We celebrated books, summer reading, and the power of youth last week at Vermont’s Thetford Academy (TA). This was the first time we used our live event Pages in the Pub with youth presenters, and wow did they nail it! Their picks and personalities are all superb. We hope you enjoy reading from their list as much as we enjoyed hearing them passionately convince the audience why their book selections just had to be read. (Note – because we were not in a pub, we called this event BOOK BUZZ.)
We thank them for their time, their enthusiasm and the list of books they generated. Their support (and the help of two of their dedicated teachers – Joe Deffner and Kate Owen) made the first BOOK BUZZ a success. Bonus – thanks to the generosity of the Norwich Bookstore, the event raised around $600 for the Thetford Academy Library (while increasing sales for our local indie bookstore).
With great pleasure, we now list all twenty-four books discussed during the evening, each with its special six word review written by the presenter. You’ll notice that the selections are divided into rather specific categories to make browsing easier. We hope you have fun looking, and that you enjoy reading about their picks from the comfort of your computer/iPad/phone using direct links to each selection. And now, our superb presenters’ picks for summer reading, with their bios at the end.
Books that magically get glued to your hands
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (2014). Selected by Izzy – A Princess, An Assassin, A Prince.
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (2009). Selected by Malcolm – Beautifully written with compelling characters; moving.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (2014) and Burn for Burn by Jenny Han (2012). Selected by Kiya – Books that are too dramatically real.
Off The Pages by Jodi Picoult and Samatha Van Leer (2015). Selected by Jasmine, but reviewed by Maggie – A love story gone almost wrong.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (2015). Selected by Ms. Owen – Slavery’s poison spreads. Does love conquer?
Perfect books to help you ignore the fact you are on a road trip/school bus
A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Mass (2015). Selected by Izzy – A fairy world and finding love.
City of Thieves by David Benioff (2010). Selected by Mr. Deffner – World War Two quest for dozen eggs.
Books that will make you forget you are bummed it is raining outside
Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig (1995). Selected by Malcolm – Heartbreaking, truthful; like reading the rain.
The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley (2011). Selected by Izzy – Death, mystery, romance, with a twist.
Middle School Survival Books: Required reading before you arrive
Popular by Maya Van Wagenen (2014). Selected by Ms. Owen – Geek sits at popular table…survives?
Books you would assign to grownups as required reading
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2014). Selected by Malcolm – Illuminates race’s role in culture; impactful, relevant.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (1967). Selected by Jasmine, but reviewed by Mr. Deffner – The difference between rich and poor.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (2002). Selected by Mr. Deffner – Faith and prayer, it really works
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (2015 ). Selected by Maggie – Passionate travel through the challenges of schizophrenia.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio (2012). Selected by Maggie – A book of bravery and loyalty.
How to Be Black by Thurston (2012). Selected by Lisa – Onion Humorist examines, skewers race relations.
Books teens should read even if they are not required
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (2013). Selected by Izzy – Two very different brothers in India.
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (1972). Selected by Malcolm – Poignant, realistic memoir of mysterious man.
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (2015). Selected by Maggie – Takes a deeper meaning of teen life.
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (2014). Selected by Jasmine, but reviewed by Ms. Owen – My mom’s dead the reason…..mystery.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943). Selected by Maggie – Beautifully crafted and about a girl’s life.
Books your younger school siblings really HAVE TO read
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (2016). Selected by Lisa – Girl uses pageant to get dad home.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley (2015). Selected by Lisa – Closer look at “Pevensie”-like children.
BOOK BUZZ Presenters
Malcolm Quinn Silver-Van Meter‘s favorite things to do are run, read, write, and both watch and create films. He loves distance running and proudly self-identifies as a film nerd. He is sixteen years old and attends Thetford Academy.
Kate Owen runs the TA library and most importantly helps many, many students find the perfect book to read next – even if they aren’t sure they want to read anything.
Izzy Kotlowitz graduates in mere days. While at TA she also attended the Mountain School, played soccer, and laughed a lot. She will attend Kenyon College in the Fall.
Maggie Harlow is a rising senior and loves food, ducks and smiling a lot. In her free time– wait she doesn’t have any! If she did have free time she’d be hiking and reading lots of fun books. Her favorite genres are fantasy, mystery and alternative history.
Kiya Grant loves cooking. She reads realistic fiction and is working on her own novel. She is a rising 8th grader at TA.
Jasmine Doody is a rising 8th grader at TA. She was unable to present during the event. So her fellow reviewers covered her choices during BOOK BUZZ, but we left her six word reviews intact for this post.
Joe Deffner teaches Seventh and Tenth Grade English, as well as a Senior Honors elective. In his free time, he enjoys reading––obviously–––and going on cross-country barnstorming events in which he promotes his sons, Owen and Eamon, as the East Central Vermont Junior Cornhole Champions.
Lisa Christie is one half of the Book Jam blog and the emcee for this BOOK BUZZ. When not reading, she can be found coaching nonprofit directors, being with the three guys she lives with, walking her very large dog, and attempting to navigate a masters degree.