CultureEducationLearn

Every year we set resolutions to read more. While we read a lot as it is, there are so many great books that are waiting to be read and we want to get to as many as we can. Of all the books we read in 2015, these were the ones that stood out the most.

If you love beautiful writing and a compelling story…

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Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See was impossible to put down. The way he strings words together is unlike anything we’ve read before. This novel is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. With short chapters, alternating story lines, and descriptions that will make you want to re-read lines twice, All the Light We Cannot See is powerful and vivid. Read it here.

If you’re into history and classics…

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The Good Earth by Pearl Buck is an unforgettable and heart-wrenching story about a farmer, Wang Lung, and his selfless wife, O-Lan during the 1920s in China. Follow this family’s journey through the many changes China undergoes during this turbulent time. Read it here.

If you loved The Goldfinch

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The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a haunting and mesmerizing story about a group of college students in Vermont who . It feels as though you’re being let in on a big secret, and you’re the only one who knows. We adore Donna Tartt’s writing and the way her stories have depth, unique descriptions, and a whole lot of mystery. Read it here.

Astronauts, space, and the wives of America’s Mercury Seven…

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We met Lily Koppel, author of The Astronaut Wives Club at BookCon this year, but that’s not why we loved reading her latest book. The wives of America’s Mercury Seven astronauts were brave and strong, and overnight they were turned into American royalty, with their every move scrutinized by the media and public. This book gives an inside look at who these women were and just how important they were in getting to the moon. Read it here.

If you’re fascinated by time and fate…

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A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is one of those books that really makes you think. We’ve never read a book quite like this. Each chapter alternates between a 16-year-old Japanese girl, Nao, writing in her diary and the women, Ruth, who finds Nao’s diary washed up on the shores of the remote island she lives on. Covering topics such as bullying, time, and fate, A Tale for the Time Being is engaging and truly brilliant. Read it here.

If you want to laugh and feel empowered…

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If you read and loved Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), then you’ll appreciate her second bookWhy Not Me? In her new book, Mindy shares a more behind-the-scenes coming-of-age look at her life as creator, star, and writer of The Mindy Project, as well as her other endeavors in Hollywood. This book may be a light read, but it is both hilarious and empowering. You’ll have a great time reading it. Read it here.

If you’re intrigued by dark and heartbreaking humor…

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If you don’t have bounds of time to spend reading but you hate leaving a book unfinished, Fortune Smiles is a great solution to this dilemma. A collection of riveting short stories, Adam Johnson creates fascinating yet realistic stories about people dealing with a complicated personal life tread on by political confusion. This book will get stuck in your mind and keep you thinking all day. Read it here.

If you want to learn more about women’s roles in Nazi Germany…

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Hitler’s Furies is about Nazi Germany and the women who played a role in the horrors that occurred is not one to pass-over. Although the content is often graphic, the book does a very good job of presenting and exploring a side of history that is predominantly buried and purposefully forgotten. Read it here.

If you’ve been wanting to read an American classic that’s more relevant than ever…

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This classic book (The Tortilla Curtain) tells the story about immigrants – both legal and illegal – and the ways they interact with American society and the way society interacts with them. There are plenty of twists and turns in this exciting novel that will keep you engaged and flipping the pages as fast as you can. Read it here.

What books did you read and love in 2015?

Image by Lou Levit

CultureEducation

If you’ve been keeping up with Carpe Juvenis on Instagram or Twitter you already know that we went to Book Con for the first time this past weekend. It was our first real convention and we had a huge learning curve in those two days. By the end of the weekend we were exhausted (yes, from sitting and listening to panels all day and from strolling from booth to booth) and made a list of all the things we would do for next year’s. This year’s convention was held at the Javits Center – a huge convention building on the west side of New York City – and was set up with booths on the first floor, small panels and a main hall for big names (like Mindy Kaling, John Green, Jason Segal, and Judy Bloom) on the second. We opted to wait in line for Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak, and spent the rest of the time going to smaller panels where we had the opportunity to see Julianne Moore, Tavi Gevinson, Jodi Picoult, Sophia Rossi, Candace Bushnell, Lily Koppel and many more speak about their upcoming literary adventures!

