All of the books I am about to share with you are from the Ambleside Online Year 9 Booklist, which can be found here. My daughter will be following their schedule, which is set out here. I did not get all of the books, as we attempt to use AO in a secular way, but we are definitely using a big chunk of them. So if any of the books below piqued your interest, definitely check out the full list for more information, as well as for AO’s affiliate links. (I will not be linking to any of the books in this list, because AO compiled the list, I am just sharing which of their selections we got, and why). (Note: I am also planning to have this student read the Psalms & Proverbs part of the schedule, which is obviously not secular, but my attempt to make this curriculum expand to include Judaism. The book that we use in our family for that purpose is also included in this list.)
It’s always difficult to share in depth about books during a haul video since there is limited time and we because we haven’t read them yet, we don’t really know what they’re about! I did read the descriptions in compiling a list for my daughter, and she then went through the selections and compared them to the other options that I thought she might enjoy. (We looked over Build Your Library Level 9, and a few other options that I can’t recall at the moment.) She will be using these books to carry her through the rest of her 8th grade year. She has already read through most of the Year 8 books, and having enjoyed them I thought that continuing with the same program might be amenable.
Thus, without further adieu, here are the books we got and their brief descriptions!
Marie Antoinette and Her Son by Luise Mühlbach
“Luise Mühlbach’s historical fiction novel about Marie Antoinette and her son, Louis XVII, during the French Revolution. The book contains many direct quotes from Marie Anoinette herself, the King of France–Louis XVI, and many others, with footnotes and references cited. Both a great story and excellent introduction to the French Revolution and those involved. Translated from German into English by Rev. W. L. Gage.
First published in 1867, this edition is derived from the book published in 1898 with 5 black & white illustrations. As always, this edition is complete and unabridged.”
The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents by Richard Godbeer
“Get a clearer understanding of why the Salem Witch Trials actually took place as Salem Witch Hunt explores how gender norms, social tensions, and the Puritan’s worldview influenced this infamous period in colonial history.”
Note: This one is actually not an AO title, but is the closest thing I could find readily available that resembled the Salem With Trial’s transcripts. If I do not have a print book, I will inevitably forget or otherwise put off, so I found this. The description is a bit odd, but the reviews were positive, and stated that it was a factual account.
Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death: By Patrick Henry – Illustrated
“Give me liberty, or give me death!” is a quotation attributed to Patrick Henry from a speech he made to the Virginia Convention in 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. He is credited with having swung the balance in convincing the convention to pass a resolution delivering Virginian troops for the Revolutionary War. Among the delegates to the convention were future U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.”
Gulliver’s Travels (Dover Thrift Editions: Classic Novels)
“From the preeminent prose satirist in the English language comes his most famous work.
For children it remains an enchanting fantasy; for adults, a witty parody of political life in Swift’s time and a scathing send-up of manners and morals in 18th-century England.
“Every man desires tolive long, but no man wishes to be old.”
“The tiny Lilliputians surmise that Gulliver’s watch may be his god, because it is that which, he admits, he seldom does anything without consulting.””
Are You Liberal? Conservative? Or Confused? (An Uncle Eric Book)
“Are You Liberal? Conservative? or Confused?” discusses political labels. What do they mean? Liberal, conservative, left, right, democrat, republican, moderate, socialist, libertarian, communist what are their economic policies and what plans do their promoters have for your money? Clear, concise explanations. Facts and fallacies. Does inconsistency to the original American philosophy endanger liberty?”
Note: this author has other excellent works, which are assigned in younger years. There is also a workbook type thing to accompany the book, which I would recommend. However, my child hates the workbook, so take that recommendation with a grain of salt!
Rights of Man, Common Sense, and Other Political Writings (Oxford World’s Classics)
“Thomas Paine was the first international revolutionary. His Common Sense (1776) was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution–and his Rights of Man (1791-2), the most famous defense of the French Revolution, sent out a clarion call for revolution throughout the world. Paine paid the price for his principles: he was outlawed in Britain, narrowly escaped execution in France, and was vilified as an atheist and a Jacobin on his return to America.
This new edition contains the complete texts of both Rights of Man and Common Sense, as well as six other powerfully political writings–American Crisis I, American Crisis XIII, Agrarian Justice, Letter to Jefferson, Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation, and Dissertation on the First Principles of Government–all of which illustrate why Paine’s ideas still resonate in the modern welfare states of today.”
