Books to Read

LogicPrep's 2018 Summer Reading List

Summer is (almost) here, and you've earned the right to relaxation. Whether you're planning to spend your summer at the beach or you're traveling somewhere new, don't forget to bring along a book. Each year, the LP family (even Marcel, our four-legged team member, contributed this year!) compiles their top picks for the summer, and we're confident you'll find something you'll like from the list below.

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Published in 2015, in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, this book takes the form of an address by Coates to his teenage son about the history and continuing struggle of African-Americans (particularly African-American men) in the United States. For the many of us who have not experienced this struggle firsthand and never will, the book is a necessary eye-opener, and for those who have already considered the struggle deeply, an eye-widener. Coates viscerally brings home the perpetual fear that young black men live in by repeatedly returning the focus to his own body: to his understanding, throughout his own life, that his body -- his life -- could be wrested from him at any time by a system that constantly flexes its power over him and those like him. A powerful reminder that America contains many different worlds for its many different citizens, and that progress depends on a deeper understanding of all of them.


Kurt Vonnegut's sardonic second novel details the doomed martian invasion of Earth as seen through the eyes of Malachi Constant, a fabulously wealthy and lucky man. Constant's epic journey eventually ends on Titan, a moon of Saturn, and is juxtaposed throughout the novel with themes of American aristocracy, fate, and the space-time continuum. Stylistically, it's dark and existential -- similar in style to David Sedaris or Chuck Palahniuk -- but ultimately enjoyable because it makes the reader feel that even if life is random, and we are not in control of our ultimate fate, we have the ability to enjoy each other's company and experience love in many different forms. 


Atlantic writer Derek Thompson’s first book Hit Makers is a nonfiction exploration of the last 100 years of media and the economics and psychology of pop culture. Eminently readable, the argument dances between anecdotes and case studies as varied as French Impressionism and Star Wars, “Rock Around the Clock” and “Lemonade,” and War and Peace and Fifty Shades of Grey. His core insight is actually borrowed from industrial designer Raymond Loewy, whose guiding maxim, “most advanced yet acceptable” (or MAYA), becomes a blueprint for Thompson’s argument that “hits” straddle a precarious line between newness and familiarity. Building on this fairly intuitive core insight, Thompson goes on to challenge traditional narratives about what makes things go “viral,” and makes some interesting claims about the last century’s greatest hits along the way. The book came out in 2016, so it (refreshingly) avoids interpreting everything retrospectively through the lens of the 2016 presidential election, though its theses certainly remain relevant to media today. Of practical interest to anyone with an entrepreneurial streak and general interest to anyone fascinated by media and pop culture, or who’s found themselves wondering why they can’t get “Call Me Maybe” out of their head.


Set in Los Angeles in the midst of the Great Depression, Ask the Dust tells the story of a struggling writer a glimmer of hope during a hopeless time. What I love so much about this book is the how Fante is able to capture the realness and nature of relationships.


A book written in the style of magical realism.


A book of essays about famous animals. From beloved pets of the famous to artistic subjects to explorer apes and world-changing discoveries - I couldn't put this book down!


By now we all know about Elon Musk and the incredible innovations of Tesla and SpaceX but Ashlee Vance tells who Elon is and how he got to the place that he is today. At a time that sustainable businesses and tech are two of the most sought-after fields, we are able to peek behind the curtain and see how two of the giants in this space were built and almost failed on numerous occasions. A must-read for anyone that is interested in the field of business, technology, sustainability, or innovation.


This book is about the incredible adventures of a man who lived in the countryside of Spain and was so obsessed with calvary books that he thought he was actually living in one.


I'm more than a little late to the game, but Americanah provides a fascinating window into some of the subtleties (and not-so-subtleties) of the issue of race in America... all embedded in a captivating personal story. A must-read, even if you're behind like I am!


