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Books To Read In 2015

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We know you’re busy writing essays, taking final exams and dreaming about summer break but if you get a craving for a good book, check out some of these popular titles that you need to read in 2015!

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Paper Towns by John Green

Written by popular young adult author John Green, Paper Towns is the story of Quentin who has loved Margo since elementary school. Unfortunately, Margo has ignored Quentin for the majority of their high school years. That is, until she shows up at his window just weeks before their high school graduation and they spend the entire night together pulling off a series of revenge-fueled pranks. Margo disappears the next day and Quentin, along with his two best friends, are determined to follow the clues Margo left behind.

While the book Paper Towns was first published in 2009, it tops our list of Books You Have to Read in 2015 because Paper Towns is coming to the big screen soon! Paper Towns is coming to theaters July 24th, 2015! Watch the trailer here.

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Described as “hauntingly beautiful” by The New York Times and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, All The Light We Cannot See tells the story of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy whose paths cross in occupied France during World War II. Werner, the young boy, is incredibly gifted at mathematics and earns himself a spot at an elite Nazi training school. Marie-Laure, blinded at the age of six, has fled from Paris with her father and a highly sought after sapphire from the Museum of Natural History in tow. The story that Anthony Doerr has created is far too complex to explain in a few short sentences so to find out the fates of Werner and Marie-Laure you are going to have to read this book for yourself!

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Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Critics are buzzing about Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee’s earliest known work. Believed to have been lost, the manuscript for Go Set A Watchman was re-discovered in late 2014. The story follows up with many of the original characters from Harper Lee’s well-known classic To Kill A Mockingbird 20 years after the story ends. Go Set A Watchman is scheduled to be released on July 14th, 2015.

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

If you loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, you will love this book! This psychological thriller follows our main character Rachel as she rides the commuter train each and every day into London, even after she is fired from her job. Through the train window, Rachel sees the same houses and the same people in their yards every day and begins to feel like she actually knows them. She gives the people names and imagines what their jobs and lives are like. While looking out the window one day, Rachel thinks that she sees something happen to the girl she has named “Jess”. When news stories about a missing girl named Megan (who turns out to be “Jess”) start surfacing Rachel decides to tell the police everything she has seen from the train window. Did I mention that Rachel is drunk for most of this book? That puts an interesting spin on things when an unreliable drunk shows up at the police station with information on Megan’s disappearance. The twists and turns of this story keep you guessing not only “Who did it?” but “What actually happened?” right up to the last page.

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The Residence: Inside the Private World of The White House by Kate Andersen Brower

Being the President of the United States is a tough and very public job, but what do we really know about the on-goings of the first family when the cameras are off and the world isn’t watching? In this 2015 release, we hear from employees at the White House that have been there day in and day out through ten different administrations over a span of fifty years. Written after hundreds of hours of interviews with butlers, chefs, florists, maids and other White House staffers, we catch an inside glimpse of what life was really like at the White House from the Kennedy Administration, through the days of Nixon and Reagan and the scandal-filled Clinton years, all the way up to the current first family, the Obama’s.

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Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

Bestselling author J.K. Rowling, best known for her Harry Potter series, gave a very moving speech during commencement at Harvard University in 2008. Now available in written form, this speech doles out words of wisdom for anyone who has come to a crossroads in their life. The perfect graduation gift or perfect for when you need a boost of inspiration and motivation, Very Good Lives does not disappoint. Proceeds from the book will be donated to J.K. Rowling’s foundation Lumos, which focuses on ending the institutionalization of children worldwide. Find more information on Lumos here.

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Redeployment by Phil Klay

Redeployment, winner of the 2014 National Book Award, describes the unseen lives of an American soldier on the frontlines. Author Phil Klay is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and uses his experience in Iraq to tell a story that civilians cannot even begin to imagine as truth. This book is sure to leave you with an undying gratitude for those fighting overseas as well as a new found outlook on exactly what it takes to fight for your country.

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Readers have been patiently waiting for this debut fantasy novel from author Sabaa Tahir to be released and the wait is finally over! This novel, just released on April 28th, has been described by early reviewers as having “the addictive quality of The Hunger Games, the fantasy of Harry Potter and the brutality of Game of Thrones.” We can’t wait to get our hands on this one!

 

What books are on your list to read this year? Let us know in the comments!

How to Conquer College Exams in 9 Steps

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College exams can be very overwhelming.  They may even be so overwhelming you struggle with composing yourself and have difficulty concentrating.  I am going to walk you through 9 steps to conquer your next round of college exams. Okay. Go…
college examsStep 1: Prepare! Make sure you fit as much of the subject material into your brain as you can!

Step 2: Wear clothes you feel good in. Feeling comfortable or like you are putting your best foot forward will give you the right mindset going into the exam.

Step 3: Tell Yourself “I’m gonna ace this.” Believing in yourself is an important part of the process.

Step 4: Listen to your pump up playlist. If you don’t have a Pre-Exam Study playlist, make one and listen to it on your way to the exam.

Step 5: Breathe. I think this one is self-explanatory.

Step 6: Be well rested. Having to drink caffeine right before an exam can make you jittery and over think the test.

Step 7: Draw a smiley-face on the top of your exam. Just do it.

Step 8: Do your best! That’s all anyone expects of you.

Step 9: Don’t agonize about the test afterwards, there is not anything you can do about it.

