What I'm Reading Fall Semester 2014

Remember back when I said my course load included 30 books this semester? I'm going to regale you with a list of all of them.

When I thought of this post, I was super excited about telling you all about the books I get to read this semester. Now that I'm thinking about it, this could be really boring to anyone not related to me. So I'm going to excite you all with awesome pictures, witty writing, and the promise of an update of school so far in this issue of "Below the Line."

(Also, disclaimer: classes are still subject to change. One stack of these might be replaced with another.)

So now that you're hooked...

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Let's begin:

Nature Writing

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Only a shocking two books for this class:

  • Wildbranch, edited by  Florence Caplow and  Susan A.Cohen. A collection of nature writings. Hopefully they'll inspire my own :)
  • The Book of Yaak, by Rick Bass. Any idea how to pronounce Yaak? I've been going with "yak," like the big, wooly animal.

Environmental Crisis Lit

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blogNow that I've eased you in with my Nature Writing class load...

  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. A classic I "read" last semester and that I'm going to try to "skim in-depth" this semester.
  • Odds Against Tomorrow, by Nathaniel Rich. The odds against this book are low- it looks interesting.
  • Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. I am SO PUMPED for this book. It had me at "Kingsolver."
  • The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi. Wind 'er up and watch 'er go!
  • Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn. Ooooo, an adventure!
  • Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, by Janisse Ray. I read her essay collection Wild Card Quilt last semester and really enjoyed it. I have high hopes for her first book.
  • Body Toxic, by Susanne Antonetta. Judging from the summary on the back, it sounds like one depressing book. Then again, I am in a class about environmental crises.
  • Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. I read this last semester and wasn't the biggest fan. I'm not really into apocalyptic literature, and this didn't do anything to change my mind.
  • The Future of Life, by Edward Wilson. The future of life is about doom and destruction. (Or at least, that's what most books seem to say.)
  • Gain, by Richard Powers. I have a feeling Gain is really about losing.

U.S. Women's History: 1700-1900 (the potential change)

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

And we move into our history half of this post:

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life, by Lori D. Ginzberg. Something tells me this is a biography... (Title: D).
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs. A primary document- historians love that stuff.
  • Women's Rights Emerges within Antislavery Movement, by Kathryn Kish Sklar. Really a bunch more documents, in disguise. Don't get me wrong, I love reading this stuff. There's just not much to say about them before reading :)
  • Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood on the Lower East Side, by Rose Cohen. Out of the shadows of this book list comes a really intriguing autobiography!
  • A Midwife's Tale, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. There are babies, and blood, and a heck of a lot of screaming.
  • Mollie: The Journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford, by (you got it) Mollie herself. She went to the West and lived to write about it.
  • To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors after the Civil War, by Tera Hunter. I'm pretty sure this will rile up the feminist in me. Oh joy.

Civil War/Reconstruction

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

With such a clever class name, surely the book list will be awesome:

  • For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, by James M. McPherson. Famous author, known for analysis- not for titles.
  • Great Speeches, by THE Abraham Lincoln. He said a lot of good stuff, so someone wrote it down.
  • The Last Best Hope of Earth, by Mark Neely, Jr. Spoiler alert: it's Lincoln.
  • A Short History of Reconstruction, by Eric Foner. Another famous historian, this time we turn to the one with the Reconstruction obsession.
  • This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, by Drew Gilpin Faust. Oh. A cherry fellow, Faust.
  • The Confederate War, by Gary W. Gallagher. The Southern perspective, something this Northerner doesn't get much of.
  • The Fate of Their Country, by Michael F. Holt. The U.S. was fated...but for what? (ooo intrigue).
  • Civil War Stories, by Ambrose Bierce. So what was it really like at the front, Bierce?
  • The South vs. The South, by William W. Freehling. An interesting argument about how the South was its own undoing.
  • Half Slave and Half Free, by Bruce Levine. But neither fully one or the other.
  • Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, ed. by Eric Foner. A collection of documents to motivate me to see "a new perspective!"

So that's it for this semester! It's quite a load, but I only have a few more books this semester than I did last semester, so I think I can keep up (fingers crossed!)

