Ashley Hawkins

The Falconer spoke with nine staff members to figure out their favorite books from 2022.

A Year of Reading: A Look at Staff Best Reads From 2022

January 6, 2023

A new year brings about all sorts of new things — whether it be experiences, people, or book preferences. Here is a look at a few teachers’ favorite books from 2022.

Mr. Redford


Ashley Hawkins

Mr. Redford enjoys reading because “I just like to be transported into different places,” he said. “Whether it’s realistic or fantastical, I just get immersed in it.”

Math teacher Mr. Kieron Redford’s favorite read from 2022 is the novel “This is How you Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

The novel follows two characters named Red and Blue, who are time traveling agents working for opposing sides in a war-stricken time. Eventually an unlikely event occurs, which leads to the exchange of letters between the two characters, making this unique format one of the primary reasons Mr. Redford said he loves the book.

Not only does the story come to life through letters, but each author takes the perspective of Red and Blue in the letters. The unexpected friendship quickly blossoms into a romance where the once rivaling people fall in love.

“And during the course of the book, they learn to kind of empathize with each other, and it’s quite romantic,” Mr. Redford said.

The unique and captivating aspects of the letters are another reason the book stood out to him “It’s not like a letter written on paper or an email.” Mr. Redford said, “They’re really unusual, fantastical ways of communicating with each other.”

When looking for books, Mr. Redford tends to gravitate towards the new book section in the library, where he often picks out fantasy, sci-fi, and horror books, along with some modern fiction, where “it’s just an unusual situation in everyday life,” he said.

Ms. Poteet


Ashley Hawkins

“I like fiction and nonfiction, and I go in waves,” Ms. Poteet said. “It’s also related to my job, I read a lot for my job.”

Out of the many novels librarian Ms. Ann Poteet read in 2022, her favorite was “The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont.

Despite being a historical fiction novel, the book takes a spin on a real event that happened to Agatha Christie, a mystery author that Ms. Poteet has loved reading the works of since she was a teenager.

The story follows the mysterious disappearance of Christie in the 1920s, which De Gramont reimagines in the novel. The incident overall was suspicious to some.“Nobody ever knew if that was true or not,” Ms. Poteet said. “It’s inspired by that event, and the author imagines what might have actually happened.”

One part of the novel that Ms. Poteet found especially interesting was some of the story being told from the perspective of the woman Christie’s husband was having an affair with. The perspective is another reason Ms. Poteet said she likes the genre of historical fiction, because “a lot of real historical things that were happening at the time, I had no idea about,” Ms. Poteet said.

“I would recommend it to anybody that wants a compelling, exciting mystery where you don’t really know what’s going to happen and you want to know because the characters are really interesting,” Ms. Poteet said. “And the author does a great job of making you want to find out.”

Ms. Poteet has been, and still is, an avid reader of Christie’s work. “When I was a teenager, there were not a lot of books written for teenage people,” she said. “So what I read was a bunch of Agatha Christie books.” 

When she was younger, Ms. Poteet said that nothing was off limits when it came to choosing which books to read, which she really enjoyed. “My mom would take us to the library and I could pick anything, which is awesome,” she said. 

While reading is a huge part of Ms. Poteet’s job, she finds that it also serves as an escape and a form of entertainment for her. And, while she enjoys the mystery and historical fiction genres, she also loves fantasy and nonfiction books, too. “I pretty much like everything,” she said.

Mr. Dreisbach


Ashley Hawkins

“I love two things about a good book,” Mr. Dreisbach said. “I love it when a book takes me so into the story that I don’t want to put it down, or I am really excited about reading forward, or I get really sad at the end of a book because it’s done and over.”

English teacher Mr. Paul Dreisbach’s favorite read from 2022 is the novel “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler.

The book follows fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina, who resides in a gated community which protects her and her family from the everchanging dangers that lie past the walls, from droughts to violent arsonists.

A year ago during Christmas break, Mr. Dreisbach picked up the book based on a suggestion from a friend, and he ended up teaching it to his AP English 3 class last year.

“I had an interest in trying to get into science fiction or fantasy, which is not a genre that I’ve really ever paid much attention to,” Mr. Dreisbach said. “And she was somebody that I kept seeing or reading about as a sort of a person who sat on the cusp of those genres and literature.”

One reason Mr. Dreisbach enjoyed the novel is because “it features a BIPOC character who was a teenager, but thought sort of beyond her years.” 

The author’s way of writing Laura’s character and the things Butler chose to emphasize are other reasons for Mr. Dreisbach’s love of the book.

“Their race is only one aspect of their heroism,” Mr. Dreisbach said. “In the book race plays a role but not a really significant overwhelming role. It’s nice to sort of see a character in that vein, who is not struggling against racism as much as they’re just struggling against the way of the world.”

Published in 1993, “Parable of the Sower” has withstood the test of time and remains relevant today, according to Mr. Dreisbach.