Like John Irving's more famous works, The World According to Garp and Cider House Rules, The Hotel New Hampshire offers a blend of humor and tragedy in a coming-of-age novel that features both cosmopolitan and uniquely American characters. The eclectic cast of characters made this one of my favorite novels to read in high school, and I recommend it highly to anyone navigating adolescence or simply seeking an engaging tale.


Tells the story of Hannah and Anna, two young girls who face exile in two respective timelines. Hannah's family seeks sanctuary in pre-WWII Germany and Anna's in post-9/11 NYC. The link between the two women is uncovered as this sobering story illuminates two people coping with isolation, loss, and fear during two cataclysmic periods of human history.


This super quick read allowed me to engage thoughtfully in conversations about the current political climate -- not just regurgitating what I heard on the news, but placing today's administration in the context of history and political theory. And it's written so clearly that even an engineering major like me could understand (without falling asleep mid-sentence)!


I initially picked this book up for the thriller aspect but was sucked in by the detailed history of the 1893 World's Fair. An all-time favorite of mine, The Devil in the White City intertwines the rich, exciting history of the Chicago World's Fair and the horror of H. H. Holmes, an American serial killer, who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. A thrilling historical non-fiction novel-- what more could you want?


Tartt's novel is an exciting ride, "a murder mystery in reverse," as she depicts the tale not of who killed poor Bunny, but why? The book follows six friends in their educational journey about truth, beauty, and tragedy. While examining the virtues and vices that fuel ancient philosophies, they may or may not use what they learn in class to justify their actions, and moreover, inspire them in the first place.


This book, by Sheryl Sandberg, is a personal and practical take on how to foster resilience - in yourself and in others - after unthinkable tragedy. It has been a tremendously valuable resource for me and one that I've shared with every member of our team.


Given to me as a gift when I was a pup, perhaps I like this book because I share the same name with the cute shell. Two paws up for this charming book filled with funny pictures!


What is college for? To lead you towards a successful life? A meaningful life? OK, sure, but then what does that mean? Excellent Sheep is required reading for anyone going -- or dreaming of going -- to a selective school. The book argues that the nation’s elite institutions aren't doing a very good job of teaching students to ask the biggest questions about their lives: What are my values? What is my purpose? If you want to use your education to build a self, and not just a resume, then give this book a read.


A delightful children's tale about words and numbers.


Christopher McCandless, son of wealthy parents, graduates from Emory University as a top student and athlete. However, instead of embarking on a prestigious and profitable career, he chooses to give his savings to charity, rid himself of his possessions, and set out on a journey to the Alaskan wilderness.


The main character catches daily glimpses of a couple from the window of her train. She begins to make up her own story lines about the couple and begins to believe that her story is true life. One day, she witnesses something shocking and strange unfold in the backyard of the couple's home. She tells the authorities what she thinks she saw after learning that the woman in the couple is missing. Unable to decipher between her made up story and actual truth, she decides to do her own investigation. Meanwhile, she becomes a suspect, as police start to believe that she may have crossed a dangerous line.


Brilliant account of a 1979 Jailbird.


In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.


This book is a collection of essays that originally appeared in The New York Times. Each essay focuses on a writer's exploration of a location that also inspired a famous author's work. If your favorite part of reading is being transported to a new place, this book will make your imagination soar!


Here’s a Novel Idea: Check Out the Library

I recently discovered this thing called a “library” where they just let you borrow books for
free, and let me tell you, it’s amazing.

For real, though, I’ve been on a library kick recently and can’t recommend it highly enough.
There are lots of books I’ve heard good things about, but sometimes I’m just not sure I want to
commit to buying them and setting aside shelf space for them. Enter the library.

 LogicPrep São Paulo's library

LogicPrep São Paulo's library

I’ve read about two dozen library books in the past year -- novels, short story collections, non-fiction -- that I probably never would have read otherwise. Some of them I’ve researched on
“Best Of” lists, some of them have been staff picks, and some of them have just had interesting
or eye-catching covers. Some of them have been amazing, and some underwhelming. But all of
them have been worthwhile.

