New Zealand Book Recommendations

Painting of New Chums beach, New Zealand
Image by Caz Novak in Pacifica collection “New Chums Beach”

Books are a way for people to learn about other’s perspectives and experiences in life. I have found that people do not often enough read books from other countries and make an effort to find books other than what we get given in class. I have spent most of my life in New Zealand and found it to be full of culture and great books. Here are some that I have enjoyed and others I plan to read. All photos and descriptions and photos are from Goodreads.

The God Boy by Ian Cover cover
The God Boy by Ian Cross

The God Boy by Ian Cross

“Set in a small town in New Zealand, the story is told through the eyes of a gauche thirteen-year-old boy called Jimmy Sullivan. It is the haunting tale of a young boy growing up in a catholic household, seeing things he shouldn’t and struggling to cope. The book appears to be domestic in scope and provincial in vision, but by the end of the novel, the reader has encountered murder, and witnessed the warping of a promising mind and the destruction of a family.” 

Read more about God Boy on Goodreads.

The Bone People by Keri Hulme cover
The Bone People by Keri Hulme

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

“In a tower on the New Zealand coast lives Kerewin Holmes: part Maori, part European, asexual and aromantic, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family. One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor—a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon’s feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality.” 

Read more about The Bone People on Goodreads.

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera cover
The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

“Eight-year-old Kahu, a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, fights to prove her love, her leadership, and her destiny. Her people claim descent from Kahutia Te Rangi, the legendary ‘whale rider.’ In every generation since Kahutia, a male heir has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir, and the aging chief is desperate to find a successor. Kahu is his only great-grandchild—and Maori tradition has no use for a girl. But when hundreds of whales beach themselves and threaten the future of the Maori tribe, Kahu will do anything to save them—even the impossible.” The Whale Rider was made into a movie in 2002 that is well known in New Zealand.

Read more about The Whale Rider on Goodreads.

Tu by Patricia Grace cover
Tu by Patricia Grace

Tu by Patricia Grace

“In this new novel acclaimed Maori novelist Patricia Grace visits the often terrifying and complex world faced by men of the Maori Battalion in Italy during World War II. Tu is proud of his name–the Maori god of war. But for the returned soldier there’s a shadow over his own war experience in Italy. Three brothers went to war, but only one returned–Tu is the sole survivor.” 

Read more about Tu on Goodreads.

Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump cover
Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump

Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump

“A tale of raw adventure as Uncle Hec and Ricky use all their skills to survive in the hard world of precipitous hills and impassable forest. It uncovers the slow maturing of love and trust between two loners in a hard world.” There is now a New Zealand movie based on the book called “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” directed by Taika Waititi that was released in 2016.

Read more about Wild Pork and Watercress on Goodreads.

Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff cover
Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff

Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff

“Once Were Warriors is Alan Duff’s harrowing vision of his country’s indigenous people two hundred years after the English conquest. In prose that is both raw and compelling, it tells the story of Beth Heke, a Maori woman struggling to keep her family from falling apart, despite the squalor and violence of the housing projects in which they live. Conveying both the rich textures of Maori tradition and the wounds left by its absence, Once Were Warriors is a masterpiece of unblinking realism, irresistible energy, and great sorrow.” Once Were Warriors was also made into a famous New Zealand movie in 1994.

Read more about Once Were Warriors on Goodreads.

The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield cover
The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield

The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield

“The fifteen stories featured, many of them set in her native New Zealand, vary in length and tone from the opening story, “At the Bay, ” a vivid impressionistic evocation of family life, to the short, sharp sketch “Mrs. Brill, ” in which a lonely woman’s precarious sense of self is brutally destroyed when she overhears two young lovers mocking her. Sensitive revelations of human behavior, these stories reveal Mansfield’s supreme talent as an innovator who freed the story from its conventions and gave it a new strength and prestige.” 

Read more about The Garden Party and Other Stories on Goodreads.  

Ella Tomkins | 2021

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Earth Week Book Recommendations

Image by prettysleepy1 from Pixabay

On behalf of the Writing Center, Happy Earth Week! Caring for the Earth is not a once a year event; it is something we should be doing all year-round. Whether you are interested in non-fiction, fiction, or poetry, here are a few book recommendations for celebrating our shared home. Special thanks to Dr. Elly Engle from the Environmental Studies department for sharing some of her favorites, too! All photos and descriptions are from Goodreads.

