Week in Review + May Book Club

The sixth graders were in the library on Monday with Ms. McGinnes to begin research for their passion projects. Student topics include various sports, animation, organic food, Lego, and music.

It’s hard to believe, but we held the final high school book club of the year on Tuesday. To start us off, Ms. Melinson shared a number of books she got on Independent Bookstore Day, including the Joan Didion classics Let Me Tell You What I Mean and The Year of Magical Thinking, Call Us What We Carry, and All About Love. She also shared some cool-looking books like The Coasts of California, a beautifully illustrated field guide, an oddly sized edition of 1984, the graphic novel adaptation of 1984, and the Maya Angelou poem Life Doesn’t Frighten Me with illustrations by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Avery shared she’s only reading a school book right now, The Tempest. Jordyn talked about returning several books, including Scythe, which reminded Ms. Melinson to share that a prequel to Scythe will be released this year. Mrs. Strong read The Personal Librarian and liked it well enough. Samhita is re-reading House of Leaves, although it’s much less weird the second time around. Dra. Portillo read Circe and said it’s really good and makes you wonder about gender roles in that time period.

March and April Book Clubs

We only have one more book club before the end of the school year, but first, let’s recap our March and April meetings.

Our March book club was short but sweet with Ms. Melinson sharing some new books in the library. There were some new books to add to ongoing series, like Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, and new Thrawn Ascendancy books by Timothy Zahn. Ms. Melinson also shared some new favorites by beloved authors like Amor Towles, E. Lockheart, and Anthony Doerr. She also shared a fun graphic novel cookbook called Let’s Make Dumplings, featuring adorable artwork and tasty recipes.

In the April book club, Ms. Melinson began by sharing that the Brooklyn Public Library was waiving its fee for teens across the country in order to access its ebook collection. This is in effort to combat the increasing book censorship nationwide.

Jordyn shared that she’s reading Sherlock Holmes and is enjoying it. She was expecting the book to be slow, but found that it’s well-written and translates well to modern times. Jennifer read Radium Girls and said it’s “so good!” Mrs. Strong mentioned that the book is getting the graphic novel treatment and is set for release this July.

Ms. Reynolds states that she has trouble talking about books without oversharing, but she discussed The Vanishing Half without giving anything away. She said she liked it, particularly the question the book asks – what is lost and what is gained when you hide who you are?

Anniston read What Once Was Mine: A Twisted Tale and said that she uses the Tangled movie voices in her head when reading. Samhita said she tried reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, but found it to be disappointing and misogynistic. However, she loves White Teeth by Zadie Smith and is also trying to read more books by Indian authors.

Mr. Wells finished our meeting by discussing what he’s been reading lately. He loved Libertie, but couldn’t get into Flights. He found it to be self-indulgent and couldn’t engage with the material. He also enjoyed book club favorite All the Light We Cannot See and Amor Towles’ latest, The Lincoln Highway.

Week in Review: EVENTS!

The library was hopping this week with classes and events. It almost felt like a return to the before times!

On Monday, the library hosted an Enlightenment Salon with Ms. Kahn’s seventh-grade history class. Students became a variety of Enlightenment figures, including Voltaire, Diderot, Wollstonecraft, and Benjamin Franklin, as well as some lesser-known people from that time, like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Toussaint Louveture, and Phillis Wheatley. Students discussed such enlightened topics as should their characters support monarchy or democracy? What is the role of women in society? And what does it truly mean to be an enlightened society?

We also had the March edition of book club on Wednesday. Ms. Melinson presented a number of new books that recently joined the library’s collection. Her focus was on beautiful book covers like Drawn Across Borders, Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Butler, and Watch Over Me. Ms. Melinson also talked about new releases from popular authors like Rhythm of War, Cloud Cuckoo Land, The Lincoln Highway, and Again Again.

We ended the week with a lovely springtime concert courtesy of the Middle School Orchestra. Click here to watch a clip on our Instagram page!

Bonus:

Check out these great shelfies from Read Across Country Day!

Week in Review: Read Across Country Day + February’s Book Club

Happy 3,672nd Annual Read Across Country Day! Just kidding, but it is our 20th anniversary of celebrating Read Across Country Day! Much like the last few years, our celebration looked a little different. Instead of transforming the library into the Starbooks Lounge, we created a cozy reading nook with the comfy chairs and played classical music all day while still remaining open for quiet study.

Instead of visiting classrooms, the Candy Fairy got an assistant this year, and they met middle and high school students in their respective quads to distribute candy and buttons. Ms. Melinson made Read Across Country Day kits for the teacher to help facilitate the All-School Read. That took place at 2 p.m. when Waldo, of Where’s Waldo?, announced the beginning of the All-School Read, where everyone in the school dropped what they were doing to read. We can’t wait to see all of your reading shelfies! Check back next week for those photos.


