September Book Club

We had our first Book Club of the school year on Wednesday, with the customary brownies and, unexpectedly, hot apple cider, due to the rainy weather.

Ms. Melinson began by sharing some of the new books the library has received, starting with sequels: the newest Lisa McMann book, Unwanteds Quest: Dragon Curse (who will be visiting next week!); Kingsbane, the second book in the Empirium trilogy; Finale, which is the final book in the Caraval series; Dark Age, a new book from the Red Rising series; and a new Pittacus Lore book, Return to Zero. Some other new books include poetry by the new Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo; The Haunting, which is described as the “scariest book you’ll read all year” and possibly the shortest; the buzz-worthy This Time Will Be Different; the new Margaret Atwood book The Testaments; and (shout out to Mr. G.) How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems.

Then Ms. Melinson talked about some of the books she read over summer: Becoming, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The State of Water, Citizen, Eternal Life, and Where the Crawdads Sing. Heloise also read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and described it as a “pretty story with an ugly side” and reminded her of My Antonia. She also read Flights, a collection of short stories about human travel, Italo Calvin’s Complete Cosmicomics, and The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel, which she said is “so pretty” and does a good job showing not telling with the art. Heloise also read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and loved it and said the film was the worst adaptation ever.

Becca read the graphic novel version of Speak and enjoyed the anticipation from it and the “breathtaking” artwork. Spencer read The Count of Monte Cristo and couldn’t put it down, however, it took about 130 pages to really get into it. Ms. Renteria read Where the Crawdads Sing and was prepared to not like it due to how popular it is, but enjoyed it and called it “lyrical and beautiful”. She also read The Power and wanted to like it, but it wasn’t what she expected and found it to be violent and sad. Ms. Renteria is currently reading Inheritance, a memoir that brings up interesting revelations about identity and what it means to be a father.

Madame Meyers read Happiness, a non-fiction book about being present for moments in daily life. She’s also rereading the Harry Potter books, which she likes to reread every few years and still finds new information. Ms. Bauman read Eight Men Out after being inspired by The Great Gatsby and The Maltese Falcon. After reading it, she said she’ll never read the The Great Gatsby the same way again because of ‘romantic corruption vs. realistic corruption.’ Sarina read There Will Be No Miracles Here and enjoyed it. Samhita reread Diary of Anne Frank and finds it more depressing now that she knows more about Anne Frank’s life.

Check out all the books we discussed at Book Club on our Goodreads!

Week in Review: Shenanigans

We had a fun mix of academics and shenanigans this week. On Monday the Sophomores had a one-two punch of Sophomore Project work. First, in English class, they worked on some preliminary research for their Sophomore Projects. Then in History class, students walked around the track with partners and discussed what their projects are about. Then, in the garden (when it wasn’t rainy), students shared what their partner’s project was about.

On Wednesday we had our first Book Club of the school year. Thursday was picture day for the Middle & High School, and because the pictures are taken in the library, we got to see some of the wacky and lovely ways the Seniors dressed up for their photo-ops, including Jackson M.’s behind-the-scenes “Bachelor” photo shoot.

Friday was the High School’s annual Ancil Hoffman flag football game. The quads were awash in red and black spirit and decorations.

Also happening on Friday was the Climate Strike, which the Middle School science department participated in by creating a large chalk mural. The theme was “What do you want your Earth to look like in 50 years?” and students from 6-8th grade science classes drew various scenarios they thought might happen, both good and bad. Check out the slideshow below to view their work!

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APUSH Book Club

For one of their final projects of the year (and the final collaboration of Ms. Nellis and Ms. Melinson), Ms. Nellis’ AP U.S. History class read historical novels and then discussed them with their class. Like our monthly Book Club meetings, brownies were on hand. The following is the list of books students read:

  1. When the Emperor was Divine/Otsuka
  2. Miracle at St. Anna/McBride
  3. The Lazarus Project/Hemon
  4. Orphan Train/Klein
  5. Little Women/Alcott
  6. House on Mango Street/Cisneros
  7. Farewell to Manzanar/Houston (non-fiction)
  8. Songs of Willow Frost/Ford
  9. There Eyes Were Watching God/Hurston
  10. Angle of Repose/Stegner
  11. Dances With Wolves/Blake
  12. Kindred/Butler
  13. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn/Twain
  14. Carter Beats the Devil/Gould
  15. As I Lay Dying/Faulkner
  16. The Revenant/Punke
  17. East of Eden/Steinbeck
  18. Ragged Dick/Alger
  19. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn/Smith
  20. Maggie, a Girl of the Streets/Crane
  21. Daughter of Fortune/Allende
  22. Cannery Row/Steinbeck

May Book Club

We had our last Book Club of the school year on Wednesday. This Book Club was very special since Ms. Nellis and Ms. Batarseh are both retiring. They both happen to be avid readers and have been coming to Book Club since its inception. So it was only fitting that they take over the final Book Club to talk about some of their favorite books.

