Summer Reading Recommendations

It's officially summer! Are you looking for a great book to bring to the pool? Or on your next vacation? Here's what Rowland Hall faculty and staff recommend. Happy reading!

Wendy Butler recommends Educated, by Tara Westover

Wendy Butler, Middle School and Upper School Librarian says it's “A novel set in a post-pandemic society. I could not put it down!”

It's an unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Jennifer Blake recommends The Library Book, by Susan Orlean

Jennifer Blake, Associate Head of School, shares, “Library lovers, readers of books, history buffs, and fans of clear and compelling writing will all find a connection with this terrific read....”

Jennifer Blake recommends Enough as She Is, by Rachel Simmons

Jennifer shares, "If you are raising a girl today, this is a must read.”

"A brilliant and passionate call to action that reveals how girls and young women are suffering in our toxic culture of constant comparison and competition. This is the book parents need to change girls’ lives and guide them to truly become happy, healthy, and powerful adults."—Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabees

Kathy Gundersen recommends All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Kathy Gundersen, Director of Admission, says it's “An examination of war from the perspectives of two very different young people whose lives become inextricably linked.”

Carolyn Hickman recommends The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai

Carolyn Hickman, US English Department Chair, shares, “Set in 1980s Chicago during the emergence of the AIDS epidemic--follows a group of gay men through their losses and moves into present day with those who survived them.”

Ryan Hoglund recommends Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

Ryan Hoglund, Director of Ethical Education, shares, “The solutions to the challenges of the future will take new ways of thinking on the part of young people. A great example of young people leading the world to come.”

Jeremy Innis recommends The Righteous Mind, by Johnathan Haidt

Jeremy Innis, Chaplain and Music Director, says this book is “An engagingly-written look into the many ways that humans define right and wrong, offering understanding in a time when our society seems divided along ethical lines.”

Nate Kogan '00 recommends Vacationland, by John Hodgman

Nate Kogan, US History Teacher, shares, “With wonderful, dry wit, Hodgman fills this book with vignettes of family, travel, and ruminations on mortality. What’s more summer-y than that!” 

Lisa Miranda recommends In the Company of Women, by Grace Bonney

Lisa Miranda, Associate Director of Admission loves this book. 

Over 100 exceptional and influential women describe how they embraced their creative spirit, overcame adversity, and sparked a global movement of entrepreneurship. Media titans and ceramicists, hoteliers and tattoo artists, comedians and architects—taken together, these profiles paint a beautiful picture of what happens when we pursue our passions and dreams.

Jen Schomes recommends Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers

Jen Schones, MS Math Teacher, thinks this is "An awesome book about the power of God's redeeming love!”

Mike Skackelford recommends The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, by Jeffrey Toobin

Mike Skackelford, US Political Science Teacher and Debate Coach, shares, “Given to me a faculty book exchange party, this book inspired an entire course now being offered at Rowland Hall. If you've ever wanted to know more about the SCOTUS, this is a fascinating, insightful, and readable book. Nice mix of political theory and historical narrative.” 

Hadley Smith ‘05 recommends Circle, by Madeline Miller

Hadley Smith ‘05, Director of Financial Aid, thinks this is a “Wonderful retelling that flips an ancient myth on its head.”

"A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story," this #1 New York Times bestseller is "both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right" (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times).

Alan Sparrow recommends Open: an Autobiography, by Andre Agassi

Alan Sparrow, Head of School, shared it's “[so] much more than a book about him or tennis- it takes on his fascinating life journey.” 

Alan Sparrow also recommends Educated, by Tara Westover

“Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”—The New York Times Book Review

Garrett Stern recommends Every Town is a Sports Town, by George Bodenheimer

Garrett Stern, Math Teacher liked this book.

A Best Business Book of 2015, Strategy Business ESPN’s rise is one of the most remarkable stories about business and sports in our time, and nobody can tell it better than George Bodenheimer. 

Kate Taylor recommends Heavy, by Kiese Laymon

Kate Taylor, US English Teacher, shares, “[everyone] I've recommended it to has loved it. It's the kind of book that hits you in the gut and makes you laugh at the same time.” 

Chelsea Vasquez recommends Sing, Unburied Sing, by Jesmyn Ward.

Chelsea Vasquez, MS English Teacher, says the book is “[lyrical] and emotional- it’s an intense, compelling read.”

This 2017 novel is about a family's dynamics in the fictional town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. The novel received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and was named by The New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2017.

Robert Wilson recommends For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway.

Robert Wilson, US Biology Teacher, shared the quote "The world is a beautiful place and worth the fighting for."

Published in 1940, this Hemingway classic is a rich, complex novel about the Spanish Civil War and love.

At our end of the year meeting for faculty and staff, Alan Sparrow recommended two wonderful summer reading books for professional and personal development: Thanks for the Feedback and The Hate U Give.

Thanks for the Feedback, by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen

We know that feedback is essential for healthy relationships and professional development-but we dread it and often dismiss it. That's because receiving feedback sits at the junction of two conflicting human desires. We do want to learn and grow. And we also want to be accepted just as we are right now. Thanks for the Feedback is the first book to address this tension head on. 

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

The Hate You Give, a bestselling young adult book by Angie Thomas, examines police violence through the eyes of a teen girl. Thomas’ summarizes her novel: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. 

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