Library Workout: The Ten Step Plan

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to exercise more? If you need a boost then the patented Putnam Library Workout may be for you! (Patent pending.)

Step one: Walk around the library! To add a little extra oomph, walk up and down the stairs to the library loft! One lap = 150 steps. (All steps calculated on Ms.  Sokoll’s Fitbit.)

Step two: Don’t just read that heavy textbook, lift it! In case you didn’t already know, your textbooks are super heavy! Use them to do some lunges.  

Step three: Have a quiet dance party! Check out and then rock out with a pair of library headphones! dancing on Make A Gif

Step four: Napping.  Don’t forget to take a break!

Step five: Stairs! We have TWO flights of stairs in the library.  Walk up to the library loft and while you’re up there, check out our Nobles Author Collection!

stairs on Make A Gif

Step five and a half: Once you’re in the loft, do some hot yoga! It’s 100 degrees up there!

Step six: Refuel with some delicious snacks courtesy of the librarians.  We have a wonderful selection of tea, water and half-eaten chocolate bars.

Step seven: Dead lifts. We are not sure what dead lifts are, but we think they involve lifting heavy things — maybe until you pass out. So lift some of our heavy books!

Step eight: Strengthen your grip with the library supplies.  Use staplers and hole punchers at no extra cost!

Step nine: Bench a box! If you want to be super strong like Mr.

In Your Ear – The Book Thief

This post is part of In Your Ear, a series of audio book reviews by guest blogger Gia Batty, Nobles Director of Academic Support. For more information about In Your Ear, click here.   book_thief The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Narrated by Allan Corduner 13 hours, 57 minutes Funny thing about this book is that I tried to actually read it a bunch of times over the last five years and I could never get past the first few chapters. I think the farthest I got was page 35 (of 550), and yet this was a book I wanted to read–a book about the power of words and how books could actually save your life. The Book Thief has been on Nobles’ required summer reading list for incoming seventh graders for many years. I wanted to read it for that reason too.  I also liked the actual shape of the book–it’s kind of squat and chunky– and it has a great cover, not the new one with the girl from the movie on it, the original cover with the dominos.  Sometimes I just know which books are good for listening to and which ones aren’t. I assumed this was a book to read, not to listen to–mostly because it was a book about books.  I thought I needed to actually turn the pages of this book as the characters did, to appreciate the drawings I knew were in there, but I was wrong. The Book Thief is a book to listen to, especially when Allan Corduner is reading it to you. You probably already know that the novel is narrated by Death, which is weird at first, but Corduner is good at putting the listener at ease and making this concept believable (or believable while listening, which is what we do when we read–we must suspend our disbelief). He’s also good with the German, which I think was part of my issue when I tried to read it on my own.  Corduner speaks German. His mother was German. Also interesting is that his mother escaped Nazi Germany with her family in 1938, which, I think, just adds to why he is so good at reading this book as it is essentially about a young girl’s experience of living in Germany at that time. I’ll give you some plot–but not too much, because I want you to listen to this book.  Liesel Meminger, “The Book Thief”, is taken in by foster parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann. Hans is awesome. He plays the accordion; he teaches Liesel to read; he comforts her when she can’t sleep; he’s gentle and brave. Rosa is feisty and foul-mouthed, and, we find out later, is “a good woman for a crisis,” which is key because there are many of those in this book. My favorite character is Liesel’s friend, Rudy Steiner, who, among other things, has deep love for both Liesel Meminger and the track star, Jesse Owens. Those are Rudy’s dominos on the cover of the book, by the way. And last, there is Max Vandenburg, a Jew who hides from the Nazis in the Hubermann’s basement. Max is a fighter, a writer, and a friend to Liesel. And there are books, lots of books, in this book. Lots of books and lots of words and they are all important. Liesel voraciously reads books to understand the world, she steals books, Max Vandenburg writes books for her, and ultimately, she writes her own book. Back to Allan Corduner, the narrator, and the reason why you should listen to this beautifully written story. His voice is deep and rich and raspy.  His is the voice of Death in this book, but, in the end, it is a voice of hope and wonder that tells the story of an incredible life. Gia’s Tip: If you do listen, do yourself a favor and keep a copy of the real book close by.

Introducing our newest feature – In Your Ear by Ms. Batty

I’m an avid reader and audiobook listener.  I have always loved listening to books–from storytime in preschool and Reading Rainbow in my living room to the books on cassette tapes in my Walkman and the many, many audiobooks I have downloaded to my various devices over the last decade.  I listen to books when I walk my dog, when I exercise, and while doing laundry.  Sometimes I listen on my way to school, and my family always listens to books together on our annual cross-country road trips. I love a good story and I love listening to them even more. Some of my all-time favorite audiobooks include The Great Gatsby, the one narrated by Tim Robbins, which concludes with the reading of a collection of letters written by F. Scott Fitzgerald that relate to the novel. I also love Pride and Prejudice narrated by Flo Gibson, which I listened to on my Walkman while on a trip to Italy with my family in 1994 and Bossypants, in which Tina Fey made me laugh out loud every 7 minutes.  I also need to include here the monthly New Yorker: Fiction podcast where Deborah Treisman, the fiction editor at the magazine, invites writers to choose a short story from the archives to read aloud and discuss.  In other words, subscribe immediately.

