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Summer Reading 2017

Information to guide you in your 2017 Summer Reading


The most important thing is that you read your book this summer, and are ready to discuss how it fits into the theme.

All of the other guiding questions, additional material, etc. contained on these pages is meant to give you tools to help you understand, or go deeper into, your book and the theme of "Truth(iness), Technology, and Totalitarians".

General Questions for Reading any Book

These are General Guiding Questions that can be used to help you understand any book.

  1. What kind of world does the author build in your book (e.g. time period, location, culture)? How does that world impact the plot? Character development? Conflicts? Theme?
  2. Choose one character who seemed particularly compelling in your book. How does the author describe him or her? Think of direct physical description (e.g. “She had short brown hair”) as well as indirect description--the way he/she reacts to conflict, for example, or the way he/she interacts with other characters.

  3. What are some of the key conflicts in your book? Are those conflicts ever resolved? If so--how? If not, why not? How might you have solved those particular conflicts if you lived in the world of the book, keeping in mind any constraints placed on the characters from the world which they inhabit?

  4. Think about beginnings and endings. How did the author open this particular book, and what kind of mood or tone did that beginning establish? Did you like the way it opened? Why or why not? Did you feel satisfied by the way things were resolved at the end? Why or why not? How might you have ended the book differently?

  5. If you were to choose a single quote that represents this book for someone who has never read it, what would that quote be and why? What does it show about this book that you feel represents it well? (If you really can’t just choose one, feel free to find a few interrelated quotes.)

Faculty and Staff Inservice "Homework" from Campus Ministry

(also a useful activity for students).

Make note of what you think is the most significant:

  1. Paragraph,
  2. Sentence, and
  3. Word

from your chosen book. The sentence and word do not need to be from the paragraph. Be prepared to discuss WHY you think your choices capture the essence of the book.

Theme-based Questions for Any Book on the Reading List

Theme-based Guided Questions for all Books

Consider these questions as you are reading your book. Having answers to them, with quotations from the book (cite page number) as supporting evidence will be very helpful when it is time to discuss and assess your reading.

1. When was your book written? When does it take place? How does that compare to 2017?

2. Who holds power or authority in your book?  

  • What role does technology play in creating or maintaining that authority?  
  • What role does communication or language play in creating or maintaining that authority?

3. How does technology affect the daily lives of the characters in your book?

  • What role does technology play in communication between characters?
  • Who has access to technology?
  • How does the technology compare to today's technology?

4. What kinds of information or media is communicated in your book? -- News? Advertising? Entertainment? Education? Propaganda? etc?

  • Who creates it, and for what purpose?
  • Who controls it, and for what purpose?
  • Who consumes it, and for what purpose?

Get More out of What you Read

5 Ways to Make Summer Reading Less Painful (or More Effective)



1. Pick a the Right Book for You.  (and actually read it).

There are 8 books to choose from this year, and the committee tried hard to get a variety of different kinds of books, in hopes that by letting you pick your book, you'll be more likely to enjoy it.  Ask around (Librarians are a good choice) if you want a recommendation. If you like what you pick, you won't need the rest of this list.

Of course, for some of you, even a book entitled Book that is About Your Exact Favorite Thing in the Entire World is going to seem like homework (or a chore, or a punishment). In that case, read on...

2. Think of it as an opportunity, rather than homework. 

I mean, yes, we are asking you to read a book, and that may not be a choice you'd normally make for vacation, but simply having a positive mindset about doing it will make it less painful.  


If you have any questions at all as to WHY we want people to read over the summer, just ask.


3. Pick a pace that works for you. Pick a place that works for you

If reading's not your favorite, try to spread it out over time;  read a little bit each day instead of putting it off and having to do it all at once.  5 pages (or 15 minutes) per day will get you through any book on the list. 


If reading isn't a normal activity for you, find a comfortable "reading spot" and associate that place with the activity of reading.


If you can overcome Phone Separation Anxiety, set your mobile devices aside (unless you're reading on one, in which case, do your best to prioritize reading and minimize other features that may be distractions).  If you really want to involve your device, there are lots of links on this site to help you with your book.



4. Talk with people about what you are reading.   

Reading doesn't have to be a solitary activity.  Even if you aren't reading the same books, you might be able to share ideas about the themes, or someone may be able to help you understand what you are reading. You, and your friend, will get more value out of a discussion than you would if you just Schmoop. Another option engage via GoodReads.


5. Remember what you've read, so you are ready to discuss it in the fall. 

On that note (ha ha... puns), here's some suggestions about  annotating (the additional act of taking notes on your text as you read...


WHO annotates?

  • You do, whenever you mark your thoughts about what you have read onto a text.

WHERE do you annotate?

  • Directly on to your text.
    • If you don't own your book, use sticky notes, bookmarks, or note cards, or keep a notebook.
    • If it's an audiobook, maybe notecards/journal
    • eReaders usually have great annotation features

WHAT should you annotate?

  • Quotations or passages related to themes and/or details you might need later
  • Words that are unfamiliar to you might need to look up to understand a sentence
  • Questions  that you have about the text, or that you might want to discuss with other people
  • Literary Techniques  similes, metaphors, analogies, etc.

HOW do you annotate?

  • Underline or highlight significant passages, .
  • Circle important words
  • Doodle in the margins
  • Use "?"s to mark stuff you don't understand
  • Whatever works for you

WHEN should you annotate?

  • Any time something really stands out to you as being significant.
  • Any time that it helps you answer a guiding question about the book or our theme.
  • NOT all the time -- the more notes you make, the less useful they eventually become.