Teacher’s Reading Corner

In this series, we are sharing book recommendations from your old teachers, many of whom are still moulding the minds of CIS students. We hope that these recommendations will help guide you on your life-long learning journies. This is also a great opportunity to reconnect with your teachers to discuss the ideas presented in the books or simply catch up with them. Please enjoy this growing list of recommendations.

11 June 2021 – Recommendation from Stella Wong





If you would like to reconnect with Ms. Wong, feel free to send her an email at mywong@cis.edu.hk.

04 June 2021 – Recommendation from Sam Anderson

Dig by A.S. King

Young Adult (YA) literature is frequently a missed opportunity among adult readers and is too easily dismissed as “only for teens.”  

A.S. King’s Dig is one YA book (among many) that adults should read. Dig unflinchingly confronts three generations of American racism. King shows a profound respect for her teen readers by crafting a story told through their wisdom and questioning. Generations of racist adults have made a mess of a family, and it’s up to the teen protagonists to change their moral course. Still, it’s never clear where this story is going, much like a twisted ball of roots (a reference you will understand upon reading the book).

Never preachy and always honest, A.S. King’s voice is one to know. Dig is top-notch literature and a Printz Award winner (akin to an Oscar in the world of YA literature). Don’t miss this opportunity to familiarize yourself with the world of excellent YA writing; it’s not just for teenagers.

If you would like to reconnect with Mr. Anderson, feel free to send him an email at sanderson@cis.edu.hk.

28 May 2021 – Recommendation from John Psillides

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

My name is John Psillides, and I am completing my 9th academic year with the Science Department at CIS: I am a lucky person as I work with great colleagues, and the most conscientious students – an irresistible combination!

I have been a fanboy of B Bryson for some time, but only recently read his first travelogue – Notes from a Small Island – recently; it did not fail to impress, and BB is one of the few authors I know who can make people laugh out loud: he is so easy to read, and as someone who takes time to get into a book, he is compelling.

If you would like to reconnect with Mr. Psillides, feel free to send him an email at jpsillides@cis.edu.hk.

21 May 2021 – Recommendation from Tom Winderam

The Common Sense of Science by Dr. Jacob Bronowski

I have a lot of science books at home, but the one I always return to is “The Common Sense of Science” by Dr. Jacob Bronowski, published in 1951. This is a slim book by the Polish-British scientist, mathematician, and philosopher, who was interested in such problems as the interface between science and human dignity, as well as breaking down the wall between sciences and arts. Two quotes by Bronowski that I quite enjoy, are:

“It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.”

“Dissent is the native activity of the scientist, and it has got him into a good deal of trouble in the last years. But if that is cut off, what is left will not be a scientist. And I doubt whether it will be a man.”

If you would like to reconnect with Mr. Winderam, feel free to send him an email at twinderam@cis.edu.hk.

14 May 2021 – Recommendation from Laszlo Varro

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

Experiencing the Eastern Europe of the late 1970s as a teenager and the early 1980s as a young adult, I developed a passionate dislike and distrust of authoritarian regimes. I saw my parents attend elections where all candidates were put forward by the sole legal political party, completely excluding any opposition voices. I witnessed the incompetence of puppet governments whose members were politically reliable marionette figures dancing at the end of strings running all the way to Moscow. I read their press releases and interviews in newspapers whose sole role, instead of acting as agents of the “fourth estate”, was to promote state propaganda. I left all this behind and started a new life in Mexico, where I quickly fell in love with the culture, the language and the traditions of the country and, later during my extensive travels through Central and South America, of the entire region. 

Not surprisingly, Isabel Allende’s books captivate me. Set in Latin American historical contexts and described through the experiences of imaginary characters, Isabel Allende presents a quiet and slow but persistent critique of oppressive regimes. She changes the locations, the centuries and the characters but keeps the same powerful message about struggle, suffering, love and hope. Regardless of whether the setting is Franco’s Spain, Pinochet’s Chile, or Rios Montt’s Guatemala, I can identify with her characters and picture her locations.  I love how in all her novels she presents the events from conflicting perspectives, challenging her readers to take sides and allowing them to make their own conclusions. Her latest novel, “The Soul of a Woman” has just been published. Get a copy for the summer, together with a selection of her other works.

If you would like to reconnect with Mr. Varro, feel free to send him an email at lvarro@cis.edu.hk.

07 May 2021 – Recommendation from Andrew Mumm

The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Matthew Sands, Richard Feynman, and Robert B. Leighton

The Feynman Lectures on Physics comes in three volumes and they will keep you busy for the rest of your life. Packed with insights about science (mainly physics) and mathematics, I love diving into them from time to time to make new connections.

I recently starting reading the 2nd volume again (which is all on electromagnetism), and I’m rediscovering my amazement at how clearly and intuitively he explains all the necessary vector calculus needed to understand Maxwell’s Equations. Truly a classic piece of work that will forever be worthwhile reading – and it’s all available for free online at https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/  🙂

If you would like to reconnect with Mr. Mumm, feel free to send him an email at amumm@cis.edu.hk.

31 April 2021 – Recommendation from Maninder Kalsi

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harare

Sapiens is a must read. Expand your understanding of what it means to be one of the few sentient species on the planet. Get a deeper insight into our past and present, and therefore where we might go in the future.

“What does it mean to be human? In a sweeping narrative spanning two and half million years of human evolution, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari weaves insights from science and the humanities together to answer to what it means to be human.” – Brand Genetics, 2021

If you would like to reconnect with Mr. Kalsi, feel free to send him an email at mkalsi@cis.edu.hk.