Library Us News

Syndicate content

Summer Borrowing is Underway in the Upper School Library!

Send by email

Think outside the classroom this summer!  Take home an armload of good books to read.  Whether you’ll be lounging in a hammock, working as a camp counselor and reading after lights out, or flying on a plane to distant parts of the world, reading for pleasure would surely enhance your summer.

Summer Borrowing is Underway!

Now through June 10th @ 4pm

All returning Upper School students, and all returning faculty and staff may participate!

Here are some titles to tempt you.  If you prefer, just browse the catalog at

Southern Fiction
Mama Day, by G. Naylor
Kate Vaiden, by R. Price
The Help, by K. Stockett
Delta Wedding, by E. Welty
Sound and the Fury, by W. Faulkner
Thirteen Moons, by C. Frazier

Glorious Geekdom
Foundations of Python Network Programming, by J. Goerzen
Beginning game development with Python and Pygame, by W. McGugan
Letters to a Young Mathematician, by I. Stewart
Feynman’s Lost Lecture:  The Motion of Planets around the Sun, by D. Goodstein
Beyond Measure:  Modern physics, Philosophy, and the Meaning of Quantum Theory, by JE Baggott

Tasty Fiction
Clear Light of Day, by A. Desai
Notes from Underground, by F. Dostoevsky
Moscow Sting, by A. Dryden
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by M. Haddon
Maltese Falcon, by D. Hammett
A Most Wanted Man, by J. Le Carré
Small Island, by A. Levy
Kalahari Typing School for Men, by RA McCall Smith
Blood Meridian, by C. McCarthy
Master and Commander, by P. O’Brian

Graphic Novels
Saga of the Swamp Thing, by A. Moore
A Drifting Life, by Y. Tatsumi
Complete Persepolis, by M. Satrapi
Black Hole, by C. Burns
Palestine, by J. Sacco

Fantasy Fiction
Brisingr, by C. Paolini
The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien
Powers, by U. LeGuin
The Wood Wife, by T. Windling
Memory & Dream, by C. DeLint

Far From Here
Iberian Worlds, by G. McDonogh
Almost French:  Love and a New Life in Paris, by S. Turnbull
Oracle Bones:  A Journey Between China’s Past and Present, by P. Hessler
Under the Tuscan Sun, by F. Mayes

Artsy Stuff
The Art and Craft of Handmade Books, by S. LaPlantz
Letters to a Young Artist, by A. Deavere Smith
Conversations with Frank Gehry, by B. Isenberg
Chuck Close:  A Life, by C. Finch
Origami Paper Animals, by D. Boursin

Bite-Sized Fiction
In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, by T. Wolff
The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, by A. Bender
The Runner’s Literary Companion, Ed. G. Battista
Nine Stories, by JD Salinger
Nick Adams Stories, by E. Hemingway

Stop by soon.  

With good wishes,

Sue, Upper School Librarian


Summer Borrowing in the US Library Begins on May 31st

Send by email

Every summer, the US Library likes to send its books on interesting vacations with students, faculty and staff.  Everyone from the bus drivers to students to teachers and administrators likes to stop by to carry off something interesting to read. 

Over the course of the coming weeks, I'll be adding all sorts of recommendations to this list. After Memorial Day weekend, Summer Borrowing begins!  Returning students, staff and faculty may check out an armload of good books that won't be due until mid-September. 

So, let's begin...

A Taste of the Arts

We've added some new titles on filmmaking, animé, origami, modern architecture, and music.  Here's a sampling.

Didier Boursin:  Origami Paper Animals
Barbara Isenberg:  Conversations with Frank Gehry
Maria Lafont:  Soviet Posters
Shereen LaPlantz:  The Art & Craft of Handmade Books
Steven Mithen:  The Singing Neanderthals:  The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
Chris Patmore:  Movie Making Course
Simon Richmond:  The Rough Guide to Animé
Bee Shay:  Collage Lab
Stuart Shea and Robert Rodriguez:  Fab Four FAQ:  Everything Left to Know about the Beatles...and More!
Anna Deavere Smith:  Letters to a Young Artist:  Straight0up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts

Graphic Novels

Some are political, some are futuristic, and many of them are becoming classics of the genre.  

Charles Burns:  Black Hole
Alan Moore:  Saga of the Swamp Thing; Watchmen
Joe Sacco:  Palestine
Marjane Satrapi:  The Complete Persepolis

Southern Fiction

Hot, still afternoons, complex prose, solitude, thunderstorms, lemonade on the porch, and smoldering post-Civil War tensions are just a few of the characteristics of some of these books by southern authors.  

William Faulkner:  The Sound and the Fury; Light in August
Charles Frazier:  Cold Mountain; Thirteen Moons
Sue Monk Kidd:  The Mermaid Chair
Carson McCullers:  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Toni Morrison: A Mercy
Gloria Naylor:  Mama Day
Reynolds Price:  Kate Vaiden
Kathryn Stockett:  The Help
Eudora Welty:  Delta Wedding; Selected Stories

Fantasy Fiction

These books are filled with other worlds, elves, teenagers with magical powers, hobbits, daemons, and fine storytelling.

