Harry Potter Trivia Question: Is Snape Good or Evil?

Thank you all so much to everyone who played Harry Potter trivia the week before last!  We got so many great answers to our “expert-level” question, “Is Severus Snape good or evil?” and we wanted to share some with you!!  Thank you to everyone who responded!

Overwhelmingly, most people said they thought Snape was good, even though he did bad things.  They cited such examples as protecting Harry in book one from Quirrell’s spells, his love of Lily Potter, the trust placed in him by Dumbledore, sending him Godric Griffyndor’s sword and (trying) to teach Harry Occlumency.  Some said that Snape did good things, despite not being a good person, saying, “he is neither good or evil, but more evil than anything else.”  A few cited some examples of his evilness, including his terrorizing of students, his time as a Death Eater, and that his desire to make amends came from his love of Lily, rather than any sense of “moral repentance.”  As one respondent said, “getting pantsed [as a teenager] doesn’t justify becoming Neville’s worst fear.”  However, as Sirius Black says, “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”  

Dan Epstein explored Snape’s dual nature in two essays, where he provided arguments for both sides.  He noted that Snape does many good things including: protecting Harry even though he dislikes him, acting as a double agent by spying on Voldemort for Dumbledore at great personal risk, and teaching Harry Occlumency to help him combat Voldemort.  He mentioned that, “Snape’s first words to Harry were, ‘Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?’ In Victorian Flower Language, asphodel is a type of lily (like his mom) that means regrets at the grave.  Wormwood means absence or sorrow.  It you combine them together it could mean, ‘I regret Lily’s death and I am sorry.’”  However, Dan also noted the evil things he has done, including bullying students in class, and terrorizing Neville, as well as deliberately trying to get the students to figure out that Professor Lupin was a werewolf.  

Good, evil, or somewhere in-between? There is one thing we can all agree on: Severus Snape is a complicated, fascinating character. 

Here are some other choice quotes from Nobles community members:

  • “Snape is good, yet spite, anger and frustration lead him to single out Harry and co for harsher treatment as retribution for his torment at the hands of Jams and co. in the earlier books.  However, […] he loved Lily Potter all along and sacrificed himself for Harry and the gang.” – Ben Heider
  • “Ultimately, Snape gives his life for Harry in a final act of love for Lily.  I think that everything Snape did was based on his love and grief.” – Annie Ellison ’19
  • “Snape was willing to do anything to keep the love of his life and her family safe…[and] he spent countless hours [with Harry] making sure Harry would be safe from the part of Voldemort that lived inside him.”  Betsy Matthew ’20
  • “Snape sacrificed his humanity for the greater good.  He has to play a role the he despised, kill one of his best friends, and do terrible things to convince the death eaters that he supported their cause.  The ultimate level of enlightenment is to sacrifice your life for a just case; that is exactly what Snape did.”  – Dominic Manzo
  • “He gave his life to good and without him Harry couldn’t have survived.” – Grace Taylor ’21 and Antonia Gomez ’21.
  • “He dedicates his life to saving Harry.” – Gracie Sheehan ’22
  • “He spends his entire life protecting Harry (who he doesn’t really like) for his betrayal of his true love.  He is a great wizard drawn to the dark arts, but ultimately dedicates his life to love.  He worked as a spy for Dumbledore to fight Voldemort and help Harry.”  – Sean Wrenn ’18
  • “Snape is in no way a morally good character. While people might argue that he fought against Voldemort in the end and saved Harry, his motivation for doing so is entirely selfish.”  – Catherine  Kasparyan ’18
  • “Snape isn’t a moral person, good vs. evil is not something that truly figures into this personality.  He is simply a person guided by his own (sometimes misguided) emotions […] Human beings are products of our experiences and more often than not, infancy and our parent’s ideals influence greatly.  In an attempt to sooth his shattered ego and twisted heart Snape turned to the familiar, both embracing his family legacy and attempting to reject Lily from his heart. […] Trying to condemn Snape is futile, his complexity does not allow for such a black and white view.  And honesty, is it important?  Harry and Neville are the only living people with the right to judge Snape, having been his most specific victims.”  – Ana Laura Delgado ’18






What did you read/watch/listen to over spring break?

