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Summer Reading

We believe strongly in the goal of maintaining intellectual engagement in the summertime. Our standard advice to students is not to preview material and study ahead for upcoming courses. In some cases, it may be necessary to pursue enrichment and reinforce topics covered in the previous year. In addition to the required selections listed below for each form level, we hope that all students will prioritize reading widely and pursuing activities rooted in curiosity. Summer is an ideal time for interests that students may not have enough time and space to explore during the school year, and to pick up new ideas and projects. Ultimately, this is the foundation upon which we build a community of lifelong learners.

English Department Required Summer Reading
There is required summer reading for students at each grade level. Please bring your book to St. Mark’s when the school year begins. Your English teacher will expect you to write about your summer reading text at some point during the first weeks of school and will use the text as a touchstone throughout the year
III Form - Nimona by ND Stevenson


All III Formers will read Nimona by ND Stevenson

Incoming III formers will read ND Stevenson's graphic novel Nimona. Nimona is a science fantasy graphic novel by American cartoonist ND Stevenson. Nimona is an impulsive young shape-shifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.  (from

Nimona will set the tone for the year as we explore themes such as good versus evil, morality, monstrosity, and political corruption. Students will have a framework for debating morality in Ursula Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away and monstrosity in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Students will also sharpen their close-reading skills by learning about literary and visual techniques using Scott McLeod's Understanding Comics as a touchstone. 

IV Form - Survey of Literary Genres
Book cover for Educated.


Required for all IV Form Students
All IV Formers will read Educated by Tara Westover
“Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.” (Goodreads)

V Form - Self and Other(s)
Required for all V Form Students

The theme for Fifth Form English in 2024-5 is “Self and Other(s).”  The course will explore how we make sense of ourselves in terms of qualities we share with others as well as differences. The teachers of the course have agreed on several common books, but each teacher is also free to choose books that align with his/her interests and teaching experience.

We’ll start the course reading a Greek tragedy, Euripides’s Medea. To prepare for this reading, you should read several chapters from Greek Tragedy in Action and the article by Simon Goldhill.

Later on we will read Shakespeare’s Tempest, a play with many human characters but also two characters who have non-human attributes. To prepare, please read the two short readings about monsters.  

Most of the readings in the course will be more recent literary works. You do not need to prepare for these readings over the summer.  

“Other/otherness” by Jean-Francois Staszak
"Greek Tragedy in Action" by Oliver Taplin, chapters 1, 2, and 10 required; others optional 
“The Question of Tragedy” by Simon Goldhill
“Monster Culture” by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

VI Form Electives
Required for all VI Form Students

Summer Reading Anthology for VI Form Students 
This summer, among the many amazing things you'll be doing, the English Department has required summer reading for you in the form of an anthology created by the VI Form English teachers. You should read each piece in the anthology, even if you think you identify some as for your particular electives.

We hope you enjoy the interesting selection of readings!

In the Old Days” by Edwidge Danticat (21 pages)
The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (10 pages)
Baseball Magic” by George Gmelch (6 pages)
Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka (28 pages)
On the Marionette Theatre” by Heinrich von Kleist (5 pages)
The Paper Menagerie” By Ken Liu (9 pages)
"White Hills" by Rebecca Roanhorse (17 pages)
Poetry Selection (8 pages)
Rear Window” by Cornell Woolrich (22 pages)