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What did we read/watch over the summer?

Posted on September 20, 2016 by

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.  

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