Celebrate Banned Books Week! Win a prize!

Today marks the start of Banned Books Week! Every year the American Library Association (ALA) dedicates a week to celebrating the freedom to read.  Specifically,  this week celebrates books that have been banned and challenged across the United States.

Nobles pets love to read!

Check out these great photos of Nobles pets and their favorite books! Thanks to everyone who sent in a photo.  dogs all over the world 1,3,6,7 (Ms.  Bradley’s Cat) 2 (Ms.  MacQuinn’s cat) 4 (Ms.  Weinstock’s dog) 5 (Ms. Bishop’s dog) 8, 11 (Ms.  Twohig’s dog and cat) 9 (Ms.

What were some of your favorite books/TV shows from this summer?

Welcome back! The Nobles community shares some of their top picks for books and TV shows that they read/watched over the summer. Greg Croak ’06, Director of Graduate Affairs: “In preparation for the release of the newest installment of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, I read the classic six-comic story arc The Infinity Gauntlet. It is one of Marvel’s most epic, classic story lines, involving hundreds of superheroes teaming up to take down the evil Thanos, who is a growing threat to the Cinematic Universe.”   Dean of Enrollment Management Jen Hines: “My new TV obsession – The Strain on FX. It’s post-apocalyptic, vampires and zombies all rolled up into one! (And I happen to have it on good authority that our wonderful librarians just ordered the books the series is based on :-)”   Admission Officer Brooke Asnis: “The movie “Chef”. Uplifting, hilarious, inspiring. The grilled cheese scene and the Cuban sandwiches will make your mouth water.  I hurried home after to recreate the three-cheese grilled cheese, and my kids and I devoured it!”   Director of Communications Heather Sullivan: The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene “Set at a New England boarding school, The Headmaster’s Wife explores loss, love and legacy —an intriguing use of an unreliable narrator, too.”   Science Teacher David Strasburger: The Good Lord Bird (James McBride) “The gleeful comedy is what hooked me in this farcical reimagining of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, but I came away with new curiosity about that historical moment and its key players, and new questions about the power of slavery to pervert human relations.”   Assistant Director of Communications Kim Neal: Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent “A bleak but brilliant historical fiction novel by a young Australian author, about the the final six months in the life of the last woman sentenced to capital punishment in Iceland. It unravels the mystery of the murder for which she’s sentenced, and explores the relationships she forges in her dwindling days.  TV: (Okay, I am years behind, but yay for Hulu!) ‘Friday Night Lights.’ I’m hooked on the character development and the cult(ure) of football in Texas.”   Medhanit Felleke ’17 “I read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and loved it! It was relatable (of course, to a fangirl like me) and absolutely adorable. I also read Paper Towns by John Green and it was amazing, as expected of John Green.”   Science Teacher Ross Henderson: “I read All the Light We Cannot See this summer. Best book I’ve read in a long time.  A beautifully written and beautifully crafted story that takes place in France and Germany in WWII.”   English Teacher Thomas Forteith: “Elmore Leonard died last spring, and I felt so guilty that I had never read one of his noir crime thrillers. I picked up Swag this summer. Grimly funny and very 70’s! I want to read Rum Punch next, the book that inspired Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.”   History Teacher Don Allard: “In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides. True story of 1870’s Arctic expedition by the USS Jeannette.”   Math Teacher Eric Nguyen: Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story, by Dame Daphne Sheldrick “This is a moving memoir about Sheldrick’s relationships — those with the people around her, and those with the many animals who came into her care — as she strove to perfect the art of saving elephants, rhinos, and other baby animals in the Kenyan wild.” Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning: Training for an Ultramarathon, from 50K to 100 Miles and Beyond, by Hal Koerner “Hal Koerner’s vast experience in the realm of ultrarunning makes this a must-read for anyone interested in testing one’s physical limits.”   Art Teacher Lisa Jacobson: “’Breaking Bad’ is keeping me up at night! It’s the darkest show I’ve ever watched, but it is so entertaining and well done. I am currently reading the novel, Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is the best book I’ve read in a while. Not only is it well written, but it’s a thoughtful, funny, revealing novel about race and nationality. (Can that really be true?) The background scene is a hair braiding salon in which the protagonist recalls her past including love, family and her immigration. A great book.”   History Teacher Fred Hollister: “Catching up on ‘Homeland,’ waiting for the return of ‘Newsroom,’ continue to like ‘The Divide,’ and enjoyed the short summer run of the ‘Innocent Initiative’ (originally called ‘The Divide’ also). Enjoyed reading Twisted (high school drama with some great twists) and I Am Malala (good day-to-day picture of the actions of the Taliban as they try to slowly but surely impose their will on the day to day life of, in this case, Pakistanis), as well as some classics on experiencing war up close: A Rumor of War (Philip Caputo/Vietnam), The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien/Vietnam) and War (Sebastain Junger/Afghanistan).”   Music Teacher Paul Lieberman: The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square by Ned Sublett. “A fascinating, deeply researched, and eye-opening narrative of the roles of France, Spain, England, and Africa in the creation of the unique culture of New Orleans and its music–from Bamboula to Funk–through the horrors of the slave trade.”   Business Office Associate Mary Wallace: “I read several books this summer. The one that stands out was A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. It is a captivating story about two women, both of whom survived unspeakable tragedies in Manhattan, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Their lives are separated by 100 years, but connected through their terrible losses and a colorful scarf.”   Librarian and Cheesecake Enthusiast Emily Tragert: “One of my favorite books this summer was A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.  When a Canadian writer finds a diary washed up on the shore near her house, she becomes engrossed in finding the diary’s author, a Japanese girl named Nao, as increasingly strange events begin to make her question her own reality. It’s a beautiful, mysterious book about faith, fate and the purpose of existence.”   Librarian Talya “reads way too many books” Sokoll “This summer I went on a road trip and had the opportunity to sit and read for many, many hours as my intrepid co-pilot navigated the Canadian Rockies. To that end, I read 25 books.  Some of my favorites were: Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews and Rethinking Normal by Katie Hill These two memoirs tell of Andrews and Hills experiences as transgender teens. They both transitioned around the same time and met each other and fell in love. Both of these memoirs vividly tell the incredible and moving stories of their authors and are a must-read. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King This is an amazing, bizarre book about a girl, Glory O’Brien, and her reluctance to plan for her future after graduating high school. All that changes when she drinks a liquified bat and is suddenly able, when she looks into a person’s eyes, see their entire history and future, including the future of what will happen to the world. And she does not like what she sees. The Family by David Laskin This fantastic nonfiction history, recommended to me by Mr.  Michael Denning, tells the tale of a Jewish scribe in 1850’s Russia and what becomes of his descendants.  Humorous, informative and sometimes heartbreaking, this book is impossible to put down.”   Spoorthi Balu ‘17: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – This was a great mystery with a surprising end. The Black List by Brad Thor – A fun thriller about how someone added Scot Harvath’s name to a government black list, and he has to figure out what is going on while avoiding government teams dispatched to kill him. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown – A fast-pace, thrilling read about the Illuminati.”   Librarian Erin “World’s #1 fan of Shiba Inus” Twohig: “As promised, from my summer’s reading to-do list, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Dan Barber’s The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food. If you are a fan of Michael Pollan, then this book is for you.