We asked and you answered!  Thanks for all your responses!

Class IV Dean and English Teacher E.B. Bartels ’06:
I rewatched Edward Scissorhands on a thirteen-hour plane ride back from Japan. I hadn’t seen it in about ten years, and I forgot how depressing it is, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Remember Johnny Depp pre-Pirates of the Caribbean? He’s actually a good actor. Who knew!?

Classics Teacher Mark Harrington:
“Travelers” on Netflix–Season 1 is 12 episodes–time travelers, so you have to be into that, but great characters and premise.

English Teacher Thomas Forteith:
I read and enjoyed Fools by Njabulo Ndebele.  It’s rather depressing but also a very powerful portrait of a corrupted teacher and impoverished township in South Africa under apartheid in the 1960s.

Bronwyn Jensen ’20:
I watched “The OA” and it was really good but sorta messed with my perception of life as we know it. Also, major cliffhanger at the end.

Director of Technical Theater Jon Bonner:
Listened to The Martian again on Audible… so good! It’s so much better than the movie. There are so many details and things that they change… book all the way!

Director of Admission Brooke Asnis ’90:
News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Incredible, haunting book. My favorite in years.

Summary: “1870, North Texas, rainy and cold. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels from town to town giving readings from the latest newspapers, bringing the news of the world to isolated towns on the Texas frontier. In Wichita Falls, he is asked to return a captive girl to her relatives near San Antonio, 400 miles to the south. The old man and the ten-year-old start out on a hazardous journey, no less risky because the girl considers herself now a Kiowa and does not have the slightest desire to return. Bandits and Comanche raids and violent weather make as many difficulties as the ten-year old girl who can’t speak English, eats with her hands and knows how to use a revolver. In the end, he finds he must return her to relatives who don’t want her, even though he and the girl have become trusting friends.  A story of courage and honor and the truth that these two things are often the possession of even the unlikeliest people.

Katie Giordano ’17:
I finished watching “Weightlifting Fairy,” which is a Korean Drama. It was really interesting, and the characters were funny and flamboyant and goofy, portraying college love and exploring gender stereotypes.

Science Teacher Bob Kern:
I saw the movie Hacksaw Ridge, the true story of a conscientious objector who served in WW2 as a medic and without carrying a gun. It was well done and well acted and a great lesson about sticking to your beliefs in spite of all circumstances.

Assistant Controller Rachel Weinstock:
I’ve binge-watched “Call the Midwife,” a BBC TV show based on a memoir by a midwife based in London’s East End in the late 1950s. It chronicles the lives of young lay women living in a convent as they try to provide the best healthcare possible to the very poor.  It’s funny and poignant and beautiful, and also a really fascinating period show…and season six premieres on April 2!

Kiara Curet ’17
I watched the live action Beauty and the Beast movie over break and as you know it was amazing! I also watched the Vampire Diaries.

English Teacher Alden Mauck:
I read a John D. McDonald detective story featuring Travis McGee, The Deep Blue Goodbye … that was for fun and distraction; I also reread The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood featuring Offred… that was less fun and less distracting.

History Teacher Jenny Carlson-Pietraszek:
Kaffir Boy is an autobiography written by Mark Mathabane, a Black South African who grew up during apartheid in a homeland called Alexandra.  Trevor Noah’s autobiographical short stories compiled in Born a Crime provide insight into the same time period in the same country – even into the same homeland – from the perspective of a mixed-race South African.  Interesting paired reading/listening.

Casey Goldstein ’19:
I watched Moana on the plane ride back from China…definitely one of my favorite Disney movies! Crazy good soundtrack, and was pretty unique in terms of animated adventures. Also super funny!

Librarian Talya Sokoll:
I read Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, an amazing, quick read, that felt like a combination of The Chronicles of Narnia and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The students at the boarding school in Every Heart a Doorway have all traveled to different, fantastical worlds and now, upon their return, want nothing more than to go back.  Nancy, the newest student, is just like those children, but her arrival at the school brings certain truths to light, and exposes certain horrors that had otherwise been ignored.

Head of Upper School Michael Denning:
Madeleine Albright, Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948
Autobiographical Prague Winter is based on Albright’s recollections of growing up as the daughter of Czechoslovak diplomats during the period from the fall of the nascent Czechoslovakian Republic through Nazi Occupation to life behind Stalin’s Iron Curtain. As the child of prominent Czechoslovak leaders, Albright had a front-row seat from which she witnessed the terrible suffering that unfolded in her country during this period. As a person who lost many family members in the Holocaust, not to mention her country, Albright uses her experiences, and those of her family and fellow Czechoslovak citizens, to warn us of the democracy’s fragility.

Director of Academic Support Gia Batty:
I listened to the book Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. It is a story told through many different voices of a heinous crime and its effect on those involved. The mountains of Idaho’s panhandle is the backdrop, and the description of the landscape and the family home on the top of Mount Lily was beautiful. The narrator of the audiobook had a very strange voice, so I would recommend reading this book, rather than listening to it!

Bookstore Manager Amy McHugh:
Over break I read two books: Truly, Madly, Deeply by Liane Moriarty. This fiction book was about three different families and how their lives came together through one tragic event. I thought it was a page turner and it really showed you just how unpredictable life can be. You think you have your life all planned out and in the blink of an eye it changes!  I also read, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. A great read, however this book was not what I expected, but I really enjoyed it. You will read about race, family, how people view other people and their upbringing.

Librarian Emily Tragert:
I read Ted Chiang’s short story collection Stories of Your Life and Others, which was amazing. Chiang is a technical writer for a software company, and you can see aspects of that in his writing–his stories are methodical and intricate–but he is also a master of plot. His stories build subtly and quietly to an emotional climax that somehow feels inevitable and surprising at the same time. One of the stories in this collection was the basis for the movie Arrival, which came out last year.




Spring Break Picks!

Spring break is almost here and if you are looking for something to watch, read or listen to, the library has a bunch of new books, DVDs and other fun things for you to borrow.

Don’t like physical objects?  Books too heavy for your flight?  Check out an iPod!  We can pre-load it with audio books, or you can sync it to your music collection!  Ask a librarian for more details.

Are you going on a Nobles trip and can’t bring your phone? Check out a good, old fashioned digital camera! Or a newfangled GoPro!!


New Fiction


New Young Adult Fiction


New Nonfiction

New Cookbooks

New Books about Art, Music, Film and more!

New Books about Sports!


New DVDs 


Celebrate Black History Month

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Yesterday marked the final day of Black History Month.  To celebrate, the library put together a series of displays throughout the month of February highlighting black pioneers, innovators and artists you may not know. Here is the complete list of who we highlighted, along with what they are known for.  To learn more, please ask one of your librarians for more information.

  • Vivien Thomas (1910-1985), pioneer in cardiac surgery at Johns Hopkins University.  For a great book about Vivien Thomas, check out: Breakthrough!: how three people saved “blue babies” and changed medicine forever.
  • Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), educator, philanthropist and civil rights activist. Bethune also served as a policy advisor for President Roosevelt and founded Bethune-Cookman University.
  • Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, founders of the Black Lives Matter movement.  For an overview of the Black Lives Matter movement, check out this book!  For a great new novel, check out The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (which we will have in the library shortly).
  • Kehinde Wiley (1977- ), portrait painter. Wiley is known for his large format Renaissance-inspired portraits of contemporary people of color. Check out his book here.
  • Bass Reeves (1838-1910), legendary U.S. Marshal. Sometimes called “The Real Lone Ranger”, he is said to have captured over 3,000 felons during his long career. Check out a wonderful picture book of his life here.
  • Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907), the first professional African-American and Native American sculptor. For a wonderful novel in verse about Ms. Lewis, click here.
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw (1959- ), civil rights activist and scholar, who introduced the idea of intersectionality to feminist theory in the 1980s.
  • Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992), prominent transgender and AIDS activist who was one of the first to fight back in clashes with the police during the Stonewall riots. For a great article about Ms. Johnson, click here.  For more information on the Stonewall Riots, check out: The Gay Revolution: the story of the struggle by Lillian Faderman.
  • Gordon Parks (1912-2006), photographer, composer, author and filmmaker. Parks is best known for his photojournalism work, which focuses on poverty, civil rights, and urban life in 20th-century America.  We have a number of books about Mr. Parks in the library, swing by to check one out!
  • Hiram Revels (1827 – 1901), the first African American U.S. senator. Revels was elected to the Senate in 1870, and later served as a college president and a minister.
  • Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), an advocate for civil rights, pacifism and gay rights. Rustin was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington and was a major influence on the civil rights movement’s policy of nonviolent protest.
  • Lonnie Johnson (1949- ), inventor and engineer. He has worked for the U.S. Air Force and NASA and invented many clean energy technologies. His most famous invention, however, is the Super Soaker water gun.
  • Cece McDonald (1989- ), a trans rights activist who was sentenced to prison for manslaughter after protecting herself during a hate crime. After her release she began to speak out for trans rights and against mass incarceration.
  • Hattie McDaniel (1893-1952), singer, actor and radio personality.  In 1938, she became the first African-American person to win an Academy Award for acting.
  • Zipporah Potter Atkins (17th century), the first African-American person to own property in Boston.  Atkins purchased land in the North End in 1670 using money inherited from her parents and lived on the property for almost 30 years.





What was the album that had the most impact on you as a teenager?

Music can have such a huge impact on a person’s life, especially during the teenage years. Recently, people have been posting on social media about their top influential albums that they listened to as teens. We thought it would be fun to ask Nobles employees, “What was your favorite album from when you were a teenager?” and “Why was it so important to you?”  Here are their answers…

English Teacher Thomas Forteith:
Nothing’s Shocking by Jane’s Addiction because it rocks!  And because “Summertime Rolls” makes me think of good-time high school romance!

History Teacher Brian Day:
Darkness on the Edge of Town by Bruce Springsteen. It gave a voice to those who aren’t always heard, and it empowered me with the feeling that I, too, could be heard.

Director of Graduate Affairs Greg Croak ’06:
Mezmerize by System of a Down. I generally think people assign too much value to the “importance” of music and often confuse it with other literary genres. This System of a Down album aurally kicks you in the face from start to finish and that’s exactly what my soul  needed when I was 17.

Math Teacher Bill Kehlenbeck:
I received Meet The Beatles as a gift for my 11th birthday just around the time (late January/early February) that they were first appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. It remained my favorite album for many years, as it inspired me to learn all of the lyrics and guitar chords of every song on the album, which led to my lifelong love of singing and playing rock & roll! (By interesting coincidence, I was listening to the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album this very morning as I drove to school.)

ATS Coordinator Alycia Scott-Hiser:
AC/DC, Back in Black. It spoke to my inner rebellious rocker.

Dean of Middle School Diversity Initiatives Erica Pernell:
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This album is one that is still impactful for me, even as an adult.  Lauryn Hill writes about love, justice, growing up, spirituality and materialism.  She moves through different genres of music (reggae, hip hop, soul, r&b) while telling her story of growing up as a woman of color and an artist.  I’m amazed at how it still speaks to me, with meanings shifting and changing as I get older.

