Recommended Books for Students
Novels & Memoirs recommended by LSH teachers

Most titles appeared on the ALA Booklists for College Bound 1994-2002
 
*  Indicates title which is available at Le Sueur-Henderson's High School Library Media Center.
 
* Agee, James. A Death in the Family. 1957.
The enchanted childhood summer of 1915 suddenly becomes a baffling experience for Rufus Follet when his father dies.

*Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. 1959.
Okonkwo, a proud village leader, is driven to murder and suicide by European changes to his traditional Ibo society.

Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina. 1992.
Bone confronts poverty, her mother's troubled marriage, and the stigma of being considered "white trash" as she comes of age in South Carolina.

*Alvarez, Julia.  How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. 1991.
The Garcia girls face a strange new life in American when they are forced to flee the Dominican Republic.

Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of Butterflies. 1994.
Dede, the only survivor of the four Mirabel sisters, code named Mariposas or butterflies, reveals their role in the liberation of the Dominican Republic from the dictator Trujillo.

Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me, Ultima. 1972.
Ultima, a wise old mystic, helps a young Hispanic boy resolve personal dilemmas caused by the differing backgrounds and aspirations of his parents and society.

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. 1986.
In Gilead, Christian fundamentalist dystopia, fertile lower-class women serve as birth-mothers for the upper class.

*Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813.
Mrs. Bennet scrambles to find husbands for her five daughters in a gentle satire of human weakness and prejudice.

*Avi. Nothing But the Truth. 1991.
When Philip Malloy hums along with "The Star-Spangled Banner" in homeroom, no one expects a national media event.

*Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. 1847.
An impoverished young woman finds love when  she becomes the governess of brooding Mr. Rochester's ward.

*Bryson, Bill.  A Walk in the Woods; Rediscovering America.  1998.  A Memoir.
To reacquaint himself with his native country, the author walks the 2100 mile Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine.  The experience provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.

*Bryson, Bill. I'm a Stranger Here Myself.  1999.  A Memoir.
Bryson returned to America after 20 years away and found himself in a foreign land of microwave pancakes and 24-hour dental-floss hotlines. The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes and brilliant comic musings.

*Bryson, Bill.  In a Sunburned Country.  2000.  A Memoir.
Through a deliciously funny, fact-filled and adventurous memoir, Bryson reports what he found in Australia, the  place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife.

*Burns, Olive Ann.  Cold, Sassy Tree.  1984.
The subtle crosscurrents of small-town southern life are captured here, brining to life an era that will never exist again, exploring timeless issues of families.

*Burns, Olive Ann.  Leaving Cold, Sassy: the unfinished sequel.  1994.
The story of Will Tweedy in 1917 as he falls in love with his wife-to-be and grapples with changes in his beloved Georgia town.

Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower. 1993.
Lauren Olamina, who suffers from a hereditary trait called "hyperempathy" that causes her to feel others' pain physically, journeys north along the dangerous highways of twentieth-first century California.

*Canada, Geoffrey.  Fist Stick Knife Gun.  1995. A Memoir.
Canada grew up in the Bronx around all sorts of gang activity. The books tells about the way he had to life (street fighting, etc.) and how he got out.

*Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game. 1985.
In a world decimated by alien attacks, the government trains young geniuses like Ender Wiggin in military strategy with increasingly complex computer games.

*Cather, Willa. My Antonia. 1954.
An orphaned teenager who comes to live with his stern grandparents on an isolated farm, finds solace in his friendship with the high-spirited daughter of neighboring immigrants.

*Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. 1899.
Edna Pontellier, an unhappy wife and mother, discovers new qualities in herself when she visits Grand Isle, a resort for the Creole elite of New Orleans.

*Cisneros, Sandra. The House On Mango Street. 1991.
In short, poetic stories, Esperanza describes life in a low-income, predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago.

*Cormier. The Chocolate War. 1974.
Jerry Renault challenges the power structure of his school when he refuses to sell chocolates for the annual fundraiser.

*Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. 1860.
Pip secretly aids an escaped prisoner who later rewards him with a life of wealth.

*Dorris, Michael.  A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. 1987.
Three generations of Native-American women recount their searches for identity and love.

*Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. 1866.
A sensitive intellectual is driven by poverty to believe himself exempt from moral law.

*Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. 1952.
A young African American seeking identity during his high school and college days, and later in New York's Harlem, relates his terrifying experiences.

*Emecheta, Buchi. Bride Price. 1976.
Aku-nna, a very young Ibo girl, and Chike, her teacher, fall in love despite tribal custom forbidding their romance.

*Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. 1992.
As the youngest of three daughters in a turn-of-the-century Mexican family, Tita may not marry but must remain at home to care for her mother.

*Faulkner, William. The Bear. 1931.
Ike McCaslin's hunting trips for the legendary bear, Old Ben, are played out against opposing ideas of corruption and innocence.

*Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1925.
Jay Gatzby pursues Daisy through the glittering society of the Roaring Twenties.