Charles de Lint:  Memory & Dream
Ursula LeGuin:  Powers
Christopher Paolini:  Brisingr (part of a series)
Philip Pullman:  The Golden Compass (part of a series)
J.R.R. Tolkien:  The Hobbit (the prelude to a great series)

Keep checking back for more recommendations!







Great Reads for Winterim & Spring Break!

Send by email

 Looking for a little diversion for that long flight to Florida?  Ready to choose your own stories rather than sticking to your course syllabus?  Help is on the way!

We added over 150 new titles in January and February alone.  Here are several recommendations for all kinds of readers with all sorts of interests:

Palestine, by Joe Sacco
Do you enjoy political themes and graphic novels?  Check out this classic about an American journalist who travels to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to learn the Palestinian side of the Intifada. Art Spiegelman, author of Maus, writes that Sacco "obviously got the calling. His stuff is obviously well wrought, with dizzying pages and good rhythm" (from Amazon editorial reviews).

Winter of our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale, by Susan Maushart
The Booklist reviewer writes that the teenagers "quickly learn how to do homework without access to Wikipedia and discover such joys as playing the saxophone and having sing-alongs. Interspersed with the family’s experience is a great deal of timely information about the impact of electronic technology on Generation M (8- to 18-year-olds), and not all of it is pretty."  ( reviews)

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
Travel to St. Petersburg, Russia with a heart-rending, beefy classic about the decisions of a young society woman who chooses to defy the social norms of her time.  If you never have time to immerse yourself in another world, Spring Break and Winterim are great times to do so.

Hardcourt Confidential:  Tales from Twenty Years in the Pro Tennis Trenches, by Patrick McEnroe
ESPN commentator and tennis champion Patrick McEnroe reveals detailed stories of players, coaches, and other personalities associated with the sport.  If you have visions of going pro, this will be an eye-opener.

The Invisible Gorilla:  and Other Ways our Intuitions Deceive Us, by Christopher Chabris
The author of the book says it best:  "Reading this book will make you less sure of yourself-and that's a good thing. In The Invisible Gorilla, we use a wide assortment of stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to reveal an important truth: Our minds don't work the way we think they do. We think we see ourselves and the world as they really are, but we're actually missing a whole lot."  (Invisible Gorilla website).  Be sure to click the link above to see some short video clips of the actual attention tests administered to observers.  You won't believe your eyes!

Becoming Animal:  An Earthly Cosmology, by David Abram
"As Abram identifies underappreciated aspects of our minds and bodies that evolved to enable us to respond with exquisite sensitivity to our surroundings, he tells extraordinary tales of his encounters with wildlife from whales to ravens, illuminates the planet’s myriad forms of sentient life" (from Booklist review).  


Jimmy Santiago Baca: Some Resources

Send by email

"I don't know if I would have lived had I not found poetry."--Jimmy Santiago Baca

The writer Jimmy Santiago Baca will visit Catlin Gabel this Thursday.  If you would like to learn a little bit more about him, here are a few options:

Visit the website for a brief biography of Santiago Baca's life.  Three of his poems are listed on the website in the upper right hand corner.  If you'd like to learn a little bit more about the writer, his personal struggles, and his approach to language and poetry, there is a good interview with Gabriel Meléndez on the Univ. of Illinois site.  

When you visit the Upper School Library, you can browse our display of books by Jimmy Santiago Baca just inside the door. 

--Sue, US Librarian

Books about Child Soldiers in Sudan

Send by email

 As you may have heard, we'll be hosting Gabriel Bol Deng, one of the "lost boys" from the war in Sudan.  He will come to Catlin as a speaker on Wednesday, February 9th.  In support of his visit, I've assembled a group of books on the subect of child soldiers, and the war in this region of the world. 

Be sure to also check out Gabriel Bol Deng's website, Hope for Ariang, to learn more about his nonprofit organization to provide primary education to children in Sudan.  

Here's a list of titles that you may want to browse before his visit:

A Long Way Gone:  Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah

Out of Exile:  Narratives from the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan, by Craig Walzer

The Devil Came on Horseback:  Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur, by Brian Steidle & Gretchen Steidle Wallace

Child Soldiers:  From Violence to Protection, by Michael Wessells

What is the What, by Dave Eggers (a powerful fictionalized memoir of a lost boy)

The Translator:  A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur, by Daoud Hari

Please ask us if you need any assistance in locating the books.  Thanks.  --Sue 




Winter Break with Good Books to Read!

Send by email

 Hi, everybody!

It’s just a few days before Winter Break, and I’d like to offer you some reading recommendations.  If novels and biographies aren’t your thing, we have books on programming in Python, codecracking, politics or history.  There are thousands of options, so stop by to find your perfect match. We’re open until 4pm on Friday, December 17th so you can find something good to read in your free time.  

Happy countdown to the break!


