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Good Summer Reads--No Matter Your Taste!
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

With summer almost here, it's time to decide what to read by the pool (or in the park...or even on the couch--whatever!)  We therefore turned to some of our trusted friends in the teaching world to find out what books they're recommending to their students.  But we didn't just ask English teachers; we also asked teachers of social studies, science, and even math.  Here's what they recommended (in alphabetical order):

What is the What? by Dave Eggers 

What is the What? tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of 20,000 "Lost Boys" who escaped the horrors of Sudan's second civil war, walking thousands of miles to Ethiopia and, ultimately, resettling in the United States. This book is a treat, so beautifully written and so compelling that the pages fly by even faster than you want them to. David Eggers works magic, creating a character whose voice will stay in your head long after you've put it down.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr   

Marie-Laure, the blind daughter of the Paris Museum of Natural History's master locksmith, flees the Nazi occupation of her city at age 12 and finds refuge in the coastal town of Saint-Malo along with one of the museum's—and the world's—most precious gems.  Meanwhile, a German orphan named Werner, a phenom with radio circuitry, rises through the ranks of the Hitler youth and travels around Europe with a small squadron tasked with hunting down rebel radio operators until one day, when his path through World War II converges with Marie-Laure's.  The winner of the 2014 Puliter Prize for fiction.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver 

Set in present day Appalachia, this story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain.  Her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—that trap her in the center of the conflict, yet ultimately open up her world.

Manhunt: The 12-day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson 

One hundred and fifty years ago, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by the renowned actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth set off a wild twelve day manhunt from the city of Washington D.C. to the woods of Virginia. Author James L. Swanson utilizes the incredible amount of available documentation to tell the story of the hunt for Lincoln's killer in a manner that reads like a fast-paced crime novel. 

The Martian by Andy Weir 

Have you ever been alone on faraway planet with no way of getting home? No one has. Until now.  Mark Watney is a botanist and NASA astronaut who finds himself trapped on Mars after his mission encounters a catastrophic storm and must evacuate early. Follow Mark’s feats of engineering, courage, and genius as he does what he can to survive. Fascinating, exhilarating, and funny, this book will keep science enthusiasts and skeptics alike on the edge of their seats.

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude Steele  

Claude M. Steele, a psychologist and Columbia University professor, offers a compelling examination of how stereotypes influence our behavior, performance, and our perception of others and ourselves. He examines how gender and race, among other social identifiers, affect academic performance and success in life, and lays out a plan for mitigating these “stereotype threats” and reshaping American identities.  A great read for those interested in psychology, sociology and social justice.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith  

Different cultures and generations collide in this multi-perspective debut novel that rocketed Zadie Smith to popular and critical renown in 2000. Written mainly when she was only a few years older than you, White Teeth focuses on the members of three different families in London as they struggle, in ways both unexpected and wryly humorous, to understand themselves and find their place in the world. Recommended for anyone who appreciates smart wit and deeply flawed, richly wrought characters.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante  

Set in the outskirts of Naples in the 1950’s, this novel is the story of a friendship between two girls growing up, but it is also the tale of their family and friends’ relations and, on a much more subtle level, a true analysis of friendship in particular, and of the Italian nation, in general.

Happy reading!!