The High School Book Club met last month right before Mid-Winter Break. Ms. Melinson talked about book censorship, a current topic of great debate. The last week of February also happened to be Freedom to Read Week in Canada, so Ms. Melinson shared some recently challenged and banned books. Those titles include Drama by Raina Telgemeier, Maus by Art  Spiegelman, New Kid by Jerry Craft, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Ms. Melinson emphasized the importance of reading these books now in case someday we can’t.

Ashleigh shared that she had just started reading Imaginary Friends by Stephen Chbosky. She said it’s really cool and is similar to Stranger Things. Adam was on a George Saunders kick, reading Lincoln in the Bardo and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, with the latter reminding him of The Man in the High Castle. Jackie discussed reading The Lord of the Flies for English class. Mr. Wells read a book he would not recommend called Forging Fire, describing it as “really bad.” But he also read All the Light We Cannot See and would highly recommend it, saying it was “very good.”

January Book Club

We held our first book club of 2022 recently where students got together to discuss what they’ve been reading. As she does every at every January Book Club, Ms. Melinson talked about new cookbooks. On her list this year is Best American Food Writing 2021 and Chef’s Fridges. She also talked about reading Native Speaker and poetry from The Book of Insects by former teacher and alumni parent, Susan Kelly-DeWitt.

Sage read The Master and Margarita and found it to be slow, but captivating. She also mentioned having a long list of books on her to be read pile inspired by the Netflix show You. Ashleigh has been re-reading the Shadowhunter series by Cassandra Clare, having read four of the six books recently. She also mentioned wanting to read the entire collection of Grimm fairytales. Arijit finished The Count of Monte Cristo and now wants to read Dante’s Divine Comedy. Avery read Beauty, a take on Beauty and the Beast, and wants to read it again.

For a look at our past book club recommendations, visit our Goodreads page and be sure to follow us on Instagram!

Week in Review: The One with the Fireplace

This week saw the return of the library’s virtual fireplace. While eighth-grade students worked on citations for their National History Day projects, a warm (looking) fire roared on the screen to add a sense of coziness to their class time. The fire returned later in the week when tenth grade students were in the library working on their Sophomore Projects.

Leadership Lunches returned in person in the library! Craig and Ryan interviewed Samhita and Simone on their different experiences working with Breakthrough Sacramento over the summer as a volunteer and teacher, respectively.

The library also hosted its Book Club this week. Students shared what they’ve been reading and hope to read over break, while Ms. Melinson talked about several new books in the library. View our Instagram for some of the top books of the year!

On Friday, Ms. McGinnes and Mrs. Frandrup announced the results of the Scientists in the Field showcase. Congratulations to all of our scientists for their excellent work!

Week in Review: The One with the Post-Its

The 9th and 10th graders were in this week working on various aspects of their projects. Ninth grade students got a refresher course on how to use NoodleTools, a citation management tool, for their National History Day projects. They also learned how to navigate our databases for relevant information and how to find scholarly sources. The 10th graders spent their library time taking a deep dive into local sources.

The library held its first book club of the school year. Students talked about what they read over the summer. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir was a popular book between Adam and Saheb, with both of them describing it as more dense than The Martian, but a great plot. We also had a lively discussion on movie adaptations of books and which are better (the books are better).

Friday saw the beginning of Teentober and a writing contest to celebrate teen voices. The library’s helpers wrote out interesting prompts on Post-it notes and put them on the front window for students to draw inspiration from.

Bonus:

Thank you to our two secret admirers for the lovely flowers!

January Book Club

The high school Book Club met last week for a cozy evening discussion of what we’ve been reading. Ms. Melinson opened with a book called Season Creep, authored by Elana Mallov, a friend of Ms. Melinson’s daughter. Season Creep is a book of poems and observational drawings the author made while walking around Philadelphia in 2020 as the seasons all seemed to meld into one.

As longtime Book Club members might remember, January is when Ms. Melinson talks about what new cookbooks she’s reading. This year, it’s I Hate to Cook Book 50th Anniversary edition, a sassy book that focuses on recipes for people who might prefer to have cocktails with friends rather than cook! Ms. Melinson also discussed The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food, a cookbook she’s on the fence about. She loves the idea of the book because it features Black chefs and others in the food industry, but the recipes are by the author himself and not the people he showcases, which works when it’s a food justice advocate. But when it’s a chef, she’d rather see a recipe by that chef.

Samhita shared that she hasn’t been reading as much, but has been listening to audiobooks of books she’s previously read. She’s currently listening to the Alex Rider series, a guilty pleasure, she says. Samhita then asked about books similar to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, an atmospherically dark and scary book. Some suggestions include:

  1. One of Us Is Lying and the sequel One of Us Is Next/McManus
  2. Two Can Keep a Secret/McManus
  3. The Cousins/McManus
  4. People Like Us/Mele
  5. Inheritance Games/Barnes
  6. Hand on the Wall/Johnson

Adam read some ‘weird’ books recently, which lead to a discussion of other weird books. He read Welcome to Monkey House stories and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, both by Kurt Vonnegut. Other weird books discussed include House of Leaves, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Priory of the Orange Tree.