In a Strange Room, by Damon Galgut  
In this newest novel from South African writer Damon Galgut, a young loner travels across eastern Africa, Europe, and India. Unsure what he's after, and reluctant to return home, he follows the paths of travelers he meets along the way. Treated as a lover, a follower, a guardian, each new encounter-with an enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers, a woman on the verge-leads him closer to confronting his own identity. Traversing the quiet of wilderness and the frenzy of border crossings, every new direction is tinged with surmounting mourning, as he is propelled toward a tragic conclusion. (from the book jacket).  This novel has received fine reviews, and was a finalist for the Man Booker prize, 2010.

Alan’s War, by Emmanuel Guibert
If you like graphic novels, check out this gritty account of a Second World War soldier’s experiences during and after the war, both in the US and Europe.  Nik Hall recommended this book to us, so if you read it, be sure to talk to him about it!

The Photographer, by Emmanuel Guibert
“A graphic novel and photo journal that follows reporter Didier Lefevre on a dangerous journey through Afghanistan with the Doctors Without Borders mission” (US library catalog).  If you’re interested in the range of the graphic novel across genres including history, politics, and biography, here’s a good read.  Notice that it’s also by the author of Alan’s War.  

Linus Pauling in His Own Words, by Linus Pauling
“Pauling's scientific career spanned nearly the entire 20th century, from his revolutionary Nobel Prize-winning theories on the chemical bond to his controversial work on orthomolecular medicine and vitamin therapy, which continued up to his death in 1994. To many, however, he is best remembered as an ardent peace activist and a crusader for human rights, which brought him his second Nobel. Throughout his career, he was called a genius, a visionary, a Communist, and even a crank. Nothing about Pauling was simple or obvious.” (from a review in Library Journal)

Small Island, by Andrea Levy
This is the story of a young woman who “arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, [and] her resolve intact.  Her husband, Gilber Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class”  (from the book jacket).  This novel won the Orange Prize and the Whitbread book of the year prize.  


Thanksgiving Break is Better with a Good Book!

Send by email

The leaves are falling, and in a matter of days, all of the Upper School students will be enjoying Thanksgiving Break.

  Here's what we're featuring in the Upper School Library just now:

• The Karl Jonske '99 Collection:  Come browse your way through delicious works of fiction or a good biography.  The US Library honors the memory of 1999 graduate and voracious reader, Karl Jonske, whose family created the book fund as a memorial to Karl after his untimely death in a car accident.  Honor the memory of one of Catlin's brightest and kindest by enjoying the books that bear his nameplate inside their front cover.  There are hundreds of titles to browse. 

• The Poetry of Billy Collins:  Collins is this year's Jonske speaker.  We've got copies of several of his books of poems on hand, and have a Billy Collins poetry window just inside the front door.  Want a fun, visual approach to his poems?  Check out Billy Collins Action Poetry website.

We have new subscriptions to Outside and Seventeen magazine.  Come by for a browse, or to check out an issue. 

See you soon,

--Sue Phillips, US Librarian

Reflections on Reading: How to Create an Inviting Library--and Eager Readers

Send by email

By Lynn Silbernagel

From the Fall 2010 Caller
The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries who were the authors of them, nay a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts.” —René Descartes
“I cannot live without books.” —Thomas Jefferson
“My library was dukedom large enough.” —William Shakespeare
Together these quotes speak to some of the values I find in reading: it is a way to connect with and understand other people, past and present; it is something I, too, cannot imagine living without; and ultimately, it is a solitary intellectual experience.
The last point seems at odds with life in Catlin Gabel’s middle school library, where we are surrounded with the energies of nearly 200 people, oversee a collection of 10,000 items, and work with 6th through 8th graders to foster reading. This hardly makes reading seem a solitary endeavor. Yet one of the main goals I bring to the school is to help students become strong independent readers—to really get them engaged with reading as an enjoyable practice and to encourage them to grapple in their own ways with the ideas presented.
In order to encourage students to become readers, a number of strategies have been proven helpful. Overall, my aim is to make reading, and the library in general, inviting, accessible, convenient, non-judgmental, and non-restrictive. Here are some specific things I do to foster this type of environment.
* The library has comfortable spaces for both groups and individuals to read and explore library materials.
* I purchase a variety of materials in a broad range of genres, and change displays of material frequently.
* I rely on students and teachers to recommend and review books. (Nothing encourages students to read more than a recommendation from a peer!) This often results in our generating waitlists of people who want the recommended titles when they come in.
* Teachers and I are committed to students making independent reading choices each month. For example, 7th grade students spin the “Genre Wheel” then choose any book they’d like from that genre.
* We do not limit the number of items students may check out, how long they may have them, or what types of material they may check out.
* The library has invested in a number of audio titles so students who are auditory learners can read more easily.
* We also have newer types of material (graphic novels, for example) that allow reluctant readers, or those who are more oriented toward visuals, to become engaged and successful at reading.
* We recommend books when students ask for ideas, but allow them free access to the materials to explore if they prefer.
* We encourage adults in the community to model reading as a valuable, pleasurable activity.
Reading is a joy for me, as it is for so many people. I am particularly fortunate to be in a profession that allows me to share that joy with others, and help engage them in a conversation that can span generations.
Lynn Silbernagel has been Catlin Gabel’s Middle School librarian for 16 years. As a fused glass artisan, she has also taught several Catlin Gabel summer programs and Breakaway experiences.  