Frazier, Charles. Cold Mountain. 1997.
Inman, a wounded Civil War soldier, endures the elements, The Guard, and his own infirmity to return to his sweetheart, Ada, who is fighting her own battle to survive while farming the mountainous North Carolina terrain.

*Gaines, Ernest. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. 1971.
In her 100 years as an African-American woman, Miss Jane Pittman experiences it all, from slavery to the civil rights movement.

Gaines, Ernest. A Gathering of Old Men. 1983.
More than a dozen aging African American men claim to be the sole murderer of a Southern white farmer, confounding the law.

Gaines, Ernest. A Lesson Before Dying. 1993.
When Jefferson's attorney states, "I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this," disillusioned teacher Grant Wiggins is sent into the penitentiary to help this slow learner gain a sense of dignity and self-esteem before his execution.

Gardner, John. Grendel. 1971.
In a unique interpretation of the Beowulf legend, the monster Grendel relates his struggle to understand the ugliness in himself and mankind in the brutal world of fourteenth-century Denmark.

*Gibbons, Kaye. Ellen Foster. 1987.
Casting an unflinching yet humorous eye on her situation, eleven-year-old Ellen survives her mother's death, an abusive father, and uncaring relatives to find for herself a loving home and a new mama.

Hebard, Caroline. So That Others May Live.  1995. A Memoir.
The inspiring true story of the extraordinary bond between a woman and here canine companions.  Hebard has pioneered this country's all-volunteer search-and-rescue effort; her she describes her motivation, how she acquired her dogs, and how she trained them.

*Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. 1961.
In this satirical novel, Captain Yossarian confronts the hypocrisy of war and bureaucracy as he frantically attempts to survive.

*Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. 1955.
An old Cuban fisherman fights a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin.

*Herriot, James. All Creatures Great and Small. 1972.
*Herriot, James. All Things Bright and Beautiful. 1974.
*Herriot, James. All Things Wise and Wonderful. 1977.
*Herriot, James. The Lord God Made Them All. 1981.
All four of these memoirs bring us the magical beauty of Yorkshire through the heartwarming experiences of a country veterinarian.  Touching our hearts with laughter and wisdom, lifting our spirits with compassion and goodness, these books never fail to delight.

*Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. 1951.
Emerging from a kaleidoscope of experiences and tasted pleasures, Siddhartha transcends to a state of peace and mystic holiness in this strangely simple story.

Hickam, Homer H. Jr. October Sky. 1998.  A Memoir. 
In 1957, the year Sputnik raced across the Appalachian sky, Homer Hickam nurtured a dream: to send rockets into outer space.  He and his misfit buddies turned scraps of metal into flaming projectiles that lit up the tarry skies of Coalwood, West Virginia.

Hickam, Homer H. Jr. Sky of Stone. 1998.  A Memoir.
In this follow-up to October Sky, rocket boy Hickam returns home triumphantly from his freshman year at college. Unfortunately, his high-flown fantasies are punctured by family problems, and Homer is compelled to enter the mines he so fervently hates.

*Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. 1932.
In a chilling vision of the future, babies are produced in bottles and exist in a mechanized world without soul.

Keneally, Thomas. Schindler's List. 1982.
Oskar Schindler, a rich factory owner, risks his life and spends his personal fortune to save Jews listed as his workers during World War II.

King, Laurie R. The Beekeeper's Apprentice, or, on the Segregation of the Queen. 1994.
Retired Sherlock Holmes meets his intellectual match in 15-year-old Mary Russell, who challenges him to investigate yet another case.

Kingsolver, Barbara. Animal Dreams, 1990.
Codi Noline learns secrets about her past that change her future when she returns home to care for her ailing father and to teach high school.

Kosinski, Jerzy. Painted Bird. 1965.
An abandoned dark-haired child wanders alone through isolated villages of Eastern Europe in World War II.

*Kusz, Natalie.  Road Song.  1990. A Memoir.
In 1969, when she was six years old, Natalie Kusz, with her parents and three siblings, left Los Angeles and headed north to Alaska on a classic quest for freedom, a house on the land, and a more wholesome way of living.

Lamott, Anne.  Bird by Bird: Some instructions on writing and life.  1994. A Memoir.
The author discusses how she copes with self-doubt, writer's block, professional jealousy, and the discipline necessary to turn thoughts into words on a page.

Lee, Gus. China Boy. 1991.
Kai Ting enters the boxing program at the YMCA and learns to survive the tough Panhandle of San Francisco.

LeGuin, Ursula. The Left Hand of Darkness. 1969.
First envoy to the technologically primitive world of Winter, Al must deal with a hostile climate; a bickering government; and his own conventional sexual mores.

*Man, John.  Survival of Jan Little.  1986. A Memoir.
In the 1950's Jan marries Harry , a jungle adventurer, and heads off into the jungles of Mexico and later, the Amazon, with her daughter Rebecca. Jan is stretched to the limits of human endurance to survive.

