Week in Review: Middle School English Edition

It was a Middle School takeover this week in the Matthews Library. The 6th and 8th graders were in with Mrs. Eustace for English fun! The 6th graders were learning how to find resources for their Passion Projects via the library catalog, Google searches, and databases. Throughout the week, they were finding books in the library and sourcing information from them.

The 8th graders were in as well, researching the pros and cons of competitive sports. Students learned about finding strong websites as well as summarizing and adopting formal tones. They also learned about counter arguments, which led to an interesting activity where students argued whether Skittles or Snickers is the better candy. We think there was more argument in favor of Skittles.

On Tuesday we hosted Music in the Library featuring the High School Jazz Band, fresh off of their successful performances at the Forum Music Festival. On Wednesday we had our monthly Book Club, which you can read all about here.

Bonus:

Some ASE campers learned that the library is the best place to go if you’re on a scavenger hunt!

April Book Club

We had our monthly book club on Wednesday, where students and faculty talked about the books they’ve been reading. Ms. Melinson started us off with Cake, a pretty book that’s part memoir and part recipe book. She also talked about Norwich by Karen Crouse, the sports writer who visited a few months ago and spoke. Since April is Poetry Month, Ms. Melison talked about one of our new books of poems, Wild Beauty. And to round things out, Ms. Melinson talked about some weird books: Three Bags Full (legit laugh out loud funny) and Sourdough (It glows in the dark!)

Héloïse started reading Down and Across, which she loves because the characters are weird, but a good weird. She also mentioned starting O! Pioneers and liking it so far and finishing Women & Power. Josh read what what he described as possibly the best series ever – Red Rising. He said it was amazing and recommends it for Sci-Fi fans. He also read The Man in the High Castle and enjoyed its interesting depiction of alternate history. Mrs. Eustace chimed in that for those who like alternate history, they should check out Wolf By Wolf – conveniently available at your local school library.

Ms. Batarseh read Abarat and loved it and the accompanying pictures because “words evoke pictures, pictures evoke words.” She mentioned to watch out for the paperback version of the book as it doesn’t have the illustrations, which really benefit the story. Ms. Batarseh also talked about Richard Wilbur’s New and Collected Poems, which she said she comes back to every few years and enjoys his simple use of words.

Alyssa started reading Beautiful Creatures, which she said is so different from the movie, but she loves it. Becca started The Hero With A Thousand Faces, a book about how mythology has evolved through time, and thinks it’s going to be an interesting read. Mr. Wells said he was looking for books to tie into the Sophomore Project for the 10th graders next year and so he was reading Enrique’s Journey, recommended by Doctora Portillo.

For more information about the books we talked about, check out our Goodreads page.

March Book Club

We had our monthly Book Club on a rainy Wednesday, with brownies and hot apple cider hitting just the right spot.

Ms. Melinson started us off by talking about a new book by Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn. It’s a novel in verse similar to House on Mango Street. Mr. Wells, having also just finished the book, chimed in and said, “It’s excellent!” Ms. Melinson also talked about How to Relax, recommended by her daughter, Sarah, when asked what she would say to her younger self. And as a callback to the cookbooks she shared at the last Book Club, Ms. Melinson talked about How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, the companion to How to Cook Everything.

Grace read The Moonstone, a Victorian mystery (many believe it’s the first mystery book) she described as fun and comforting with quirky characters. She also read The Dead and the Vaulted Arches, another fun mystery. Grace was also excited to start the Ron Chernow biography of Hamilton and Shadow of the Wind – in Spanish.

Anu read The Wrath and the Dawn, which she described as “unexpected” and a mix between The Selection and Arabian Nights. Emma read To Kill a Kingdom, describing it as a more mature retelling of The Little Mermaid. Alyssa listened to Dreamfall on audiobook, a book she’d read and enjoyed, and learned some information: the name of a character was pronounced differently from Alyssa was pronouncing it.

Kaitlyn shared that she’s received many recommendations from Emma that she hasn’t liked, but was sticking with The Thone of Glass series with the promise the third book, Heir of Fire, is supposed to be good. Yumi started Brave New World, describing it as kind of confusing so far. Ian read some weird, but classic books, including Allen Ginsberg’s Collected PoemsThe Most Beautiful Woman in Town & Other StoriesInto the Wild, and Naked Lunch.

Visit our Goodreads page to view all of the books we talked about!

Week in Review

It’s been a wet and wintry week here at the Matthews Library. Monday started out with a Glass Knife meeting as staffers get ready for board meetings next week. On Tuesday Mrs. Lyon’s Book Elective was in to learn about the review contest and find out some of the special perks of being in Book Elective.

On Wednesday, students and faculty participated in the National Walkout by sitting silently for 17 minutes and reading off the names and ages of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. We had our lunchtime Book Club on Wednesday, which you can read about here. Wednesday was also Pi Day and the library served as a holding place for some pretty sweet pies for the Pi day pie making contest.