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Keeble Wilkinson (Nonfiction)

  • “All We Can Save illuminates the expertise and insights of dozens of diverse women leading on climate in the United States–scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, innovators, wonks, and designers, across generations, geographies, and race–and aims to advance a more representative, nuanced, and solution-oriented public conversation on the climate crisis. These women offer a spectrum of ideas and insights for how we can rapidly, radically reshape society.”
  • Read more about All We Can Save on Goodreads.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Nonfiction)

  • “As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings are we capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learning to give our own gifts in return.”
  • Read more about Braiding Sweetgrass on Goodreads.

Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift (Nonfiction)

  • “A brilliant, soulful, and timely portrait of a two-hundred-year-old crabbing community in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay as it faces extinction from rising sea levels—part natural history of an extraordinary ecosystem, starring the beloved blue crab; part paean to a vanishing way of life; and part meditation on man’s relationship with the environment—from the acclaimed author, who reported this story for more than two years.”
  • Read more about Chesapeake Requiem on Goodreads.
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Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Poetry)

  • “In her fourth collection, Aimee Nezhukumatathil hums a bright blue note—a sensuous love song to the Earth and its inhabitants. Oceanic is both a title and an ethos of radical inclusion, inviting in the grief of an elephant, the icy eyes of a scallop, “the ribs / of a silver silo,” and the bright flash of painted fingernails. With unmatched sincerity, Oceanic speaks to each reader as a cooperative part of the natural world—the extraordinary neighborhood to which we all belong. This is a poet ecstatically, emphatically, naming what it means to love a world in peril.”
  • Read more about Oceanic on Goodreads.

Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake (Fiction)

  • “Set in present day West Virginia, Ann Pancake’s debut novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been, tells the story of a coal mining family— a couple and their four children— living through the latest mining boom and dealing with the mountaintop removal and strip mining that is ruining what is left of their mountain life. As the mine turns the mountains to slag and wastewater, workers struggle with layoffs and children find adventure in the blasted moonscape craters.”
  • Read more about Strange as This Weather Has Been on Goodreads.

What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha (Nonfiction)

  • “Here is the inspiring story of how Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, alongside a team of researchers, parents, friends, and community leaders, discovered that the children of Flint, Michigan, were being exposed to lead in their tap water–and then battled her own government and a brutal backlash to expose that truth to the world. At the center of the story is Dr. Mona herself–an immigrant, doctor, scientist, and mother whose family’s activist roots inspired her pursuit of justice.”
  • Read more about What the Eyes Don’t See on Goodreads.

Ciara | Spring 2021

Book Recommendations: The Classics

Do you have a little more time on your hands, now that classes are online and summer is just around the corner? If you are looking for some book recommendations, here are some from the Writing Center tutors!

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

If you still haven’t read some of these classic books, now might be the right time! Or, even if you have read them before, there is nothing wrong with revisiting a good book. 

1. The Great Gatsby

Image by Alyssa1 from Pixabay

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is considered by some people to be one of the greatest American books of the 20th century. There are also several movie adaptations you can watch to compare it to, the most recent the 2013 film directed by Baz Luhrmann and staring Leonardo DiCaprio. 

2. Pride and Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice is another classic novel by one of the greatest female writers of all time, Jane Austen. Once again, this classic romance has numerous movie and television adaptions to watch too.

3. Their Eyes Were Watching God

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An excellent book by the great African American female writer Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God is a book everyone can enjoy. There is also an excellent film adaptation directed by Darnell Martin and staring Halle Berry. 

A Most Beseeching Proposal

Image displaying the words, "Mr. Darcy," "change," "pardon," "pride," "awkward," and "excuses" all in varying sizes.
Created in
Two silver rings tied together by white satin that is embellished with white beads.

It’s November 20th! This date may not be of particular significance to you, but it is the same day that Mr. Collins’ proposed to protagonist Elizabeth in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride & Prejudice.’ Now, I am going to propose an idea to you, which you may vehemently reject – in the same vein Elizabeth did poor Mr. Collins – if you so desire. Yet, I profess to you, most eloquent and admirable reader, that I have just as much persistence and determination as the latter to make you believe this most illuminating idea.

