A Summer-Suspense-Must-Read!

Hi there everyone! Summer has officially (I mean the actual season) kick-started. For some of us that means days of contemplating  what to do, while for others it means research, volunteering, internships, etc. Either way, I think it is very important to consecrate a little bit of your time each day for reading. Therefore, I thought I would encourage you to read this really awesome book I have read this past month!

The book is titled Memory Man and is written by David Baldacci. If you are a sleuth and love unraveling mysteries, then this is definitely a book for you. The story is about an extraordinary man named Amos Decker who, after a gruesome concussion on the football field, suffers from a peculiar brain condition called hyperthemia and synesthesia. Hyperthemia is the ability to never, and this is no exaggeration, forget a single thing that has happened to the person. Synesthesia is the ability to use one sense of the body with another seemingly unconnected sense. For example, Amos is able to see everything in colors and numbers.

The story commences with Amos walking right into the murder of his entire family one night. Horrified and absolutely devestated, he doesn’t know what to do. The grisly murder scene leaves him abashed and grieving. He thinks about killing himself, but the police come just in time and talk him out of shooting himself. He later vows to find the killers and avenge his family and himself. Amos’ journey is one filled with countless shocks and surprises that will leave you ardent to find out what happens on the next page.

Amos, a retired detective, definitely has the brains to solve this case, and this is evident in every step of the story. With a little more help from a former partner named Lancaster, a journalist named Jamison, and an FBI agent named Bogart, Amos sets out to catch the merciless killer. To everyone’s, but Amos of course, surprise, the killer is no less intelligent than Amos himself.

A huge twist in the story comes when a shooting at Mansfield High School leaves few students and adults dead. At first, you may think that this may be an entire new mystery in itself, however, it turns out that the shooter was no other than the one who had shot Amos’ wife, strangled his daughter, and slit the throat of Amos’ brother-in-law.  These two interconnected cases elucidate that the killer has no boundaries. Why? Why is the killer is doing all of this? What did the shooting have to do with Amos and his family?

You will discover that each clue that Amos uncovers is carefully crafted to fit into the final puzzle. In the beginning, it may seem that the pieces are all random, but believe me, you will be awestruck as to how the entire mystery unfolds itself at the end.

I really hope you all take time this summer to definitely give this book a go. I promise you that it will not be a disappointment at all. Baldacci is an impeccable author who is meticulous in his vivid imagery; don’t be surprised if you get so engulfed in the words that you soon find yourself alongside Amos, deciphering the murder’s clever clues.

Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum

I recently found myself in Philadelphia with my boyfriend on an unseasonably warm day, without any real plans of what we would see or do in the city. Due to the high heat, we didn’t want to just pick a neighborhood and wander, which is usually my go-to activity in any large city. We settled on the Mutter Museum, mostly because of the awesome student discount, its central location in the city, and the promise of a few uninterrupted hours of air conditioning.

The interior of the main section of the Museum

The Mutter Museum is a medical museum that contains hundreds of historical medical instruments, wax representations of different diseases and samples of mutations and “oddities.” The museum is named for Dr. Thomas Mutter, who collected many of the specimen now in the museum throughout his career in the middle of the 19th century, keeping many of the skeletal and wet samples for his own biomedical research purposes. Dr. Mutter greatly improved the surgical techniques of his time and expanded the understanding of the ways in which the human body works and heals. With the student discount, a ticket to the museum is only $13, which grants access to every single exhibition, collection, and the garden full of medicinal plants in the museum’s courtyard.

At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy or even “get” the museum. I am not very fluent in medical terminology, and haven’t taken any biology-related science since my freshman year of high school. I also usually favor art museums over any other type of museum when I am traveling. That being said, I recommend the Mutter Museum to everyone, regardless of their interest in or knowledge of science and medicine. As someone who is more humanities-inclined, I appreciated the historical approach taken by the museum towards medicine. I can honestly say that the Mutter museum is equal parts science and history. There are many specimen that are completely unique to the museum such as slides of Albert Einstein’s brain, the full skeleton of an “American giant,” and the connected livers of Chang and Eng Bunker, a set of Siamese twins born in 1811. The collections allowed me to reflect on the ways in which the practice of medicine has drastically changed in the last 200 years or so, and better appreciate the fact that I am alive in a time of modern medicine, anesthesia, and better acceptance and understanding of genetic mutations and birth defects.

