5 Books Recommendations From An English Major To Read This Winter Break

5 Books Recommendations From An English Major To Read This Winter Break

Winter break is finally upon us, which means it's a great time to crack open a book.

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Winter break is finally upon us, which for me, means six weeks of absolutely nothing to do. At a certain point, even reruns of "Friends" get old, which means something is seriously wrong. If you're working, good for you. If you're studying abroad or doing some internship or whatever, that's amazing. However, if you're like me, you're probably looking for something to do over the next few weeks. As an English lit major, I can't say anything makes me feel quite so productive as reading a ton of books, and there's a few I'd recommend to anyone looking for a good read over the break.

1. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

This isn't just one of the best books I've read this year, it's one of the best I've read ever. It chronicles the lives of a Korean family during Japanese imperialism, creating a complex and captivating description of Japanese-Korean culture through the eyes of multiple generations. The book was a National Book Award finalist in 2017 and has received great critical acclaim for it's writing. The most enchanting aspect of Pachinko is just how much it speaks to the immigrant narrative and lines of division between cultures, specifically Korean, Japanese, and American. It's an incredible piece of literature that I know means a great deal to Asian-Americans everywhere.

Buy it here!

2. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

Although this book was published in 2001, many have not had the time to become engulfed in Yann Martel's Life of Pi. The main character, Pi Patel, is a young boy growing up in India. He explores his spirituality and ends up believing in three separate dogmas at once: Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. This, of course, is the less famous part of the novel. More well known is the image of Pi on a lifeboat with a bengal tiger, Richard Parker. Life of Pi is eyeopening in its religious undertones, and I'll admit, I do believe that I agree with its introduction. "This book will make you believe in God."

Buy it here!

3. The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. LeGuin

I read this book for an English class, but it's actually pretty awesome. It's not particularly long, and since it was written in 1971, the style is pretty modern. Postmodern, actually. This one is mostly for the science fiction nerds. George Orr (play on Orwell perhaps?) has dreams that create alternate realities, but when he is sent to get medical help, the doctor discovers how to use George's powers for his own ends. In addition to the awesome plot, the book has strong themes of environmentalism and philosophical morality. It's a little trippy, but a great quick read.

Buy it here!

4. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

This book made me cry. My best friend got it for my birthday, and I swallowed it whole. Metaphorically. Kazuo Ishiguro won a Nobel Prize in Literature for a reason, this book is truly genius. Another science fiction dystopia, Never Let Me Go follows the life of Kathy H. and her friends, Ruth and Tommy, as they attend a mysterious school called Hailsham. Behind the nostalgic, wistful tone, the plot twists into something much more unsettling.

Buy it here!

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larson

If you're into thrillers, this is the book for you. It's dark and exhilarating, starting off with the lesser known character of its two heroes—journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Mikael is employed by industrial tycoon Henrik Vagner to inquire into the disappearance of a relative. The legendary Lisbeth Salander joins him in his detective work, giving the book it's title—The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The book is the first in its series, but definitely worth it, even as a stand alone read.

Buy it here!

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To The High School Senior, It's Not All About College Applications

Finish strong, be mindful of your needs, and live in peace.

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I wish I could have said this all last year, that you will never have it as easy as you do right now. It's the end of the road for childhood and you're wondering what else do I do with my life now that I'm going to college? It's a mix of emotions and feelings that are hard to process. My goal is telling you this is the year to do everything fun and live like you haven't before. This doesn't mean skip school on the daily and get bad grades(it matters until the end because of college).

But above all else, don't let college applications define your year. People think applying to college is the story of what happens senior year(which is mostly true but I promise that is not the only thing that matters). There is so much more to life than college applications and laughing how everyone becomes depressed their last year from being around the same people. If I could tell myself last year, it would be this:

First, it would be to not argue with people at all. This last year is simply too scared to fight and argue with people over nothing. Do your best to be kind to everyone and not cause problems for other people. Everyone deserves to have a nice senior year.

Second, enjoy being able to live in your own room and not share with anyone else. Once you get to college there's going to be a lot of unnecessary noise that you sort of get used to living with.

Next, do not take an abundance of college classes. They're only going to help you but so much and you're not going to want to do the work anyway. Don't be one of those people who does this and doesn't feel the need to have a social life. It's no joke, recognize you're human and be mindful of your needs.