Director of Achieve Nora Dowley-Liebowitz:
Fiona Apple. TIDAL. Best album EVER. So much teenage angst in an album, not to mention the beautiful songwriting and gorgeous orchestration. SHE. JUST. GOT. ME (as a 17 year old). Best Song – “Never is a Promise.” This song is the first time I ever felt the mic drop.

Assistant Director of Communications Kim Neal:
U2’s  Joshua Tree.  Amidst the other mainstream music I was listening to, this album stood out as really important: it was passionate, political and provocative, and it made me feel and think about a broader world and issues. Seeing U2 in concert is epic; they’ve connected with each other and their fans for decades because they are the real deal. And well, because Bono. Not only does he have an unbelievable voice, but he has always used his influence and resources for political and humanitarian justice.

Writer and Content Manager Lexi Sullivan:
Flogging Molly’s Drunken Lullabies. On repeat. For my entire adolescence. I once hugged the bassist (and promptly walked into a wall) and I still want “If I Ever Leave This World Alive” played at my funeral. This album, introduced to me via an Irish guy named Desmond (who once borrowed my blanket to watch a meteor shower), may be the actual spark that led me down the path to getting my master’s in Irish literature and culture.

Director of College Counseling Kate Ramsdell:
Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls​ (1989). I was introduced to the album (then a cassette tape!) by seniors on my high school swim team. We’d blast “Closer to Fine” on our way to school from morning practice. I felt cool being with them. When my friends and I were seniors we went to an Indigo Girls concert in Central Park, which was its own rite of passage for us as we left high school and friends we’d been in school with since kindergarten, and headed off to college.

Social Studies Teacher Fred Hollister:
Among many favorites of somewhat different sub-genres (rock more generally), I would have to say it was The Allman Brothers’ double LP, Live at Fillmore East, from 1971. While some live albums are not as good as the studio renderings of songs (musicianship, the vocals, sound quality, all of the above), this was the first album where I experienced the live versions of their catalog to that point (one album released as the Allman Joys followed by two studio efforts as the Allman Bros.) being taken to a completely different level. All the original members were still alive (Duane Allman and Berry Oakley would each be killed in motorcycle accidents over the next few years) and the band was really tight on all of these recordings. Bluesy rock, jam band length on several cuts, ballads and instrumentals – it was all there. Still remains one of my two favorite albums of all time these many years later. Seminal to me.

Science Teacher Mike Hoe:
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This album is incredible.  Lauryn Hill’s music is real & honest, she talks about tangible/relevant issues, and the interludes between each song with kids discussing big topics (i.e. love, family, etc.) are awesome.  I still listen to this album pretty frequently to this day.  This album is truly a way to use music as an outlet to be heard about life issues.

English Teacher E.B. Bartels ’06
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel: To be perfectly honest, I first got into Neutral Milk Hotel when I was in ninth grade because a bunch of junior boys who I thought were really cool and edgy and cute loved the band. But it was really my sophomore year, when I was taking driver’s ed, that I fell in love with this album, because my driving instructor would always put it on during my driving lessons, and so I associated this album with growing independence. “Holland, 1945” makes me feel that rush I got driving a car alone for the first time—I could go anywhere or do anything. I was in control.

Director of Technical Theatre/Design Jon Bonner:
How’s it Goin’ (band: Bim Skala Bim). The lyrics, beats, and instrumental arrangements had me. There is so much going on with band of eight or nine players, but it all mixes so well!

Assistant Director of Graduate Affairs Michael Polebaum ’08:
Bruce Springsteen – The Rising.  As a kid still trying to come to grips with losing a cousin on 9/11, this album gave me hope that there would be a better tomorrow.

Collection Management and Technical Services Librarian Emily Tragert:
American Idiot by Green Day. At the height of the Iraq War and the Bush administration, this album helped me make sense of my feelings of frustration and alienation. I had the CD in my car senior year and I think it was the only thing I listened to for months on end.

