Book Recommendations From the Pinewood English Department

Aretha Liu, Arts & Culture Writer

Reading is a foundational tool that can be used to expand your knowledge and improve your writing skills. Not sure what book to read? Pinewood’s English department can help you find the next page-turner to add to your reading list. So whether you’re an experienced bookworm or just finding your next Silent Sustained Reading book, Pinewood’s English department has got you covered.


“The Risk Pool”

“The Risk Pool” is a coming-of-age story recommended by literature and AP Language & Composition teacher David Wells. Written by renowned author Richard Russo, “The Risk Pool” tells a compelling story about a teenage boy called Ned Hall. Set in Mohawk, New York and born to a gambling-addicted and alcoholic father who leaves Ned and his mother early on, Ned has had to grow up without his father’s presence. Ned is eventually forced to confront his feelings of anger and resentment toward him in his adult years, when his estranged father barges back into his life. Through refreshingly 3-dimensional characters, “The Risk Pool” grapples with complicated relationships and themes of family, one’s past, and identity.



“Ishmael” is a philosophical book recommended by literature and writing teacher Kelly Spicer. Written by author David Quinn, “Ishmael” tells the story of a man who searches for answers to life’s big questions. Ishmael, an intelligent gorilla, becomes his mentor and teacher. Through their conversations, Ishmael challenges the man’s views on human history, culture and society, helping him see in a new light. This novel handles themes of environmentalism, morality and human history, inspiring readers to rethink their own assumptions.


“Marathon Woman”

“Marathon Woman” is an autobiography recommended by English teacher and journalism advisor Kim Wetzel. Written by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon in 1967, it tells her experience as a female athlete. Even though the Boston Marathon was a race that had only been open for men at the time, Switzer still managed to persist through. Despite several attempts to remove her from the race, Switzer was able to finish and became a vocal advocate for women’s participation in sports. The book covers her journey from a young girl with a passion for running, to an accomplished athlete advocating for women’s sports. 


“Lost & Found”

“Lost & Found” is a memoir recommended by literature teacher Ellie Pojarska. Written by Kathryn Schulz, the novel follows Schulz as she loses her father while meeting her future wife. In this memoir, Schulz explores the emotional impact of losing and finding items that hold sentimental value. She describes her own experiences as well as how these experiences have shaped her own views and understandings on loss and recovery. Through her encounters, Schulz finds that losing and finding can help fuel growth and resilience when faced with life’s many uncertainties.