The skull collection, containing 139 skulls from various people throughout the world.

Personally, my favorite part of the museum was a permanent exhibition focusing specifically on medical care and access during the Civil War in the hospitals of Philadelphia. This collection included surgical instruments and horrific descriptions of common medical practices such as amputation. I also appreciated the focus on the important role of women as nurses in the Civil War hospitals, and the use of Walt Whitman quotes throughout the exhibition, which further combined science with the humanities.

Just one of the many interesting skeletal specimen you can check out in the museum!

After visiting, I can truly say the Mutter Museum has something for everyone, regardless of personal interests and prior knowledge. I highly recommend taking advantage of our university’s proximity to Philadelphia and visiting the fascinating museum for yourself!

Commuting….

Hi everyone! I can’t believe summer is already here (even though the past few days have been a bit rainy and muggy). I thought I would share my past academic year’s commuting experience with you all because next year I will be back to living on-campus!

To be honest, the first few days, and even weeks, were very tough. Because getting to the train station was a problem, my dad would drop me off on his way to work in the morning. This meant that even though my earliest classes were around 11 a.m., I had to wake up at 8 a.m. to be dropped off at the train station. In addition, the past few weeks NJ Transit has not been in its best shape with the derailments and power outages. As a result, there have been at least two or three days on which I was so ecstatic to be coming home on time, but the trains were delayed by a good 30 minutes to over an hour. I remember such an instance, specifically the Friday before winter break, when everyone at the New Brunswick station were carrying suitcases back to their homes. We were all covered in jackets and hats because it was quite windy and chilly. I was fervent to go home to a semi-relaxing break (I had midterms coming up after break as usual). The lady on the speaker came up, and I was hoping she would say in her monotonous voice “The next train to stop on track 4 is the 5:29 train to Trenton stopping at..” blah, blah, and blah. Unfortunately, she started to say the one thing all commuters feared the most: “The 5:29 train is now operating 65 minutes late.” My heart dropped. Everyone sighed. They opened their apps and starting tracking the train down. There were several times when the train would just “disappear”, which indicated that it would not hit all of its designated stops on the app. Nonetheless, I didn’t lose hope. After almost an hour and a half, the bright lights of the train nearing the curve of the track 4 (my track) was visible. I shouted to my friend “Look! It’s here” and I saw her eyes gleam with joy.  I saw the happiness in everyone’s eyes. We were all just glad to be on our way home. I realized how peculiar it was that a train coming on time felt so precious and was capable of bringing so much happiness. I had never experienced this before in my life prior to commuting. This holds true to the platitude of being grateful for those little things you take for granted each day because you never know how much they mean to you until they are gone.

Another important thing I learned from commuting is time management. The days on which I was waiting for the bus (I took a bus home from the station after college) or the train, I was trying to make up the studying time I would lose to commuting. Whether it was just looking over organic chemistry notes or re-reading my essay, I would try to get some work done to save some time. Commuting took nearly three to fours hours out of my day every week, so these “in-between-studying” times were kind of important for me.

For those of you planning to commute or are commuting right now, here are some tips I would like to share with you.

  1. Be at least 10 minutes early before your planned train/bus time.
  2. Always carry work with you (notes, laptop, a book, etc…)
  3. Pack lots of snacks (you never can be 100% sure of when the train/bus will arrive or depart)!
  4. Double check for your tickets and headphones (especially your headphones because who doesn’t want to listen to songs while traveling?)

I hope you have a great summer!

Great Short Reads: A Colloquium Alternative

So as members of the SAS Honors Program, we need to do two Honors Colloquiums or an alternative. And there are a lot of alternatives. This past semester I took part in a relatively new one: a one credit Pass/Fail course called Great Short Reads.

So, you ask, how was it? Should I take it?

The answer to the first question is highly enjoyable and to the second, as with much advice, is it really depends on you and your situation.

In short: If you have the time to read three novellas/short novels and enjoy not only reading but discussing and briefly writing about literary fiction, then yes this is a great alternative to another colloquium that has all your favorite things and free pizza.