Has Technology Changed How We Read?

Send by email

By Paul Andrichuk

From the Fall 2010 Caller
The scene repeats itself at coffee shops all over Portland; people staring at their computer screens as they move from site to site, document to document. It’s worse if you are a parent, watching your child avoid eye contact or other social cues as they “study, read, or research” (even as the music plays). We react as the cranky adults we swore we would never be.
That’s the emotional, personal reaction, but in the back of our minds we wonder if people are really reading and learning. Has Google made us stupid, as the Nicholas Carr article in the Atlantic suggested? He seems to come down on the side of believing the internet has rewired his brain, affecting his attention and ability to sustain reading:
“Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, and begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”
You may be nodding to yourself in agreement, even as you curse technological breakdowns that suddenly make your life more difficult. You hate our reliance on technology and pine for the good old days without it, but it sure is great to find a restaurant when you are lost or Skype with your sister in Florida.
Here are my three basic thoughts regarding reading in a technological age.
* Books and computers are here to stay (short term), and young people will be reading from both.
* The brain is constantly evolving, including rewiring itself. Indeed, Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, argues that we are not born to read. The brain will continue to change in response to new symbols, the speed with which information comes at us, and the myriad forms it will take.
* Critical thinking skills transcend how and where reading is done.
The evolution of the brain
The brain has been changing and adapting since the invention of language. That’s reading the symbols, but more importantly it’s about how the brain connects the meaning of words to the experiences and imagination of the reader. If our brains were able to begin this evolution with the advent of written language 6,000 years ago, surely it can adapt to the speed and scope of information, especially language, available on the internet.
Reading begins at infancy
One of the best indicators of reading is how much time children spend listening to adults who read to them. The gobbledygook on the page are words, and words will make up your son’s or daughter’s universe.
This point has little to do with computers and reading, but it’s an important one to make for three reasons. Books are not going away. Reading is a great family activity. Students often say they have always remembered their parents reading.
Finally (and it is a related point), always remember that you are your child’s first and most important teacher!
Reading means independence
Socrates feared that reading would make people too autonomous and, worse, would retard the brain’s capacity to infer, analyze, and think critically. He was mistaken. Images of the brain during fluent reading light up areas that indicate all of these things are happening.
If Socrates was incorrect about literacy, then perhaps we are mistaken in our assumptions about reading and technology. Young people understand that there are different types of reading, depending on its purpose.
Questions for Catlin Gabel
Schools like Catlin Gabel can be explicit in how they teach reading and use technology. Computers are here, they are not going away, and they are great educational tools. So what does this mean for the young people in our charge? What does it mean for parents?
Critical thinking makes stronger readers
Catlin Gabel students are critical and independent thinkers. It’s an aspect of the school culture that is celebrated, but more importantly, it allows students to be careful consumers of all information. Reading skills are guided, modeled, and practiced, regardless of whether the information is on the screen or in a first-edition novel.
I connect critical thinking to reading, but it’s equally important to connect critical thinking to a careful assessment of the source, especially internet sites. After all, if what you’re reading is inaccurate or false, it tends to affect the educational process.
The value of time and reflection
Getting lost in a book is a luxury, so is getting lost after you’re done with it. Just as Goodnight Moon allows you to see the connection of words to a child’s world, so does connecting ideas in a book to our notion of possibilities in the world.
Youth should be “multitextual”
Students are naturally making judgments about how to read based on the purpose of their task. A general survey of the news on the front page of the Oregonian, reading four pages of a biology text, and reading an online editorial in the New York Times require different levels of attention.
I’ve meandered a bit through this discussion of reading in the digital age. I was prepared to subscribe to Nicholas Carr’s viewpoint, but I simply cannot. Computers and technology are no longer luxuries but necessities, both in terms of our quality of life and our education. In addition, books and computers can coexist— and we will read from both. Those who worry that the internet may be rewiring our brains are correct, and the evolution of this vital organ continues, just as it has responded to every other substantial change in human history. What remains at the core of reading—from books and computers—is that we continue to value and teach the thinking skills beyond the symbols.
Paul Andrichuk is the head of Catlin Gabel’s middle school.

