With winter upon us, it seems the perfect time to dig into a good book. Members of the KUA community are here to offer their recommendations for your next read or for the reader on your holiday list.
Darrell Beaupre ’86 P'16 '20, English and Art Teacher
The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski
The Lake House by Kate Morton
If you are a baseball fan, The Baseball 100 is a must read. Posnanski does not just focus on dry stats and averages but tells the story of the game with through remarkable anecdotes and legends. He is a marvelous writer.
The Lake House is a mystery that is not linear. It moves between time periods. It starts with a young woman who buries something in 1933 that detective Sadie Sparrow works to uncover in 2003. Very well written and enjoyable.
Lyn Lord P’09, History Teacher
Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
Maggie O’Farrell also wrote Hamnet. Her writing in historical narrative is flawless. This is about Lucrezia di Medici and her marriage to the Duke of Ferrara. The time period, descriptions, and characters are perfect. The second is Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet, another favorite writer. This is a book about a man who has a bad break up and decides to move from NYC to Tucson but walk there. He buys a house next to a glass house and soon after a young family of four move in. A very sweet but provocative book. Her books are always short but pack a punch at the end.
John Kluge ’66, English Teacher and College Advisor
The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy's latest novel: The Passenger: salvage divers, mystery, nuclear physics, morality, science, sin, and madness. A "companion" novel is also just now out: Stella Maris, about the sister of the protagonist of The Passenger. McCarthy's earlier novel Blood Meridian has been called "a Moby Dick for our time," and his novels The Road and No Country for Old Men were made into very successful movies. I have frequently taught All The Pretty Horses to seniors at KUA (also made into a movie). That is a good entry into our foremost living author (now 89).
Christina Avery, Library Aide
52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness and Joy, One Week at a Time by Annabel Streets
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
On Caring by Milton Mayeroff
52 Ways to Walk is a fascinating summary of recent scientific studies showing the many benefits of walking, in various environments, at different times of the day and year, etc. I learned many "fun facts" from this book—for example, that walking among pine trees can help you sleep (who knew?)
For anyone who loves books, literature, or language in general, a small volume of essays by Anne Fadiman entitled Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader would be a great gift choice. Another volume by this author with a broader range of topics (At Large and at Small: Familiar Essays) is also a charming read.
On Caring, by Milton Mayeroff, is a book I was introduced to in a college philosophy class many years ago, and still dip into occasionally. It explores many different aspects of caring: for example, the way in which caring orders other values around itself and can help us to find our "place" in the world. This is good reading for the end of the year—traditionally a time to take stock of one's life and ponder ways to make it better!
Lori Boudreau P’18, Disbursement Cycle Manager and Staff Analyst
A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Machine and The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
These stories are timeless classics that I never bothered to read when I was younger. I recently decided that now that I am older, I should take the time to read the great authors of the past. They are helpful in gaining a more complete understanding of the human experience.
Bryant Harris ’04, History Teacher
Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins
Anna Olson, Archivist and Library Aide
The Littlest library by Poppy Alexander
The Inheritance Game trilogy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
In The Littlest Library, Jess Metcalf leads a basic life, living with her grandmother in England and working in a library. When her grandmother dies and she loses her job, she impulsively moves to the countryside. In addition to the house she purchases, she also finds that she is now the owner of an old red phone booth. Does her desire to turn the phone booth into a little library enough to help bring the fractured community together? The Littlest library is a perfect holiday or beach read. Jess is thrust out of her comfort zone and has to decide if she likes the version of herself or if she wants to go back to how she was previously.
In The Inheritance Game, Avery Grambs is a high school student just scraping by with enough money to buy an occasional breakfast sandwich. That is until she becomes the only heir to Tobias Hawthorne’s fortune. However, there is a catch, she has to live with the remaining members of the Hawthorne family for one year; people who she has no seeming connection to, people who may not want her to live long enough to inherit. Follow her adventure in the complete trilogy: The Inheritance game, The Hawthorne legacy, and The Final gambit. The trilogy is packed with puzzles and mystery. Going on the ride with Avery to figure out the answers to the Hawthorne mystery is a delightful trip.
