Hello! It’s almost time for Thanksgiving break! And if you are looking for ways to fill all your extra time, try one of these books recommended by your librarians and co-leaders of the Upper School book club! Recommended by Ms. Tragert You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson This is a hilarious and smart memoir from comedian and actress Phoebe Robinson. The essays in this book cover everything from the challenges and triumphs of Robinson’s career as a black female stand-up comedian, to her thoughts on beauty, pop culture and sports, to wise, funny advice to her baby niece. A fun, silly read that still makes you think–and the audio book is fantastic too! The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane Macfarlane is one of my favorite nature writers, and he doesn’t disappoint in this lyrical book of essays about his search for what he calls ‘genuinely wild’ places across the British Isles. This lovely, thoughtful book mixes history, literature and the author’s own travelogue to beautiful effect and is a great read for lovers of nature and the outdoors. Recommended by Mariama-Alexis Camara Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr Anyone looking for a great read with action and romance, where you’ll fall in love with all the characters (whether you want to or not) should read Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. This book is about a girl who has always been able to see fairies, but not your average fairies who help people and grant wishes. Aislinn watches these fairies trip people and cause accidents but she can’t react because if they knew she could see them she would be in danger. Her secret doesn’t stay hidden for long when she meets the Summer King, who believes Aislinn is the first love of his life in his 900 year existence. This book follows her struggle to choose which guy she should be with, and whether she should prioritize her own emotions or the lives of millions of people who don’t even know they’re in danger from these unseen creatures. This book sent me on an emotional roller coaster and I loved every minute of it! Recommended by Ms. Sokoll Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan Continuing in the mythological reinterpretation tradition of Riordan’s other series, this series, based on Norse mythology follows Magnus Chase, the son of Frey, the god of fertility. A huge fan of mythology, I love the way Riordan weaves in different cultural traditions to create a thoroughly modern tale. This series is particularly thrilling, as Magnus and his friends hunt down Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor, while trying to outwit a seemingly never ending band of people who want to kill them, most terrifyingly, Loki, the parent of Magnus’ best friend Samirah. Additionally, the novel is set in Boston, so it was super fun seeing all of my favorite locations (including Anna’s Taqueria!) pop up over the course of the novel. Recommended by Ms. Twohig-Canal Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman I have two confessions. 1.) I’m not a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy and 2.) I like short-stories. I know, gasp, short stories. Surely I’m not alone? I recently read the perfect mix of tales for on-the-fence SF and fantasy non-ish fans: Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning. A great book for a winter’s eve, Gaiman takes readers on a journey around the world (Isle of Skye, anyone?) to a time that is almost like our own but ends with a magical twist, a haunt, a “could that really happen?” My favorites are “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountain” about a daughter who has gone missing and a cave that contains tainted gold; “An Invocation of Incuriosity” – a tale of time travel; and “Orange” a story that involves a lot of tanning lotion. Read them, if you dare, and then let’s discuss! Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson One of my favorite novels of 2016 is Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. This is a beautiful poetic story about friendship and adolescence that takes place during the 1970s in pre-hipster Bushwick, Brooklyn. Woodson allows you to be part of the neighborhood – you’ll feel the summer sun on your face, the water from the fire hydrant spraying at your feet, and hear the soft hum of Stevie Wonder’s song “Sir Duke” floating through the air. This is a quick read but requires one to read between-the-lines. Recommended by Ariana Wasret ’17 Pinehurst by Nicole Grane Pinehurst is about a 16 year old girl brought to a school for students with magic. It rapidly becomes apparent that her magic is far more advanced than her peers. She works to become the only female Slayer with the help of her personal trainer, Antonio. When her father goes missing, Antonia becomes her best ally and love interest in her quest to find her father. Pinehurst is a fun and imaginative book, you will fall in love with all of the characters as they each have their own depth and fun personalities.
