EducationSkillsWellness

Essays, assignments, articles, job applications, personal statements, reports, write-ups, presentations. Countless tasks we encounter at work and school require us to write. Facebook updates, tweets, text messages, blog posts. On a daily basis, much of the time we spend communicating with others is used tapping letters into an interface.

All of this occurs by writing.

However, there’s no doubt that the first set of examples is markedly more vilified than the second set. Few would say that they’d rather write an essay over a lengthy Facebook post on any given topic. Writing a cover letter is like getting a root canal in comparison to writing anything on social media.

When considering what it is that separates the two categories, it seems that their largest difference lies in that the one is considered “work” and while the other is considered “play.” Although keeping up with social media can certainly be demanding at times, most of us don’t view it as a job or chore. In contrast, reports and presentations – even for jobs or classes that we enjoy – are often thought of as sheer toil.

So is it the amount of brainpower expended that makes us revile at essay writing so much? Is it the time spent? Or the energy? As humans, we might dislike writing because we want to conserve our limited resources of time, energy, and willpower. Or is it the emotional benefit we receive from social media? In other words, the benefit we get from connecting with friends is typically greater than that spent writing memoirs and memorandums.

The reason why most people dislike writing is likely some combination of the two; the perceived benefit doesn’t outweigh the costs of spending time and energy doing something difficult. However, the fact that novelists, poets, and musicians create their works signifies that there’s something to be gained from writing – they all elevate writing to an art form, using it to express complexity, deal with difficulty, and celebrate what is good.

What it boils down to is that writing can help us think. It can help us flesh out rich thoughts, clarify complex ideas, and parse what is relevant in our multitude of opinions. Who hasn’t experienced a new thought or revelation while writing a thank you note, work memo, important email, or long-overdue text?

If you think about it, we write for pleasure every day. Take blogs for example. Inherently, blogs are supposed to be about things we enjoy discussing: travelling, eating, meeting people, visiting the rare and unexplored, politics, fashion, cooking, TV, movies, literally anything else. Every time we tweet 140 characters, we’re writing for pleasure. Just expand that. Or not. Write exactly that. You don’t always need to tweet about that burrito you had for lunch or how wild your weekend was, but sometimes you do! Just break free of the notion that you have to do these things on social media. Your writing of your thoughts provides more benefit than just updating your friends on what you’re doing.

Start writing on your smartphone at lunch. When you say something witty or insightful, jot it down. Use those notes as a way to delve deeper into those topics. Think about starting a blog. There’s no shame in writing banal and clichéd posts at first. Use them as a springboard to talk about what’s underneath it all.

Once you change your attitude toward what writing is (instead of a chore, think of it as a method to develop your personal understanding), you can more easily make writing a habit. So write it down – maybe you’ll like it. You’ll definitely learn something about yourself in the process.

Image: Flickr

Education

It took us a while to join the podcast bandwagon, but now we can’t stop listening! There are so many great podcasts to listen to, so there’s certainly no shortage of great information or inspiration. These are the eight podcasts we can’t get enough of.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Love learning about history? You won’t want to stop listening to this podcast. From Chinese History to American Civil War to History Mysteries to Pirates, there is an abundance of fascinating topics about the past.

Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series

If you’re a budding entrepreneur or have been running your own business for a while, this podcast is a must-listen.

Planet Money

Listening to this podcast is a fun (yes, fun) way to learn about money and economics. With interesting and relevant topics, this podcast will make you feel smarter in just 20 minutes.

Zero to Travel

Experiencing serious wanderlust? Zero to Travel shares useful travel tips, inspiring travel stories, and new ways to explore the world. Get your passport ready!

Joblogues

Joymarie Parker hosts candid conversations with budding entrepreneurs, creative-thinkers, and dynamic young professionals navigating work and life across the globe. For real talk, check this podcast out.

Longform

Bookworms, this podcast is for you. Longform shares weekly conversations with a non-fiction writer or editor on his or her craft and career.

