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King School Alumni

Kweskin's Top 10 Reads

Steve Sheehan ‘07, Alumni Engagement Officer for King School, caught up (virtually) with Helen Kweskin for her 10 recommended books to while away the hours during social distancing.  So here is Helen Kweskin’s (very idiosyncratic - her words) list of engaging reads, tailored to a range of tastes and interests.  No quizzes to come…..just enjoy!

Join Helen Kweskin for King’s first VIRTUAL ALUMNI BOOK CLUB! 

Wednesday, April 1: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Wednesday, April 22: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Wednesday, May 13: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

RSVP

Top Pick


EXIT WEST
by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (2017)

This short novel is at the top of my list for the imaginative ways it focuses on emigration and refugee problems in the context of a relationship between two young adults.  Very timely.

#2


THE UNCOMMON READER 
by Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (2007)

Bennett writes “a funny and superbly observed novella about the Queen of England and the subversive power of reading.”
Short read and great fun!

#3


EMMA
by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen (1815)

Perfect time to enjoy this novel, prior to this month’s film release of Austen’s “beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending.”  And did you know that the film Clueless (1995) was based on Austen’s Emma?

 

#4


THE REMAINS OF THE DAY
by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

May I encourage you to read my absolutely favorite novel of all time, Ishiguro’s “beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House”?  And if you don’t read the book, be sure to see the film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

 

#5


EDUCATED
by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover (2018)

Pair it with J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy (2016) for two memoirs of young people overcoming harrowing upbringings to acquire their educations. 

 

#6


 

THE STARBOARD SEA
by Amber Dermont

The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont (2012)

 

THE HEADMASTER'S WIFE
by Thomas Christopher Greene 

The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene (2014)

 

Two eminently readable novels set at quintessential New England boarding schools. Greene’s writing style is lyrical.

#7


 

WILD
by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (2012)

 

A WALK IN THE WOODS
by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (1997)

 

For those of us who love the great outdoors and the lure of thru-hiking.  Plus Bryson’s dry humor always keeps me snickering.

#8


BEL CANTO
by Ann Patchett

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (2001)

Award-winning work described by The New Yorker  as a "Patchett's tragicomic novel--a fantasia of guns and Puccini and Red Cross negotiations--invoking the glorious, unreliable promises of art, politics, and love."

 

#9


MADAME FOURCADE'S SECRET WAR
by Lynne Olson

Madame Fourcade’s Secret War by Lynne Olson (2019)

This work is a historical nonfiction biography about a young woman and mother in her thirties, Marie Madeleine Fourcade, who in 1941 became the leader of a spy network in France against Nazi Germany.  I am about to delve into this highly-recommended biography because I have just finished watching the 84-part series on MHz titled A French Village, about the Nazi occupation of France during World War II.  Eighty-four episodes of absorbing drama could go a long way to passing the time and would definitely provide a helpful context for Olson’s book.  

#10


THE GIVER OF STARS
by JoJo Moyes

The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes (2019)

An imaginative rendering of several lives, based on the Packhorse Library Project whose mission was to deliver books to homes throughout the Appalachian Mountains in the years 1935-1943.  A charming and quick read.

 

Extra Credit


THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP: THE JAPANESE ART OF DECLUTTERING AND ORGANIZING
by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (2014)

Because how else are we going to spend all this time at home?