*McBride, James.  The Color of Water: a black man≠s tribute to his white mother.  1997. A Memoir.
This memoir tells the story of James and his mother, the daughter of a Jewish rabbi in the South, who fled to Harlem, married a black man, founded a church, and put twelve children through college.

*McCullers, Carson. The Member of the Wedding. 1946.
A young Southern girl is determined to be the third party on a honeymoon, despite all advice.

*McDermott, Alice. Charming Billy. 1998.
Billy Lynch, a charming Irish-American, carefully saved his money and sent it to his love in Ireland so that she could join him in America, but she simply took his money and married another man.  Brokenhearted, Billy spent the rest of his life mourning his lost love.

*McKinley, Robin. Beauty. 1978.
Love is the only key to unlocking a curse and transforming the Beast into a man.

Malamud, Bernard. The Fixer. 1966.
Victim of a vicious anti-Semitic conspiracy, Yakov Bok is in a Russian prison with only his indomitable will to sustain him.

*Markandaya, Kamala. Nectar In A Sieve. 1954.
Natural disasters, an arranged marriage, and industrialization of her village are the challenges Rukmani must face as the bride of a peasant farmer in southern India.

Mason, Bobbi Ann. In Country. 1985.
After her father is killed in the Vietnam War, Sam Hughes lives with an uncle whom she suspects suffers from the effects of Agent Orange, and struggles to come to terms with the war's impact on her family.

Mori, Kyoko. Shizuko's Daughter. 1993.
In the years following her mother's suicide, Yuki develops the inner strength to cope with her distant father, her resentful stepmother, and her haunting memories.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. 1970.
Pecola yearns to have beautiful blue eyes like the little white girls she sees.

*Mowry, Jess. Way Past Cool. 1992.
Thirteen-year-old Gordon is the leader of  a gang of African-American boys struggling to hold a few blocks of bleak turf in Oakland, California.

*Potok, Chaim. The Chosen. 1967.
A baseball injury brings together two Jewish boys, one Hasidic, the other Orthodox, first in hostility but finally in friendship.

Power, Susan. The Grass Dancer. 1994.
Ending in the 1980s with the love story of Charlene Thunder and grass dancer Harley Wind Soldier, this multigenerational tale of a Sioux family is told in voices of the living and the dead.

*Qualey, Marsha.  Hometown.  1995.
Just before the 1991 Gulf War begins, 16-year-old Border Baker movers to a small Minnesota town with his father, a Vietnam War draft resister.  Border takes verbal and physical abuse, but still finds ways to fit into the community.

*Salzman, Mark.  Iron and Silk.  1986. A Memoir.
Salzman captures post-cultural revolution China through his adventures as a young American English teacher in China and his shifu-tudi (master-student) relationship with China≠s foremost martial arts teacher.

*Shaara, Michael. Killer Angels. 1974.
Officers and foot soldiers from both the Union and Confederacy steel themselves for the bloody Battle of Gettysburg.

Smiley, Jane. Ordinary Love and Good Will. 1989.
Two novellas tell of modern families in turmoil coming to terms with their problems.

*Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. 1939.
An Oklahoma farmer and his family leave the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression to go to the promised land of California.

*Steinbeck, John.  Of Mice and Men 1937.
Short-tempered George and child-like Lennie are a mismatched pair who share a dream of owning a farm of their own.

*Styron, William.  Tidewater Morning.  1993.
Three stories that "reflect the experiences of the author at the age of twenty during WW II, at ten living in rural Depression-era, and at thirteen rebelling against his paper-route boss while his parents crumble.''

*Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. 1989.
After her mother's death, a young Chinese-American woman learns of her mother's tragic early life in China.

*Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 1967.
Middle Earth becomes the battleground between good and evil as Frodo struggles to destroy the ring of power and greed.

*Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 1884.
Huck Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, travel down the Mississippi River in search of freedom.

*Uchida, Yoshiko. Picture Bride. 1987.
Taro journeys to America in the early 1900s to marry a man she has never met.

*Vonnegut, Jurt. Slaughterhouse-Five or the Children's Crusade. 1969.
Billy Pilgrim, an optometrist from Ilium, New York, shuttles between the cellars of Dresden and a luxurious zoo on the plant Tralfamadore.

*Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. 1982.
In a series of letters to God and her sister, Celie reveals her struggle to overcome the violence and brutality of her life.

*Watson, Larry. Montana 1948. 1993.
The summer he is 12, David watches as his family and small town are shattered by scandal and tragedy.

Wright, Billie.  Four Seasons North.  1973. A Memoir.
A remarkable woman's captivating journal of the first year she and her husband spent in the remote country of arctic Alaska, living in a 12 by 12 foot cabin they built themselves

*Wright, Richard. Native Son. 1940.
For Bigger Thomas, an African American man accused of a crime in the white man's world, there could be no extenuating circumstances, no explanations and only death.

Yolen, Jane. Briar Rose. 1992.
Disturbed by her grandmother Gemma's unique version of Sleeping Beauty, Rebecca seeks the truth behind the fairy tale.