Great Winter Reads from KUA Faculty

Looking for a gift? Want to immerse yourself in a good book this winter? KUA faculty recommend some of their favorite books that span genres. Many are ideal for adults and teens alike. 

Darrell Beaupre ’86, P’16, P’20, English and Art Teacher
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett 
This is one of my favorite titles. It’s a great multi-generational fictional story that follows the development of cathedral building while following the exciting lives of three different families. It’s not short, but well worth the time!
 
Trinity by Leon Uris
This follows the Larkin family (especially Conor). It shows how the Potato Famine and years of neglect and oppression under the system of tenant farming affected the Catholic population in Ireland. This also follows the story of several families and how they work for either freedom and equality or toward maintaining an inherited lifestyle. Again: it’s not short, but well worth the time.
 
Jennifer Blue, Peter Holland/Lionel Mosher Chair, English
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
A fabulous coming of age story set in the 1980s, where a single mother and her teenage daughter disrupt the privileged complacency of an Ohio suburb. A Raisin in the Sun meets The Scarlet Letter with a little Jerry Springer sprinkled in. Great for teens and parents alike!
 
An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn
Memoir about the relationship between a classics scholar and his father who sits in on his son’s seminar on The Odyssey at Bard College with moving, funny, and surprising results.  
 
Connor Chess, Spanish Fellow
Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman
I have referenced or used the information from this book in a ton of conversations since listening to the audiobook. It covers the exponential increase of technological innovation and growth and the impact that has on society and the earth. It offers a way to think about the times we’re living in, and it leaves you with lots of answers, along with optimistic hope for the future.
 
Kim Davies, Associate Director of Admission
Guts, Drama, Ghosts, Sisters, Smile by Raina Telgemeier
My daughter, who started them at age eight, was having trouble finding an interesting book and stumbled on these graphic novels. They are funny, deal with real life, and they’re all quick reads. I would highly recommend them if in a slump with reading.
 
Jennifer Diamond, Latin Teacher, Learning Center Teacher
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
This is historical fiction set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. It was an interesting glimpse into a period of history not usually discussed in the U.S., with snippets of Spanish dialogue and an interesting historical discussion at the end. Available in the KUA library too!
 
Elizabeth Edwards, Learning Center Teacher, Cross-Country Coach
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
I initially read this book because I am a runner and I expected it to have lots of practical advice for my training. However, I soon found that the book was able to teach me myriad lessons beyond how to run faster. It encompasses aspects of many genres! It involves scientific research, historical facts, cultural explanations, personal anecdotes, and so much more! 
 
Sam Ftorek, Student Life Assistant
Win Forever by Pete Carroll
It is about the misconceptions in sports and in life that winning is everything. If you work or compete on a consistent basis, results will follow and you will be successful continuously. It is a life lesson book, wrapped up in a sports cover.
 
Mind Gym by Gary Mack
This is about mental preparation in sports. But in this time when we are preaching mindfulness, these techniques can be used in everyday life as building blocks to be successful.
 
Bryant Harris ’04, Learning Center Teacher
Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robins 
This is a love story that involves a princess, an arsonist, an old lady who acts as the princess's body guard, a pet frog, and a pyramid. It’s one of my favorite books.
 
Cynthia Howe, Learning Center Administrative Liaison 
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I really, really liked it. Much to our surprise, my husband, Murray Dewdney, read it and also liked it. (We so rarely like the same books!) This book is an environmental journal, a love story, a coming of age tale, a murder mystery, and a tale of rural southern life in the marshes. The language flows so smoothly that the reader virtually floats into Owens’ narrative and imagery. Absolutely delightful.
 
Tae Kim, History Teacher, International Student Coordinator
At Home by Bill Bryson
Easily one of the most delightfully informative and funny history books. Bryson is an outstanding researcher and as good at weaving humor into his writing as any comedian could hope to be.
 
Lyn Lord, History
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
About a strange but life-changing friendship that starts in a boarding school and changes both girls’ lives. 
 
