Needed: Novel Recommendations

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37 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    My guess is that this is in not appropriate as it is fiction and takes place in modern times, but Lord of the FLies was the first thing that popped into my head in terms of 7th grade level books about how people form governments and religion.Report

  2. Maribou says:

    He might want to take a look at Peter Dickinson’s The Kin. Not one of my all-time faves, but it’s topically right on target, aimed at teens, and I did like it.

    From the synopsis on Goodreads:

    “It is two hundred thousand years ago. A small group of children are cut off from their Kin, the Moonhawks, when they are driven from their “Good Place” by violent strangers. While searching for a new Good Place, they face the parched desert, an active volcano, a canyon flood, man-eating lions, and other Kins they’ve never seen before. Told from four points of view, with tales of the Kins’ creation interspersed throughout, this epic novel humanizes early man and illuminates the beginning of language, the development of skills, and the organization of society.”Report

  3. Murali says:

    The trouble with using fiction to talk about government is that people can make up the rules. When people make up the rules, command economies actually would work (what happenned to the calculation problem?) Enacting punitive taxes won’t backfire etc.

    Look at this for a list of economics errors in fiction.

    Anyway, AFAIK, L.E. Modesitt Jr’s Recluse series does a reasonable job (for fictional work) of comparative political economy without going into strawmen.Report

  4. Patrick Cahalan says:

    Does it have to be a novel? “Guns, Germs, and Steel” is digestible by 7th graders, I imagine, with effort.

    Murali’s suggestion of “The Magic of Recluse” is probably a good one. The Pern books, overall, sort of match what you’re talking about but you’d have to skip to 3/4 of the way through the series to get the book you want, and then half the story wouldn’t make sense.Report

  5. Patrick Cahalan says:

    You know what? I bet there’s a “Star Trek” novelization that would work.

    Uller Uprising is in the Gutenberg Project. That’s more of a “East India Company” novel than “early civilizations”, though.Report

    • MikeSchilling in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

      If you have Usenet access, James, ask this on rec.arts.sf.written. (You can probably also access that through Google Groups using your gmail account.) If you do, try to avoid the endless political arguments there, though if you can’t you’ll see why my default assumption used to be that anyone calling himself a libertarian had an IQ of about 50.Report

  6. MikeSchilling says:

    Samuel R. Delany’s first volume of Neveryona stories would be prefect for this, as it deals in detail with things like the transition from a barter economy to a money-based economy, except for two things:

    1. It’s pitched well above the 7th-grade level
    2.One of its other main themes is gay bondage.Report

    • But other than that, yeah, totally have your junior high school kid read it.Report

      • zic in reply to Burt Likko says:

        But it’s a really good read.Report

        • MikeSchilling in reply to zic says:

          A lot of it’s brilliant, but it does get tiresome the sixth or seventh time you get partway into a story and think “So, this one’s about bondage too. What a coincidence!”Report

          • zic in reply to MikeSchilling says:

            My favorites are Dhalgren where folk walk around wearing holograms and Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand.

            But. . . for James’ purpose, a href=””>Deus Irae by Roger Zelazny and Phillip K. Dick might be just the ticket. As I recall, there’s a scene where giant cock roaches are worshipping a VW hulk, but it’s been some time since I read it.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to zic says:

              You know, ” cock roaches” brings to mind a totally different image than “cockroaches.” But maybe that’s just me and my twisted mind. 😉Report

              • zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                spelling is not my strength; so feel free to be amused.

                But really, if you find the book, read it. Because like your mind, it’s twisted.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to zic says:

                Thanks all. I’ve sent my former student the URL, and I’m sure he’ll appreciate the suggestions.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Well, that reply turned up in the wrong spot. It was supposed to go at the bottom and refer to everyone who made suggestions.

                What was supposed to go in this spot was a thanks for the P.K.D. suggestion. I’m not a big sci fi guy, but I have enjoyed some of his books, and I suspect I would enjoy this one, too.Report

              • zic in reply to James Hanley says:


                FYI, I learned everything I needed to know to comprehend theoretical physics reading co-author, Zelazny’s Chrinicles of Amber while a teen. It just made sense, because Roger laid it all out for us in a walk from disorder to pattern to chaos and back. A nice, swashbuckling sort of walk, I might add, with zombie-like monsters who’s joints bend the wrong way and mushroom rings and jeweler’s polish that explodes where it’s not supposed to and magic cards.Report

  7. zic says:

    Salmon Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories.Report

  8. Dan Miller says:

    I’ll second Lord of the Flies. I was assigned to read it in the summer after 8th grade (this was about 15 years ago), so there’s precedent.Report

  9. JMS says:

    There is not a lot to choose from. But I would recommend “Alexander the Great: Master of the Ancient World (Wicked History).” It is a pbk book, only 128 pages and costs $5.95. You could use the book and show clips from Michael Wood’s “In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great” DVD. I think any 7th graders would be intrigued.Report

  10. Just Me says:

    Empire of Man series by David Webber / John Ringo . Paratime series (Lord Kalven of Otherwhen) by H. Beam Piper. W. Michael Gear (archaeologist)/ Kathleen O’Neal Gear has some books on the first American’s that I like that. The last series is based on archaeological and anthropological findings.Report

    • Just Me in reply to Just Me says:

      Or the Earth’s Children series…I had to have been around 7th grade when I first read Clan of the Cave bears. I would recommend the second book (The Valley of the Horses) or the last (The Land of Painted Caves). May be a little wordy for a class though.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Just Me says:

        Hooboy – I would suggest the Earth’s Children books might be a little 50 shades of grey for a class of 7th graders 😀 – I was that age when I read ’em too, but I can just see the parents freaking out…
        Your suggestions are giving me some good memories of my own recreational reading, though.Report

        • Just Me in reply to Maribou says:

          I agree that they may be too “50 shades of grey” especially the first book. I lived out in the country. Once a month mom would take me to the big city library. I would fill up a bag with books. I don’t think they knew exactly what all I was reading. Probably better that way too.Report

  11. MaxL says:

    It’s been awhile, but Bruce Chatwin’s “The Songlines” might be a good choice.Report

  12. Mike Dwyer says:

    Since he is asking about early humans I would recommend a couple classics from my anthropology days. Both good reads.

    Clan of the Cave Bear

    I highly recommend Dance of the Tiger

    Good resource here:

  13. IrisUWS says:

    My son was assigned this novel early in 6th grade. Not exactly “early human” and perhaps not quite up to 7th grade level, but worth a look:
    The Girl Who Owned a City, O. T Nelson