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Books for the College Bound: Nonfiction
This is a list of books recommended by the American Library Association (ALA) for students that are college bound (also known as college prep). Several of these books cover subjects with mature subject matter, so please review the book for appropriateness prior to giving it as a reading assignment.
Asinof, Eliot. Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series. 1963.
It's all here: the players, the scandal, the shame, and the damage the 1919 World Series caused America's national pastime.
Atkin, S. Beth. Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories. 1996.
Gang members from all races and backgrounds describe why they joined, and why--and how--they left.
Alvarez, Walter. T. Rex and the Crater of Doom. 1997.
Geologist Alvarez presents the development of the impact theory of dinosaur extinction as the adventure/mystery it was.
Aronson, Marc. Art Attack: A Short Cultural History of the Avant-Garde. 1998.
Discover everything you ever wanted to know about bohemians, hipsters, and the development of the world's most radical art.
Bernstein, Leonard. The Joy of Music. 1959.
Bernstein describes all aspects of classical music.
Blackstone, Harry, Jr. The Blackstone Book of Magic & Illusion. 1985.
A well-known magician introduces readers to the history, principles, and effects of one of the oldest entertainment arts.
Blais, Madeleine. In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle. 1995.
Learn about the year of heart, sweat, and muscle that transformed the Amherst Lady Hurricanes basketball team into state champions.
Bodanis, David. The Secret Family: Twenty-four Hours Inside the Mysterious World of Our Minds and Bodies. 1997.
The unseen world around us and within our bodies is shown in vivid detail as we follow a typical family through their day.
Boorstin, Jon. Making Movies Work: Thinking Like a Filmmaker. 1996.
Both novice and expert can enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the art of filmmaking.
Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. 1970.
There's another side of America's western expansion: the one seen through Native American eyes.
Brumberg, Joan Jacobs. The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls. 1997.
The historical evolution of body perception has turned the value system of American girls inside out.
Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. 1962.
This landmark book gave birth to the environmental movement.
Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. 1997.
Barely a postscript in official Japanese history, the horrific rape, mutilation, torture, and murder of hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens took place over the course of just seven weeks.
Clark, Kenneth. Civilisation: A Personal View. 1970.
Clark explores history through the works, impulses, and beliefs of the great creative individuals of Western civilization.
Cooke, Mervyn. The Chronicle of Jazz. 1998.
Cooke provides a comprehensive guide to this uniquely American musical form.
Copland, Aaron. What to Listen For in Music. 1939.
The composer provides a basic introduction to the mysteries of musical composition and music appreciation.
Cumming, Robert. Annotated Art. 1995.
Art masterpieces are made understandable through the exploration of some of the world's greatest paintings.
DuBois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. 1903.
Educator DuBois describes the lives and history of African American farmers, including the career of Booker T. Washington.
Day, David. The Search for King Arthur. 1995.
Discover through magnificent illustrations and romantic retellings what is fact and what is legend about this fifth-century hero.
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. 1997.
Diamond contends that these three factors determined the course of world power throughout history.
Dorris, Michael. The Broken Cord. 1989.
The persistent physical and emotional problems of his adopted son baffled the author until he learned the condition had a name: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Edelman, Marion Wright. The Measure of Our success: A Letter to My Children and Yours. 1992.
A child advocate shares her thoughts on values, raising families, and the future of our country.
Epictetus and Sharon Lebell. The Art of Living: The Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness. 1995.
A modern interpretation of the Stoic philosopher answers the timeless questions of how to be a good person and live a good life
Faludi, Susan. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. 1991.
This unflinching analysis examines the current status of American women.
Finn, David. How to Look at Sculpture: Text and Photographs. 1989.
To understand sculpture, you have to know what to look for.
Ford, Michael Thomas. The Voices of AIDS: Twelve Unforgettable People Talk About How AIDS Has Changed Their Lives. 1995.
Individuals whose AIDS experiences have been catalysts for making a difference share their poignant and personal stories.
Fouts, Roger. Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are. 1997.