In addition, there is no such thing as a perfect school. Every school has its flaws and most of the time when people say yes, they're saying yes to the marketing campaign the school has. There is a large difference between the marketing campaign for the school and actually living there. It's always good to go to your top school and tour a second time so you know what definitely fits you.

Most importantly, do not be too consumed in your cell phone and pretend that you don't care about anything. That's like a lame childish response pretending you don't have feelings. And for those that still think this is the way to go, I can't wait until you take a sociology class and learn about how humans are dependent on one another.

Appreciate everything mom and dad have done for you. Do not fuss about what is put on the dinner table, and instead be grateful that they took their time to prepare a meal for YOU. Nothing compares to mom's home-cooked meals. Because that dining hall food can really mess you up.

You will be working the 9-5 all day every day. There will be more work, you will be stressed out about reading around 300 pages of material per week, and have the stress of having two tests as the only semester grades.

Lastly, you will actually have to adult for the first time ever in college and find what keeps you motivated. It's not a hand holding game with constant support. You have the opportunity to do a lot by yourself but also with others.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Government Shutdown

The longest government shutdown in history will impact every American.

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In the early morning hours of December 22, the longest government shutdown in United States history began. At this writing, the government has been shut down for 24 days -- and counting.

The current shutdown revolves around President Trump's request for over five billion dollars to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which he sees as a necessary response to the "massive Humanitarian Crisis" taking place at the southern border -- the flow of migrants from Central America. Democrats in Congress, who fervently deny the severity of the situation, refuse to allocate funds towards a wall, instead looking to negotiate other measures for border security. Unable to pass bipartisan spending legislation, the government remains closed.But what exactly is a shutdown, and what does it mean for ordinary Americans?

A government shutdown occurs when the annual appropriations bills that fund several government agencies and programs fail to reach passage by both Congress and the president. Congress is in charge of creating these bills, and each year the president must sign them into law in order to fund the government for a new fiscal period. In October, at the beginning of the current fiscal year, only a few of the necessary appropriations bills were enacted, and Congress had until December 21 to enact the rest. However, due to congressional infighting and the President's incessant demands for a wall, the government failed to reach a spending agreement by the deadline, and a shutdown ensued.

Without appropriated funds, any departments or agencies deemed "non-essential" are put on hold under a government shutdown. This means that many federal workers, including those within the Food and Drug Administration and National Park Service, are furloughed, or put on temporary leave without pay. The remaining employees, who work in departments or agencies considered "essential," are forced to work without pay until appropriations are made by Congress and the President. Once the government is open again, they will receive their missed checks in back pay.

Put simply, the 800,000 Americans who work for departments affected by the shutdown have been without a paycheck for almost an entire month now. In past weeks, several of these workers have taken to Washington to protest the shutdown and have appeared on television to voice their frustrations. Forced to deplete their savings to make ends meet, they worry about how they'll make their next mortgage payment and keep their families fed. Paying for daycare services for infants, or college tuition for young adults, has become almost impossible for some.

And government employees aren't the only Americans affected by the shutdown. Though social security checks are sent out and Medicare is paid for, the issuance of insurance cards could cease, meaning that those newly eligible for Medicare could be turned away. Hundreds of sites with hazardous waste or polluted drinking water will go uninspected by the EPA. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, responsible for feeding thousands of impoverished families, cannot last another two months without funding.

Perhaps the scariest effect of the shutdown is its impact on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), responsible for screening passengers at airports. Since the shutdown began, airports across the country have dealt with a shortage of staff, causing long lines and massive travel delays. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas and Miami International Airport in Florida have both been forced to close entire terminals in response to a staffing shortage. On January 14, TSA spokesman Michael Biello tweeted that TSA "experienced a national rate of 7.6 percent unscheduled absences compared to a 3.2 percent rate one year ago, Monday, January 15, 2018." Although the agency claims that security has not been compromised during the shutdown, the lack of workers leaves many travellers skeptical.

As President Trump continues to exploit the "crisis" at the border (see the televised address) and top Democrats defend the merits of legal immigration, it is unclear just how long the shutdown will continue. In the House, Democrats have passed spending bills supporting the immediate re-opening of affected federal departments, but such bills have not yet been brought to the Republican-controlled Senate. There have been no meetings scheduled between the White House and congressional staff, and Trump has abandoned his idea of declaring a national emergency. It seems the only thing left to do is wait.

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