We often stress the importance of reading to our students -- it expands vocabularies, highlights effective communication of ideas, and introduces new perspectives. And these are all true! But you can’t read if you don’t have a book, and what I’ve found is that swinging by the library and grabbing something off the shelves increases the chances that in my downtime, I’ll read a few pages of whatever’s on hand rather than scroll through my phone.

So whether it’s your school’s library or your local public library (or even the LogicPrep Library-- available in São Paulo and coming soon to Miami!), I encourage you to stop by and grab whatever catches your eye. It makes it much more likely that you’ll reap the benefits of
reading.

Plus, they don’t even charge you!

Books to Read: Milk & Honey

As a Junior in college, I don’t get to free-read as much as I would like to. A lot of my reading consists of required and supplemental class readings. I have found myself turning to poetry as my daily genre of choice. Poetry is an easy, yet meaningful read. A book currently sitting on my nightstand is “Milk and Honey” written by Rupi Kaur.

Rupi Kaur is an Indian-Canadian poet, writer, illustrator, and performer. Kaur has become seemingly popular in the last year or two. She has been named the voice of her generation for being able to transpire so much emotion into her writing and making it relatable to many across the globe. She writes about love, pain, healing and the strength that she has built within to overcome it all. The poems are each accompanied by her own sketches. I recommend this book as well as “The Sun and Her Flowers” for your night table if you're looking for quick inspiration reads!

Books to Read: How to Be a High School Superstar

Like many of the students who walk into my office, I spent my high school years
spread thinner than a pat of butter melting on a waffle. I did theater, cross-country
(running and skiing), track, student council, math team, etc. etc. etc. When my
Renaissance Man Approach to school was rewarded with admission to the Yale class of
2008, I felt that my tendency to overcommit myself had been justly rewarded. Sure, it
was a stressful and sleepless slog through four years of high school, but that was the
only way to get where I wanted to go, right?

I used to think so. I don’t anymore. One of the biggest influences behind this 180-
shift in my thinking is the work of Cal Newport, a computer science professor who writes
about the habits and hacks of people who manage to achieve a lot in life while still living
life. Cal has a book that I’d like to recommend to any high school student who feels that
the only way to succeed is to be either (a) a natural-born genius or (b) a stressed-out
zombie. In other words, a book I’d like to recommend to every high school student ever.

His book is:

The book’s pithy subtitle sums up the approach: Do Less, Live More, Get Accepted.

And if that sounds waaaaaay too good to be true, then this book might be for you.
Newport’s core philosophy is that the key to succeeding in high school is not to study
harder but study smarter. And what does that look like? To this question, he provides an
entire book full of practical answers, derived from actual case studies with students who
manage to organize their lives so they spend less time studying and participating in
extracurricular activities every week without sacrificing overall performance. Many of the
students he profiles actually manage to perform better than their peers and get into the
school of their dreams. “The big idea,” he writes, is to find a way to become less
overloaded and less stressed without becoming less impressive.”

How to Be a High School Superstar is passionately devoted to the idea that remarkable
achievements have much more to do with your study habits and schedules than your
innate talents. Unfortunately, the one class never offered in high school is: How to
Succeed in High School. The result is that most students – including my former self –
resort to a crude, throw-yourself- at-the- wall approach, driven by the perverse logic of
more exhaustion = better. Newport exposes the flaws in this thinking, showing that
studying itself is an art form, and one that can be practiced and improved upon. Along
the way, he offers blueprints to chart your own path to a less stressed, more successful
life.

For those looking to dip their toes into Newport’s work, head on over to his blog by clicking the button below.

Improve Your ACT Score by Practicing This Skill

A lot of students starting out the ACT or SAT prep process freeze up when it comes to the reading section. They'll say, "I'm just not a fast reader," or "not a good reader," or "I don't remember what I read." Often, they're already better readers than they think they are ... but there are ways to get even better.

