Edgar Lawrence Doctorow, the acclaimed novelist, died on July 21, 2015 at the age of 84. Doctorow is best known as a novelist who played with historical events in books like Ragtime and The Book of Daniel. Doctorow was never afraid to paint on a big canvas or wrestle with big themes, and there's a wonderful sense of risk in his best work—reading it, you feel as if the next step is in doubt for everyone, even the author, even if you know the historical events being referenced. Doctorow enshrined the idea that history was once life, and because of this, that it was just as scary, and potentially hopeful, as tomorrow. Here are 12 quotes from the work of E.L. Doctorow, as well as a few words used to describe him.
Intrigued by a 1959 news article about the seemingly senseless murders of a farmer and his family, Truman Capote set out with his friend and fellow author Harper Lee to investigate. After years of conducting interviews with the Kansan residents, police, and the convicted criminals, Capote developed his findings in a book that became known as the foundation of the true crime genre. Study this list to see how his words inspired others to produce films, a miniseries, and a graphic novel. Here are links to our lists for the nonfiction novel: The Last to See Them Alive, Persons Unknown, The Answer, The Corner
Paul Fleischman coined the term "seedfolks" to describe ordinary people whose lives are connected by a garden they plant. Find out how a diverse cast of thirteen characters transform themselves, each other, and their neighborhood when you grow your vocabulary with this list. Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-5, Chapters 6-9, Chapters 10-13
The literary world is abuzz over Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman," a sequel of sorts to her classic "To Kill a Mockingbird." Lee actually wrote "Go Set a Watchman" first, in 1957, when she was 31 years old. The novel is finally seeing the light of day and will be published on July 14. Here are words from the first chapter.
Maus is the story of a man's relationship with his father as the father recounts the story of how he tried, along with his wife, to avoid ending up in the Nazi concentration camps. Maus I is unflinching in its depiction of both the frustration of relating to your parents and the ordeal of trying to stay alive as a Jew in war-torn Poland. Here are 23 words from chapters 1-3. Vocabulary from Chapter 4-6 can be found here.
Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize, this historical novel is set mostly during the dark years when Nazi Germany occupied France. Despite this, Anthony Doerr brings light to the lives of his two main characters—a blind girl and a resourceful orphan—who find themselves on opposite sides of the war. Learn the words that have captured a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Here are links to our lists for the novel: Parts Zero-Two, Parts Three-Four, Parts Five-Six, Parts Seven-Nine, Parts Ten-Thirteen
The subtitle warns that this graphic novel is not a cookbook: "The Last Days of a Southside Shorty." With illustrations by Randy DuBurke and through a fictional narrator, G. Neri uses some bitter words to make sense of the real-life gang-related deaths of young kids in 1990's Chicago.
Beware! You are entering a new version of the epic story that has been wandering around for more than a thousand years. Learn this list to better understand how Robert Nye describes a world of war, filled with darkness and light, that separates the heroes from the monsters. Here are links to our lists for the text: Chapters 1-5, Chapters 6-10, Chapters 11-16
Through 10 short stories, Walter Dean Myers develops the character of a Harlem neighborhood filled with people such as a restaurant owner who wants to enjoy his own funeral, a drug addict who saves a boy's life, and a cop who tries not to take the violence of the street home. Spend some time with this list to meet Peaches, Chops, LaToya, Billy, Mr. Rodriguez, the Tigros gang, Monkeyman, Sweet Jimmy and more. Here are links to our lists for the fictional collection: Big Joe's Funeral-Angela's Eyes, The Streak-Kitty and Mack, A Christmas Story-Block Party
High school can be hard. Include threats from a lynch mob, attacks with sticks of dynamite, and sprays of acid, and high school becomes a war zone. Find out how Melba Pattillo Beals survived to win both the Spingarn Medal and Congressional Gold Medal in her book subtitled "A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High." Here are links to our lists for the memoir: Time Brings About a Change-Chapter 5, Chapters 6-9, Chapters 10-14, Chapter 15-Epilogue