Describing his career of communicating with chimpanzees, Fouts explains evolutionary, genetic, and emotional bonds with our next of kin.
Freedman, Samuel G. Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students, and Their High School. 1990.
How does this overcrowded, underfunded inner city school send 92% of its graduates to college?
Fremon, Celeste. Father Greg & the Homeboys: The Extraordinary Journey of Father Greg Boyle and His Work With the Latino Gangs of East L.A. 1995.
Conscience, parent, motivator, drill sergeant: Father Greg was all this and more to the gangbangers who called his barrio parish community home.
Garfunkel, Trudy. On Wings of Joy: The Story of Ballet from the 16th Century to Today. 1994.
Fascinating history, dancers, choreographers, and stories: here is everything that has helped create this wonderful art form.
Goldberg, Vicki. The Power of Photographs: How Photography Changed Our Lives. 1991.
Photographers and photographs evolve, rather than spring forth fully formed.
Gould, Stephen Jay. The Mismeasure of Man. 1981.
Gould's history of the attempt to quantify intelligence could be called the "misuse of science."
Gombrich, E. H. The Story of Art. 1995.
Everything from cave paintings to the experimental art of today is covered, in words and pictures, in this sixteenth edition of one of the most famous and popular art books ever published.
Green, Bill. Water, Ice, and Stone: Science and Memory on the Antarctic Lakes. 1995.
A chemist investigates Antarctica's ice-covered lakes and discovers beauty and poetry.
Hafner, Katie and Matthew Lyon. Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet. 1996.
The origins of the world's first computer network are explained, with tales of the motivations, breakthroughs, and personalities that created it.
Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. 1942.
Gods and heroes, their clashes and adventures, come alive in this splendid retelling of the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths.
Hawking, Stephen. A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. 1988.
Cosmology becomes understandable as the author discusses the origin, evolution, and fate of our universe.
Hersch, Patricia. A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence. 1998.
An intimate three-year journey through contemporary adolescence with eight "typical" teens reveals a separate culture spawned not from personal choice, but rather from adult alienation and abandonment.
Hersey, John. Hiroshima. 1946.
Six Hiroshima survivors reflect on the aftermath of the first atomic bomb.
Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1973.
Biblical scholars revise text and modernize terms to bring one version of the Bible up-to-date.
Humes, Edward. No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court. 1996.
Humes paints a tragic and heartbreaking portrait of the chaos characterizing America's juvenile justice system where, as one inmate writes, "my screams have no voice, no matter how loud I shout."
Hubbell, Sue. A Country Year: Living the Questions. 1986.
A former wife and librarian observes her natural surroundings during a year spent as a beekeeper on a beautiful Ozark farm.
Jonas, Gerald. Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement. 1992.
This international survey explores dance as social, cultural, and religious expression.
Jones, K. Maurice. Say It Loud! The Story of Rap Music. 1994.
From a village in West Africa to a street in Brooklyn, to MTV, rappers make the Scene.
Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea. 1997.
Haunting premonitions didn't save seven fisherman from the ferocious and deadly power of the sea.
Karnos, David D. and Robert G. Shoemaker, editors. Falling in Love With Wisdom: American Philosophers Talk About Their Calling. 1993.
Contemporary philosophers share their contemplations and epiphanies.
Kendall, Elizabeth. Where She Danced. 1979.
The contributions of major innovators and the conditions of their times are the basis for this history of modern American dance.
Kerner, Mary. Barefoot to Balanchine: How to Watch Dance. 1990.
Understand dance by reading about its history, choreography, and backstage action.
Kolb, Rocky. Blind Watchers of the Sky: The People and Ideas that Shaped Our View of the Universe. 1996.
Kolb delivers a witty and lively history of astronomy and cosmology.
Kotlowitz, Alex. The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma. 1998.
Geographically, only a river separates two closely neighboring towns, but the murder mystery surrounding the death of a young black man exposes a deeply rooted racial divide.
Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools. 1991.