What books are you reading for school? Do any of these books look interesting to you?


Below the Line:

  •  Classes are getting under my skin already (stress levels are high). Welcome back to college!
  • On that note, I'm going to do my best to keep up the twice a week schedule. But bare with me if posts don't go up every Tuesday and Friday morning. I'll keep you updated.
  • After attending each of my classes, I'm really excited for the Civil War course. The professor is really passionate about the material and has structured the class in a way that fits my learning style. The rest of them... well, I just need to get adjusted to being back at school. :)

5 Tips for the Best Fall Semester Ever

5 Tips for the Best Fall Semester Fall semester is my favorite semester now, but freshmen year it was nothing but stress, stress, and homesickness. Being prepared for what's going to come is a huge help, and I recommend finding out what life will be like at your particular college (your college's website and other blogs will help with this).

But fall semester can also be a ton of fun and more of a learning experience than a stressful one. Here are the five best things you can do to make your first fall semester awesome:

Talk to your professors during the first week. You'll hear this advice from everyone: your mentors, your peers, your professors, your parents, and especially your school. But it's the best advice you'll hear.

Establishing a relationship from the start gives you an idea of what your professors are like and what they will expect from you in class. It also gives you people you can come to during the semester. When you have three tests and a paper due on the same day, you'll feel better about coming to a professor and asking for help if it isn't the first time you've seen them out of class.

Figure out a time management plan. I always say my high school prepared me for the difficultly of my work in college, but not the quantity. I was a mess trying to get everything done freshmen year. I lived in the library until 6:00 except for class and lunch. I did not need to do this. I over-planned, thinking I needed to put more time in than necessary.

The next semester, I developed a plan that worked for me (reserving the library for my hardest work), but life would have been a lot easier if I did that sooner. So learn from my mistake. Set up your study/activity plan before all your "to-dos" take over your life.

Study outside the library. As hinted at above, my university's library sucked away my soul. (It looks like the 1980s touched it and never went away). But I assumed it had to be the best place to study- it's the library! Not until later would I understand how much better I worked at the Starbucks in town. When you're looking for a place to work, venture out from the library and try out several spots until you find the spot.

Go home (but not too soon). You need time to adjust to your new lifestyle, and going home the first four weekends isn't going to accomplish that. But once you make it a least a month (or two), feel okay about going home for your sibling's choir performance or your town's winter festival. Taking a break away from campus helps you to recharge, and some time with people you love.

Also, if you find yourself getting homesick (like I did- heck, like most freshmen I know did), you can also ask your family to come visit you. My parents and sister drove down to see me two weeks after I moved in for a Sunday lunch. It was such a relief to see them, but I avoided the anxiety of "going back to campus" you can get when you visit home.

Say yes to (almost) everything. Now this goes against what most of you have heard: "Don't be afraid to say no!" I'm here to tell you that fall semester is all about saying yes. When your floormate asks if you want to go to dinner, even though all you want to do is order pizza and watch YouTube? Say yes. When you're overwhelmed by the activities fair and just want to run in the opposite direction? Say yes to at least three sign-up sheets. When your classmate asks you to study together even though you already have the material down? You got it- say yes.

Fall semester freshmen year is all about new experiences. You'll never feel at home at your chosen university sitting in your dorm room day after day. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone this semester when given the chance. You never know what you might like.

Plus, meeting new people (even for you, introverts!) is so important those first few weeks. Friends going through the same changes as you make the whole process easier. Unless you know something will hurt you (i.e. a party the Thursday night before your chemistry midterm? Yeah, that's a no. Or if you're already an active member of two clubs and really can't take on a third), a "yes" will never be as regrettable as a "no."

What tips do you have for fall semester?


Below the Line:

  • Four days until my big move in! I'm both excited and anxious for the new semester :)
  • Took a food allergy test yesterday :( I feel like I need to stuff myself with bread just in case gluten is taken away from me...
  • Cookie butter= DELICIOUS. But then again, what did I expect? It's called cookie butter. ;)
  • Coming up on Friday: a post for all you organizational/stationary fans out there.