Head of School Reading List: Spring 2022

by Jeff Leahy

The books for this period of writing were primarily selected for enjoyment.  Most of them were read during the two-week spring break we completed in March, but it has taken me a few weeks to complete this write-up.  There are some nice summer reads here if you are looking for something fun and entertaining.

Jeff Abbott’s An Ambush of Widows: A fun thriller that will make a wonderful summer read for those who are interested in something on the lighter, entertaining side.  Two women are brought together when their husbands are found murdered in the same location.  Abbott keeps the pace.

Hala Alyan’s The Arsonists’ City: shortlisted by the Aspen Words, this novel spans two generations of family in Beirut.  The action centers on a family house and the past, present, and future that it represents for each of the family members.  The book opens with a revenge killing, and its place in the novel becomes powerfully clear as we move through a narrative that moves through the loves, betrayals, struggles, and unspoken histories of each character.  Highly recommended by numerous reviewers.

Colson Whitehead’s The Harlem Shuffle: Best known for his inspired version of the Underground Railroad, Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle is his most recent offering (2021).  Set in NYC, is a paradoxically fun yet powerful story of the central character’s Oedipus-like journey as he makes his way through a dangerous landscape towards respectability.  I highly recommend this book.

Robert D. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett’s Upswing: I rarely talk about a book as much as I have Upswing.  If you are interested in history or you simply want to know the origins of our polarizing times, then this book is for you.  Its thesis is inherently optimistic, as it sees swings in the political and social landscape that bring us back to center as we move back and forth between the outlandish extremes of the Civil War and our current climate.  Highly recommend.

Tove Alsterdal’s We Know You Remember: Another fun thriller on this list.  This is #1 in a series, and if the others are of the same quality, then it is worth venturing into.  All the characters seem to be going through some sort of shift in identity, and the ending of the novel is built on this theme.  The original (untranslated title) of the novel is “Uprooted” which seems to be much more appropriate.  Again, a nice one for summer.

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