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.

September Book Club

Welcome back! Our first Book Club of the new school took place earlier this month – virtually. Whether remote or in-person, Book Club will happen!

Ms. Melinson started us off by sharing what she read over the summer. She listened to The Poet X audiobook (those who have listened to it agree that it’s incredible. It’s read by the author, Elizabeth Acevedo – check it out on Overdrive) for the high school read. She also started reading Elizabeth Acevedo’s second book, With the Fire On High, and is enjoying the book’s setting of Philadelphia where she grew up. The book takes place just blocks from where her mother grew up. Ms. Melinson finally read Educated: A Memoir. She found it compelling, if possibly unreliable, but is on the fence about whether or not she enjoyed it.

Top to bottom: With the Fire on High, The Poet X, Me and White Supremacy, The Fire Next Time, The Fire This Time, Begin Again, Good Talk

Ms. Melinson also completed Eddie Moore’s 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge, which inspired her to-be-read pile: Olivia read Eating People is Wrong. She liked the first few pages, but overall found it to be outdated and wrong. She also read Confessions of a Mask and liked how well-written and poetic it was. Mrs. Strong read The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel and didn’t like it, mainly because of the art. Samhita read The Starless Sea and couldn’t put it down. She re-read Dread Nation because the sequel was recently released and The Ballad of Snakes and Songbirds, which she described as “really good and really long.” Eliana read Divergent and started the sequel, Insurgent. She also read To Kill a Mockingbird, but found it kind of boring.

Mr. Wells read Station Eleven, and found its premise a little too close to home currently (it’s about a global pandemic). When he was looking for options for the all high school read, he read I’ll Give You the Sun and thought it to be “un-nuanced”. Mr. Wells also read Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, describing it as a thoughtful and humanizing approach to war.

Then Ms. Melinson asked how people are doing with reading during the pandemic. Some said it was easier due to having more free time, while others said they actually had more to do so reading was hard to find time for. One person responded that reading is easier for escapism because of the lack of activities and sports on tv while another person said they use reading as a way to rest from all of the screen time.

For more information on the books we discussed and the books we’ve discussed at previous book clubs, check out our Goodreads page!

May Book Club

We held our last Book Club of the school year this week. Students and staff shared what books they’ve been reading and what they hope to read over the summer.

Ms. Melinson shared that she’s been reading Woven in Moonlight and chose it for its beautiful cover. She’s also been working her way through Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook. Samhita read Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. She said it was really interesting to see how people were tricked for so long. Doctora Portillo said she’s been reading student’s work from her Spanish classes. Mrs. Strong has been reading Upright Women Wanted, a fun western that takes place in the future. Mr. Wells’ stayed up late reading The Heights and enjoyed its ironic humor. Erin has been reading Harry Potter in French. She says it easier to translate some of the harder French words because she previously read the books in English. Erin has also been reading When Women Ruled the World. She likes how it relates modern history to ancient Egypt.

For summer, Ms. Melinson plans to read Educated for her alma mater’s book club. She also wants to listen to The Poet X because it’s read by the author. Some other books she’s excited about for summer are: The Nickel Boys, Internment, With the Fire on High, The Fountains of Silence, Parable of the Sower, Dangerous Alliance (written by Country Day  alumna, Jennieke Cohen), and more Joy Harjo poetry (current and future U.S. Poet Laureate).

Doctora Portillo plans to read The Chronicle of Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. She says it’s short, but complex. Doctora is also looking forward to reading How to Be an Anti-Racist. Mr. Wells is planning on reading The Hobbit with his son and Station Eleven (with himself). Erin plans to read and/or listen to more books in French. Samhita has been waiting for a good time to start The Starless Sea and might also read The Night Circus after Ms. Melinson described it.

For all the books we’ve read this year and in years past, check out our Goodreads page. Happy reading!

Week in Review: 6 things that made us laugh

Hi, friends! Welcome to this new version of Week in Review. While we’re remotely learning and working in our homes, we can’t share pictures of what’s happing in the library like we usually do…because there’s nothing happening in the library. But that doesn’t mean library services and events are going away. It just means we’re focusing on ebooks and transitioning to virtual events. For example, we had our March Book Club via Zoom. Read all about it here.

So, here are some things that made us laugh this week as we adjust to our new virtual reality.

  1. Meetings with our coworker’s dogs via Zoom.
  2. Ms. Melinson making rookie mistakes with technology she’s used for years while adjusting easily to new technology.
  3. Weird things kids leave in front of their webcams while they’re away from their computers.
  4. This teacher’s song.
  5. Bringing home extra projects because we thought we’d have so much free time.
  6. Adjusting to new coworkers. Meet Eve and Ginny. They’re cute, but their grasp on personal space leaves something to be desired.

March Book Club – Virtual!