What did you read over winter break?

Welcome back!

Students, faculty and staff share what books, movies and TV shows they read over break. Spoiler alert! The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt was the most popular read. Read on to find out more.

English teacher Sarah Snyder:
Longbourn by Jo Baker “This clever imagining of the servants of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice was entertaining.”

Archvist Isa Schaff:
“I was in a mystery mood and wanted something to relax my mind, so I read Midnight at Marble Arch by Anne Perry, one of the latest installments of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, and The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith, the latest book of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I also reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (for the umpteen time).”

Art teacher John Dorsey:
“Finally finished 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami—what a behemoth!—but totally worth it. I loved the final chapters.”

Science teacher Muriel Schwinn: “I read (most of) Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. Her metaphors are on fire!”

Dean of Students Kate Ramsdell: Amsterdam by Russell Shorto “I am a nonfiction junkie and happen to have an obsession with Amsterdam, so if you are curious about how social history, art and architecture, politics, city planning, etc. come together in the ‘most liberal city in the world’ then this may be a book for you too.”

Learning Specialist Gia Batty:
“I read Where’d You Go Bernadette? a quick and funny story about losing and finding Bernadette Fox—wife, mother, architect…. It’s pieced together by Bee, a 15 year old, who compiles emails, articles, emergency room receipts to figure out where her mom went… The best part was the inside look into Microsoft (her hubs works there). I started watching ‘Orphan Black’, a BBC America show that focuses on this group of cloned women. The series follows one of them as she tries to figure out where she (they) came from. So good!”

Art teacher Kelsey Grousbeck:
“I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, quick read and lots to think about! I don’t usually love fantasy books, but this one guides you gently into fantasy before getting really weird. It’s like the build up to a huge tsunami of alternate realities. I really enjoyed it. It was great for a four hour plane ride. I also read Nick Offerman’s Paddle Your Own Canoe, full of raunchy life lessons and his slow yet steady rise to fame. It’s based mainly in woodworking and Chicago theatre antics. If you watch ‘Parks and Recreation,’ it’s impossible not to hear his Ron Swanson voice as you read the book, which is a major plus.”

