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

CultureEvents & ProgramsLearn

This weekend is going to be filled with books, books, and more books. We couldn’t be more excited. BookCon, the event where storytelling and pop culture collide, officially begins on Saturday and lasts until Sunday evening. There are so many incredible guests scheduled to speak, autograph, and promote their new projects. If we don’t go in with a game plan, the entire event will just be overwhelming and chaotic. Plus, without knowing when and where our favorite authors will be, we might miss them.

Because there are a ton of great panels and activities happening throughout the weekend, we’re going to have to pick and choose our priorities. These are the top eight panels and speakers we can’t miss!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

1. 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Mindy Kaling in conversation with BJ Novak

2. 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Mixed Me: A Discussion with Taye Diggs and Shane Evans

3. 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Girls Online/Girls IRL: Young Women in the New Media

4. 4:15 PM – 5:15 PM: Aziz Ansari / Modern Romance

5. 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM: Everything Wrong With: A Day with Cinema Sins

Sunday, May 31, 2015

6. 11:30 PM – 12:30 PM: Telling Women’s Stories

7. 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM: Judy Blume in Conversation with Jennifer Weiner

8. 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM: A Conversation with Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York

Don’t worry, in case you can’t make it to BookCon, we’ll be live-tweeting and Instagramming the event, so be sure to follow along! In addition, we’ll be posting a recap of our adventures at BookCon next week, so stay tuned!

Is anyone else going to BookCon? If so, who are you most excited to see?

EducationHealth

While reading Mindy Kaling’s essay for Rookie, I couldn’t help but notice her paragraph about how, when it comes to teenagers, everyone has to be everything.

Kaling writes, “Now it feels like you need to be a straight-A student, speak an obscure language, and also have spent a year living with brown bears or something to get into college. In the 90s you just had to be a pretty good kid and do O.K. on a standardized test.” 

These two sentences pretty much summed up how I feel – and felt – about the college application process when I went through it. There is an unbelievable amount of pressure on teenagers to be unique and stand out, be a leader, serve your community, maintain a top spot on your sports team, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. When you’re in the thick of it, these pressures might not be as apparent since you have your eye on the prize, but for others, these expectations can mount to something unbearable.

It is important to take a few steps back every now and then to evaluate your pressure-level, your happiness, and to re-energize. You can’t be everything all of the time. Pace yourself and take on what you can truly manage, and surprisingly you will find that you can actually accomplish a whole lot more.

Do you feel the pressure to be everything?