It was a crazy busy summer, but I got some good reading in and I hope you did too!
The first book I finished this summer was Alone, the middle installment of William Manchesters trilogy biography of Winston Churchill. It is beautifully written and felt gripping. This is the eight years where Churchill is at the least powerful of his adult years, and he’s basically the one man in England arguing to stand up against Hitler. Manchester deftly weaves Churchill’s famous oratory, meticulously researched background, and broader extensions together - highly recommend :) One of my favorite lines was a speech to Parliament in which Churchill said, “We cannot say ‘the past is past’ without surrendering the future.” The book ends with Churchill being appointed PM right before Dunkirk, which I’m also excited to see soon, but this managed to be more gripping than it had any right to be.
The biggest book here I’ve only thumbed through, but it’s one of those books where every paragraph is helpful, thoughtful, satisfying- I love it. Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson is nothing more and nothing less than a balanced emotional/rational guide to everything in a home. Reading this book will help me take care of the home Jessica and I bought this summer (!!!), help me feel like I can do so the right way and, maybe, even be excited to do so because I understand why it’s important. Especially being socialized as a male to not seek out and attack domestic cleaning in a structured way, I’ve found this book invaluable.
Harlem Hellfighters is a graphic novel by Max Brooks, who wrote the excellent World War Z. (I haven’t seen the movie but hear it shares nothing except the title. WWZ is truly great - imaginative, provocative, and quite grounded. Brooks took the Turkel oral history approach and turned it to fiction quite well.) Some nice art and a positive story, if you aren’t familiar, of a decorated all-black WWI battalion. This is a subject we don’t get into in APUSH for time, so it will be nice to show a slide from this book to hint at other readings students can do.
The Design of Everyday Things is a book I’ve always seen casually mentioned and it had some very interesting points about intentionality, accessibility, and accountability but overall didn’t quite live up to the hype. I’ve enjoyed considering how I can incorporate some of the concepts (especially affordances and feedback) into my classroom.
Twitter’s favorite historian (and Yale professor) Joanne Freeman edited “The Essential Hamilton,” a collection of his writings from St. Croix up until and after Burr. It’s nice to have so much of the writing together, but the real gem here is Dr. Freeman’s “users guide” which syncs well with the APUSH analytical framework, and I’m looking forward to using that this year.
I reread Tesla’s mid-life biography “my inventions” which was fun and bonkers.
Princeton’s summer reading is “What is Populism?” which I enjoyed and will be able to use talking about the Populist Party (which, weirdly, Muller argues is not really populism) and Jackson. Muller’s key claim is that Populism is about arguing a subgroup is the only “real” members of a populace, that their will can be simply discerned and implemented, and that authoritarian means are accepted and even encouraged implicitly by those within the subgroup.
Finally read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” which completely lived up the hype. Mrs. Thomasch and I will be doing a short collaboration between Sociology and AP Bio with this text this year :)
I wasn’t able to read too much leading up to my trip to Iceland, but I did pick up the most recent book by one of their more famous authors (who has been translated), Sjon. “Moonstone: the boy who never was” was interesting but a bit too magical-realism-y for me. As you can tell, I didn’t read a lot of fiction this year. One fiction book I did read and enjoy was Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn, a canonical prequel to the now-non-canonical Thrown trilogy of Star Wars books. Zahn does some good stuff, and this was a delightful mix of familiar and new characters. Fun beach read.
The last book I’m reading this summer is the irresistibly titled “Black Privilege” by Charlamagne Tha God. Charlamagne argues worrying about societal inequalities is counterproductive and makes a rather beautiful, if unceasingly foul, argument for stoic self-control and action. He argues against “your dreams,” calling himself a “demotivational speaker” who will be the first to tell anyone if they show no promise on their path, because that can help them get on the right path. The content is pretty good but it’s hard to live up to such an exceptional, provocative title.
The book I’ll take the most from was “Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet can tell us about who we really are.” This book is similar to Dataclysm in that it really shows the direction sociology is headed, but being a few years later it is drawing on broader datasets. Dataclysm works well in a high school class because so much of it is based on OKCupid data, so there are interesting tie-ins to relationships, and Everybody Lies goes even further. I basically highlighted every page of this book, and will be spending the last week before school starts transcribing those notes and incorporating them back into my favorite class to teach, sociology!
I hope you took some time this summer to read books to help you grow, read books to build you as a person, to expand your horizons and solidify your foundations. I loved the books I was able to read and hope they can make me a better teacher for you!
We put on our harnesses and crampons (shoe spikes), ice axes in hand, and made our way up the steep start of the glacier. The things we saw there were amazing with the mountains above and the water below. we were able to see far beneath the ice, and to see remains of volcanoes from many years ago. we were allowed to drink from a stream which I did so very joyously. I believe that everyone had a quite a lovely time I couldn't stop smiling. although with all the layers I got hot up there but the time is spent couldn't have been better :)
lThingvellir national park is the site of a 1000 year old parliament and also the continental rift- an incredible confluence of interest and import for social and physical sciences. Here we are close to the Law Rock and Drowning Pool. Being this close to antiquity was really moving, as was seeing a geologic process that literally moves the world.
I had never been to a waterfall before and I didn't know what to expect. I also didn't know how wet I would get, I am glad I put on my waterproof gear. We were really excited because as we got closer to the waterfall we realized how big it really was. It towered high above us, soaking us the closer we got. It was a beautiful sight. The water poured down and we would be sprayed with water. We took many pictures of my first waterfall. For my second waterfall (on the same day) we saw a rainbow in front of it. The color got stronger as we approached and we got to walk behind it. We were dripping as we reached the bus. On the third day we saw two more waterfalls. One was an extra that the other groups didn't get to see since we missed two days. This was one of my favorite things about Iceland and it was an amazing sight.
Two cancelled flights, one overnight drive to D.C., an a five hour flight to Reykjavík, Iceland. We never gave up. At 2am we were greeted with big smiles, a great dinner, and surprisingly a moderately bright sky. While eating dinner we were briefed by our wonderful tour director Austin about the day ahead. Once we finished dinner, we were taken to our cabins, not too far from the dining area. We immediately felt at home. To the right there was a little kitchen and a table. To the left, two twin beds were positioned against the wall. In the back of the cabin were two rooms which both had two twin beds. All of the beds had duvets and fluffy pillows that kept us comfortable and warm in the cold Icelandic weather. Although we did not get much sleep, that was the first and best night we spent in Iceland.
Writers: AR and MS
I really liked the people and the people that we met. Our guide and driver were great and went above and beyond for us. I'm going to miss how friendly everyone was too. It's amazing how an entire country can make you feel so welcome in the world.
We remain incredibly busy and are having an amazing time! These students are the absolute best. Updates to come- Hiking, Thingvellir, downtown fish and chips (with cake too big to finish), whale watching, and, for some, a brisk Reykjavik voyage!
weebly lont let me post photos, so I hope this works!