History Teacher Hannah Puckett:
One that comes to mind – and that I’ve been revisiting recently – was the Dixie Chicks’ album Home, which came out in 2002. Compared to their previous albums, it was a lot less country-pop and a lot more bluegrass. It represented a return to their Texan roots. I went to high school in California, but I was born in Texas, and this album helped me reconnect to and find pride in my first home.

Archivist Isa Schaff:
Elvis is Back. I just “discovered” Elvis when I was 13 through an old movie of his (he was more part of the culture of my sister’s age group than mine) and this  was the first album I owned. When people ask me how I learned English when I lived in Italy, I always point out that I mainly did it listening to Elvis. I spent hours and hours and hours, trying to decipher what he was saying (he mumbles!)  [and yes, language classes helped with the grammar].

Director of Foster Gallery John Dorsey:
L.A. Woman, The Doors.  The Doors enjoyed a comeback in the early eighties and I totally rode the wave.  I must have read No One Here Gets Out Alive a dozen times.  Aligning yourself with a band was important back in the day and The Doors fit the bill.  L.A. Woman was my favorite album of theirs, with its cool, slow riffs, two 7-minute epics (one on each side), and the knowledge that it was the last album they ever produced.

History Teacher Jenny Carlson-Pietraszek:
Rick Springfield’s Centerfold was the first album I owned.  purchasing it with my own money and listening to it over and over made me feel independent and free!

Bookstore Manager Amy McHugh:
New Kids On The Block – Hangin’ Tough. It was the first concert I ever went to see- but I went to see Tiffany & New Kids opened for her.  I was hooked on them ever since!  I still listen to them and I still go to their concerts with my sister, we love to relive our youth and love the fact we still know every word to every song!!!

Receptionist Carol Derderian:
Carole King – Tapestry – It was a great time.  All my friends and sisters love to sing  those songs together and knew every word.

History Department Chair Nahyon Lee:
Joshua Tree by U2.  Seems important right now since they are starting their Joshua Tree 30 Years tour! They will be in Boston this summer! In my opinion, the album’s lyrics are incredible and the first two minutes of “Where the Streets Have No Name” doesn’t compare to any other openings of any other songs (but I’m biased!). U2 stated that the album was inspired from American politics and landscape – they were critical about some of U.S.’s foreign policy but also fell in love with American landscape and the people. You can hear this reflection/soul-searching in their songs – something I think many us in high school did – who are we?  Lastly, the album ends with “Mothers of the Disappeared,” which reflects U2’s politics.  I had an opportunity to hear them sing this piece in Santiago, Chile, where Bono asked Pinochet and his government to answer for their crimes. This album made me more conscious about social issues around me and overseas, as well as US foreign policy, that I didn’t know about when I was in high school.

Director of Excel Ben Snyder:
Temptations – Psychedelic  Shack – 1969/70. I was in middle school living outside of Detroit when this album came out. At that time Detroit (and the country) was engulfed in all sorts of conflict both at home (civil rights movement/riots etc) and abroad (Vietnam War) and that album – esp. the song “Ball of Confusion” – helped me make some kind of sense of it all (not that any of it made sense).

English Teacher Alden Mauck:
Album: The Skull and Roses album by The Grateful Dead. The Reason: Come on! It’s the Dead! The first album of theirs that I owned… but not the last!

Science Department Chair Jen Craft:
Favorite album: Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991). What can I say?  I was an angsty teenager in Mississippi and this captured it.  One of my first real rock shows too – life-changing.

Associate Director of Academic Support Sara Masucci:
10,000 Maniacs, Our Time in Eden. I don’t know that I can say why it was so important to me, but hearing Natalie Merchant’s voice takes me right back to high school and listening to “These Are Days” over and over.

Director of Academic Support Gia Batty:
I loved The Replacements album Let it Be. So good. When I hear any song from this album it shoots me directly back to my 1989 self at Trumbull High School. Every single song on here is good and triggers distinct memories of driving to a party, getting ready for school, driving to school, doing nothing in my room… I originally had it on cassette and this was the first CD I bought for the brand new stereo I got when I turned 18.

English Teacher Kim Libby:
Jagged Little Pill,  Alanis Morissette. Jagged Little Pill came out when I was in middle school, but it continued to resonate. I appreciated hearing the edge in the voice of a female artist and a pushing back against common, tidier themes associated with relationships.

Information Services and Systems Librarian Talya Sokoll:
I was in high school during the prime years of Emo music.  For me, Emo really resonated with my experiences as a teenager and made me feel like someone out there got me.  It made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that other people had the same struggles and could understand what I was going through.  The seminal album for me was The Place’s You Have Come to Fear the Most by Dashboard Confessional.  It was like they ripped the lyrics directly from my soul.

Library Director Erin Twohig-Canal:
Music played such a huge role in my life during high school –  sharing mixed tapes with friends, listening to songs in the car, and scanning the music aisles at my local bookstore was where it was at. I loved the alternative scene like The Lemonheads, Smashing Pumpkins, and The Smiths, but hands down, Morrissey’s Vauxhall and I album was one of my favorites. I have to laugh at myself because it was so annoyingly emo of me to love such sad songs like “The More You Ignore Me the Closer I Get” and “I am Hated for Loving.”











5 Tips for Evaluating News Sources!

As active consumers of media, we must all take steps to ensure that the news we are reading is current and authoritative.  This is true of most everything we read (especially when writing research papers!), but it is especially important when we are informing ourselves of events and issues at the local, national and global level.  It is also important to remember that there is a difference between news with a bias or point of view and news that is inaccurate or false. All news sources have a bias of some sort; this just means that it is important to read news presented from many different points of view. Avoid news from unreliable sources (regardless of political point of view; this is a bipartisan issue) that don’t employ journalists, fact check or share their sources.

Our top tips for evaluating news are:

  1. Read the whole article before you repost. Get past the click-bait headline!
  2. Evaluate the source and author. The most reliable sources employ journalists and editors.
  3. Check the publication date. This is important to make sure you’re getting current news.
  4. Google it to see if other news sources are reporting it.
  5. Think before you share. Be skeptical! Sites like factcheck.orgpolitifact.com and snopes.com can help with this.

A good place to find multiple points of view on any issue or news story is allsides.com, where you can see liberal, conservative and centrist pieces all in one place.

If you’re looking for reliable news sources, you can go to the Putnam Library website or contact a librarian.


Holiday Gift Books!

Looking for a last minute present for that book loving friend or family member?  Here are some suggestions!

For your friend filled with wanderlust

  • Epic Bike Rides of the World
  • Great City Maps
  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
  • Wild, Beautiful Places: Picture-Perfect Journeys Around the Globe

For the sports fan in your life

  • The Baseball Whisperer: A Small-Town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams
  • Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre
  • Hockey Strong: Stories of Sacrifice from Inside the NHL

Books for people who like books!  (like librarians!)

  • Boundless Books: 50 Literary Classics Transformed into Works of Art
  • Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers
  • Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created

Tantalizing new cookbooks

  • Around the World with the Ingreedies: A Taste Adventure
  • How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking

Amazing Nonfiction:

  • Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Marvelous Memoirs

  • Born to run
  • Scrappy Little Nobody

For the lover of pop culture

  • Hamilton: The Revolution
  • The Star Trek Encyclopedia
  • TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time

Great New Fiction:

  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith
  • The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett

Be the Change:

Best Books of 2016 and Holiday Gift Ideas

Looking for a good book to read over Winter Break?   Swing by the library to check out our latest display, containing selections from many year-end, best of lists, including BuzzFeed, The New York Times, NPR and more!  And if you need some gift ideas, click on the books below for recommendations.



Thanksgiving Break Book Recommendations!

pinehurst wicked lovely you can't touch








Hello! It’s almost time for Thanksgiving break!  And if you are looking for ways to fill all your extra time, try one of these books recommended by your librarians and co-leaders of the Upper School book club!

