Assistant Director of Communications Kim Neal:
Love, Simon, the film based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli
I broke my cardinal rule of not seeing the movie before reading the book (though friends who did said the screenplay was faithful). Immediately loved this story of a gay, closeted teen struggling with his sexual identity, even though he knows he’s surrounded by supportive family and friends. Interesting to see the role social media plays in the perception of self and others. Strong character development shows that good people can make bad decisions that hurt others; they can also redeem themselves by stepping up for those whom they care about. As painful as some moments were for the characters, this film was really hopeful—about love, making yourself vulnerable, and being authentic. Plus, there is a fun dance number. 😉
Assistant Controller Rachel Weinstock:
To add to the excitement of my trip to Iceland, I read The Perfect Landscape by Ragna Sigurðardóttir and Burial Rites: A Novel by Hannah Kent. While I really enjoyed the cadence of the language, and visualizing the environment and lifestyles while reading both books, I would recommend Burial Rites, regardless if you plan to visit Iceland or not. It is a gripping historical fiction about the last woman executed in Iceland (in 1830.) The narrative detailing the rural Icelandic way of life was as interesting as the plot line regarding the murder. A page turner to the end!
Math Teacher Efe Osifo:
I’ve been reading Children Of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. It’s a super interesting read so far. It’s a dystopian novel but it’s about African magic and African folklore. A group of Magicians have had their powers destroyed by a Mad King. The King is going from town to town killing any Magicians and children of Magicians. So the story follows the child of a Magician who, with the help of the Mad King’s daughter (awwwww SNAP) goes on a quest to bring their power back. It’s beautifully written with a plot that is super refreshing. Highly recommended.
Chief Advancement Officer George Maley:
“The Crown.” It’s filmed exceedingly well and tells the story of England, through the experience of the royal family, from roughly 1920-1970 (I’m not finished yet so maybe it goes longer). I highly recommend it.
English Teacher Alden Mauck:
Lincoln in the Bardo… I know that everyone is reading it, but there is a reason why! It is one of the most amazing novels that I have read in a long time. Saunders combines history and primary sources and some of the most original characters you will ever encounter, really breathtakingly sad and, in a way, genuinely uplifting.
One of the best movies that I have seen was The Florida Project… everyone who goes to Florida for the sun and fun should watch this poignant depiction of the underside of Florida that we all choose to ignore.
Lauren Kelley ’20:
Over spring break I read An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and really enjoyed it! I liked how it addressed issues of mass incarceration, racial profiling, wrongful conviction, and life after prison integrated into a fictional story about a classic love triangle.
Gustave Ducrest ’18:
The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku: this is the most I’ve ever learned reading, and it’s exciting to look at the future. One of the contemporary greatest physicists takes us on a journey exploring what mankind has achieved, can achieve, and plans to achieve in order to expand our species across the universe, such as the invention of the rocket, all the way to sails that approach the speed of light.
Science Teacher C.P.:
We Were the Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter. Historical fiction based on the life of a Jewish family in Poland between 1939-1947. The characters found their way into my heart; a powerful human story.
Anna Perez ’21:
Over the break I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I really enjoyed it because there were a lot of very prosperous moments for the main character and also a lot of moments where he hit rock bottom, and I think that it was an accurate portrayal of what someone who went through what he did would be like. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story!
History Teacher Brian Day:
I binged “Lilyhammer” on Netflix and read Russian Roulette. “Lilyhammer” is comedy involving a member of the New York mob whom at his request is placed in witness protection in Lillehammer, Norway. The show focuses primarily on his new life and assimilation in a new culture as well as how he influences his newly-made Norwegian friends and colleagues.
Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump is an attempt to bring greater clarity to the still-undetermined relationship between Putin and Trump. Prior to getting into the history of Trump and Russia, the book also provides a critical analysis of Russian espionage and what Putin did throughout Obama’s time in office. The book reads like a spy thriller.
Associate Director of Academic Support Sara Masucci:
I read Alafair Burke’s The Wife, and immediately followed that with her earlier book, The Ex. She actually wrote The Ex first, but the order doesn’t matter. These books were suspenseful (but not scary; I don’t like scary) and just fun to read. They twist around enough to keep you guessing, but not so much that it gets confusing. Burke is an NYC attorney, and the plots involve complicated criminal cases.
I watched Netflix’s new cooking competition show, “Nailed It!” SO MUCH FUN. In each episode (there are only 6), novice home bakers try to recreate incredibly detailed baked goods under time pressure—think three-tiered, ombré-colored wedding cakes with handcrafted sugar flowers—in two hours. The results, and the judges, are hilarious. As the Netflix writeup says, “it’s part reality contest, part hot mess.”
History Teacher Nahyon Lee:
My favorite book this break was Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. This novel was a National Book Award finalist. If follows the lives of one family from 1905-1989 during Korea’s Japanese occupation and then later their lives in Japan as Korean-Japanese immigrants. It’s an incredibly touching story about sacrifices we all make for our families. Two thumbs up! Read it!
Associate Director of Academic Support Gia Batty:
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
This was a funky little book—I actually listened to it and it’s narrated by the author which is always an added bonus. Amy Bender is one of my new favorite writers. People don’t really know how to classify her—sometimes her work is called speculative fiction or fabulous fiction and some of her short stories are more like modern fairy tales. She’s great! The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake follows Rose Edelstein who lives in Berkeley, California with her quirky family. On her tenth birthday, Rose discovers her magical gift when she takes a bite of the cake her mother made her. She can actually taste her mother’s sadness in it. Finding out her mother was sad was just the beginning, and we see Rose learn to understand and control her gift and, in the process, figure out who she was.
The Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
This is dystopian novel written in diary form by a young pregnant woman trying to make sense of her world, a world where evolution suddenly begins to go backwards. The book got mixed reviews, but I thought it was an interesting book to read right now. In some ways, it was a more modern version of The Handmaid’s Tale. If you do read it, I’d love to talk to you about it!
On Writing by Stephen King
I’ve always wanted to read this half-autobiography/half-writing handbook by one of America’s most beloved authors. King tells the story of how he became a writer in short little vignettes about his life and then breaks down some of his writing rules. The last section addresses his near-fatal accident and the transformative role writing played in his recovery. I loved it.
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