The subtitle is "One Name, Two Fates." The author Wes Moore had just been named a Rhodes Scholar when he read a newspaper article about a man who was convicted for killing a cop. In addition to having the same name, they were the same age and grew up in similar neighborhoods in Baltimore. How then did one end up working at the White House while the other was being sent to the Big House? The author contacted the other Wes Moore and began a long friendship that resulted in a revealing book about the troubles and temptations faced by inner city youths. Here are links to our lists for the nonfiction narrative: Introduction-Part I, Part II, Part III-Epilogue
You can bet that this list will surprise you with the words Laura Hillenbrand uses to describe how a half-blind and crippled jockey transforms a sleepy, crooked-legged horse into "An American Legend." Here are links to our lists for the nonfiction narrative: Preface-Chapter 6, Chapters 7-12, Chapters 13-19, Chapter 20-Epilogue
Much ado means a whole lot of trouble and confusion in the comedy by William Shakespeare (etext found here). Do this list to find out which characters cause ado and whether they get their dues. This list focuses on conflicts. Here are links to our lists for the play: Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, Act 4, Act 5
Anthony Doerr's "All The Light We Cannot See" is a wide-ranging novel of Europe in World War II. As it switches between Paris and Germany, the reader senses that the sadness and helplessness these characters face are not only products of the war, but all-too-universal emotions. The novel was a finalist for the National Book Award and has now won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Here are 33 vocabulary words from an excerpt from the novel. The complete excerpt can be read here.
Former New York State Poet and two-time Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins takes on the voice of a child to revisit the melancholy feeling of entering the double-digit years. etext found here
John Howard Griffin was not born black. But after many doses of a drug and hours under an ultraviolet lamp, his skin was dark enough to pass as black. Then he spent six weeks traveling throughout the southern United States to see how he would be treated. This list is based on descriptions of his eye-opening experiences from both sides of the color line. Here are links to our lists for the nonfiction narrative: Oct 28-Nov 8, 1959, Nov 10-15, 1959, Nov 16-29, 1959, Dec 1, 1959-Aug 17, 1960
Before learning words from The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Unmapped Sea, (Book 5) be sure to check out the Vocabulary.com interview with Incorrigible author Maryrose Wood. More wordlists from the novel: Chapters 1-3, 4-6, 7-10, 11-Epilogue
"Things can change quickly in the game of thrones." Play this list to discover whose destinies are defined by the dragons that dance around the worlds created by George R. R. Martin. Here are links to our lists for Book 5 of the series: Prologue-Chapter 11, Chapters 12-23, Chapters 24-35, Chapters 36-47, Chapters 48-59, Chapter 60-Epilogue Here are links to other books of "A Song of Ice and Fire": A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords
12-year-old Mitchell thought he would LOL when he and his friend decided to play a prank on an elderly neighbor. But the neighbor gets hurt, and he ends up at the police station. Two days a week for a month, Mitchell must participate in an O.L.D. Do your online time with this list to find out what this acronym means and how Jan Siebold uses it to develop her characters and plot. Here are links to our lists for the novel: September 14-September 21, September 23-October 1, October 5-October 12
"Everything affects everything" and "in the end, everything matters." Through the voice of one character and the ears of another, Jay Asher explains what "everything" means to a high school girl and how it led to her suicide. Here are links to our lists for the novel: Intro-Cassette 2, Cassettes 3-4, Cassette 5-The Next Day
Nobel Laureate Günter Grass died on April 13, 2015 at the age of 87. He wrestled tirelessly with his native Germany's modern history in novels and essays of impressive depth and range. His literary output stands as an insistent and imaginative response to the horrors of the 20th century. Here are 12 quotes from Grass's novels, short stories and interviews.
U text. U drive. U pay. In the case described by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Matt Richtel, a distracted driver who killed two rocket scientists went to jail for 30 days. The lifelong guilt motivated the driver to become an advocate for stronger punishments and prevention. Focus on this list of words from the book subtitled "A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention." Here are links to our lists for the nonfiction narrative: Part One, Part Two, Part Three
Julia Alvarez has 12 names. For the author, this reminder of her Dominican heritage was not always a source of pride. See how her feelings about names reflect her relationships to herself, her family, friends, and America.