Monday, May 23, 2016

Evicted

I try hard not to judge a book by its cover, but when I saw Evicted by Matthew Desmond, I couldn't resist.  The cover alone is beautiful--but the book itself was even better.

Evicted tells the stories of 8 families living in the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee.  One family lives on $20 a month, another addicted to heroin.  All of the stories are heartbreaking and painfully honest.  These families spend everything they have on rent and food, but they still have fallen behind.


As sad as it is, eviction in America is more common now than ever.  Most families spend more than half of their income on housing, and single-mother households are more likely to be evicted.  Desmond goes straight into the homes of struggling families, showing us families forced into shelters, run-down apartments, or dangerous neighborhoods.  We witness the human cost of inequality in America, and see how people's determination and intelligence help them fight their hardships.

Desmond's book gives his readers a deeper understanding of America's extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing new ideas for solving the problem.  Its scenes of hope and loss remind us of the unity of home, and how fortunate most of us are.

Monday, May 16, 2016

My Favorite Comedian Books

Over the past few years, tons of comedians have come out with their own personal memoirs.  I most recently read Amy Poehler's Yes Please, a hilarious collection of essays, poems, reflections, and lots of jokes.

While Amy's book was pretty funny, and while I love her more than anything in the world, I wasn't totally impressed by her work.  Maybe if I had read her book before I read Bossypants by Tina Fey, I would have been more satisfied.

If you're considering reading a book by a comedian, I wouldn't recommend Yes Please--unless you just really love Amy Poehler.  Tina Fey's Bossypants, Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me?, BJ Novak's One More Thing, and Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance are all completely worthy titles.  My recommendation: pick which comedian you like best.  Tina Fey is my spirit animal, so I read her book first and fell even more in love with her.  These books are filled with jokes and hilarious tales, so you're going to love the book by the comedian that you love.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Top 20 John Green Quotes

I love John Green just as much as the next girl.  His books perfectly capture what teenagers want in books--a little bit of romance, a little bit of drama, and a lot of adventure.  But what I love most about John Green is his eloquence with words.  He could take a list of completely unrelated things and turn them into something beautiful and inspiring.  His quotes have been plastered all over journals, bedroom walls, even sides of buildings.  Here are some of my favorites:

1. "You can love someone so much... But you can never love someone as much as you miss them." (An Abundance of Katherines)

2. "She is so beautiful.  You don't get tired of looking at her.  You never worry if she is smarter than you: you know she is.  She is funny without ever being mean.  I love her."  (The Fault in Our Stars)

3. "So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane."  (Looking for Alaska)

4. "My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations." (The Fault in Our Stars)

5. "We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken.  We think that we are invincible because we are."  (Looking for Alaska)

6. "What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?" (An Abundance of Katherines)

7. "If you don't imagine, nothing ever happens at all." (Paper Towns)

8. "At some point, you gotta stop looking up at the sky, or one of these days you'll look back down and see that you floated away, too." (Paper Towns)

9. "I hated talking, and I hated listening to everyone else stumble on their words and try to phrase things in the vaguest possible way so they wouldn't sound dumb." (Looking for Alaska)

10. "I feel like my life is so scattered right now.  Like it's all the small pieces of paper and someone's turned on the fan.  But, talking to you makes me feel like the fan's been turned off for a little bit.  Like things could actually make sense.  You completely unscatter me, and I appreciate that so much." (Will Grayson, Will Grayson)


11. "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are." (The Fault in Our Stars)

12. "I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you." (The Fault in Our Stars)

13. "We are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be." (Looking for Alaska)

14. "What matters to you defines your mattering." (An Abundance of Katherines)

15. "It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined." (Paper Towns)

16. "When things break, it's not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again.  It's because a little piece gets lost--the two remaining ends couldn't fit together even if they wanted to.  The whole shape has changed." (Will Grayson, Will Grayson)

17. "The real heroes anyway aren't the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention." (The Fault in Our Stars)

18. "I'm not saying that everything is survivable.  Just that everything except the last thing is." (Paper Towns)

19. "You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it.  You just use the future to escape the present." (Looking for Alaska)

20. "I've lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters." (Paper Towns)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

PROM!

Our prom is this upcoming weekend, and I am more than excited.  I love prom season so much--it gives me an excuse to be a diva and get mani-pedi's and go tanning.  I can't wait to put on my dress this Saturday and go kill it on the dance floor!