Just a sampling of what Nobles community members enjoyed over the summer. Swing by the library to check any of them out! History Teacher Michael Herring: The podcast “Welcome to Nightvale.” It is really odd yet tremendously funny. I liken it to old time, pre TV radio broadcasts. It chronicles a desert town in which very odd things happen. Perhaps think of a hybrid ( or amalgamation) among “Seinfeld,” “The Twilight Zone,” and “X Files.” The main character is a radio DJ who highlights the daily news and comings and goings of the townsfolk. The book of the same name is even funnier. Dean of Diversity Erica Pernell: The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin is amazingggggg. History Teacher Brian Day: Best book that I read this summer: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. The book does a good job describing the struggles of and the culture of the poor, white working class in the Midwest. In the midst of this election cycle, it gives good insight into why Democrats have been losing this traditional voting block. Best show that I watched: “Night Of.” This HBO show is incredibly well acted with a very interesting story line that analyzes how the criminal justice system affects those caught up within it. Dean of Diversity Edgar Deleon ’04: “MR. ROBOT”— life changing. History Teacher Sara Masucci: Malcolm Gladwell’s new podcast series “Revisionist History” was a favorite of mine this summer. This series is riveting — not sure that’s an adjective applied to podcasts with too much regularity —- but it fits here. In each episode, Gladwell revisits something from the past — an event, a person, an idea — and explores what might have been overlooked. In one podcast he tries to figure out why great ideas don’t always catch on. For example, did you know that if a basketball player makes foul shots underhanded she or he can radically improve their effectiveness as a free throw shooter? Wilt Chamberlain proved this…yet, almost no players ever do this. Episode topics range all over — sports, creativity, college dining… Director of EXCEL Ben Snyder: I would strongly recommend Tribe by Sebastian Junger, a short and powerful book about the responsibilities we have to one another as members of the American “tribe” and the problems and challenges for us individually and collectively when those responsibilities are not met. Director of Academic Service Gia Batty: I read and listened to a lot of books this summer. Here are a few things I’d recommend: The Girls by Emma Cline This short little novel by phenom Emma Cline was a great summer read. The Girls follows the life of Northern California teenager Evie Boyd as she falls into a Manson Family-esque cult. I loved so much of Cline’s writing and style, especially how she was able to capture the specific girl-ness of seeing or feeling — the way it feels to be angry or sad or confused or even the way you look at older girls… This will definitely be disturbing to parents of girls, but it’s well-written (almost to a fault…you’ll see what I mean if you read it) and compelling. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi I read this book for two reasons — my monthly book club guilt and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates wrote a great piece on the book which precipitated a woman in my club to choose it. While, I wanted to give up on it a few times while reading, I’m glad I finished it. Homegoing follows the lives and heirs of two half sisters born in 18th century Ghana; one is sold into slavery and the other marries a English slave trader. The novel takes you through generations of the sisters’ offspring right through the present day, from the Gold Coast’s slave trade and colonization to America’s plantations, Great Migration, life in Pratt City, Alabama and Harlem, right through to the present day. It is definitely a journey to read this book — at some points horrifying and others hopeful. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro I literally picked this book up because I liked the cover and I read it in two days. This is a disturbing, gripping, well-written dystopian/science fiction/horror story about a group of children at a seemingly idyllic boarding school in England. I don’t want to give away too much about who they are or why they’re there or what happens to them when they grow up, but if you do read it, I’d love to talk to you about it! Jennifer Do-Dai ’21 I read The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. It was about two twins, Sophie and Josh Newman, who discover that their employers were Nicholas and Pernelle Flamel when Dr. John Dee uses magic to fight Nicholas at the bookstore. Pernelle is captured by Dee and Nicholas takes the twins to learn magic. I really liked the books in the series because it had non-stop action and it kept making you want to read more. I also found the references to real life people interesting. History Teacher Nahyon Lee: I watched “Stranger Things” on Netflix. Great sci fi/thriller with a big shout out to the 1980s. Loved the character Barb who has become a bit of a cult sensation. Definitely watch only when you have time for a weekend binge. Read Hans and Rudolf by Thomas Harding. Biography about Hans Alexander who was a Nazi hunter and Rudolf Hoss who was the Kommandant of Auschwitz. The book is written as a thriller and is a page turner, while revealing the mind of someone who oversaw the murder of more than one million people. One of the best books I read this summer. Science Teacher Bob Kern: I read a book called The Boys in the Boat which is the story of how an unlikely group of young men from the University of Washington traveled to Berlin Germany in 1936 and captured the Olympic Rowing competition. It was inspirational and an interesting look into the world of rowing. Related to this book was a PBS documentary called the Boys of ’36 which told the same story on film. Latin Teacher Meghan Glenn: This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick. I just adored this book. It is about a woman who was a chronic mover. After her husband took a job as a professor in Blacksburg, VA, she decided enough was enough. Instead of always searching for the perfect town, she would make herself fall in love with her town. Even though this was a daunting task, Melody wrote a how-to guide for readers. This place made me think about all the wonderful things happening in Dedham, and even inspired me to be more involved with my town. I am not one for non-fiction, but I could not put it down! Director of College Counseling Kate Ramsdell: I am still reading but totally engrossed in: Common Ground, by J. Anthony Lukas. As Louis Barassi recently said to me, “You can’t understand Boston today without reading that book.” He’s absolutely right. IMHO, it’s a must read for any resident of the greater Boston area — filled with incredible insight into the political and social history of the city, it also includes a thread that follows the Charlestown McGoff family though the 1960s and 1970s — Meg and Danny McGoff graduated from Nobles, and I was Meg’s advisor. 🙂 Math Teacher Bill Kehlenbeck: Inspired by last summer’s community reading of A Walk in the Woods, I read two more Bill Bryson books this summer: At Home: A Short History of Private Life and A Short History of Nearly Everything. I enjoyed each one immensely – both were informative and highly entertaining. I think I’ve now read at least 15 of Bryson’s works, and have not yet been disappointed. History Teacher Jennifer Carlson-Pietraszek The Untethered Soul. Recommended, twice, by a trusted friend who is also a reiki master. Worthwhile if you are interested in this blurb: “What would it be like to be free from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to find this kind of inner peace and freedom? The Untethered Soul offers a simple, profoundly intuitive answer to these questions.” Annika Harrington ’18: This summer, I read Unbroken, a biography about Louis Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand. Zamperini was training to run the mile in the 1940 Olympics and was predicted to break several world records, when the Olympics were suddenly cancelled due to WWII. He then entered the Air Force, but his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean and he was captured by the Japanese. His story of survival and spirit is inspiring, and Hillenbrand does a great job recounting his life. Even though I normally only read biographies for school, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read. I found Louis Zamperini’s life fascinating, and Hillenbrand’s ability to tell his incredible tale made the read that much more enjoyable. Hillenbrand was not simply recounting Zamperini’s life and his accomplishments and stating facts about him — she told a story. She built up suspense and made the book a page turner while keeping it factual and informative. Zamperini’s story of survival and spirit was inspiring to me, and Hillenbrand did an incredible job of writing his biography in a way that was both informative and entertaining. Science Teacher Christine “C.P.” Pasterczyk: The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer. A long, sad, and difficult but beautiful story about three young Jewish men (brothers) whose lives are disrupted by WW2 in Hungary and France. It’s a hefty novel, but I was so captivated by the cast of characters and their stories (they are mostly Hungarian, and I learned quite a lot about WW2 in both Hungary and the Ukraine) that I found myself on pg.729 before realizing that it had long been dark outside. I’ve already returned to their story, again and again. English Teacher Chris Burr: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – True Story. A brilliant student at Stanford has an urgent desire to understand the meaning of life. Believing he will find it in poetry and literature, he becomes a literature major, but after a while realizes he won’t find life’s meaning in the pages of a book. He needs to be close to life and death, so he changes his major to neuroscience and becomes a brain surgeon. His brilliance is noticed by all, and the demands of his studies are exhausting. He continues to excel, and at the end of his residency hospitals are recruiting him, offering him more than he could imagine. Out of nowhere, he is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and that’s where the story really begins. This is one of only two books in my life that made me cry. Librarian Emily Tragert: My favorite book this summer was Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It took me almost a month to read this book, but it was totally worth it. It’s a captivating story about the almost unbelievable life of Hamilton, who was the country’s first treasury secretary. He grew up in poverty and rose to a position of power only second to George Washington before dying in an ill-conceived duel with the vice president. My favorite part of this book was learning about the Early Republic — that period right after the Constitution was adopted when Americans were doing the hard, vital work of actually creating a working government. The brilliant thinkers and vicious debates of this period taught me so much about our country today, and gave me a really interesting perspective on this year’s political debates and election. On another note, this book was the basis for the hit musical “Hamilton,” so I had fun learning all of the history behind the musical. Library Director Erin Twohig-Canal: This summer I got into books by Gretchen Rubin and her “Happier” podcast. Each podcast is only twenty minutes long making it the perfect amount of time for a walk outside with my dog. Rubin shares great habits and thought-provoking ideas for how to live a happier more organized life. My favorite quote of her’s is “outer order, inner calm” – so timely with a baby at home! Librarian Talya Sokoll: I read a lot of books this summer (surprise!) but I would be remiss not to mention The Cursed Child, the newest book in the Harry Potter series. Written in play format by Jack Thorne and based on a story by J.K. Rowling, this play is currently being performed in London’s West End. The Cursed Child tells the story of Albus, Harry’s youngest son and his experiences as a young wizard, trying to live up to the expectations set by his father. I don’t want to give too much away and the plot of the book is somewhat confusing, but if you are a Harry Potter fan I would highly recommend this book. It continues the story we all know and love in a way that feels organic and true to the characters, even if that challenges our feelings about Harry, Hermione, Ron, Draco and the rest of the Potterverse. What I loved the most was the friendship between Albus and Scorpious, Draco’s son. To me, it shows that despite a history that indicates otherwise, people can change and move past old rivalries to develop close, meaningful friendships.
Looking for a last minute present for that book loving friend or family member? Here are some suggestions! For your friend filled with wanderlust
- Epic Bike Rides of the World
- Great City Maps
- Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
- Wild, Beautiful Places: Picture-Perfect Journeys Around the Globe
For the sports fan in your life
- The Baseball Whisperer: A Small-Town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams
- Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre
- Hockey Strong: Stories of Sacrifice from Inside the NHL
Books for people who like books! (like librarians!)