The course is led by Professor Paul Blaney, who also teaches that course that goes to Ireland every spring. For the past semester, he picked our first novella, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, then the class voted on our second and third pieces, which ended up being Slaughterhouse Five and A Clockwork Orange, three incredibly different pieces in terms of style, topic, and genre that were fantastic, if somewhat depressing, reads.

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For each of these, we read them, watched a movie adapting them, and wrote a short piece on the Sakai forums. Then, at the end of the semester, we had to write a short piece imitating the novels that could fit into the novel (essentially, we were told to write canon-compliant fanfiction for class). At each of the five meetings we held over the course of the semester, there was free pizza and everyone was generally into discussing the books. Overall, I liked it a lot more than colloquium and found the reading to be very rewarding and to be a nice change of pace from my other classwork. If you’re looking for summer reading, I would recommend any of these books (though maybe spread it out and read things that are maybe a little more optimistic in between each).

If you have any questions about the course or any summer reading recommendations, leave a comment 🙂

Have a great summer!

Also, since my last final is today at 4, enjoy this meme:

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Being a Peer Mentor for the Honors Program

JUST DO IT.

This year was my first time as a Peer Mentor, through SASHP, for a first-year student, who I was paired up with based on similar academic studies and interests. We first met each other at the Peer Mentor/Mentee Summer Kick-Off event last June, which was really just the very beginning of our adventure together. As a Peer Mentor, I received the opportunity to guide my mentee through her first year here at Rutgers, helping her adjust to the transition from high school to a large university and to the many changes. We met at least once a month, and soon enough, we were friends! Here are my top three moments with my mentee, who we’ll call Melodia for this post:

3. The Awkward First Meeting

It’s always super awkward when you meet someone for the first time, isn’t it? Same case for when I had my first, official meeting of the year with Melodia! We met at Busch Campus Center, and even our initial greeting was awkward:

“Hiii!”

“Hiii!”

We walked to some couches in silence and then marched towards Moe’s to get Melodia some food. After we overcame the initial awkwardness, we proceeded to Phase 2: More Awkwardness. Most of this phase consisted of silence…awkward silence, during which we smiled at each other while carefully chewing on food. Phase 3: Some Conversation, began when we both realized that “people usually talk”; therefore, we…TALKED. We conversed about the first week of classes, our already busy schedules, the different classes we were registered for, and how we were liking them and our professors. It was clear that Melodia was sharp, excellent at time management, and adjusting well to the Rutgers environment. Our meeting ended with, “See you soon!” Overall, it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be–not too much blood, sweat, or tears at all! Folks, here’s a lesson I learned from this first meeting: AWKWARD is NORMAL.

2. Session of Connection

For probably our second or third meeting, we decided to talk with each other at the new Starbucks at the Yard across from Scott Hall. This, my friends, was when we truly CONNECTED. By this time, the awkwardness had vanished, and we were already talking to each other with ease. That day, we were discussing how Melodia’s classes were coming along and any challenges she was facing. Somehow, we switched to the wonderful world of art and passionately lectured each other on literature, films, and creativity. Interesting lectures from both sides, I must say. Melodia exclaimed, “We have so much in common!” To that, I responded, “Can you believe that a whole hour has passed by?!” After some more chatting, I finished sipping my cappuccino (with three sugars) and we said, “See you soon!” I made my way to the train station, thinking to myself how awesome the day turned out to be. 

1. Never Say Goodbye

All stories come to an end. All things have an end. But still, “Never Say Goodbye,” as a Hayley Westenra (one of my most favorite singers in this world) song title indicates. Although that song describes a romantic relationship, I can say that it applies to friendships as well. Just last week, I had my last, official meeting with Melodia, this time in three places–we were moving around a lot–including the Livingston Student Center, the Livingston Starbucks, and Sixteen Handles. I congratulated her on finishing an entire year at Rutgers. Freshman year: done. In this meeting, we talked about how Melodia had grown and changed for the better. I told her how I was proud of her for beginning to overcome her fear of sharing her work with others, specifically in a Creative Writing class workshop, during which she bravely listened to her classmates’ critiques and constructive feedback. I also congratulated her on something else…

SHE GOT ACCEPTED TO BE A PEER MENTOR FOR THE HONORS PROGRAM FOR NEXT YEAR!