Thursday was the perfect day for tea after lunch because of the inclement weather. Thursday was also the perfect day to send off the Mock Trial team to state! Students and teachers gathered to cheer on the Mock Trial team as they head to Orange County to compete in the State Mock Trial competition for the first time in Country Day history. Go Cavs!

The library was quiet on Friday, but the Middle School was the happening place with their first World’s Fair Day.

January Book Club

We had our first Book Club of 2018 on Wednesday and as is tradition, Ms. Melinson shared the cookbooks she’s been reading. First up was Pizza Camp, which would be the best camp ever. She discussed The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, a companion book to The Flavor Bible, which lets you know what flavors go well together. Ms. Melinson also talked about Bon Appetit and Saver, food magazines the library subscribes to.

Heloise read Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process. She said it’s a cool book with helpful diagrams on how to write. Luca shared that it’s easier to to buy books than it is to read them, which is a problem we know all too well. One of the books he’s reading is John Green’s newest, Turtles All the Way Down. He said it’s not the classic John Green story, but it’s still quirky while dealing with real issues. Luca also mentioned he’s reading Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci, which he described as the Hamilton of Leonardo da Vinci.

Going along with Ms. Melinson’s theme, Lindsay read The Dessert Bible and The Cook’s Bible, which she said is similar to Flavor Bible. Mrs. Eustace has been listening to audiobooks lately, including A Man Named OveMe Before You, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Mrs. Eustace noted that she liked Lin-Manuel Miranda’s narration of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe moreso than the story itself. The library will soon be getting audiobooks through our shared Overdrive collection, so keep an eye out for that!

Emma read An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors over break, but didn’t like it. She picked it because she thought it was about a planet with floating islands, but it focused too much on politics. However she just started reading The Cruel Prince and likes it much better. Mr. Wells read An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and An Epic on recommendation of Ms. Bauman. He described it as part memoir and part literary analysis.

Melissa discussed the books she read over break from least favorite (Future Home of the Living God) to most favorite book ever (The Immortalists). Layla said that she hasn’t been able to find a good book and has been disappointed with her recent selections. She did share an amusing tale of a pie gone wrong. She tried to make a 3-in-1 pie with pecan, pumpkin, and apple layers, but it turned into a bit of a jumbled mess in the oven.

Hana read The Screwtape Letters, which she described as interesting, but kind of a hard read. Joanne read Me Before You, which she loved, but didn’t like the sequel, Me After You, saying it was bad compared to the first book.

To find out about all the books we talked about, check out our Goodreads page!

December Book Club

We had our last Book Club of 2017 on Wednesday with students and faculty talking about what they’ve been reading and what they’re looking forward to reading over Winter Break. Ms. Melinson discussed one of our new books, Sparrow, which she said was a good read with a pretty cover. She also asked if anyone had read the new John Green book Turtles All the Way Down because she had started it, but found the main character annoying.

Alyssa talked about finishing Dreamfall, which she really liked but was bummed to find out that the sequel doesn’t come out until next summer. Alyssa also talked about another creepy book she just started called Shutter. Heloise read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. She described it as more of a ‘mental’ book than an action book. She also read her first Murakami, Men Without Women, a book she described as “amazing”.

Savannah started reading Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City for her Sophomore Project, but ended up finishing the book because it was so good, though understandably sad. Larkin read Saving Hamlet on Becca’s recommendation and really liked it because it had a realistic high school setting – minus the time travel! Larkin also read City of Bones and found it disappointing. Emily said the first book is slow, but the series picks up with the second book.

Ms. Batarseh read Spade and Archer, which she described as “gritty” and a delight to read. She was not, however, impressed with Susan Sontag’s In America. Ms. Fel’s said she was reading a book about Algerian refugees. She couldn’t remember the title, but said it was a good read. Ms. Fels said she couldn’t recommend another book she’d read, Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton, because it was awful and gave her nothing to think about.Jewel finished off Book Club by talking about a book she said had been looking at her in the library for a few days – The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults, which was she found interesting.

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

November Book Club

This month’s Book club featured a full house and Ms. Melinson’s book hoard – and, of course, our usual brownies and hot apple cider.

Ms. Melinson shared a bunch of new books: Dear Fahrenheit 451 (hilarious letters to books/libraries), I’ll Give You the Sun (not new, but needs more love), The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic sequel), Thick as ThievesDear MartinThe Epic Crush of Genie LoBook of LiesYou Bring the Distant NearTool of War, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

Heloise read The Serpent of Essex, a book she picked up because of its beautiful cover. Ms. B read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was not about the philosophers, but rather characters with the same names. Ms. B loved it for its beautiful, spare prose. She also read Havana Bay and described it as well written and understanding of Cuban culture.

Jewel said she was looking forward to read The Adoration of Jenna Fox over the Thanksgiving break. Alyssa read Dreamfall (the book Ms. Melinson mentioned at the last Book Club that she said she’d never read because it’s too scary) and really enjoyed it. Ms. B brought up that it can be hard to decide what to read, but the more you read, the wider your interests become. She also gave some sage advice: never read at a stop sign. It’s bad for your insurance rates.

For all the books we talked about, check out our Goodreads page!