We had our monthly Book Club this past Wednesday and it was BYOHAP&B – bring your own hot apple cider and brownies because our meeting was virtual. That’s right, even when remote learning we still have time to talk about books!

Ms. Melinson started us off with a book not to read during this time – The Plague by Albert Camus. It might be a little too on the nose. But she did have some suggestions for for books to read to help soothe the soul and help you get better as a human being. Ms. Melinson suggested How to Be an Antiracist, Zen Flesh Zen Bones, an introduction to Buddhism, and poetry – Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot and Dear Darkness by Kevin Young.

Speaking of books that are on the nose, Avi is reading about hypochondriasis – the fear of having a serious disease. Grace E. is reading the fantasy/sci-fi serious about Michael Vey and the Electric Kids to distract herself. Mrs. Strong was reading The Calculating Stars, but decided to switch to something more upbeat – Strange Planet comics (view some here).

Ms. Bauman read a review of a play called “Conscious” and reached out to the author and was sent a script of the play to read. Reach out to authors – they may write back! Ms. Bauman is also listening to Frankenstein on audiobook. Samhita wants to read Emma by Jane Austen after seeing the movie. She’s also excited to start Lovely War by Julie Berry. Mr. Wells read The Poet X and said it was fantastic, filled with powerful verses. Clara re-read What If? by Randall Munroe, her favorite book.

Then Ms. Melinson asked how everyone was doing. Some students mentioned adjusting to living with college-aged siblings again as they return home. Some students talked about remote learning making them more organized. Ms. Bauman wondered how remote learning would impact college application essays next year. Are there going to be an influx of essays about sheltering in place much like there was an influx of essays written relating to Harry Potter when it was released? Who knows!

For all the books mentioned at this Book Club and all of the previous Book Clubs, check out our Goodreads account. Want more library content? Follow us on Instagram!

February Book Club

We had a lot of new business to go over at the beginning of this month’s Book Club. First up were some reading challenges, Book Riot’s Read Harder and Popsugar’s Reading Challenge. Reading challenges encourage you to read widely, with prompts like “read a book that passes the Bechdel test” and “read a book with a pun in the title”.

Next, we introduced our new Country Day Reads Kits – similar to book subscription boxes, these kits contain 2-3 library books and a few bookish goodies to keep. A select number of kits will be available before breaks, the next one being Spring Break.

Then Ms. Melinson talk about some new books: in honor of Valentine’s Day, she shared How to Fight (a mindfulness meditation book). She also talked about the George Saunders’ book Congratulations, By the Way, a pretty book that helps you to begin thinking about kindness. Other new books include Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to Astrotourism and Reality Ahead of Schedule: How Science Fiction Inspires Science Fact. Ms. Melinson also asked for suggestions centered around identity and diversity for next year’s high school read.

Doctora Portillo shared that she read How To Be An Anti-Racist. She said it’s the best book she’s read on the topic. Anna was loaned lots of LGBTQ+ graphic novels to read over break and was looking forward to reading them. Layla read Turtles All the Way Down and loved it, saying it gave good insight into obsessive compulsive disorder.

Mr. Wells read The Guardians, a fictionalized version of Just Mercy. He liked the book, but said Just Mercy was better. Becca shared that she wanted to write a story about weird pop culture coincidences – memes that go viral and then happen in real life.

Jo then asked how you decide what to spend your time on when it comes to reading. Anna says it has to be gay for her to read it. Layla said she judges books by their covers and reads a random page in the middle to determine if she wants to keep reading. Larkin said she just asks Heloise for suggestions.

For more information about the books we talked about, visit our Goodreads page!

Week in Review: Little Bit of Everything

Welcome back and welcome to 2020! We eased back into school life with a little bit of everything this week.

On Tuesday the 6th graders were in with Mrs. Sterling for a NoodleTools refresher. They learned how to export their bibliographies and had work time for their Scientists in the Field projects. We also had tea to warm us up during flex time on Tuesday. On Wednesday we had our first Book Club of the new decade, which you can read about here. On Friday the library hosted author/aerospace engineer/game designer Andrew Rader to talk about his new book, Beyond the Known, human explorations, and space.

January Book Club

New year, new decade, same Book Club!

Ms. Melinson started us off by sharing what she did on Christmas Eve – Jólabókaflóð – the Icelandic tradition of reading a book in bed while eating chocolate on Christmas Eve. Ms. Melinson’s Christmas Eve book was Jackpot by Nic Stone. She also read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and said it’s an interesting story that does not have the beautiful writing that Starless Sea, the book she recommended last book club, has.

Heloise read The Starless Sea and had nothing but praise for it. She suggested reading it in one sitting because the novel sucked you in so much, it could be disorienting going back and forth from fiction to reality. Heloise also read My Sister the Serial Killer and enjoyed its unique concept. She read The Incendiaries and found it gorgeously written, but perhaps a little wordy when it came to some descriptions.

