Our Favorite Books of 2020

Our Favorite Books of 2020

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We recently asked Chewonki faculty and staff to share their favorite books from the past year. Here’s our collective recommended reading list for 2020: 

Winter Solstice
Author: Rosamunde Pilcher
Suggested by: Sue Andersen
Registered Nurse
Why I love this book:
It’s inter-generational and it’s in Scotland at Christmas.
Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Suggested by: Jen Adams and Nancy Bannon
Director of Outdoor Programs and Registered Nurse
Why I love this book:
Natural History, love, murder, and southern grits!
Decolonizing Wealth
Author: Edgar Villanueva
Suggested by: Kate Braemer 
Major Gifts Officer
Why I love this book:
Helped me reframe my thinking around philanthropy and how we can move towards reciprocity and relationship building.
Notes on a Silencing
Author: Lacy Crawford
Suggested by: Anne Schlitt
Executive Assistant and Technology Integration Administrator
Why I love this book:
This brutally honest (and evocatively written) true story of one woman’s experience of sexual assault at an independent school in New Hampshire (and the subsequent multi-year cover-up) is a scathing indictment of entitled male power and the emotional damage it inflicted.
The Constant Rabbit
Author: Jasper Fforde
Suggested by: Jayme Berge
Human Resources Assistant
Why I love this book:
“This book is a beautiful display of Fforde’s style of weaving satire into an absurd reality. “
Disappearing Earth
Author: Julia Philips
Suggested by: Emily Bell-Hoerth
Girls Camp Director
Why I love this book:
A gorgeous and engaging portrait of the Kamchatka Peninsula and the people who live there, that had me turning pages late into the night!
Overstory
Author: Richard Powers
Suggested by: Erin Miller and Rachel Bouttenot
Database Administrator and Semester and Elementary Middle School Math Teacher
Why I love this book:
Erin: “This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a really wonderful and unique novel that tells the interconnected stories of eight people, including their backstory of generations of their families, all told through their connection with the world of trees.”
Rachel: “A beautiful novel about the interplay between trees, humans, and the environment that I have continued to think for months.”
Lost Children Archive
Author: Valeria Luiselli
Suggested by: Hannah Ryde
Semester Teaching Fellow
Why I love this book:
It explores sound, memory, and photography in a fascinating way as it chronicles a family road trip across the United States.
Fifty Words for Rain
Author: Asha Lemmie
Suggested by: Sheryl Stearns
Director of Enrollment & Financial Aid
Why I love this book:
Such a beautifully riveting book about family, loss, discrimination, and resilience against the fascinating backdrop of post-WWII Japan.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
Author: Jenny Odell
Suggested by: Greta Righter
Elementary and Middle School Collaborative Teacher
Why I love this book:
While the title may make it may sound like a self-help book on how to be mindful, it isn’t that. The chapters of this book read more like a conversation about how we (humans) exist in a digital world that constantly clamors for our attention, and how it impacts our ability and stamina for truly paying attention to the physical world around us.
The Daevabad Trilogy
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Suggested by: Izzy Janzen
Waypoint Coordinator
Why I love this book:
Escape to a fantasy world with strong female protagonists!
I Capture the Castle
Author: Dodie Smith
Suggested by: Emily Norris
Admission Counselor
Why I love this book:
I love seeing the main character come into her own as both a young woman and a writer.
The Fifth Season
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Suggested by: Charlie Fear
Director of Boys Camp
Why I love this book:
I love science fiction. Jemisin explores her world and its inhabitants through political, social, geological, and environmental lenses. I’m reading book 2 as I write this.”
Piranesi
Author: Susanna Clarke
Suggested by: Alexis Grillo
Alumni and Friends Coordinator
Why I love this book:
It takes you into another world and supplants your expectations with something better.
The Splendid and the Vile
Author: Erik Larson
Suggested by: Margy Foulk
Development Research Officer
Why I love this book:
As the inside book cover describes, this is a ‘book that takes readers out of today’s political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership.
Think Like a Monk
Author: Jay Shetty
Suggested by: Lora Laffan
Registered Nurse
Why I love this book:
“Jay has an easy-to-absorb way of presenting information and making it relatable to our everyday lives. You don’t need to be a monk for it to help!”
Caste
Author: Isabel Wilkerson
Suggested by: Izzy Ruffin
Farmer/Educator
Why I love this book:
An incredible and beautifully written book that deep dives into the history of racial inequity in America and its close ties to Caste systems across the globe. Both revealing & heart-breaking, motivating & undeniable, Isabel Wilkerson provides a chance for us all to learn more about race in America. A must-read.
The Yellow House
Author: Patricia Falvey
Suggested by: Susan Feibelman
Vice President for Schools and Health Services
Why I love this book:
“I read SAY NOTHING (Patrick Radden Keefe) this fall and have been interested in learning more about The Troubles. This book offers a fictionalized account of early 20th C. Catholic and Protestant strife in Ulster.”
Air Mail: Letters of Politics, Pandemics, and Place
Author: Pam Houston and Amy Irvine
Suggested by: Sarah Rebick
Semester English Teacher
Why I love this book:
I love that these two women, whose voices I have admired, didn’t know each other before they began corresponding last spring, and yet they share their passion for their homes, for words, for justice, for the wild with each other and with their readers in an intimate way through this little book.