I was thrilled and so very proud that she chose to apply. It warmed my heart when she said she gave it a shot because I was an inspiration for her, and that she also wanted to help an incoming first-year just as I had helped her. After about an hour, before I hurried off to Tillett to tutor and Melodia crossed the street to the Plaza bus stop, we, of course, agreed to definitely meet up throughout next year, because the end of my official role as a mentor for Melodia didn’t mean the end of my friendship with her. We told each other, “See you soon!”

So folks, if you’re looking for a rewarding experience, choosing to be an Honors Peer Mentor is absolutely the way to go!

Motivation GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

–The Doctor

 

Sweet Release

Friday was the first-ever Interdisciplinary Honors Thesis (IHT) Conference, where seniors who have completed an IHT presented it to faculty and peers. After a year of researching and writing my thesis, I can proudly say that the conference marked the end of a long, long process.

As honor students, you all have the Capstone requirement to fulfill. I’d like to give you 3 big tips to consider as you prepare to complete it, whether you are graduating next year or in a few years.

1. Take the time to look at all the Capstone options.

The Honors Program now offers 5 different options for students to complete this requirement.

Option A: Completion of a senior honors thesis through Departmental Honors within the major department

Option B: Completion of the SAS Interdisciplinary Honors Thesis

Option C: Completion of two graduate level courses in the same department or program; requires prior permission of instructor and approval of department graduate director, and clearance by an Honors Program dean. The student must complete a scholarly report detailing their experience.

Option D: Completion of two graduate level courses offered in professional tracks such as five-year programs of the Graduate School of Education, or the seven-year BA/MD; these courses must be taken in consecutive semesters. The student must complete a scholarly report detailing their experience.

Option E: Completion of a two-semester professional, certificate, or service learning experience, field placement, or internship under the supervision of a sponsoring department or academic unit. Only coursework completed through approved programs run by academic departments and university centers, bureaus, and institutes will be recognized. The total credits earned must be at least 6The student must complete a scholarly report detailing their experience.

Because of the variety of options, looking into all of them will be helpful to ensure you do not get stuck writing a 40-page thesis on a topic you have no interest in.

If you are currently deciding which option to choose, please do not hesitate to visit 35 College Ave to talk to one of the deans about choosing.

2. Start planning and preparing as soon as you can. 

I had been thinking about my thesis since the beginning of Junior year. I studied abroad during the spring semester of Junior year and the deans recommended that I have a rough topic and advisors before I left. While it is possible to change topics at the beginning of senior year, keep in mind that it is a huge endeavor, so the sooner you have an idea, the sooner you can begin researching. That being said, make sure that you choose a topic that you are very interested in pursuing. You will be spending at least a year researching and writing about your topic, and if you begin to hate it halfway through the school year, then the rest of the project will be torturous.

Once again, do not hesitate to chat with the deans about potential topics. Dean Nazario helped me come up with the basis for my thesis. The deans are treasures and are resources in an of themselves, so I encourage you to seek their guidance, especially for help with the Capstone requirement.

3. Create a schedule with certain deadlines.

The first two tips are kind of obvious and can apply to any project or assignment. However, this third one is the most important tip I can give you, in my opinion. What do I mean by this? Before I explain, I want to briefly talk about my thesis process. I started researching late, probably around the middle of the fall semester. I also started writing late. I didn’t have a full draft until the end of March. My procrastination and last-minute everything created quite a bit of stress (although I am happy to say that everything turned out well in the end). I only got stuff done when my advisor (bless her patience with me) gave me a bunch of dates and told me what was due on each of them. For example, at the end of Thanksgiving Break, I owed her an annotated bibliography of the sources I was going to use for the first half of my thesis; on February x I owed her the first half of my paper; at the end of March I needed to email her a final draft.

This scheduling is the reason I completed my thesis and I wish I had set such goals for myself. So I encourage all of you to create a schedule with certain deadlines to help you complete your Capstone on time, organized, and with as little stress as possible.

I hope this helps a bit. If you want to talk more about my personal experience with the thesis, please feel free to leave a comment!

