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What Did You Read/Watch/Listen to Over Winter Break?

Posted on June 26, 2018 by

We asked and you answered! Welcome back and happy 2018! Special Events Coordinator Katherine Minevitz: Season 1 and Season 2 of “This is Us,” a really great tv show about a family and all the personalities, inner relationships, twists and turns that are all a part of life—well-acted drama with lots of “lighter” moments as well—really complex but relatable characters! Chinese Teacher Dao Liu: I watched “Stranger Things” on Netflix over the break. Actually, it was highly recommended by my students before the break, and they were very into it. I like the show! I like all mystery novels and movies, no matter where they are from (American, Japanese, British, Chinese, etc.). I also like the idea to salute to the popular culture of the 1980s. The acting skills of the young actors are absolutely amazing (I wonder how they found those amazing kids!). I am so looking forward to Season 3 coming out. Math Teacher Efe Osifo My favorite new show is a Netflix show called “Black Mirror.” (It’s rated R, unfortunately, so sorry to the young folks.) The show is a horror/sci-fi about humans interactions with various types of technology.  The “twist” in each episode is how the technology combined with flaws of humans leads to (usually) the downfall of humans.  In one episode, it starts with a young mother losing her young daughter in the park. After finding the daughter, the mother implants a GPS tracking system in her daughter. The GPS chip allows the mother to always know (via app) her daughter’s whereabouts geographically but also tells mom anytime her daughter is worried, afraid, scared, or upset via an app alert. The app also allows the mom to literally see through her daughter’s eyes whenever she wants. The episode gets a bit crazy because as the daughter gets older, she wants a bit more privacy and the mother is unwilling (for reasons shown in the show) to give it to her. The ending… is wild. If you’re old enough, I hope you watch and enjoy! P.S. Apparently the show is called “Black Mirror” because when you turn off a screen (tv, phone, laptop) you see your reflection on the now black screen. Hence, it’s a black mirror. Director of Instrumental Music Antonio Berdugo: I started Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty. Great input on how income inequality and wealth could impact everyone in the future. English Teacher Alden Mauck: Stoner by John Williams. This novel follows a young man from a hardscrabble farm to the University of Missouri so that he can become an agronomist and then return to his family farm to help his parents run it. However, he discovers a love of literature and becomes a college professor at the University of Missouri, falls in love once…falls in love twice, suffers a complicated relationship with his only child, and endures the palace intrigue of an English Department headed up by his chief rival. A quiet tragedy in the “campus novel” genre, beautifully written. Sidnie Kulik ’21: I read the book Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck. I loved the book because it was an action-packed dystopian novel.  It also was interesting to see how the author perceived the dangers that could occur from the UN trying to create a utopia, but instead, the effort created a corrupt world. Spanish Teacher Cam Marchant ’02: I thought that Wind River was an amazing film. In addition to stunning cinematography of Wyoming/Utah and a suspenseful crime mystery, it examines the major issue of domestic violence and sexual assault on (and off) American Indian reservations. It’s pretty heavy so I’m not sure that it would be appropriate for a lot of students, but a film certainly worth watching for adults. NPR’s Podcast “How I Built This” did an awesome episode on Jake Burton Carpenter, the founder of Vermont-based Burton snowboards, which is one of the largest brands in the world of action sports. In addition to a deep dive on the entrepreneurial aspects of the Burton story, the podcast goes into depth on the tragedies and triumphs of its founder’s own life. There’s even a connection to the ISL (Independent School League)! Science Teacher Bob Kern: During break, I started to watch a series called “Good Behavior.” So far there have been two seasons of this series on the TNT network. It is about a streetwise woman who is a thief and “con artist,” and a man who is a professional “hit man” with a conscience. Their “careers” lead them into some unusual and sometimes comical (depending on your sense of humor) situations and an unlikely love affair. Though their behavior is often “bad,” they do have some redeeming qualities, and I found myself cheering for them to succeed/survive in spite of their failings. There are some mature themes and some violence, so caution is advised for young viewers. Maddy King ’21: I started watching “Game of Thrones” over break and I’m already addicted. All the action and drama inspired by the Rose Wars is deeply entertaining. I’d recommend it for any that loves family drama, fight scenes and dragons. English Teacher Vicky Seelen: I read two incredible books: 1. The Weight of Ink, Rachel Kadish. A brilliantly written novel which moves between the 16th Century Jewish community in London, featuring an educated and orphaned young woman who seeks to defy the expectations of home and hearth, while also weaving in the story of two scholars, one an aging English professor and one, a young American who is stalled in his doctoral dissertation during 2001, who find papers hidden in a home that tie them to Esther of the 1500s. 2. Reading With Patrick, Michelle Kuo. A profoundly moving memoir of a Chinese woman (raised in Taiwan) who defies her immigrant parents’ desire for her to makes something more of herself and goes to the Mississippi Delta on a Teach for America assignment where she works in a school “at the margins” (understatement). While there, she teaches a young man named Patrick with whom she (ultimately) guides him through many poems while he awaits his trial for murder from prison. Dean of Enrollment Management Jen Hines: I devoured Dan Brown’s Origin.  