Wilding by Isabella Tree
A true story documenting a couple who inherit an old English farm that, over the course of 10 years, “tends” it back into its natural state attracting all sorts of species once thought to be extinct. The idea of creating wildings all over is the environmental philosophy. Very powerful.  
 
Marianna McKim, Library Director
Last Chance to See, by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine
Douglas Adams became famous in the 1980s for the classic sci-fi novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This book is a nonfiction account of his travels to several corners of the world with zoologist Carwardine, seeking out species on the brink of extinction. The premise sounds gloomy, but Last Chance to See is actually very funny, as you might expect from Adams.  There are entertaining descriptions of both the animals and the people observing them, including plenty of self-irony. In the end, the book is also a glimpse into different approaches to conservation that are still very timely. 
 
Philip Montenegro, Spanish and Art Teacher
The Meadow by James Galvin 
The book takes places in the Medicine Bow mountain range straddling the border of Colorado and Wyoming. The book weaves back and forth through a hundred years in time, depicting a singular relationship between people, wildlife, weather, and land. While the characters remain indelible throughout the story, the true protagonist of this striking book is the landscape itself. Galvin reminds us of our shared heritage and the harsh mythology of the west.
 
Victoria Pipas, English Teaching Fellow
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith 
This is the semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story I’m giving out to all my students seeking rich, challenging, and heart-warming memoirs for their Independent Reading over break. The narrative follows the life of a young Francie Nolan in her growth from ages 11 to 17 in her little patch of life in Brooklyn, NY. Francie is a vessel for adolescent girls and boys alike, enduring trials and tribulations with poise to emerge resiliently on the other side.
 
My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead 
For the literary-biogrophy loving adult… This has been one of my favorite books I’ve read in recent years. Mead’s book belongs to a niche sub-genre, the bibliomemoir, braiding together primary analysis of the Victorian novel Middlemarch, biographical intrigue into the life of its female author, George Eliot, and personal memoir of Mead’s own history reading, loving, and living through the passages of the classic novel. Mead’s book is successful because she lends her meticulous journalistic research skills to the portrait she draws of Eliot, highlighting this already thoroughly engaging narrative with intimate peeks into her own life. Buy this for the Victorian geek in your life or for anyone whose life has drawn connections with the literature they love.
 
Kevin Ramos-Glew, Director of Outreach
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann 
The book illuminates a shameful history in the US through a compelling narrative—while also detailing the rise of J Edgar Hoover and the creation of the FBI. It’s a history book that reads like a page-turner of a caper! This is by a fellow Connecticut College alumnus, so I’m particularly proud.
 
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, et al.  
As I believe that gratitude and joy are among the most crucial ingredients to a loving and thriving community, this book dives deep into what’s most important in life—and it does so in a readably inspiring way. Even the act of reading the book brought me joy, and I have given copies to many friends and family members this holiday season.
 
Sarah Roberts ’08, English Teacher, Girls' Varsity Tennis Coach
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
In this coming-of-age story, author Delia Owens, provides a window into the hauntingly beautiful marshes of rural North Carolina. Protagonist Kya navigates familial abandonment, the socioeconomic prejudice of a small town, a murder-mystery and the joys and tribulations of a first love. Through the challenges that life throws at Kya, her resilience opens her eyes to the secret wonders of the lush natural world she is immersed in, as well as the power of finding one’s voice. You won’t put this book down! A great read for thrill-seekers, nature-enthusiasts, and people looking for a compelling beach-read alike! 
 
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Kimball Union Academy

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Founded in 1813, Kimball Union Academy is one of the country's oldest private boarding high schools. KUA blends the best of the New England boarding tradition with an innovative, modern educational program for a diverse and global group of day and boarding students. Located in Meriden, New Hampshire, in the heart of the Upper Valley, Kimball Union is minutes from Dartmouth College and has direct access to Boston and New York.