“Paul de Kruif’s classic account of the first scientists to see and learn about the microscopic world continues to fascinate new readers. This is a timeless dramatization of the scientists, bacteriologists, doctors, and medical technicians who discovered the microbes and invented the vaccines to counter them. De Kruif writes about how seemingly simple but really fundamental discovers of science—for instance, how a microbe was first viewed in a clear drop of rain water, and when, for the first time, Louis Pasteur discovered that a simple vaccine could save a man from the ravages of rabies by attacking the microbes that cause it.”
Note: my daughter has really enjoyed the living science titles, and that was one of the main motivating factors for continuing with AO. She does not prefer textbook learning.
The Periodic Kingdom (Science Masters Series)
“Come on a journey into the heart of matter — and enjoy the process! — as a brilliant scientist and entertaining tour guide takes you on a fascinating voyage through the Periodic Kingdom, the world of the elements. The periodic table, your map for this trip, is the most important concept in chemistry. It hangs in classrooms and labs throughout the world, providing support for students, suggesting new avenues of research for professionals, succinctly organizing the whole of chemistry. The one hundred or so elements listed in the table make up everything in the universe, from microscopic organisms to distant planets. Just how does the periodic table help us make sense of the world around us? Using vivid imagery, ingenious analogies, and liberal doses of humor P. W. Atkins answers this question. He shows us that the Periodic Kingdom is a systematic place. Detailing the geography, history and governing institutions of this imaginary landscape, he demonstrates how physical similarities can point to deeper affinities, and how the location of an element can be used to predict its properties. Here’s an opportunity to discover a rich kingdom of the imagination kingdom of which our own world is a manifestation.”
Land of Little Rain (American Roots)
“Originally published in 1903, this classic nature book by Mary Austin evokes the mysticism and spirituality of the American Southwest. Vibrant imagery of the landscape between the high Sierras and the Mojave Desert is punctuated with descriptions of the fauna, flora and people that coexist peacefully with the earth.”
The History of Rasselas: Prince of Abissinia (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)
“Simply written, funny, and compulsively readable, this fine little book has been heralded as one of the finest examples of English prose and offers a compelling glimpse of Samuel Johnson’s moral views. Dashed out over the course of a single week to pay for his mother’s funeral, Johnson’s only novel was the outcome of a lifetime’s thoughts and experiences.
A philosophical romance tracing the pilgrimage of an African prince and his companions to Egypt, Rasselas ponders a number of subjects — romantic love, flights of imagination, the great discoveries of science, and speculations about the meaning of happiness — all of which, Johnson implies, encourage man with false hopes and unrealistic estimates of what life has to offer.
Directed specifically against eighteenth-century optimism and, more generally, against all simple formulas for achieving happiness, Rasselas has often been compared with Voltaire’s Candide — which was published only a few weeks before Johnson’s work. Both novels have deservedly attained the status of classics.”
A Tale of a Tub and Other Works (Oxford World’s Classics)
“From the author responsible for the satirical work of genius, A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift’s A Tale of a Tub is an allegorical work that follows three brothers after the event of their father’s death. When their father, who meant to be God, dies, the three brothers, Peter, Martin and Jack, inherit his will and each receive a decorative coat. Their father also leaves them instruction not to alter these coats in any way because doing so would be damaging for their futures. Despite this warning, the brothers not only quickly make alterations, they also police each other for their choices. Each brother represents one of the major branches of Christianity. Peter, who represents the Roman Catholic church, is the first to change the coat left to him in the will. He adds many embellishments, claiming that the garment is better because of it. Jack, who represents the Protestant church, and Martin, who represents Anglicans, follow their brother’s lead and also add to the coats. Their actions lead to arguments between the brothers, each feeling that they know what’s best for the coats. Feeling like they are being controlled by Peter, Jack and Martin reject him, and then try to undo the alterations made to their garments, furthering the damage to the clothing and to their relationship with each other.”
The School for Scandal and Other Plays (Oxford World’s Classics)
“Richly exploited comic situations, effervescent wit, and intricate plots combine to make Sheridan’s work among the best of all English comedy. This edition includes his most famous plays, The Rivals, The School for Scandal, and The Critic, as well as two lesser known musical plays, The Duenna and A Trip to Scarborough. A detailed introduction and notes on Sheridan’s playhouses and critical inheritance make this an invaluable edition for study and performance alike.”
She Stoops to Conquer (Dover Thrift Editions: Plays)
“This charming comedy has delighted audiences for over two centuries. First performed in 1773, it concerns Kate Hardcastle, a young lady who poses as a serving girl to win the heart of a young gentleman too shy to court ladies of his own class. A number of delightful deceits and hilarious turns of plot must be played out before the mating strategies of both Kate Hardcastle and her friend Constance Neville conclude happily. Along the way, there is an abundance of merry mix-ups, racy dialogue and sly satire of the sentimental comedies of Goldsmith’s day.”
Psalms (Tehillim) and Proverbs (Mishlei)
Rob Roy (Oxford World’s Classics)
“By turns thrilling and comic, Rob Roy contains Scott’s most sophisticated treatment of the Scottish Highlands as an imaginary space where the modern and the primitive come together. Newly edited from the `Magnum Opus’ text of 1830, this edition includes full explanatory notes and a critical introduction exploring the originality and complexity of Scott’s achievement.”
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Dover Thrift Editions) (Dover Thrift Editions: American History)
“Blessed with enormous talents and the energy and ambition to go with them, Franklin was a statesman, author, inventor, printer, and scientist. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and later was involved in negotiating the peace treaty with Britain that ended the Revolutionary War. He also invented bifocals, a stove that is still manufactured, a water-harmonica, and the lightning rod.
Franklin’s extraordinary range of interests and accomplishments are brilliantly recorded in his Autobiography, considered one of the classics of the genre. Covering his life up to his prewar stay in London as representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly, this charming self-portrait recalls Franklin’s boyhood, his determination to achieve high moral standards, his work as a printer, experiments with electricity, political career, experiences during the French and Indian War, and more.”
The Federalist Papers (Dover Thrift Editions: American History)
“The Federalist Papers were composed of essays written by three of the Constitution’s framers and ratifiers: Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury; John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States; and James Madison, father of the Constitution, author of the Bill of Rights, and fourth President of the United States. The series was published anonymously under the pen name “Publius,” in New York newspapers during the years 1787 and 1788 to persuade undecided New York state voters to ratify the new Constitution of the United States.”
The English Constitution (Oxford World’s Classics)
“Walter Bagehot’s The English Constitution (1867) is the best account of the history and workings of the British political system ever written. As arguments raged in mid-Victorian Britain about giving the working man the vote, and democracies overseas were pitched into despotism and civil war, Bagehot took a long, cool look at the “dignified” and “efficient” elements which made the English system the envy of the world. His analysis of the monarchy, the role of the prime minister and cabinet, and comparisons with the American presidential system are astute and timeless, pertinent to current discussions surrounding devolution and electoral reform. Combining the wit and panache of a journalist with the wisdom of a man of letters steeped in evolutionary ideas and historical knowledge, Bagehot produced a book which is always thoughtful, often funny, and surprisingly entertaining. This edition reproduces Bagehot’s original 1867 work in full, and introduces the reader to the dramatic political events that surrounded its publication.”
Peter the Great
“Parentage of Peter-His father’s double marriage-Death of his father-The princesses-Their places of seclusion-Theodore and John-Sophia uneasy in the convent-Her request-Her probable motives-Her success-Increase of her influence-Jealousies-Parties formed-The imperial guards-Their character and influence-Dangers-Sophia and the soldiers-Sophia’s continued success-Death of Theodore-Peter proclaimed-Plots formed by Sophia-Revolution-Means of exciting the people-Poisoning-Effect of the stories that were circulating-Peter and his mother-The Monastery of the Trinity-Natalia’s flight-Narrow escape of Peter-Commotion in the city-Sophia is unsuccessful-Couvansky’s schemes-Sophia’s attempt to appease the soldiers-No effect produced-Couvansky’s views-His plan of a marriage for his son-Indignation of Sophia-A stratagem-Couvansky falls into the snare-Excitement produced by his death-Galitzin-Measures adopted by him-They are successful.”
The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics)
“Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.”
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington
“In this thought-provoking look at George Washington as soldier and statesman, Richard Brookhiser traces the astonishing achievements of Washington’s career and illuminates how his character and his values shaped the beginnings of American politics.
Brookhiser recaptures the real George Washington in this against-the-grain biographical study that chronicles a remarkable quarter-century career in public life—a record of achievements that is virtually unmatched by any modern leader. Brookhiser recounts Washington’s heroic deeds as general and president, his temperament and training, and reflects upon his legacy.”
Lastly, my 8th grader will continue to work through her history program, Bookshark Level H, which is the second year of a 2 year world history cycle. Many of the themes touched upon in the books in this list have overlap, such as with Marie Antoinette, for example, and I had a feeling that this prior exposure would maintain my daughter’s interest. So these books are meant to supplement her historical studies as well as provide literature for her to dwell upon. She will also be reading from the Brave Writer Boomerang books, which I will eventually post about somewhere!
P.S. this kid is a READER. I cannot keep her in the books. These selections were made in light of that reality.
Thanks for reading!