Stop Degrading Liberal Art Degrees

At what point did I, or we, if this applies to you as well, accept the stereotype of liberal art majors? When did we stop defending ourselves? Reading Silva’s essay opened my eyes. I had already known that the stereotype against English majors existed, but I never realized how strongly it prevailed.

As a double major in Photography (an art degree) and Writing (an English degree), I receive double the amount of heat. I jokingly switch between the two depending on the situations I am in. (For example, being with my two very left-brained biology degree friends while they discuss anatomy: “What? I’m an art major!”) The fact that I switch between my majors and willingly degrade myself to those with “harder” degrees, shows just how much this stereotype has permeated into daily life.

In the essay, Silva states “But as far as I’ve seen, none of the stereotypes of a STEM or hard science major undermine their future and choices. That’s exactly what the stereotypes and stigmas surrounding liberal arts majors do.” Throughout my college career, I have had people assume that I want to be a journalist (I do not like factual writing), doubted that my Writing major was a real degree (‘It sounds fake.’) and ask what I plan on doing because neither of my degrees guarantees me a job. When in all actuality, everything that we associate with on a daily basis deals with writing or photography, specifically social media and advertisements.

I believe in the art of storytelling. And I also believe that I can change society, even if that change is small. The moment I stop doubting myself, my abilities and my degrees is the moment that I start to change the minds of those around me.

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Week Five in London!

Day One

We went to Hampton Court with the social program. It was awesome. We walked all around the palace, saw the King’s apartment and the Queen’s apartment. We went through a maze and saw the magic garden. It was also sweltering hot.

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Check out this fireplace! It’s been used to cook the King’s food since Hampton Court became a palace. Look at the soot all the way up to the ceiling.
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What an average menu would look like for the King.
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This clock, in Clock Court, is based on the moon.

Day Two

Syd and I attempted to see the Changing of the Gaurd, but the city was so packed and it was so hot, that all we saw were the sweaty backs of heads.

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Can you see how many people were there?

After that failure, we tried to find the vegan market and also failed. The market was closed for Pride, which we ended up in the middle of. We sort of gave up after that. It was so hot that I was sitting in my kitchen (using the WiFi) and sweating. I did homework and watched Netflix for the rest of the day.

Day Three

This was one of the greatest days of the trip. The social program took us to Bath and Stonehenge in an AIR CONDITIONED coach! Sleeping and studying on that coach was such a nice time, I never wanted it to end. I wasn’t sure what to expect at Bath, but the museum was really cool. There was an audioguide that explained all of the artifacts, there were the spring and the bath themselves. I even got to try some of the magical healing water. It was so hot! 40 degrees Celcius…that’s about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Stonehenge was phenomenal. I was expecting it to be underwhelming, so seeing it bigger and grander than I imagined was awesome! If you ever have the chance to go there, I highly recommend it!

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The baths are lined with lead, so all of the water is extremely contaminated. Not only is it too dangerous to ingest, it is also too dangerous to even touch!
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Please, if you are ever able and love history and mysteries, go here!

Day Four

I started the morning booking tickets for the sky garden. My class had a Mrs. Dalloway excursion, where we followed the path Virginia Woolf laid out in the novel. After class, I went to the Barbican Museum to see a Dorothea Lange exhibit and see the famous Migrant Mother. A lot of Lange’s work was phenomenal and some of it was not very good at all. I ended the night by going to trivia night. We didn’t come in dead last, so it was a great time!

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We think this is the area where Mrs. Dalloway lived.
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We stopped at Hatchards, the oldest bookstore in London!

Day Five

I went to class and did some homework before trecking to Camden Market for a little bit and then going to a Georgian restaurant and trying the acharuli khachapuri, recommended by Sydney. Essentially, the meal is a bread boat filled with egg, cheese, and butter. It was incredible!

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If you can eat this, do it. If you can’t find something similar that is allergen friendly.

Day Six

The last excursion for class. We went to Highgate Cemetary and walked around looking at the graves of famous people. After class, I went to the Natural History Museum and the London Museum. I saw the Rosetta Stone, a life-like T-rex, and Queen Cleopatra. I tried bubble tea for the first (and last) time. Then a group of us sought out a place to watch the game (World Cup). Wednesday was the first and last time I really cared about soccer. England lost to Croatia, who I thought played a little bit dirty towards the end.

