Welcome back! As is our time-honored tradition, we asked members of the Nobles community what books, films, TV shows and podcasts they enjoyed over the summer break. Check out our displays in the library for some of the items listed!
Director of College Counseling Kate Boyle Ramsdell:
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah — on my morning walks, when I wasn’t listening to Amazon Prime’s Top Dance Hits, I listened to Noah’s compelling memoir about his life growing up in South Africa during apartheid. While I have always loved his razor-sharp insight on The Daily Show, I now have context for his perspective, wit and wisdom. He narrates well, which made me love the fact that I was listening to it, but it would also be a quick and compelling read.
Three books I am reading simultaneously, none of which I have yet finished, all of which I am enjoying immensely and would recommend:
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas
Each author’s voice is powerful and engaging. I have loved the breadth of Gyasi’s narrative. Adichie is one of my favorite authors, and I finally got to Americanah this summer — simply put, she is a remarkable writer! Lastly, many of the girls in the dorm last year raved about Thomas’ debut novel, and given its pertinence to our contemporary American experience, I had to dive in. So far, I’m glad I’ve created an opportunity for myself to delve into multiple perspectives in three novels with complex, critical and compelling overlapping themes.
Spanish Teacher and Academic Technology Specialist Anderson Julio:
The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker. Through simplifying our lives and cutting down on mindless consumption, Becker argues, we can free up time and energy towards what matters the most. The book presents real-life examples of people who have transformed their lives and found sustainable happiness through simple living. Whether we are aware or not we live in a cluttered world. Think 24/7 news cycles, endless advertisement, sports and entertainment, access to an infinite amount of resources via the internet.
Spanish Teacher and Class II Dean Cam Marchant N’02:
Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations by Ronen Bergman.
A detailed survey of the history of Israel’s military forces and tactics. Although the book focuses on the Mossad (Israel’s CIA) and Shin Bet (Israel’s FBI) it provides a strong background on general Israeli military history.
Directed by Dror Moreh
A somewhat-dated (2012) documentary on the Shin Bet (Israel’s FBI). Essentially a series of interviews with the six former heads of the Shin Bet.
Film directed by Chloe Zhao.
Examines the life of a young Native American rodeo star in South Dakota. Shot on location and starring the actual people that the film is based on, it examines a young man’s challenging change in perspective after a serious injury.
Crux by Jean Guererro
A memoir of a Mexican-American writer who grew up in a complex and often challenging world of two nations and two parents who often times are at odds.
Alex Janower ’22:
My favorite book that I read this summer was 188th Crybaby Brigade by Joel Chasnoff, a Chicagoan, Jewish comedian. The autobiography focuses on Joel’s experience in the Israeli army as a tank shooter. Chasnoff intertwined humor with deep messages, so the book was a fun, quick, meaningful read.
Librarian Emily Tragert:
How To Survive a Plague by David France
I really enjoyed this long but readable account of how activists and scientists worked to get funding and muster political will during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 90s. It was fascinating, heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time.
Circe by Madeline Miller
The author of The Song of Achilles did it again–she somehow captured the beautiful lyricism of Homer in modern prose. I found this book to be lovely and enchanting; it brings a new perspective to the well-known story of The Odyssey
History Teacher Nahyon Lee:
“Making Obama” podcast – The podcast from Chicago’s WBEZ goes back to how President Obama became a politician. It’s not about his presidency but from his time as a community organizer to a senator. The podcast was easy to follow, great interviews, and informative about the political scene in Chicago.
Middle School Teaching Fellow Jennah Maybury:
I read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr this summer and it was AWESOMEEEE. It follows the lives of two young people, a blind French girl and a German boy, during WWII. Their stories intersect in mysterious, poignant ways. Beyond being a total page-turner, what I love about the book is its ability to convey humanity, hope, and connectedness even in the darkest of times.
Math Teacher Efe Osifo:
I was (due to our wonderful library and amazing librarians) able to listen to a reading of Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’ve read the book several times. However, I’d never listened to an audiobook before and I figured that it would be an interesting experience. Reading a book is one thing and it’s amazing. However, hearing good actors read is entirely different. Hearing the accents, the emphasis on words and sentences I missed when I was a kid was surprisingly a really fun listen. I encourage all of you to get a book on tape and listen to it while you run (which I didn’t do), or while you eat cookies (which I did do).