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

Send by email
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


Mindful Pleasures: Developing Lifelong Readers in the Catlin Gabel Upper School

Send by email

By Tony Stocks

From the Fall 2010 Caller

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” —Lemony Snicket 
If you read at all— newspapers, periodicals, that purported destroyer of the art of reading known as the internet—you’ve probably come across accounts lamenting the decline of reading in America. A much-quoted 2004 report from the National Endowment for the Arts claimed that less than half of American adults read any literature at all, and the decline was said to be even more precipitous among young people. News like this hits English teachers especially hard. Reading is not only the central focus of our profession—it’s also our passion, and often the only factor that allowed us to survive adolescence. Yet as you may realize when confronted with huge, intractable social problems like the specter of global warming or the rise of Justin Bieber, the only practical response is local. We can’t stuff the internet genie back in the bottle (nor, I suspect, would most of us want to), but we can keep working to develop skillful, enthusiastic, lifelong readers, giving our students in the Upper School the tools to read incisively and professionally, with the maximum of enjoyment and understanding. Here are four major strategies that we use to accomplish that goal.
Diverse, Challenging Reading Lists
We challenge our students by assigning them rich, multifaceted texts, drawn from both the traditional Western canon and from those alternative traditions that contemporary academia is thankfully taking more notice of lately. There’s nothing simplified or dumbed-down about the pieces we ask students to read. At all levels of the program, we ask them to read adult texts, almost always in their entirety. And our students tend to rise to this challenge with a maturity and enthusiasm born of being treated like grownups. According to my colleague Nichole Tassoni, our ninth graders remark, at several points in the year, “We read the whole Odyssey” (the epic poem by Homer), at first in disbelief at the task before them, but later with a growing pride as they tackle the book. Last year’s junior class spent part of the spring working their way through Toni Morrison’s Sula, a challenging novel that offers visceral and sometimes disturbing perspectives on race, sexuality, and social class. Despite the book’s difficulty, it emerged as one of the most popular pieces of the year; in large part, I suspect, because it confirmed our students’ feeling that they’re ready to tackle mature subject matter.
Active Reading
In order for students to get the most out of their reading, we insist that they always read with a pen or pencil in their hand, and record in the margins of their texts those elements worthy of remark that they encounter. Such a strategy not only ensures that students will retain key points of their reading for the future, but has the larger advantage of shifting the act of reading from passive absorption to active engagement with the text. As American philosopher Mortimer Adler writes in the essay “How to Mark a Book,” which all Catlin Gabel students encounter at the start of their sophomore year, active reading assumes that “learning doesn’t consist of being an empty receptacle . . . and marking a book is literally an expression of differences, or agreements of opinion, with the author.” It’s always gratifying to note instances where students have scribbled “neat,” “beautiful,” “huh???,” or even “WTF?” in their books, as these indicate that students are engaging emotionally with the text.
Early in their Upper School careers, many students resist the demand that they read actively. They argue that active reading slows them down too much, or that it spoils their pleasure in reading. But as they move through the program, most come to see active reading as a necessary weapon in their academic arsenal. They realize that the reduction in speed required by active reading is usually compensated for by a greater centering of attention that tunes out distractions and allows them to complete assignments more quickly. They also discover that there is no single formula for active reading, and that students need to develop individualized strategies to match their own mental habits: some will scribble notes in the margins as they read, others will wait to summarize a crucial point or two at the bottom of the page, some will write a short outline or paragraph at the end of a chapter. Most will also come to redefine the pleasure of reading, preferring a harder-won understanding to a facile breezing through the text. At the very least, all will realize that actively reading a text at the time it’s assigned eliminates the need to reread it when exam time rolls around.
Reading Through the Lens of Literary Terms
Just as physicists, attorneys, and skateboarders all employ a special terminology that both maps the conceptual territory of their respective fields and marks off the professional from the layperson, so literary critics have developed a jargon for the domains of poetry, narrative, and drama. We certainly want our students to be able to toss around fifty-cent words like “allegory,” “epithet,” and “anagnorisis” in order to impress their future college professors, but our insistence that they learn and wield this vocabulary goes beyond our desire to make them big noises on campus. For in mapping the terrain of literary study, these terms allow us to formulate fruitful questions that might not be possible without them.
For instance, for many readers the terms “story” and “plot” are more or less interchangeable. But Catlin Gabel students learn early in their careers that, for professional literary critics, a story is defined as any sequence of events in chronological order, whereas plot refers to the manner in which the author manipulates that sequence to create certain artistic and emotional effects. Armed with that distinction, our students can begin to ask why works like the Odyssey or Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane begin in medias res (“in the middle of things”) and then flash back to earlier actions. Similarly, a student reading Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar familiar with the concept of “caesura,” a break or pause in a line of poetry, may begin to notice how the poet uses that device as a subtle means of characterization. While the headstrong Cassius tends to speak in lines with few internal pauses (“Now in the names of all the gods at once/Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed,/That he is grown so great?”), Brutus’s caution is marked by frequent caesurae that break the forward motion of his speeches (“That you do love me, I am nothing jealous;/What you would work me to, I have some aim.”)
Reading as Active Response
Finally, reading is actively integrated with the other elements of the English program. If, as Adler suggests, every encounter with a text is ideally a dynamic conversation with its author, then every text our students read becomes part of a larger dialogue with their classroom community. Whether students are debating the question of racism in Heart of Darkness, or teaching the first act of Waiting for Godot to their peers, they are compelled to become active caretakers of the text, to explore its implications, to take a stand on its meaning and significance, and to convey their interpretation to their teachers and fellow students.
There’s nothing particularly innovative or trendy about any of these approaches to reading (in fact, Adler’s article dates from the early ’40s). But graduates still return to campus eager to talk about their recent reading, librarian Sue Phillips reports that non-required books fly off the shelves before winter or summer vacation, and we often overhear the finer points of The Great Gatsby, or Beowulf, or the latest masterwork featuring Northwest teenage vampires, being debated in the student lounges—suggesting that at least at Catlin Gabel, the future of reading may not be so bleak after all.
Tony Stocks has been teaching English in Catlin Gabel’s Upper School since 1999. He is the proud father of Clarissa ’16 and Charlotte ’19 Speyer-Stocks.


