Sages Reader Spotlight: Mark Hughes

Sages Reader Spotlights are an opportunity to shout out some of the many amazing book lovers in our community. We think you'll see some familiar faces in these reader profiles and we know that you'll get some great recommendations and inspiration to help you complete your own Sages Read 2021 Challenge. Don't miss the links to this Sages Reader's recommendations below. We've even matched them up to this year's challenge categories for you.

Mark Hughes is just completing his first year as principal at Monticello Middle School. We were eager to learn a little more about him and were delighted to find that he is a book lover! Like all educators in the weirdest school year ever, he's got a lot on his plate, so we're very grateful to him for taking time to talk to us about books and reading. Welcome to the Sages Read community, Mr. Hughes!!

SAGES READ: How long have you lived in Monticello?
MARK HUGHES: We are new to the area. We moved here from Decatur in May of 2020, right in the middle of a good old-fashioned pandemic. My wife teaches special education at White Heath Elementary. Our son, Guthrie, is a fourth grader at Washington and our daughter, Marlo, is in kindergarten at Lincoln.

SR: Who's your favorite author? Do you have a favorite genre?
MH: I'm a big Joe Hill fan (horror), but also love Thich Nhat Hanh (Eastern philosophy). I also really enjoy true crime and biographies/autobiographies about musicians and artists.

SR: What one book or author do you recommend to others most often?
MH: I'm a huge horror fan, so when people talk about that genre of film, or mention Stephen King, I usually recommend Joe Hill or Grady Hendrix.

SR: What's your go-to gift book?
MH: It's Easier Than You Think by Sylvia Boorstein, Ghost Rider by Neil Peart, or High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.

SR: What's the best book that's ever been recommended or given to you by someone else?
MH: Go Ask Alice by Anonymous. It's not something I would have ever chosen on my own, and I thought it was great.

SR: Have you always been an avid reader?
MH: I was a "reluctant" reader probably until college. That's when I really started to depend on books as a form of entertainment, as well as an educational source. I love to read, but do struggle to find the time. I tend to binge over the summer and during Christmas break, as I know I won't necessarily get the chance to read as much as I would like to during the school year.  

SR: Do you read more often for business or pleasure?
MH: I prefer to read for pleasure and probably accumulate more annual hours reading for pleasure, but probably read for business more frequently.

SR: Is there a book that really inspired you during your educational or professional journey?
MH: I had a professor in college that really got me into Eastern philosophy and Buddhism. Living Buddha, Living Christ started that path. I also got really swept up in existential stories like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I think stories and lessons like that can be applied to life and career in equal parts.

SR: What's the best book you've read so far this year?
MH: Sing Backwards and Weep by Mark Lanegan

SR: What are you reading right now?
MH: Running with the Devil by Noel Monk


2021 Sages Read Challenge Inspiration
  • Read a book about love

It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness by Sylvia Boorstein (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library)

Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, Neil Peart (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library)

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library)

  • Read a book recommended by a teacher, librarian, or bookseller

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library)

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert Pirsig (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library)

Sing Backwards and Weep: A Memoir by Mark Lanegan (Find it at Hartfield | Not available at Allerton Library)

Runnin’ With the Devil: A Backstage Pass to the Wild Times, Loud Rock, and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Making of Van Halen by Noel Monk (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library)

  • Read a memoir by a BIPOC author

At Home in the World by Thich Nhat Hanh (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library)

  • Read a picture book or graphic novel

Hill House Comics (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library) or the Locke & Key series by Joe Hill (Find it at Hartfield | Find it at Allerton Library)


Sages Read is list of reading challenges intended to get our community reading and discussing books together. Learn more about this year's challenge categories and prize opportunities on the Sages Read website.