Swap your books!

With all of the papers, exams, and other time-sucking assignments that inevitably accompany the end of the semester, it may be difficult to get excited about recreational reading. (In case you’ve forgotten, with your brain all muddled up with lit papers and math exams, recreational reading is reading you do for fun in this magical thing called free time.)

Here’s the thing: So much free time is coming! Believe it or not, we have less than a month left in the semester. When winter break hits, you’ll have time to do fun things, like reading! (Yes, reading is fun.)

So why not prepare? Luckily for you, a momentous event is rapidly approaching- the first ever McDaniel Writing Center Book Swap!

During the week after Thanksgiving Break, members of the McDaniel College community can participate in the “take a book, leave a book” system. We already have over 150 books!

How did we get so many already? Well, this past weekend, three peer tutors (including myself) went with the Professor A and his wife, Mrs. Professor A, to the Book Thing. It’s a magical place full of free books, with no strings attached other than they are not for resale. Pretty cool, eh?

We’ll be posting photos of some of our best finds to Facebook and Twitter up until the event begins, but here’s a preview:

Don’t have a book to swap, but want to snag something to read over break? Never fear! You have options! Receive a free book by:

1) Reigstering for our online scheduler while in the office,


2)  Following or liking the Writing Center if you don’t already, Facebooking or Tweeting a photo of yourself with your book, and then tagging the Writing Center in the post.

It’s so simple!

What if I have the opposite problem, you may ask? If you have books that you want to get rid of, and don’t want to acquire more, we also have options for you. Well, there’s really just one option, and that is: We want all of the books!


Yes, including yours. Even the ones the school bookstore rejected.

Now that we all understand what is going on with this book swap thing, there’s only one thing left to do- Join the Facebook event and tell your friends about it!

Hanna, peer tutor

Spll Chekin’

I’ll be the first to admit that I rely too heavily on spell check. It’s so convenient to have the computer fix your mistakes for you (and if you’re anything like me, sometimes your fingers just can’t keep up with your thoughts, sacrificing correct spelling).

It happens when we text, too. There are whole websites dedicated to sharing hilarious autocorrect mishaps, which we find funny because we’ve done it ourselves.


It happens to all of us. You mistype something, but don’t realize it until you get your paper back and your professor has written big question marks next to the line that makes absolutely no sense.

Or are you just a perfect enough typer that this hasn’t happened to you yet? Then here’s a somewhat exaggerated example of what can happen when you rely too heavily on the spell check function of your word processor:

Ode to the Spell Check

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It cam with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite

Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew!

(From Jokes about Writing)

Here’s the thing: I’m not about to turn off SpellCheck, and I don’t expect you to either, but we’ve just got to be aware that proofreading papers is important.

Even if it’s not because of an over-reliance upon a spell checker, proofreading is generally good paper-writing practice. Nobody likes to lose points because of some silly mistake they would’ve fixed if they’d noticed it earlier.  It also looks like you’ve spent more time on a paper that has been properly proofread, and your professor will appreciate the extra effort.

Proofreading is a step that a lot of writers skip, though. I can almost understand why. You’re so glad to have finished writing that you just want it to be done forever, or you’re too tired to do anything more than just turn it in.

One solution to that scenario would be better time management. If you give yourself more time to work, you won’t miss out on proofreading!

But here’s an even simpler solution, one that there really is no excuse not to do because it doesn’t even take that long: READ YOUR PAPER OUT LOUD.

It sounds silly. Literally, it sounds silly to do, when you’re in your dorm room talking to yourself about Chaucer or mitochondria or whatever you’re writing about- but it is so dang helpful.

When you read your work out loud, you hear it the way it is written. This gets you out of your head, allowing you to distance yourself a bit (similarly to how taking a day or two after finishing the paper before looking over it is helpful). You’ll often catch your own mistakes by realizing that certain wording sounds funky or you wrote something you didn’t mean to.

You’ll also catch those pesky spell check errors!

When you come to the Writing Center for an appointment, we’ll always ask you to read your paper aloud (or we’ll read it aloud for you- but it’s usually more effective if you do it). This helps get the surface-level errors like punctuation and spelling taken care of right of the bat, so we can help you focus on potentially bigger issues that will have a larger impact on your grade, like thesis and organization and development.

Here at the Writing Center, we’re all about helping you become a better writer, and not just having a better paper. Reading your work aloud is a great technique to include in your writing process that will help you not only be a better writer, but write better papers as a result.

Try it!

 Hanna, peer tutor

Argh! Ahoy there, matey!

It’s not National Talk Like a Pirate Day anymore, but it sure is fun to talk like a pirate anyways!

Creative commons license

It is, however, national book week. You may have noticed people on Facebook playing this game: Grab the closest book to you, go to page 56 and copy the 5th sentence as your status. Now, the Writing Center does not have a Facebook page (yet), but we want to play anyways.

“The steady evolution of the language seems to favor union: two words eventually become one, usually after a period of hyphenation.”

The closest book to me is The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White–it is the Writing Center, after all.

We have tons of resources like that here, including some brand new handouts made by our peer tutors.

Having trouble with semicolons? Need help figuring out those library databases? We’ve got you covered.

These new handouts are available online, but why not schedule an appointment with one of us to go over it in person?

See you soon!

Hanna, peer tutor