TED Radio Hour

As always, TED shares fascinating ideas, different journeys, and unique insights. Each show is centered on a common theme, such as happiness, creativity, and new inventions.

Stuff You Should Know

Want to know how PEZ works? What about how police dogs work? How hot air balloons work? If you’re at all curious about how things work, this is the podcast for you.

Image: Sascha Kohlmann

Book PostsCulture

Today is Mexico’s Independence Day, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorite reads from and about this unique and awesome country. Each year on September 16th Mexico celebrates its independence with parades, parties, delicious food, and family and friends. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Mexico and its culture, take a look through our book suggestions below.

mexico books

  1. The Years with Laura Diaz
  2. Mexico: Democracy Interrupted
  3. Pedro Páramo
  4. Frida: A Biography of Frida Khalo
  5. History of the Conquest of Mexico

What is your favorite book? Is there one specifically related to Mexico’s history? Let us know @carpejuvenis on Twitter!

Cover Image: Flickr

 

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We recently met up with Tara in New York at a delicious cafe on Mott street to talk more about her upcoming book release, and to get to know her better in person. Her first book is coming out on September 1st, and we wanted to get the inside scoop on her process, routine, and what she’s been up to. Positive, kind, and generous in sharing her advice, Tara is incredibly open and easy to talk to. Her book, Eden’s Wishis about a twelve year old genie who wants to be free from the lamp she’s been kept in all her life and experience what the world is really like. Tara gave us a sneak peek of the book, and we couldn’t put it down. It is captivating, funny, and well-written. We can’t wait to watch where Tara and Eden’s Wish go next!

Name: M. Tara Crowl
Education: BA in Cinematic Arts and Advertising from the University of Southern California; MA in Creative Writing from Macquarie University
Follow: mtaracrowl.com / @mtaracrowl
Location: New York, New York

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Tara Crowl: Knowing that when you’re young is the time to take risks. As life goes on, your responsibilities will increase. There’s no better time than your youth to go after the things you dream about.

CJ: You majored in Cinematic Arts and Advertising at the University of Southern California. How did you decide what to major in?

MTC: USC has a great film program, so that was a major factor in my decision to go there. I really wanted to make movies, so initially I planned to study Production. But when I got there, I fell in love with the academic side of film—Critical Studies—and stuck with that. (I also learned that I was no good with a camera.)

Advertising was sort of a random thing for me to study. I took a couple of advertising classes and liked them, so I went with that as my minor. It’s a cool type of creativity—learning what people want, and then figuring out how to deliver it.

Although I’m not working in either of those fields now, I’m glad that I studied what interested me at the time. I think that because I loved what I was learning, I retained it and have been able to apply it in ways I wouldn’t have thought of back then.

CJ: After college you worked for an independent movie producer and a literary manager. You then worked in the motion picture literary department of a talent agency. What were these experiences like and what are your biggest takeaways from them?

MTC: Those jobs were two very different experiences within the entertainment industry, and I’m grateful for them both. Each was really challenging and enlightening.

Primarily, I learned about storytelling. During those days, I read and evaluated screenplays every day. When I read a script, I started to see the movie—or the lack of potential for it. That has absolutely contributed to the way I write.

But also, being on that side of the process, I learned the value of being a writer that people want to work with. I think it’s so important to be humble, hard-working, and communicative when you’re in a creative role.

CJ: Where does your love of storytelling come from? What stories have greatly influenced you?

MTC: I read constantly when I was little. I think books played a huge role in shaping my identity and the way I saw the world. And for as long as I can remember, I wanted to write books for kids like me. A couple years ago my mom found my journal from first grade, and I had written that I wanted to win the Newbery Medal one day!

The books I loved back then definitely influenced the way I write now. I hope so, at least, because I still think they’re brilliant. My favorite was A Wrinkle in Time. I loved the Baby-Sitters Club books, and everything by Roald Dahl. Harriet the Spy was one of my favorites too—and also a book called The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh.

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CJ: You moved to Sydney, Australia, for a Master’s program in Creative Writing at Macquarie University. Wow! This sounds like such an incredible experience. What led you to your decision to go to graduate school for creative writing, and why Australia?