English teacher Chris Burr:
“I read Double Down, the story of the 2012 presidential election.  Amazing to learn how fantastically disorganized and unprepared these political figures are, sometimes in the most critical moments. Same authors wrote Game Change, another eye opening analysis of the 2008 election.  I also read What It Takes—a reflection on what causes ordinary Americans to believe that they are meant to be president.  This is more of a late 80’s profile: Dole, Bush, Gephardt, Biden, Dukakis and Gary Hart. Wonderful but long. I watched ‘Sherlock Holmes’ on Netflix. Just watch the first ten minutes of the first episode. If your head is spinning know that you’re not alone. Hang in there. It’s worth it.”

History teacher Don Allard:
Sycamore Row by John Grisham “Classic Grisham tale of southern legal intrigue.”

English teacher Mal Goss:
Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi “This was a powerful and thoughtful book about race and how where you come from changes that point of view.”

Head of School Bob Henderson:
The Rise of Rome by Anthony Everitt “This is a terrific narrative history of Rome from its founding to the crisis of the republic in the period preceding the rise of Julius Ceasar.”

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly “The latest and best in The Lincoln Lawyer series, this is a highly entertaining and fast-paced legal thriller.”

English teacher Alden Mauck:
“I finished The Bounty by Caroline Alexander, which is quite good. Nonfiction is a break for me because I don’t underline or dog-ear pages; I don’t overthink my reading; and I read for the pleasure of learning something outside of my teaching. In this case, it included the famous standoff of Fletcher Christian and William Bligh, the miraculous survival of Bligh and some of his crew abandoned mid-ocean, the trial of the mutineers, the life and death of Christian on Pitcairn’s Island, and the post Bounty career of Bligh. A little slow at times, but well researched and interesting.”

English teacher Richard Baker:
Pale King by David Foster Wallace “An interesting tale about a fictional character named David Wallace who works in an IRS office, a job which is depicted as stultifyingly boring (I assume a metaphor for modern bureaucratic work).”

Unthinkable by Kenneth Pollock “A nonfiction. A case for containment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, although he considers the advantages and disadvantages of four other options. A very honest assessment.”

The Maid’s Version by Dan Woodrell “A fiction. I think Woodrell has improved as a stylist and I enjoyed his sentences more than the tale itself, which included different attitudes toward an explosion in a dance hall in the ’20s. Lots of Southern (Missouri) Gothic.”

Assistant Controller Rachel Weinstock:
“I read In Revere, In Those Days by Robert Merullo. It’s a beautifully written coming of age story about an Italian-American boy in the ’70s in Revere, Mass. I was touched and I identified with the main character even though my life was nothing like his.”

Receptionist Carol Derderian: “I read a crazy book over break—Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted, The Manhunt to Bring Him to Justice by Kevin Cullen + Shelley Murphy.”

Shirley Hu ’19:
“I watched ‘Bones.’ I was slightly grossed out but also creepily interested.  Solving the cases were really interesting. I also watched Rush Hour. I love this movie. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are hilarious and great actors. The plot is pretty well-developed and surprised me in many ways.

I read Adaptation by Malinda Lo on Overdrive. To my surprise, I really liked this book. It addresses some issues very well and the hidden quirks to each character make them easy to empathize with.”

Maria Maier ’14:
“I read The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse and absolutely loved the book. It’s a novel about a young boy who joins an elite society of intellectuals known for playing a mysterious game called “the glass bead game” that combines disciplines from music to mathematics. As the boy grows up and rises in the ranks of the society, he begins to question all that he has learned and wonders whether or not he should return to the outside world. It was beautiful.”

Library Director Erin Twohig: “I read Angelica Huston’s memoir, A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York. A beautifully written story about Huston’s childhood and early adult life. (I am excited for part two to be published!) I started The Flamethrowers, a novel that takes place in the 1970s about motorcycles and art, but I’m not a big fan just yet. I’m hoping it will win me over soon.”

Information Services and Systems Librarian Talya Sokoll: Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of the American Musical Theatre by John Bush Jones “This is an extensive look at the social history of musical theatre, or how what we see on stage does (or does not) reflect what is going on in society. I learned about the creation of many of my favorite shows and why some types of shows were more popular than others in certain decades. A must read for any fan of Broadway.

Collection Management and Technical Services Librarian Emily Tragert: “I had a long drive, so I listened to The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, which I enjoyed immensely. It’s the story of two young people competing in a deadly horse race—but the horses they ride are no ordinary horses: they’re water horses, a vicious, feral breed that comes from the sea.  This book is fantasy, but the author does an amazing job of creating a world that feels real and filling it with characters you can root for (or against!)”

