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.

Week in Review: 8th Grade NHD

Mrs. Kahn’s 8th grade History classes spent the shortened week in the library preparing for their National History Day projects. Students had a refresher using NoodleTools, using databases, and evaluating websites.

As part of their lesson on community, a group of pre-k students visited with Ms. Melinson and Mrs. Strong to learn about the Country Day community and the jobs in it. Students viewed tools the library commonly uses, observed how older students use the library, and asked questions. Students also showed us their “magic rock” pose.

On Friday, we held our monthly Book Club with hot apple cider and brownies. Look forward to our Book Club post next week! Also on Friday, the Cooking Club held their first club meeting just outside of the library. They tried drinks from around the world. In puzzle-related news, students are making great progress on the current book-themed puzzle. It got complicated at the end, but it should be completed any day now!


Ms. Mitchell-Vayner brought her dog, Lieutenant Commander Data, in for a visit!

Week in Review: 7th Grade Takeover

The 7th graders spent the week in the library as they worked on projects for history and science. In history, students were working on their National History Day projects. They learned how to use NoodleTools for their bibliographies and how to search databases with keywords. They practiced using websites for research and judging websites on their authoritativeness. They got a crash course in copyright and fair use in relation to using images and videos. They also learned how to find books relating to their projects in the Matthews Library and the public library and how to add those sources to NoodleTools.

For science, students began working on their Biomes projects. They started by looking at books related to their subjects – deserts, oceans, tundra, wetlands, forests, etc. – and keeping track of those books by using NoodleTools. They also were introduced to the Biomes LibGuide, which features more resources relating to their topics. Students also learned how to make a Google Site for their topic. The library was transformed into Coffee Shop Mode on Friday for the 7th grader’s work period.

The library’s monthly Book Club also took place this week, which you can read about here.

October Book Club

Much like the end of October, this month’s Book Club snuck up on us! But, we still had our usual brownies and hot apple cider – and a few special visitors: Ms. Batarseh and Dr. Bell.

Ms. B. started us off by sharing that she spent the summer listening to audiobooks. She also brought in her Arabic textbooks to share because she’s currently taking an Arabic class. Ms. B. is also reading A History of the Arab Peoples and Introduction to Tatreez (in Arabic), which is traditional Arabic embroidery. She brought along her tatreez to show us her progress.

Ms. Melinson shared some new books we have in the library: Imaginary Friend, the long-awaited second book by Perks of Being a Wallflower author Stephen Chbosky, is out and it is nothing like his first book. We have a new gorgeous edition of Frankenstein and this the perfect time of year to read it. For Rick Riordan fans, we have the newest Trials of Apollo book, The Tyrants Tomb. We also have a really neat graphic novel about the early origins of rap and hip hop called Hip Hop Family Tree.

Dr. Bell talked about reading short stories by H.P. Lovecraft this summer, an author he previously didn’t like due to purple prose – prose that is too ornate. Dr. Bell also talked about the staying power and influence Lovecraft had on horror and fantasy authors.

Becca shared that she started reading a collection of short stories by Ted Chiang. Clara said she’s still reading Beyond the Know. Heloise is reading Eve Was Framed which looks at the British legal system and its treatment of women. Mr. Wells read Internment and enjoyed it and is currently reading The Testaments, which he likes better than The Handmaid’s Tale.

Ms. Doyle read Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, which talks about how people become masters of certain fields. Spoilers: you have to love the mastery process. She also read Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a dense book about the role education plays between oppressed people and oppressors. Ms. Doyle also read A Peacock Among Pigeons because she enjoys children’s literature.

For more information on the books shared, visit out Goodreads page.

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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