The Librarians Have Landed: Meet Grub's Newest Book Experts

When I mentioned to the folk at Grub HQ that a couple of librarians had agreed to be the latest regular contributors to GrubWrites, the consensus was that "there's just something magical about librarians." While it's not for me to determine the source of their mystical power (who’s to say whether it’s their encyclopedic knowledge of literature, their faint aroma of parchment and tea leaves, because they’re the keepers of the books, or all of the above) it’s my pleasure to introduce Talya Sokoll and Emily Tragert, librarians at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts. 

Why these two librarians in particular? Aside from their penchant for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, they regularly put out badass reading lists, like this one for Black History Month, and this one, with straight-up must-read Spring Break Picks. In short, if you want to know what movie to watch or what book to read for any given situation, these literary mavens have got you covered. This month, to kick off their GrubWrites series, The Librarians bring you the lowdown on who loved what over spring break.

                       - The Editor

 

After every break at Nobles, we ask community members — students, staff, and faculty — to share what they read and watched over break. We love hearing about the variety of books, movies, and television shows that our community has enjoyed, and the blog posts that result inspire conversations and help many people discover great new things to read and watch. We're just back from spring break, and here's what Nobles students, faculty and staff (including us!) wanted to share:

 

Dean Edgar D.

“The People v. O.J. Simpson – IT’S SOOOOOO GOOD.”

 

Teacher Nick N.

“The best book I read this vacation was Me Before You, a really compelling story about a very active sportsman who becomes a quadriplegic, an unemployed woman who becomes his caretaker, and how they come to understand each other. It is funny, poignant, and thought-provoking. Once you get to a certain point in the story, you simply cannot put the book down until you find out how it is all going to end.”

 

Teacher Dan M.

“I read Flood of Fire, the third and final book in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis series. Ghosh writes historical fiction set in the 1830s and early 1840s. The action in this work takes place in Canton and Hong Kong, but the tale has deep roots in India and the opium production there. The characters come from varied places as well — tiny rural Bihari villages, Bombay trading houses owned by Parsis, wealthy Calcuttan estates, English traders and explorers, and Cantonese boat people. Many of the main characters meet on the Ibis, a ship transporting carrying convicts and indentured servants to Mauritius that gets caught in a storm and faces a mutiny. The text is also filled with pidgin and Hindi words.”

 

Teacher Kim L.

“The new work of two Massachusetts-based novelists:

Dawn Tripp’s Georgia: A poignant tale of the art, life and love of the artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

Michelle Hoover’s Bottomland: The two youngest daughters of a family in Iowa disappear in the middle of the night. The Hess family looks for answers in a community still entrenched in anti-German sentiment after WWI.”

 

Director Nicole A.

“I read Girl on a Train. I couldn’t put this down — filled with suspense and extremely intense! You need to be attentive while reading this due to the way it is written — it switches back and forth between characters’ stories and dates with each chapter. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming! It reminded me of Gone Girl. Second read was an easy, quick, no-thinking-required “beach read” based on life in Nantucket: Rumors by Elin Hildebrand.”

 

Dean Jen H.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon — a really good story with impressive illustrations drawn by the author’s husband. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Galbadon — I was impressed by the fact that her first book, Outlander, was 1,000 pages. After now reading the second one, I’m aware that every book in the series is as long! How does a person have so many detailed stories in their head? Her books are a commitment of time, but they are worth it for a good mix of romance and intrigue.

TV series: Underground. It makes me feel a little strange/upset/angry to be watching a TV series about a slave uprising, but the story pulls you in…”

 

Student Clare D.

“I read Bull Mountain, a three-generation story of family crime in the Georgia backwoods. It’s riveting and badass, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, quick read.”

 

Teacher Dave U.

“I read Raymond Chandler’s The Simple Art of Murder (an essay on the genre and a collection of short stories), and his first major novel, The Big Sleep. I enjoyed distracting myself from L.A. traffic by imagining the heists and skullduggery that Chandler depicted in his works.”

 

Student Holly L.

“I read Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which is now a Tina Fey movie. It is a memoir by a foreign correspondence journalist living in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the mid-2000s. It was really interesting to learn about what life is actually like there, and the plot was really fun even as it dealt with tough subject matter.”

 

Teacher Alden M.

Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen (while in Florida, of course!) and The Sellout by Paul Beatty… which is fantastic… but over my head!”