Finally, a number of faculty members read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Here is what they had to say:

“This is such a compelling saga with gorgeous writing, well-worth the commitment of 784 pages.” —Sarah Snyder

“I loved this fun, gripping story and wish it never ended.” —Dan Halperin

“I am about 2/3 through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (courtesy of Nobles library.) I cannot put it down!” —Jennifer Hamilton

“I loved the underlying story about a boy’s relationship with a painting—or a memory, or his mother—but the author’s description of characters was what kept me glued to the story. I have no idea how Tartt got inside the mind and life of a traumatized teenage boy so well. Though I’m not totally resolved with the ending, I loved this book.” —Lisa Jacobson

“A fabulous, perfect book.

Best of 2014! – What did we like this year?

We asked the Nobles to community to give us their top five of anything this year. Here are their eclectic responses! And come check out the Best of 2014 display in the library if you would like to borrow anything suggested here! Art Teacher Lisa Jacobson: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie– interesting love story about race, country, family. Funny. I’ve gotten soft– I just don’t like reading books where children or animals are hurt.  That said (I’m a total hypocrite!) “Homeland” is such a good show! English Teacher Ashley Bradley:

  1. “90 Day Fiancé”
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  3. Before Your Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans
  4. Cronuts
  5. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

Assistant Director of Achieve Laura Steele:

  1. “Homeland” (TV series) –always keeps me on the edge of my seat. Just when you think you have it figured out they twist it all around!
  2. “Game of Thrones” (TV series)
  3. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett–I didn’t read it in 2014, but I love this dang book.
  4. “Shameless” (TV series) –makes me feel good about myself, LOL
  5. “Downton Abbey”(TV series) –guilty pleasure

Classics Teacher Mark Harrington:

  1. Book: Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, by Mark Harris. Five great directors, and what they did to serve in WW2… and how that service affected their careers afterwards. Good for classic film geeks. I gave it 4.5/5 on librarything.
  2. TV (from DVD): “Orphan Black.” Main actress plays about 4 or 5 characters in each episode — which is possible because she is a clone. Hysterical, really, with some weird pseudo-science thrown in. Weird enough for me to get hooked. I gave it 9/10 on imdb.
  3. Movie (in theater): Snowpiercer. Saw it at the Brattle with my sons. Again, weird dystopia — the boss woman on the train is hysterical, and John Hurt (Caligula from I Claudius) is always great. I gave it an 8/10 on imdb.
  4. Movie, DVD while giving blood platelets: San Francisco (1936), Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald. I wasn’t ready to like this one, but it surprised me — SF Earthquake was cool, and I had never heard of Jeanette MacDonald — or heard her sing. Not for everybody (B&W) but I liked it. I gave it 9/10 on imdb.
  5. TV series, “Rake” (the Australian version). The U.S. version barely made it through 10 episodes, but the Australian series was more acerbic and funny.  The court cases are interesting — who else but Rake could defend a cannibal? It made it through 3 seasons. I gave it 9/10 on imdb.

Medhanit Felleke ’17

  1. “FAIRY TAIL! “(Anime)
  2. Learning Japanese
  3. Bastille (band)
  4. Welcome to Nightvale (podcast)
  5. “Doctor Who” (TV show)

Kiara Curet ’17

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. “How to Get Away with Murder” (TV show)
  3. Mockingjay (movie)
  4. The Selection series by Kiara Cass
  5. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Campaign and Major Gifts Coordinator Anne Sholley ’07:

  1. Salad Days – Mac Demarco. This album came out last spring and suited the season’s mood perfectly — I love when that happens.
  2. Boyhood – Richard Linklater. Beautiful, remarkably tender, relatable at any age.
  3. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami. My first Murakami novel – I’m eager to read more by him. A quick and captivating read.
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson. I’ve been skeptical of his more recent films but this one restored all confidence.
  5. “Mad Men,” Season 7. This series has gotten stronger with age and I lament its pending finale.

Breene Halaby ’19

  1. Struck By Lightning (movie). It’s a very unique and profound little indie movie that makes you question your existence.
  2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (book). I expected it to be kind of embarrassing, but it turned out to be a really great story with really relatable characters.
  3. Big Hero 6 (movie) Adorable Disney movie with very multicultural characters and strong female characters!
  4. The Selection trilogy by Kiara Cass. I’m not even really sure if I liked these, but I read all 3 in about two days, so. It’s sort of like the Hunger Games, except without the murder. Also, the prize is to win a prince’s heart and to marry into the royal family of Illea. It’s the only story with a love triangle where I actually had no idea who the girl would choose.