I’m fascinated by the ways that science and religion do and don’t intersect and this book did not disappoint. It’s hard not to find the questions “where do we come from?” and “where are we going?” intriguing and concepts introduced in the book were the source of a lot of my conversations over the break. History Teacher Michael Polebaum ’08: I read Brunch is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party, which is an amazing satirical look at why brunch truly is destroying our collective soul and how to combat this threat by throwing the perfect dinner party. Complete with playlist recommendations and recipes, this book is a superb guide to not only the perfect dinner party, but a perfect life. English Teacher Chris Burr: I saw The Lady in the Van, a true story about an aged, homeless woman who is both cantankerous and desperate for the company of others. Maggie Smith from “Downtown Abbey” and the rest of the cast are wonderful. Head of School Catherine J. Hall, Ph.D: I read Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee. The book follows the story of one woman’s family and journey over four generations as her family emigrates from Korea to Japan in the 1920s. I found its portrayal of the complex cultural and political issues of that region during a very tumultuous time globally to be eye opening and also heart wrenching. There is a lot of sadness and suffering in this book, but also a tremendous amount of hope and optimism. History Teacher Jennifer Carlson-Pietraszek: BOOKS: The Art of Happiness, by the Dalai Lama.  Well worth a read—and even a reread. We all have so much agency, so much power within ourselves, to influence and design our life experiences. Choose compassion. The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan. Beautiful, interesting, great character development. This is an enjoyable read to be sure. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson. I heard Jenny Lawson on a podcast and thought she was hysterical. Then I found that I had already downloaded one of her books (this one) through Audible. Funny! She apologizes early for the possible/probable offense she assumes you will take at some point along the way. Insights into living with significant depression and anxiety. TV SHOW: “Ozark” on Netflix. Wow. Only one season (so far). Totally gripping and addictive. As of last night I am waiting for a second season! MOVIE: Fences (2016). Incredible performances by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in this adaptation of an August Wilson screenplay. Powerful. Race in our nation has deep roots. Working class family in 1950s Pittsburgh trying to survive and striving to thrive but held back by past and present realities. Science Teacher Dr. Regina Campbell-Malone: Black Panther Books I and II by Ta-Nehisi Coates: ​I loved reading the story of a strong, black, male h​​ero in his own story. See #allthetime #blackpanther​ for a 26 second video explaining​ the power of the panther right now. Ava DuVernay retweeted it.  We Should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I loved reading the elegant explanation of why we should all (truly all) be strong heroes in the fight for equality. ​ Librarian Ella Steim: I read Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan. Really interesting family/community drama set around New York City before and during World War II. Also looks at some lesser-known aspects of the war for civilians—very well researched.  I also enjoyed Sourdough, by Robin Sloan. Crazy (but believable!) novel about intersections of food and technology cultures in the Bay Area. Fun and thought-provoking. Max von Schroeter ’19: I read Killing England by Bill O’Reilly and Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans by Brian Kilmeade. These books went in depth about each battle of The Revolutionary War (Killing England) and The War of 1812 (Andrew Jackson). They talked about the reasons for fighting behind both factions, and they also talked about the leaders of each army and battle, their strategies, successes and failures. Assistant Controller Rachel Weinstock: I read Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir in Family & Culture by JD Vance. This autobiography by a Yale Law School graduate with roots in Appalachia is a firsthand account and analysis of a segment of the white underclass that helped Trump to get elected. Vance writes about his culture as only an insider could—naked truths and harsh judgements. This makes for a good read. While his commentary and conclusions are disturbing and debatable, I always appreciate getting a new viewpoint. Librarian Emily Tragert: I read A Column of Fire by Ken Follett. This book is the third in the Kingsbridge series, which started with The Pillars of the Earth. It’s set in 16th and 17th century Europe and follows an expansive cast of characters over about thirty years as they confront the political and religious conflicts of the period. Although it’s over 900 pages long, I sped through it–it’s a real page-turner! Director of Theater Dan Halperin: I thoroughly enjoyed reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. It was very fun and easy to get into and ready, yet it really packed a punch, exploring themes of family, class, race and more.

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