It is common conjecture in the literary world that Mr. Darcy’s standoffish and rude manners stem from a quality of awkwardness. Perchance, this version of Mr. Darcy is easier to reconcile with the dashing and romantic man that the movies portray. Certainly, this version of Mr. Darcy is easier to forgive than the man who thought others so beneath him he had no qualms in telling them so and who interfered in his relations’ relationships based on this prerogative. Yet, our astute protagonist never did allow the trait of awkwardness as a pass for his horrible (not simply rude) words and actions – and I assert that the reader should not either.

Mr. Darcy’s character arc (that is, what he overcomes) is represented by the first half of the title ‘Pride & Prejudice.’ Notice, Austen did not entitle her work ‘Awkwardness & Prejudice,’ a title that would render Mr. Darcy’s transformation much less drastic than it truly is. The reader is supposed to be taken on a journey of understanding and forgiveness along with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth; the central theme of the story is about the power of love as a driver of inward change and pardon. The reader can indeed make no excuses for the horribly prideful man Mr. Darcy is at the beginning of the story – and by the end, still view him as favorably, or even better, than when excuse had been made.

A castle of tan color with several pointed turrets. There is a large expanse of green lawn in front of the castle.

Mr. Darcy was not a man so inept at interacting with others that he did not know rules of conduct and words to refrain from to avoid giving offense. When Wickham shares information with Elizabeth about Mr. Darcy’s connections, he describes him as believing that “everyone connected with him should have an understanding of the first class” (73). Well, dear reader, what does it mean for someone to be “understanding of the first class?” Other than knowing the level of propriety required and the activities customarily taken up by these members of society, I am quite sure this “understanding” also involves not giving offense. I do not think that “first class” members are exempt from the ability of being snubbed. This point means that Mr. Darcy must refrain from speaking the things less kind to people such as Lady Catherine de Borough and Miss. Bingley. Think with me now of when Elizabeth visits Netherfield and observes Miss Bingley speaking steadfastly on to Mr. Darcy as he writes a letter to his sister. The clipped tone of Mr. Darcy’s replies suggests enough about his being perturbed, but no word is directly spoken to bring insult to Miss Bingley station of life or to suppose her inferior to him. Furthermore, when Mr. Darcy later exposes the faults of Mr. Bingley, he does so in a playful manner, making sure to smile and tease his friend at the close of the ordeal. When Lady Catherine recounts to the whole dinner table at Rosing’s that Elizabeth is free to come practice playing the pianoforte every day,  Mr. Darcy “looked a little ashamed of his aunt’s ill breeding, and made no answer” (148). He may find her offer too forward, but he would not dare tell her so or even to voice his opinion in a ‘light-hearted’ quip. You see, most intelligent friend, with all these people – Miss Bingley, Mr. Bingley, Lady Catherine – there was something for Mr. Darcy to lose: amity and purposeful connection to the movers-and-shakers of town. These people are refined, dignified, and deemed important, so Mr. Darcy stays hushed and relents from exposing the true feelings he harbors inside. If only he could be persuaded to choose his mode of conduct based on a law of kindness rather than the judgement of high-society. But hearken, most humble and learning student! He does learn to do so over time, as I have told you, and your admiration for him can thus flow unrestrained.

A ruby red sunset is the backdrop for the silhouette of birds flying in the evening sky.

Elizabeth is as astute a person I have ever read about, and I am sure she would have been able to link a quality of awkwardness to his harsh words and feelings of superiority – should that have made any sense at all. There is a quote that all pre-Pemberley-Mr. Darcy-absolvers want to point to: “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never met before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done (149).” Does Elizabeth then feel as though she understands his whole character? Perhaps so, if she had said something to the tune of “Oh, Mr. Darcy! Your inaptitude to speak with strangers is the reason you called me barely tolerable within earshot and thought it your place to split my beloved sister with her beloved suitor – how silly of me!” No, that is quite preposterous of us to think she would say. Rather, Elizabeth brings up how she does not employ her time to practice playing the piano, and thus she is not very proficient in doing so. In the same light, she is suggesting that Mr. Darcy practice conversing with strangers in order to improve his social graces – little is said about his character thus being made better. I remind you, dear reader, that there is nothing wrong in forgiving Mr. Darcy, but it is not good practice (I digress, excuse me) to simply paint over another’s weaknesses in order to make them more pleasing to us.

