The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



Want Something To Read? Look At these Expert reader choices


  Whilst a great number of San Luis Obispo High School students are failing to make and effort to utilize their brains in the forming of reading this summer, there is yet a handful of students and staff whom are still looking forward to that quiet time with their noses in a book. Expressions set out to interview a few attentive SLOHS readers.

Expressions: What book(s) would you recommend for SLOHS students to read over the summer?

English teacher Sandra Delmartini: Because we all have our favorite authors, genres, and interests, it is difficult to recommend a particular book that everyone would enjoy; however, I think that a work that would appeal to many is “The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements” by Sam Kean because it provides entertaining stories tied to the periodic table.

English teacher Laurie Decker: This is a complex question when you are talking about over fourteen hundred students of many different ages, with substantially different interest levels, reading levels, etc. The other key factor we are dealing with in 2020, is that young adults are just not reading ‘for fun’ very often. (It is becoming exceedingly rare!) That being said, whenever I am asked this question, I turn it around and ask, “What are you interested in?” If you love music, pick up Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography “Born to Run.” If you love historical fiction, read “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris, or “Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan. If you love nonfiction self-help, read “The Dalai Lama’s Book of Wisdom”.  If you love classic literature pick up “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas. Fantasy fiction? How about “Witchmark” by C.L. Polk, or “The Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern. Summer reading, unless you are pounding out specific books to prepare for an AP exam or a summer class, should really be connected to what sparks your interest.

Senior Joshua Compton: I don’t have any direct recommendations. Anything that you are interested in. Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Sci Fi, Nonfiction, anything. Just try to pick up a book that connects to your interests and read it. 

Junior Alex Prodanov: I would recommend the “Renegade” series if you are interested in the genre fantasy, the “Beekeepers Apprentice” if you are interested in Sherlock Holmes and mysteries, and “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin if you are interested in reading classics or feminist novels.

Expressions: Do you have any books that you are planning on reading this summer?

Delmartini: Over the summer, I am hoping to re-read novels from some of my favorite mystery, conspiracy, and thriller authors: Agatha Christie, Michael Crichton, Steve Berry, and Dan Brown.

Decker: Along with all of the books mentioned above that are either currently laying all over my house, or downloaded to my surface, I read voraciously over the summer months- many times five or six books at a time. I’ll pick up mysteries, novels, biographies, and then pieces of classic literature to re-read if I haven’t visited them for a while. This summer I will spend some time with Shakespeare, rereading “The Comedy of Errors” and “The Winter’s Tale.” I have Amy Meyerson’s “The Bookshop of Yesterdays” waiting for me that a dear friend suggested, and Barbara Kingsolver’s “Unsheltered” because I love her writing. In the summer, I pick up books from favorite authors- it’s like spending time with old friends. Ruth Ware, John Sanford, Kate Atkinson, and David Baldacci are just a few examples.

Compton: I am planning on going back through my Jules Verne collection, both rereading books and finding new ones.

Prodanov: I plan on reading “The Way of Kings;” a novel a friend recommended.

Expressions: How do you discover new books?

Delmartini: Friends and colleagues recommend books to me, and I also enjoy going to bookstores to discover books to read.

Decker: Lovers of literature and reading are always scouring sites online and even in magazines/newspapers for new recommendations about books. I will check in with the New York Times bestseller list quite consistently to see what’s ‘hot,’ but I will also look online for what other readers and authors are picking up. Book recommendations tend to catch fire online sometimes, but those do not always fit my personal choices. Most importantly, I get the best recommendations from fellow readers that are in my life. My mom is insistent that I read “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, (also a series on HULU), and my sister (who only reads nonfiction)  just sent me Elton John’s autobiography titled “Me.”

Compton: I get a lot of book ideas from my friends and also just through exploring the public library. Lots of trial and error. 

Prodanov: Typically, I discover new books by browsing the library and reading the summary/back of the book to see if I would be interested.

Expressions: What is your favorite book of all time?

Delmartini: I have a number of books that I am very fond of, but I could not choose just one as my favorite of all time. Many of my favorites are in the SLOHS English curriculum, so they have already been recommended to the students!

Decker: Nonfiction: “They Call Me Coach” by John Wooden. Fiction: “Where the Heart Is” by Billie Letts.

Compton: “Anna Karenina;” it is basically a Russian version of “Pride and Prejudice” with phenomenal character development and a great writing style. 

Prodanov: “Ruby Holler” was a book that I read in elementary school, but still love to this day. Along with the “Six of Crows” series that I read this year and I absolutely love it.

Expressions: In your opinion, what is the most important reason for continuing to read books, even during the summer?

Delmartini: Since reading provides so many mental, emotional, and psychological benefits to our lives, I can’t choose just one factor as the most important reason to continue reading. I can say, however, that reading serves as an excellent way to relax and relieve stress, which is so important during these challenging times that we are now experiencing.

Decker: Although many would argue that reading recreationally is a lost art, I was raised by a family of educators that believed in reading. For me, it was easy [to read during the summer] because everyone around me was reading all the time. That is not the case for everyone- sometimes having the courage to be ‘different’ than your friends or family and picking up a book for fun is half the battle! Reading on your own, even during the summer when it’s easy to turn your brain off entirely, is something that can open your mind to new thoughts or ideas, it can be an escape, it can give you a broader world-view, and it can sometimes even motivate you. I was reading an article yesterday about the insomnia connected for millions of people due to our quarantine/shelter-in-place current reality, and it actually mentioned that reading a book and giving your eyes and brain a break from a screen can increase the quality of your sleep. The most important reason I continue to see for reading books is that it’s something to potentially enrich your life- and it’s as simple as opening that first page.

Compton: I believe that reading is an activity that practically unconsciously stimulates the brain and the imagination. It allows you to take time for yourself to expand you mind and your knowledge in a stress free and enjoyable way. 

Prodanov: Reading allows one to escape to an entirely different world with new perspectives and possibilities, which can make reading both enjoyable and relaxing.

  Make sure to pick up a book, or a bunch of books, this summer that sparks an interest in order to exercise your brain for the upcoming school year.

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