"Somewhere on this list is a book that will change your life."

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The personally transformative books of our young lives
From the Fall 2010 Caller

History teacher Pat Walsh recently sent a list to incoming Upper Schoolers of books that had inspired faculty and staff members when they were teenagers. This is just a part of that glorious list, in which J.D. Salinger reigned supreme, with Kurt Vonnegut a close runner-up. Maybe your inspirations will be found here, too.

Deirdre Atkinson, drama teacher

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
William Goldman, The Princess Bride
Carson McCullers, Member of the Wedding
J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
 

Chris Bagg, English teacher

Junot Diaz, Drown
John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
Tony Kushner, Angels in America
Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
 

“If I were a rapper, I’d freestyle an ode to Crime and Punishment: I like big books. Dostoyevsky’s character arcs and setting transported me in a manner far more profound that any cinematic experience I’d ever had. I went from a child who wore a white bathrobe and braided her hair into Leia’s signature cinnamon rolls, to a young woman who spent an inordinate amount of time at the kitchen sink trying to wash the stain of Raskolnikov’s guilt from her own hands.” —Nance Leonhardt, media arts teacher

Nancy Donehower, college counselor

Robertson Davies, Fifth Business, The Manticore, World of Wonders, and The Rebel Angels
J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey, Seymour, An Introduction, and Nine Stories
Lincoln Steffens, Moses in Red, also his autobiography
Theodore H. White, The Once and Future King
 

Enrique Escalona, Spanish teacher

Issac Asimov, The Foundation Trilogy
Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones
Alan Moore, Watchmen (graphic novel)
Friedrich W. Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra
JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit
 

“In Mr. Blue by Myles Connolly, I was attracted to a uniquely American character who embraced the challenge of living a pure life in adherence to a simple set of altruistic principles. Mr. Blue is a radical idealist, a mystic, a poet, and his example has prompted me to think more deeply about the values implicit in many of the decisions I have made in my life.” —Art Leo, English teacher

Peter Green, outdoor education director & dean of students

Ray Bradbury’s novels
Albert Camus, The Stranger
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground
John Knowles, A Separate Peace
William Golding, Lord of the Flies
John McPhee, Coming Into the Country
Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
 

“I read Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find with a teacher who was passionate about her work. He introduced me to her writing as a comment on the human condition, and I was both shocked and completely captivated. It was a powerful and formative experience.” —Michael Heath, Upper School head

Andrew Merrill, computer science teacher

Richard Feynman, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman
Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
David Lodge, Small World
Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, All The President’s Men
 

Lark Palma, head of school

John Barth, The Floating Opera
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
Willa Cather, My Antonia!
John Fowles, The Magus, The Collector
Hermann Hesse, Demian
D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Emile Zola, Germinal
 

Sue Phillips, librarian

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, and all of her novels
Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler
John Donne, Songs and Sonnets
Nikolai Gogol, short stories
Proinsias MacCana, Celtic Mythology
Muriel Spark, Memento Mori
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Evelyn Waugh, The Loved One, Decline and Fall, Brideshead Revisited
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, Jacob’s Room
 

Peter Shulman, history teacher

Pat Conroy, The Great Santini
Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt
Richard Wright, Black Boy, Native Son
 

Nichole Tassoni, English teacher

James Baldwin, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
 

Becky Wynne, science teacher

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Robert Heinlein, The Door into Summer
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
Larry Niven, Ringworld
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
Roger Zelazny, Doorways in the Sand