NOMA’s Learning and Engagement team is excited to present monthly suggested reading lists for all ages based on a theme or exhibition, in partnership with Octavia Books. Direct links for ordering books are found in the listings below. For December, we are looking at the themes of ritual and gathering.
The Gathering by Anne Enright
Grove Press, Black Cat, 2007, ISBN: 9780802170392
Anne Enright is a dazzling writer of international stature and one of Ireland’s most singular voices. Now she delivers The Gathering, a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family and a shot of fresh blood into the Irish literary tradition, combining the lyricism of the old with the shock of the new. The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, drowned in the sea. His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him—something that happened in their grandmother’s house in the winter of 1968. As Enright traces the line of betrayal and redemption through three generations, her distinctive intelligence twists the world a fraction and gives it back to us in a new and unforgettable light. The Gathering is a daring, witty, and insightful family epic, clarified through Anne Enright’s unblinking eye. It is a novel about love and disappointment, about how memories warp and secrets fester, and how fate is written in the body, not in the stars.
Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World by Vivek H. Murphy M.D.
Harper Wave, 2020, ISBN: 0062913298
Humans are social creatures: In this simple and obvious fact lies both the problem and the solution to the current crisis of loneliness. In his groundbreaking book, the nineteenth surgeon general of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy makes a case for loneliness as a public health concern: a root cause and contributor to many of the epidemics sweeping the world today from alcohol and drug addiction to violence to depression and anxiety. Loneliness, he argues, is affecting not only our health, but also how our children experience school, how we perform in the workplace, and the sense of division and polarization in our society. But, at the center of our loneliness is our innate desire to connect. We have evolved to participate in community, to forge lasting bonds with others, to help one another, and to share life experiences. We are, simply, better together.
For Young Adults
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Grand Central Publishing, 1994, ISBN: 9780446600255
Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will probe the family ties that bind and rend him, and he will discover himself in the magical secrets of the pagan past–a mythic legacy as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world…and will nurture the birth of his soul.
For Ages 9 – 12
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and Illustrated by Patricia Castelao
HarperCollins, 2015, ISBN: 9780061992278
Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
In the tradition of timeless stories like Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create an unforgettable story of friendship, art, and hope.
The Blue Table by Chris Raschka
Greenwillow Books, 2020, ISBN: 9780062937766
Suggested Ages: 4 – 8
Spend the day around the heart of a home: the blue table. A shopping list is written, food is prepared, and the table is set. Guests arrive, thanks are given, and a meal is shared. What then? It’s time to pitch in and clean up, of course!
Limited text, bright colors, and stunning collage illustrations make The Blue Table ideal for the youngest reader and for storytime sharing. In just thirty-two pages, two-time Caldecott Medalist and New York Times–bestselling picture book creator Chris Raschka captures the very essence of community—and gratitude.
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Schwartz & Wade, 2015, ISBN: 9780375868320
Suggested Ages: 4 – 8
From highly acclaimed author Emily Jenkins and Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator Sophie Blackall comes a fascinating picture book in which four families, in four different cities, over four centuries, make the same delicious dessert: blackberry fool. This richly detailed book ingeniously shows how food, technology, and even families have changed throughout American history.
We welcome any questions or feedback about NOMA’s suggested reading lists. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.