Ms. Nellis started us off by sharing her Top 10 books in chronological order:

  1. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  2. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  3. Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
  4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  5. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  6. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  7. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
  8. Dancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan Doig
  9. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  10. The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Ms. Nellis also talked about the perks of being in a book club and reading books you wouldn’t normally read. She also mentioned how she doesn’t read as much during the school year, but plans to read more in retirement.

As most of us know, Ms. Batarseh is a prolific reader so to share her favorite books, she had to narrow it down by topic. The following are Ms. Batarseh’s favorite works about trees:

  1. The Random House Book of Poetry – “Who Has Seen the Wind?” by Christina Rossetti
  2. New and Collected Poems – “A Black Birch in Winter”
  3. The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino
  4. Lives of the Trees by Diana Wells
  5. The California Field Atlas by Obi Kaufman
  6. Aeneid by Virgil

Ms. Batarseh and Ms. Nellis were also awarded Matthews Library cards for life, and we hope they return often to use them!

 

April Book Club

April’s Book Club celebrated our senior readers. Ms. Melinson started by reading the poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver, giving gifts to the graduating seniors, and giving bookmarks containing lists of their recommendations from over the years to everyone. Then she opened the floor to the seniors to share some advice and recommendations.

Grace started us off by suggesting that students read the books that are assigned in class, but to supplement them with other books (some that she calls “trash” books–as opposed to high literature or classics) to add balance. She reminded us to keep reading because reading actually helps improve vocabulary. One of her favorite series of books is Flavia de Luce.

Josh shared that it’s ok to take breaks from reading to avoid feeling burnt out later. He then talked about some high fantasy books he recently started reading, The Last Wish, The Final Empire (which he recommended for Tolkien fans), and The Golden Apple of Discord. After Josh talked about his recommendations, Ms. Batarseh said if she were stranded on a desert island that she would take Josh with her because of his ability to recall details about so many books and their plots (someone else also mentioned that he knows how to build a fire, which would also be helpful). Dune will always have his heart.

Luca said that it doesn’t matter what you read as long as you’re reading. He also said that it’s ok to stop reading books that you don’t like. His favorite book is The Gunslinger. Luca’s final words of wisdom were to get a Goodreads account to keep track of what you read as well and to find new books. And to read Skulduggery Pleasant.

For all the books these guys and others have talked about over the years, check out our Goodreads page!

March Book Club

We had our monthly Book Club on Wednesday and Ms. Melinson started us off by talking about her recent visit to The Marin School where she met with other independent school librarians. She said two of the most talked about books    at the meeting are Michelle Obama’s biography, Becoming, and the memoir Educated. We have both books in our collection as a physical book, ebook, and audiobook for those interested! Ms. Melinson also talked about Dear Martin, which she recommends for fans of The Hate U Give and All American Boys because they have similar themes of racial profiling and social justice. In non-fiction, Ms. Melinson mentioned So You Want to Talk About Race and how it encourages uncomfortable, but necessary conversations.

Ms. Batarseh read The Night Tiger after listening to an NPR interview with the author. She described it as a vibrant, character driven mystery. Ms. Eustace read Song for a Whale, which she loved. Avi talked about an article he read about the correlation between climate change and poverty. Becca mentioned reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about relating All My Sons to present time after she had just turned in a paper on the same subject.

And speaking of timely events, Mr. Wells read We Regret to Inform You, which is about a college admissions scandal. Ms. Nellis read Less for her book club and liked it, but didn’t think it would be a popular choice for students. We had a lively discussion after Ms. Batarseh asked the room if they feel like they have to finish a book once they’ve started reading it.

To find out about all of the books we’ve discussed at Book Club, check out our Goodreads page!

February Book Club

The theme for this month’s Book Club was Award Winners. Ms. Melinson shared several books that won various ALA Youth Media Awards: Monday’s Not Coming, The Faithful Spy, Educated, Sadie, Circe, The Astonishing Color of After, I, Claudia, A Heart in the Body in the World, and The Poet X. Ms. Melinson also talked about “closely reading” Future Perfect (and showed off her sticky note-filled book) because she interviewed the author, Victoria Loustalot. Heloise talked about reading The People’s History of the United States, which she found fascinating even if U.S. isn’t your thing. However, she warned to be prepared for footnotes. Sanjana read Love, Hate, and Other Filters and loved it – so much so that she had a hard time putting it down to study for finals. Avi read a paper about how free speech has evolved, a topic that relates to his Sophomore Project. This was the Book Club to attend if you’re a Sophomore in need of source help!

