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What did we read/watch over the summer?

Posted on June 27, 2017 by

Chief Information Officer Dan Weir: 1.) Profiles in Courage by John Kennedy and Ted Sorenson. Awesome book. Loved the stories of each leader/senator. Reminded me a lot of my US History course and what was said then versus what Kennedy thought. 2.) After You by Jojo Moyes.  Fun lighter reading with happiness at the end. A good book to warm the soul. Moyes has great ironic humor. The scene of her confronting her ex-boyfriend and his new fiance is ​great. 3.) Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Excellent book! Loved the nerdiness and the journey they went on to history and the future (metaphorically of course). Lots to think about in both directions. 4.) Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbot. A different perspective on this tragic topic. Fun at times but mostly unnerving and sad. How did people think like that? Regardless, a good read for historians who want a twist. Art Teacher Molly Pascal ’05: Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris. If you enjoy dry humor and laugh-out-loud observations, this book is for you. Director of College Counseling Kate Boyle Ramsdell: As is my way, I started a number of books and did not finish any of them yet. My favorite of the group was H is for Hawk. It’s an intense read, and I’ll admit to being drawn to it for three reasons 1) The cover illustration, 2) My 5 year-old’s fascination with hawks and raptors, 3) My own experiences with the loss of my dad. The author weaves in and out of an autobiographical narrative about the loss of her father and her resolution to grieve through the acquisition and training of a goshawk.  She is a remarkably talented and incisive writer. I would highly recommend it, but would also share that it’s not a light read. Director of Achieve Nora Dowley-Leibowitz: I read Anna Kendrick’s memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody. It was super funny, and shockingly personal. I’ve always been drawn to her because she seems pretty regular, and like someone I would be friends with, and the book confirmed all of these things. She is funny, genuine, and surprisingly insecure at times. It did get a bit repetitive about halfway through, but a fun and easy beach read. Archivist Isa Schaff: I reread Still Life by Louise Penny.  This is the first book of an award winning mystery series centered around Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of the Surete’ du Québec, and a village of Three Pines (near the Vermont border). Louise Penny has created an engaging community, populated by three dimensional characters who develop from book to book, sometimes in surprising directions. Most of the stories happen in or around Three Pines, but also in Montreal and Québec which I know a bit, and therefore my enjoyment of the book is increased. I have learned a lot about the history, the culture and the people of Canada. What sent me back to Still Life is having read the latest installment (the 13th) of the series, Glass Houses. I realized that I wanted to follow again the path of each character, now that I know so much more about them. English Teacher Gia Batty: This summer afforded me the time and space to read and listen to an excessive amount of books. Here are my top three: Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper. I know, I know, a book about dictionaries? Really? Yes, this was a great read. Kory Stamper is an editor at the offices of Merriam-Webster in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her book takes you behind the scenes of the lives of lexicographers. Ever wondered who writes the definitions or how they decide which words end up in the dictionary? You’ll love this book. Stamper is smart, funny, and thoughtful, and you’ll never look at a definition the same way again! Women and Fiction: Short Stories By and About Women edited by Susan Cahill. This book (originally published in 1975) has been in my possession for decades. I have packed and unpacked it several times and found a home for it on a shelf in five different offices in three different schools. It wasn’t until my most recent office move that I rediscovered and finally read it. It is an incredible collection of short stories by a wide range of female writers. The best part of the anthology is Susan Cahill’s introduction to each story. She shares stories, many of which I had never heard before, about each author’s journey to becoming a writer. There are surprises in this anthology too—a story I’d never read by Alice Munro (“The Office”) that captures the struggle of finding the time and space to write while your children are close by.  There’s a beautiful story called “Winter Night” by Kay Boyle that I am still thinking about. I could go on… If you like short stories and especially if you are female, you must read this collection from start to finish. Less by Andrew Sean Greer.  I heard Greer read an excerpt of this book on the New Yorker Fiction podcast and I knew instantly that I wanted to know more about his hapless protagonist, Arthur Less, and his incredible (and ridiculous) trip around the world. This is a book about writing, traveling abroad, falling in love and being a flawed human being. I loved it. Math Teacher Efe Osifo: I read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and I was blown away! It’s a YA realistic fiction about 16-year-old Starr Carter. Starr, an African-American girl, witnesses a close friend of hers get murdered by the police. What ensues after is a nationwide protest as details of the case (Only Starr knows what really happened) take place. The book is moving and discusses a great deal about micro-aggressions, interracial relationships, inner-city communities, gang life and multiple identities in a fast-paced, engaging way. It connected with me on many many levels and there is going to be a movie soon! Head of the Upper School Michael Denning: Einstein: His Life and Universe: As I awaited the solar eclipse that dominated the imaginations of so many this summer, I became immersed in Walter Isaacson’s magnificent biography of Albert Einstein, Einstein: His Life and Universe. A brilliant storyteller, Isaacson brings to life this most influential of individuals—his joys, passions, triumphs, bad habits, struggles and shortcomings as a friend, father, colleague and partner. I picked up this work hoping to learn more about physics and Einstein’s theories, and I am grateful to Isaacson for making these complex ideas accessible. As I worked my way through this book, however, I found myself focusing on not only Einstein’s amazing ideas, but also Isaacson’s descriptions of Einstein’s character and what we can learn from the habits of heart and mind of Time magazine’s “Person of the Century.” English Teacher Charles Danhof: Tom Wolfe, Kingdom of Speech: Interesting and well-written rant on the “truth” behind the study of linguistics and the origins of speech, showing historical information in a light-hearted manner. Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Beautifully written and complex novel about many characters on the inside (and outside) of society in a culture often dealing with war, corruption, loss, and other atrocities. History Teacher Nahyon Lee: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. This book details and explains the wondrous world that we live in, but also the fragility of it and the risk our planet faces (including not just plants and animals, but us) if we continue to treat it the way we do. First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung. This book is not for every Nobles student. It tells the story of one survivor of the Cambodian genocide. The author is a young child, and her stories about her family and what she saw and experienced is sad, touching, moving and powerful. She also has so much hope for her family. History Teacher Elizabeth Herman: My favorite thing that I read this summer was Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits. I loved the way it wove together individual characters from multiple generations of a family against the backdrop of decades of Chilean history. Jennifer Do-Dai ’21: My favorite book that I read was Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor about a boy with a dream who gets a chance to experience the world he’s dreamed about since he was five. It was an amazing book that made you not want to put it down, with a great plot. History Teacher Brian Day: 1) Shattered – Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, Jonathan Allen and Arnie Parnes – A good account of the inner workings of the Clinton campaign. 2) Mayflower, Nathaniel Philbrick – This book chronicles the Pilgrims’ voyage to and settlement in America. It details the developing relationships between the settlers and the Native Americans and how these relationships ultimately deteriorate over the course of several decades, resulting in King Philip’s War. 3) Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, Alfred Lansing – This book details the remarkable story of Shackleton’s crew when stuck in the Antarctic. How they survived under such dire circumstances in truly incredible. Art Teacher John Dorsey: Thunder and Lightning by Lauren Redniss. Beautifully, gorgeously illustrated book of short essays, each dealing with natural weather phenomena: fire, fog, wind, etc. Redniss draws on historical footnotes, onsite reporting, and narrative accounts to layer information and stories that remind me of the best of Annie Dillard, but with the added bonus of her exuberant, if sometimes melancholy, illustrations that add another layer of meaning on top of her writing. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I have difficulty with horror writing but King’s work in the detective/fantasy genre is outstanding. This work, which deals with the sci-fi phenomena of time travel, is a wonderful book that combines meticulous history research and King’s natural propensity for realistic dialogue. At 850 pages, it will feel like an accomplishment to get through it, but truthfully, it reads so easily that it feels like a book half that length.  Ultimately, it gets you to answer the question, if you could go back in time and save President Kennedy from assassination, would you? Science Teacher Christine Pasterczyk: The Speed of Light by Elizabeth Rosner – A Latina woman is haunted by trauma; her life is intertwined with the lives of two siblings in their late 20s whose father survived the Holocaust in Hungary; as each character struggles to find his or her voice, this novel explores the idea that “the pain of the untold story is far greater than even the most difficult truth.” The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova – The story of a gifted musician whose life is shattered by forces of political oppression in mid-20th century Bulgaria; a story of courage, survival, forgiveness, compassion and hope. Romance Language by Alan Elsner – A coming-of-age story that flashes back to the Communist period in Romania, specifically focused on the revolution that removed Ceaușescu from power in 1989. I enjoyed the story and was amazed by how unaware I was of events that took place in my own lifetime. Librarian Emily Tragert: I read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, which follows two young noblemen on their Grand Tour of Europe in the late 18th century. This book is action-packed, romantic, funny and surprisingly heartfelt: a perfect summer read! Librarian Ella Steim: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann – Part history, part mystery, part true crime. Fast-moving and fascinating writing about a terrible, little-known aspect of American history. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon – Multi-generational family story, beautifully written. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman – Moving, thoughtful, and unsettling.  Librarian Talya Sokoll: One of the best books I read this summer was Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed. If you like dystopian novels, especially ones like The Handmaid’s Tale, this is the book for you! Melamed creates a world on an isolated island that has ostensibly survived an apocalyptic event due to the island people’s worship of and devotion of their ancestors. The population is tightly controlled and girls and women are oppressed at the hands of their fathers and the men on the island. Everyone has always obeyed the rules until a young girl overhears something that indicates a huge breach of trust and an absolute betrayal from the town’s elders. And then the carefully crafted world unravels and all heck breaks loose. Lizzy Rueppel ’18: Big Little Lies, that book was awesome! American Spirit by David McCullough: Every American should read this book. Griffin Zink ’20: Every single episode of “How I Met Your Mother” for the second time. Harry Roberts ’20 Every single episode of “White Collar” for the second time. Mimi Cabot ’18 Baby Driver is a film that is so perfect. The music matched up to every step, it was amazing.

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