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The whale!
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The Queen.

Day Seven

After class, I spent four hours in the library writing my papers. Then I went to the gym. Then Caleb, Sydney and I booked tickets to Dover to see the sea, and tickets for Incredibles 2, because it’s FINALLY releasing over here!

Week Four in London!

Day One

The final class meeting for session one. We had a literary scavenger hunt throughout central London. We ran around like chickens with our heads cut off, luckily, we came in second place!

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From left to right: myself, Tyler, Megan, Ally, and Isabella. We were on a mission to win!

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We found St. Paul’s [Actor’s] Church
After the scavenger hunt, a group of us went with Dr. G to a pop-up exhibition of graphic designs that helped create the Harry Potter cinematic universe, it was really cool to see all of the little details that went into creating the films.

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Right around the corner from this little gallery is an all vegetarian/vegan menu pub. I will 100% be going there!
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This place had Hogwarts letters posted EVERYWHERE.

On the way to campus, we ended up at the National Gallery Museum!

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Monet.
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Van Gogh.

After returning to campus and doing my laundry, a group of us went out to find a pub showing England in the world cup and to celebrate for those who were only staying for the first session. Eventually, we ended up at the Toyshop, which we had gone to for the cocktail night. After the game, there was a live band that played until close.

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The squad.

 

Day Two

I slept in for the first time in what felt like months, then went to the library to work on editing some photography with Jeff. After that, Sydney, Caleb, Jeff and I hunted down Abbey Road and Baker Street.

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If you didn’t know, this is an actual road, that gets used. We were literally dodging buses and cars.

We took the bus back from central London during rush hour, it took forever and I think I fell asleep. The day ended with all of us plus Ally and Carter watching Back to the Future in my kitchen.

Day Three

I took another lazy day. I slept in, finished a movie and watched five episodes of Brooklyn 99. Said goodbye to some good friends. Hung out with some good friends; we fed the birds and narrowly missed being attacked by some swans and geese. Then, Sydney made dinner for all of us. I also finally beat level 47 of Mr. Bean, which I had been stuck on for over a month.

Day Four

Caleb, Sydney and I took Jeff out for a goodbye brunch.

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Check out this delicious vegetarian breakfast burrito.

Afterward, we dodge a crowded bus, walked through a park, found a weird Santa toy and ended up feeding the birds again. There is a duck that will eat out of your hand. Sydney named her Stacy.

Day Five

The first day of class for session two. I’m in a writing class titled Hidden London. We explore the city and works about it and then write about London. This class has a bit more demanding workload than the last one, but it still seems fun. Tyler and I grabbed a table in the library after class to work on final papers from the other class and homework from our new class. I said goodbye to Jeff. Then a group of us went to see Oceans 8. It was okay.

Day Six

Had class and spent some time in the library. Then went on a Jack the Ripper Walking Tour with the social programme. This one was a bit better than the one that I went on in my session one class.

Day Seven

Happy fourth to all of my friends and family across the pond! My class went on an excursion to the White Chapel area of London. If you’re ever in the city and want to look at some awesome street art, check out Brick Lane.

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Save the bees.

We also visited the White Chapel Gallery, which was doing an exhibit on Dead Negatives of the Great Depression, focusing on photographers who shot for the FSA.

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The hole in the photos are from a hole-punch because the photos were deemed unsuitable/unusable for the propaganda.

After class, I tried some charity shops in search of clothes that won’t cook me in this odd heat wave (I packed for chilly, rainy London, not 80s-90s, sunny and droughty). I also went grocery shopping, as I had no food for breakfast. Pray for rain.

Week One in London!

Day One

I arrived at the airport earlier in the day and was brought back to campus with a few other students. On my first day here, I went to the local shop to purchase an Oyster Card, which is how one pays for the public transit system. I then learned how to use the bus and get to Asda (the British version of Walmart) to purchase groceries. The rest of the day was spent unpacking and exploring campus before going to the Welcome Dinner.

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Flying somewhere over Canada.