Reading is a skill you practice and improve at throughout your whole life. The more you do it, the better you'll get at moving quickly and absorbing what's on the page ... and you'll also get good at recognizing what your brain needs to hold onto, and what's less important. So here are some tips to maximize your reading skills, not just for the test but for life -- which, of course, is what it's all about.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE 

As with anything in life that you want to be good at, it all comes down to practice. Results don't show up overnight but over a sustained period of dedicated application. And the best way to build practice into your life is to ...

 

MAKE IT A HABIT 

If you just say to yourself, "I'm gonna practice my reading this week -- I really mean it this time," the week is likely to come and go (again) without you ever cracking that book. But if you say, "This week, on Monday through Friday from 7:00-7:30 pm, I'm going to sit in my favorite chair with [book that I'm really excited about] and try to get through X number of pages," your odds of actually doing it go way up. Best of all, before long it becomes second nature: instead of having to force yourself to sit down at the same time every day, you'll find it feels strange NOT to.

 

PICK SOMETHING YOU LIKE 

The best way to keep yourself practicing anything is to find the joy in it, and reading is no different -- so choose something you think you'll like. When I was going through a Stephen King phase in high school, I had a teacher scoff, "It's like chewing gum for the mind ... there's no substance!" Maybe, maybe not, but who cares?! It doesn't have to be "great literature" ... it just has to be fun!

 

GET A READING BUDDY 

Find someone who wants to read the same book, and challenge each other to get through chapters so you can talk about it, the same way you would about Game of Thrones or anything else you love. Even better: do it together, in the same time and place, so you can really hold each other accountable.

 

SEE, DON'T HEAR

Many people, when reading, hear themselves actually saying the words in their head as they go along ... meaning you're only reading as fast as you can talk, which is a fraction of the speed you're actually capable of. This is called "subvocalization," and you want to train yourself out of it. Instead of hearing or listening to the words, try to visualize what the words represent, and suddenly the book will become a fast-paced movie in your mind.

 

"CAST" THE STORY WITH YOUR OWN PEOPLE AND PLACES.

This is similar to the memorization technique called a "memory palace." Here's how a memory palace works: in order to memorize something -- say, items in a long list -- you envision yourself walking through a familiar environment, such as your house, and "placing" the different items at locations in the house. The premise is that, by linking these new items with places that are familiar to you, it will create associations that you can hold onto. The same idea can work when you read. If a new character is introduced, maybe imagine that she looks like your second-grade teacher, and it might be easier to remember the things she says because she has a familiar voice. If the book takes place in some grand mansion, maybe it can look like that art museum from that class trip last year, and you'll remember that the first scene in the book happens in the room with your favorite painting on the wall.

 

Whatever you do, recognize that your "inner reader" will really kick into gear when reading is not a chore, but a pleasure. If you've never liked reading, I can practically guarantee you it's just because you haven't found the material you click with or the reading habits that work best for you. So if this sounds like you, keep looking ... and keep reading!

The books you really need to read this summer

Summer is finally here, and that means it's time to relax with a good book. But what book should you read? Well, that's where we come in. We've compiled the top picks from LP (even Francois, our four-legged team member!) for you to dive into as soon as school is out. Ready, set, READ!

Duckworth was awarded the MacArthur "genius" grant for her work on the study of grit -- that quality of relentless stick-to-itiveness that predicts success better than talent, intelligence, and just about any other characteristic. What is it, and how can we develop it? I think there's no better time to come across this book than your school years, when you are discovering the passions that will coalesce into a lifelong sense of purpose, and when you are looking into a future full of the time and potential to fulfill that purpose.


A sports writer and economist team up to write a "moneyball" approach to why some teams fail and others succeed in soccer. They do a great job delving into the sometime conservative and close minded word of soccer and showing how the game is poised to change with the introduction of "big data". They also pepper the book with great soccer anecdotes. A must for any soccer fan!


The misadventures of a brilliant but deeply flawed protagonist set in New Orleans. John Kennedy Toole's sole literary effort is picaresque charmer that is full of laughs.


