There are so many great books to choose from this year! You should probably read them all. We do realize, however, that selecting just one discussion group is going to prove difficult. We’re here for you! Click through the slideshow below for assistance! (Hint: enter full screen for the full effect).
Tick, tock, tick, tock.
The countdown clock to register for ReCreate Reading 2021 has started, and here at the Book Blog, we couldn’t be more excited! Just to recap, ReCreate Reading is the Harker Upper School’s free choice summer reading program, and this year’s registration opens next Monday, March 8th, at the start of club period/office hours!
With nearly 70 books, a wide range of genres, and 7 author visits (check out slide 1), you have a huge list to choose from! Unsure how to pick your book? Don’t worry, we feel you. The struggle is real.
The good news is, you’ve come to the right place! Are you looking for a magical adventure? Or maybe some mind-expanding science fiction? Crave a good scare with a horror novel? How about some nonfiction—were you thinking of biology, psychology, or economics? To help you select the perfect book, use our handy category guide to all the books on offer! (Click the right-arrow to scroll through them all.)
As if that weren’t enough, book bloggers past and present have reviewed the following books for the Book Blog:
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- Mr. Parker Pyne, Detective by Agatha Christie
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
- Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? by Mindy Kaling
- The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris
- Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
- A few of the books are briefly reviewed in Anika’s Taylor Swift Folklore post!
We hope that this helped you narrow it down! Don’t forget to sign up when registration opens, and have an awesome time reading!
Your Harker Book Blog Leadership Team.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas showcases the current struggles and protests of African Americans through the perspective of a relatable teenage girl, Starr. While driving back from a party, Starr witnesses the death of her childhood friend Khalil after a Caucasian police officer pulls them over and shoots him. Khalil was unarmed. Starr struggles to use her voice to speak up for Khalil and his family amid the chaos that has become her life, facing problems with her friends and family. The writing pulls the reader into the story with its dynamic plot and complex characters. The Hate U Give, which has gotten a movie and will be in theaters this October, is an eye-opening must-read story about race and social class for teenagers and adults alike. – Sara Y. ’21
When Princess Lyriana herself decides to sit down at the Bastard’s table at a feast thrown by Tilla’s father, Tilla (herself a bastard) knows that it won’t be any ordinary night- but even she didn’t expect it to be so monumental. When a certain group of misbegotten teenagers witnesses a crime they most definitely were not supposed to, it sets off a chain of events that will make or break a kingdom and change the tide of a war. A novel detailing a journey in a medieval realm, with a magical undertone, Royal Bastards is a fun read. While I wish the male characters had been fleshed out with more vivid personalities, the characters and their relationships were believable and somewhat relatable. The world building was also pretty good, especially for what is apparently Shvarts’ first novel. While the end of the book leaves us with some unanswered questions and heavy foreshadowing of the future, indicating that there will at least be a sequel, if not an entire series to come, I believe this book is probably going to be best as a standalone. – Anya W. ’20
The Fire Next Time, written by the legendary 1960’s Civil Rights advocate James Baldwin, is a book every adolescent and young adult living in the United States should read. For the first half of his book, James Baldwin writes a letter to his nephew who is incarcerated, trying to inspire him to transcend anger in dealing with an unjust society. In the second half, the author writes about his own childhood growing up as an African-American boy in Harlem, and also his views upon the influence of Christianity on race relations. Though published in 1963, the book brings to light a problem that still exists today: a broad recognition of the inequity between races, but hardly any cooperation or a change in mindsets to be made. This book, with all its emotions, from thrilling to frustrating, is definitely something we should all read to educate ourselves about the state of our society, not just in the past, but also in the present.
