Summer Reading

 2019 Portsmouth Abbey School - Summer Reading 


Portsmouth Abbey School, with its Benedictine tradition, encourages devotion to the Word. By reading books together as a School we hope to foster the shared experience of community life” in our Mission Statement.  We hope our entire communitystudents, faculty, monks, staff,

parents, alumni—will join us in the cultivation of our minds and hearts through reading over our summer months.


Practically, the best and most fruitful way to increase verbal skills is to read, not to take test- preparation courses. We expect by requiring our students to spend some of their free summer time reading they will improve those skills as well as develop the life-long habit of reading.


We live in an age that bombards us with visual stimuli. We are never far from a flickering screen, and our eyes have grown accustomed to processing images at tremendous speeds with little reference to the meaning underlying all things. Our all-school reader compels us to look deeply into the truth of things, and to witness what is at stake when we fail to guard against those internal and external forces of barbarism.


Therefore, this summer each student will be required to read two books:


· Oliver Sacks The River of Consciousness, and


· a title from the students Form List



To ensure that the reading has been completed, early in the Fall Term the English & Humanities teachers will administer an assessment on both books. The grade on the Summer Reading quiz will figure into the Fall Term grade for each student.


A note about the all-school common reader: The River of Consciousness by the late neurologist Oliver  Sacks- he who was dubbed “The Poet Laureate of Medicine by the New York Times, has been selected by our Science Department for us all to read this summer. Dr. Sacks places special fondness and importance on Charles Darwin, William James, and Sigmund Freud, so all biology and Humanities students should experience some resonance while reading this book and third formers will get a nice primer. This collection will be part of some small group and class discussions in the first weeks of the term.


We hope you enjoy your reading,



Kale Zelden

Dean of Faculty


Summer Form Readers 2019-20 School Year




Form III

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Death in Holy Orders, P.D. James

Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe

The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives (Penguin Classics), Plutarch

The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare

The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

One Writer’s Beginnings, Eudora Welty

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the OED, Simon Winchester


Form IV

The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis


Form V

The House on Mango Street, Sarah Cisneros

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

Light in August, William Faulkner

A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri

The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor

The Moviegoer, Walker Percy

The Shipping News, Annie Proulx

The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan

Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut


Form VI

The Plague, Albert Camus

Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

White Noise, Don DeLillo

The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco

The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks

Kristin Lavransdatter, Vol I: The Wreath, Sigrid Undset

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf