Summer Reading Reccomendations

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Cecilia Ergueta, Columnist

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“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

It doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling or staying home this summer; as we turn the page from school to vacation, here’s a list of faculty-endorsed summer reads for the community to enjoy!


Ms. Zug

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

This novel follows the descendants of an African family, some free and some sold into slavery. This is a powerful story, beautifully written, about the courageous journey to freedom for African-American slaves, and those who help them along the way. Homegoing, should read also!  


Jenks (Whittenburg)

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

It’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi book. The story is set in a quaint community where it is considered a blasphemy to be anything other than normal (physically, mentally, emotionally). It’s an exciting, fun read which is essential to the “summer reading” genre and it’s also a great mental exercise in today’s increasingly nationalistic, xenophobic political atmosphere.


Ms. Gutstein

The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz

This is a novel about identity politics on college campuses. It is a topical, thought-provoking, and engaging read.


Sarah (Stock-Patterson)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This book draws you into the life of Ove, a grumpy old Swedish man. As Ove’s story unfolds, you can not help but become attached to and root for the man who is so much more than the curmudgeon he appears to be.


Ms. Puritz

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I consider this book one of the ten best I’ve ever read. It is about a blind French girl and a young German soldier whose paths cross in occupied France during World War II. I could not put it down!


Mr. Aldridge

Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull

Catmulll is the co-founder of Pixar Animation, and this book will be a community (faculty/staff, parents, administrators, board of trustees) summer read for Friends. The book explores Pixar’s founding and developing creative learning environments.

The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

I started re-reading the series during spring break, and I was reminded of Rowling’s gift of story-telling and dialogue. The books reminded me, too, that the respective movies eliminate too many details and deprive HP fans of essential plot twists and circumstances. Additionally, Neville Longbottom is one of my favorite fictional characters and I’ve enjoyed reconnecting to his storyline.


Mr. Clothier

Dynamo: Defending the Honor of Kiev by Andy Dougan

Our author investigates how some Ukrainians resisted German occupation by playing them in soccer. If you enjoy soccer and history then this is your book.


Ms. Norton

The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today by Rob Dunn

This book explores the relationships between humans and other species. Dunn discusses how human predators, parasites, and mutualists impact human health and evolution.


Betsy (Cepparulo)

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

It’s an amazing book about a hermaphrodite and all the good and the bad of life. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for either beach reading or academic enrichment. It’s all around amazing.

Stiff by Mary Roach

It’s hilarious, informational, and a different kind of book. It’s about decomposing dead bodies, but seriously, it’s fascinating.


Mr. Rashkind

The Long Ball, by Tom Adelman

I’ve always been a sucker for a good baseball story, and this tells the true stories of the 1975 baseball season, a season like no other.


Kathleen (Martin)

Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be by Frank Bruni

This book takes a look at the hype surrounding college admission and reframes it in a healthy, funny perspective.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Other than the best title ever, it’s a compelling, well-written story about a girl’s journey into adulthood.


Ms. Woodward

The Expeditionary Force series by Craig Alanson

They are science fiction, but as with most excellent fiction, it’s the relationships between the characters that make for a great story. In these books, two different alien species fight for the dominance of our planet (sort of). For me, it’s the unlikely but very likable hero and his alien mentor/companion that make these books so great. They are hysterical. I listened to the audiobooks and the narrator was fantastic. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!


Mr. Benner

Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best by Srinivas Rao

This is at the top of my summer reading list because I’m intrigued by the idea that finding your niche isn’t about competing with the best, but rather by being unique.


Ms. Kenney

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is a novel set, like Station Eleven, in a post-apocalyptic world, but this time the apocalypse occurs because of climate change and technology. Most people live primarily in the virtual rather than the real world, and the protagonist is involved in a very high-stakes game for money, but also for the continued freedom of the virtual reality he lives in. Cline clearly has a great nostalgia for the 80s– it’s a great summer read.


Mr. Morton

The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House by Jesse J. Holland

The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West by Peter Cozzens


Ms. O’Brien

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

I think that summer reading should be fun and that book made me cry laughing. Even better than the movie.  


Señora Cochrane

La historia secreta de Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, or the English translation The Secret History of Costaguana

This novel tells the story of the creation of Panamá and the building of the canal from the point of view of a writer trying to make the history of his country clear to foreigners, one of whom is the novelist Joseph Conrad, who is also in the novel, writing a novel about Colombia and Panamá.

The stories of Hans Christian Andersen

So many of them have been made into Disney movies, so they may be familiar, but there are others that are gems of narration, and so easy to read in one sitting. My personal favorites include “The Wild Swans” (in which a very strong sister saves eleven brothers from a wicked spell)  and “The Snow Queen”  (in which a very strong sister rescues her brother from a cold-hearted, kidnapping queen). The more stories you read, the more you will recognize them in other things you read and watch, and the better your vocabulary and your own story-telling skills will become.


Ms. Johnson

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll

I encourage you to read it, but also to learn about the controversy about the topics, authors and viewpoints.


Ms. Butterfield

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle

The author is a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Its mission is to help former gang members, many of whom have been incarcerated, find a new way of living, giving them opportunities to learn a trade, etc. The women’s spirituality group at our church read and discussed it a few years ago. It was both inspirational and heart-breaking, but gave such a vivid picture of what it really means to act with compassion.


Mr. Ergueta

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind  by Yuval Noah Harari

In our rapidly fragmenting society, we need a unifying human narrative, which in this case, doubles as an evolutionary analysis of our nature, biological and cultural. Extraordinarily ambitious, compulsively readable!


Mr. Cauchy

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

A fascination science story (not an oxymoron) about past and current extinctions. If you consider yourself an advocate for the environment, it is a must read.