Tag Archives: choices

Ok Really- In Defense of Reading

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I jokingly posted a funny video about how reading is important earlier this week. However, I figured I might as well share a little bit about reading more seriously, just because it is something I am passionate about.

I’m an English major. So I’m constantly reading. But even in those parameters I try to branch out and read for pleasure too, not just to try to absorb information as quickly as possible.

This week, for example, I managed to continue reading one of my new favorite book series, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third book in The Raven Cycle. But how did I manage that? Well, I’ll get down to that with a few easy tips on managing to get some reading time in.

1. Read what you like- if I was trying to make myself read a classic book, or something of a higher caliber, it never would have happened this week. I probably would have read a page or two and given up to go back to my Criminal Minds marathon. So reading an easy teen fiction fantasy book was a good choice.

2. Find a time that works and stick with it!– one of the best ways to keep reading is to get in the habit. For me it’s become a good pre-bedtime activity, helps me calm down and relax before I go to sleep better than television does. If I’m really interested in the book though, I like reading at the breakfast table while having my cereal and coffee.

3. Audiobooks– audiobooks are fantastic inventions I highly recommend. I love using them at the gym, or when cooking, or when driving. I survived my Shakespeare class last semester by listening to the plays usually while playing games on computer or phone, or even while drawing or coloring. It makes for a nice change of pace and gets that same literary joy in.

4. Every bit counts– Even a few minutes a day is a great start, especially if you’re a busy person like me. Take stock of small bits of reading too.

5. Libraries are magical places– use libraries to your advantage. Ask for recommendations from librarians, or do online searches. Seriously, go to the library. Maybe make it a weekly occurrence if you can, or biweekly, or monthly depending on your reading speed.

6. Reward yourself– Maybe a good way to do it is say you have to read twenty pages before you open your computer for the day. Maybe you want to use reading as a check on the to do list before you allow yourself to get distracted. Find methods that work for you.

7. Reward in itself– If you are starting to really enjoy reading for fun (which hopefully if you’re finding the right types of books and spending time regularly pursuing that you should!), then I recommend using books as a bit of a reward in themselves. I personally motivate myself to get homework done by saying after it’s finished I can watch an episode of TV, but lately it’s started being a reward of reading either added or instead of the screen time. And I’m finding I’m enjoying it and looking forward to getting alone time with a book. My roommate even had to hide my book yesterday because I was worried I might be tempted to ditch homework instead.

My roommate hid my book from me so I’d do homework instead!

So voila, a few easy tips to get you going on improving your language skills, and writing skills, and all the other wonderful things that books can do for you.

How do you get yourself to read? What are some challenges to you personally in picking up a book? Share whatever thoughts you have! I always love to hear from readers.

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Branching Out and Writing on…Cereal Selection?

For those of you who don’t know I write pretty much all fantasy. Fantasy romance novels to be specific. While I certainly enjoy this genre, sometimes it would be better if I allowed myself to move into other genres and formats. I’ve tried my hand at poetry, and to be honest I think I lack an understanding to make it worth pursuing. I’ve attempted other novel forms. I’ve even bravely journeyed into the unfamiliar land of nonfiction and tried to write something in that. However, I still always venture back into my familiar land. And in writing my blog posts here sometimes it’s a little too easy to just focus on that topic.

So today I’m dedicating this post to my two close friends who challenged me to write something different. Today I’m not blogging about my fantasy work, or a book I’ve read, or a writing tip. Today I’m blogging on a research project and practicing branching out into another form of writing. So read on to hear the results of our awesome study on cocoa cereal brands. Yes, you read that right. Cocoa cereal brands.

So the project was a blind taste test between four different brands of “cocoa puffs” to determine which one was the best. We had two subjects tasting four different brands: Cocoa Puffs (General Mills), Cocoa Roos (Malt-O-Meal), Cocoa Munchees (Hospitality), Cocoa Puffed Cereal (Kroger). The test was not only to see which was the *best tasting overall, but also which had best value as the prices were varying.

*we recognize that taste is a subjective area that cannot truly be scientifically proven and wish readers to know that these are our opinions and you may feel free to disagree. Cereals were ranked on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best possible taste.

Cocoa Puffs (General Mills)

Cocoa Puffs (General Mills)

1. Cocoa Puffs (General Mills)-

Subject A described it as “super good” and guessed right away that it must be the Cocoa Puffs.

Subject B said it was good, crunchy, and had good chocolate flavor. Guess was Kroger brand.

Individual ratings of 8/10, 7/10 respectively

Cocoa Roos (Malt-O-Meal)

Cocoa Roos (Malt-O-Meal)

2. Cocoa Roos (Malt-O-Meal)

Subject A described as gross and guessed immediately that they had to be off brand.

Subject B immediately guessed them to be Cocoa Roos and agreed that they were not as likeable.

Both noted that the cereal lost its crunchiness soon after pouring the milk.