The Unlimited World of Readers

Send by email

By Lark P. Palma, PhD, Head of School

From the Autumn 2010 Caller

When I hear teachers talk about the breakthroughs—the aha! moments—when a child makes the leap to linking the sound and letter of a word to its meaning, I am a bit envious. When I worked as a middle and upper school teacher, my job was to solidify and enhance what my students had learned, helping them become more sophisticated readers. What I learned about secondary reading is sound advice: spend almost as much time preparing the student for reading as for the reading itself. My work seeking the hooks on which to hang the reading, finding the deeper meanings and leading my students to discover those meanings for themselves, helped them become analytical readers who came to comprehend texts with depth and insight.
However great that was, I never had the opportunity to teach a young child to read. Despite all the methods, the science, and the research, the moment when a child recognizes a word and its meaning still seems magical to me. Recently I discovered a picture of my 5-year-old self in footie pajamas reading the comics. It brought back memories of figuring out from the illustrations what Brenda Starr or Prince Valiant was saying. Eventually, I could pair the repeated words with what I thought was going on. But although I don’t remember much about the moment I learned to read, I was fortunate that someone took an interest in me as a young reader and put wonderful books in my hands.
Dick and Jane, Tag, and Through the Garden Gate—the books we were all supposed to read—bored me beyond words. We lived on a tiny coastal island, and the library was the size of a small living room. But the unforgettable Miss Chastain was there, and she kept handing me books to read that she knew would spark my interest: The Five Little Peppers, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Secret Garden, Misty of Chincoteague, The Arabian Nights, Treasure Island, and many others. Her gesture implied “You will love this.” When no one else was there (which was often), she would let me read adult fiction. I gulped down great historical novels by Anya Seton and others, with their thrilling battles and momentous events. I felt like I was right there in the throes of the Puritan Revolution, the Great Plague, the building of cathedrals, and the Viking invasion of Britain. (The truly transformative books came later: the existentialists, Richard Brautigan, John Barth, Walker Percy, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, D. H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf.)
Just as I had passed my books on to my brothers, so did I dole out the special books to my cousins and friends. The tradition continues today through two more generations. If you have someone in your life who sets the table and joyously offers you a smorgasbord of books, you will partake with gusto and pleasure.
I am so proud to be part of a school whose teachers make the world of reading come alive for their students. They place the right books in their hands, just as Miss Chastain did for me. Our teachers understand how to reach readers of all types of learning styles, so that they too can take part in absorbing and thrilling experiences with just the turns of a few pages. This issue of the Caller is full of stories of the transformative acts of both reading and writing, another area that we teach extraordinarily well. Please enjoy these stories, and don’t hesitate to share a much-loved book with me.



Poems by Billy Collins in the US Library

Send by email

The marvelous Billy Collins is coming to Catlin Gabel's Upper School on Wednesday, November 17th.  If you would like a taste of his poetry before he arrives, here are a few resources for you. 

The Billy Collins Poetry Window in the US Library:  We've posted several of his poems on the window just inside the US Library entrance.  Stop by and browse for a brief introduction to his writing.

Check out a book:  There will be a good selection of titles in the library in a special book display beginning on November 1st.

Visit the Poetry Foundation's Billy Collins page to listen to audio recordings of his poems, and to read a brief biography. 

Enjoy the poetry!



Eerie Books & Films for the Dark Nights of October...

Send by email

As the leaves begin to turn and the nights grow chill, stop by the US Library to find some novels, short stories, and movies to suit your Halloween mood!  We have classic fiction by H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, a great assortment of Hitchcock and vampire DVDs, and plenty of mysteries.  If you're busy and don't have much time, check out a story collection to enjoy your chills in bite-sized bits.  Don't blame us if you have a little bit of trouble settling down to sleep...

Download ebooks and audiobooks this summer!

posted in
Send by email

Did you know that you can use your Multnomah or Washington County library card number to check out downloadable audio and ebooks?  Now you can read or listen to all sorts of literature on your smart phone, ipod, laptop, etc.  This is a service of the Oregon Digital Library Consortium. 

Here's the link:
Have a wonderful summer.


Summer Borrowing in the US Library Kicks Off on June 1st!

Send by email
you can check out books and magazines for the whole summer...