“[Butler] presents this sort of nightmarish vision of the West Coast after a climate crisis and after a scourge of this new drug has come out,” he said. “While we are not in that same place, a lot of the ways that people are interacting with each other and a lot of the ways that people were being really selfish and really frightened, seemed really appropriate a year ago and still somewhat appropriate now.”

Mr. Dreisbach also expressed that the character of Lauren served as another reason for his love of the book because she was written to be “so fiercely, stubbornly hopeful that she refuses to give in, even in the midst of a perfectly horrific situation,” he said.

Ms. May


Ashley Hawkins

“I think everyone should have to read this book,” Ms. May said.

For English teacher Ms. Amy May, deciding between just one book was a tough decision. There was one, however, which stood out compared to the rest, “No-No Boy” by John Okada being her favorite book she read in 2022. 

“No-No Boy” is unique compared to many books about World War II. Instead of focusing on the hardships people faced during the internment camps, the novel highlights life beyond. “There aren’t as many books that really show what happened to people afterward, what kind of fragmentation happened in communities because of this. So I think this is really important because of that.” Ms. May said.

The book is fiction, depicting a story following the “no-no boys,” a group which answered “no” twice on a government questionnaire that asked the internees if they would serve loyally to the very country which imprisoned them. 

Ms. May has been curating a list of novels that she’s been wanting to read since 2000. “Last summer, I was like, ‘I’m going to get through this list of books, and I’m going to choose some for my students to read next year,’” she said. “And that was one of the books that I thought was a potential book.”

The book was extremely impactful to Ms. May. “I think everyone should have to read this book,” she said. “I think it should be required reading for all students.”

Growing up in and out of foster care, Ms. May’s love for reading stems from childhood memories of her mother. “My mom was absent quite a bit,” she said. “But when my mom spent time with me, she really loved to read to me and so it was a way to definitely spend time with her … and then it became something that I just really enjoyed doing, even when she wasn’t around.”

Ms. O’Brien


Ashley Hawkins

“I typically read in the evenings,” Ms. O’Brien said. “That’s the last thing I do.”

Principal Ms. Alanna O’Brien’s favorite read from 2022 was “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles.

“It’s a story about two brothers and other characters that engage on this journey. They think they are going to California to find their mom who they’ve lost touch with, but they end up getting derailed and going to New York to go on this journey together,” Ms. O’Brien said. “It’s a modern-day journey’s hero story with these two brothers … they come across all these things that throw them off track and get back on track.”

“I anticipate that it will become a movie sometime,” Ms. O’Brien said. “I can see it being made into a movie pretty easily.”

When Ms. O’Brien’s family takes their annual camping trip, she always makes sure to have a good book, as it’s her favorite time to read. “I always try and save a good book for our week-long camping trip that we do, and I sit by the lake and read every day.”

For her that pick was “The Lincoln Highway.”

“It’s almost 600 pages long,” she said, “so it took me a little while to sink into it and to get to know the characters.”

She recommends the book to people who like fiction and contemporary literature, and she explained that the plot’s captivating qualities and the writing are two reasons she recommends the book.

For Ms. O’Brien, reading is critical. “I work in a field where a lot of things are coming at me all the time,” she said. “So it’s easy to feel frenetic at times, and reading allows me to, not calm down, but to shift into a more relaxed state.”

Reading usually occurs in the evenings for Ms. O’Brien. “It’s a nice thing to do. I typically read in the evenings— that’s the last thing I do.”

Her preferred genre is fiction, though she occasionally enjoys sci-fi, historical fiction, and fantasy novels from time to time.

“I like to read fiction, but I find it’s challenging for me to read fiction during the school year,” Ms. O’Brien said. “So during the school year, I’m often reading nonfiction books, particularly ones that align with the job that I have, but I love to read fiction in the summers when I’m a little bit more relaxed.”

Mr. Kendrick


Ashley Hawkins

“I like stories,” Mr. Kendrick said. “I like engaging my mind and I think reading is the best way for me to do that.”

Two books stood out to religion teacher Mr. Edward Kendrick as favorites for the year of 2022: “Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ” by Fleming Rutledge and The Brothers Karamazov” by Fydoer Dostoevsky. 

Reading Rutledge’s novel was highly recommended to Mr. Kendrick, and this is the first of her works that he’s read. “I really like the way that she writes,” he said.

An aspect Mr. Kendrick loved about the novel was the insight it shared. “I really like the way she approaches Advent, of looking at darkness and where are the areas of the world that need healing,” he said. “And that way Christmas can speak to those, rather than it just being all happy.”

The other novel on Mr. Kendrick’s list by Dostoevsky is one that was “heavy, but very good,” he said. “I’d recommend that to someone in college.” 

Mr. Kendrick is a frequent reader, usually reading multiple books at a time, categorizing them as either morning books, day books, or night books. Sometimes, Mr. Kendrick even adds on a fourth book which is specifically for work. 