Taking a Break

School is stressful: there are constant exams, papers, and projects due, and with the beautiful spring weather it is difficult to concentrate on anything. I’m sure everyone knows this feeling. And so I had no trouble agreeing to take a week off to go on a trip with my family, to Italy nonetheless, as they all had spring break on the same week.

Not gonna lie, the idea of missing a week of school, while taking 19.5 credits, kind of worried me. This is a lot of school work to miss, and I did not want to have to do work throughout vacation. So I made sure to talk to all my professors ahead of time, fill out a self-reported absence form, get some homework out of the way, as well as mentally prepare for cramming that would happen post trip (which in fact, is happening). I only took two notebooks with me on the trip, so I could at least do some HW, but not overdo it. And then, I went on vacation.

Let me tell you, this was exactly the break I needed. Of course, the vacation itself was fun and amazing, but the fact that I was ‘on a break’ with college added even more to it. I think I was able to appreciate it and relax more. Needless to say, I didn’t have to bring those notebooks because once there I did not intend on doing homework. I saw great sights, ate (a lot of) great food, went shopping, hiking, sailing, slept eight hours every night. Essentially, it was as if I ‘recharged’ myself.

Now that I am back, it is back to usual with work and cramming. Truth be told, jet lag is currently my biggest advantage. I woke up at six this morning, feeling like it was one pm, and started to do work. And, since no one is awake yet, there are no distractions and it is easy to concentrate. Now I have a few more hours until I would normally wake up and am able to get more done! I would, without a doubt, urge anyone to take some sort of break every once in a while. You clear your mind and come back refreshed, and we all know weekends are not always enough.

SAS Core: Why, Why, Why??

Hi everyone! Summer is around the corner. The sun is finally coming out and it is beginning to look a lot like spring! This also means that a new semester will soon befall us. Class registrations have begun, and everyone is out to fulfill those beloved SAS core requirements. Am I right or am I right? We are looking for the classes that hit two birds with one stone, and by that, I mean classes that can fulfill two SAS core requirements in one go! I have been looking for some classes too, and so I thought, why not compile a list and share with you all as well? So here is a list of classes that might seem interesting and fulfill those SAS core requirements! Enjoy!

  1. Looking at 21st Century World History (01:082:118) (3 credits) (21C, HST)

In this class, you will take examine the history of Western Art from antiquity to medieval period. If you like to travel and look at art, then this might be the class for you because you will be seeing a wide array of artwork spanning from Egypt to Rome. This course has two hourly exams, a final, and three to five page paper on a topic chosen by the professor.

2. Global East Asia (01:098:250) (4 credits) (21C, HST, SCL)

This course is about the world’s most influential East Asian nations including China, Korea, and Japan. You will learn about each of the nation’s economy, culture, war, gender, politics, etc. You will have clicker questions and recitation for this class.

3. Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences (01:830:123) (3 credits) (21C, HST)

This is an interesting course about what the consequences of believing in souls are. You will get to explore topics such as self, mind and body dualism, culture, evolution, death, etc. You will have weekly readings. Your grade comprises of two midterms, a take-home final, assignments, and discussion posts.

4. Latino and Caribbean Cultural Studies (01:050:295) (3 credits) (Wcr, AHp)

In this class, you will analyze the culture, politics, society, and more about the Latino and Caribbean cultures. You will examine how these two cultures connect in various aspects such as gender, ethnicity, and populism.

5. Women and Contemporary Chinese Society (01:170:245) (3 credits) (21C, HST, WCr or WCd)

You will unravel the role of Chinese women after 1949 in Chinese economy, politics, entrepreneurship, education, science, social movements, religious revival, and much more! This course is offered in the Fall semesters. Your grade will constitute two term papers (five pages each), a final paper (eight to nine pages), an oral presentation, active attendance, participation, and homework assignments.

6. Introduction to Korean Culture, History and Society (01:574:210)  (3 credits) (HST, AHo, Wcr)

I believe the title speaks for itself. Nonetheless, this course will introduce you to Korean culture and society in a historical perspective. Your grade in this class will encompass quizzes, homework, a presentation, and class participation. You will have two midterms and a final paper.