South of the Border, West of the Sun is infuriating—not in the manner of books that disappoint and disgust from beginning to end, but in the way of plots that, after a few failed early chapters, reward readers with tantalizing tastes of undeniable brilliance. If only Haruki Murakami had seen fit to split the first half of the book, which chronicles the narrator’s over dramatic childhood in a wearyingly trite style, from the second half… Then I could assign a one-star rating to the first segment and forget about it, focusing instead on the simple, understated beauty that underlines the later chapters as they trace the protagonist Hajime’s relationships, past and present, with other characters. But, alas, the tale of Hajime’s later life is tainted by the cringe-worthy opening chapters; there’s no way to get the best parts of the novel without the worst. If there were, though, I would recommend the second half of South of the Border, West of the Sun to anyone and everyone who’s ever laid hands on a book. – Andrew R. ’17
Modern American culture doesn’t pay much heed to the events of the 1920s, a decade crowded out by the Great Depression and with two World Wars looming on either side, but this was the decade that gave rise to some of our country’s biggest names. Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Calvin Coolidge, Babe Ruth, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Al Capone—all make appearances in this lengthy work of narrative nonfiction, even if they have to share the stage with a throng of less famous figures (including a frustrating number of forgotten aviators, small-time criminals, and local politicians). Even if One Summer is ostensibly a chronicle of the events of 1927, the year Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic by airplane and Babe Ruth clobbered an especially impressive number of baseballs, Bryson can’t help himself: he constantly backtracks to the 1910s and jumps ahead to the 1930s in search of more and more amusing anecdotes to stuff into his narrative. Some of these historical stories provide necessary context; others feel like dead weight. In the end, One Summer delivers all the information it promised, but the gems of historical factoids are all too often buried in a heap of gratuitous detail. – Andrew R. ’17
The Golden Spiders started out with an intriguing hook but it didn’t really follow through. The plot also dragged on and did not feel resolved at the end. Detective Wolfe accepts a case for a cheap price (one of the main factors that actually convinced me to read the book), but really he only does it because he is paid his usual high price by someone else who is also involved in the case. Thus, unlike other popular classic detective stories (e.g. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple), the detective is investigating the case largely because of the payment and not because they love the job (which, in my opinion, makes them better detectives). Furthermore, Wolfe’s assistant, Archie Goodwin, often runs errands for Wolfe that are promising in terms of leading up to a plot twist, but when Wolfe finally explains the solution, little of the rest of the book seems to relate to the answer. Anyway, this book seemed promising, but really didn’t live up to expectations set by the summary.- Connie M. ’17
When Amy Chua set out to chronicle her struggles with Chinese parenting and her views on Western child rearing in her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, she must have known she was venturing into dangerous territory. Its polarizing messages—that immigrant families suffer “generational decline” as they stray further and further from their mother cultures, that constant interference in a child’s life and education is a way of showing parental love—triggered cries of relief and fury alike. No two readers of Chua’s memoir will have the same opinion about her take on so touchy a topic; the book’s content is utterly un-critiquable. But, if readers manage to overlook the flashy sensationalism of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, they’ll notice certain elements that dilute the value and validity of its message: unsubstantiated research, sweeping generalizations, and, above all, the author’s habit of digressing into vignettes about her children’s scholastic and musical triumphs. Die-hard “Western parents” and aspiring tiger mothers can extol or condemn this memoir as much as they like, but their efforts won’t change its chronic lack of structure and authority. – Andrew R. ’17
The Da Vinci Code begins with a dramatic standoff between the curator of the renowned French museum, the Louvre, and a mysterious hooded figure. By the end of the first chapter Dan Brown is already leaving the reader with an insatiable hunger for more. Full of absolutely ingenious wordplay, puzzles, and riddles with one plot twist or cliffhanger following another, Brown manages to keep readers on their toes and dying to read the next chapter. He also switches points of views in each chapter from one main character to the next, and even includes the voices of the antagonists, thus providing a comprehensive and omniscient understanding of all the characters in the book. Overall, The Da Vinci Code is the kind of novel that is simply impossible to put down; riveting and genius from start to finish! – Daphne Y. ’16