A heart shape is cut from a green, plant hedge.

Mr. Darcy is clearly unaware of how to engage with a woman so keen and challenging as Elizabeth – but did he really have to insult her as he explained his intrigue? After Mr. Darcy’s first confession of love to Elizabeth, in which he openly shared his feelings about her family, Elizabeth objects, “I might as well inquire…why with so evident a design of offending and insulting me you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character? (161-162)” Granted, dear reader, she inquires so after knowing Mr. Darcy struggles in social situations. Yet, she still thinks she should “as well inquire” as to the audacity of sharing such brazen and offensive things as he did about her family during his proposal to her. She goes on to state she sees in him “arrogance…conceit…[and] selfish disdain of the feelings of others” (164). I understand that Elizabeth’s part of the story involves prejudice and that we learn more of the truth with Mr. Darcy later on – however, one uses body language around others, separates themselves from others, and speaks of others does generate a good idea of any kind of pomp that lies within. Since you ask, this is advice I would have given to Mr. Darcy: “Oh, so I see you are falling in love with the clever and enchanting Elizabeth. What is this? She is so unique to everyone else, but you are struggling with the situation of her family? Why, my dear friend – what is intelligence if it is not moving away from these old ideas of classist structures? Speak to Elizabeth in kind words of what she means to you. You will learn to love her family as well. Or at least barely tolerate them (*wink*).” You see, most patient reader, just because we come across a new situation, it does not mean that we should bring forth from within ourselves negative reactions. Mayhap, Mr. Darcy was afraid of the feelings he was having towards Elizabeth because he would then, for the first time, be connected to a rambunctious group of people (her family). Mr. Darcy could have handled his apprehension with more kindness. Being kind does not involve knowing how to speak perfectly to someone – sometimes, all one must do is remain quiet and learn.

A view of a downward sloping street in England with the village houses made of stone lining the path on the left.

Thank you for taking this journey with me, most kind reader! I do hope it was not too taxing of a trip – why, I should think it as easy a road as a walk into Meryton from the Bennets. The material discussed, while I had claimed audacious at the beginning, I most dearly hope you have taken a liking to. One of the things I most admire about you, most excellent friend, is your willingness to learn. Your objections to my word were simply taken as a token of your prompting me to better explain myself. All in all, I know that I have equipped you with the knowledge about not excusing Mr. Darcy, but rather admiring him for his change and growth – as we do with our dear Elizabeth. Take heart, friend! Isn’t the story of life and love all about bearing our mistakes and resolving to improve for the better? How touching. It is a good thing I am already most highly esteemed in the estate of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mr. Collins recommended me to her, and he is my mentor, you know. Some say we are quite similar. Whatever that means…Farewell, dear reader!

Alessandra | Fall 2020

Spooky Book List

From Pixabay

Although we’re a few days late, the Writing Center wanted to wish you a Happy Spooky Season! Below is a list of nine “spooky” books to keep you in the Halloween spirit. All information and cover photos may be found on the Goodreads website.

  • One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (Mystery)
    • “The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.”
    • If you like this book, you might also like McManus’s other mystery tales Two Can Keep a Secret and One of Us is Next (sequel to One of Us is Lying) One of Us Is Lying (9781524714680): McManus, Karen M.: Books
  • A Heart in A Body in the World by Deb Caletti (Suspense/Coming of Age)
    • “When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run? So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.”
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (Romance/Mystery)
    • “After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.”
    • Goodreads link:
    • Especially good in audiobook format!
  • Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson (Sci-Fi, Horror, Short Story)
    • “When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: “Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades. Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself.”
  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Ghost Story, or is it?)
    • “Henry James’s chilling ghost story begins when a governess arrives at an English country estate to look two young children, Miles and Flora. At first, everything appears normal then one night a ghost appears before the governess. It is the dead lover of Miss Jessel, the former governess. Later, the ghost of Miss Jessel herself appears before the governess and the little girl. The children, however, adamantly refuse to acknowledge the presence of the two spirits, although there are indications that there is some evil communication between the children and the ghosts.”
  • Recently adapted as the Netflix show “The Haunting of Bly Manor”
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (Ghost Story)
    • “It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.”
    • Goodreads link:
    • Recently adapted as the Netflix show “The Haunting of Hill House”

*Note: Some of these books may contain triggers for certain people. If you are worried about certain triggers, please check for trigger warnings before reading.