Natalie shared that she is rereading some old favorites, including Warcross and the Neil Shusterman series Unwind. She advised not to get too attached to any character in the Unwind series and the need for a strong stomach. Anna read The Infinite Noise and loved that it featured LGBTQ+ characters but the story didn’t solely focus on LGBTQ+ issues.

Luca returned to say hi and share what he’s been reading – a lot of Stephen King, including Carrie. He also started Between the World and Me and is enjoying its poetic prose. Speaking of beautiful writing, Dra. Portillo read How We Fight For Our Lives, and described it as a beautiful coming of age story. Samhita reread Anne of Green Gables and forgot just how good it is.

Arijit reread The Martian and said he likes to do the math from the book. He also read more books by Jurassic Park author, Michael Crichton. Layla read After the Fire, a book about the after effects of being in a cult. Dylan read The Fold and described it as being paradoxical and fitting into many genres. He also read V for Vendetta then watched the movie.

Sarina read Tangled and said she picked it based on the pretty cover. She said it’s from multiple points of view, but overall too bland and doesn’t feature enough representation. Sarina also read Trinkets because she likes the Neflix show based on the book. She found the book to be lacking diversity compared to the show. She also used the public library’s ebooks over Winter Break and found it exciting to instantly get a book. This is a friendly reminder that we also have a healthy collection of ebooks and often buy books students request if we don’t already have them.

To view all the books we’ve talked about, check out our Goodreads page!

December Book Club

We had our final book of 2019 (and of the DECADE!) on Wednesday. Ms. Melinson started us off by sharing some Best Books of 2019 and Best Books of the Decade lists. She then shared what she’d been reading – Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, the author of The Night Circus. Ms. Melinson described it as “disgustingly beautiful” and a cross between Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store and The Night Circus.

Heloise read Frankly in Love and called it wonderful and similar plot-wise to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but much more realistic. She said the realistic plot and characters who sounds like high school students were a breath of fresh air. Mr. Cunningham read The Case of the Missing Men, describing it as a cross between Nancy Drew & David Lynch.

Anna read a graphic novel call Roadqueen and said the art and story were super cute. Layla read an An Abundance of Katherines and enjoyed, though she found the love equation confusing (why is there so much multiplication?!) Samhita read The Toll, the final book in the Scythe series. She’s sad the series is over, but liked the ending better than she expected to. Mr. Wells read The Water Dancer and found it thoughtful and horrifying. He’s hoping to read Beyond the Unknown in preparation for the author’s visit.

Then Ms. Melinson asked what people thought some of the best books of the decade are. Responses include The Testaments, The Hate U Give, the Champion series, A Gentleman in Moscow, and The Night Circus.

Check out all the books we’ve discussed in past Book Clubs at our Goodreads page.

November Book Club

We held our monthly Book Club last week where students and faculty talked about what they’d been reading and what they’re hoping to read over Thanksgiving break.

Ms. Melinson started us off by sharing Jewish Stories of Wisdom, a small & pretty book filled with old fashioned folk tales. She then talked about an assortment of new arrivals: How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, Slay, The Red Scrolls of Magic, The Dutch House, The Tiger at Midnight, Angel Mage, a beautifully illustrated edition of Black Beauty, Lovely War, and the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She also had some books to give away.

Becca read The Call of Cthulhu for Beginning Readers, which she described as the Dr. Suess-ified rhyming and illustrated version. Heloise shared that she likes to read fun and wintry books at this time of year and is currently rereading My True Love Gave to Me. Samhita read Scythe, which she described as less dark than it sounds (there’s a character killed in every chapter), but still really interesting. Stephanie is rereading Just Mercy in anticipation of the movie’s upcoming release. Joanne is also rereading books, but books that she previously started and didn’t finish. She’s beginning with Bad Blood. Clara is reading How To, what she describes as being filled with “science-y, nerdy information” about how to do things. Hermione has been reading Japanese books in Chinese, and especially liked Keigo Higashimo’s Miracle in Namiya’s General Store. Sarina read Just Listen, but didn’t care for it much. However, it did encourage her to read more diversely.

Mr. Wells shared that he started reading Harry Potter with his son, who is enjoying it. He also said he’s going to reread The Handmaid’s Tale after “putting his foot in his mouth” at the last Book Club by declaring The Testaments the better of the two books. Ms. Doyle read the Master and Margarita. She also asked the question: What process do you go through when choosing a book to read for pleasure? Mrs. Bauman said when she’s teaching fiction that she reads more non fiction. Sarina looks for colorful books and often likes the themes that Buzzfeed uses for its book lists. Stephanie likes Chinese authors. Samhita will judge a book by its title. Heloise likes to step away from Top 100 books lists and opt for something a little more interesting. Joanne just starts reading to decide if she’ll like it.

To learn about all of the books we discussed, check out our Goodreads page.