bds bl column books 12.18.20
Brendan Largay, Head of School

Turning the Page: A Challenging Year and a Stack of Unread Books

Happy Holidays everyone!

I am so pleased to send you off into winter break with the knowledge that together, we have successfully and safely navigated these unique and challenging times and made it to the cusp of 2021. Of course, that is a testament to you, your belief in our school, our excellent faculty’s commitment, and our students’ resiliency. Thank you for everything you have done to help get us here.

As we look to the new year, there are many things I am left to reflect on and reckon with, among them, the mounting pile of books on my bedside table. As some of you know, I begin each summer with the goal of reading a book a week. This summer, not surprisingly, I only managed to finish three books. I learned from a good friend and fellow BDS parent that the pile has a name—tsundoku—a Japanese expression for the unread books that one acquires over time. I am taking this moment to share my tsundoku with you, hoping that something on the list might be appealing to you to enjoy during winter break.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

It feels appropriate to start this list with a YA lit sequel. The dystopian fantasy follow up to Children of the Blood and Bone is one that I’ve been eager to read since I finished the original, and with three teenaged readers in my house, I’d better get to it before one of my kids borrows it from my stack!

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

I have powerful feelings about Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. For a time, I believed it to be the most important American novel ever written. Today, I believe it prompts one of the most critical literary debates in middle school English classrooms across the country. Furious Hours is a documentary-style novel about Lee’s passion for true crime drama and her ability to write about it—a little known fact is that she was Truman Capote’s writing partner and primary editor of In Cold Blood. Casey Cep manages to preserve the beautifully sluggish southern pace that Lee mastered as an author.

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Almost every book on this list, I am realizing, came my way as a recommendation or gift, and Coyle’s Culture Code is no different. Culture Code is about organizational leadership, effective teamwork, and how to build an effective team culture in your organization. I feel like I’ve got a leg up on the competition, given how excellent the team already is here at BDS!

The Searcher by Tana French

Mystery/suspense is my favorite fiction genre, and that is due almost singularly to the writing of Tana French. Few authors can put you on a dimly-lit street corner in the driving rain quite the way she can. The Searcher is her latest, and I cannot wait to be transported again.

Rebel Talent by Francesca Gino

This book is not here because the author is a BDS parent (although it’s pretty cool all the same). No, Rebel Talent is a roadmap for leaders to excel and drive innovative and powerful change in the evolving and demanding organizational leadership landscape. My author-inscribed copy asks a simple question: ‘Brendan,’ it reads, ‘ready to break some rules?’ My answer: I can’t wait.

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

A gift from a colleague, this novel by the author of The Color of Water and The Good Lord Bird provides a critical reminder: nothing beats excellent writing and a story well told. I’m glad for some fiction on this list. This story of the deacon responsible for ridding his Brooklyn neighborhood of a drug dealer in the late 60s is sure to have the trademark lyricism, wit, and incisiveness that McBride typically delivers.

Edison by Edmund Morris

This one has been on my shelf since the pandemic began. This biography waits for me—challenges me?—to immerse myself in the life of one of the country’s greatest innovators and the circumstances that led to the invention of some of today’s most taken-for-granted conveniences. Sure, everyone knows about the light bulb, but what do you know of Edison’s 1,093 other patented inventions? And do you know that he was nearly deaf as he invented them?

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Subtitled, “A Novel of the Plague,” O’Farrell’s novel sits at the crossroads of many of my interests and influences—Shakespeare and a pandemic to name the two most significant for this review—that it may be first in my reading queue this winter. The novel is set in England in Shakespeare’s time (1580) and titled after Shakespeare’s only son, who died in 1586. Shakespeare would write Hamlet, arguably his most famous play, four years after Hamnet’s death. O’Farrell takes the reader back to those streets, to that time, and showcases a mother’s love and the power of language all during a pandemic.

Over the next months, there are many more books that I will undoubtedly add to my tsundoku stack. Indeed there are no fewer than four more published authors in our parent community whose latest publications will be right at the top of the stack come summertime.

My wish for you and your family is that you will find comfort, joy, and peace this winter season in abundance. Thank you for your faith and support of our effort to deliver a meaningful and excellent education to your children. The effort has been a partnership all the way, and we could not ask for better partners than you.

We look forward to seeing you back on campus in the new year. Have a wonderful break.

Giving Thanks

On Tuesday, we will gather for our annual Thanksgiving assembly—an opportunity to express gratitude as a community.

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