 

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The campus library! Isn’t it gorgeous?

Day Two

I went through orientation and registration. I now have an official Roehampton Student ID! I went on an official campus tour as well, I’ve got about half of campus down, the other half is still kind of confusing to me. I met up with some people and we ended up back at Asda getting groceries we had forgotten previously. When we got back to school we wandered around campus and explored the library before hanging out and playing card games well into the night. The people that I went to Asda with this day are now people I hang out with every day and are very much lifelong friends.

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The view of central London from the top floor of the library.

Day Three

We spent several hours in Central London. I learned how to get to the local train station, which is about a ten-minute walk from campus. I saw the London Bridge, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Big Ben (which is under construction, of course) and the London Eye, as well as countless other monuments and old buildings. I am slowly becoming an expert in public transportation!

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Outside the Tower of London, which I will be touring in week two!
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After walking around for hours, we found a little pizza place. Yes, I ate this entire thing.
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Other than Asda, this was the first time we hung out as a group. Going from left to right, I introduce you to Jeff, Caleb, myself, and Sydney. We didn’t know it then, but we’re all pretty much connected at the hip now! It feels like I’ve known these people for much longer than just a week.

Day Four

I ended up joining a group and we went to Hyde Park. While there, we rented rowboats and rowed around a man-made lake for an hour. When we were done, we walked around to find a place for lunch. The restaurant that we stopped at had spinach, chickpea, and fettuccini “meat” balls and spaghetti, which I loved! We took the tube (subway) back to our area of London. I ended the night with a game of frisbee with a bunch of cool people! I was worried coming in that I would be lonely since I didn’t know anybody else who was studying at my school. Honestly, though, making friends has been pretty easy! A lot of people who came here also came alone, so we’re all just trying to get to know each other. Most everybody is kind, generous and genuine.

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The view of the lake and a really weird looking building.
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My veggie “meat” balls. They were honestly some of the best things I have ever eaten.
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Experiencing the Tube for the first time!

Day Five

The first day of class. I’m in a literature course that focuses on how London has been depicted through books, specifically the Magic, Murder, and Mystery of the city. Class runs from 9:00-13:00, Monday through Thursday. It seems long but we get two breaks to stretch, get snacks, and use the loo. My professor is originally from California and has been in London for just over a decade. She’s very nice. After class, a group of us went looking for a charity shop (thrift store). The original one we wanted is no longer in business and the other one we found, the owner was out for lunch. I stopped at a post office to buy stamps and was blown away by how expensive they are. Don’t ask, I don’t want to talk about it. I bought a gym membership since I’m here for so long!

Day Six

Getting up for class is rough, and not having caffeine in the morning is worse. I had to get a coffee on our first break because I kept nodding off. Class went by really fast and afterward, I quickly worked on a presentation. Then I went to the gym. Then I got ready for the Hidden Pubs of London Tour. It wasn’t as fantastic as I wanted to be, but I did see a lot of beautiful old buildings and hear some crazy ghost stories, including one that inspired J.K. Rowling’s Nearly Headless Nick. We ended the tour at a gin palace and after I ordered my gin and tonic I realized that I didn’t like gin. I drank it though. On our way back to the station, we stopped at McDonald’s. The chips (fries) here are the same, and they have veggie burgers. The veggie burger I got was NOT good. I’ll try the spicy one next time, but if that one isn’t good I will just stick to the chips.

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While we were waiting for our tour guide, I found a telephone booth!
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This church is haunted by an evil French queen. It was also destroyed in the Blitz and now acts as a memorial to the lives and the old London that the war destroyed.
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Acting like I liked the gin and tonic I ordered.

Day Seven

I presented in class about Jack the Ripper and we watched a movie about him. After class I went to a quaint little event that the Study Abroad Team at my university put on for us; tea and cake. The cake I tried was vegan chocolate and it was so good! The tea was also very good, except that it was hot and humid and I was drinking a warm beverage. While at the social, a group of us decided to spontaneously go into the city and ride the London Eye. I’ve really taken to doing things spontaneously, as I used to do before my life required organization. We ordered our tickets online with a student discount. I was expecting the cost to be £50 but it was actually only £15, which was a relief, though I probably would have done it anyways. The Eye was pretty cool but not as great as I expected it to be, given how talked up the attraction is. We roamed around the city afterward to find a doughnut shop in Soho. It was the most expensive doughnut I’ve ever had, but it was incredibly rich and the frosting was amazing.

