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Upper School Summer Reading 2023: Book Recommendations by Teachers

Ms. Arsenault


Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (Adult memoir, 2012). When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, and a flight risk. What happened? -GoodReads

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (YA SciFi, 2014). Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend, Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa. To make matters worse, Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. Ultimately, it's up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition. -GoodReads

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (Adult Historical, 2006). Paris, July 1942: Ten-year-old Sarah is brutally arrested with her family in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, the most notorious act of French collaboration with the Nazis. But before the police come to take them, Sarah locks her younger brother, Michel, in their favorite hiding place, a cupboard in the family's apartment. She keeps the key, thinking she will return within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's sixtieth anniversary, Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is asked by her Paris-based American magazine to write an article about this black day in France's past. Julia finds herself probing into Sarah's past and questioning her place in France and reevaluating her marriage and life. -GoodReads

If I Stay by Gayle Forman (YA Romance, 2009). In the blink of an eye, everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterward, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little, she struggles to assemble the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the difficult choice she must make.  -GoodReads

Saving June by Hannah Harrington (YA General Fiction, 2011). Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one — so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going. -GoodReads

Ms. Biancolo

Lab Girl

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Adult Fantasy, 2020). Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house. There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known. -GoodReads

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Adult Historical, 2020). The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect. - GoodReads

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (YA Fantasy, 2020). Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules. Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone—one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship —tried to kill her. Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. -GoodReads

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (Adult NonFiction, 2016). One of the most engaging nonfiction books I've ever read. Like science? You'll like this.

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen (YA Graphic, 2020). Tiến loves his family and his friends…but Tiến has a secret he's been keeping from them, and it might change everything. Real life isn't a fairytale. But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It's hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn't even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he's going through? -GoodReads

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat (Adult Historical, 2004). We meet him late in life: a quiet man, a good father and husband, a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a landlord and barber with a terrifying scar across his face. As the book unfolds, moving seamlessly between Haiti in the 1960s and New York City today, we enter the lives of those around him, and learn that he has also kept a vital, dangerous secret. -GoodReads

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (Adult Classic Gothic, 1962). Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate. This edition features a new introduction by Jonathan Lethem. -GoodReads

Ms. Birnbaum

Linden HillsThe Elegance of the HedgehogThe Beckett Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable (Picador Books)

Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor. (Adult General, 1985). This novel uses Dante’s “Inferno” as an allegory for suburbia and the American Dream.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (L’Élégance du Hérisson in French) (Adult General, 2006). A playful and philosophical novel about personal identity and conflict.

“The Beckett Trilogy" (Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable) by Samuel Beckett (Adult Classic, 1958). These novels are challenging, but they subvert your expectations about what literature is or can be.

Ms. Bubello

Anatomy: A Love StoryThe People We KeepI Must Betray You

The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Adult NonFiction, 2022). A history of the cell from discovery to utilization of cells in drug therapies. If you want to know what happens when cells malfunction or how they can be used to make humans from the perspective of a scientific researcher- this book is for you! 

Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas by Jennifer Raff (Adult NonFiction, 2022). A study of both past and present, ORIGIN explores how genetics is currently being used to construct narratives that profoundly impact Indigenous peoples of the Americas. It serves as a primer for anyone interested in how genetics has become entangled with identity in the way that society addresses the question "Who is indigenous?""

Marmee: A Novel by Sarah Miller (Adult Historical, 2022). If you like the timeless novel "Little Women" you will love this read! This is written from Marmee's perspective and takes the reader on a journey through the eyes of a mother and wife in 1861 Concord, MA. 

Because You Loved Me by Beth Moran (Adult Romance, 2023). The story of a girl whose father passed away. She goes to seek information about him and discovers so much. The author expertly depicts realistic, honest characters who face real life challenges. The story focuses on finding yourself but being proud of who you are. 

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz (YA Historical, 2022). Strong female character pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor/surgeon in a time when that was not accepted. "A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together."

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin (Adult Historical, 2021). Characters are so relatable- they will like be familiar to you! Details a journey toward belonging and self acceptance of a folk musician. Amazing read!

I Must Betray You By Ruta Sepetys (YA Historical, 2022). Teenaged Romanian boy who is blackmailed to become a spy by the government.

Ms. Dowling

Cat's CradleNeuromancer (Sprawl, #1)

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (Adult Classic, 1963). Amazing, dark, hilarious, and mind-blowing post-modern, apocalyptic tale by the world's greatest writer. You'll never be the same after you read it.

Neuromancer by William Gibson (Adult Classic SciFi, 1984). Witness the invention of cyberpunk and one of the greatest speculative fiction novels of all time. See how many things this writer predicted in 1984 that you now take for granted.

Dr. Gardner

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of HumanityThe Wild PlacesThe Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow (Adult NonFiction, 2021). The authors have written what will become one of the critical works in the field of world history. Their comprehensive study builds upon groundbreaking archeological studies of the prehistoric era to answer a question all too relevant to the modern world: why, despite thousands of years of innovation, has inequality persisted across time and space? Probably one of the most interesting works I have read in the last year with an incredibly engaging and British accented audio book. 

The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane (Adult NonFiction, 2007). An essential read for anyone looking to explore nature this summer. The book is a series of journeys undertaken by Macfarlane to understand the enduring allure of wild places in human societies and his eventual conclusion that the wild might be closer to home than we think. 

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Frances E. Jensen (Adult NonFiction, 2014). A groundbreaking yet accessible study built upon neurological imaging that explains why the adolescent brain is unique. Probably one of the most influential books I have read on understanding secondary students. 

Ms. Gould

Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII by Chester Nez (Adult NonFiction, 2011). The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII-includes the actual Navajo Code and rare photos. Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speak of their service until 1968, when the code was finally declassified. Of the original twenty-nine Navajo code talkers, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them. In this memoir, the eighty-nine-year-old Nez chronicles both his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation-the hard life that gave him the strength, both physical and mental, to become a Marine. His story puts a living face on the legendary men who developed what is still the only unbroken code in modern warfare.-GoodReads

The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park: The Secret Intelligence Station that Helped Defeat the Nazis by John Dermot Turing (Adult NonFiction, 2020). At Bletchley Park, some of Britain's most talented mathematicians, linguists, and intellectuals were assembled to break Nazi codes. Kept secret for nearly thirty years, we have now come to realize the crucial role that these codebreakers played in the Allied victory in World War II. Written by Dermot Turing - the nephew of famous codebreaker Alan Turing - this illustrated account provides unique insight into the behind-the-scenes action at Bletchley Park. -GoodReads

Ms. Flores

Firekeeper's Daughter

The Firekeeper's Daughter by Ojibwe author Angeline Boulley (YA Mystery, 2021). "A contemplative exploration of existing between two cultural identities meets fake relationship romance meets backwoods thriller in this absolute powerhouse of a debut." -NPR

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez (YA Sports, 2020). At home, 17-year-old Camila is an obedient daughter, but on the field, she is La Furia, playing fútbol with fury and passion. In this page-turning novel, Camila strives to find her voice and achieve her dreams while navigating complicated relationships and her own ambitions. Note: this story takes place in Argentina against a backdrop of deeply entrenched sexism and gendered violence.

Ms. Hebert

The Brief and Frightening Reign of PhilThe Joy Luck Club

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders. A brief, satirical, look at politics, genocide, and humanity through the lens of the Hornerites.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. A look into the lives of four Chinese American Immigrant mother/daughter relationships told through vignettes which alternate between story teller.

Dr. Huff

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and MusicThe Final Revival of Opal & NevHow the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across AmericaThe Mountains SingThe Only Good IndiansRevolutionSay Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern IrelandBorn a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl (Adult, 2021). Whether you like Nirvana and the Foo Fighters or not, it will be hard to dislike this wonderful memoir by musician Dave Grohl. He takes you back to his early days as a child growing up in Virginia through his experiences in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, including some great stories that only a rock legend like Dave Grohl could experience. I highly recommend the audiobook, read by Grohl himself.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton (Adult Historical, 2021). Whether you're a fan of classic rock or not, you will enjoy this wonderful cast of characters as they recount the story of groundbreaking (fictional) musical duo Opal Jewel and Nev Charles as they break the music industry open only to be undone by tragedy. This book is excellent on audio, read by a cast of characters.

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith (Adult Nonfiction, 2021). In his first nonfiction book, poet and Atlantic magazine writer Clint Smith visits various places around the United States and Senegal to explore the history of slavery and racism connected with these places. 

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (Adult Historical Fiction, 2020). This multigenerational family saga will introduce you to the Trần family and their story, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Adult Thriller, 2020). If you like horror, you'll be captivated by this novel in which the vengeful "spirit" of a poached deer takes on the persona of the Deer Woman, a mythological creature associated with many Native American cultures, and stalks the men who cut her life short. You'll love it if you enjoyed movies by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us).

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (YA Historical, 2010). Andi Alpers is struggling after the death of her little brother. Her father, aghast over the notion that Andi might not graduate high school if she doesn't complete her thesis, forces her to go to Paris with him to finish her research on the composer Amadé Mahlerbeau. She finds the diary of Alexandrine Paradis, a performer who lived during the French Revolution. The line between the past and present is blurred as Andi finds herself drawn back in time. This one will appeal especially to music lovers.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (Adult NonFiction, 2018). This book explores the Troubles, sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, through the lens of the murder of Jean McConville, a mother of 10 who was murdered by the I.R.A. Fascinating and gripping nonfiction.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (Adult Memoir, 2016). Daily Show host and comedian Trevor Noah shares the story of his life from being born during apartheid in South Africa to his experiences as a young comedian on the come up. The audiobook is fantastic.

Ms. Irzyk


Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France by Laurent Dubois (Adult NonFiction, 2010). Author Laurent Dubois illuminates the connections between empire and sport by tracing the story of World Cup soccer, from the Cup’s French origins in the 1930s to Africa and the Caribbean and back again. As he vividly recounts the lives of two of soccer’s most electrifying players, Zinedine Zidane and his outspoken teammate, Lilian Thuram, Dubois deepens our understanding of the legacies of empire that persist in Europe and brilliantly captures the power of soccer to change the nation and the world. -GoodReads

Border Wars: The Conflicts That Will Define Our Future by Klaus Dodds (Adult NonFiction, 2021). How are borders built in the modern world? What does Brexit mean for Ireland's border? And what would happen if Elon Musk declared himself president of the Moon? Professor Klaus Dodds takes us on a journey into the geopolitical conflict of tomorrow in an eye-opening tour of the world's best-known, most dangerous and most unexpected border conflicts from the Gaza Strip to the space race. -GoodReads

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Adult General, 2013). Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be "a Black Person" for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. -GoodReads

White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad (Adult NonFiction, 2020). Taking us from the slave era, when white women fought in court to keep “ownership” of their slaves, through the centuries of colonialism, when they offered a soft face for brutal tactics, to the modern workplace, White Tears/Brown Scars tells a charged story of white women’s active participation in campaigns of oppression. It offers a long overdue validation of the experiences of women of color. Discussing subjects as varied as The Hunger Games, Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, the viral BBQ Becky video, and 19th century lynchings of Mexicans in the American Southwest, Ruby Hamad undertakes a new investigation of gender and race. -GoodReads

Sexual Citizens: Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus by Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan (Adult NonFiction, 2020). The fear of campus sexual assault has become an inextricable part of the college experience. Research has shown that by the time they graduate, as many as one in three women and almost one in six men will have been sexually assaulted. But why is sexual assault such a common feature of college life? And what can be done to prevent it? -GoodReads

Educated by Tara Westover (Adult NonFiction, 2018). Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag." Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. -GoodReads

Mr. Mull

The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings, #0)

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien (Adult Classic Fantasy, 1937). Goblins and dragons and orcs OH MY!

Ms. Krantz

The Language of FlowersWater for ElephantsThe Night Circus

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Adult General, 2011). Growing up in the foster system, Victoria's only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses. 

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Adult Historical, 2006). An atmospheric tale of life and love in a Depression-era traveling circus. Beautifully written, with a luminous sense of time and place, this book tells of love in a world in which love's a luxury few can afford.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Adult Magical Realism, 2011). The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. Written in rich, fascinating prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Mr. Liller

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero by Timothy Egan (Adult NonFiction, 2016). This New York Times bestseller is the story of Thomas Francis Meagher, an Irish Nationalist who was transported to Tasmania by the British after leading a failed Irish uprising in the 1840s, and who ended up being a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Ms. MacKay Monheim

Small Great ThingsThe Rose CodeThe Four Winds

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (Adult General, 2016). This novel tells the story of an African American labor and delivery nurse and the racism surrounding her care of a white supremacist couple's newborn son. This is a very challenging and compelling story. 

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn (Adult Historical, 2021). Three female code breakers at Bletchley Park during WWII. This is a fascinating book, based on historic events.  I highly recommend the audio version as the reader's performance is brilliant. 

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (Adult Historical, 2021). The story of a family's struggle to survive living in the American Dustbowl during The Great Depression.  The author did tremendous research and effectively anchors this fictional story in American history.  I also recommend listening to the audio version as the reader's performance is compelling and adds to the drama of the story.

Dr. Markey

The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll by Ian S. Port (Adult NonFiction, 2019). But for these two American inventors, the sound tracks of countless lives would be all but unimaginable.

The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan (Adult NonFiction, 2022). A work of genius by the Nobel Laureate for Literature.

Fame by Kevin McGrath (Adult NonFiction, 2023). A life’s work by one of the great, living English poets.

Dans Ma Bibliothèque: La Guerre Et La Paix by Marc Fumaroli (Adult NonFiction, 2023). The final work of a superb scholar. In French.

The Roman Republic of Letters: Scholarship, Philosophy, and Politics in the Age of Cicero and Caesar by Katharina Volk (Adult NonFiction, 2021). Professor Volk lays down a fresh foundation for understanding canonical authors in an accessible, and persuasive, way.

Ms. Paul

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Adult Historical Fiction, 2018). For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her. But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life's lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world—until the unthinkable happens. -GoodReads. Read the book, then watch the movie!

Ms. Pulver

The Glass CastleMountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the WorldEducatedThe City of Brass

Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman (Adult Fantasy, 2020). Imagine you are reading a D and D game. Its like that, but better.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (Adult Memoir, 2005). When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered. The Glass Castle is truly astonishing--a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family. -GoodReads

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder (Adult NonFiction, 2003). Doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, world-class Robin Hood, Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that "the only real nation is humanity"—a philosophy that is embodied in the small public charity he founded, Partners in Health. -GoodReads

Educated by Tara Westover (Adult NonFiction, 2018). Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag." Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. -GoodReads

"The Deavabad Trilogy" (The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, The Empire of Gold) by S.A. Chakraborty (YA Fantasy, 2017). Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust. -GoodReads

Ms. Savage


Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (Adult Classic, 1938). Wonderful gothic style novel set in Cornwall. The book has never been out of print since it was first published in 1938. Several movie adaptations have been made. The story line is intriguing and the prose style is a joy to read. -GoodReads

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Adult Classic Mystery, 1920). Agatha Christie's first detective novel introduces audiences to her most famous detective, Hercule Poirot. Poirot is a Belgian refugee settling into his new life in Great Britain with the help of Emily Inglethorp, a wealthy philanthropist.  His friend Captain Hastings arrives to stay with her as a guest and shortly afterward Emily is murdered. Poirot and Hastings join forces to solve the mystery and catch the killer.  The story is a very enjoyable summer read and a terrific introduction to Christie's subsequent Poirot stories. Also check out the TV adaptation from the series Poirot with the incomparable David Suchet as Poirot. (Can be viewed for free on YouTube.)

You Know Me Al by Ring Lardner (Adult Sports Fiction, 1916). Ring Lardner was a sports writer in the early 20th Century who later turned to short story writing. The book is written in the form of 'letters' from fictional baseball rookie Jack Keefe to his buddy Al back home. It's written in a satirical style with an impeccable ear for vernacular speech.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (Adult NonFiction, 1949). A work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell, in which the author discusses his theory of the mythological structure of the journey of the archetypal hero found in world myths. Campbell explores the theory that mythological narratives from around the world frequently share a similar structure. The book has inspired a myriad of artists and writers and was the foundational work for George Lucas when creating Star Wars. As a companion piece, check out the video series 'The Power of Myth' where journalist Bill Moyers interviews Joseph Campbell about his work. Available on YouTube.