“In the morning is usually spirituality, like theology, during the day is usually classic fiction or history, and then before bed is fantasy or sci-fi, mostly fantasy,” Mr. Kendrick said. “I’m not as big into sci-fi.”

Having read around 20 books in 2022, Mr. Kendrick said he would refer to himself as an “avid” reader, as he has a goal to read one book each month.

Mr. Shelburne


Ashley Hawkins

“I guess I love literature, I love stories,” Mr. Shelburne said. “And it helps me relax after a day of work.”

Math teacher Mr. Peter Shelburne’s top two reads from 2022 were “Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doeer and “The Candy House” by Jennifer Egan. 

“Cloud Cuckoo Land” stands out to Mr. Shelburne as “really creative,” he said. “It talks about different time periods from a long time ago, to sort of modern, or even in the future. And it kind of wraps it together really nicely.”

For Mr. Shelburne, this was his first read from Doeer, and the next is already on his list.

Mr. Shelburne would recommend this book to “someone interested in history,” he said. He also said that the book may also interest people who are intrigued by modern themes related to global warming and the state of the planet. “People that are tied to that kind of issue might enjoy it,” he said.

He describes the second book on his list as “a little hard to get into, but it’s very interesting,” as it is an “exploration of modern technology, imagining a future where people put their memories in a public bank, where you can access other people’s memories and even your own memories that you don’t really remember very well,” he said. “So it’s a very probing look at technology and what might come in the future.”

Both books are revolutionary and creatively written, and he especially liked how they could each be simultaneously realistic and imaginative.

“There’s parts of them that are very true to life,” Mr. Shelburne said. “But then there’s parts you’re like, ‘Oh they’re really imagining something different there,’ and I think that’s what I like about them.”

Mr. Shelburne would describe himself as an enthusiastic reader, however “I don’t read as many as I’d like,” he said. “I’ve probably read four or five this year.”

Mr. Krantz


Ashley Hawkins

“I derive tremendous pleasure from reading,” Mr. Krantz said. “Both the experience of reading but also the various things that come as a result of reading.”

English teacher Mr. Chris Krantz’s top three reads from 2022 are “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek” by Kim Michele Richardson, “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell, and “Butcher’s Crossing” by John Williams. 

At the top of the list is Richardson’s novel. “Excellent,” he said.“In fact, I’m thinking about teaching it somehow next year.” 

Mr. Krantz has read other novels by Williams, however, “Butcher’s Crossing” stood out the most. “That is an incredible book,” he said.

O’Farrell’s novel is a historical fiction novel, which Mr. Krantz described as a “beautifully written book,” he said. “Maggie O’Farrell imagines Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, writing about her husband and their child Hamnet.”

Mr. Krantz recommends these books to “not everyone,” he said, but to “people with a heart big enough to be able to appreciate them.”

For Mr. Krantz, who said he reads about 25 to 40 books on average, books provide more than just information— describing them as a pathway into another person’s life and experience as well as his own. 

“I can’t get to every place on the planet,” he said. “So the closest thing I have is getting inside a book and experiencing that person’s life.”

The experience of reading a physical book is another aspect of reading that Mr. Krantz finds joy in. “I really dig the way the words lay out on a page, the feel of the page,” he said.

Ms. Mounsey


Ashley Hawkins

“I like to take some time off and just read fiction sometimes,” Ms. Mounsey said. “Some of the nonfiction I read can be pretty emotionally and psychologically hard sometimes.”

Director of Equity and Inclusion Ms. Kiah Mounsey’s top three reads of 2022 include “​​This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work” by Tiffany Jewell, “George” by Alex Gino, and “Dear White Woman, Please Come Home: Hand Me Your Bias, and I’ll Show You Our Connection” by Kimberlee Yolanda Williams.

“Tiffany Jewell is a speaker who just really resonates,” Ms. Mounsey said. “She also identifies as a Black, multiracial woman, which I do as well. And there were a lot of great lessons and tips in here, and also the illustrations are beautiful.”

Ms. Mounsey thinks that Jewell’s book is “really for anyone,” she said. “I think it’s accessible and digestible, whether it’s for students or adults.”

“George” by Alex Gino is “about a boy who wants to transition to a girl and is in elementary school and really wants to be Charlotte in the play ‘Charlotte’s Web,’” she said. “It was really well written, but the story was incredible about how some of his classmates, his best friend in particular, just surrounded him in love and encouraged him to do what he wanted to do and be true to himself.”

Another reason Ms. Mounsey loves the book is because one of her close friends wrote it. “I just feel like I have this personal connection to this book,” she said.

While Williams’ novel’s title reads “Dear White Woman,” Ms. Mounsey said that anyone looking for a change in perspective should read this book because of the “really interesting and intimate examples of discrimination and racism that’s happening in this world,” she said.

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Ashley Hawkins, Assistant Editor

Ashley Hawkins is a senior at La Salle. She is a member of the girls golf team as well as a student ambassador. In her free time, she likes to spend time...

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