Here are our Book Con 101 tips for all of our fellow bookworms out there:

1. Bring a jacket and wear long pants. Convention centers are air conditioned. A lot. We spent the first day of Book Con freezing because we didn’t bring jackets. We figured it would be jam-packed with people and the shoulder-to-shoulder heat would keep us toasty. We were wrong and we suffered for our mistake. Pack a light scarf and long sleeve cover up for the long day ahead. You also want to wear long pants because you might be sitting on the ground while waiting in line for tickets to bigger events.

2. Bring plenty of snacks. Book Con 2015 was held at the Javits Center in Manhattan this year, and we weren’t sure if food would be allowed inside. We thought it might be similar to airports or concert venues where they pat you down and check your bags. Unfortunately and fortunately there was no entry security whatsoever, so we were able to walk into the convention center with a backpack full of snacks on the second day. It was much better than buying over-priced chips the day before when we weren’t sure if our precious snack loot would be tossed in the garbage. The day goes by a lot more smoothly when you can eat healthy snacks that you feel good about (and spend less money on!).

3. Bring a sturdy tote bag. You will without a doubt be given a tote bag (or 10) when you get to the convention center – everyone wants to use you as free advertising for their upcoming book or publishing company – but it really helps to show up with your own tote so that you can hold everything you need to bring, as well as new items that you’ll be given. Pro Tip: Do not wear a backpack. I wore a small backpack the first day and I was constantly being shoved around from people trying to walk behind me. It was frustrating for me but also probably super annoying for everyone else trying to move smoothly down the aisles. A small side bag for your wallet, keys, and phone along with your tote bag are my best suggestions for what to carry.

4. Strategize your game plan before the convention starts. Schedules for the entire weekend will be online weeks ahead of time, so it’s important to read through each event carefully. There’s a very likely chance that a few of the same speakers you want to see will be doing so at the same time, so prioritizing who you need to see beforehand will be critical. You’ll also want to build in time to walk around the booths and meet some awesome new authors who are introducing their self-published book for the first time ever! And if you’re like us you might also want to build in 5 minutes to let your curiosity get the best of you and peek around the corner to catch a glimpse of Khloe Kardashian during her book-signing.

5. Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a ton of walking. Convention centers are huge.

6. Bring cash. $10 bills are your best bets for not getting any loose change back. You don’t want to bother with trying to pay with a credit card, especially if you’re in a busy intersection where jostling will occur. Bringing cash will also help you budget because you’ll know exactly how much money you have to spend that day. Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

Pro Tip: This will sound counter-intuitive, but do not bring your own book to Book Con. Firstly, you’ll be too busy trying to figure out where to go for each event to even begin thinking about reading another chapter, secondly you’re going to be given books (some for free) and you’ll be able to purchase books for a super discounted price so bringing extra books won’t be necessary, thirdly it’s a great place to meet someone new and exchange book recommendations, and finally you just don’t want the extra weight with you all day as you walk around a giant convention center.

Happy reading!

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Culture

As soon as the New Year had hit, I realized I had not thought of any resolutions for myself. I brought this up to my best friend who was with me, and she concluded that she was going to give up chocolate; everything from drinks to the actually candy bar. I immediately responded that she was crazy, and that giving up chocolate for an entire year would be a near-impossible thing to do. But after I thought about it, I reasoned that it could be done in steps. Instead of giving up chocolate entirely, maybe I could give up chocolate every other month. And even though giving up chocolate may seem like a trivial goal, it got me to thinking that truly anything can be done if we just break things into baby steps and work toward them day-by-day.

We can truly accomplish so much if we just take the goals that seem too big to conquer and make them smaller. If you have writer’s block, write one sentence a day. If you need to save money but also need to pay your bills, put aside $5 a week. There are so many small things we can do to impact our lives in a positive way.