Both rated as 4/10

Cocoa Munchees (Hospitality)

Cocoa Munchees (Hospitality)

3. Cocoa Munchees (Hospitality)

Subject A described as interesting

Subject B described as crunchy and second guessed that they must be cocoa puffs

Individual scores of 6.5/10 and 6/10 respectively

Cocoa Puffed Cereal (Kroger)

Cocoa Puffed Cereal (Kroger)

4. Cocoa Puffed Cereal (Kroger)

Subject A described them as disgusting and gross

Subject B assumed they were the Cocoa Munchees and was certain they were off-brand. She thought they were crunchy but very unsatisfying. Previous to taste test Subject B thought that the Kroger brand was her favorite.

Individual scores of 4/10 and 3/10 respectively

Now, the prices of course are also a determining factor in the study.

1. Cocoa Puffs (General Mills)- $2.50 for an 11.8 oz box.

$0.21per ounce

2. Cocoa Roos (Malt-O-Meal)- $4.95 for a 27.5 oz bag

$0.18 per ounce

3. Cocoa Munchees (Hospitality)- $4.90 for a 35 oz bag

$0.14 per ounce

4. Cocoa Puffed Cereal (Kroger)- $2.99 for a 28 oz bag

$0.10 per ounce

So asĀ  you can see the Kroger brand is the cheapest by the ounce, but it was also the least liked. Our recommendation is for the Cocoa Munchees as they were the second best liked and the second cheapest! We figure that’s pretty good value, and as poor college students we definitely know what we’re talking about!

This sums up our conclusions to our experiment. Best to worst: Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Munchees, Cocoa Roos, Cocoa Puffed Cereal. Most expensive to cheapest: Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Roos, Cocoa Munchees, Cocoa Puffed Cereal.

I hope you found this entertaining. Let us know if you do any of your own brand experimentation! It is certainly fun to see how brands vary. We have considered setting up a separate blog for the purpose of trying different brands. If I get enough support maybe I’ll actually do it, so feedback is great! What is your favorite cereal/brand? Let us know!

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A Bookaholic’s Guide to College Packing

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It’s my last week at home, and I’m busy trying to get all of my stuff packed up. Of course, I’m running across the same problem I have every year. And that is choosing which books to take and which to leave.

My first year in college I packed half of my collection up to take. When my father caught sight of it he ordered me to cut it down. I cut it in half again. My second year I tried to select a few favorites but still ended up with more than I expected. But this coming year I’m going to be studying abroad second semester, so I really need to cut down on my books. So I’ve decided to create a guide of ways to lower down the number of books you take with you. Here are some initial questions to ask.

1. Will I read this?

Carefully consider what you will or will not use. You’ll likely be busy and won’t have a lot of free time. So if you’re bringing books make sure it’s something you like enough to read again or really want to read.

2. Can I find this on the internet/another source?

Somethings are easy to find online. For example, Shakespeare’s plays, poetry collections, or baby name meanings. So, why not leave your dictionary at home and figure that you can always look up a word meaning if you need it.

3. Is there another option for reading?

Check if there’s a local library you can use. At my college I can get a library card for the school year. My school library also has lending from other schools that allows me to get ahold of books if I really want them. And most of the time I’d rather read a new book than an old one, so it’s better to get one from the library.

4. Can I wait to read this?

Remember you might have more free time over Christmas or Summer break, so sometimes it’s just better to leave a book waiting for you til you get home. That way you save yourself the trouble of carting it back home over the breaks.

5. Is this too similar to something else I’m taking?

Trying to take a variety helps cut it down a bit. So ensure you’re not taking books that are very similar. As a Christian I like having devotionals to read, but it’s silly to take four or five different ones when they’re a similar type of book. So narrow it down. Take one book by your favorite author and consider saving the other space for something different.

6. Is this hard to pack or worth the space?

Avoid the big bulky books. I have a complete collection of Shakespeare and a Lord of the Rings collection. Neither are coming with me because the books are gigantic! Pick small books, paperbacks if possible. These are easy to take with you. In fact, if you want to pick up a few new books for college you can always check your local library for book sales and grab a few $0.25 books that you can later just donate when you’re done with. This saves you space on the return home if you have less books than you started with.

7. Will I be upset if this gets lost/dirty/damaged?

I’m a book collector, so I like picking up old fashioned copies of things. Now, in college you’re often sharing space and sometimes things get lost or dirty. Plus, the traveling process is a risk too. So maybe leave a special edition or signed copy home.

8. Why am I really taking this?

This is the essential question to ask. You can kid yourself all you want, but if you can’t come up with a good answer to this question then you should kick that book back in storage. Pick books you really want, books you know you’ll read, and books that clearly have some irreplaceable value to them.

So be careful in your consideration for packing. It’s easy to end up with way more books than you’ll actually use. And in the end, remember that college is a time to study and be social and branch out. So keep in mind you’ll want to keep your nose out of a book at times and get out into the world…or keep it in a book to actually study. So bring a few of your favorites, leave the rest at home, and have a great year!

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