 

Teacher Brian D.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. This is an incredibly well told story of scientific research, ingenuity and perseverance. How the Wright Brothers came to build their flying machine is amazing given what was known at the time. The book is incredibly well researched and well written and is a pleasure to read.”

 

Teacher Eric N.

Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works by Jay Newton-Small. Although we have a long way to go, women are achieving “critical mass” and assuming leadership in government and politics, the military, business, and entertainment. This book highlights women’s emphasis on empathy and compromise, and the way they are transforming our country and world.”

 

Student Nick S.

“Over the break, I finished up Herman Wouk’s Pulitzer-winning novel, The Caine Mutiny. Wouk is a master of sentence construction, and a couple of sentences throughout the book made me pause and admire his craft. The famous court-martial scene at the end was definitely hard to put down. I would especially recommend it to those who are interested in WWII, specifically the Pacific Theatre. But anyone who appreciates good writing would thoroughly enjoy this book. I finally took a hint from everyone around me and started watching Breaking Bad. After the first season, I knew I was in for the long run. The writing is crisp, and balances humor with edge-of-your-seat suspense and brutality.”

 

Teacher E.B. B.

“I read four books over break, all of which I highly recommend!

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling: Funny and fun especially if you’re from Massachusetts (Mindy grew up in the Boston area and went to BB&N and her local references are comical), but also great stuff about feminism and body image issues and women of color in film and on TV!

Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Steveson & co: Great comic series featuring a gang of totally rad and cool lady-types at an off-beat summer camp — start with the first two installments: Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy and Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: This book is as great as everyone says it is, definitely not an easy read, both because of its challenging material and complicated ideas, but completely worth it, really makes you think.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamont: A hilarious little book with all the best writing advice that anyone with any interest in being a writer should read, but also anyone with any interest in being a better human — a lot of writing advice coincidentally also applies to advice on how to live life to the fullest."

 

Head Michael D.

“Books read: Timothy Snyder, The Bloodlands. Timothy Snyder, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. James Barr, A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle that shaped the Middle East. Films watched: Lincoln, Brooklyn, Carol, The Big Short, Spotlight. Final season of Downton Abbey.”

 

Director Gia B.

“I read Fun Home, an incredible graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel. She basically draws her life from her childhood in rural Pennsylvania through her youth and young adulthood. The story focuses most on her complex relationship with her father and on her sexuality. I loved it."

 

Bookstore Manager and President of Library Fight Club Amy M.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. It definitely had a Gone Girl feel to it, though I didn’t like it as much. It is about a married couple living in New York and things between them are just not what they seem. You read both the wife and husband’s perspectives, which makes it interesting! Who is telling the truth?!

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. I don’t even know where to begin to describe this book. Funny, yet real! Talks a lot about depression and what it’s like to walk around each day with this disease. It also talks about crazy things that happen in life, hilarious dog stories and just many general unfortunate, but funny situations! Almost reads like a comic book with quirky drawings, but I really did love this book!”

 

Librarian and Vulcanologist (like the Star Trek vulcans, not volcanoes) Emily T.

“I read The Big Short by Michael Lewis, which tells the story of the banking industry before and during the financial crisis. I had already seen the movie, so I knew it was an interesting story, but Lewis is a great writer who makes difficult concepts easy to understand. I was surprised how engrossed I got in this book, especially because I rarely read books about economics or finance, but it was hard to put down at times! I also listened to The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro. It takes place in late-1930s New York, where the main character is a female artist who designs and paints murals for the WPA, but is also involved in New York’s vibrant art scene — she’s friends with painters like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The story is also focused on her efforts to get her family, who are Jewish, out of France before they become victims of the Holocaust. It’s a very interesting, absorbing read that I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in World War II, art, or a great plot.”

 

Student Teddy S.

“I saw Creed on the airplane. I mean, it’s Creed. Come on now, do I really need to tell you why I enjoyed it?”

 

Librarian and Dowager Princess of Genovia Talya “Thermopolis” S.

“I saw Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and it was terrible and amazing. Everyone should see it immediately.”

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About the Author

Talya Sokoll and Emily Tragert are librarians at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, MA. They are both proud graduates of the Simmons College School of Library and Information Science. Although they are separate people, they have many similar interests and are often mistaken for sisters, including by their own mothers. They enjoy traveling and are always on the lookout for Jewish delis and feminist bookstores wherever they go. They share a mutual obsession with The Rock.

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