7. Development of the Labor Movement I (37:575:201) (3 credits) (HST or SCL, WCr or WCd)

This is a course that delves into labor movements throughout the history of Americas. You will see what shaped the American concepts of slavery, work, free labor, industrialization, etc. The class will require two papers, a midterm, a final and also attendance.

Well, I hope that gives you some choices to think about! Good luck on your midterms and finals!

 

Guest Post: Everything Will Be OK

Editor’s Note: The following post was written by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. They have been going through a rough time and want to share their experiences and contribute to the discussion of mood disorders and their prevalence, without having the spotlight on them. 

I was dating someone at the time, and he made me happier than I had ever been. But my low self-esteem and my tendency towards self-deprecation and negativity took a toll on him and our relationship. Anytime something went wrong, I blamed myself to the point of making myself cry. I told him, repeatedly, to break up with me because I felt so unable to solve anything. I was rarely able to pull myself out of my self-destructive spirals long enough to focus on fixing our problems together.

We broke up. The bags under my eyes started getting worse because I was unable to stay asleep for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time. When I went home for winter break, my parents noticed that I wasn’t sleeping well at night and put me on house arrest in the hopes that I could better relax. I wasn’t allowed to go out for more than 5 hours, and I wasn’t allowed to use any electronics after 11PM. They meant well, but the lack of distraction just left me stuck in my own thoughts, in this endless loop of I’m not good enough. I don’t try hard enough. I don’t care enough. I’m not good enough. I grew distant from my friends, not only because of the enforced lack of communication, but because I didn’t have the energy to reach out, nor the energy to follow through with plans. I knew my moods were affecting my interpersonal relationships, but instead of motivating me to make contact, they just made me feel even more guilty and upset. I lost all interest in my hobbies; I lost all interest in the club I had previously worked so hard to save. Some days, when it was sunny out, I would get these bursts of excitement and I would become hopeful that I was over it–today is the day I go outside–but after an hour I would feel the energy slowly draining out of me and I would lie back down on my bed and curl up and go to sleep.

It was worst when the weather was bad. I don’t remember the day, but I remember I was coming back from class and I had gotten off the bus because I’d started crying. I didn’t want people asking me if I was okay because I didn’t want to be a burden. In a moment of clarity, walking in the bitter cold and the rain, I became self-aware enough to recognize, however dimly, that I was showing signs of depression and that I should seek help.

I remember how useless I felt as I was unlocking my phone. I cried harder as soon as CAPS picked up. I felt defeated. I felt like I had lost. How could I have let my emotions ruin me like this? I told the woman on the phone that I needed to make an appointment, as soon as possible. I hoped with all my heart she could understand me because I didn’t know if I would be able to repeat myself without falling apart completely. Clearly, she had experience talking to inconsolable, hysterical people because she scheduled me for that Thursday and gave me a number to call in case I needed to talk to someone after-hours.

I cried my way through my first few sessions. The counselor asked about everything that hurt; everything I didn’t want to talk about: my ex, my inadequacy, my guilt, my regret, my denial about wanting to get back together. But he helped me find the willpower to push through the sadness long enough to get into my distraction methods. Coping was extremely doable, once I stopped drowning (literally and figuratively) in my tears. I started keeping a dysfunctional thought record, to write down anything that made me feel like getting back into bed, and once I had symbolically transferred the thought from my mind I found it easier to move on from them. I made a slow return to the things I loved, but this time, I pushed myself to get lost in the activity. Over time, the feeling of dread associated with doing anything changed to a feeling of anticipation; I chased the catharsis. Nearly five months later, I go to CAPS to have someone to talk to, because the unconditional support offered by my counselor has been the most important tool in my arsenal against my depression. And as cliché as it is, time really does heal all wounds.

Obviously, I still have bad days. Just last Thursday I missed an entire day of classes and didn’t go to lab because I was crying that morning, but the best way to overcome negativity is by not dwelling on it. So I’ll seek out my roommate, or text a friend, or go to the gym, or read a book. But almost no one knows I’m seeing a therapist, as I still have not gained the confidence to believe that others won’t think less of me. As an Asian-American, it’s even harder to admit to my parents or my peers that I’ve changed or that I’ve been seeking help–partially due to the taboo against mental illness & treatment in Asian cultures, but primarily because it’s in such stark contrast to the lively, confident, driven person that most people knew me to be. I know I never considered myself a sad person, nor did I know I even had the potential to be depressed, until this year. But if this experience has taught me anything, it’s that falling into depression is easier than you think. Getting out is the tricky part. By fighting it, I am happier. I find more joy in and appreciation for the little things in life. I’ve gained more confidence in myself because it is proof of my strength–proof that I am, in fact, good enough–and one day soon, I’ll be able to wean myself off therapy.

