Summer Reading Roundup

What is this typical English major’s favorite thing about summer?  All the free time able to be spent on entering creative worlds not my own, of course!  I let the breeze turn novel pages outside on my rope hammock, tuned out some crazy campers on bus rides, and bleached books with salt water and sand while reading in the Cape Cod sun.  And I predictably enjoyed every minute of it!

I read a total of 21 books from May-August, adding up to a whopping total of 8,220 pages, according to Goodreads (a bookish version of Facebook).  Here, I’ll highlight what I’ve read, and what I’ve enjoyed most :)  For the full list of my Read Books on Goodreads, click here!

My summer top 5 great reads:

  1. _The Book Thief_, by Australian author Markus Zusak.  I don’t award the highest 5/5 star rating on Goodreads without good reason, but this book definitely did the trick.  It’s bit different from a typical novel, seeing as it is narrated by a character of Death.  While grim that may sound, this story had some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read.  Readers are captured into the life of a young girl in Nazi Germany, Liesel Meminger, known as the book thief for her love of reading.  Liesel’s story is a lovable, yet heart-wrenching tale as readers watch her struggle through life lessons, death of loved ones, war, trying to keep her innocence, family, and friendships.  Each page of experimental fiction is filled with the poignant images and powerful characters of a story not easily topped or forgotten. Highly recommended!
  2. _Gone Girl_ by American author Gillian Flynn definitely rings in my top five list.  This book is getting a ton of popularity right now, and rightly so, in my opinion.  I was a huge fan of CSI and crime thriller shows and books in my high schools years, and this is basically a more sophisticated version of that, to put it very simply.  Flynn dives deep into the presentation of conflicting narrations by a husband and wife, surrounding drama from the wife’s disappearance.  This author’s tone control makes readers lose themselves and the line between Flynn’s writing, and what seems like a true diary excerpts.  Psychologically twisted and definitely witty, this book hooked me in immediately.
  3. _The Perks of Being a Wallflower_ by American author Stephen Chbosky has been on my to-read list for a very long time now, and I’m happy to finally have read it.  With a movie coming out this fall, starring my beloved Emma Watson (Hermione from the Harry Potter film series) there’s been lots of chatter.  This book is a series of letters written by main character Charlie to an unknown “Dear friend”.  He writes about anything and everything he thinks is important: sometimes stream of consciousness, sometime deep, and sometimes on the brink of what I would think is a form of autism.  Though I found this novel a very quick read, it was funny, devastating, deep, curious, unique, and emotional.  I quickly found I was emotionally invested in the characters at the very beginning, never mind by the end!  If you don’t feel up to reading this, at least consider seeing the movie: the storyline is great, so hopefully the producers can do it justice.
  4. _The House at Riverton_ by Australian author Kate Morton.  This was the first I’ve read by this author, but I plan to look up more by her.  This story had a couple of really lovely characters drawn in the London early 1900s, one my favorite periods to read of.  I enjoyed the pacing, use of flashbacks, and the class contrasts between house servants and the wealthy.  You won’t think too much reading this, unless you want to.  That being said, this book’s vocabulary is much more advanced than the average novel, I found.  If other readers are anything like me, this book was a brilliant buy for my Nook, with its built-in dictionary.  Still, beautiful writing more like poetry strung together for a novel. Loved it.
  5. _Broken Harbor_ by Irish author Tana French.  There are four books in this author’s “Dublin Murder Squad Series,” but there’s really no importance in reading them in order.  These books are thriller mysteries written in beautiful Dublin dialect.  This author has a keen eye for details and also for human nature, making each of her books exciting and unique.  Personally, I’d skip #1 and start with book #2 as I believe it to be the best of the series, but this one was definitely worth the time put into it!

As always, my current to-read list is over-flowing, but I welcome the contest to see which books can get moved up to the top of my list.  Does anyone have any recommendations for me?  Make them good :)  And let me know if you pick up any of my Top 5!

End of Semester Part 3: Rhonda the Honda’s Resurrection

I know a lot about seemingly stupid stuff.  Depending on the audience, I can be a decent to excellent resource for all things Harry Potter, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, Disney Pixar, Ireland, grammar, literature, board game, iPhone, and chocolate related topics.  And to my enjoyment, many of these subjects find their way into my daily conversations.

Story of my life. Whoops?

(This is for you, Erin…)

So, let’s talk about cars.  I’m great at opening the sun roof on nice days and blasting a good radio station, but ask me much more about my Civic, and you’ll find me speechless– literally incapable of speech (due to a lack of knowledge).  To my credit and thanks to Papa, I can change a tire in pit-crew competitive times.  But that’s only because my car very conveniently tends to get flats on those days I’ve volunteered to drive or am expected somewhere at a certain time: New Year’s Eve party, team picnic, Memorial Day parade, the list goes on.  Let’s just go with “everything happens for a reason” and move on.

