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Mr. Weiss’s Bookshelf

By Alessandro Weiss, HSAS Principal


Lockdown was boring. What to do? Well, many of you know that I spent hours rearranging my bookshelves by color. It's pretty; you should try! It also filled up a lot of time.

In each edition of Common Sense, I will pick a color and tell you about a couple of the books I have enjoyed reading over the years.

We will start with the blue shelf, on which can be found two extraordinary titles: Every Man Dies Alone, by Hans Fallada, and Faces in the Water, by Janet Frame.

Fallada's novel (light blue) is based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hempel, a working-class couple that lived in Berlin during World War II. The Hempels wrote anti- Nazi messages on postcards, which they then scattered around the city. Is an act of rebellion any less courageous because it is small? Can something that is seemingly insignificant still have profound meaning? This book explores a quiet kind of bravery and the price that must be paid for standing by one's convictions.

Frame's Faces in the Water (peacock blue) is a semi- autobiographical novel that traces how she found her voice as a writer. Frame, who died in 2004, is probably New Zealand's best-known author. Throughout her youth, she was especially awkward and shy; she was subsequently misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic, institutionalized, and scheduled for a lobotomy. One day before the surgery, it was canceled because Frame's first book was published to glowing reviews. Her life story is depicted in Jane Campion's film, An Angel at My Table.

We live during a time of loud, angry voices. These two works explore the impact that "quieter" people can have on others.

Happy reading! What color will I pick next?

Regards, Mr. Weiss

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