Kozol's stinging indictment of America's public school system advocates an equal distribution of per pupil funding to right the gross inequities in our current system.
Krakauer, John. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster. 1997.
His dream expedition to Everest became a nightmare when human error and a sudden storm combined to claim the lives of some of the world's best mountain climbers.
McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. 1993.
A comic book asks and answers the question of whether or not comics are a literary form.
McPhee, John. In Suspect Terrain. 1983.
Traveling along I-80 with geologist Anita Harris, McPhee describes the geologic features that reveal the history of the Appalachians.
Murray, Albert. Stomping the Blues. 1976.
An aficionado gives the lowdown on what it is and its origins.
Occhiogrosso, Peter. The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World's Religious Traditions. 1994.
This lively, easy to understand guidebook is for everyone from the faithful believer to the curious doubter.
O'Gorman, James F. ABC of Architecture. 1998.
Function, structure, and beauty are the interdependent basics -- the ABC -- of architecture.
Paulos, John Allen. Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences. 1988.
Paulos illustrates the importance of understanding and the consequences of misunderstanding mathematical concepts in everyday life.
Penn, W. S., editor. The Telling of the World: Native American Stories and Art. 1996.
Traditional and contemporary legends, stories, and art from many tribes explain our world and its lifeforms.
Petroski, Henry. Invention by Design: How Engineers Get From Thought to Thing. 1996.
Using examples from paper clips to monumental bridges, Petroski shows how engineers work.
Pipher, Mary. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. 1994.
Pipher looks at societal "girl poisoning" and the emotional and psychological havoc it wreaks on the lives of young women.
Regis, Ed. Virus Ground Zero: Stalking the Killer Viruses with the Centers for Disease Control. 1996.
The history of the CDC is told through the handling of the Ebola outbreak in Zaire.
Rybczynski, Witold . The Most Beautiful House in the World. 1989.
The author's dream of building a boat evolves into the building of a home, a process he uses to explain complex architectural ideas.
Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. 1988.
A soldier exposes the corruption undermining the American war effort in Vietnam.
Sherman, Robert and Philip Seldon. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Music. 1997.
This practical guide will help you understand and enjoy classical music.
Simon, David and Edward Burns. The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. 1997.
Crack owns this corner and infects the lives of all those within reach.
Singh, Simon. Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem. 1997.
A Princeton professor pursues a lifelong dream of solving a 350-year-old mathematical puzzle.
Sobel, Dava. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. 1995.
A self-taught eighteenth-century English clockmaker succeeded where the scientific community failed.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor's Tale and Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began. 1986.
Using comic book format, the author chronicles his father's experience of the Holocaust and its impact on his family.
Strickland, Carol and John Boswell. The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History From Prehistoric to Post-Modern. 1992.
From cave paintings to conceptual art, art history is demystified.
Stringer, Christopher and Robin McKie. African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity. 1997.
The authors support the theory of a single origin of modern humanity with paleoanthropological, archaeological, and DNA evidence.
Thomas, Lewis. The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher. 1974.
These essays offer an optimistic scientist's view of a wide variety of subjects.
Watson, James D. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery and Structure of DNA. 1968.
The author recreates the excitement of participating in a momentous discovery and demonstrates to the non-scientist how the scientific method works.
Williams, Juan. Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. 1987.
From Brown v. the Board of Education to the Voting Rights Act, Williams outlines the social and political gains of African Americans.
Yolen, Jane, editor. Favorite Folktales from Around the World. 1986.
This collection of international folktales provides an understanding of the roots of diverse cultures.
You may also be interested in these articles and reading lists:
Best Books for Young Adults 1996
Best Books for Young Adults 1997
Best Books for Young Adults 1998
Best Books for Young Adults 2000
Best Books for Young Adults 2001
Books for the College Bound: Biographies
Books for the College Bound: Drama
Books for the College Bound: Fiction
Books for the College Bound: Poetry
Caldecott Winner: 1938 – 2001
Children’s Book Week
Newbery Award Winners: 1922 – 2001