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If you look closely, you can see Big Ben getting worked on in the background. Fun fact: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell. The structure is actually named Elizabeth Tower.
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Check out this view!
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A peanut butter, chocolate doughnut! The store also had doughnuts the size of my head.

 

 

That’s it for week one! Week two will be coming soon, and with some even crazier stories than week one.

Review for ‘The Song of Achilles’

The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerDNF!

I did not even make it 100 pages into this book. I tried, really I did. There were entire passages of description that could have been taken out. The book could have been much shorter if, rather than describe every unimportant detail, Miller had just gotten to the point. I get it, show don’t tell, but readers do not need to see every detail. I’m truly disappointed because I had such high hopes for this book and it let me down.

It was too slow paced and I really just couldn’t get into it.

 

I give it a 1/5 star rating.

‘Artemis’ Review

Artemis is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I borrowed the copy I read but you can bet that I am going to buy myself one. Yeah, it was that good. (5/5 stars.) At one point, I even dreamed that I lived in the city on the moon.

One thing that I really loved about the book was the writing style. This is the first I’ve read any of Andy Weir’s work, so I didn’t know anything about his style going in. In Artemis, the style is very realistic, it’s practically stream of consciousness. It seemed as if the protagonist, Jazz, was having a conversation with the reader, or giving a confession. At times, the fourth wall was broken to actually address the reader. It worked very well for Jazz and her personality. I think that it was the best way to go about the setting, as well. Very few people have ever been to the moon. The way that Jazz interacts with the reader, and how realistically the story was written, make it much easier for the readers to understand how life in Artemis and life on the moon (yes, they’re different, a city has politics and the moon has different gravity) work.

Something that was obvious from the get-go was how much research Andy Weir put into this book.

Or, he’s really good at making things up.

There was a lot of chemistry and math, a lot of information about welding and physics and aerodynamics. It blew me away how tediously he researched everything. I learned a lot about gravity and space travel. The novel didn’t seem too information heavy, either, which is usually hard to do given how much explaining is needed for the general population to understand not only the basics of how Artemis works as a city, but how Jazz functions in her day to day life and how she completes her mission that compels the rest of the story.

I also enjoyed how diverse the story was. Jazz is Saudia Arabian, all of Artemis is possible because of Kenya, the aluminum is made on the moon by a Brazillian company. Honestly, I think the only recurring white character is Rudy, and he’s a rude Canadian (a character type that we don’t usually see…I’m talking about Canadians, not rude Canadians). It was very refreshing to read a book where the protagonists aren’t white Americans in a post-apocalyptic world or a John Green novel.

What? I’m not salty.

There was one thing that did confuse me while reading, though. Sporadically, throughout chapters, there were emails between Jazz and a character named Kelvin. This isn’t much of a spoiler, but if you don’t want to know anything AT ALL about the book, then skip this paragraph. These emails start off in the past to help establish Jazz and Kelvin’s relationship, as well as help explain how Jazz ended up where she is at the start of the novel. While reading, I thought that the emails were in real-time, which confused me because the events that Jazz relayed to Kelvin didn’t add up. If the emails had been time-stamped or said that they started 9 to 10 years previously, it would have cleared up the confusion that I had. I didn’t realize that the emails were taking place in the past until they caught up with the present, over halfway through the book.

The reason that I wanted to read Artemis is because Artemis is my favorite Greek goddess, so there is really no connection between the two other than the name of the city. Though this wasn’t a story about Greek heroes, I was not let down at all. This book gave me a rollercoaster of a ride and a rollercoaster of emotions. I recommend you pick up a copy.

April TBR

Artemis is a book that I’ve wanted to read since it came out. I originally wanted to read it because Artemis is my favorite Greek goddess…I actually had no idea what the book was about. If you also don’t know what this book is about, I’ll leave the synopsis below. This is the first I will be reading anything by Andy Weir, so I’m excited to see how I like it.

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

The Dark Prophecy is a book that I’ve been dying to read since I finished the first of the series. I am waiting to buy the book when it comes out in paperback so it matches the first one (which I bought in paperback), so I checked it out the hardcover from the library. I have always loved Rick Riordan’s writing since I started the Percy Jackson series when I was twelve. I’m excited to see where the story goes an how everything ties together because it’s obvious how much thought that Riordan has put into his series. Read the synopsis below.

The second book in the latest series from Percy Jackson creator Rick Riordan. The god Apollo, stuck in the body of a teenage boy, must undergo the second of his trials to regain his immortality.
I got The Edge of Falling from the library because they didn’t have the book by Rebecca Serle that I wanted (it’s down further on the list). I read the inside flap of the hardcover and the plot seems interesting, so I checked it out. I have previously read Serle’s Famous in Love so I know that I like her style.
Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included. Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumors are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realizes that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.

This one is also a book that I’ve wanted to read for a very long time, since it came out, actually. I just have never gotten to read it. The main reason that I checked it out from the library is that its sequel is coming out this month (Cerce). I want to read this one mainly because of the Greek mythology that has been interesting to me since I started reading the Percy Jackson series when I was younger. I’ve never read anything by Madeline Miller, so I’m excited to see if I enjoy this story.

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.

 

I’m reading this book for class. I think that’s all I think I need to say.
But it’s actually a pretty good read. If you’re interested in writing scripts, I’d suggest picking this book up.
This ultimate insider’s guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a show biz veteran who’s proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat!

This is the book that I was originally planning on checking out from the library. After reading its prequel, Famous in Love, I needed to read the second one.
Last summer I binge watched Famous in Love on FreeForm. Sadly, the only thing the show has in common with the book is the names of the characters. Both the book and the show ended with giant, and drastically different, cliffhangers. I did not want to confuse the plot lines of the two, and with the season premiere of the show last week, I need to know what happens in the second book.

After being plucked from obscurity, Hollywood’s newest starlet, Paige Townsen, has a hit film to her name and Rainer Devon on her arm. But being half of the world’s most famous couple comes with a price. No matter where Paige goes, someone is always watching. Soon she finds herself dodging photographers; hiding her feelings for her other costar, Jordan Wilder; and navigating tabloid scandals that threaten to tear her and Rainer apart—and end her career as quickly as it began.

As she navigates her new L.A. life in this sequel to Famous in Love, Paige finds that she doesn’t know who to trust: Old friends could be betraying her secrets, and new friends are keeping secrets of their own.

 

Once again, this is a book that I have wanted to read for a long time and I finally broke down and bought it. I have never read anything by Mary Beard and I am actually excited to learn a thing or two while I read this.
In SPQR, an instant classic, Mary Beard narrates the history of Rome “with passion and without technical jargon” and demonstrates how “a slightly shabby Iron Age village” rose to become the “undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean” (Wall Street Journal). Hailed by critics as animating “the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life” (Economist) in a way that makes “your hair stand on end” (Christian Science Monitor) and spanning nearly a thousand years of history, this “highly informative, highly readable” (Dallas Morning News) work examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries. With its nuanced attention to class, democratic struggles, and the lives of entire groups of people omitted from the historical narrative for centuries, SPQR will to shape our view of Roman history for decades to come.
So, in order to get free shipping for my order on ThriftBooks, I had to spend at least $10, the synopsis for this seemed pretty interesting so I just added it to my cart. I don’t think I’ve ever read Siobhan Vivian’s work, so I am excited to see how I like her work.

An intense look at the rules of high school attraction – and the price that’s paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn’t matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, “pretty” and “ugly.” And it’s also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

Now, with final exams, portfolios and projects coming up, and the fact that I have to pack up and move back home, I’m not sure if I will be able to read all of these books within the month of April. I borrowed Artemis from a friend a couple of weeks ago and really want to give it back to him soon, so that’s the first one I will be reading. And I checked out the three from the library, so I have to finish those before I turn them back in. Obviously, I will finish Save the Cat for class. But the rest of the books I’m okay with not finishing before the end of the month.
What books are you guys reading this month?