- Boundless Books: 50 Literary Classics Transformed into Works of Art
- Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers,
April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate we asked English faculty and the library staff to share a poem they love. Check out the poems they chose below, and if you have a poem of your own to share, we’d love to hear about it! English Teacher Kim Libby: Louise Erdrich, “Advice to Myself.” I have this poem posted on the wall of my office at Nobles and at home. I need the advice that Erdrich offers to herself – and to the world. She challenges our definition of what we “need” to get done to get in a day and urges us to pursue the authentic over the mindless and routine. She writes: don’t read anything except what destroys the insulation between yourself and your experience or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters this ruse you call necessity. English Teacher Gia Batty: Mary Oliver, “Why I Wake Early.” Here’s a poem by Mary Oliver that I had taped to my bathroom mirror for a while. I wake up really early to walk my dog and get some work done before school starts, and this poem captures the good part of that. I don’t always greet the sun like this, but I like the idea, at least, of starting the day with “happiness and kindness.” Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips and the nodding morning glories, and into the windows of, even, the miserable and crotchety– best preacher that ever was, dear star, that just happens to be where you are in the universe to keep us from ever-darkness, to ease us with warm touching, to hold us in the great hands of light– good morning, good morning, good morning. Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness. Library Director Erin Twohig-Canal: e.e. cummings, “spring is like a perhaps hand.” I selected this poem because it’s appropriate for the season and because e. e. cummings’ writing and style gives me something to think about. At first I usually say, “hmm?” but then I reread the lines and like to come up with my own interpretation. Plus, cummings poetry reminds me of my husband – his poetry was the first we read aloud together. A few lines: spring is like a perhaps hand (which comes carefully out of Nowhere) arranging a window, into which people look Library Assistant Amy McHugh: Linda Shelburn Reagan, “Forget Me Not.” I read this poem at my mother’s funeral. It’s touching, emotional, loving and so true. This poem I feel in my heart, and truly believe our loved ones are always with us. Run the last mile with a smile on your face. My arms will be waiting when you finish the race. Always remember, my love is right there In the beat of your heart, On the wing of your prayer. English Teacher Alden Mauck: James Dickey, ”The Shark’s Parlor.” A confession of sorts regarding this poem. I am not from the South, and I hate fishing… but I have loved this poem since I first read it, perhaps because it reads as a great story encased in a poem. It is the tale of a couple of young “good ole boys” who go shark fishing from a Gulfside cottage; the cottage is subsequently wrecked by the shark as it is hauled inside. Here is a quotation:
The shark flopped on the porch, grating with salt-sand driving back in The nails he had pulled out coughing chunks of his formless blood. The screen door banged and tore off he scrambled on his tail slid Curved did a thing from another world and was out of his element and in Our vacation paradise cutting all four legs from under the dinner table With one deep-water move he unwove the rugs in a moment throwing pints Of blood over everything we owned knocked the buckteeth out of my picture His odd head full of crashed jelly-glass splinters and radio tubes thrashing Among the pages of fan magazines all the movie stars drenched in sea-blood Each time we thought he was dead he struggled back and smashed One more thing in all coming back to die three or four more times after death.
English Teacher Martha Donovan: Mary Oliver, “Summer Day.” “Summer Day” is included in the “Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools” project that Billy Collins initiated when he was U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003). Like many other readers of this poem, I love the final question of the poem: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? I love how “Summer Day” reminds me to “pay attention” to the world before me, to “kneel down in the grass,” to consider what I might do with my “one wild and precious life.” I love that the final question of the poem is worth asking today and yet again some other day. I hold this question close to me. Librarian Emily Tragert: Pablo Neruda, “Keeping Quiet.” The day after 9/11, someone wrote this poem in chalk on the sidewalk in my neighborhood. It was a beautiful and comforting thing to see and I have loved it ever since. A few lines: If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive. Now I’ll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go. Librarian Talya Sokoll: Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Crazy Woman” I love this poem because, when I read it for the first time as an eighth grader, the speaker’s feelings of being different really resonated with me. I shall not sing a May song. A May song should be gay. I’ll wait until November And sing a song of gray. I’ll wait until November That is the time for me. I’ll go out in the frosty dark And sing most terribly. And all the little people Will stare at me and say, “That is the Crazy Woman Who would not sing in May.” English Teacher Charles Danhof: e.e. cummings, “since feeling is first.” I really enjoy the opening line’s assertion that feeling is first; the use of the word “since” shows there is no doubt from the narrator. Moving through the poem with that premise in mind, the theme of love over intelligence becomes reinforced in multiple ways. When the narrator asserts that the best gesture of my brain is less than your eyelids’ flutter which says we are for each other, the flirtatious move has been elevated to a status above the best gesture of the narrator’s brain; a truly sublime experience it must have been to witness that eyelid flutter.
Chris Desanges ’16: Over break and currently, I am reading Another Country by James Baldwin. In the book, he shifts through the perspectives of eight main characters who live in New York who are all connected to each other in various ways. English Teacher Adam Cluff: 1. “VEEP”: Hilarious political satire about how vacuous, frivolous and totally image-driven our politics have become. 2. The Big Short: Brilliant treatment of the Michael Lewis book that explains the 2008 market crash with clarity and wit. Annika Harrington ’18: Over break, I read The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. This story was about a housekeeper who goes to work for a brilliant math professor who only has 80 minutes of short term memory. It was incredible to read about the connection that the professor formed with the housekeeper and her son despite the fact that they had to reintroduce themselves every day. It was a unique story that evoked a lot of different emotions, and it was a very enjoyable read that I would strongly recommend. Diversity Initiatives Teaching Fellow Paulina Jones-Torregrosa: I enjoyed Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, which I got from the Nobles library! It was a gripping mystery by the author of Gone Girl that I could not put down. English Teacher Josh Accomando: I binge watched four seasons (2-5) of “Downton Abbey”… It is not a very good show [IMO], but I like the costumes. I’m pretty sure it was only successful in the U. S. because Anglophiles are easily amused by British accents. It oversimplifies important social and political issues to the point that it becomes nonsensical. I saw Star Wars Episode VII twice (after re-watching IV-VI) and decided that the original three films weren’t actually all that good, but Harrison Ford is awesome. Episode VII is the best yet… because Harrison Ford… and Daisy Ridley. Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Adam Driver were good too. J.J. Abrams is abandoning us for Episode VIII and I am really nervous. Rian Johnson will direct Episode VIII. Not sure what to expect, but I re-watched the diner scene in Looper and felt reassured. I saw Joy (meh) and The Big Short (yay!). Joy was incoherent at times and I’m not sure if that was deliberate or not. The Big Short lived up to expectations and I thought it did well to explain and critique the American financial system—more so than Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps or Wolf of Wall Street. Breene Halaby ’19: The Danish Girl! One of the most aesthetically beautiful movies I’ve ever seen, with an equally-as-beautiful (though historically inaccurate) story. Eddie Redmayne is pretty in any gender. English Teacher Kim Libby: Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child): a collection of four books published between September 2012 and September 2015. In a voice that is raw, honest and mesmerizing, the protagonist tells the story of her life–and the singular and complex friendship that defined it. The truest depiction of female friendship that I’ve ever read. Katie Doyle ’21: Over break I read a few of the books from the series Gone (it was on our reading list). They are great books, in my opinion, and I really liked the creativity and word choice. It is very fast-paced and entertaining. I would definitely recommend it! Science Teacher Chris Averill: I read the first two books In the series The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea), a young adult sci-fi trilogy. The third one is due out this spring. It is a soon to be released movie, and let me tell you the books are great! There is an alien invasion, the first four waves wipe out nearly all 7 billion humans on the planet in a matter of months! The book follows the stories of several survivors. It is full of plot twists and hair-raising adventures. It is smartly written, and I loved how each chapter was from the point of view of a different character. In this way the story is told through the lives of the main characters often talking about similar events from their point of view. I couldn’t put the books down! The second book continues the story as we learn what the 5th wave is and the ongoing battle between the remaining humans and the alien invaders. Director of Academic Support Gia Batty: 1. I read The Marvels by Brian Selznick after I heard Talya and Emily promote it to students in a Middle School assembly. As promised, it was a GREAT story that unfolds in beautiful pencil drawings and prose. Part adventure story, part mystery, part coming of age, this is a book that would appeal to a really wide audience. I read it with my 10 year old, and we both loved it. 2. I finally listened to Between the World and Me, which is as good as everyone says it is. The cool thing about the audiobook is that Ta-Nehisi Coates reads it himself. Assistant Controller Rachel Weinstock: I really enjoyed The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro. It’s art world mystery in both the pre-World War II years and the current day as a young researcher at Christie’s investigates her aunt’s role in the American Abstract Movement. Equally interesting were the insights into the Abstract Movement and Holocaust from the view point of an American trying to save her European relatives. Math Teacher Bill Kehlenbeck: I read and loved Rescue Road by Peter Zheutlin. It tells the story of a man who has driven over 30,000 rescue dogs from southern states to “forever homes” in the northeast (including the wonderful dog my son adopted in 2010). It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming—highly recommended! Director of Human Resources Nicole Anastos: I saw Joy! I have to admit it was sad and somewhat depressing for the first hour, but it is a wonderful true story of hard work, perseverance and ultimately success. Definitely feel good movie by the end. 😉 Lulu Wright ’20: Skinny Dip by Mark Hiaasen–I loved this book! It was so interesting and I could not put it down! I would not recommend it for sixies, but it is extremely entertaining. History Teacher Jenny Carlson-Pietraszek: Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. I read this because I will be teaching about the Iranian Revolution in HHC in January and because all ninth grade students will read it in February in their English classes. It follows our HHC summer reading book–Iran Awakening, by Shirin Ebadi–wonderfully, too. Persepolis is a graphic novel. It is powerful and poignant as well as a very accessible, quick read. Mikki Janower ’16 I read Earthly Powers, The Stockholm Octavo, Numero Zero, Inside the Dream Palace, Slade House and a couple other things–I’ll talk about any of them, but my favorite was Earthly Powers. The novel is written in the tradition of Tolstoy, and its prose is just as engaging as its plot, which is rare in modern fiction. English Teacher Alden Mauck: I read In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick because I thought Mayflower was so good. I was even able to stomach the section on cannibalism… get it… stomach… I also read two novels by Carl Hiaasen: Bad Monkey and Skin Tight... lots of South Florida delinquents and detectives, perfect for poolside. William Wang ’16: Over break I read journalist Benoit Denizet-Lewis’ Travels with Casey. Lewis drives across the United States in a RV with his nine-year old Labrador mix named Casey. The focus of the book is about the relationship between humans and dogs, across the U.S. and as a human theme. I really liked the book because of thorough research, nuanced features on American dog culture, and Lewis’ personal and humorous tone. If you are interested in dogs, road trips or animal psychics, this will be your book. Angie Gabeau ’21: I finished the Harry Potter books (again) and watched all the movies (again).
