questions traditional values. It examines the topic of “women and fiction”–women characters in fiction; the great women authors in English history who wrote fiction; and, more abstractly, “the fiction that is written... Read A Room of One's Own Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Fantasy, Action / Adventure, History: Asian

Publication year 269Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Animals, Society: EconomicsTags Education, Science / Nature, Philosophy

A Sand County Almanac is a 1949 nonfiction book by the American naturalist and writer Aldo Leopold. The book is structured as a series of essays, beginning with Leopold’s description of a year on his farm and progressing to a series of essays on humanity’s relationship with nature, culminating in an argument for an ethical approach to the land. Published by Oxford University Press a year after Leopold’s death, the book is credited with having... Read A Sand County Almanac Summary

Publication year 1930Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Relationships: MothersTags Southern Gothic, American Literature, Classic Fiction, Grief / Death, Parenting

As I Lay Dying is a Southern Gothic novel by William Cuthbert Faulkner, which he published in 1930. The story follows a poor, rural family’s journey across Mississippi to bury their dead matriarch and is marked by dark humor and stream-of-consciousness style narration.Faulkner (1897-1962) was a writer from Oxford, Mississippi. His novels and works of short fiction, including The Sound and the Fury (1929) and As I Lay Dying (1930), earned him the Nobel Prize... Read As I Lay Dying Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Relationships: FriendshipTags Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction

A Simple Favor is New York Times bestselling author Darcey Bell’s debut novel. Published in 2017 by Harper, the novel was praised for its chilling portrayals of its characters and shocking plot twists, and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. Bell followed this novel in 2020 with Something She’s Not Telling Us, cementing her reputation for domestic noir psychological thrillers. In 2018, A Simple Favor was adapted into a movie starring Blake Lively and... Read A Simple Favor Summary

Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Emotions/Behavior: FearTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature, Asian Literature, Realistic Fiction, Arts / Culture, History: Asian, Poverty, American Literature

A Single Shard (2001) is an award-winning, middle-grade historical novel by Korean American author Linda Sue Park. Park has written multiple children’s books, picture books, and volumes of poetry. Some of her better-known titles include A Long Walk to Water (2010), The Thirty-Nine Clues series in nine volumes (2010), and Prairie Lotus (2020). Much of her historical fiction is based on Korean history. A Single Shard is intended for readers in grades 5 to 7... Read A Single Shard Summary

Publication year 1887Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Natural World: Place, Relationships: Teams, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Classic Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet (1887) is a detective novel about a mysterious murder in a vacant house, one man’s lifelong hunt for justice, and the powers of deduction and reason. It marks the introduction of the famed detective character Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick John Watson, along with several other characters and locations that would become important to the 56 short stories and three other novels about Holmes that followed. The... Read A Study in Scarlet Summary

Publication year 1941Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Natural World: Environment, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Race / Racism

Eudora Welty’s short story “A Worn Path” is considered one of the author’s finest works and a classic in the repertory of American Southern literature. First published in 1941 as a stand-alone piece in The Atlantic Monthly, it was also included in her first short story collection, A Curtain of Green and Other Stories, published that same year. The story established Welty as a notable new voice in American literature. In addition to short stories... Read A Worn Path Summary

Publication year 2005Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: WarTags Grief / Death

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Military / War, Asian Literature, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Class

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins is a middle grade/young adult coming-of-age novel about two boys—one Burmese, the other Karenni—growing up during an intense period of violence between the Burmese military and the Karenni people. The book was named an “ALA APALA Honor Book, Indies Choice Honor Book of the Year for Young Adults, ALA Top Ten Book in Best Fiction for Young Adults, [and] International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society [and received]... Read Bamboo People Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Relationships: Friendship, Society: Community, Relationships: Siblings, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Family, Society: Education, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Society: Politics & Government, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Publication year 1939Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Historical Fiction, American Literature