Wyatt Sullivan ’19
Book: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: I’m a sucker for a good fantasy romp and this book delivered that in so many ways and more. Not only was in accessibly written but each word of Lynch’s prose is subtly evocative and allows anyone to effortlessly imagine his eccentric array of characters and exciting action sequences. The Lies of Locke Lamora is centred around its titular character and his team of thieves and con-artists as they attempt to pull off their biggest con yet. Imagine Ocean’s 11 with rooftop chases, plague doctors, assassinations and a little bit of magic.
Movie: Calvary directed by John McDonagh: Its hard to describe this film without giving too much away. Set on the west coast of Ireland, the story revolves around an honest and faithful Catholic priest with a dark past and a darker future, played masterfully by Brendan Gleason. Part mystery, part drama, and riddled with dark comedy and heartbreaking sincerity alike. There really is no other film quite like this one and it has stayed with me long after first seeing it.
Spanish Teach Elizabeth Benjamin-Alcayaga:
I read the memoir Educated by Tara Westover this summer. What a fascinating, insightful, and at times difficult-to-read book. In short, it recounts the story of a young woman who grew up in a survivalist/fundamentalist family in Idaho. She never received a formal education until she went to college, where she first learned about key historical events such as the Holocaust and the Civil Rights movement. Its a tale of family conflict, coming-of-age, and highlights how education shapes one’s perspective and world view.
Brian Qi ’24:
I would recommend I am the Messenger for fans of The Book Thief. It is about a taxi driver who doesn’t have his life on track. One day, he receives messages via a playing card. On these messengers, he must solve certain conflicts of other people, and becomes the messenger. These messages help him get his life back on.
Wudiana Fevrier ’24:
My favorite book that I read was probably a tie between The Only Thing To Fear and The Hate U Give.
Jerry Qin ’24:
I read a few books this summer. One book I read that I really enjoyed is called Another Day by David Levithan. It’s Every Day but told in the perspective of Rhiannon. I also read Scythe by Neal Schusterman. It is a few hundred years into the future, where humans have conquered death. There are an elite group of people called Scythes who kill or as they call it gleaning people to keep the population down. Two kids, Citra and Rowan, are chosen to be scythe apprentices, and train together. However, only one of them can become a scythe. Four months later, their first scythe conclave rolled around. A scythe conclave is a big meeting which all the scythes in the area attend. Unfortunately, Citra and Rowan are forced to train against each other, and in 8 months time, whoever becomes the scythe will have to glean the other person. Neither Citra nor Rowan want to kill each other, so they try to find a way out of the system. Citra ends up becoming the scythe, and right as she is about to glean Rowan, he escapes. That is where the book ends, and where Thunderhead starts.
Librarian Talya Sokoll:
Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu. This is an adorable graphic novel about hockey and baking. It tells the story of the main character Bitty’s first two years at college as he navigates playing college hockey, baking as much as possible, and falling in love with one of his teammates.
The Book of Essie, by Meghan MacLean Weir, tells the powerful story of Essie, the youngest of six children, who discovers she is pregnant at the start of her senior year in high school. Essie’s family is famous for their reality TV show Six for Hicks, which showcases their father’s weekly church services and as the book unfolds, we go on a journey with Essie as she figures out what to do and who she can truly trust.
Pulp by Robin Talley. Abby is in her senior year of high school and trying to figure out what she wants to do for her senior project. She finds an old lesbian pulp novel from the 1950s and decides to research the history of queer pulp novels while writing her own. Through this process she goes on a journey of discovery about herself, her goals and her friendships. Interspersed throughout Abby’s story is the story of Janet, an 18 year-old gay woman living in Washington, D.C. in the 1950s. Janet, who is in a secret relationship with her best friend Marie, must decide if the life she truly wants is worth the sacrifices she must make.
Danielle Frankel ’22:
These are two of the books that I read this summer:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The main themes include police violence, racism, family support, trust, willingness to speak out, and courage.
I would definitely recommend this book, as I feel that it is such an important topic to discuss, and it illustrates so many values that we should bring into our daily lives.
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
The book describes the survival stories of Lina Vilkas, and her brother, Jonas. They were forced out of their homes in Lithuania and were transported in boxcars to a labor camp, and the Arctic Circle. Through the whole story, Lina, Jonas, and their mother always were looking out for each other, whether it was giving them their ration of bread, or doing their share of the work. I love this book because their support for each other is so inspiring, especially the support from their mother, Elena. She is very admirable, as she respected everyone no matter if they were enemies or best friends.
