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Summer Reading - Faculty Recommendations: 2017 Complete List

Vital Books - Bob Vitalo's 2017 Summer Picks

US English Faculty - Book Recommendations

Ms. Drezner wept openly on the subway platform.  So many of us loved this book for its beautiful, funny, heart-rending take on Lincoln’s most devastating loss.



Read it as an allegory, read it as a disturbing, interconnected series of short stories—either way it deserved its Pulitzer. Pair it with Kathryn Schulz’s thoughtful review, here, where she asks whether escape *north* was as important as white northern readers today wish it to have been.  This one is a favorite of Ms. Drezner, Ms. Moore, and Mr. Henneberry.



Not what we would call a beach read, but the narrative voices will captivate (and shock) any reader. Ms. Williams


This one references Wordsworth and Lord Byron, and calls out numerous staples of American popular culture in an effort to help us reexamine our relationship with nature. It will change the way you think about a hamburger.


The classic allegorical rabbit epic that taught Ms. Drezner how to read when she was an adolescent, because it rewarded flipping back and forth across the pages, reading and re-reading.



To say that this is a book about the Vietnam War and its legacy does not do it justice. A new favorite of Ms. Moore.


Another Pulitzer winner—possibly Ms. Drezner’s favorite book for its breadth, intricacy, and absorbing plots and subplots.


What’s fantastic about this book, says Ms. Drezner, is that the narrator thinks she’s telling us the story of her boarding school education, but we very quickly begin to pick up on other, more unsettling details, and a more interesting plot takes shape.



This book is for everyone who likes baseball, or who has ever felt performance anxiety, or who has spent time at a small college in the midwest. (Ms. Drezner, Ms Moore, Ms. Clapps)


This passionate, absorbing story addresses sexuality and mental health in a family. (Ms. Moore, Ms. Bediako, Mr. Henneberry)


An obvious choice (another Pulitzer winner), but it’s one of the recent books many of us felt we fell into deeply as soon as we began to read.  We pitch it to students by saying it’s kind of like The Book Thief, but for grown-ups. (Ms. Drezner)


A thrilling, funny, creepy page turner. (Ms. Drezner)


After re-reading it in preparation for her World Literature class, Ms. Moore was reminded of how compelling this intergenerational novel is.


Ms. Clapps reports that Tana French’s Irish murder mysteries “go down like candy”; they’re perfect beach reads. The best part is that you’re always left wondering whether the murder will be solved before the beleaguered detective has a breakdown.


A writer returns to his homeland of Nigeria after fifteen years in the United States. Essentially, it’s a book about wandering, but the narrator’s compelling voice holds together this episodic narrative. Ms. Bediako insists that even if you've never been to Lagos--and even if you didn't love Cole's more popular book Open City--readers will relate to the feeling of alienation upon attempting to go home again.


The story of a family, a house and the city of Detroit. Well deserved National Book award finalist. (Ms. Williams)




A quirky, charming novel by the author of The Hundred and One Dalmatians. Narrated by Cassandra Mortmain, a teenager living with her eccentric family in a decaying castle in 1930s England, the novel is a wry homage to Jane Austen, George Meredith, and the Brothers Grimm, as it combines elements of romance, fairytale, and comedy to render a humorous and heartfelt coming of age story. Truly one of a kind. (Dr. Hughes)


“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” This is the first sentence of Graham Greene’s End of the Affair, which is simultaneously a love story and a book about how to write a love story. Set during the end of World War II in England, in its own gritty, British manner it’s a perfect little jewel of a novel. (Dr. Hughes)


While Blankets was hailed as one of the best graphic novels in years upon its release in 2003, it has become an unfortunately neglected book in recent years. An autobiographical coming of age story, it’s a kind of tip of the hat to James Joyce’s Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man, and its final pages are every bit as moving as Joyce’s conclusion to Portrait. A breathtaking story of art, memory, and romance -- you’ll probably end up reading it in one sitting. (Dr. Hughes)


Ms. Bediako unabashedly recommends this YA novel to young adults as well as older adults like herself. It's a story about two teens who fall in love against the backdrop of one's impending deportation. The story is told from the perspectives of not just the two adolescent protagonists, but of various seemingly peripheral characters. The love story isn't even the best part (though, if you can suspend disbelief and ignore the problems with so-called "instalove", the love story is pretty enjoyable). The best part of the novel is the way the author skillfully intertwines themes like science, race, culture, fate, and the interconnectedness of human beings into one narrative.



More BC Faculty Book Recommendations

Megan Saxelby recommended it to Middle School and it was very inspiring in thinking about the culture of the whole school. I would love to see his ideas about revision, beautiful work and critique take hold here! (Briar Sauro)


A must-read that follows the family line of two Ghanaian sisters, one who is kidnapped and enslaved and one who remains. (Briar Sauro)



This book unpacks widespread intuitive theories of scientific concepts, the many mistakes we make due to hazy understanding, and how each wrong-headed theory is best remedied in the classroom. There are clear implications for the intuitive theories under-girding social relationships (like race and status judgements). This book feels profoundly important on almost every level. (Mike Wilper)


Recommended by Lauren Goldberg.


Amor's writing style is wonderful.  I really felt transported to the time and places he described.  A Gentleman in Moscow (his most recent book) was an interesting study of human relationships and I learned so much about Russian history.  (Shannon Marriott)


Rules of Civility is a fascinating depiction of NYC in the late 1930's. You really can't go wrong with this author! (Shannon Marriott)  


Maybe you've read Americanah, Adichie's more recent book, but I think her earlier "Half of Yellow Sun" is even better. It tells the story of Biafra, the state that tried to secede from Nigeria in the 1960s -- history I knew nothing about. Adichie makes the story come to life by telling it through the eyes of five different characters who experience the war from really different perspectives, while also just living their lives. The characters feel so real, fully developed, and relatable that you almost don't realize that you're learning a ton of African history while you're just reading a really good story. (Jessie Kunhardt)


Alternating between the Spanish Civil War and '60s swinger London, The Muse traces the story of a mysterious painting and the woman who may or may not have been it's true maker. (Nina Wish)


A powerful read for adults and high school students alike, redefining what is essential and how to prioritize in our current fast pace, "more-is-better" society.  (Matt Budd)


I would like to recommend the young adult novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It's an uplifting story about a teenage girl struggling to find her voice after experiencing the trauma of police brutality; all while her identity is stretched between the two worlds of her poor, black neighborhood and her majority-white private school.  (Anna Murphy)


I recommend anything by Ernest Hemingway. (Francisco Corredor)


Strong female lead; importance of family and retention of culture; full of despair, sadness and overcoming obstacles. (Eileen Garcia)


This is a series of 8 big, fat novels that I have read four times through and as soon as school is out, I'm going to do it again! There are also assorted novellas, and an extra book (or four or five) on various things Outlander.  Nailing a genre for this series is tough.  It's fiction, there's time travel involved and a definite romantic plot, but there is also a serious historical bent and the author is an incredible researcher.  If you are a fan of the 1700's in the UK, France, and the US, this is a good one for you. (Katherine Cooke)


Captures my neighborhood of Washington Heights perfectly. (Peter Holsberg)

Fascinating and well researched expose about all the stakeholders in the college sport. (Peter Holsberg)