Summer Borrowing is your chance to check out books and magazines to enjoy all summer long.  All returning students and fac/staff may participate.  Beginning on Tuesday, June 1st, stop by to browse our big, big displays.  We'll be glad to help you find something of interest, or an armload of good reading.  This is YOUR chance to decide what you want to read. 

See you soon!  --Sue


==Historical Fiction==

Do you enjoy novels set in the past?  We have hundreds of good choices.  Whether you like stories from the Civil War era, ancient Egypt, India, or France during the Revolution, we've got something you will enjoy.  Ask Sue for help if you need it!

==Mysterious Mathematics==

If you need a little bit of inspiration from the big names in mathematics, or you love to solve difficult problems, browse these wonderful titles.


Prime Numbers:  The Most Mysterious Figures in Math--D. Wells

A look at the math and mystique of prime numbers bringing to life the strange attraction of primes, from their current use in codes and cryptography to the Fermat and Fibonacci numbers, Goldbach's Conjecture, the Mersenne primes, and the number mysticism of old Pythagoras; from prime records and mathematicians' ingenious efforts to find primes (including a 2002 breakthrough algorithm), all the way to the unproven Riemann Hypothesis and the extraordinary zeta function.


Knotted Doughnuts and other mathematical entertainments--M. Gardner

Do you like Scientific American?  This book is a collection of Martin Gardner's Scientific American columns including mathematical games, problems, paradoxes, teasers, and tricks.

Rock, Paper, and Scissors:  Game Theory in Everyday Life--L. Fisher

Game theory reveals various aspects of social behavior, with an analysis of how social norms and peoples' sense of fair play can create cooperative--rather than competitive--solutions to problems, and shows how mathematics applies to daily dilemmas.


The Jasons:  The Secret History of Sciences' Postwar Elite--A. Finkbeiner

Reveals how a highly secretive team of scientists known as Jason have been working since 1960 to solve highly classified problems for the American government. 


The Math Book:  From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics--C. Pickover

If you want the big picture in short entries, check out this anthology of descriptions of 250 significant achievements in the history of mathematics, arranged chronologically from circa 150 million BC to 2007.  Now that's coverage!


A Beautiful Math:  John Nash, Game Theory, and the Modern Quest for a Code of Nature--T. Siegfried

This book examines Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash's game theory and the ways it has shaped evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and quantum physics, linking the three sciences in a way that could lead to a science of human social behavior, or "Code of Nature."

  The Millennium Problems:  The Seven Greatest Unsolved Mathematical Puzzles of our Time--K. Devlin

Solving one of these problems is the hard way to obtain $1,000,000.00, but you could try!  The book tells the stories behind seven extraordinarily difficult mathematical problems, the solutions for which the Clay Foundation of Cambridge, Massachusetts is offering one million dollars each, and discusses what they mean for the future of math and science.


==Rebels, Pirates, and Gangsters==

Under the Black Flag:  The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates--D. Cordingly

Johnny Depp didn't really give us the whole story.  This book takes a closer look at the real lives of historical pirates.  

Gang Leader for a Day--S. Venkatesh

The author, when a first year graduate student in Sociology,  managed to work his way into one of Chicago's must brutal crack-dealing gangs.  This is the story of learning about gang life from the inside. 


The Motorcycle Diaries--C. Guevara

Guevara's book documents his 1952 motorcycle road trip from Buenos Aires through South America.  This is the Che before he became a famous Cuban revolutionary.


American Mafia:  A History of its Rise to Power--T. Reppetto

A fascinating account of the rise of the American Mafia from the 1880s to the 1950s, discussing the political, governmental, bureaucratic, economic, and social conditions that facilitated the success of the crime syndicate.

On the Road--J. Kerouac

A fiftieth anniversary edition of Jack Kerouac's thinly fictionalized autobiography chronicling his cross-country adventure across North America on a quest for self-knowledge as experienced by his alter-ego, Sal Paradise and Sal's friend Dean Moriarty--Kerouac's real life friend Neal Cassady.


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest--K. Kesey

Quite famously made into a film, this story is a classic.  Here's the official description:  The tale is chronicled by the seemingly mute Indian patient, Chief Bromden; its hero Randle Patrick McMurphy, the boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who encourages gambling, drinking,and sex in the ward, and rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorial role of Big Nurse. McMurphy's defiance which begins as a sport-develops into a grim struggle with the awesome power of the "Combine", concluding with shattering, tragic results. In its unforgettable portrait of a man teaching the value of self-reliance and laughter destroyed by forces of hatred and fear.


==Graphic Novels & Nonfiction==

The Complete Persepolis--M. Satrapi

The author shares the story of her life in Tehran, Iran, where she lived from ages six to fourteen while the country came under control of the Islamic regime.

Watchmen--Alan Moore

This is an Alan Moore classic, which Time magazine called "a masterpiece."  Two generations of superheroes, including Dr. Manhattan, who deals with the responsibility of his powers, and Nite Owl, who wrestles with letting go of the past, dissect their collective histories while trying to determine who is methodically killing them all off.