A wonderful exploration about how the language you’re born into at times shapes – and at times doesn’t shape – how you see the world. Also there’s a long form exploration about how humans across cultures and eras have divided the visible spectrum into different discrete colors. If you love language and ideas this book is for you   


The story of one lawyer, Ken Rose, and his team as they represent inmates on death row. The author follows one inmate's story in particular as Ken and his team tries to save him from execution. 


This book is charming and a lovely read. In this novel we experience 20th century Russia through the eyes of an aristocrat under house arrest in the high-end Hotel Metropol. I found this book to offer a refreshing and gently humorous perspective on daily life for the fallen aristocracy, through a period of political tumult and change. 


If there's one thing I know, it's that being a gentleman is important. This guide can teach even a complete dog everything he needs to know, from how to dress to how to write the best handwritten note. Two paws way up!


I first found out about this book through the New Yorker article written by the same author. The shorter snippet was a beautifully-written and completely heartbreaking precursor to an equally honest, tragic memoir of a neurosurgeon battling stage IV lung cancer. Definitely made me cry. Highly recommend it.


Through a family's story that is utterly unusual and at the same time surprisingly relatable, Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves made me reflect a lot about the experience of growing up, trust, and family relationships. This book is rich but doesn't take itself too seriously -- I found it entertaining and touching (and a good vocab-builder to boot!).  A word to those who hate spoilers, if you read this book, do NOT read the back cover first!


I first heard Bryan Stevenson when I caught an interview with him on the radio in the UK. I was very struck by his story, how as a student at Harvard law he did an internship in Georgia and met a prisoner on death row for the first time, the journey he took to becoming a lawyer and then setting up the Equal Justice Initiative to challenge the bias against the poor and against black people. After hearing the outline of his life, I just had to buy his book to fill in all the details. And it was worth it to read what an amazing difference this man has made to so many people’s lives. An inspiration.


As a huge sci-fi and fantasy geek, I loved these books as a high-school student. The story is captivating and R.A. Salvatore creates a world that's rich with lore and wonderment. 


Though Rudyard Kipling is a controversial author today for his views on race expressed in the famous "White Man's Burden" poem, Kim is a beautifully crafted tale of an orphan's coming-of-age. Kipling demonstrates a deep sense of compassion for India's people, a surprising contrast with his image today.


George Saunders' most recent book combines the true story of Abraham Linclon's son's death with the Buddhist concept of the "bardo," a transitional state between death and the afterlife. Narrated by a cast of ghosts watching the events from the bardo, this novel is too weird for words, in the best way. 


This book was assigned as required reading during one of my high-school summers. I forget which summer it was, but I do remember dutifully buying the paperback in June and then proceeding to ignore it all summer long. When September rolled around, my teacher somehow forgot to give us a reading quiz about it, and so the book stayed on my shelf, unread, a testament to my lazy summer. A couple of years ago, I was visiting my parents' house, and, looking for something to read, I picked up that old, reprimanding paperback. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down: it was so wise, and moving, and strangely relevant to my own life. 
Once you reach your late teens, novels that cover the whole span of a career or a life suddenly become a lot more interesting. This is one of the best such novels, I think.


This book explores the difference between good companies and those that become great!  Concepts in this book have helped me understand how to place our team members in positions that they will both thrive in and enjoy.  Great book for many of our students that want to study business.


A memoir of the author's childhood growing up in impoverished Ireland, the book is certainly sad, but no one ever mentions how funny it is, which is what makes it so uplifting. Humor carried this guy through some real tragedy.


This is a particularly relevant time in our country's history to read this beautiful novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which details individual and immigrant experiences that collide head-on with the "American dream" our history teachers tell us is ubiquitous and universally accessible. It also highlights aspects of American culture that we as readers may be blind too -- or perhaps intentionally overlooking -- through the lens of characters so relatable, you feel by the end that their stories are your own.


I can't get enough of Liane Moriarty these days, and this book might just be my favorite written by her. Life for Alice as a 29 year-old is beautiful: married to the love of her life, remodeling their first home together, and expecting their first child. After a bad accident at her Friday spin class, she wakes up after being knocked unconscious on the gym floor and learns she's actually 39, has 3 children, is in the midst of a bad divorce, and doesn't remember the last 10 years of her life. 


A blend of memoir and sociological study, this book offers unique and important perspective into the state of the working class and social mobility in America today.


Part memoir, travelogue, literary study, and stream-of-consciousness monologue, Out of Sheer Rage is undoubtedly the funniest and most profound book ever written about failing to write a book. Read this if you're someone who, like Dyer, struggles with procrastination, perfectionism, laziness, or any of the other excuses people invent to prevent themselves from doing whatever it is they want to do.


A page turner about a slave on the run. A must read for anyone interested in American History.


This book skillfully touches on the the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, the tangled ties between generations. The author reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, come to define ourselves. I could identify so much with this novel, coming from an immigrant family, myself.


Kurt Vonnegut is a master of crafting pulsating empathy that makes complex contemporary social discussions immediate and accessible, and Cat’s Cradle is a prime example of his singular ability. This 1963 novel is a brilliant satirical and insightful exploration of the dual-edged sword that is technological progression in our increasingly interconnected, globalized world — and it contains one of my favorite chapters of writing that I’ve ever read in my 23 years, Chapter 99.


For a long time, I judged The Bell Jar based on its melodramatic reputation and cover. One day last summer I opened the book out of curiosity, expecting a sappy, overdramatic story, and instead found a humorous story of a girl with a keen wit who works as an intern at a fashion magazine one summer in the 1950's. Of course she eventually descends into madness, but it's a madness where she never stops making fun of other people. The clear prose kept me hooked, and I was able to finish it in a day.

These children's books should be included on your summer reading list

Did you know that children's literature can offer the same benefits that other literature or art can offer and can help students to learn key skills that are often found on the ACT/SAT Verbal & Reading sections? Not only that, but children's books can also make reading enjoyable for the array of students who walk through the LogicPrep doors. Whether English is your second language or you are just trying to strengthen your reading comprehension and grammar skills, children's books can help and encourage reading for pleasure.

The books below are pieces of literature that I read many years ago and still resonate with me today. So much so, that I think every student and adult should read and re-read them again and again!

"Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White

I first read this book in 3rd grade, and it was the first book that ever made me cry.  It's an all-time classic, and I love the way E.B White uses humor and straightforwardness to teach about the world, love, and especially friendship through the relationships of a girl, pig, and spider.

 

 

 

 

 

 


"The Giver" by Lois Lowry

Jonas, the main character, lives in a futuristic society that has eliminated choice; there is no color nor much emotion. Just is different and is extremely caring and shows concern for his family and friends. After being chosen as the new receiver of memories, his world drastically changes and he has to stand up for what he believes in. When you break this book down and look deeper than the surface, it's absolutely AMAZING and contains a great use of imagery and suspense. This one can be read over and over and over again.

 

 

 

 

 


"Amber Brown is not a Crayon" by Paula Danziger

I loved, loved, LOVED this book series. "Amber Brown is Not a Crayon" is about a spunky 3rd grader named Amber Brown who finds out her best friend is moving away and deals with all the crazy emotions that come her way while in elementary school. Honestly, what Amber goes through is relatable to any student regardless of their grade. 
 

Just because a book was assigned by your English teacher doesn't mean it's not going to be an incredible story.

I remember a high school English class where we were reading a Jane Austen novel about marriage and etiquette and social class -- maybe Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility -- and the teacher opened the floor for discussion. There was silence, until finally a student raised her hand and asked, "Don't any of these people have a JOB?"

When you're in school, it can feel like there's "reading for work" and "reading for fun." Maybe your teacher assigns you something from the 1800’s with a title like The Simply Marvelous Fable of the Aristocratic Daughter: A Novel in Seven Parts by Lord Duddlesbury Fudgewafer VI, and after the third line ("Hitherto she'd not known the constancy of an avuncular patron bereft of filial affinity" zzzzzz) you want to jump out a window, because at least there'd be more action.