College Advising Office
Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be by Frank Bruni
"Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined, and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no.” In Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be, Frank Bruni explains why this mindset is wrong, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety that it provokes."
Michele Winham P’25, Learning Specialist and Ninth-Grade Dean
Manhunt: The 12- Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson
One of my favorites is a nonfiction novel titled Manhunt: The 12- Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L Swanson. He weaves together the events leading up to and after the assassination like a thriller. It is a great book for high school students and older.
Elizabeth Craib, Executive Assistant to the Head of School
All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot
The Bloody Jack series, by L.A. Meyer
All Creatures Great and Small is an oldie but a goodie – and a book that is calming and comforting at a time when our world seems chaotic and confusing. I’ve done it as a read-aloud with my son when he was a “tween,” but I’ve also read it as an adult. It is a must read for animal lovers. It is filled with humorous and moving stories about the life of a country vet in England. (If you don’t like to read, the series on PBS is excellent as well.) The world just seems peaceful after reading this book. I read the Bloody Jack series as a read aloud with my son who was 12 at the time but it was written for the tween reading level. It is the story of a young orphan girl in the late 1700s who takes a job as a “ship’s boy” aboard a British naval ship. Her disguise doesn’t last long, and her life turns into one of adventure and mischief. I like this as a read aloud not only because it was entertaining, but because it put issues like puberty, relationships, crime, sex etc. in a context that made it easy to discuss with my child. We couldn’t wait to get to the next book to see what trouble the heroine got herself into again!
Melissa Longacre ’89, Student Life Administrative Assistant
Horse by Geraldine Brooks
I just finished Horse by Geraldine Brooks – it was the last book Cynthia Howe recommended and was a good read.
Jonathan Hastings ’01, Mathematics Department Chair
Joan by Katherine Chen
It’s a historical fiction book about Joan of Arc – a book that tells a lot about the most unlikely of people embodying leadership qualities.
Deb van Dijk P’20, Director of Human Resources
Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd
If you love historical fiction, this story takes you all the way back from the Ice Age to the present day. It intertwines characters from one generation to another, weaving a compelling story that describes the events, challenges and changes that created England today.
Jennifer Diamond, Learning Center Teacher
The People We Keep by Allison Larkin
I enjoyed The People We Keep by Allison Larkin. It was a great reminder that families can be chosen and that even the imperfect among us thrive with kindness and empathy. I am also excited to read the next Louise Penny book—A World of Curiosities! Always love settling into Three Pines for the winter.
Scott Roy, Director of Sports Medicine
Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson
Hutchinson explores the topic of human “physical” limits from several different angles. But most importantly from the perspective of mind-body connections. “You judge what’s sustainable based not only on how you feel, but on how that feeling compares to how you expected to feel at that point in the race.” “Just like a smile or frown, the words in your head have the power to influence the very feelings they’re supposed to reflect.”
Asher Ellis, Assistant Librarian
The Auctioneer by Joan Samson
The Auctioneer was the only book written by Joan Samson before she tragically died at the young age of 39. Despite selling over a million copies and gaining the praise of Stephen King, this novel fell into obscurity until its recent re-release in 2020. Set in New Hampshire, The Auctioneer centers on an idyllic small town that is torn apart by the insidious evil of the titular character. Should appeal to fans of King, Bentley Little, and stories of subtle, true-to-life horror.
Anne Peterson, Director of Studies and Academic Support
Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
I would recommend neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett’s Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain. She takes a provocative look at why we have the brains we do, explores some fascinating research about the ways in which our brains are prediction machines, shows how our brains affect the brains of others, and puts the long-standing nature vs. nurture debate to bed.