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 The ALIENIST by Caleb Carr

 A police reporter & a psychologist (alienist) specializing in abnormal psychology & the new science of criminal profiling, team up to catch a serial killer on the loose in 1890’s New York.  Recruited by New York's police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, the investigators are opposed at every step by crime bosses & the city's hidden rulers (including J. P. Morgan) who distrust the alienist's novel methods & would rather conceal evidence of the murders than create publicity. Tension builds as the detectives race to find & stop the killer.

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Herren's achievements on the court in Fall River, Massachusetts made him a local hero as well as bringing him to the attention of national recruiters & Sports Illustrated. Overwhelmed by expectations, Herren avoided school & abused drugs & alcohol. Although Herren managed to make it to the NBA, his life continued to spin out of control until he OD'd in his car & was found unconscious with a bag of heroin on the seat beside him. Read how he got his life back & became the inspirational figure we all saw this year at WHS.

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BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy

An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.                                                                     

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BUNKER HILL by Nathaniel Philbrick

The story of the Boston battle that ignited the American Revolution.

In June 1775 with the city cut off from supplies by a British blockade and Patriot militia poised in siege, skirmishes give way to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill. It would be the bloodiest battle of the Revolution to come, and the point of no return for the rebellious colonists.

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The powerful role of social networks obeys the Three Degrees of Influence Rule, meaning that our behaviors have impact on our friends, our friends' friends, & our friends' friends' friends. This amazing fact can be applied to human experience as diverse as happiness, loneliness & other emotions, political views, sex, & even health.                          

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Hattie Owen enjoys peaceful summer times working at her parents' boardinghouse, & drinking lemonade on the porch after supper. Yet this year, it's different -- Hattie's uncle Adam is coming home. Adam is a 21-year-old man with a child's mind, having a knack for talking quickly, a savant-like ability for remembering weekdays, & a passion for I Love Lucy. Hattie & Adam wind up spending precious time together—he declares that she's "one of the people who can lift the corners of our universe." But when Hattie takes Adam on the Ferris wheel one night, it sets off dramatic events that lead Hattie's family to strengthen its bonds & changes her life's outlook forever.                                                                          

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CROSSED by Ally Condie

The sequel to Matched. Rules are different outside the Society. Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life & the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.

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A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by George R. R. Martin

In the fifth book of Martin's Song of Ice & Fire Series (Game of Thrones) we find the characters in the aftermath of a colossal battle, with the future of the Seven Kingdoms hanging in the balance once again. Bitter conflicts will reignite, intimate betrayals will be perpetrated, & a grand cast of outlaws & priests, soldiers & skinchangers, nobles & slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness, but in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny & politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all . . .

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Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money. That's a mistake, says Daniel Pink. In this provocative & persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance & satisfaction-at work, at school, & at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn & create new things, & to do better by ourselves and our world. Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows & what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life.           

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ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14  by Blaine Harden

North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags & twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born & raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk. Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment & his astounding getaway. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance & courage, survival & hope.         

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FORTUNATE AGE by Joanna Smith Rakoff

Six characters in search of themselves move to New York City after graduating from Oberlin in 1994. Along the way their ambitions and friendships threaten to unravel as they chase their dreams, shed their youth, and build their lives in Brooklyn during the late 1990s. Set against the backdrop of the vast economic and political changes of the era -- from the decadent age of dot-com millionaires to the sobering post-September 2001 landscape.

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GONE GIRL. By Gillian Flynn.

On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick's wife Amy disappears. There are signs of struggle in the house & Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect. It doesn't help that Nick hasn't been completely honest with the police &, as Amy's case drags out for weeks, more & more vilifying evidence appears against him. Nick, however, maintains his innocence. Told from alternating points of view between Nick & Amy, Gillian Flynn creates an untrustworthy world that changes chapter-to-chapter. Calling Gone Girl a psychological thriller is an understatement.

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INFERNO by Dan Brown

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring & mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.
Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary & grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, & futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.    

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INTO THE WILD by Jon Krakauer

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car & most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, & invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

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by Patricia Campbell

Global Proficiency Certification Book Choice- (Also open to anyone interested in joining us for discussing issues around globalization)

This may not look like the casual summer read but it will provide a great introduction to our discussion of globalization & will be a reference for our reflections. We will develop a common vocabulary for discussing global issues with more depth & will blog about the book as we read and discuss it.

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by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, & finally, a comedy writer & actress. Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!                               

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 KON-TIKI by Thor Heyderdahl

"Kon Tiki" is one of the great adventure stories of all time. In 1947, six young Norwegians floated in a balsa-wood raft from Peru to the Polynesian islands of the South Seas. The trip took them 101 days and they traveled 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific without seeing a single other boat or ship. The journey was inspired by the theories of Thor Heyerdahl who speculated that the ancient civilizations of Peru had floated across the Pacific to reach the Polynesian islands. Scoffed at by scientists, Heyerdahl organized the expedition to prove that a raft crossing of the Pacific was possible. What was considered a foolhardy stunt makes for an exciting read.       

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Written before the moon landing, The Martian Chronicles is a collection of loosely connected short stories that detail the colonization of Mars by humans and the problems they face in an unknown world far from everything they know.  Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury (Farenheit 451) alternates from desolate to desperate, cynical to hopeful, funny to disturbing in his portrayal of humanity in a new world.

