Finding the Motivation to Read

By Erica Riccio-Polletta

Let’s face it, college life is hectic. Reading textbooks, writing papers, clubs, and other extracurricular activities takes up most of my time from reading anything fun and relaxing. Being a senior is a stressful time and almost no room for anything fun, but I have some tips for anyone having issues with not being able to read for fun.

Tip One: Stress

Stress is one of the main feelings that we all know in general. Homework deadlines, jobs, children, and other activities are just some of the things that stress us out because it’s one task after another. So, to bring in fun reading is to prioritize work and play. What seems to help me is to do homework for an hour or two, whatever you prefer, take a break and read for a half hour or an hour. My stress level went down, and my mind cleared to where I was focused enough to get my homework and other tasks done.

Tip Two: Prioritize

I always try to get my homework and other tasks done by the weekend, so that way I have time for myself to relax to rejuvenate for the next week. By doing this, I get my homework done, leaving me to read for the weekend or enjoy the days with friends. To prioritize, I make a list of all my assignments, class reading and extracurricular activities and get each task done one by one. I also give myself an hour at least for a break so I don’t burn myself out. This tip helps me staying on top of what’s important, but also giving time to myself.

Tip Three: Weather

The weather is starting to turn into sunny and breezy days, and it’s one of my favorite times to sit outside and read. Cool air always does me good after a long day of sitting inside from classes and homework. This is the perfect time to open a book. Rainy days are also good for reading, when all you want to do is snuggle up in bed.

Tip Four: Bring Your Book With You

To read, you obviously don’t need a physical book. Sometimes I bring my book, or sometimes I use my laptop instead. It’s your preference. I read news articles, Amazon books and fan fiction on my laptop. Always keep a book handy!

Tip Five: Find Inspiration

This is the most important, at least for me, because if I don’t find a book that catches my attention I typically won’t read it. I try to find a book that’s new and different! I try it out and if I like, I’ll take it. If not, then I try something different! Once you find the one, you’ll be happy and enjoy reading it wherever you are.

The Importance of Storytelling and Art

By Gary Calderon- Ng

Art, the great unifier. It’s a broad term that encompasses everyone’s effort to communicate with others their way of experiencing things. People sing, they dance, they build and they paint. Certainly, the last is what traditionally comes to mind for a person when the term is used. Many art pieces from the past have been accompaniments or responses to stories that were written, such as Dante’s inferno, The Iliad and other written works. Why do people choose to create their art based on stories? Where is the connection between art and storytelling? Is there
any real difference between the two? Stories can be considered written paintings that engage the audience’s senses and emotions. By giving them the descriptions but not showing them the picture, they are able to imagine the faces of the characters and events themselves, engaging their creativity. This process is the reason for the different versions of Dante’s interactions with Beatrice in paintings of them. If art and storytelling are fated to be together because of their contemporary nature, then why should our publication not do the same.

Past editions of the FLARE have put the majority of the artwork in the middle, but if we, the editorial staff, chose to place them near stories that seemed contemporary to them, it would increase the audience’s engagement with the story. By showing them the painting first before a story, it can illicit emotions based on memories or feelings pertaining to the presentation of the painting, and upon reading the story immediately afterwards, their view of the story is changed because of their foreknowledge or priming with the painting. I know the last publication that the staff was required to read for an assignment had a picture of an elderly woman with a girl. This was immediately followed by a story about immigration and what it’s like. By putting the painting first, the audience will draw upon memories if they have experienced something like this, making them out to be more sympathetic. If they did not grow up understanding the notion of being an immigrant though, they could still feel attached to the picture through the image of the elderly woman because grandmothers and older woman tend to have a revered place in our society as bastions of wisdom, lest the audience forget the age-old adage, “Pearls before Swine”.

Personally, I connect with this concept because of my love of reading. I can imagine far-reaching landscapes that are described in stories, and when I see people who do fan-art of the stories they love, it inspires me. This is precisely why I love reading science fiction. It, and horror are both genres that usually build a visual representation of what is going on. When I was younger, one of my favorite books to read was the Harry Potter series. This is a good example of a story that is accompanied by art because of how many movies were made to go along with the books; in particular, the Prisoner of Azkaban is widely considered the best of the Harry Potter films.

This is not just a U.S. phenomena though. The need to create visual representations for stories goes so far as to have a comedic sketch for our current president. Many countries have on their own time, made sun of our president with such extensive coverage that he may have succeeded in unifying the world with a common hatred of him. Art and literature have been contemporary partners since the very beginning as cave paintings were used to also record our knowledge. If a partnership this old has been there since the nearly the beginning, why should our publication not continue the tradition?

Five Books That Changed Me

By Tiffany Coelho

Most book lovers remember the first time they fell in love with reading. For me, the magical moment happened the first time I went to the public library the summer before middle school. All I remember from that summer was boredom, until I started checking out book after book after book. Ever since, I have become a true book lover: a book lover who has learned a great deal from the books she has consumed. Here are 5 books in particular that changed my life.

1. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Rich Riordan’s debut novel was the first novel I just couldn’t put down. His book series was also the first book series that made me love books. I was thrown into a world of action, adventure, and young brave heroes, like Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase, who always stand up for what they believe is right. As a young kid from the suburbs, I was not familiar with such an adventurous world where kids like me were the main focus. All of the character in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief were around my age when I read it and they were all so brave. Their bravery has stuck with me and has taught me always stand up for what I believe in.

2. I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You

Ally Carter’s first novel in her Gallagher Girls Series made me love being a girl. Carter’s amazing books promote female friendships and women taking charge of their own stories. Cammie Morgan, the protagonist, is training to become a spy at an all-girls spy school. Her school highly values sisterhood and being good at whatever you are interested in. This novel helped me see that my existence as a girl is valued and that it is important to focus on my female friendships. I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You empowers young girls and lets them know that they can do anything they set their minds to.