For information about all of the books we discussed, check out our Goodreads page!

January Book Club

Welcome back! We had our first Book Club of the new year on Wednesday, featuring our weather-appropriate hot apple cider and brownies. Ms. Melinson started the discussion by sharing Barack Obama’s end of 2018 list of favorites, including favorite books. She also shared some popular books that were back in the library including The Astonishing Color of AfterCrazy Rich Asians, and Far From the Tree. Ms. Melinson mentioned she started reading Joan Didion’s Where I Was From over break and found it to be helpful for inspiring Sophomore Project topic ideas. Ms. Melinson talked about a cool bookstore she visited called Crawford’s Bookstore on Freeport Blvd., which led to a discussion about bookstores. Josh talked about a bookstore he went to in Colorado and Grace mentioned her connection to Beer’s Books downtown.

Ms. Batarseh reviewed Future Perfect by Country Day alum Victoria Loustalot and mentioned that it was forthcoming. She also read Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming and found it fascinating. Becca started reading Middlemarch, a book she discovered via the SATs. She says it’s great, but kind of hard to follow due to the large cast of characters. Alyssa read Never Wake over break and loved it.

Mrs. Eustace read several books over break, including The Babysitter’s Club graphic novel, El Deafo, Fake BloodThe Inquisitor’s Tale, and the memoir Educated, which talks about the value of education and being well informed. Josh, our resident Tolkien super fan,  read the Dictionary of Middle Earth and the Atlas of Tolkien, which features maps of Middle Earth. Sarina read People Like Us, which she liked, but found something off about the writing.

Doctora Portillo asked if anyone read The 57 Bus, which she described as being “really good.” Grace talked about exchanging books with her friends on Christmas and receiving the Lin Manuel Miranda delight that is G’Morning, G’Night: Little Pep Talks for Me and You.

To learn more about the books we talked about, check out our Goodreads page!

Week in Review: Scientists in the Field

This week saw the kick off our collaborative Scientists in the Field project for 6th graders. Sixth graders in Mrs. Eustace’s English class and Mrs. Bornmann’s Science class are learning about scientific field work for a subject of their choice, which will culminate in a showcase presentation. On Monday, students skyped with Dr. Desley Whisson of Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Whisson is a scientist in the field of koala habitats and behavioral research.

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On Tuesday, 6th graders returned to “shop” for a Scientist in the Field book. The series of books were set up around the table bookstore-style where students could peruse books arranged by topics. On Wednesday we held our monthly Book Club, which you can read about here. On Thursday Mrs. Eustace returned, this time with her 8th graders, who were working on research for their Of Mice and Men presentations. We ended the week with Mr. Crabb’s class in for their Sophomore Project work day accompanied by a roaring fire.

Bonus:

Grace’s adorable puppy, Luigi, visited us again!

Middle Schoolers made bookmarks for 2nd graders during Middle School Community Service last day before break and Ms. Melinson delivered them on Monday.

December Book Club

We held our final Book Club of 2018 on Wednesday featuring our usual brownies and hot apple cider. Students and faculty talked about what books they’ve read and what books they hope to read over break.

Ms. Melinson started us off with too many new books to list. Check out the picture below for all of the titles. Ms. Batarseh talked about reading Country Day Alum Victoria Loustalot’s new book Future Perfect. She also read The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, which she described as a mix of David Sedaris and Agatha Christie.

Heloise explored a giant bookstore in Colorado and came away with some interesting my reads. She read a book called Fox 8 with a fox narrator who spoke phonetic English. Heloise also picked up a collection of Italo Calvino stories and is looking forward to reading My Sister the Serial Killer over break.

Anna read The Song of Achilles and described it as interesting and well written. Sarina just started reading The Perfect Mother and liked that it started from the ending. Alyssa is looking forward to reading Never Wake over break, the sequel to Dreamfall, which she loved.

Ms. Melinson asked what book would make a good gift and Ms. Batarseh suggested the Emily Wilson translation of the The Odyssey while Mr. Wells suggested Walking to Listen, which he called uplifting. Ms. Melinson said she gives books of poetry or Einstein’s Dreams, which she calls fun and geeky.

For all the books mentioned here and at previous Book Clubs, check out our Goodreads page. Happy reading!