Alpha Readers Book Club

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Alpha Readers, 2016 - 2017
By Lucas Costa, Alpha Readers President 

In its twelfth year of operation, the Alpha Readers Book Club remains one of R-MA’s best-kept secrets. We hold no grand ceremonies, nor do we boast a large membership. We do however, expand upon the already sterling curriculum of the English department. Since the beginning of the 2016 academic school year we have read and discussed two novels, the classic sci-fi thriller by Jack Finney, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the Western classic True Grit by Charles Portis. 

Those two masterpieces have stimulated conversation among the best literary minds the English department chair, Mr. Robert Davies, could find. The extensive library that Mr. Davies has read and shares with this exclusive club enriches all of our minds. The books we’ve read just this year bring the fresh perspectives of an independent young girl in a man’s Western world and the paranoid imagination which created Body Snatchers.  Both books have been made into classic films twice. Our group of scholars, which includes about twenty students and English and math teachers, will reconvene over great food and even better literature for years to come as one of the most rewarding extracurricular activities R-MA has to offer.

Alpha Readers Reading Selections 

Note: The Common Reader is a selection made each spring, and students, faculty, and staff throughout the community are encouraged to take part in reading it over the summer. In the fall, those who read the book are invited to gather and discuss their thoughts about it.

While the Common Reader is a community-wide event, the Alpha Readers are encouraged to challenge themselves even more and add another book to their summer reading each year, as noted by "Summer:" in the list below. 

Selections, 2006-2007
Candide by Voltaire 
First Love by Ivan Turgenev
The Final Solution by Michael Chabon
Ali and Nino by Kurban Said
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse

The Common Reader:  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Selections, 2007-2008

Summer: The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan
No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen

The Common Reader:  Man's Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl

Selections, 2008-2009

Summer: Old School by Tobias Wolff

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders
The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
The Clockwork Teddy by John J. Lamb
Firmin: The Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage

The Common Reader:  Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Selections, 2009-2010

Summer: A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park

Cane by Jean Toomer
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, New York Review Books edition
The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor
Meet Mr. Mulliner by P. G. Wodehouse
Amusing the Million by John F. Kasson
The Things They Carried by Tim O' Brien

The Common Reader:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Selections, 2010-2011

Summer: The Rector of Justin by Louis Auchincloss

My Dog Tulip by J. R. Ackerley
Harpo Speaks about New York by Harpo Marx
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
Obscure Destinies by Willa Cather

The Common Reader:  Alone Together:  Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle 

Selections, 2011-2012

Summer:  Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

The Most of P. G. Wodehouse
Old School
by Tobias Wolff  (2011 NEHS Big Read)
Film Night:  Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
A Time of Gifts
by Patrick Leigh Fermor

The Common Reader:  Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Selections, 2012-2013

Summer: The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
“The Stage-coach” from Old Christmas by Washington Irving
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Movie Night:  The Day of the Triffids (John Wyndham)

The Common Reader:  The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

Selections, 2013-2014

Summer:  Ludlow by David Mason

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" by Sir A. Conan Doyle
Leave It to Psmith by Sir P. G. Wodehouse
West with the Night by Beryl Markham

The Common Reader:  What Money Can't Buy by Michael Sandel

Selections, 2014-2015
Summer:  The Slype by Russell Thorndike

Film Night:  Frankenstein, 1931
Boy by Roald Dahl (+film)
Imperium:  A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris
Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara

The Common Reader:  Justice:  What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Dr. Michael Sandel

Selections, 2015-2016

Summer:  The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

Common Reader:  The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

Selections, 2016-2017

Summer:  Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

True Grit by Charles Portis
We Are All Completely beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Common Reader:  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown