Most Anticipated Books of 2016

The amount of newly published books throughout the year can be overwhelming. We put together this short list of the books that we are most excited to read during the first half of 2016 to make your life just a little bit easier. Let us know in the comments what your most anticipated read is this year!

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie

The Portable Veblen: A Novel by Elizabeth Mckenzie

Published January 19, 2016

Summary: The Portable Veblen is an original novel that’s as big-hearted as it is laugh-out-loud funny. Set in California, amid the culture clash of new money and old values this book offers an unforgettable look at the way we live now. A young couple on the brink of marriage find their engagement in danger of collapse. Along the way they weather everything from each other’s dysfunctional families, to the attentions of a seductive pharmaceutical heiress, to an intimate tête-à-tête with a very charismatic squirrel.

Highly acclaimed author Elizabeth Mckenzie has also written MacGregor Tells the World and Stop That Girl.

A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin

A Doubter’s Almanac: A Novel by Ethan Canin

Will be published February 16, 2016

Summary: Milo is born with an unusual mind. A lonely child growing up in 1950’s Michigan, he gives little thought to his own talent. When he is accepted to Berkeley he realizes the extent, and the risks, of his singular gifts. California in the seventies is a seduction, opening Milo’s eyes to the allure of both ambition and indulgence. The research he begins there will make him a legend; the woman he meets there will haunt him for the rest of his life. For Milo’s brilliance is entwined with a dark need that soon grows to threaten his work, his family, even his existence.

Spanning seven decades as it moves from California to Princeton to the Midwest to New York, A Doubter’s Almanac tells the story of a family as it explores the way ambition lives alongside destructiveness, obsession alongside torment, love alongside grief. It is a story of how the flame of genius both lights and scorches every generation it touches.

Ethan Canin has written several others books including America America, Emperor of the Air and The Palace Thief.

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Will be published March 22, 2016

Summary: Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on a cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their reckless older brother, Leo. Months earlier, an intoxicated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs’ joint trust fund they have dubbed “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving.

The Nest is Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s debut novel.

Zero K by Don DeLillo

Zero K by Don DeLillo

Will be published May 3, 2016

Summary: Jeffrey’s father, Ross, is a billionaire in his sixties, with a younger wife whose health is failing. Ross is the primary investor in a secret, remote compound where death is exquisitely controlled and bodies are preserved until a future time when biomedical advances and new technologies can return them to a life of transcendent promise. Jeff joins Ross and his wife at the compound to say a temporary goodbye to her as she surrenders her body.

“We are born without choosing to be. Should we have to die in the same manner? Isn’t it a human glory to refuse to accept a certain fate?” These are the questions that haunt the novel and its characters, and it is Ross who ultimately begins to feel a deep need to enter another dimension and awake to a new world.

Don DeLillo has authored fifteen novels and is the recipient of the National Book Award and the Carl Sandburg Literacy Award, among others. His most notable works include White Noise and Underworld.

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Will be published May 31, 2016

Summary: Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.

Emma Straub is also the author of the popular 2014 title The Vacationers.

The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin

The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin

Publication date not available

Originally the sixth installment in the Song of Ice and Fire series was meant to be released in April 2016 prior to the premiere of the sixth season of the popular HBO series based on the novels. In a blog post written January 2, 2016 Martin unwillingly tells fans “You wanted an update. Here’s the update. You won’t like it. THE WINDS OF WINTER is not finished.” This is unfortunate for two reasons: readers are still waiting for answers were A Dance with Dragons left off and the HBO series will surpass the book series into uncharted territory. While a new release date has not been set for The Winds of Winter we can only hope that we will still be able to get our hands on the sixth installment sometime during 2016. Fingers crossed.

George R.R. Martin is a novelist and short story writer of fantasy and science fiction. Aside from the Song of Ice and Fire series, Martin is most well-known for his contributions to Rogues, Dangerous Women and Wild Cards.

Did we miss your most anticipated read? Let us know in the comments which books you are looking forward to reading the most in 2016!

Studying Tips for Exam Week

As you prepare for final exams, you need to have a strategy to make it through the week. These studying tips will help you organize your time and succeed.

Get Enough Sleep

studying tips take a nap
First things first, get enough sleep! When studying for exam week it is best to study in advance instead of cramming the night before. Try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night. You need enough sleep to recall information and think through the questions. Once you’ve finished studying for the night try to relax so that you can get to sleep more easily.

Take Breaks

studying tips take a break
While you are studying, it is best to take a break every few hours. You can only concentrate for so long and you need to take breaks to retain information. After so many hours of studying, take 30-60 minutes to do something mindless that you enjoy.  Watch an episode of your latest Netflix addiction or scroll through your social media news feed and forget about the stress for a while.