One of my closest friends, and the first person I told about going to CAPS, attached a quote to a cup of my favorite drink from Starbucks. It’s a little cheesy, but beautiful in its simplicity as an oft-unstated truth:

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Noreen’s Top 10 List of Books I Wanted to Read Over Break but Didn’t

In an epic trilogy, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to a world parallel to our own, but with a mysterious slant all its own. Demons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes–if it isn’t destroyed first.

I always have such ambitious plans going into breaks and honestly they’re not even really that ambitious.

As an English major, I read a lot of stuff and while I went into break wanting to read more stuff, I quickly realized that my brain wanted a break, rejecting any attempt to open a book that was written pre-1950 or had received some kind of literary award. Instead, my soul desired mindless entertainment and to consume internet garbage. It was spring break. I deserved this.

“But, Noreen” cry the people who know me in real life, “All you do is consume internet garbage.”

Fools! Never underestimate the amount of internet garbage I can welcome into my life, especially when I had one week of unlimited free time (which, now that I say it, isn’t really unlimited at all).

I spent the majority of my break sitting around my house watching TV shows on my laptop, having brief, yet intense moments of panic as I searched for a summer job, and being a general useless blob. I regret nothing.

So anyway, here is, in no particular order, my top ten list of books I wanted to read over break but didn’t:

1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.”

I like Greek mythology. I like LGBT themes. I find the ongoing debate over whether or not Achilles and Patroclus were lovers both fascinating and kind of hilarious.

2. The Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany or Any book from the Harry Potter Series

“It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

You’ll have to pry my at-times-illogical-desire to hold on to the Harry Potter series out of my cold dead hands.

3. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.”

I’ve heard good things about this book and got it for free like a year ago and by God do I love things that are free.

4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by  Douglas Adams

“The story so far:

In the beginning the Universe was created.

This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

I read this quote somewhere I can’t remember and it hit every single one of my sense of humor bones and I decided I needed to read this series. This was five years ago.

5. Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete.”

In my last blog post I talked about how I started to actually feel like I was growing older because I no longer like stuff I used to like when I was a kid. Well The Mysterious Benedict Society is a thing I used to like when I was a kid and I read a few pages of it and it looks like it holds up. I sure hope it holds up.

6. His Dark Materials series  by Philip Pullman

“In an epic trilogy, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to a world parallel to our own, but with a mysterious slant all its own. Demons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes–if it isn’t destroyed first. “

So apparently the movie adaptation of this was terrible, an insult to the original series, and a blight upon this world as all book-to-movie adaptations tend to be, but I watched it and I enjoyed it. To be fair it came out when I was nine and nine year old me had terrible taste in everything. I’ve heard good things about the series though from Actual AdultsTM so I’m hoping this holds up too.

7. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore.” 

I’ve read this before, but I wanted to read it again.If you like not knowing whether or not the narrator is time traveling or has PTSD, then this is the book for you. I love Kurt Vonnegut.

8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A storm is coming…

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.”

I read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett so I know I like this guy’s style, I like the premise, and there’s a TV adaptation of it coming out at some point so I thought that I’d finally read it. Nope.

9. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her. ” – Goodreads 

I got this as a Christmas present and at the moment it has been sitting on my desk in my dorm room as decoration since then. Oops.

10. Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?” – Melissa de la Cruz 

Okay so I actually did go outside a couple times during break, you know, once the streets were no longer covered in snow and I ended up at the library, which I would say is typical me if I hadn’t just written 500+ words about how I didn’t read anything over break. I saw this, thought it was cool, realized I’d never actually seen a book with a Filipino protagonist, then put it on this list.

 

Anyway, I hope you take a page out of my book (hehehehe, I’m so funny) and add some of these books to your to-read list but, unlike me, actually read them.