Spoorthi Balu ’17

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy (movie)
  2. “Reign” (TV series)
  3. Big Hero 6 (movie)
  4. Mazzi Maz (YouTube star)
  5. “The Blacklist” (TV series)

Archivist Isa Schaff:

  1. I will have to go to a reread: Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen. Of the six Austen’s books, It is the most difficult to understand for modern audiences, and yet every time I read it, I find in it new depth, new nuances I had missed before. And Fanny, the poor heroine maligned by casual readers, becomes more and more real.
  2. I usually don’t go very much for short stories but “Astray”, by Emma Donoughue, captivated me and when I found myself imagining what happened after the end of each story, I knew I had a winner.
  3. How it All Began By Penelope Lively. The mugging of an elderly woman starts a chain of events that changes the lives of so many individuals close and far from her. In appearance, such a simple story and yet so profound in its implications, it left me wondering on the repercussions of apparently inconsequential events.
  4. Every Day by David Levithan. I am a big fan of YA literature and every year, one of my favorites always turn out to be a YA book. The idea at the heart of the book (waking up every morning in a different body) is so interesting and difficult to follow fully all the ramifications, but it is fascinating. I can’t wait for Rhiannon’s version of the story!
  5. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  There were so many candidates left for the last spot, that I am not so sure why I am picking this one. I can’t really say that I LIKED the book, and I doubt I will ever read it again, but I can’t let go of the stories, the dilemmas, the moral quandaries left without an answer… I know this is a book that will stay with me and I will keep going back to it in my mind, over and over again.

Samantha Walkey ’20 One of my favorite books of 2014 was Going Vintage. It had a cute plot and was a fun read. Prom was quite similar to it. I liked the progress of the book and the story was fun to read also. I also liked Before I Fall, which was a lot longer than Prom or Going Vintage, but it was a great action book and reminded me of the movie Groundhog Day (starring Bill Murray!). Some Assembly Required and Rethinking Normal were definitely my favorite books of 2014 because I loved hearing about Katie and Arin’s different points of view of the story and coming out about their transitions. All the books I’ve checked out over the year are really good and it was hard to pick which were my favorite! Bianca Thompson ’15 This year I loved Mockingjay (of course, such solid dramatic acting work), Edge of Tomorrow (SO COOL AND THRILLING), “Orphan Black” (season 2 OMG perfect show; it’s brilliant acting), “Orange is the New Black” (funny and I’m obsessed with all the inmates’ characters), 22 Jump Street (a stupidly fun movie, I honestly liked it better than the first). Art Teacher John Dorsey:

  1. Book: The Martian, Andy Weir. Super fun ride into space via ingenuity and dark humor.
  2. Movie: Boyhood, Richard Linklater, director. Touching movie that stayed in my consciousness for weeks.
  3. Music: The Breeze, an appreciation of JJ Cale. JJ Cale passed in 2013 and this is a wonderful tribute album.
  4. Web: Twisted Sifter – by far, the best mix of art, science, storytelling, and cat videos out there.
  5. TV: “World Cup 2014” – I love seeing teams from all over the world compete on the global stage played out over four weeks.

Ariana Wasret ’17

  1. All the CW shows
  2. TRXYE by Troye Sivan (album)
  3. The Hidden Series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  4. “Sherlock” (TV series)
  5. Sweaters

Head of the Upper School Michael Denning:

  1. The Family: Three Journeys Into the Heart of the Twentieth Century by David Laskin. Beautifully written, Laskin’s book chronicles his family’s tragic and triumphant history during the twentieth century.  Set initially in Volozhin, the famous yeshiva town located in what is today the Minsk area of Belarus, The Family takes its readers through the story of three branches of a Torah scribe’s family as they struggle through the horrors, challenges and triumphs of the twentieth century in Europe, Israel and the United States. While the branch that immigrates to America realizes tremendous successes– particularly as they found and grow Maidenform, one of the great companies of the last century– the family members who settle in what was then known as Palestine embrace many of the opportunities and challenges that emerge during the twentieth century in that part of the world, including the rise and fall of the British Mandate and the birth of the State of Israel. Most difficult is reading about the fate of the branch of the family that remains in Volozhin. After surviving the anti-semitism and the pogroms of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this community suffers immeasurably during the Holocaust, and Mr. Laskin renders this all-too-familiar horrific story in a way that really impacted me. My wife, Emily, gave this book to me as a gift; it was my favorite of the year.
  2. Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War I in 1914 by Christopher Clark. On the centennial of the outbreak of the Great War, Cambridge historian Christopher Clark revisits the question of why World War I begins, arguing that historians have underestimated the role played by militant nationalistic groups in the Balkans, historical contingencies, and the lack of understanding on the part of the great-power diplomats of the events transpiring around them. While many of Clark’s conclusions are not what I would describe as new, his work deepens and broadens our understanding of the period and the historical events that precipitated this horrific conflict’s outbreak.
  3. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. In this acclaimed biography of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mr. Metaxas examines the famous German theologian’s life from his upper-class upbringing to his training as a Lutheran pastor and academic theologian to his founding of Germany’s Confessing Church to his protests against the Nazi regime. For his role in the plot to assassinate Hitler in July of 1944, Bonhoeffer is executed in April of 1945, just two weeks before the allies liberate the prison camp in which he is held. In his work, The Righteous, the historian Sir Martin Gilbert encourages us to work to better understand those inside racist, fascists regimes–the righteous– who risked and gave their lives to save others and who spoke our against injustice, bigotry and genocide. And it is with this idea in mind that I commend to you Bonhoeffer and this work.
  4. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Set in 2009, July 1942 and the ensuing decades of the 20th century, Sarah’s Key is a moving, tragic story that raises questions about guilt, memory, culture, justice and much more. In her moving prose, Ms. de Rosnay brings to life a too-little known part of French history, raising along the way important questions about how we know and learn about history. BTW: The film version of the book is very good, too.
  5. The Book Thief (film and novel). Along with JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, this is an amazing movie version of a great book. Markus Zusak is a master storyteller who uses multiple narrators in captivating ways. In a manner found only in great works of fiction, this book and movie bring to life the experience of regular, good people living and dying during one of history’s most horrific periods.