MTC: I liked my job at the talent agency, but something kept tugging at my heart, telling me that my childhood dream had never gone away. At that point I hadn’t studied writing at all, so the prospect of it was terrifying. But I got an idea for a middle grade book, and I took a stab at it. I sent the beginning to a few publishers, and there was some interest, so I decided to give it a real shot.

I knew I’d need to go to school for writing—because I had a lot to learn, but also as a way of fully committing to my dream. I looked at grad schools with the type of program I wanted to attend, and most of them were in places that weren’t appealing to me. One day I started to look internationally, and I saw a program at Macquarie University. Suddenly I knew it was where I was meant to go. I’d never been to Australia, or really even wanted to go there, but I just knew it was right. I applied, got in, and a few months later I went.

I think some of the people around me at the time might have thought it was a strange decision. But my parents were 100% supportive and encouraging. They always have been, and I’m so grateful for that. Leaving everything I knew to follow that dream was scary, but exhilarating—and ultimately, so rewarding.

CJ: We imagine you had a lot of amazing adventures in Australia. What were your favorite things to do there?

MTC: It really is an incredible place! Sydney is unbelievably beautiful, and it was such a special time for me personally. My life opened up and took on a whole new dimension while I was there. I remembered how big and beautiful the world is. I felt like a kid again.

For the second half of the year I spent there, I lived in an old house near the beach with a big backyard. I loved going for swims in the ocean, and then coming home and reading in the yard.

CJ: You started writing a book in Sydney that will be published in September called Eden’s Wish. Congratulations – that’s very exciting! How did the idea for this book come about, and what was your writing process?

MTC: Thank you! I was on a plane when I first came up with the idea for Eden’s Wish. For some reason I was thinking about genies, and I started imagining what a genie’s life would be like. There’s a certain allure to the whole thing—the wish-fulfillment aspect, I guess. But when I thought about it, I realized that a genie would be trapped inside an oil lamp until someone happened to rub it. Then, whenever you did get out, you’d have to spend the whole time granting someone’s wishes. You’d be able to give other people what they wanted, but have no power within your own life.

When I looked at it that way, being a genie seemed terrible. So I started to dream up the character of Eden, a twelve-year-old genie who loves the world and hates the life she was born into. And the story took shape from there.

I started writing the book during grad school, and turned in the first section as my thesis. Then I moved to New York and finished it while working various jobs to support myself along the way.

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CJ: Any tricks or tips for writing a book? Do you have a writing routine or a strict writing schedule?

MTC: One thing that’s important for me is taking the time to get to know my characters really well. Then when I place them in different circumstances, they kind of write themselves. My characters don’t come across strongly if I haven’t spent enough time developing them. And without compelling characters, a story isn’t worth reading.

My schedule varies, but I’m learning that you really do have to sit down and make yourself write every day, even when you feel like you have nothing. There’s something to be said for inspiration and the creative process, but at the end of the day, if you want writing to be your job, you’ve got to treat it like a job. You have to put in the time and the work necessary to create a quality product.

CJ: Every day in your life must look different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

MTC: It does depend on which stage of a project I’m in, but basically, the day revolves around writing. I write at home a lot of the time, or in cafes—my fiancé owns a café, so I go there sometimes. I try to go to the gym in the morning, because sitting in a chair all day isn’t great for your body. And I usually do something social in the evenings. I like being alone in my head all day while I’m working, but if I don’t talk to people on my off time, I start to go crazy!

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be a novelist do now to set him or herself up for success?

MTC: Well, the obvious advice is to read. You’ve got to read in order to learn language, story structure, and character development, and to be exposed to new ideas.

But I’d also say, soak in the experiences of your own life. Let yourself see and feel things, and then practice writing them down. That’s the only way you can write honestly—and in fiction, honesty is essential. The experiences that belong to you alone will give you a voice that’s unlike anyone else’s.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

MTC: Personally, the Bible. Personally and professionally, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf.