Then there's the reading you do for fun, because you love it and you want to know what's going to happen next -- and, most of all, what's going to happen in the end. Maybe it's Lord of the Rings. Maybe it's Harry Potter. But the best of all worlds is what happens when reading for fun and reading for work end up being the same. I'll never forget two books I was assigned in English class, but which quickly became some of my favorite "reading for fun."

The first was The Crucible (okay, it's a play, not a book), by Arthur Miller. At first glance, you might think it's another one of these Lord Flooksbury Hitherteethither tomes, because it takes place in Puritan New England in the late 1700's ... but only a page or two in, I was hooked. This story was as good as any highly addictive TV show I'd ever watched. Who's telling the truth, and who's lying? And what are they trying to hide? And once the lies have started, will the truth protect them anymore? Wait till you get to the scene where Elizabeth has to decide whether to tell the truth or lie to a judge ... not knowing that the "right" answer might get her in even more trouble than she realizes. Take a back seat, "Game of Thrones" -- this story is a GUT-WRENCHER.

Then, there was Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. I know, you're thinking, "Oh God, everyone's named Thisovich or Thatovna, and I can't tell them apart, and they're all just crying and drinking vodka all the time." Sorry, but NO. This was a heart-stopping thriller that I couldn't put down -- and oh by the way, it turned out to be ONE OF THE GREAT LITERARY CLASSICS OF ALL TIME. It's a murder-mystery novel where you know the whole time who the killer is. Spoiler alert: It's Raskolnikov! Except that's not a spoiler at all, because you, the reader, are with the murderer as he thinks about the murder, plans it, and executes it. And then you're with him for all that follows. This, of course, is where the palm-sweating comes in, as detective Porfiry Petrovich gets closer and closer to his prey, and Raskolnikov deals with the constant consequences of keeping this terrible secret.

So what's the point of all this? The point is that just because a book was assigned by your English teacher doesn't mean it's not going to be an incredible story. In fact, the reason most of these works survived long enough to be classics is exactly BECAUSE they are great stories: because they made people want to know what was going to happen next and how they would end. Charles Dickens might sound like a yawn to you right now ... but his novels were originally published in weekly installments in magazines, leaving readers dying to find out what happens next. Sound familiar? Kind of like ... how a TV show works?

So the next time your teacher hands you a masterpiece by Lord Siddleswich, don't moan and roll your eyes just yet ... it could well be the "Game of Thrones" of its time. And of yours.

 

-Adam O, Instructor

Books your teacher didn't recommend but you should check out anyway

How many books by African Americans did you read in high school? Or books by women? Do you think you or your classmates would have been able to list five black, or non-white writers from the 20th and 21st century?

In my high school English classes, I don’t remember being assigned to read anything by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, or Maya Angelou. We read some short stories by women, but the only novel I read by a woman was To Kill a Mockingbird. We never read novels by Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath. Forget about contemporary writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Claudia Rankine.

Some of the best books I read in my life were by these people, but they weren’t part of my high school curriculum. Recently I was moved to tears by The Argonauts by prose poet Maggie Nelson: its content was so raw and wandering that it would be impossible to teach in high school, and tricky at a university. But that doesn’t mean someone in high school can’t, or shouldn’t read it (in fact it’s less than 200 pages)!

By reading diverse authors from outside the standard canon, we not only improve our reading skills but also expand our empathy, which makes us better human beings.

 

-Veronica N, Instructor

LP Brazil's Library

It's no secret that we love books and that we love sharing our book recommendations with our students. While we understand there isn't a lot of down-time for high school students, we encourage our students to read for pleasure as much as they can!

For this reason, we have a book library in our Brazil office. Each book is hand-selected and recommended by our instructors. Unsure what type of book you might like? Just ask! We're always full of suggestions.

Stop by, pick out a book, and enjoy!