Day 8: Eight books to read this winter


By Betty Ben Dor, Photo Editor
When those dark and dreary January days arrive, there’s nothing better than to curl up with a good book. Here are eight book recommendations from Conestoga’s very own English teachers.
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  1. Trevor Drake
    • Book: “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin
    • Why: “We included this book in our new Comparative Literature course and the students enjoyed it very much. It’s a wonderful story about family and about books.”
  2. Ben Smith
    • Book: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
    • Why: “Man, oh man, I loved this book. It’s an epic coming of age story about this kid named Theo who comes into the possession of a very famous painting. The story travels from New York to Las Vegas to Amsterdam, and along the way I learned a lot about art and antiques, the criminal underworld and wealthy Park Avenue families, despair and love. But I never felt like I was learning anything because the story was so good. It also features Boris, Theo’s sorta-sidekick—one of the most memorable characters I’ve spent time with in a while.”
  3. Tricia Ebarvia
    • Book: “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander
    • Why: “The title of the novel comes from the basketball term crossover, and while basketball does play a big role in the novel, it’s also so much more than that. Written in verse (poetry), the novel is  about the “crossover” from childhood to adulthood of two brothers, and what happens when tragedy strikes their lives.”
  4. Laura Viviano
    • Book: “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • Why: “I recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, which is really a letter from the author to his son. Coates’s language is breathtaking, and his message is timely. Coates expresses to his son, “My work is to give you what I know of my own particular path while allowing you to walk your own” (39). In this season of giving, as a parent and a teacher, I can’t think of a more valuable gift to give.”
  5. Michael Trainer
    • Book: “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown
    • Why: “It is nonfiction, an amazing true story and just reads like a page turner.”
  6. Benjamin Whitermore:
    • Book: “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov
    • Why: “I really like it because it’s absurd, for example one of the characters is a human-sized cat that drinks vodka who is friends with Satan, and it’s basically Satan comes to St. Petersburg and starts to change the lives of all of the main characters.”
  7. Susan Gregory
    • Book: “Secrets of a Charmed Life” by Susan Meissner
    • Why: “It’s historical fiction, set during World War II London. It’s a topic I didn’t know much about-the evacuation of London’s children to the English countryside to wait out the war. This story focuses on two young sisters who are separated during the Blitz and spend their lives trying to reconnect, but they aren’t even sure if the other is still alive. It’s told from multiple viewpoints, including a current day history student who is interviewing one of the sisters in her old age about her experiences. It switches between the history student and the two sisters. One sister draws bridal dresses and wants so badly to have her dresses made. Despite this title, the sisters hardly have a charmed life-but the coincidence at the end is kind of charming.”
  8. Melissa Pacitti
    • Book: “The Scar Boys” by Len Vlahos
    • Why: “Funny yet serious, well-written and interesting characters.”

Bonus Book!
Here is my own recommendation just as an extra in case you run out of books to read.

  • Book: “Career of Evil”by Robert Galbraith
  • Why: J.K. Rowling brings us the third installment of her Cormoran Strike series, written under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. Vividly horrific and yet tantalizingly genius, this detective novel of crime will leave you shivering afterwards, and not just from the draft blown in by the open door. For those with nothing to do on a snow day (if we have any!), this is a perfect read; it’ll have you holding on for dear life and questioning what is sane in the world. (I thoroughly suggest reading the first two beforehand to know what the background is: “A Cuckoo’s Calling” and “The Silkworm”.)

Betty Ben Dor can be reached at [email protected].