Type Your Notes

studying tips type your notes

Type out your notes from class and combine the information with corresponding facts from the textbooks. This way you have a comprehensive overview of the material to review. If you already type your notes in class add information from the textbook to make sure that you will remember all of the information you need to succeed. If you do this throughout the semester you will have a comprehensive study guide for the semester.

Study in Groups

studying tips study groups

Studying in groups is helpful when comparing and contrasting notes, especially if you have a difficult professor. Sharing study tips with each other is also helpful. Some people study better alone but most people benefit from studying as a group. In a group you can ask and answer questions to prepare for the exam and discuss the information that you think is the most important. There should be places for you to study in groups at the library and you can usually reserve a study room.

Make Flashcards

studying tips flashcards
Making flashcards is a great way to review for your exams. You can use the term on one side to either write out the definition or you can use the definition on one side to review the term or fact. It is best to make flash cards throughout the semester and keep them in a file to review at the end of the semester. The information can seem less overwhelming when it’s broken up into individual questions you are tackling one at a time.

Drink Coffee

studying tips drink coffee
Drinking coffee will help you be more alert and be able to think more clearly. If your classes are in the morning and you have been studying late, make sure to drink coffee to wake up. If you have night classes, it is still a good idea to drink coffee before a night exam to avoid getting tired. Make sure you drink a glass of water to each cup of coffee you have to avoid dehydration.

Review the Chapters

studying tips review the chapters

If you have time, re-read the chapters your exams are covering. If not, scan the chapters and find the information that you think is most important and facts that you have covered in your notes and the text. Studying the textbook is the best way to succeed in most classes. Most of the test will come from the reading because the professors want to make sure that you did the required reading that they assigned and paid attention to their lectures on the textbook in class.

Listen to Music

studying tips listen to music

Listening to a playlist while you study for exams can help you relax. Most students get nervous before exams, especially if this is your first semester or year. You can go to youtube and listen to music for exam study concentration or to cool down between study sessions.

Bring Snacks

studying tips bring snacksYou should bring a water bottle or drink and a snack to class if you are taking a long exam and the professor allows you to do so. Drinking too much caffeine can make you shakey. Make sure to stay hydrated and eat every so many hours to stay steady.

Follow these studying tips to the best of your ability and you will have success on exam week. Once you have finished exams, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishment! Go out with friends or go holiday shopping. Good luck!

Best Genres of Music for Studying

Most of us dread studying and would do just about anything to make it more enjoyable. Adding music to your studying routine can be beneficial to you for many reasons. Listening to a variety of genres can influence your mood and attention span to create the best studying atmosphere for you. Here are some genres of music that you would be smart to add to your studying playlist.

Classical Music

music - classical

Listening to classical music while studying or writing can really help you focus. Classical music is based on steady tempos and is generally composed of instruments that play quieter tones. Therefore, it is more likely that you will be able to concentrate on the information and it will be less easy for you to get distracted by the music. Classical music can also help you relax and take your mind off of irrelevant things that could distract you while studying.

Pop/Rock Music

music - pop/rock

Rather than listening to loud rock or alternative styles, listening to quieter pop/rock compositions can be less distracting background noise when studying. Listening to pop music is known to increase self-esteem and listening to rock music is known to enhance creativity. Put those two together and you have a winning combination. Additionally, the extra confidence can really help drown out the doubt you may have if you are nervous about the exam you are studying for.

Cultural Music

music - cultural

Listening to music from other cultures in the world can be very interesting and can also help you be more creative and more knowledgeable in your studies. Exposing your brain to new rhythms and languages helps keep your mind sharp. Have fun finding new music and learning a thing or two along the way. It’s best to choose steady, light beats that allow you to relax and concentrate.

These are the genres of music that I have found to be most beneficial to my studying. Each person finds music helps them study in different ways. Try these genres out and see which fits your studying style best.

Creative Ways to Study History

When you are in college, learning about the cultural issues in history can be challenging. Here are some creative ways you can learn about a diverse range of cultural issues in European and American history.

Watch History Movies

history-movies
Watching films that have a historical theme can help you receive a background in history, literary time periods and the arts. Films that are based on history provide a cultural framework that describes the popular issues in history at that time. Go ahead, make learning history fun. Some of the most popular historical films include Marie Antoinette, The Duchess, Gone with the Wind, Young Victoria, The Duchess, Schindler’s List, Alexander, Henry V, Pompeii, Letters from Iwo Jima, Elizabeth, Titanic, Ben Hur, Agora, Munich, The King’s Speech, The Patriot, and Brave Heart.

Attend Operas

history-operas
You can learn more about Italian, French, and Chinese history and literature by watching operas. Popular French operas originated in the 17th century and will help you learn about life and society during the classical age. The opera is characterized by tragedy. Through the musical performance, operas describe and define cultural issues based on the class warfare, war, royalty, revolution, and romance. Some of the more popular operas include Carmen, Faust, The Tales of Hoffman, Pomone, Don Quichotte, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet. Operas originated in Italy in 1600. Some of the most popular operas include Madama Butterfly, Don Giovanni, The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, Otello, Guilio Cesare, Attila, Macbeth, among others. There are also Russian operas that emerged in the 18th century such as War and Peace, Oresteia, and the Queen of Spades. And also you can learn about the culture and heritage of China by studying the origins of Chinese opera. More than likely, your college or university will host operas at the performing art center for you to watch.

Attend Classic Ballets

history-ballet
Watching or attending classical ballets is a great way to learn more about history and culture. You can learn more about literature by watching ballet performances based on Shakespeare’s plays. You can watch Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, The Merry Wives of Windsor, among others performed as ballets. Ballets are based on timeless romances include magic/sorcery, fairy tales, and tragic endings to define hidden cultural aspects at that time. Similar to the opera, cultural issues pertaining to class warfare, war, and revolution is often defined by the allusions in the film. Literature is a theme in ballet since there are storybook ballets and other literary pieces are transformed into ballets. There are some ballets that are also operas, such as Carmen and Don Quixote, and it is interesting to watch the differences in how they are performed. Also, classical ballets include Giselle, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Carmen, and Don Quixote. Storybook ballets include The Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella. You can learn about French and Russian history by studying classical ballets. The performing arts center at either your college or one near you should host ballets. During the holiday season, watching The Nutcracker live is a great way to celebrate the holidays.

You can share your experience about the cultural issues found in historical films, operas and ballets with others and your professors. Part of the learning experience in college is to connect arts and culture to historical themes and literature to history. In order to become educated you must connect ideas, themes and patterns to a greater cultural context. You can keep a journal of the information you learned by watching history performed as an art which can help you on tests and write research papers. Enjoy your nontraditional studying of history!

Halloween Breakdown of Scary Movies

Yay! October! It’s getting colder and it is officially the Halloween month. This means costumes, candy and of course- scary movies! Who doesn’t love grabbing a big bowl of candy and watching scary movies until you have to sleep with the lights on? But the struggle is, which scary movie do you want to watch? This is my list of scary movies to watch this October. I broke them down into the following categories: Sort of Watching, Sort of Not, Watching Without Losing Sleep and Never Sleeping Again.

scary-movies-Halloween

Sort of Watching, Sort of Not

These are the movie suggestions for when you want to watch a scary movie, or have one on, while you’re doing something else. So these are scary movies that you don’t have to be 100% invested in to enjoy.

Scream

scary-movies-scream

The Scream movies are gold. And I am in no way trying to diss them, but they don’t require a lot of concentration. Basic slasher film. Except they’re making fun of slasher films without being boisterous like the “Scary Movie” movies. These movies are nice to watch when you know your attention can’t be entirely focused on the movie. The first movie was the best, but I also recommend the fourth if you want to laugh during the movie.

Paranormal Activity

scary-movies-paranormal-activity

These movies, like the aforementioned, are ones you don’t have to completely watch to understand. This series of movies are ghost movies based more on jump scares, which is great, especially for dates when you want to talk a little but also watch a scary movie. I recommend the first and second Paranormal Activity.

Watching Without Losing Sleep

These are the movies that will scare you while you’re watching, but not enough to freak you out after its over. You will still be able to rest easy with the lights off at night.

Halloween

scary-movies-halloween

It had to be on this list somewhere. One of the most famous horror films of all time. Michael Meyers is on a mission to kill his whole family (this mission changes as you get further into the series and the writers run out of ideas). The first movie is the one I recommend, although Halloween: H2O holds a special place in my heart.

The Shining

scary-movies-the-shining

One of my favorite Stephen King movies, even though he hates it. An alcoholic father takes his wife and son to a hotel to take care of in the winter. Cabin fever, anyone? A great movie that keeps you interested and freaked out but not enough to make you sleep with the lights on.

Never Sleeping Again

These are movies that terrified me and made me sleep with the lights on and the door open. *Disclosure* these are movies that scared me personally, but everyone’s fears are different.

The Woman In Black

scary-movies-the-woman-in-black

Only the first one. I watched it because Dan Radcliffe was in it, and ended up losing a lot of sleep. There’s not really jump scares, the movie scares you more from your anticipation of what happens next. Dan Rad goes to an old house to take care of a clients paper work after he’s passed away, only to encounter something really freaky.

Insidious

scary-movies-insidious

I don’t know what happened to these people when they were younger, but their minds come up with the scariest stuff. The makers also did Sinister, which was an equally terrifying movie. A young son falls into a coma, and while under horrifying spirits try to take his soul. Seriously, horrifying. Watch it.

I hope this post gave you some ideas of what movies to watch as we enter Halloween season. Enjoy, and always remember the movies aren’t real! Or are they?…