On Friday morning, two of my lovely friends and I gathered around the open hood of Rhonda, my Honda Civic.  To be honest, it took us a few minutes to even figure out how to get that far.  We knew I/Rhonda had a dead battery.  I had already rented the “jump box”, as we’ll call it, from Public Safety in return for holding my SC ID card hostage.  Public Safety had kindly printed out some directions to this “jump box”, but to our reading ability, they were either written by a four year-old or translated to English from Japanese on a free online translator.  They made no sense!  There were misplaced modifiers and mixed-up verb tenses everywhere.  I can hardly thing of a situation when some transition words like “first” and “then” would be more useful.  This electricity we’re talking about– order of operations seems kind of important!

Take three English and Education majors and place them in front of a malfunctioning car and this is what ensued: half of our time consisted of straight-faced contemplating at what we thought would solve the problem, and the rest was hysterically laughing at how clueless we actually were, even with these so-called directions.  To wrap up the comical event, we eventually got Rhonda running with the leery supervision of an officer passing through the campus parking lot.  Turns out we had the clamps connected to rubber tubes.  Third grade science lessons about rubber not being a conductor of electricity came rushing back to us like the volts running through those live wires.  You may call this a blonde moment, but I’ll take the high road and say this was a real-world learning experience.  Add “jumping” a car to my list of expertise!

*girl

End of Semester Part 2: Banquet Season

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve lucked out with deadlines big time for final papers, projects, and revisions! My friends and I are loving this teeny bit of freedom from stress and physically having to be at classes, meetings, etc. as most assignments simply have to be dropped off by a deadline. While the semester is winding down, it’s additionally the season for closing banquets and ceremonies for various clubs and things…

We had the end-of-year banquet for the Academic Success Center tutors which was yummy and nicely put together and involved a competitive game of SC Jeopardy!:

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Check out the one in the flashy red pants

Also the Humanities banquet: organized and delicious as always, with a slight side of the awkwardness always present at functions where awards are given and people who don’t normally get along try to act like best friends over chicken and cannolis. (no pics, sadly)

The night prior the college’s sole Reading Day before exams is “Late Night Breakfast” in our dining hall. Not needing any explanation, from 10PM-midnight, madness over home fries, omelets, bacon, and donuts ensues. The main attraction is President Flynn who flips chocolate-chip pancakes from the grill onto students’ waiting plates from at least 10 feet away. Being inexplicably practiced, not many people drop theirs, although when a wave of deafening clapping begins, you know there was some pancake splatter.

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Me and Laur late-night carb over-loading

Yesterday was the celebration for the Career Center’s Apprentice Competition which I applied for and came in second place!  The pics from the ceremony aren’t uploaded, but below is a candid.

A photo from my interview with a panel of seven members

Today was also the poetry reading in the Union for my Advanced Creative Writing course with the always positive, encouraging, and humorous Chair of our Humanities Department, Dr. Lloyd. Poetry class quickly rose to the top of my most enjoyable classes taken at SC, and I’m a little sad to see it end.  Each member of our class read some of their work from the semester for about five minutes.  Everything went really well, and we were happy to have a small audience!

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The class with Dr. Lloyd (middle)!

Fun times :-)

“Vocabology!”

Do you have apps? iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.: everybody loves apps! There’s an app that links to the app store so you can buy or download even more apps. Words With Friends (Scrabble knockoff) and Bejeweled Blitz, Google maps and NPR News, Twitter and Youtube, Stephen Colbert and Pandora Radio… What’s not to love?

So I have this app on my iPhone, “Vocabology“. Every day at lunchtime, it gives me a notification of a few new words to learn. For everybody that sees me regularly, you may have noticed and are probably annoyed with it. Sorry. Anyway, on my list along with Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com, and Yahoo Education, I’ve selected an Urban Dictionary word, too. To anyone else that occasionally picks up some humorous literature, you know that absorbing some quiet form of comedy can often be more funny than it would be out loud, because no one around you know you’re reading something hilarious. Know what I mean? Well, if you’ve ever been on Urban Dictionary’s website you do know what I mean, and this can get comical and awkward very quickly. As a disclaimer, if you haven’t been on Urban Dictionary, chances are you’re probably surviving life just fine and have no reason to be reading its entries; therefore, you should not look it up. I’m being dead serious, and I’m warning you (This is not to promote that website, just using it as an example. Okay, keep reading).

Today, I scrolled from hebdomadal to catechize to discern to Brotox. The other day, it was demarcate to adroit to insolence to The Airport Effect. Switching from words building my scholarly vocabulary to those usually classified as funny, slang, or taboo is a great way to break up the seemingly endless task of constantly learning new things. While I love learning and surround myself with people who feel the same, no one can argue that, at times, learning the same type of material in the same way doesn’t get boring. It’s why part of being a good educator is mixing up the way information is presented to make it more interesting. Having this one fun word at the end of my list is honestly a great motivator for me to keep returning to this app daily.

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This was one of my Urban Dictionary words over the weekend. Even with all the apps and instant access to the entire internet, I don't think I can fully diagnose myself with this tic. Luckily.

This great app also has options to “favorite” words to come back to later, “history” to review missed days, the choice to include languages such as Spanish and German, audio clips for proper pronunciations, and quiz features, too! Nerd status. Yay, learning!