October Book Club

The weather has turned colder, which means it’s time for Ms. Melinson to bust out the hot apple cider for the October Book Club!

We had a jammed packed house for this month’s Book Club with no leftover brownies in sight. Ms. Melinson talked about a bunch of the new books we just received including The Education of Margo SanchezGenuine FraudMen Without WomenDreamfallThe Bear and the Nightingale (which Emma loved. She described it as creepy, but not horror-movie scary), Dividing Eden, and Jane, Unlimited.

Ms. B read Steeplejack, which she called “fun and wonderful.” She also talked about Lapham’s Quarterly, a magazine that devotes each issue to one topic. Ms. B said she likes  magazines because articles have an easier stopping point whereas books seduce you into finding out what happens.

Luca started reading Robert Pinsky’s translation of Dante’s Inferno and was enjoying it. He also bought the best book ever, The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray, which is like a Bill Murray dictionary. Luca was also “snail-pacing” his way through Einstein’s Dreams and a few memoirs.

Heloise read Bel Canto and recommends it because it has a great writing style. Ms. Melinson said it’s one of her all time favorite books. Josh was excitedly waiting to read the new John Green book Turtles All the Way Down after an almost six year wait since his last book. (yours truly would like to interject that she has read the book and loved it!) Jackson said he went through the stages of grief as the last Harry Potter book was published, but decided to revisit the series via audiobook. Jackson was planning on reading Casino Royale and Ms. B warned him the the James Bond in the books is quite a different character from the one in the movies.

Joe started listening to The Way of Kings audiobook (which is a whopping 45 hours long!) but ended up rereading the book instead. Monique read the “All the World’s a Grave”, a play that uses different pieces of Shakespeare’s writing in one play, and loved it. Emma read Wicked Wonders, a collection of short stories about magical kids. Jewel read The Thousandth Floor, a book where the entirety of New York City exists inside a tower. Layla read Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli and liked it, though she found it quite sad.

To check out all of the books we talked about, visit our Goodreads page!

Bonus:

That blur in the middle of the screen is Luca racing to his seat so he doesn’t miss any of the Book Club fun!

September Book Club

We had our first High School Book Club of the new school year on Wednesday, though we were a bit uncertain of when to start now that Dr. Bell isn’t here! It was nice to see old and new faces alike as students and faculty discussed what they read over the summer.

Ms. Melinson talked about The Hate U Give and mentioned hosting a special book club devoted to the book in October. Keep an eye out for that next month! She also read the book All American Boys, which has similar themes to The Hate U Give. Ms. Melinson also talked about A Gentleman in Moscow, a book loved by everyone who’s read it so far. Both Ms. Melinson and Mr. Wells declared it the “best book of the year”.

Luca said he jumped around a started several different books, including A Confederacy of Dunces (which caused groans from the faculty) as well as some biographies by Nick Offerman and John Cleese. He also mentioned reading Einstein’s Dreams, which Ms. Melinson said was one of her favorite books.

Josh also started a lot of books this summer including a collection of Winston Churchill’s speeches titled Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Greatest SpeechesWorth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags, and Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World, a large book he described as “interesting, but a slog” to get through.

Heloise read some amazing books this summer like The Alchemist, which she said was “life changing” (Doctora suggested that if you liked The Alchemist you should read The Little Prince and compare the two books). Heloise also raved about Mr. Palomar and The Night Circus.

Becca read Saving Hamlet and thought it was amazing with its fantastic, flowery writing and diverse cast of characters.

Ms. Batarseh read a book with a title almost as long as the book itself, Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD. She said despite its dry title, she loved the book because of the passionate writing style of the author and because it was a book where she had to look up the meaning of words, which is not a usual occurrence for her.

Layla mentioned she likes dystopian books because anything can happen in them and said she read Red Blood over the summer, which she really enjoyed.

Ms. Nellis said she was re-reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. She describe it as “eye opening” and for people who want to know what people outside of California think.

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

May Book Club

We had our last book club of the school year on Wednesday, which also was the last book club for Dr. Bell and Dr. Baird as they head into retirement. Ms. Melinson wondered, with Dr. Bell’s retiring, how will we know when to start Book Club next year?

For Dr. Bell’s final recommendation, he discussed The Last Lawsons by Jason Hinojosa’s (who happens to be the new English teacher). He said he enjoyed the different narrative devices used and that it offered good psychological insight into family drama.

Dr. Baird reminisced abut his history of reading (fitting for a history teacher). He said he wasn’t a big reader as a kid, but started reading a lot of novels in college, which led to historical fiction and biographies and encouraged an interest in history.

Ms. B started a lively discussion when she said she thinks summer reading should be for classics and books you don’t have time for during the school year and not for racy beach reads. Dr. Bell thinks that people should read the classics when they’re young and then reread them later in life, which many agreed with.

Anny talked about reading The Dark Prophecy and Lord of Shadows, which is centered around the Edgar Allen Poe poem “Dreamland.” Heloise read All the Light We Cannot See and loved it, calling it “amazing.” And she learned a bit of history from it!

For all the books we talked about, check out our Goodreads page!