First published in Harper’s magazine in 1939, William Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning” comments upon inheritance, loyalty, and the heavy bonds that link fathers and sons. Many of Faulkner’s writings, including his short stories and novels, are set in fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, which is based loosely upon Lafayette County. The Snopes family, who are the main characters in “Barn Burning,” appear in many of Faulkner’s other short stories and novels.The story opens in a... Read Barn Burning Summary

Publication year 1853Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: LonelinessTags American Literature, Classic Fiction

Herman Melville’s short story “Bartleby, the Scrivener” was published anonymously in 1853 to little recognition. Today it is considered a masterpiece. Some critics view “Bartleby” as a precursor to absurdist literature like Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” highlighting the incredibly modern nature of this mid-19th-century short story. Others read “Bartleby” as commentary on poverty and the harsh nature of menial work on Wall Street, or as an allegory for Melville’s own frustrations with writing. This guide... Read Bartleby, the Scrivener Summary

Publication year 1978Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Relationships: FamilyTags Fairy Tale / Folklore, Fantasy, Romance

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast (1978) is author Robin McKinley’s debut novel. It’s an adaptation of the original Beauty and the Beast fairy tale written in 1740 by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, with genre elements of fantasy and romance and marketed for a middle grade readership. McKinley’s version of the story maintains an 18th-century setting while modernizing thematic explorations of outer versus inner beauty, ideals of faithfulness and selflessness... Read Beauty Summary

Publication year 1855Genre Novella, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Historical Fiction, Action / Adventure, Race / Racism

Benito Cereno is a novella by American author Herman Melville, first published in monthly periodical Putnam’s Monthly in 1855 and subsequently included in Melville’s short story collection The Piazza Tales in 1856. The story offers a fictionalized portrayal of the 1805 revolt of enslaved passengers on a Spanish ship under Captain Benito Cereno’s command. Melville drew inspiration from American Captain Amasa Delano’s memoir, A Narrative of Voyages and Travels, in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres:... Read Benito Cereno Summary

Publication year 1975Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: Animals, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Lyric Poem, Relationships, Animals

Publication year 1966Genre Poem, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Natural World: Nurture v. Nature

Publication year 1972Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Identity: Masculinity, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Latin American Literature

Bless Me, Ultima is a novel by American author Rudolfo Anaya (1937-2020). Published in 1972 by independent Chicanx publishing house TQS Publications, it is one of the first literary accounts of Chicanx culture to attain widespread acclaim in the United States. The novel is a semi-autobiographical account based on Ayana’s experience of coming of age in post-World War II New Mexico. Anaya explores themes of the Multiplicity within Chicanx Identity, Catholicism, Innocence Versus the Power... Read Bless Me, Ultima Summary

Publication year 1978Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Natural World: ObjectsTags Science / Nature, Confessional

Publication year 1994Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Fantasy, Action / Adventure

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Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags History: World, Military / War

Publication year 2011Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Russian Literature

Publication year 1945Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction, British Literature, LGBTQ

Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred & Profane Memoirs of Captain Charles Ryder (1945) is the ninth published novel by British novelist Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh, who published under “Evelyn Waugh.” It chronicles the life and relationships of Charles Ryder, particularly his complex friendship with the aristocratic Flyte family, during the interwar period in England. The novel was an immediate success, and, despite his later dislike, Waugh referred to it as his “magnum opus.” It has been... Read Brideshead Revisited Summary

Publication year 1999Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Society: ColonialismTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Race / Racism, Poverty, African American Literature

Bud, Not Buddy is a 1999 children’s realistic historical novel by American author Christopher Paul Curtis. Ten-year-old protagonist Bud Caldwell is an orphan living in Flint, Michigan in 1936. Four years after the death of his mother and after a series of abusive and neglectful foster homes, Bud sets out to find his father, whom he believes is the locally famous jazz musician Herman E. Calloway of Grand Rapids. Bud encounters a host of characters... Read Bud, Not Buddy Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Identity: Gender, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1999Genre Poem, FictionTags Lyric Poem, Arts / Culture, Education, American Literature