CJ: When you’re not working on your next book or other writing projects, how do you like to spend your time?

MTC: Being with the people I love. Going out to eat or cooking at home, going to concerts and movies, exploring New York, traveling when I can.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

MTC: Professionally, using my time more efficiently. When you’ve got a creative job and you structure your own schedule, it can be hard to figure out what’s most effective for you. So I’m focusing on finding and establishing that.

Personally, I’m always trying to be better at loving the people around me. Through my work and through my life, I want to put the best things into the world that I possibly can.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

MTC: So many things! I was an idiot when I was 20. Basically, be more conscious of what you do and how you treat people.

 Tara Crowl Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

CultureLearnTravel

There is no shortage of great literature about England, or by English writers. Whether it’s about the English and their manners, a foreigner moving to London, a little red-headed school girl taking a class trip, or a day in the life of a woman planning a party, stories set in the country you’re visiting will provide you with a new perspective and add another layer of excitement into your planning or actual trip.

If you’re headed to England, spend some time reading these books before your travels. Reading about a country you will soon explore will make your adventures rich with knowledge and more fulfilling. There’s nothing like learning as much as you can before a trip to get the most out of it and to see the stories you read about come to life.

1. LONDON: A BIOGRAPHY by Peter Ackroyd

Get to know London through its history, people, and observations. Two thousand years worth of history and folklore are in this biography of the capital of England – read it to get a good sense of the culture and events that shaped this city.

2. A LITTLE PRINCESS by Francis Hodgson Burnett
You might know this story better as the movie version, which we grew up watching too many times to count. In this 1905 children’s novel, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to make friends at boarding school in London. However, when her father, Captain Crewe dies, the headmistress of the school strips Sara of her nice things, and she is transformed from a princess to a pauper.

3. SORRY!: THE ENGLISH AND THEIR MANNERS by Henry Hitchings
What does it mean to have proper manners? Henry Hitchings examines English manners and investigates what it means to be English. We love books that help us better understand different cultures, mannerisms, and provide a unique anthropological view of how others live.

4. WHITE TEETH by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith’s debut novel is the story of two friends and veterans from World War II – Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal – in their later years. Set in North London, Smith tackles a beautiful story of friendship, life, race, history, and culture.

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5. THE GREAT STINK by Clare Clark
In 1855, engineer William May returns to Victorian London to transform the city’s sewer system. When a murder occurs in the tunnels, William is considered a suspect. Clark creatively combines fact and fiction to produce a gripping story.

6. BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens
Dickens tackles the injustices of the British legal system in this classic novel. Known as one of Dickens’ most ambitious novel, he takes readers from the British aristocracy to the poorest of the London slums.

7. LONDONERS by Craig Taylor
Journalist Craig Taylor shines a unique perspective on London through the eyes of those who live there. From a rickshaw driver in the West End to a Soldier of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, London is loved and hated. The memories and stories from those who have been a part of its history are included in this book.

8. MRS. DALLOWAY by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf’s extraordinary talent is captured in this novel through her examination of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a party in London in June 1923.

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9. A CONCISE CHINESE-ENGLISH DICTIONARY FOR LOVERS by Xiaolu Guo
An inventive novel of language and love, Guo explorse a young Chinese woman’s journey to London to learn English. When she meets an Englishman and falls in love, she learns more about herself and language than ever before.

10. THE BALLAD OF PECKHAM RYE by Muriel Spark
In this story, Dougal Douglas, a Scottish migrant, moves to Peckham in London and wreaks havoc on the town and those who live there. This 1960 short novel is known to have a fresh comic style and interesting supernatural elements.

11. BRICK LANE by Monica Ali
After an arranged marriage, Nazneen is taken to London and has to leave her Bangladeshi village behind. Readers are taken along for the adventures of Nazneen’s new life.

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12. THE NIGHT WATCH by Sarah Waters
In this story of four Londoners, three women and a young man’s lives intertwine and then change in the shadow of a grant event. We are all for literary suspense.

13. SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN by Buchi Emecheta
In this classic tale of a Nigerian woman, Adah, who brings her family to London, themes about immigration, identity, and racism emerge. Though Adah seeks an independent life for herself and her children, she is faced with the hard truths of being a new citizen.

14. MADELINE IN LONDON by Ludwig Bemelmans
The beloved Madeline makes her way to London with her class and Miss Clavel to visit Pepito, who has just moved there.

15. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
First published in 1813, this beautiful novel is one for the ages. The story follows Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. You can never go wrong with Jane Austen.

What books about London have you read or are interested in reading?

P.S. 11 books to read before traveling to Ireland.

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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Book ReviewEducationLearn

When I first picked up Station Eleven, the newest novel from Emily St. John Mandel, it was definitely on a whim. I’ve read some post-apacolyptic and dystopian fiction before (see: McCarthy’s The Road, Collins’ The Hunger Games and Orwell’s 1984), but if I’m being totally honest, I don’t love it. This time though, it was getting late, the bookstore was about to close, and the woman behind the counter pointed it out as I was about to pay. I’d heard some rumblings about the book, so I decided to give this genre another chance. Plus, the cover and the title were definitely intriguing.

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Station Eleven begins on a night that several things, including civilization, end. The novel opens on a stage production of Shakespeare’s King Lear, with the famous Hollywood star Arthur Leander as the titular character. In the wings, an eight-year-old aspiring actress, Kristen Raymonde, witnesses the great actor suffer a heart attack and die onstage. As chaos ensues within the theatre, the outside world faces a threat of a different sort. Within a matter of weeks, nearly all of the global population has been wiped out by a lethal flu. Flights are grounded, borders dissolve and cars are left where they die as the survivors attempt to escape the pandemic.

Fast-forward 20 years and Kristen is still an actress, touring the country in horse-drawn pickup trucks and performing Shakespeare for the various communities her troupe, the Traveling Symphony, come across. On the road the troupe has long discussions about the things they can barely remember; wi-fi, the faces of family members, airplanes and movies. While Kristen travels, she remains fixated on Arthur Leander, looking for old gossip magazines and newspapers to add to her collection. In her pack, she also carries two issues of a comic book named Dr. Eleven, given to her by Leander on one of the nights of their performance.

As they journey through the wilderness, the troupe comes upon a mysterious fanatic known as “the prophet,” who has taken over a town they had visited some months prior. They meant to pick up two members of the troupe who had wintered in the town to have their baby, but when they arrive, the couple and their newborn are missing. In the meantime, rumors of a Museum of Civilization reach the troupe, and they decide to make their way to this mythical settlement where artifacts (laptops, credit cards, phones and other electronics) on supposedly on view. With the Prophet on their heels, the Symphony’s journey is intersected by flashbacks of Leander’s life, the strange comics Kristen carries, and the history of “the Prophet.”

Mandel has written a beautiful, lyrical novel. While some have criticized her representation of the “disaster” that ended civilization, I found it refreshing not to focus so much on the epidemic, but the events that both preceded and followed it. Throughout the book, we are given more of Leander’s life story, his connection to the author of the Dr. Eleven comics, and a twist at the end to tie each of the threads together in a satisfying and thought-provoking conclusion. The author inserts subtle, occasionally disturbing clues that make the reader question the meaning of art, music, life and civilization in ways that other dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels do not. Perhaps the most lingering take-away is the motto of the Symphony, “survival is insufficient,” a line taken from an old Star Trek episode, that many members of the Symphony repeat throughout the story.

This motto, “survival is insufficient,” drives the core of the book, and I found myself thinking a lot about it even after I put the novel down. Can art save us? That seems to be the idea, and it is definitely a more hopeful conclusion than the one many other novels of this genre come to. Mandel has created a dystopian novel that is not horribly violent, does not scare us or condemn humanity and even manages, at times, to be uplifting. This is definitely a piece that will stay with you, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best novels I’ve read in a while. My two pieces of advice, then, are to pick up a copy for yourself, and always listen to the people at your local bookstore, because they seem to have a knack for suggesting just the story you need to read.