With the New Year already here and not just beginning, I wanted to share my minor resolution and remind you that you don’t have to wait to chase your dreams or goals. Start traveling to all 50 states now by planning to go to the ones closest to you first. Start running for 15 minutes a day until you can run for 30 with the same energy and then an hour. The opportunities are endless, and a virtual blank slate awaits you. Seize the day and Seize Your Youth.

Image: Nicolette Pezza

Culture

There is something magical about a New Year. Not only do you get to say goodbye to the old, but you get a metaphorical clean slate. While it’s not always easy to let go of all of the mistakes you’ve made and start anew, January 1st is the day that begins a new chapter in your life. If you didn’t like the previous year, now is your time to make some changes and do things differently. This is why people come up with a list of resolutions. They say things like “this year I’m going to be a better person” or “this year I’m going to start being more active.”

While these are both great aspirations, it’s not necessarily a good idea to decide to make lifestyle changes because you closed one 365 page book and are now starting a new one. It takes a lot to change. Saying you’re going to do something now means nothing if you couldn’t do it a week ago or even a month ago. I have a lot of friends who post their resolutions on social media every year and people like them and comment how they want to make the same changes, but I can’t help but notice that their resolutions are the same as ones from last year.

Again, there is nothing wrong with change. Change is healthy. Especially when you genuinely want to better your life by working on your health, choose more carefully who you let into your life, or even by coming to the realization that some of the choices you make aren’t the best and you want to do something about that. Whatever the case may be, change is something that we as young people will experience throughout our lives, particularly during the early stages. We don’t have control over all of the changes that happen, but we do have control over some.

So take control over your life.

If you think that you already have control and you’re one of those people who lives by the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ mantra, then I’m afraid that you aren’t in control. I say this because, if you were in control, you wouldn’t need a New Year to want to become a ‘new you’. You would change when you want to change without resolutions or the allure of the New Year being a clean slate.

I won’t deny that there are people who genuinely decide to change in the New Year because those people do exist and their resolutions are more than statements to them; they are actions. If you want to change, then that’s wonderful. But don’t do it because it’s a New Year. That’s like wearing pink because it’s Wednesday. Maybe that’s not the best comparison but the point is that don’t say you’re going to change your life because of the time. Say you’re going to change because you honestly want to do it; after you come to the realization that you want to make changes, turn those wants into actions!

Many people say they want to lose weight or travel more or do this and do that on January 1st, but then 365 days go by and they haven’t lost anything, they haven’t travelled anywhere, and they haven’t done all of the things they said they were going to do a year ago. This is not to put anyone down – we all encounter obstacles that keep us from doing the things we set out to do, and that’s okay. It’s life. But, with that said, it’s important to strive to be impeccable with your word. I talked about this in another post, though I think it bares repeating. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you say that you want to do something, then do it! I know that some of the things we want to do requires work and pushing through any and all obstacles and, above all, time. But that’s okay.

It’s okay if you can’t achieve your goals in a day, or a week, or even a year. That’s not the point of change. Change is ongoing, so don’t be discouraged by time. And don’t let it control when or even why you want to begin the process of changing something in your life, either.

Just do it.

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CultureSkills

The New Year has come! It’s time for… New Year’s resolutions. Yikes. For some, this means eating healthy. For others, it means going to the gym more. It can be saving money, getting better grades, cutting down on the caffeine, or even finally cleaning out your closet!

But there are some unique resolutions that you might not have thought of that can be pretty fun!

Alphabet Book Checklist

Read a book with the title starting with each letter of the alphabet. Twenty six books, 12 months, about two books a month. You never know what you may find. Make a checklist of the things you’ve been wanting to read (romance novels, nonfiction short stories, poetry, anything!) and go to your local bookstore. It’s a low key resolution, no stress, just a small thing you can do for yourself.