Recommended by Ms. Tragert
You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

This is a hilarious and smart memoir from comedian and actress Phoebe Robinson. The essays in this book cover everything from the challenges and triumphs of Robinson’s career as a black female stand-up comedian, to her thoughts on beauty, pop culture and sports, to wise, funny advice to her baby niece. A fun, silly read that still makes you think–and the audio book is fantastic too!

The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane

Macfarlane is one of my favorite nature writers, and he doesn’t disappoint in this lyrical book of essays about his search for what he calls ‘genuinely wild’ places across the British Isles. This lovely, thoughtful book mixes history, literature and the author’s own travelogue to beautiful effect and is a great read for lovers of nature and the outdoors.

Recommended by Mariama-Alexis Camara
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Anyone looking for a great read with action and romance, where you’ll fall in love with all the characters (whether you want to or not) should read Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. This book is about a girl who has always been able to see fairies, but not your average fairies who help people and grant wishes. Aislinn watches these fairies trip people and cause accidents but she can’t react because if they knew she could see them she would be in danger. Her secret doesn’t stay hidden for long when she meets the Summer King, who believes Aislinn is the first love of his life in his 900 year existence. This book follows her struggle to choose which guy she should be with, and whether she should prioritize her own emotions or the lives of millions of people who don’t even know they’re in danger from these unseen creatures. This book sent me on an emotional roller coaster and I loved every minute of it!

Recommended by Ms. Sokoll
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Continuing in the mythological reinterpretation tradition of Riordan’s other series, this series, based on Norse mythology follows Magnus Chase, the son of Frey, the god of fertility.  A huge fan of mythology, I love the way Riordan weaves in different cultural traditions to create a thoroughly modern tale. This series is particularly thrilling, as Magnus and his friends hunt down Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor, while trying to outwit a seemingly never ending band of people who want to kill them, most terrifyingly, Loki, the parent of Magnus’ best friend Samirah.  Additionally, the novel is set in Boston, so it was super fun seeing all of my favorite locations (including Anna’s Taqueria!) pop up over the course of the novel.

Recommended by Ms. Twohig-Canal
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances 
by Neil Gaiman

I have two confessions. 1.) I’m not a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy and 2.) I like short-stories.  I know, gasp, short stories. Surely I’m not alone? I recently read the perfect mix of tales for on-the-fence SF and fantasy non-ish fans: Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning.  A great book for a winter’s eve, Gaiman takes readers on a journey around the world (Isle of Skye, anyone?) to a time that is almost like our own but ends with a magical twist, a haunt, a “could that really happen?” My favorites are “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountain” about a daughter who has gone missing and a cave that contains tainted gold; “An Invocation of Incuriosity”a tale of time travel; and “Orange” a story that involves a lot of tanning lotion. Read them, if you dare, and then let’s discuss!  

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

One of my favorite novels of 2016 is Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. This is a beautiful poetic story about friendship and adolescence that takes place during the 1970s in pre-hipster Bushwick, Brooklyn.  Woodson allows you to be part of the neighborhood – you’ll feel the summer sun on your face, the water from the fire hydrant spraying at your feet, and hear the soft hum of Stevie Wonder’s song “Sir Duke” floating through the air.  This is a quick read but requires one to read between-the-lines.


Recommended by Ariana Wasret ’17
Pinehurst by Nicole Grane

Pinehurst is about a 16 year old girl brought to a school for students with magic. It rapidly becomes apparent that her magic is far more advanced than her peers. She works to become the only female Slayer with the help of her personal trainer, Antonio.  When her father goes missing, Antonia becomes her best ally and love interest in her quest to find her father. Pinehurst is a fun and imaginative book, you will fall in love with all of the characters as they each have their own depth and fun personalities. Lightly based on Greek mythology, you get a new twist on classic characters and you won’t be able to put it down.

What did we read/watch over the summer?

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.