3. Dumplin’

Julie Murphy’s novel Dumplin’ is a rather recent read for me that completely turned my perception of myself upside down. I have always been a plus size person and I have not always seen my size reflected back to me in the media. This lack of plus size representation has caused me to struggle constantly with my own body type. Dumplin’s main character, Willowdean Dickson, is a plus size girl who struggles with her body type just like I have. At the end of the novel, Willowdean came to the conclusion that she shouldn’t let her weight affect her from living her the life in the way she wants. Her conclusion resonated with me and allowed me to think of my plus size-ness in a more positive light.

4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Benjamin Alire Saenz’s breakout novel is a beautiful read focused around heart wrenching topics. It features Ari Mendoza, a teenager who is always bored and always mad. My 15-year-old self and Ari had a lot in common. His anger comes from a lack of communication with his parents and some teenage angst over his sexuality. As I read Ari’s struggles unfold with his family and his own perception of who he is, I realized I was also trying to find my own identity in the world. He eventually becomes closer with his family and realizes a part of his identity that creates more of an understanding about himself. Ari’s continual questioning of his own identity caused me to start questioning my own relationship with my family and my identity. Questioning myself has made me learn more about myself than before I started Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

5. Anna and the French Kiss

Before reading Anna and the French Kiss, I disliked reading romance novels. Romance was just not the genre I wanted to focus my energies on. But then, I read Stephanie Perkin’s version of romance and I have been hooked ever since so much so that contemporary romance novels are now my favorite books to read. Anna and the French Kiss combines romance with humor in such a perfect way that it reminded me of the romantic comedy films I now love. This novel opened up my eyes to more genres than just the classics, fantasy, and adventure novels I had been reading.

The Top Four Coolest Literary Magazines

By Caitlin Costello

There are oodles and oodles of literary magazines out there on the web and in print. It can be hard to decide which ones to submit to. That’s why I’ve made a list of the top four coolest magazines that I think you should check out!

1. One Story

One Story is great for fiction writers. This magazine publishes one story every month. The publication’s motto is short, simple, and sweet. They publish interesting and diverse stories each time! Don’t let its minimal cover fool you, One Story, focuses on the fiction and the writer. In each issue, they give the author an interview to discuss their work.

Check out One Story here: https://www.one-story.com/

2. The Normal School

Don’t let the name fool you, The Normal School is anything but normal. They seek to publish eccentric and daring nonfiction, fiction, poetry, criticism, journalism, and multimedia texts. They are the sort of lit mag that is, “equivalent of the kid who always has bottle caps, cat’s eye marbles, dead animal skulls, little blue men and other treasures in his pockets,” according to their bio. They like weird and novel stuff!

Check out The Normal School here: https://www.thenormalschool.com/

3. McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

McSweeney’s is based in San Francisco, CA, the hub of all cool things. They seek to publish unconventional fiction and nonfiction. McSweeney’s is known for its outstanding works of fiction and its writers. Something interesting to note about the publication is that each issues is in a different format, some issues in the past came as newspapers, a bundle of mail, a box, and a deck of playing cards!

Check out McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern here: https://store.mcsweeneys.net/t/categories/timothy-mcsweeneys-quarterly-concern

4. Tin House

Tin House seeks to publish eclectic fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The magazine focuses on weird and unique themes like sex, evil, and even candy. Weirded out? Don’t be. Tin House is award winning and one of the top magazines in the country. Even with its dandy status, it seeks to publish work from previously unpublished writers!

Check out Tin House here: http://tinhouse.com/

Young Adult Fiction: Why It Should Die

By Isabelle Rodriguez

Before I start I’d like to ask for you to calm down! I know that more than likely, any reader that sees my title is grabbing their pitchforks and bricks, getting ready to list off all the YA books they adore, testifying to their imagination and complexity. But that’s not what I’m talking about. You can still have your precious stories and authors, but it’s the genre that I have beef with.

Now you’re probably like, “Why do you have beef with a genre? Do have too much time on your hands?”

I don’t! My concern is how the stories have surpassed the limitations of the genre.

In order to understand my beef, you have to understand the context of the genre; and one of the main problems comes down to defining it. When taking a YA Novel class last semester my professor had asked us to define YA, and it took us the whole class period to do so and even then I left feeling as if we hadn’t found a definite idea. YA stories could be read by someone as young as 12 and old as 18, but grown-ups have steadily become more and more interested in reading YA with books like The Hunger Games, Twilight, and the Percy Jackson series gaining popularity and renown. The genre has reached a broader audience.

Now I can imagine some of you saying that it’s not YA because of its readers, but rather the protagonists, but the thing is they’re all teenagers. And if you poke your nose near the children’s section, there is still a teen section. So here we have a genre that is consumed by a large age range with only teen protagonists, but isn’t considered a teen book? You get how odd it is?

So now we come back to my problem: why have YA?

We should just get rid of the label and replace it with a genre label that could make more sense. What would it be? I don’t know, but I think this is something we should be aware of. And I know some of you STILL may be thinking, does this really matter? The books are good, we all enjoy it, does it matter that we should rename it?

Honestly, yes!

How we label things definitely affect how we view them. We’ve all read some amazing young adult fiction that has impacted our lives, but unfortunately, the title belittles the work a bit. YA definitely has a juvenile connotation to it, and placing the label on the books makes people view it in the way. YA should be renamed because it has expanded beyond this label.

We, as a modern audience, have gone beyond these kinds of label when enjoying books, so bookstores should definitely change for the times.