Eat the Rainbow

No, not Skittles. I mean, eat each color of the rainbow. This might be kind of silly, but it’ll make you eat a variety of foods. There’s probably a health thing out there somewhere, but for you, it should be something that’s fun! You can try to eat the rainbow every day, or maybe split it up to make it a weekly goal. Fruits, leafy greens, meats (or not, if you’re a vegetarian), grains. For more challenging colors like blues and purples, you can say browns, like bread. I never ate quinoa (pronounced kinwa) but once I tried it, I discovered how yummy it was!

Stand Up Straight

Yes. You heard right. Stand up straight! I never realized how much I slouched until I started wearing heels. Then I realized that my balance was way off, and it was evident in the way my back and chest hurt from being pushed back into its original upright position. Commit to standing up straight when you’re waiting for the bus, when you’re in line at the grocery store, even when you’re showering. Do the Superwoman stance, with your hands on your hips and head facing forward. Over time, your body and your mind will develop and strengthen. Think about how confident you feel now, and how much more confident you will feel after you learn to hold your head up high. At the very least, this will sort out your backaches.

These are a few low-key resolutions you can take on. Read a bit more, eat better, try new things, boost your confidence. Whatever you’re comfortable with, do. Whatever scares you a little, try. Whatever makes you happy, go for it! Have a great new year!

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CultureSkills

The New Year is about resolution, new beginnings, and fresh starts. However, many times, our wish to take on these new goals and challenges are paused by last year’s mistakes. Forget last year – it is long gone. The only things left of it are what lie in our memories. Okay, and maybe all of the ‘Facebook Year in Reviews’ that have infested all of our newsfeeds. Here are a few things that we must remember and forget about last year:

1. Breakups

A friend once told me, “Relationships aren’t necessarily all about love – they’re about learning about yourself and what you value in any relationship.” Her words stuck like glue. I’ve always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and relationships, be it a romantic or friendly, all have their reasons for happening. People are put in our lives for us to learn and grow. If people bring positivity into your life, you will learn and likewise, if people bring negativity in your life, you are also bound to learn something. Sometimes, breakups just mean you have learned what you need to learn from that person and it is time to move on to the next chapter in your life. Other times, breakups serve as reminders to make sure you are surrounding yourself by people that inspire, surround you with positivity, and push you to become the best you can ever be.

2. Last Year’s Failed Resolutions

We all have that New Year’s Resolution that we have thought of since November. Perhaps we want to get healthy, read that book that always seems to be referenced in important conversations, or learn to acquire more patience. And we also all have that disappointing New Year’s Resolution that seems to be every year’s repeated resolution. Cut the cycle. Take the initiative of not waiting around until New Years and start now. In addition, your failures last year will not be your failures this year. Time is ongoing and does not repeat itself. There is always a chance for new beginnings.

3. The Little Voice

We may be fearless, fierce, and fabulous when it comes to pursuing our dreams, but who doesn’t have that little voice of doubt in the back of their heads? When in the midst of determination and motivation, it is absolutely vital that you do not give into the small voice that has the power to hold you back. Perhaps this happened in 2014, 2013, or even in 2012, but not in 2015. The mind is most powerful – bury that voice in a place you can’t retrieve. Smother it with positive thinking and remember to always believe in yourself!

4. Grades and Job Disappointments

It’s understood that GPA’s are cumulative therefore, that impossible course where even passing, or the absolute taste of glory, last semester will forever be factored in it. However, thankfully that course last semester will forever be left in long gone notebooks. This semester is a new term composed of new courses taught by new professors. Do not assume all math courses will be impossible or all philosophy professors will be a dreadful walk through the underworld. Each semester brings new opportunity to improve your grades and learn from last year’s mistakes. Likewise, we all know that jobs that may have not worked out last year bring their burdens – be them financial or personal. However, it is important to take what you learned from these mistakes in order to not repeat them in future professional endeavors. Learning and growing from these mistakes and keeping a determined and positive outlook are key to any new beginning.