Mrs. Strong read The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and really liked it, although she needed to take frequent breaks due to the subject matter. She also started reading The Memory Police, a dystopian novel that Adam also read and enjoyed. Mrs. Strong tried reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier but couldn’t get into. Ms. Melinson said classics are often best read over the summer so there’s enough uninterrupted time to get into it.

We discussed other favorites and classics and Adam gave The Night Circus the best compliment it will probably ever get, calling it “a banger book.” Samhita still hasn’t read it, but read the author’s other book, The Starless Sea, and said it has too many commas in it, to the point of it taking her out of the story.

December Book Club

We had a cozy final Book Club of 2020 on Wednesday with Ms. Melinson, Mrs. Strong, and Samhita in attendance. Ms. Melinson shared that she planned to read How to Connect, another book in the Mindfulness Essentials series (previously she shared How to Fight, a book not about actual fighting). Ms. Melinson said this book is perfect for right now because it discusses digital overload and not being able to connect in person. She then talked about some winter reads: Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao (it’s like the YA version of Crazy Rich Asians); The Bear and the Nightingale (suspenseful and wintery) by Katherine Arden; and Uprooted by Naomi Novik (high fantasy).

Samhita shared that she read I Hope You’re Listening, a mystery with a true crime podcast twist. She also recently read Rent a Boyfriend and found it cute. Mrs. Strong talked about A Fire Story, a graphic novel about the author losing his home in the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa. She said it was good, but had to take frequent breaks due to how sad it was. She’s also planning on reading How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective over break for her upcoming class on women and gender studies.

Ms. Melinson brought up the upcoming Writer’s Night hosted by Mr. Hinojosa and featuring Country Day alum discussing their books, of which we have several in the library. She also mentioned her new favorite winter holiday, Jolabokaflod, an Icelandic tradition where you spend Christmas Eve reading and eating chocolate. Ms. Melinson asked what books we might be giving as gifts this year, with her top choice being a book from the Mindfulness Essentials series. Mrs. Strong said she doesn’t give books unless she knows for sure the person will enjoy it and Samhita said she’s not thinking about Christmas gifts until Christmas Eve.

President Barack Obama released his top reads for the year, as he does every year. They’re always great picks, although Ms. Melinson and Mrs. Strong agree that he should read some YA. Check out our Goodreads page to see all the books we’ve discussed in Book Club this past year and in many previous years. And if you’re need of reading suggestions, we have several Padlets for you!

October Book Club

It was a small group for this month’s High School Book Club at the end of a very busy week! We had a good discussion though. Ms Melinson is reading Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and listening to Pachinko by Min Jin Lee on audiobook. Samhita has been “indulging” in classics that she loved from years past including the whole series of Anne of Green Gables. Ms Melinson has a former student who refers to these books as “comfort books”–similar to comfort foods, they soothe the soul. Ms Reynolds is reading The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson. She says she is learning more about Churchill and that his wife is a stronger character than some historians have depicted her. 

Ms Melinson asked if anyone has had any changes in their reading habits during this pandemic as she has been finding it a great relief to listen to books at the end of a day rather than have to use her eyes to read. Eliana says she’s been reading a lot less due the large amount of work she needs to do each day. Samhita is reading more to escape and using those “comfort books” to do so. Ms Reynolds is liking audiobooks before bed, but realized she needs to set a time so she doesn’t fall asleep and miss a few chapters! She’s also reading books that have been assigned to classes and really enjoyed Poet X. Fun fact: some years there is a book so popular at that it gets mentioned at every book club meeting for a year as more and more people read it—Book Thief was one of these. Poet X seems to be moving into that category as well!

Capital Books, which is where the library orders most of their books, has finished renovation on their second floor adding more books as well as the Flamingo Lounge. The Lounge is not open yet, but Ms Melinson is looking forward to a cup of tea one evening while overlooking the Crest Theater marquee in the Flamingo Lounge as soon as this pandemic is under control. In the meantime, Capital Books is allowing people to schedule private appointments for their families to shop together in the empty shop. If you ever wanted to be locked into a bookstore, this is your chance (although I don’t think they actually lock you in;-)

Have you heard the back story for Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s book, Inheritance Game? When the author Ms Barnes was in college, her parents decided to build a dream home, and they asked her what she’d want in it. Of course she said she wanted a secret passage (because who wouldn’t?) and her dad built it for her. Their library, which is filled to the brim with books, has one bookcase that disappears into the wall to reveal a secret passage. She always wanted to write a book that included something like that, and now she has! This book is available as an ebook in Sora if you would like to check it out.