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Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Kenzie & Gennaro risked everything to find the young girl—only to return her to a neglectful mother & a broken home.  Now Amanda is sixteen and gone again. Kenzie & Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most. As they face an evil that goes beyond broken families & broken dreams, they discover that the sins of yesterday don't always stay buried & the crimes of today could end their lives. (By the Boston author of Gone Baby, Gone, & Mystic River)                                   

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Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier. The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts." Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction. De Quincey is aided by his daughter Emily, & a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star & a murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.        

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by A.M. Leroi

Moving effortlessly from classical myth to cutting-edge science, 'Mutants' gives a brilliant narrative account of our genetic code and the captivating people whose bodies have revealed it—a French convent girl who found herself changing sex at puberty or children who, echoing Homer’s Cyclops, are born with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads.  This humane and engaging book, while discussing genetic abnormalities, truly captures what it is that makes us human.  Recommended for juniors & seniors                           

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NAME OF THE WIND (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1)

by Patrick Rothfuss

This is the riveting first-person narrative of Kvothe, a young man who grows to be one of the most notorious magicians his world has ever seen. From his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that transports readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

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NIGHT WATCH (Discworld) By Terry Pratchett

One moment, Sir Sam Vimes is in his old patrolman form, chasing a sweet-talking psychopath across the rooftops of Ankh-Morpork. The next, he's lying naked in the street, having been sent back thirty years courtesy of a group of time-manipulating monks who won't leave well enough alone. This Discworld is a darker place that Vimes remembers too well, three decades before his title, fortune, beloved wife, & impending first child. Sam Vimes knows his duty, & by changing history he might just save some worthwhile necks—though it could cost him his own personal future.          

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OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA by Michael Pollan

Today, America is suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder. Will it be fast food tonight, or something organic? Or perhaps something we grew ourselves? The question of what to have for dinner has confronted us since man discovered fire. But as Michael Pollan explains in this revolutionary book, how we answer it now, as the dawn of the twenty-first century, may determine our survival as a species. Packed with profound surprises, The Omnivore's Dilemma is changing the way Americans thinks about the politics, perils, & pleasures of eating.              

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by Howard Zinn

Historian Howard Zinn & cartoonist Mike Konopacki have collaborated to retell, in vibrant comics form, the centuries-long story of America’s actions in the world. Narrated by Zinn, this version opens with the events of 9/11 & then jumps back to explore the cycles of U.S. expansionism from Wounded Knee to Iraq, stopping along the way at World War I, Central America, Vietnam, & the Iranian revolution. A People’s History of American Empire presents the classic ground-level history of America in a dazzling new form.    

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PROOF OF HEAVEN, by Eben Alexander

Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. Then, Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. For seven days he lay in a coma. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world & encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, & spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself. This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. Reading it will change your life.               

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ROOM by Emma Donoghue

Shockingly similar to the Cleveland kidnapping case now in the news, Room is a novel told from the point of view of Jack the 5-year old son of his mother's captor.

To Jack, ‘Room’ is the world, it's where he was born, it's where he & his Ma eat & sleep & play & learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. To Ma, ‘Room’ is the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her love for her son, she has created a life for him here. Now with Jack's curiosity building, along with her own increasing desperation, she knows that ‘Room’ cannot contain either much longer.                                                   

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SERAPHINA By Rachel Hartman

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans & dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, & lend their rational minds to universities as scholars. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, tensions are high. Seraphina has reason to fear both sides. A gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered & finds herself drawn into the investigation. While she begins to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, she struggles to protect her own secret, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.          

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In this extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain, and renewal with the most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years. Meet Dolores Price. She's 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Stranded in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, & Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally orbits into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she's determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before she really goes under.      

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The SUN ALSO RISES By Ernest Hemingway


Jake Barnes, Hemingway's narrator with a mysterious war wound is the heart and soul of the book. Brett, the beautiful, doomed English woman he adores, provides the glamour of natural chic and unattainability. Set shortly after World War I, weary of drinking and dancing in Paris cafés, the expatriate gang decamps for the Spanish town of Pamplona for the "wonderful nightmare" of a week-long fiesta. This is a classic that lives up to its reputation.                           

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What is it about music, from Mozart to Eminem, that makes it such a big part of almost every human society's daily life?  Levitin connects the elements of music - pitch, rhythm, tempo, melody and harmony - to our brain using the latest theories of neuroscience.  After reading this, see if you agree with him that our brains are ""hard-wired"" for music, and it's even more fundamental to humans than language.

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THIS SIDE OF PARADISE by Scott Fitzgerald

Definitive novel of the "Lost Generation" after World War I, focuses on the coming of age of Amory Blaine, a handsome, wealthy Princeton student. He exemplifies the young men & women of the 20’s who grew up to find "all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken”. This is the classic story of a young man's painful romantic & intellectual awakening that echoes Fitzgerald's own life.

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THE WAVE (The classroom experiment that went too far) by Todd Strasser

Based on a true incident that happened in a high school in 1969. While studying the powerful forces of group pressure that fueled many historic movements such as Nazism, history teacher Burt Ross introduces a "new" system to his students. And before long "The Wave," with its rules of "strength through discipline, community, and action, " sweeps from the classroom through the entire school. As most of the students join the movement, the frightening momentum of The Wave must be stopped before it’s too late.                                          

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WHAT THE DOG SAW By Malcolm Gladwell

What is the difference between choking and panicking? Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard-but only one variety of ketchup? What do football players teach us about how to hire teachers? What does hair dye tell us about the history of the 20th century? What the Dog Saw is yet another example of the buoyant spirit and unflagging curiosity that have made Malcolm Gladwell our most brilliant investigator of the hidden and the extraordinary.

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