Summer Reading 12th

Galileo Suggested Summer Reading for 12thGraders


†American Gods, Neil Gaiman/465 p./Fantasy/2001

Shadow sets out on a journey across America fighting old myths and the gods of modern technology and material obsession when he takes employment with a man named Wednesday — otherwise known as the god Odin.


Becoming,Michelle Obama/426 p./Memoir/2018

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private.


†The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath/288 p./Fiction/1963

The Bell Jarchronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under — maybe for the last time.


*Catch-22, Joseph Heller/453 p./Satirical Fiction/1961

Yossarian is a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war, and his efforts are perfectly understandable because as he furiously scrambles, thousands of people he hasn’t even met are trying to kill him.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Mark Haddon/226 p./Fiction/2003

Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.


*Emma, Jane Austen/474 p./Fiction/1815

Beautiful, clever, rich–and single–Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.


*Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel/245 p./Fiction/1995

Despite the fact that she has fallen in love with a young man, Tita, the youngest of three daughters born to a tyrannical rancher, must obey tradition and remain single and at home to care for her mother.


The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri/291 p./Fiction/2003

A young man born of Indian parents in America struggles with issues of identity from his teens to his thirties.


 A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini/372 p./Fiction/2007

This novel is set against the three decades of Afghanistan’s history shaped by Soviet occupation, civil war, and the Taliban and tells the stories of two women, Mariam and Laila, who grow close despite the horrors they must endure.


†Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple/330 p. Fiction/2012

When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled, and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her. Fifteen-year-old Bee uses emails, invoices, school memos, secret correspondence, and other evidence to find her mother after she disappears due to her intensifying agoraphobia.



*Free online version available.

†Contains mature language and themes.


Summer Reading FAQ


Why do summer reading?

Reading a book (or several books!) over summer will keep your brain active, which will mean you will be more prepared for the tough academic year ahead.


How do I choose a book?

Read the descriptions of the books on the opposite side of this page. What topics, descriptions, and genres spark your interest? If you can, visit the library or bookstore and actually look at the books in person – check out the covers, read a few pages, and read the extended summaries on the inside flap in order to help you make a decision. Sometimes, reading online reviews will give you an idea if you will like the book – try


Where can I find these books?

All of these books are available at the San Francisco Public Library. Their website ( has information about which books are available at the branches most convenient for you. If you would prefer to buy the book, many of these titles can be found at various bookstores – including used bookstores – in San Francisco and online retailers such as


What if I want to read a book that’s not on this list?

Go ahead! This list contains only a few suggestions – if there’s a different book that you’ve been interested in reading, please feel free.