Librarian Ella Steim:
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller – historical fiction – a retelling of the life of Achilles from the point of view of his companion, Patroclus. Beautifully written story of friendship, love, and fate.
Educated, by Tara Westover – memoir – Westover’s autobiography of her life so far, from growing up in a survivalist family in rural Idaho to attending school for the first time at age 17. Rich with meditations on family, learning, religion, and mental health. An incredibly powerful read.
Angie Feng ’24:
Over the summer, I read The Giver By Lois Lowry. It is about a boy who lives in a community where everything is seemingly “perfect”. I liked The Giver because it taught me a really important lesson on how nothing is “perfect” and that everything has its flaws.
English Teacher Gia Batty:
My favorite book from my summer reading list was There, There by Tommy Orange. His story of urban Indians living in Oakland was heartbreakingly good and I predict that Tommy Orange will soon be a name that everyone knows. I loved Otessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation for its dysfunctional and lovable narrator who believes that if she could just sleep for a year, her life would be so much better. I also enjoyed reading the English II summer reading book, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.
English Teacher and Class I Dean Kim Libby:
Ali Smith has been called “Scotland’s Nobel laureate-in-waiting” as she accumulates a genius body of work. She is the middle of writing her Seasonal Quartet: four books set in the Post-Brexit Britain. Her characters Tweet about global warming and love female pioneers of the British pop art scene; they endure the maddeningly complicated task of ordering a passport, and they speak from spaces between life and death. Playful and sharp and cutting, Autumn and Winter were two of my favorites this summer. I cannot wait for Spring (coming March 2019…)
Director of Theatere Dan Halperin:
Best summer reading: Every word of every summer issue of The New Yorker. As one of my favorite media personalities put it, “Subscribe to The New Yorker, it’s a light in the darkness.” Also, magazines are great for travel and beach outings.
Best summer movies: Sorry to Bother You, BlacKKKlansman, and Leave No Trace.
Best summer TV: “Succession”…Written and performed like a great play.
Head of Upper School Michael Denning:
The Death of Democracy by Benjamin Carter Hett. Beginning with the premise that most people believe Hitler and the Nazis overthrew Germany’s Weimar Republic with some kind of violent coup d’etat, Professor Hett debunks this myth by showing how the Nazis came to power in Germany through legal processes. A historian of this period, Hett raises concerns for all democratic republics, offering a warning of what can happen when voters become swayed by racist, xenophobic, nationalistic and populist ideas and leaders.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. This beautifully written epic history chronicles the mass exodus of African-Americans from the Jim Crow South from the end of World War I until the 1970s. Through the story of three very different people from disparate backgrounds and places in the South, Wilkerson brings to life the terror and injustice under which people of color lived under Jim Crow, the tremendous courage, resourcefulness, and resilience thousands showed in escaping, and the enormous difficulties they confronted while building new lives for themselves and their families in cities in the North and West Coast. Through their exhaustive research, The Equal Justice Initiative has determined that over 4000 racially based lynchings occurred in twelve southern states from the end of Reconstruction in 1877 until 1950. Far too few of us know this history, and Wilkerson provides an opportunity for all of us to better understand and appreciate this tragic aspect of the American experience. All citizens of our Republic should read this work.
I read Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read a lot of her work before and she has become one of my favorite authors. The book is centered around the Biafran Civil War (the late 60’s), but it has elements of romance and tragedy, while also hinting at bigger topics such as Communism and colonialism. The characters feel great and vivid. I recommend this book to anyone who has a Nigerian background (such as myself) or loves Adichie’s work.
Science Teacher Christine Pasterczyk (CP):
Fugitive Pieces. This poetic novel by Canadian writer Anne Michaels (1998) was adapted into film in 2007. This summer, I both read the book and watched the film. Double the pleasure! Both pieces were beautiful: evocative, and deeply moving. Difficult too. The story centers around the life and experiences of a young Jewish boy who “bursts from the mud” of a war-torn Polish village during WWII, rescued from traumas he has already experienced (there are more to come) by a Greek archaeologist who smuggles him to an island occupied by Nazis in the Ionian Sea. Both the book and the film make clear that World War II was exactly that: a world war. They also explore the effects of trauma on this boy who becomes a man (and a writer) over the course of time: one who is reluctant to let go of the past, but who ultimately must do so (only by processing it) in order to move on.
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