Ms. Schlesinger

Catch-22In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Adult Fiction, 2022). Tells the story of Sam and Sadie, two friends who collaborate to produce a wildly successful video game. The book follows them from high school in Los Angeles to college in Cambridge and back to the West Coast where they experience great success and stunning failure, both personally and professionally. According to Amazon, "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, games as artform, technology and the human experience, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before."

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (Adult Classic Dystopia, 1961). I first read this classic satirical novel in high school, and I loved it. It's about an American bombardier fighting in Italy during WWII, but it's really about the frustrating and hilarious ways in which the world can be entirely absurd. It gave birth to the very idea of a "catch-22," a problem that you can't escape because of the very nature of the problem itself (trust me, you'll get it if you read the book). I promise you a good laugh as well as classic satire. Enjoy!

In The Woods by Tana French (Adult Mystery, 2007). Do you like mysteries? Then allow me to introduce you to Tana French. She's an Irish writer who carefully constructs her mysteries to keep you guessing to the end. While some mysteries are just good, fun reads, French writes in beautiful prose, exploring complex themes with stories that will leave you haunted. And if you like this book, she has 7 more books for you to explore.

Mr. Snyder

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized WorldAtomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad OnesThe Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein (Adult NonFiction, 2019). A close look at the world's best performers -- from athletes to business people and all in between to see that the specialization of skills at an early age is the exception, not the rule. Epstein makes the argument that cultivating a wide variety of skills and talents is the way to help people thrive.

Atomic Habits by James Clear (Adult NonFiction, 2018). What does it meant to get one percent better? James Clear looks at how building small habits and changes can produce exponential results. 

The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey (Adult NonFiction, 1974). Every game that we play (not just tennis!) is comprised of an Inner Game and an Outer Game. The outer game is recognizable - it is played against opponents. The inner game, however, is played within the mind of an athlete, and competes against self doubt and anxiety. This book discusses how an athlete can battle these mental obstacles and compete at their highest level. 

Ms. Thorn

Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story

Caddy for Life: the Bruce Edwards Story by John Feinstein (Adult NonFiction, 2004). The inspirational story of Bruce Edwards, caddy for legendary golfer Tom Watson, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2003. Tells the story of the friendship that developed between Edwards and Watson as the illness developed. You do not need to know about golf to appreciate this work! One WA student called it "the best book I ever read."

The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs by Nick Trout (Adult NonFiction, 2013). The story of a vet, Dr. Cyrus Mills, who returns to his home town after inheriting his father's failing veterinary practice. He intends to sell---but he gets caught up in the lives of the pets he treats--as well as the lives of their owners in the place he'd left behind. Great book for anyone who enjoys stories of new beginnings, forgiveness, and acceptance---and, of course, animals.

Mr. Upton

Project Hail MarySevenevesThe Apocalypse SevenThe Passage (The Passage, #1)

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (Adult SciFi, 2021). Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone. Or does he? -GoodReads

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (Adult SciFi, 2015). What would happen if the world were ending? A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space. But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . . Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth. -GoodReads

The Apocalypse Seven by Gene Doucette (Adult SciFi, 2021). This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whatever. The whateverpocalypse. That’s what Touré, a twenty-something coder, calls it after waking up one morning to find himself seemingly the only person left in the city. Once he finds Robbie and Carol, two equally disoriented Harvard freshmen, he realizes he isn’t alone, but the name sticks: Whateverpocalypse. But it doesn’t explain where everyone went. It doesn’t explain how the city became overgrown with vegetation in the space of a night. Or how wild animals with no fear of humans came to roam the streets. Add freakish weather to the mix, swings of temperature that spawn tornadoes one minute and snowstorms the next, and it seems things can’t get much weirder. Yet even as a handful of new survivors appear, life in Cambridge gets stranger and stranger. The self-styled Apocalypse Seven are tired of questions with no answers. Tired of being hunted by things seen and unseen. Now, armed with curiosity, desperation, a shotgun, and a bow, they become the hunters. And that’s when things truly get weird. -GoodReads

The Passage by Justin Cronin (Adult SciFi, 2010). First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse. As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he's done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. Wolgast is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors, but for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—toward the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun. -GoodReads

Mildred H. McEvoy Library at Worcester Academy | 81 Providence Street | Worcester, MA 01604