Summer reading list

During my first year of grad school, I took a lot of notes. I realized that in many of my classes, professors had suggestions for things I (specifically) should be reading.

This felt different from the random person who is all like, “you haven’t read X, omg, you are a horrible uncultured person, but just kiddinggg but seriously, drop whatever you’re doing, call off work, and go read X.” Okay, I get it.

Here’s the thing. Have you been in a library lately? There are a ton of books. More than I could ever read in my lifetime. That is the reality, I cannot read everything. For most of my life I read things that interested me, following certain authors, or discovering interesting looking covers in the library (a spaceship on the cover?? I’d better find out what happens!) Now I am switching over to reading things that will help my writing, through content, craft, or inspiration.

We all secretly like to be judgmental, mainly because it’s more fun that way. So, I thought I’d share my summer reading list. I made this list solely for myself, based on suggestions from professors for the types of stories *I* want to be writing, as well as books I’ve been meaning to read because I think they will inspire my writing somehow. Below are a mix of novels and short story collections. Some are just authors I’ve been encouraged to check out and I haven’t decided what works of theirs to read yet. There are also a few fiction craft books in there (as in, ‘how to write fiction’ type books). If you have suggestions for magical realism, minimalist, strange, genre bending, dystopian, and/or feminist stories, I would love to hear about them!

“Red Moon” Ben Percy
“Refresh, Refresh” Ben Percy
“The lie that tells the truth” John Dufresne
“Is life like this? A guide to writing your first novel in 6 months” John Dufresne
“Bird by Bird” Anne Lamott
“Willful Creatures” Aimee Bender
“The Color Master: stories” Aimee Bender
The Complete Collection of Calvin and Hobbes
“Reservation Blues” Sherman Alexie
“Indian Killer” Sherman Alexie
“The Way to Rainy Mountain” N. Scott Momaday
“House Made of Dawn” N. Scott Momaday  (re-reading)
“Suddenly, A knock on the door” Etgar Karet
“Reasons to live” Amy Hempel
“Jesus’ Son” Denis Johnson
Margaret Atwood
“The Power and the Glory” Graham Greene
George Saunders
“The Road” Cormac Mccarthy

Oh, and a lovely middle school student I tutor suggested I check out the YA series “Divergent” even though we agreed it seemed like a rip off of the Hunger Games. Got to stay up to date on my youth culture though!
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Grad School Update and Summer break

After finishing my first year of grad school at Boise State (two more to go!) I can say many things about going back to school. One of which is that your blog posts may vary incredibly. I disappeared a bit this Spring semester blog-wise, but I’m determined to keep going. I realized only in the last week or so of school that I had not done something social (as in, not related to my program) the whole semester, and I hadn’t called anyone for fun besides my sister. Talk about living under a rock…  Now I am ready to share more about my first year here.

I taught two classes of English 102, which is research writing, and I didn’t die. Professors have an option to theme their 102 classes, so I picked “pop culture.” If you’re going to have to read all their papers, they might as well be interesting, right? A lot of them really surprised me with their creativity, and I felt much more myself even in my teacher-character. I battled with weird classroom arrangements, incorporating a textbook, and a wide variety of actual writing skills. Could someone please let the engineering majors know that they will have to write again? That English 101 and 102 are not the last papers they’ll have to write? How do they think they are going to get grant money for the giant robots they want to build?

Lemongrab from Adventure Time
Lemongrab from Adventure Time

I also made a big effort to teach my students film critique as a research skill, which resulted in a class period watching part of a documentary on Star Trek fans and having my students take apart the directorial choices, editing, narration, etc. The classes are normally full at twenty-five students, but I somehow ended up with nineteen and four (!!!). The four person class was a crazy experience, but they all jumped right in and held themselves to such a high accountability. Their presentations and papers were far better than my nineteen person class. This has given me a lot of thought on the research showing the best way to learn is one-on-one.

For my next two years in my grad program, I’ll be working at Boise State’s Writing Center doing just that– working individually with students from all majors and levels on their writing assignments, getting to the root of their writing problems (or fears), and making every minute count. I’m really excited to learn more about the theory behind individual learning, and coupled with my growing tutoring and college admissions consulting business, I can put the theories I learn into action very quickly!

I applied to two National Humanities Seminars and was waitlisted to both (but ultimately not selected). I attended my first official writers conference in Seattle and learned that I feel overwhelmed around thousands of people (duh). I applied and luckily was selected to participate in a week long course design program at Boise State and have started to plan out my first Intro to Fiction Writing class I’ll be teaching next year.

But now, I am officially on summer vacation, which, like most
Jackie-vacations means working multiple jobs, Netflix, and writing as much as I can. I even made myself a reading list, just like the high school days. My summer jobs are: Temp Test Administrator for Pearson testing company, tutoring English for local middle school students, and beginning my season of college application consulting.

I bought a snake plant, which is good for filtering air
I bought a snake plant, which is good for filtering air

I will barely make rent.
I will eat a lot of pizza.
I will keep writing.

Thank you again for all of your support!

 

 

 

 

 

Grad school here I come?

Ames, Boise, or New Orleans?

In 4 months I’ll be living in one of those cities.

I’ve received a lot of exciting news in the past few weeks, but if you asked me which state I’m moving to in August, I still wouldn’t know what to tell you! With my fingers crossed for more good news from Iowa State, Boise State, or U New Orleans, I am trying to figure out how to best spend the rest of my summer.

No matter which program I end up at, I will need to make several trips to complete my move. First, I’ll need to fly to Pittsburgh, PA in June to clear out my storage unit and drive it to my Mom’s in Indianapolis. I’m really excited about a final trip to Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon!

In July I’ll be looking for housing in my new state, buying a used car (!!!), and driving my things from Indianapolis. Classes won’t start until the last week of August, so I will probably officially move mid-August with the doggies. (Snickers is really excited to go on another road trip! Not.)

After some awful experiences trying to find a full time job in San Francisco, my luck has turned around with some temp jobs! I’ll be working 3-4 days a week at the SF Museum of Modern Art selling tickets until June 1st. If you’re around, you should stop by and check out the Clocks exhibit! Then, for two weeks in May I’ll be an exam proctor for the University of San Francisco Law school. I’m am super happy to have some other jobs coming my way because living in San Francisco for the past year has really depleted my savings…

Next week should bring my final grad school decision, and the schedules for my new jobs. In the meantime I’m trying to keep myself distracted by packing for Coachella next weekend!

Throw back picture of a sleep Snickers circa 2010.
Throw back picture of a sleepy Snickers circa 2010.