The Photographer--Guibert, Lefevre and Lemercier

This amazing books documents a visit into Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders.  If you are interested in current events, graphic novel-style storytelling, and or medicine, check it out.




Pat Walsh Reads Poems by Richard Brautigan

posted in
Send by email

Yes, indeed, your teachers love poetry.  As one in our occasional series of poetry readings, here's an audio recording of Pat Walsh, US History teacher, who reads a selection of short poems by Richard Brautigan. Brautigan (1935-1984) is one of those quirky voices who had one foot in the Beat poets' movement, and one foot in 60's counterculture.  He wrote a number of novels and books of poetry, and came to the attention of Kurt Vonnegut in the late 1960s, who helped him find a national audience of readers.

If you enjoy them, stop by, and pick up a copy of his work.  We have Trout Fishing in America, as well as a collection of poems that may interest you.  



You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.

April is National Poetry Month

Send by email

The Upper School Library and Pegasus are jointly celebrating National Poetry Month. 

(Swans on St. Stephen's Green, Ireland.  Photo by Sue)

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

--excerpt from "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats (1795-1821)

Come see the transformation of the windows as students write their favorite poems on the glass. Pick up a volume of poetry from one of our book displays, and revel in the beauty of poetry. 


What to Read During Winterim & Spring Break

Send by email


We’ve got some great new titles…

At last!  You’ve got some free time, and we’ve got some great new titles as well as some old friends.  Here’s an overview of just a few of the new arrivals:

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
If you followed the Obama/McCain election with interest, you’ll love this zippy read.  Described by a reporter for the Associated Press as “the hottest book in the country,” ( Change will make the members of the History department giddy with excitement.  The book is based on numerous interviews with the political teams and candidates, with some dialogue invented to help get inside the heads of the participants.  It’s a book that falls somewhere between fact and fiction, and it’ll feed your curiosity.

Food Rules, by Michael Pollan
At last, a wise, commonsense little book by a well-respected writer about food. Pollan's advice is at times hilarious: "It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car."  Another chapter quips, "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."  This is a quick, bracing little book.  

Secrets of Eden, by Chris Bohjalian
Do you relish a good murder mystery?  According to a reviewer for Booklist, Bohjalian "drops bombshell clues...and weaves subtle nuances of doubt and intrigue into a taut, read-in-one-sitting murder mystery." ( )

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld
Into Steampunk lit?  School Library Journal writes,"This is World War I as never seen before. The story begins the same: on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated, triggering a sequence of alliances that plunges the world into war. But that is where the similarity ends. This global conflict is between the Clankers, who put their faith in machines, and the Darwinists, whose technology is based on the development of new species. After the assassination of his parents, Prince Aleksandar's people turn on him. Accompanied by a small group of loyal servants, the young Clanker flees Austria in a Cyklop Stormwalker, a war machine that walks on two legs. Meanwhile, as Deryn Sharp trains to be an airman with the British Air Service, she prays that no one will discover that she is a girl. She serves on the Leviathan, a massive biological airship that resembles an enormous flying whale and functions as a self-contained ecosystem. When it crashes in Switzerland, the two teens cross paths, and suddenly the line between enemy and ally is no longer clearly defined. The ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel, and that's a good thing because readers will be begging for more. Enhanced by Thompson's intricate black-and-white illustrations, Westerfeld's brilliantly constructed imaginary world will capture readers from the first page. Full of nonstop action, this steampunk adventure is sure to become a classic." ( ).

Cheever, by Blake Bailey
This new biography is receiving enthusiastic reviews from a wide range of critics.  John Updike writes for the New Yorker, "A triumph of thorough research and unblinkered appraisal."  Publishers Weekly exclaims that "This Ovid in Ossining, who published 121 stories in the New Yorker as well as several bestselling novels, has probably yet to find a definitive position in American letters among academicians. This thoroughly researched and heartfelt biography may help redress that situation." (

Get Me Out!  A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank,by Randi Hutter Epstein
The cover will make you laugh, but the contents will give you the shivers.  Health care and obstetrics have come a very long way over the centuries.  Kirkus Reviews describes the book as “[A] sharp, sassy history of childbirth…. The author’s engaging sarcasm, evident even in a caption of an illustration of an absurd obstetric contraption—’Nineteenth-century Italian do-it-yourself forceps. The fad never took off’—lends this chronicle a welcome punch and vitality often absent from medical histories. Roll over, Dr. Lamaze, and make room for Epstein’s eyebrow-raising history.”  (



Stop by, and we'll help you find something to enjoy over the break.  --Sue

New Photo Exhibit in US Library

posted in
Send by email

 Handsome Pet Portraits, People, and Places…

A sampling of the pet portraits from Lauries' Photography class.

Laurie Carlyon-Ward’s photography class has posted a few dozen photographs on the bulletin boards in the US Library.  Just inside the foyer you’ll find some marvelous pet portraits.  On the bulletin board near the elevators, and behind the reference desk you’ll find lots more gorgeous photos of people and things.  Stop by and take a look at this beautiful work!