Culture

Everything’s quiet. No outside noise, no blabbing people. The only sound is the quiet whisper of pages turning, and the occasional low voice. Ahh, bookstores… a place for every self-proclaimed literary nerd to find sanctuary. Books will always be a source of comfort, and with most people still avidly reading books, there is no threat to the literary society going extinct. So what’s happening to the bookstores?

Over the past few years, popular chains such as Borders (now bankrupt) and Barnes and Noble have been suffering heavy losses. What’s causing this alarming downward trend? Simple: the Internet. The Internet, in all its wonderfully convenient glory, is a staple in the lives of almost every person on the planet. However, with the ability to have nearly all the information, shopping, and entertainment one could ever want at the click of the button, people have begun to overlook the physical world for the digital world, and nowhere is that more apparent than bookstores.

With plenty of shopping sites (Amazon being the most notable) available for people to purchase their books on, as well as eReaders and Kindles for people to read said books on, the need for an actual bookstore with actual print books is slowly decreasing, and while some may consider this a good thing, it also has a pretty severe downside.

The first reason, which is also very practical, is that a bookstore provides income for many people. Places like Barnes and Noble, or even the local neighborhood store, provide jobs for people in the community.

Secondly, bookstores allow book nerds (myself included) to meet other like minded literary junkies. Additionally, bookstores broaden the number of books that can quickly be obtained (let’s be honest – books aren’t cheap, and having to pay shipping, or even worse, wait several weeks for new books to arrive, is much worse than just traipsing down to the store).

Lastly, bookstores create a haven for people to simply enjoy being around literature. For myself and others, just being around books provides a calming influence, and being surrounded by as many as a bookstore provides is one of the best feelings in the world. The simple presence of all that literary magic is enough to warrant a trip to the bookstore. It’s a feeling unavailable on the Internet, and one that should be preserved forever. Booklovers, literary geeks, and anyone who loves a good read, unite. Bring back the bookstores!

CultureSkills

‘Tis the season for Christmas music, holiday decorations, and…holiday cards? Each holiday season, you might give your friends little gifts and cards, and your family might send out cards to family around the globe. In addition to sending holiday cards to just family and friends, you may want to consider sending cards to previous internship supervisors, family friends who gave you advice, and mentors who sat down with you for coffee and informational interviews. Holiday cards can be short and sweet, and they are a nice gesture to show your network that you are thinking of them and to keep you in their minds. Before jumping into just sending off random holiday cards, we have compiled tips that we have learned over the years…

  1. Gather information: If you collected business cards from those you worked for or worked with, there is usually an address listed on the front. If you only have an email, you can simply send a message to the person who you want to send a card to asking for his or her mailing address. It is more convenient to have all of the necessary information before you start writing cards so that you can easily seal them up in the envelopes and send them off all at once.
  2. Send cards to your network: Send holiday notes to your old bosses, mentors, and people you have met before and admire. Just as you would email them every now and then with a ‘hello’ and update, holiday cards are a great way to stay in touch.
  3. What to write: You don’t need to write a novel. Simply (hand write!) a brief note wishing them a happy holiday season, a great new year, and perhaps one sentence about what you have been up to or a couple of sentences about a memory or important lesson learned from your experience together.
  4. Keep it ambiguous: If you aren’t sure whether your previous internship supervisor celebrates Christmas or Hanukkah, keep the message a little ambiguous by sticking to: “Happy holidays!” This way, you won’t offend anyone or make any assumptions. You can’t go wrong with wishing someone a ‘Happy holidays!’ or a “Happy New Year!’
  5. When to send: Since the holidays can be a crazy time to send letters and packages, it’s better to send your holiday cards earlier rather than later. Get your cards written, sealed, and stamped by the end of November or early December, and try to get them out by the end of the first week of December. This gives the cards plenty of time to make their way to their destination.
  6. Types of cards: The cards you send don’t need to be expensive. If you want to hand-make your holiday cards, that would be great! If you are looking to purchase nice cards, here are some good options: Papyrus / Tiny Prints / Shutterfly /Paper Source / Target / Barnes and Noble. If you get your cards in early/mid-November or at the end of Christmas from the year before, you can score some pretty sweet deals and save a couple of extra dollars.
  7. Plan ahead: For next Christmas, buy holiday cards from this year that are on-sale. That way you can save money and be prepared for next year’s round of holiday cards! Also, maintain a list of contacts with their addresses to make next year’s information gathering super easy.

Will you be writing holiday cards this holiday season?

EducationHealthSkills

As we mentioned in this week’s Leadership Trait, maintaining an organized schedule is life-changing. There are many ways to keep track of your day-to-day routine, to-do’s, and classes, and everyone has their own system and way of doing things. It took me years to figure out a system that worked best for me. I tried binders, plain notebooks that I drew lines into, stickers with hours on them, and every daily, weekly, and monthly calendar out there. Once I finally established a system that worked, it was something I no longer had to think about and I could focus on my actual tasks.

If you, however, do not yet have a system, or if you are looking to improve the way you currently organize your life, these planners will definitely come in handy…

1. At-A-Glance – The Action PlannerPlain and simple, this planner is nothing fancy but it gets the job done.

2. Gallery Leather Weekly Desk PlannerAn upgrade from black and white, this red leather weekly planner is a touch fancier.

3. Moleskine 12 Months Weekly PlannerOrganize your months and days with a solid planner.

4. Quo Vadis Compact Daily Desk PlannerPlan out each day by the hour and still have plenty of room for notes.

5. Russel+Hazel Signature Pattern Binder with InsertsThis binder is the epitome of organization, complete with weekly planner sheet inserts and a sturdy rubber band to keep your pages secure.

Do you use a planner to organize your life?