Some of my fellow authors are just as infatuated with prom as I am--so much so, that they wrote novels about prom!  Here are a few of my favorites:


1. 21 Proms by David Levithan
     This is a collection of stories by 21 different authors about their personal experiences at prom--or what they wish would have happened at theirs.  It's romantic, witty, and a light-weight read before the big night.

2. It's Our Prom (So Deal With It) by Julie Anne Peters
     This hilarious book is about a group of friends who are given the opportunity to make their school's boring senior prom an unforgettable night for everyone.  The three friends are completely clueless about prom and face some pretty heavy opposition from their peers when they plan an alternative prom.

3. Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson
     This story's main character doesn't care about prom, but almost everyone else at her school does.  But she's suddenly roped into putting together the dance on absolutely no money--teaching her about the choices she has after high school.  It's pretty funny, too.


Also--here are some cute pictures of me at prom the past few years because I just cannot wait for this weekend :)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I Love Essays

It's official: I'm a Hanoverian!!

Yesterday, I had my freshman orientation at Hanover College.  With my class schedule and summer reading locked and loaded, I'm more than ready to graduate high school.

Before our August experience this fall, however, all first years are required to read This I Belive II: a collection of personal essays from people like Yo-yo Ma to Tony Hawk to midwest farmers.  The essays collectively describe what each person believes in, and how those beliefs helped shape them into the successful people they are today.  It's a super interesting read and is truly inspiring.

But as I cracked open this book, I realized how much I love books like this.  I recently read Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Bossypants by Tina Fey--two of my most adored women ever.  Both of their books center around hysterical essays about a huge range of topics.  Their essays are short and sweet, but they linger in your head for a while.

Books written as essays are seriously so cool because the essay format alone is appealing--the author gets to their point quickly, discusses their point briefly but effectively, and closes out on a (usually) positive note.  You can read one of the essays in about 10 minutes tops.  And these essays stay with you--they teach you about life, love, and everything in between.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When You Want to Give Up on Your Novel

DON'T.

When you started your novel, you were super excited about this amazing journey ahead of you. You were ready to conquer the challenge--you were willing to write every day, meet every deadline, and finish this thing once and for all.

But when it boils down, writing a novel isn't that easy. It takes time--time that you probably don't have. With school, work, and family, how are you supposed to make time for a silly writing project?

If writing a novel was easy, everyone would be doing it. The truth of the matter is that writing a novel is hard work. You're going to want to give up. It's easy to throw everything away and never look back--but what about your goals? You've always wanted to write a novel. Why would you give up on that dream?

If you're willing to stick it out and trudge through your novel, you may pick up the momentum again later. Even when you hit dead spots in your writing, keep going. Here are a few tips to help you out:

1. Give yourself gold stars.

Whether you use actual stickers or a different reward system (like ice cream.........), make it work for you. Whenever you reach your goal (a total word count or an allotted writing time), reward yourself. It'll keep you motivated towards reaching your goal.

2. Think ahead.

You don't have to write in order. If you've plotted your novel (which is super helpful when it comes to writing, and if you haven't plotted it you should try), you can skip around. Play around with different scenes that you really want to get involved in now. Then, when you're feeling a bit more creative, go back to the less interesting parts and connect your story.

3. Look back.

You've already accomplished more than most people can brag on. Good for you! You created this story and you made the decision to put it to paper. You deserve to be proud of yourself.
Whether you've written 5 words or 5,000 words, you're on your way. Keep going!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Best Playlist for Writing

Over the past few years, I've had my fair share of writer's block.  There have been several days where I sit down at my computer and wonder how I will ever get a 12-page essay or a 250-word newspaper article down.  But whenever I do have that moment of utter despair, I have my near-perfectly crafted writer's block playlist.

Whenever I just can't seem to get any creative juices flowing, I always turn to this collaboration.  I have added and removed thousands of songs to try and get something that sticks.  In the time that this blog post was written, I actually switched out 3 songs for 2 new ones.  This playlist is always changing to keep up with my mood and the way my brain reacts to this muse.  The hope is that this music may help you in your creative journey--whether you're writing an essay, a poem, or even a novel.



If you have any songs, artists, or albums that help you get your creative juices flowing, I'd love to hear about them!  Maybe your music can inspire others to start their work, too.