Information Systems and Services Librarian Talya “the cold never bothered me anyway” Sokoll:

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy (movie) – I legit saw this movie in theaters 400 times. And I listen to the soundtrack on a daily basis.
  2. The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond – What would life be like if the Hitler and Third Reich had won WWII?
  3. This performance from Glee season 5. And this one. This one too! And this one! Also this one (from season 3, not 2014 but still awesome).
  4. Finding Neverland the musical. So breathtaking.
  5. The Unwind series by Neal Shusterman – no spoilers on this one, check it out on your own.

Collection Management and Technical Services Librarian Emily “winter is coming” Tragert:

  1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (book)–Historical fiction exploring the intertwining lives of two children–one French, one German–during the second world war and how their lives are changed by world events. Really beautiful prose.
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (movie)–I love superhero movies, and this was a great one. This spot almost went to Guardians of the Galaxy, but Captain America’s great villains and awesome action sequences put it over the top (but you should probably watch Guardians of the Galaxy too.)
  3. Whiplash (movie)–Engrossing story of a drumming prodigy and his mentor. This movie asks the question, “Can you go too far in pursuit of greatness?”
  4. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (book)–A Canadian writer finds a diary belonging to Nao, a Japanese teenager, washed up on the shore near her home. As she becomes more engrossed in Nao’s strange account of her life, the writer starts to wonder about the nature of narrative and reality. Chock-full of strangeness and deep questions about life.
  5. “Welcome to Night Vale” (podcast)– In turns absurd, philosophical and hilarious,this podcast is simply delightful. It takes the form of a community radio show for the (fictional) town of Night Vale, “a friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep.” Night Vale is a place where every strange, Lovecraftian conspiracy theory is actually true–sort of Lake Wobegon meets Stephen King. Also check out their Twitter.

Library Direction Erin “polar vortex again?” Twohig

  1. Magazine: Mother Earth Living
  2. TV show: “The Affair”
  3. TV show: “Fixer Upper”
  4. Movie: Grand Budapest Hotel and Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued.
  5. Book: Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders (Forget enlightenment.  Focus on kindness.)
  6. Book: Cooked by Michael Pollan

Reilly Macdonald ’17

  1. Lorde – a new outlook on pop music.
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy – good sound track, acting and everything else.
  3. FROZEN – because FROZEN
  4. Maze Runner, Fault in Our Stars – love the books; LOVED the movies

Grady Zink ’15

1. Fall Out Boy, Centuries. 2. Bagelville on Rt. 1. 3. Blank Space by Taylor Swift

Sam Parizeau ’15

1. The Hunger Games 3 (Mockingjay) 2. Pitbull World Takeover Tour 3. The New Mars Rover

Billy Sweezy ’15

1. ACDC’s new album 2. The free U2 album on iTunes 3. Hoagies on Rt. 1

Saffiyah Coker

My top 5 TV shows are 1.” Supernatural” – my friend introduced me to it earlier this year and I couldn’t stop watching it. 2. “Sherlock” – there are not enough words to describe my love for this show. 3. “Merlin” – one of my favorite BBC Shows EVER. 4. “Doctor Who” – I don’t really know how to describe my love for this show. AMAZING. 5. “New Girl” – LOVE it, it is really funny.

My top books are
1. The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake
2. The Lies we Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – Classic, I can’t stop reading this one. EVERY TIME, I cry.
4. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
5.The Kite Runner by Khaleed Hosseini – this was one of those books where you are so emotional that you never want to read it again; I feel sad thinking about it.
6. The Maze Runner (ALL OF THEM) by James Dashner
7. The Fault in our Stars by John Green – TEARS
8. Paper Towns by John Green – I personally love all of John Green’s books because I am really into romance novels.
9. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page – it is a great rendition of The Wizard of Oz; it’s like, action-packed.
10. The whole Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordon
11. A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass
12. Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney
13. In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg
14. Chicken Boy by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Get to know… Jen Hines


Ms. Hines might be well known for her role here in the admission office, but did you know she is also an avid reader? She is one of the most frequent visitors to the Putnam Library and her reading interests span multiple genres and styles. Read on to find out more about Ms.  Hines.

