AP American Literature Reading List: Essential Books to Read
If you’re planning to take the AP American Literature exam, you should be well-versed in the literature of the United States. With so many amazing works of literature to choose from, it might be overwhelming to know where to start. But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive AP American Literature reading list that includes essential books to read to prepare for the exam.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This novel, set in the roaring 1920s, is a classic of American literature. It tells the story of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire who throws extravagant parties in hopes of winning back his lost love, Daisy Buchanan. But underneath the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age, there’s a darker side to the story that explores themes of class, love, and the American Dream.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beloved is a haunting novel that explores the lasting impact of slavery on African American families. Set in the late 1800s, the story is based on the true-life story of Margaret Garner, an enslaved woman who escaped slavery and killed her own child to prevent her from being recaptured. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
This novel is considered one of the great works of American literature and has been beloved by generations of readers. Set along the Mississippi River, it tells the story of Huck Finn, a young boy who runs away from home and embarks on a journey down the river with a runaway slave named Jim. Along the way, they encounter a variety of characters and situations that challenge their beliefs about race, society, and morality.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age novel that has become a classic of American literature. It tells the story of Holden Caulfield, a troubled teenager who is expelled from his prep school and spends a few days wandering the streets of New York City. Along the way, he reflects on his life, his relationships, and his place in the world.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man is a novel that explores what it means to be black in America. The story follows an unnamed black man who is invisible to mainstream society, despite his efforts to fit in. Through his experiences, the novel tackles issues of identity, racism, and the struggle for equality.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple is a powerful novel that explores the lives of African American women in the South in the early 20th century. The story follows Celie, a young girl who is sexually abused by her father and later forced into marriage to a man who treats her cruelly. The novel explores themes of race, gender, and the power of self-discovery in the face of adversity.
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Moby-Dick is a classic of American literature that has become an enduring favorite among readers of all ages. The story follows Ishmael, a sailor who joins the crew of a whaling ship captained by the obsessive Ahab, who is determined to hunt down the elusive white whale, Moby-Dick. The novel explores themes of obsession, revenge, and the power of nature.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that has become a classic of American literature. Set in the racially charged South of the 1930s, the story follows young Scout Finch as she witnesses the injustices of the legal system and racial prejudice in her community. The novel tackles themes of justice, inequality, and the moral responsibility to do what is right.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Awakening is a novel that explores the complexities of female identity in the late 19th century. The story follows Edna Pontellier, a married woman who becomes dissatisfied with her life and society’s expectations for her. Through her experiences, the novel explores themes of freedom, identity, and the repercussions of going against social norms.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter is a classic of American literature that explores the consequences of sin and guilt. The story is set in Puritan New England and follows Hester Prynne, a woman who has committed adultery and is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her chest as a symbol of her shame. The novel examines themes of justice, morality, and the complexities of the human condition.
In conclusion, these are just a few of the essential books that you should read to prepare for the AP American Literature exam. By exploring these works of literature, you’ll develop a deep understanding of the themes, styles, and historical context that make them such enduring classics of American literature. So get reading, and good luck on the exam!