Drew Hesp ’21: I watched “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”…
SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!! I loved the movie and pretty much everything about it. First off, it was great how the trailers did not spoil that much (except for Han’s death… more on that later). The opening scene was amazing. Seeing the scroll for the first time in theaters gave me the chills… I really liked how there was no dumb plot about trade routes and other things like that. The description of the hunt for Luke Skywalker really made me feel like this movie really fit into the Star Wars saga. John Williams did an amazing job with the opening music to set the scene for the raid on Jakku. The flame troopers were so freaking cool and ruthless. The way Kylo Ren stopped a blaster shot in mid-air showed how strong his powers of the Force were. His crackly light saber felt like it portrayed his ruthless and unstable character. BB-8 was really cute, and his relationship with Poe was well-written (UNLIKE SOME POORLY WRITTEN SCRIPTS… *cough cough* GEORGE LUCAS *cough cough*). Sorry, still not over how bad the love story in Episode II was. Anyway, on with the review. The return of the Millennium Falcon was quirky and smart. There wasn’t a grand, ‘TA-DAH’ scene. If I recall, Finn and Rey were running towards a ship and Finn asked if they should take ‘that one’, pointing to the Falcon. Rey replied saying it was garbage. Then the ‘nice ship’ got destroyed or something like that, and Rey replied with, “The garbage one will do” That was much better than I was expecting, and it set the tone for the film: not too serious and over-the-top with politics, but not a comedy either. For example, when the Resistance nurse was treating Chewbacca, and she was saying things like, “Wowwwww… That must have been scaaaaaary!” (as if Chewbacca was a kid) and Chewie was just nodding his head like, “uh huh… yep”. I just found that scene hilarious, but not stupidly over-the-top. I could go on with the quirky jokes in this movie… BB-8 giving Finn the thumbs-up, the troopers walking towards Rey’s prison room, etc. But I won’t, as there’s more to get to. Han and Chewie’s introduction was far less ‘grand’ than I imagined it would be… And I liked that. There was no grand lighting and intense, blaring music (at least I don’t recall there being any). It was just like, “You want Han and Chewie? You get Han and Chewie.” And the way C-3PO (human-cyborg relations) ruined the intense scene of Han meeting Leia again was freaking hilarious. The whole ‘I didn’t know if you would recognize me with this new arm’ thingy when Han and Leia were having a moment was classic C-3PO; always blurting something out at the wrong time. As for the things I didn’t like so much about the movie… there wasn’t a TON. A few things here and there left me puzzled. First off: why another Death Star? Call it what you want (Starkiller Base) and say what you want, but it’s still the same idea as a Death Star. It felt lazy and kind of made me roll my eyes a bit. The fact that Rey somehow learned everything that took Luke three entire films to learn in about 30 minutes felt odd. I mean, even if the Force is strong with her… it can’t be that easy to tap into the Force! Kylo had extensive training, and a shot to one of his arms is not even close to a legitimate excuse as to why his butt was kicked by somebody who learned the ways of the Force a few minutes prior. Maybe I’m overthinking this too much? Moving on to the bridge scene…some criticize Abrams for ‘ruining their childhood’ with this scene, but I thought it was done really well. I was about as angry and sad at the same time as I have ever been while watching a movie. I wanted Han to live, but that dream was crushed when he proceeded to fall off the bridge. I can’t help but say that I really wished on his way down when he put his hand on Kylo’s face that he would push Kylo off as well and give that little brat a taste of karma. In all seriousness though, I like the way Kylo was portrayed as a guy with high expectations, lots of fear, and an extremely bad temper. But, boy, I was definitely cheering Chewie on when he shot down all those troopers out of anger. The destruction of Starkiller Base just seemed too easy, but I was still happy about the end result. Captain Phasma was a complete idiot for allowing them to lower the shields. If she sacrificed herself, she would have allowed her entire army to survive. She didn’t seem that important, other than remembering Finn’s ID (FN-2187). I feel like she may have had a more important role, but most of her scenes may have been cut out of the final edit, but since the character already had a line of costumes and toys, they couldn’t remove the character from the film. Maybe she will have a larger part in the next film. The similarities between TFA and “A New Hope” were nice. Luke’s location inside BB-8 was a reference to R2 holding the secret message. Starkiller base was a reference to the Death Star… And my favorite one: Bringing us back to the argument about a parsec being a measurement of distance, not time! There were many more that I will not be able to get to right now. So…
It is almost time for spring break! Soon, you will have two whole weeks to catch up on all your pleasure reading and viewing, so stop by the library and check out some of our newest selections! If you want to catch up on Oscar nominees and winners:
- Straight Outta Compton
- The Martian
- Bridge of Spies
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- The Danish Girl
- Steve Jobs
- Ex Machina
If you’re looking for a fun movie to pass the time:
If you are still reeling from the end of Gone Girl and want an equally juicy mystery After the Crash by Michel Bussi The Widow by Fiona Barton In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware Interested in a little historical fiction? Check out: The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro The Book of Aron by Jim Shepherd The Longest Night by Andria Williams The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin If you want to read about love, relationships and family, some great new books are: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian Loving Day by Mat Johnson The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout New books that Ms. Sokoll loves: Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak Zero Day by Jan Gangsei The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Bone Gap by Laura Ruby Bounders by Monica Tesler Black Broadway by Stewart F. Lane Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story The Science of the Magical by Matt Kaplan New books Ms.