5. Habit Downturns

It’s possible your overall health this past year has gone downhill. Diets were broken with that 1:00 a.m. pizza craving, exercise habits interrupted by finals week, and eating habits completely totaled by just living on campus. It’s possible you began biting your nails or gone back to smoking cigarettes. There’s a chance you discovered habits of shopping until you drop or even a seriously undesirable Netflix addiction. It happens. But habits can always be shifted and changed.  Do not be discouraged by last year’s mishaps.

New Year’s is called “New Year’s” for a reason. It is out with the old and in with the new. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Forget last year’s mistakes and take only what you’ve learned from them. Anything is possible this year – find it inside of you to conquer these goals!

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CultureSkills

As soon as we put down the turkey leg and finished off our apple pie, we blinked and December was here. Even though we’re approaching the 2014 finish line, don’t let that slow you down. The last month of the year can be a new beginning for many different things – goals, activities, habits, skills, and adventures. The holiday season may present a packed calendar with parties, trips, and work to finish up, but don’t wait until 2015 to make resolutions, start something new, or to make self-improvements.

Here are some successful ways to wrap up 2014:

1. Tie up loose ends.

Finish up the remaining items on your to-do list, schedule those doctor appointments, and complete any lingering projects. This way, you can enjoy the holidays and have a fun time ringing in the New Year. Don’t bring unwanted baggage into 2015.

2. Spend quality time with friends and family.

Make time for loved ones. When the New Year begins, everyone will get busy and it’ll be a challenge to find time to spend together.

3. Say thank you.

Write thank you cards, make a phone call to express your gratitude, or mail a small gift to those who were there for you in 2014. If there are people who were influential in your personal or professional life, let them know how appreciative you are.

4. Accomplish resolutions from the beginning of 2014.

What resolutions did you make at the beginning of 2014 that have yet to be accomplished? Do them. We may only have one more month, but there is still plenty of time!

5. Learn a new skill.

You’ve got a month to learn a new skill. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to ski, improve your language skills, or learn how to efficiently use Excel. There’s no better time than now.

6. Take a weekend trip.

You may not have the time or funds to take a big trip this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a quick weekend escape. Sneak in one last adventure before the New Year.

7. Look forward.

Are major changes on the horizon? If not, do you want there to be changes? Think about what you hope to accomplish and start making adjustments in your habits and routine to make those changes a reality. Spend some time thinking about where you’d like to see yourself in 2015 and you’ll be setting yourself up for a great future.

8. Read one more book.

Don’t push off your reading list for 2015. Start now. Tomorrow you’ll be glad you did. In a reading rut? Here are some tips for how to make time to read.

9. Organize your life.

While ‘organizing your life’ is a great resolution for January, why not start getting things in order now? Organizing – whether it’s your physical space, your routine, or your overall organizational ‘system’ – can be a huge undertaking. Start small and pace yourself.

10. Give back to your community.

While it’s important to be involved in your community every month of the year, you may feel more inclined to give back during the holiday season. Don’t wait any longer to help and make a difference.

11. Improve your culinary skills.

There are a lot of delicious holiday-themed recipes and hearty meals that you can make for the cold winter months. Experiment with new ingredients, attempt a challenging recipe, and improve your cooking or baking skills so you can do more cooking at home in 2015.

12. Scrapbook or journal.

Before saying goodbye to 2014, print out photographs from special events that happened throughout the year and create a memory book. Write about how those events shaped you and why they are memorable. This is a great way to remember everything that you have accomplished during the year.

13. Develop good habits.

Trying to wake up earlier, exercise more, or spend less time on social media? Start forming good habits this month, and if any improvements need to be made later, that sounds like a pretty good 2015 resolution.

14. Take time to reflect.

Before the craziness of the holidays and the New Year begin, take some time for yourself. Revisit events that made you laugh and cry, remember the times when you felt hopeful, and meditate on the moments that were more challenging. Contemplate your successes, failures, goals, and accomplishments from 2014. Take pride in what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, and think about what you want to take with you into 2015.

How are you wrapping up 2014?

*This article can be found on The Huffington Post.

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