School is almost officially out (only two more finals!), which means it is unfortunately time for summer assignments from school. I have summer assignments from four classes including AP Statistics, AP Physics, AP US History, and English. Every year since the summer before eighth grade, it has been required to choose a fiction and a non-fiction book from a set list, all following a certain theme. For each book, we either have to annotate a copy of the book or write ten journal entries. Some books I have read in the past for these assignments were The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Farewell to Manzanar by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki, Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, and Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix. This summer, the theme for the assignment is Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Along with this theme, the essential questions we are supposed to address are…
How does one define the American Dream?
How are American values affected by various social factors?
How do race, gender, and economic status affect one’s social standing in America?
What are the vices and virtues of the American Dream?
The two books I have chosen from this list are Little Brother by Cory Doctorow and Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. I had not heard about either of these books previously, but what I love about this assignment is the introduction to new books I never would have read before. I am going to include a Goodreads synopsis for each of these books below, just in case anyone wants to read them. If you have read either of these books, or have heard anything about them, let me know. I really hope I end up enjoying them.
Marcus aka “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.
But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.
When the DHS finally releases them, his injured best friend Darryl does not come out. The city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: “M1k3y” will take down the DHS himself.
In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and
the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?
His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.