Looking for a good book to read over Winter Break? Swing by the library to check out our latest display, containing selections from many year-end, best of lists, including BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and more! And if you need some gift ideas,
Associate Dean of Students Edgar De Leon ’04: “‘The People vs O.J. Simpson Trial’ – IT’S SOOOOOO GOOD.” Math Teacher Nick Nickerson: “The best book I read this vacation was Me Before You, a really compelling story about a very active sportsman who becomes a quadriplegic, an unemployed woman who becomes his caretaker, and how they come to understand each other. It is funny, poignant, and thought-provoking. Once you get to a certain point in the story, you simply cannot put the book down until you find out how it is all going to end.” Classics Teacher Dan Matlack: “I listened to The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I was visiting Chicago where its story is set. The city is undertaking the massive project of building the grounds for the Columbian Exposition and a serial killer is operating in a nearby suburb. I found the history of the period and the creepiness of the killer compelling. The exposition itself sent out many significant cultural ripples into the next century as well. I read the Flood of Fire, the third and final book in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis series. Ghosh writes historical fiction set in the 1830s and early 1840s. The action in this work takes place in Canton and Hong Kong, but the tale has deep roots in India and the opium production there. The characters come from varied places as well, tiny rural Bihari villages, Bombay trading houses owned by Parsis, wealthy Calcuttan estates, English traders and explorers, and Cantonese boat people. Many of the main characters meet on the Ibis, a ship transporting carrying convicts and indentured servants to Mauritius that gets caught in a storm and faces a mutiny. The text is also filled with pidgin and Hindi words.” English Teacher Kim Libby: The new work of two Massachusetts-based novelists:
- Dawn Tripp’s Georgia: A poignant tale of the art, life and love of the artist Georgia O’Keeffe.
- Michelle Hoover’s Bottomland: The two youngest daughters of a family in Iowa disappear in the middle of the night. The Hess Family looks for answers in a community still entrenched in Anti-German sentiment after WWI.
Director of Human Resources Nicole Anastos: “I read: Girl on a Train. I couldn’t put this down – filled with suspense and extremely intense! You need to be attentive while reading this due to the way it is written – it switches back and forth between characters’ stories and dates with each chapter. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming! It reminded me of Gone Girl. Second read was easy, quick, no thinking required “beach read” based on life in Nantucket: Rumors by Elin Hildebrand.” Dean of Enrollment Management Jen Hines: “Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – a really good story with impressive illustrations drawn by the author’s husband. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Galbadon – I was impressed by the fact that her first book, Outlander, was 1,000 pages. After now reading the second one, I’m aware that every book in the series is as long! How does a person have so many detailed stories in their head? Her books are a commitment of time, but they are worth it for a good mix of romance and intrigue. TV series: “Underground.” It makes me feel a little strange/upset/angry to be watching a TV series about a slave uprising, but the story pulls you in…” Clare Diaz ’16: “I read Bull Mountain, a three-generation story of family crime in the Georgia backwoods. It’s riveting and badass, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, quick read.” Mariama-Alexis Camara ’17: “I watched “The Carrie Diaries” on Netflix and it was one of the best shows ever! It covers a lot of very real issues that high school students face while mixing in comedy and amazing fashion! I suggest it to anyone who’s looking to binge on Netflix.” Language Teacher Dave Ulrich: “I read Raymond Chandler’s The Simple Art of Murder (an essay on the genre and a collection of short stories), and his first major novel, The Big Sleep. I enjoyed distracting myself from L.A .traffic by imagining the heists and skullduggery that Chandler depicted in his works.” Holly Lyne ’17: “I read Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which is now a Tina Fey movie. It is a memoir by a foreign correspondence journalist living in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the mid-2000s. It was really interesting to learn about what life is actually like there, and the plot was really fun even as it dealt with tough subject matter.” English Teacher Alden Mauck: “Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen (while in Florida of course!) and The Sellout by Paul Beatty… which is fantastic… but over my head!” Shi Williams ’18: “I actually just started ‘Gilmore Girls’ which I know is old, but I’m pretty sure it recently came to Netflix and is having a 4-episode revival period soon so I’m trying to catch up before that. Long story short, I’m in love. I started about a day into break and I’m already on season 3 episode 18…. It’s about a mother and her daughter and how close their relationship is. I love love love it and think everyone should watch it.” History Teacher Brian Day: “The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. This is an incredibly well told story of scientific research, ingenuity and perseverance. How the Wright Brothers came to build their flying machine is amazing given what was known at the time. The book is incredibly well researched and well written and is a pleasure to read.” Math Teacher Eric Nguyen: “Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works by Jay Newton-Small. Although we have a long way to go, women are achieving “critical mass” and assuming leadership in government and politics, the military, business, and entertainment. This book highlights women’s emphasis on empathy and compromise, and the way they are transforming our country and world. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel. Sobel presents a compelling narrative about one man’s lifelong devotion to solving the challenge of determining longitude, a critical issue during the 1700s as much of Europe sought to navigate the globe. Discover the ways in which John Harrison’s ingenuity, dedication, and willingness to buck the trend of his day are met with jealousy, deception and sabotage!” Nick Samel ’16: “Over the break, I finished up Herman Wouk’s Pulitzer winning novel, The Caine Mutiny. Wouk is a master of sentence construction, and a couple of sentences throughout the book made me pause and admire his craft. The famous court-martial scene at the end was definitely hard to put down. I would especially recommend it to those who are interested in WWII, specifically the Pacific Theatre. But anyone who appreciates good writing would thoroughly enjoy this book. I finally took a hint from everyone around me and started watching “Breaking Bad.” After the first season, I knew I was in for the long-run. The writing is crisp, and balances humor with edge-of-your-seat suspense and brutality.” Civics Teacher E.B. Bartels ‘ 06: “I read four books over break, all of which I highly recommend!
- Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling: funny and fun especially if you’re from Massachusetts (Mindy grew up in the Boston area and went to BB&N and her local references are comical), but also great stuff about feminism and body image issues and women of color in film and on TV!
- Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Steveson & co: great comic series featuring a gang of totally rad and cool lady-types at an off-beat summer camp – start with the first two installments: Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy and Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max.
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: this book is as great as everyone says it is, definitely not an easy read, both because of its challenging material and complicated ideas, but completely worth it, really makes you think.
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamont: a hilarious little book with all the best writing advice that anyone with any interest in being a writer should read, but also anyone with any interest in being a better human – a lot of writing advice coincidentally also applies to advice on how to live life to the fullest.
Head of the Upper School Michael Denning: “Books read: Timothy Snyder, The Bloodlands. Timothy Snyder, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. James Barr, A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle that shaped the Middle East. Films watched: Lincoln, Brooklyn, Carol , The Big Short, Spotlight. Final Season of Downton Abbey.” Director of Academic Support Gia Batty: “I read Fun Home, an incredible graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel. She basically draws her life from her childhood in rural Pennsylvania through her youth and young adulthood. The story focuses most on her complex relationship with her father and on her sexuality. I loved it. I also re-read A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. We are using this book with our senior elective this year (American Studies) and I was blown away by how apt so much of it is to what’s happening right now. The book is really a collection of interconnected short stories in which the characters try make sense of the 2000s with the rapidly changing music industry in the background.” Bookstore Manager and President of Library Fight Club Amy McHugh: “Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. It definitely had a Gone Girl feel to it, though I didn’t like it as much. It is about a married couple living in New York and things between them are just not what they seem. You read both the wife and husband’s perspectives which makes it interesting! Who is telling the truth?! Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh “I don’t even know where to begin to describe this book. Funny, yet real! Talks a lot about depression and what it’s like to walk around each day with this disease. It also talks about crazy things that happen in life, hilarious dog stories and just many general unfortunate, but funny situations! Almost reads like a comic book with quirky drawings, but I really did love this book!” Librarian and Vulcanologist (but like, the Star Trek Vulcans, not Volcanoes) Emily Tragert: “I read The Big Short by Michael Lewis, which tells the story of the banking industry before and during the financial crisis. I had already seen the movie, so I knew it was an interesting story, but Lewis is a great writer who makes difficult concepts easy to understand. I was surprised how engrossed I got in this book, especially because I rarely read books about economics or finance, but it was hard to put down at times!I also listened to The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro. It takes place in late-1930s New York, where the main character is a female artist who designs and paints murals for the WPA, but is also involved in New York’s vibrant art scene – she’s friends with painters like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The story is also focused on her efforts to get her family, who are Jewish, out of France before they become victims of the Holocaust. It’s a very interesting, absorbing read that I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in World War II, art or a great plot.” Teddy Slosberg ’20: “I saw Creed on the airplane. I mean, it’s Creed. Come on now, do I really need to tell you why I enjoyed it?” Librarian and Dowager Princess of Genovia Talya “Thermopolis” Sokoll: “I saw Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and it was terrible and amazing.
Every school day in February, the library highlighted a different fantastic book by a black author in honor of Black History Month. If you missed any of these books, here is the complete list! Firebird by Misty Copeland With gorgeous illustrations by Christopher Myers, this book tells the story of a young ballerina who is inspired by Copeland to believe in herself and her abilities. Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson Emily is a senior at a prestigious prep school, about to head off to college. But when a deadly, mysterious flu begins to spread, she is swept up into the crisis. All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely Two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school and their community bitterly divided by racial tension. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie A love story spanning fifteen years, this book tells a powerful, tender story of race and identity in a post-9/11 world. The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates Coates’ memoir is a meditation on his path to adulthood and the influence of his father, a Vietnam vet and Black Panther. Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman In a world where the pale-skinned Naughts are discriminated against by the dark-skinned Crosses, Callum–a Naught–and Sephy–a Cross–test whether their love is strong enough to survive their society’s racism. Bad News for Outlaws by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson This picture book tells the story of Bass Reeves, one of the most feared and respected lawmen in the American West, widely known for his fearlessness and his unshakable sense of right and wrong. Zami by Audre Lorde This ‘biomythography’, part autobiography, part myth-making, recounts Lorde’s life growing up in Harlem and her coming of age in the late 1950s. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857 who falls in with legendary abolitionist John Brown and, two years later, is a part of Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes Hughes’ famous poem is accompanied by vibrant illustrations by Bryan Collier. Kindred by Octavia Butler Butler’s classic sci-fi tale tells the story of Dana, a modern black woman, who is transported back in time to a life of slavery in the antebellum South. How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon After Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds , his family, friends and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy. The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin Jemisin weaves a captivating fantasy tale about faith, death and corruption in an ancient city-state. Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers Serving in the Iraq War,