Danielle | Fall 2020

E-Libraries: The “Facebook” for Readers

A page of Addison or of Irving will teach more of style than a whole manual of rules, whilsty a story of Poe’s will impress upon the mind a more vivid notion of powerful and correct description and narration than will ten dry chapters of a bulky textbook. – H. P. Lovecraft

Maybe you’ve heard from your English professors that readers make better writers. Well, it’s true. And we’ve all probably seen those “X-number of Benefits from Reading” lists like those on Buzzfeed that explain how reading helps lower stress, potentially slows the effects of Alzheimer’s, increases your ability to empathize with others, and enhances cultural awareness and social sensitivities amongst other benefits. But if you’re working on becoming a better version of your writing self, I recommend increasing your literary intake! Oh, and scientists suggest you read more, too.

save brain read book

Courtesy of:

According to Psychology Today, “Neuroscientists have discovered that reading a novel can improve brain function on a variety of levels” (Bergland). A study at Emory University expl
ored the cognitive benefits of reading fiction by scanning brain activity of undergraduates who read a novel over the course of a few weeks. The left temporal cortexes in the students’ brains were highly active and engaged (the area of the brain associated with language cognition). Soooo, what does this mean? Essentially, I just proved to you how reading DOES influence the way you write because you can pick up on other styles of writing and the various ways of using new and familiar words.

In our world today, (the world of iPads, tablet, and ebooks) the process of reading is actually changing…drastically. Not only has the term “book” taken on a new electronic paperless form, but our library and bookstore system is also morphing into something more tech savvy. There is an insane amount of literature available, ebook or paper copy, so how do you even find things you want to read anymore now that everything is virtually, virtual?!

Welcome to the realm of e-libraries! You may have your own Kindle or other virtual library hooked up to your mobile tech devices, but I want to briefly introduce three of my favorite internet “libraries” that allow you to interact with other readers (kinda like Facebook).

Courtesy of:

Courtesy of:

  • GOODREADS: Here, you can create your profile and immediately start sifting through hundreds of book lists categorized by any imaginable grouping: YA fiction, Best Cover Art, Books that Should be Movies, Books that Were Better than the Movie, Romance, Dystopian, etc. You and other users can rate these books and write reviews for other users to evaluate as each member crafts his or her own “To Read” list. This is helpful because you can keep track of things you want to read or have read, and peruse what other readers like. I’m a fan.
  • RIFFLEBOOKS: A similar site, Rifflebooks, allows users to navigate lists of books and send recommendations to each other, participate in book discussions, follow other users’ books lists, and “like” books. Rifflebooks, to me, has a very Pinteresty feel in terms of organizing my own lists of books and browsing through others. I like Rifflebooks because I can engage more with other readers, which contributes to the feeling that Rifflebooks is a community of readers actively interacting with one another and their literature.
  • BOOKLIKES: For all of you bloggers out there, here is your book-blog-nerd-heaven. As soon as you sign up, you receive your own website url hosted by Booklikes that you can customize through different templates. You’ll get your own “Bookshelf” that graphically displays all of your books you add through the site. Not only do you get to catalog your books, but you can also write reviews, blog, and connect easily with other bloggers through Booklikes, which is free, polished, and highly functioning.

So there you have it. I’ve outlined three similar yet very different online bookish communities that will allow you to keep up with literature as the ways we encounter books is changing in our techish world. With literature at our fingertips at almost every moment, now keeping track of what we’d like to read is becoming easier as we can adapt and engage with our readings even more. I wish you all the best in your summer reading endeavors!


Shannon, peer tutor


Bergland, Christopher. “Reading Function Improves Brain Connectivity and Function.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC. Jan. 2014. Web. 29 April 2015.