During high school, I took both of the aforementioned courses. I passed both, with a three – meaning that although I did receive the AP Language credit in my college, I was not able to receive my AP Literature credit, nor the humanities credit that would have accompanied it. Oh well.

Emaciated Siddhartha. (photo by ancientartpodcast.org)

Emaciated Siddhartha. (photo by ancientartpodcast.org)

In any event, I was able to get by in AP Lit as a result of things that I had read my junior year – during my AP Language class. And even then some, because my World Religions class forced me to read a book that I now revere as one of my favorites: Siddhartha.

These are books that are universal concepts that you can use to ace those courses at the end of the year. After all, we’re about to hit Thanksgiving and Christmas break – and after that, things get pretty hectic in the AP world.

#1. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Tim O’Brien is an author who focuses on narrations based on his own stories. Honestly, no one could make up stories about war without having lived through it. The Things They Carried is all about the stories, trials, and tribulations of living through the Vietnam war. I read this while I was in AP Language.

#2. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

I can’t explain to you in a couple sentences why this book is so great. In fact, that’s why I wrote about it here. Go check it out!

#3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Another absolute gem in the literature world, Oscar Wilde follows through narration based on his own life. We can find ways to look at Dorian as almost a mirror image of Wilde. The story follows through an incredibly beautiful man who essentially makes a Faustian pact, trading youth and vigor in appearance for life.

#4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I actually forgot all about this book until I scouted my mind for the titles of good books that I would personally recommend for AP Lang or Lit. The funny thing about this book is that I actually read it in my required freshman year reading course. It just goes to show that you can start reading literature to help you in your later years as soon as possible. No, in freshman year I had no clue that I would use it to my advantage. But it’s an awesome event in retrospect.

#5. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

The reason that it’s important to have a really old work like this in your mental library of books that you’ve read and know about is simply because there’s no escaping it on the AP exams. You’re going to want to familiarize yourself with less than modern diction and colloquialism to get through.

Now, the best advice I ever got involving any AP test was to pick three books and know everything about them. Everything. Although you’ll want to avoid too much summary in your essays, it’s the best way to build the foundation to talk about everything else.

Search these titles through textbooks.org, and you may find yourself at the end of this year with a 3, 4, or 5 on your AP test!