What is your job here at Nobles? Dean of enrollment management.

How long have you been at Nobles? This is my 13th year.

Where did you grow up?
While my youngest years were spent on military bases, I primarily grew up in Amherst, Mass. I have wonderful memories from growing up there and to this day, my closest friends are the ones I have from my years in Amherst.

What are a few of your favorite books?
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (the first book where I saw a kid that looked like me in the pictures), And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, The Stand by Stephen King, Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling—I could go on and on.

What was your favorite book you read as a teenager? I read Animal Farm by George Orwell for school in the fifth grade.  I wasn’t quite a teenager then but it was the first experience I had reading a book that made me question what I thought I knew to be true.  Reading it probably marked the end of my childlike “innocence” about the world and how it worked.

What is your favorite movie? So hard to choose…  It’s a tie between 12 Monkeys and 12 Years a Slave, I guess. Interesting that they both have 12 in the title. Anyway, I will never again watch 12 Years a Slave, but I think it is one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

What is your favorite magazine or newspaper? Mental Floss.  The writers seem to think of everything that I always wanted to know but didn’t realize it.

If you were on a deserted island, what three things would you like to have with you? An MP3 player that could hold my entire music collection (currently at 35,000 songs and counting), my Kindle with all of the books I’ve been “meaning to read” and my wife.  I should mention that I’d want unlimited battery life on the devices. 🙂

Do you read ebooks and/or audiobooks? If yes, what do you like about them? I do. I love them. When I had a longer commute to Nobles, audiobooks made the drive more tolerable. I love the “portability” of ebooks. It’s great being able to travel with multiple books on one device. I have the Kindle Paperwhite which is great for reading at night and not disturbing my spouse.

What genres do you like the most and why?
As my friends in the Nobles library will tell you, I am into anything dystopian. While I am both terrified of the many ways that authors have imagined the end of the world as we know it, I’m fascinated by the ways that they imagine people survive and overcome obstacles.

If you could write a novel, what would it be about? Time travel!

What topics would you like to see more books about? My problem is that there are so many books that I want to read that I don’t make the time to read.

Be sure to stop by the library to check out some of Ms.

Get to Know… John Gifford

JohnGifford_ClassroomHe’s the head of the middle school, but did you know that John Gifford is also an avid collector of award-winning children’s books? When we found out that Mr. Gifford had an impressive collection of books honored with the Newbery Medal and Caldecott Medal, we knew that we had to feature them in the library and learn more about this unique hobby. In this post, Mr.  Gifford answers some of our questions about what sparked his fascination.

The Newbery Medal is given annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The Caldecott Medal is also given annually by ALSC to the “most distinguished American picture book for children.”

What started your interest in collecting Newbery and Caldecott winning books?
It was born from a dash of nostalgia and academic interest. I graduated from college with a Massachusetts certification to teach kindergarten through third grade.  Part of my studies involved a great deal of research into what young kids were reading and how they impacted literacy skills.  With that said, I remembered many favorites from my own childhood through young adult reading. As a child, I loved books by authors like James Marshall and Maurice Sendak. They were visually beautiful with such fantastic stories. Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series and L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time carried me through to middle school.

In my 20s, I went to any used bookstores that I could find. There was this hole in the wall in Connecticut where I found an old copy of Wrinkle in Time.  It got me interested in collecting the books from my childhood that I loved most, and that morphed into collecting winners of Newbery and Caldecott, which are deemed the best for this type of literature.

What is your favorite book in the collection?
That is difficult. I do think that Louis Sachar’s Holes is pretty brilliant.

Have you read all the books?
Not all, I have too many other books that I want to read. But it helps to have two young daughters that are still willing to let me read to them before bed.  I’m working through the ones that I haven’t read (and re-reading some that I have) with them.

How do you anticipate what this year’s winners will be?
I have some sense of the books that might be in contention, but not much. There are people who spend a lot of time trying to predict who will win, but I usually spend my time checking out the winners after they’ve been announced.

Do you have any techniques for getting a first edition of a book?
As bibliomania has set in, I’m looking for the first printings of the books. That is the only trick.  Most publishers use a string of numbers on the copyright page. If there is a “one” starting off the series, it is probably a first printing. I try to get out the weekend after the awards are announced and see if I get lucky at the big book stores. Otherwise, I need to search in the used book online marketplace. That can get expensive, so I try not to because sellers have a sense that this sort of thing is interesting to maniacs like me.

How do you display or protect the books in your collection?
I slap one of those clear mylar covers over the book jacket–just like what our trusty librarians do. That’s all.  Well, that and I tell my children that if they mess up my books, they are in big trouble. They tell me to get over myself.

What do you like to read for fun in general?
I always get the Best American Science essays each year. I like reading history and need to restart my effort to read presidential biographies in reverse order (I’m stuck on Van Buren!). That makes up most of my reading along with these classics that I read to my girls.

Thanks, Mr.