Monthly Archives: May 2014

…A Look Forward pt. 2

Summer Preview – The Ms. Barrows Version


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As someone who chooses to take the Amtrak train to D.C. in order to pick up five hours of uninterrupted reading, you shouldn’t be surprised by my favorite summer activity. You guessed it. Summer reading. In fact, my childhood competitive spirit shined most brightly when participating in the summer reading challenges hosted by the public library. I shook my 10-year-old fist in anger whenever I visited for weekly updates and found that other children were beating me.

It goes without saying, I was a very, very cool  kid.

Featured below are 12 Calarco Library books that I endeavor to read this summer. The list does not include the countless books piled on my nightstand, nor the books I have to read for a few professional-developmenty-type things. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I can recall the essence of my 10-year-old self, who would easily elbow wee little 8-year-olds when racing for the public library’s C.S. Lewis books. Not the actual elbowing, just the spirit of elbowing…anyway. Here’s the list:

And the Band Played on, by Randy Shilts: The preeminent book on the AIDS epidemic. First published in 1987 and probably still the most important book about AIDS. Dallas Buyers Club made me realize I really should read this book. Really.

Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer: A story set in some dysopian/post-apocalyptic future which features four WOMEN tasked with the mission to explore the cut-off and mysterious region, Area-X? Sign me up.

Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell: For the handful of people who read this blog, you might have gotten the memo that I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell this year. Now, I will finally (hopefully) get around to reading her first book.

The Bees, by Laline Paull: The setting: a beehive. The protagonist: Flora 717, a sanitation worker. The problem: Flora 717’s curiosity, a dangerous trait in a community dictated by the religion of Queen worship. I have wanted to read this book since I read a “sneak peak” review back in April. I tried to buy it at Atticus last week, but they had just sold their last copy. Then I remembered…library kindle!  (On Kindle)

The Enchanted, by Rene Denfeld: A death row inmate uses books to re-imagine life beyond the bars, creating a fantastical world and shields himself from a frightening reality. In that reality are a priest and an investigator. Enter: disrupted notions of guilt, innocence, victim, and perpetrator.

Feed, by M.T. Anderson: A YA classic that I am just now getting around to reading. Titus was a regular member of society, taking trips to the moon for spring break and hardly thinking about The Feed. But then his Feed malfunctions and he meets Violet, who fights The Feed and makes Titus wonder if he should fight it too.

Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind, by Gavin Edwards: I really hope I get around to reading this book. River Phoenix was more than Joaquin Phoenix’s older brother, and by all accounts this bio delves fiercely into the complexities of River Phoenix’s Hollywood reality. (On Kindle)

Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann: Another “book gone by” that I am hoping to reclaim this summer. It is 1974 and a tightrope walker is hanging out between the Twin Towers, which is kind of all I know about this one so far (without looking at the Goodreads bio).  And basically, everyone keeps telling me to read this one.

The Magician King, by Lev Grossman: I read The Magicians quite awhile back, and I might have to do a re-read before I pick up The Magician King. I am kicking myself that I didn’t keep up with this trilogy, but I was partially disturbed by The Magicians – not because it is particularly disturbing, but because it was touted as the “adult Harry Potter” books. Quite frankly, the worst thing a magical/fantasy book can be called is the “(fill in the blank) Harry Potter” book. Grossman’s trilogy (as far as I have gotten) is just fine fantasy – there’s not need to inflate any Harry Potter-esque hopes and dreams. It is a disservice to the author and Harry Potter fans alike. Time has passed and I now feel ready to read (and enjoy) Grossman’s trilogy out from under the shadow-y pressure to be the “next Harry Potter”.

Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward: Captured in 12 days and set in coastal Mississippi, Ward won the 2012 National Book award for her story of a motherless family driven together and apart as a building hurricane looms int he background.

Shine Shine Shine, by Lydia Netzer: We got this book and The Age of Miracles at the same time. I obviously picked Miracles, and somehow Netzer’s debut novel got lost in the “to-read” shuffle. Still an enormously appealing plot (Sunny Mann’s quest for perfection and her genius-husband Maxon’s quest for the moon), I have a suspicious feeling this will be a “read in one sitting” kind of book.

The Snow Queen, by Michael Cunningham: I am refusing to read the plot summaries for Cunningham’s latest book. The only thing I know to be true is that I loved The Hours and I will give anything written by Cunningham a fair shot.

You can see my summer reading list on Goodreads.

-Signing off, Ms. Barrows (who cannot wait to read ALL THE THINGS!)

…A Look Forward

Summer Preview – The Mr. Gette Version

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Ah, Summer! A time to relax, rejuvenate, and – of course – read! I’m going to be traveling this summer, so I wanted to make sure my Kindle was packed with diverse and interesting titles. And I’ve got my eye on a few books on the shelves as well…

Afterparty, by Daryl Gregory: This is cheating a bit, since I read it over Memorial Day weekend. A scientist who’s been in and out of mental institutions after overdosing on her own drug tries to stop said drug from being made again. Which is heard in a a future where drug recipes can be downloaded from the internet and printed to order on chemical printers. Oh, and the drug makes you see God. It’s a fun book, with deeply strange characters.

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie: Won the Clarke, won the Nebula, a finalist for the HugoI want to read this so badly.  An AI which used to control a spaceship and thousands of bodies is now limited to just one. A space-opera revenge story.

Annihilation, by Jeff Vandermeer: Four women form an expedition in an attempt to explore the mysterious Area X – and maybe find out what happened to the previous ten expeditions.