What other tips do you have for taking college exams? Share in the comment section below!

Bounce Back from Post – Midterm Blues

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Midterms got you feeling down?

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You know the semester is well underway when you’ve already gotten your first midterm grade back. One thing I’ve found after a long summer break – I never do as well on that first midterm fall semester… But, you can’t let a bad grade on an exam, paper or assignment discourage you. Here are some ways to bounce back:

• Remember that this won’t decide the rest of your life.

• Meet with your TAs and Professors to see how you can improve.

• Work in study groups so you can get help from your peers.

• Don’t dwell on the bad grade, because that won’t help.

• Make sure you are getting all the notes and understanding all the homework.

• Try a different study method, maybe yours doesn’t work as well as you thought it did.

• Go over the notes from the midterm you did badly on so that the information won’t be back to bite you on the final.

One last thing to remember after getting a bad test score is that college is HARDER than high school. You will probably have to change your study practices from high school. In college, while getting good grades IS important, it’s more important to really understand the material.

HOW TO: Study Groups

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studygroups1Utilizing the “study group” can make or break your semester grades. Although generally college students aren’t a fan of “group” stuff (such as work, projects or presentations), the “study group” is the unique situation in which students, like yourself, may actually find more helpful than harmful.

Step 1: Find a Study Group – if you can’t find one, make one. Email the people in your class (who you can find on a class website or in class). Find people who can work with a similar schedule to your own and then schedule.

Step 2: Meet up – Find a place to meet that is central or well known. Also, if you are expecting a lot of people, make sure you meet in a place that has the capacity for that amount of people (don’t meet up in the library if you are expecting 20 people to show up)!

Step 3: Get people’s names and emails – Make a list, with people’s names, emails and numbers so that they can be contacted. A good way to do this is to use Google forms and send it out asking for this information.

Step 4: Get Studying! – Once you have a list of people’s names and numbers, rather than complaining about the class, or discussing how much you hated what the dining hall served for dinner you should get down to business. People have lots of work to do and other classes so try to be as productive and efficient as you can.

Step 5: Get Notes – If you’ve missed class or don’t understand something a study group is the PERFECT time to get this information. Your classmates might understand better than you did and you will be able to discuss information until you do understand it.

Step 6: Wrap Up – Don’t spend longer than 2 hours (unless studying for a test or midterm, in which case take a break after 2 hours) in a study group. 2 hours is a good block of time that you can get through information, but with reasonable amount of other time so that people can hope to get to there other homework as well.

Study groups are a good place to discuss, understand, and organize information from class and lecture. If you bounce information off other students in the class, you’ll likely do better in the class yourself!

Classic College Cinema

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With “sweater weather” on the horizon nothing is better (and cheaper) than skipping the movie theatre, inviting the significant other over to the dorm (within visitation hours of course), slightly burning a bag of popcorn and watching a movie. Whether you still stack DVDs to the ceiling or you are a total Netflicker, there are some classic films about “the four best years of your life” that every undergrad should go out of their way to watch. Here are a few of my “oldies but goodies.”

Animal House

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If you’re in a fraternity, then this is your Godfather. Though this is a film set in the 1960’s, many of the movie’s events are time honored college traditions; from the toga party to the random road trip. Fun fact; during filming, the actors portraying the Delta fraternity were encouraged to have rambunctious parities (resulting in a piano being stolen from the hotel lobby) to promote cast bonding. The Delta actors also harassed the actors portraying the Omega fraternity in order to fuel their onscreen rivalry.

 Best time to view: The beginning of pledge semester.


Roadtrip

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A cheating boyfriend on the east coast accidentally mails a videotape of his sexcapades to his girlfriend on the west coast. What is the logical next course of action? If you said getting your buddies together to go on a cross country excursion to intercept said tape while making a bunch of hilarious stops along the way, then this is the movie for you. When I came to college, this was one of the only DVDs I owned. Needless to say, it was viewed at great frequency. This movie is also proof that, at one time, Tom Green was actually funny.

Best time to view: Right before your weekend road trip to the party school one state over.


PCU

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This one is a little more obscure than the others on this list but it is an absolute cult classic. For many students, college is a time to take up a cause to be passionate and active about. PCU (Politically Correct University) humorously riffs on what happens when people take these causes a little too far.

Best time to view: Right before the silent, candlelight protest over the rising prices of chicken nuggets in the student union.


Revenge of the Nerds

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A quintessential 80’s movie, Revenge of the Nerds is a cautionary tale of what happens when you push people who are smarter than you too far. This film is pure fun as the war between jocks and nerds (before being a nerd was cool) spawns prank after hilarious prank.

Fun fact: Curtis Armstrong is the actor that provides to voice for the character “Snot” on the show American Dad. Snot is based upon a character from Revenge of the Nerds named “Booger”, also played by Armstrong.

Best time to view: After going pocket protector shopping.


Legally Blonde

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For the life of me, I can not remember which girlfriend talked me into seeing this; however I’m glad she did as this is easily the most inspirational film on the list. Underestimated by her jerk boyfriend, sorority president Elle, decides to one up him at his own game by gaining admittance in Harvard Law school. Despite starring the gorgeous Reese Wetherspoon and being hilarious, Legally Blonde carries the message that a girl can be beautiful, sociable and smart; excelling in one of the hardest collegiate program while being a master of the good old bend and snap.

Best time to view: When someone is telling you that “you can’t.