Summer Reading Assignment
Western Literature I and II- 2015-2016
Required classic work:
Mrs. Dalloway- Virginia Woolf.
Choose one of the following: The Light Between Oceans- M.L. Stedman
The Art of Racing in the Rain- Garth Stein
Directions for assignment: Choose one of the following questions and in an essay, not
exceeding two pages and using specific examples from the text, explore the topic chosen.
You must write about both works you have read. Please refer to the instructions about
annotating found on the back of this page and take good notes while you are reading. You
may use your books for the in-class follow-up assignment in September.
1. Each of the novels assigned have pairs of important characters, although their
relationships differ in scope. Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Smith—two vastly
different characters—do not even know one another, yet are entwined, and are
counterparts essentially, in Woolf’s story of a day in London. In Stedman’s novel,
Tom and Isabel—the lone inhabitants of Janus Island—are a married couple
struggling with an ethical issue of their own making. Enzo and Denny, in The Art
of Racing in the Rain, have that very special relationship of dog and master. From
the works you have read, choose two of the pairs and discuss the dynamics of
their relationships. Be sure to include specific details from the texts.
2. Time plays a very important role in each of these novels. In Mrs. Dalloway, the
chimes of Big Ben (the enormous clock tower in the center of London) alert the
reader to the hours in the day. Woolf also uses the shift from present to past for a
certain reason. In The Light Between Oceans, the only one of the three novels
whose plot line covers the main characters’ lifetimes, Tom and Isabel experience
the ups and downs of married life, seclusion on the lighthouse island, sharing a
dark secret. On his dying day, Enzo is reflecting on the events of his, and
Denny’s lives, as he tells his story. Explore the role that time plays in the two
works you have read. Be sure to use specific information from the novels.
3. The three works assigned for the Western Literature course are remarkably
different in style and subject. What is your educated opinion of them? You have
been given the task to write two book reviews—one for each of the novels you
read—for an issue of a publication for incoming college freshmen. What were the
strengths of the novels? Weaknesses? Would you recommend either of your
works for your audience? Why or why not? Be sure to consult an actual review
from either a newspaper (preferably The New York Times Book Review) or
magazine and model your essay on that sample. Use specific examples from the
text to support your position.
Annotating a Text
Annotating a text is one of the essential ways to be an active reader and a
highly effective study skill for the college-bound student. There are different
techniques which will be discussed here. The objective of annotating is to
locate important information in a text that will be easily found when looking
back and reviewing. It is also a way to understand and organize what you
A well-annotated text will help one clearly locate and identify important
information and display the reader’s thoughts, questions and reactions to
what was read. The reader should circle unfamiliar vocabulary.
A brief description of three techniques are described here:
• Highlighting/Underlining- this is the most common form of
annotating. It is an efficient way of noting important information.
However, many students “over-highlight.” Highlighting should be
used only for especially insightful passages. It is also suggested
that one use only yellow markers—they do not interfere or distract
with the reading as other colors sometimes do.
• Paraphrasing/Summarizing of Ideas- this is a very effective tool
in making sure the reader understands the ideas being propounded.
It is an excellent preparation for any future writing assignments
one may have to do based on reading. Even notes in the margins,
as a quick summation of ideas, is good.
• Commenting/Questioning/Responding- this is where the reader
writes her/his personal reflections while reading. It is a wonderful
way to sort out what is being read, and signal places that evoked a
Don’t forget to annotate wisely; you will be able to use both books for the
writing assignment in class. MLA format required. Use the correct heading
with Mrs. Kennedy as your instructor’s name.
Assignment is due Friday, September 18, 2015. You may email your
assignment to me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime before that
Enjoy the summer and happy reading!