Bellfield Hall, by Anna Dean: Regency period historical mystery. Caught my eye because it had a starred review on Kirkus. And I love historical mysteries. (On Kindle)

Charm and Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn: A boy with anger issues thinks there’s a wolf inside him. There’s some central mystery here, and I can’t wait to find out what it is. (On Kindle)

Company of Liars, by Karen Maitland: The Canterbury Tales, but with more plague. (On Kindle)

Death of a Dyer, by Eleanor Kuhns: Did I mention that I like historical mysteries? This is the sequel to A Simple Murder which I read and enjoyed last summer. (On Kindle)

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison: An exiled prince becomes emperor when the rest of his family is killed, and is dropped into an unfamiliar world full of palace intrigue. It’s been getting rave reviews. (On Kindle)

Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker: Two magical creatures from different mythologies and cultures meet in turn of the century New York City. Also it is blue.

Longbourne, by Jo Baker: Pride and Prejudice, from the servants’ point of view. Oh, Jane Austen fanfiction. (On Kindle)

Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson: The Junior School went crazy for Steelheart this year (there was an actual fight over it at one of the Bookmobiles). Sanderson is famous for his inventive magic systems. And I love a good thief tale.

The Ocean at the End of the Laneby Neil Gaiman: Given my massive Neil Gaiman fanboyism, I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet. (On Kindle)

Vicious, by V. E. Schwab: Superpowers! Prison breaks! College!  (On Kindle)

 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler: Any book that is supposed to be outrageously funny is good with me. When she’s five, Rosemary’s twin sister Fern disappears. If you read anything about this book, even the cover, it gives the twist away, but I won’t spoil it here.  (On Kindle)

Winger, by Andrew Smith: I enjoyed Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle and the creepy The Marbury Lens. And Winger’s drawings make me think of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, which I adore.  (On Kindle)

Books that I forgot about until I read Ms. Barrow’s blog post:

Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell – How could I forget about Rainbow Rowell?! And Landline comes out in July…

So that’s my preliminary list. We’ll see what else catches my eye as the summer goes on.

You can see my summer reading list on Goodreads.

Signing off, Mr. Gette (who checked out Annihilation today! Take that, Barrows!)


A Look Back…

As we started wrapping up yet another school year in Calarco, Mr. Gette decided to decorate the preceding months with colorful charts and graphs – i.e. shiny things. Not to be outdone, I am adding more shiny things, such as picture slideshows and….anything else I can think of. Really, I will be jump-starting the commentary.

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Let’s start with the basics. Or the basic. The fictional story.

top fiction 13-14

The bar across the bottom represents the number of checkouts per book. However, that bar cannot represent the five 7th graders who absolutely SPRINTED to December’s JSchool bookmobile, each vying to get their hands on Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

fiction by class 13-14

Shout out to Faculty & Staff for being the biggest bookworm-y community at Hopkins!  (Note: any time a chart  says “faculty” it also includes staff. Space limitations! <shakes fist>)Props to 11th graders for finding some quality reading time amidst AP, SAT, and ACT prep. Seriously. When was that time – from 4:00 a.m – 5:30 a.m. EST? Although 7th and 8th grade have among the fewest checkouts, it is worth noting that: 1. there are fewer students in each grade, and 2. the student with the MOST Fiction checkouts in the entire school was a 7th grader.

top nonfiction 13-14

Considering the number of people who raced to the library after Wes Moore spoke, seeking copies of The Other Wes Moore, we were pretty surprised that his book came in 2nd place. We do suspect, however, that B&N/Amazon/R.J. Julia’s/etc. saw a spike in sales of The Other Wes Moore. And of course, the demand for Quiet was so loud that we stockpiled 2 copies.

nonfiction by class 13-14

To be fair, these numbers do include non-fiction books checked out for history research papers. For the record, there are 145 (?) students in the 9th grade. Any math whiz (or fool with an iPhone calculator) can tell you that’s 4.15 books/student. Be happy, history teachers.

kindle by class 13-14

Should we applaud the Faculty & Staff for their 38 Kindle check-outs? Would that be librarian-like, considering the Kindle hoarding crimes committed by perpetrators like Benjamin Johnson and Alex Werrell. Maybe public shaming will motivate  returns. Probably not…

A final applause for the Junior School, particularly 8th grade, who would often clean out our stockpile of Kindles during JSchool Bookmobiles. Unfortunately, there is no way to calculate how many Kindle books were read by each student. We suspect a lot, considering the considerable number of PLL, John Green and Rainbow Rowell books we would have to clear off the Kindles every time they were returned.

Some facts and figures since September 1, 2013

Additions to the Calarco Family:

199 new fiction titles were added.

84 new Kindle books were added.

Students checked out:

335 Fiction books

1,634 Nonfiction books

46 Kindles

36 Graphic Novels

448 Laptops

174 pairs of headphones

Faculty & Staff checked out:

199 Fiction books

238 Nonfiction books

38 Kindles

19 Graphic Novels

234 DVDs

So, who’s reading the most fiction?:

7th grade: Isabella Barandiaran with 12 books

8th grade: Helena Lyng-Olsen with 7 books

9th grade: Taina Palacios with 11 books

10th Grade: Lauren Antonelli and Kai Keevil with 7 books

11th Grade: Sarah Srivichitranond with 10 books

12th grade: Yerin Kim with 5 books

Faculty & Staff: Ben Johnson with 17 books

And Finally…

…A big THANK YOU to all Hopkins faculty, staff, and students who contributed to our ever-improving library. We couldn’t do it without you. Ok, we could check books in and out to individuals and falsify our numbers. But that violates the Librarian Code of Ethics. Wait…

[*does some Googling*]

Okay. There is an actual Librarian Code of Ethics.  But we wouldn’t violate sections VI or VII. No. No way. Right.

-Signing off, Ms. Barrows (who is too timid to violate even the Librarian Guidelines of Good Librarianing)


-Signing off, Mr. Gette (who  was in 2nd Place for Faculty & Staff checkouts! ….tied with 4 other people)