Image: Pexels and Amazon

Education

Happy first day of autumn! Who’s looking forward to hot cocoa, scarves, and bundling up with a good read? To say that we’re excited would be an understatement. Now that summer is over, it’s time for a fresh reading list. Here are the eight books at the top of our reading list…

1. So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to be and Why It Endures by Maureen Corrigan

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2. How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster

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3. The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us by Diane Ackerman

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4. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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5. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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6. Unspeakable And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum

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7. What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

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8. Liar Temptress Soldier Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil Wars by Karen Abbott

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What books are you reading this fall?

Image: Abhi Sharma, Flickr

EducationSkills

It’s summer! You get to sleep in, waking to the sound of chirping birds, sunlight coming through the windows, illuminating your room. You wake up with bed hair and you stumble out of your bed, walking past the pile of dirty laundry and bowl of cereal you went to get in the middle of the night. Your desk is a mess. Nail polish bottles, papers, pencils, eraser dust, an earring missing its sister, a collection of bracelets, a chipped cup, a photo of you and your friends, Post-Its that have lost their stick…

Listen. You’re a lovely and awesome person, but it’s time for an intervention. It’s time… to clean your room. Summer is a great time to clean your room or workspace. You can get rid of old things and prepare for the next semester. There are some things you can do to make it easy for you to keep your room clean until September, without making your room too sparse or boring.

When most people clean their room, they clean their closet. But there are other parts of your room that you can’t neglect. You have that Economics textbook propping up your laptop. The Victorian novels you bought for Lit class are scattered on three shelves and you probably spent $200 buying all of those last semester.

Students often forget (or don’t have time) to sell their textbooks at the end of each semester. Finals can get in the way, or going back home/going abroad will be more of a priority than a few books lying around. But unless they’re on a shelf (and you’ll be using them again), there isn’t any reason to keep them. There are many options to sell them, either back to the school’s bookstore or online.

Speaking of things you’ll need again, you might want to sort through all your notes. Some students use a laptop and save their docx. or PDFs there. Luddites like me like to print things out (sorry trees!) and write notes on them before putting them in a folder. All those papers scattered in your room? The Post­Its reminding of you an upcoming final? The pens that dried out because you lost the pen cap? (I prefer clicky pens myself) This is a good chance to go through what you want to keep (or not keep) and delete/throw out what you don’t want.

Laptop users, this is a good time to back up your data! You might unexpectedly need that final paper’s works cited page again, or you might get a handout that you’ve gotten before. I like to back data up every half a semester, but the summer is the best time to do it. You might want to tune-up your computer and all that techy stuff while you’re at it!

This time of the year is a good chance for you to make a workspace for yourself. If you’ve been living off your bed with laptop in lap, you might have found yourself falling asleep while doing a paper (sounds familiar?). If your desk space was cramped up with dirty laundry, old lip gloss, and a dusty printer, well, it should all cleaned up and free for you to use. If you create a workspace, it will help you concentrate.

Remember, if you always push your chair in after you use it, it won’t be piled up with clothes and other things. Keep a container for pens and other office supplies, and make sure your printer is in a spot that’s easy to access. Ink is also easy to refill, so always have that somewhere in case you have to emergency­print a handout or something. Things like that can distract you from working during the school year, and if you start the habit this summer, you are more likely to maintain it (and get to know where everything is) by fall.

Now that your room looks like it’s ready for summer fun, as well as for the next semester, there are a few things you can do to keep it that way. Next week, I will share my tips on how to maintain your organized space.

Read Summer Action Item – Clean Your Room: Part I

Image: Kikette Interiors

CultureRead, Watch, Do

Action items for the weekend: After a long day of pumpkin picking, read Malcolm Gladwell’s newest release and then follow up with a documentary about the American public education system. As with any literature and documentaries, read and watch with a critical eye. Have a productive weekend!

Read: David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell | Watch: Waiting for Superman (2010)
Do: Pumpkin picking and carving