Top 5 Novels About College Students

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Long nights spent studying, laughing with friends over lunch in the cafeteria, fighting your roommate for the remote control, writing papers in the library: these are some typical college experiences. For most people, college is a short but profoundly impactful time in their lives. Whether you’re in college now or not, reading about college students and their adventures can be a fun pastime.  Take a look at these 5 books that capture different and intriguing college stories.

*Book descriptions are by the publishers c/o the library website.

 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality, their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill. Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

Nada by Carmen Laforet

In Barcelona, in the wake of the Spanish Civil War, Andrea, a young university student, moves into a strange, gothic house inhabited by a volatile array of aunts and uncles in order to attend college.

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, immersed themselves in the series when they were kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Her sister has grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told her she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone, and can’t stop worrying about her dad. Can she do this? Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers–one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

 

This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Side Of Paradise recounts the story of Amory Blaine as he grows from pampered childhood to young adulthood and learns to know himself better. At Princeton he becomes a literary aesthete and makes friends with other aspiring writers. As he moves out into the world and tries to find his true direction, he falls in love with a succession of beautiful young women. Youthful exuberance and immaturity give way to disillusion and disappointment as Amory confronts the realities of life.

 

 

 

 

 

A Reading List For The Newly Engaged

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Engagement is a wonderful and exciting time in a couple’s relationship.  Energy and hope about the future arise as this transition into a new phase of life begins.  Wedding planning gets off the ground running, bringing with it lots of decisions and preparations to be made for the big day.  But what about preparation for the actual marriage?  While there are wedding planning websites, countless wedding dress boutiques, invitation companies, and caterers aplenty, where does one look to get advice about the central reason why this big day is happening in the first place?

As a newly engaged individual myself, these have been my “wonderings” over the past few months.  Though I have picked a venue, bought my wedding dress, booked a photographer, and started looking at invitations, I still feel a little in the dark as far as preparing for the beginning of my marriage.  Because of this, I decided to search for some advice.  My goal was to find books that were based on Biblical truths and that would help me to better understand and apply these truths as I enter into married life.  As I conveniently work in a library, one day I decided to see if we might have some books in the Logos that I could take a look at right away.

I began searching for lists of the most popular books for engaged couples online.  I found several that seemed legitimate and intriguing, and so I began making a personalized list of the ones I was most interested in.  After making my list, I decided to jump right in and see if we had any available in the library.  While I do have almost 7 months until our wedding day, I wanted to get a head start on tackling my reading list! Furthermore, as I am a nursing major, time for extracurricular reading is limited, so creating my reading list was not a light matter, and I am still tweaking it as I go.

My list as it stands now has 8 books on it, but my realistic goal is to have read 5 of these by the time I graduate. Who knows, maybe I will be able to sneak a few more in in the last month before getting married? As of now I have included on my list:

Currently, I am on my second book. I started with The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller because I had not only read great reviews on it, but had also gotten great feedback and recommendations from friends and family.  As my dad is a pastor and often facilitates marriage counseling for engaged couples, I looked to him to help me confirm my list and give me advice on which books to prioritize.  I was excited that there were several books on my list that he highly recommended and has used often when leading discussions between couples.  The Meaning of Marriage was one of the books he most strongly recommended and as it seemed to be the most foundational, I chose it as my first book.

While looking for that book on the Union University Library’s website catalogue, I also searched for several other books that I had put on my list.  I went ahead and checked out The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman and A Handbook for Engaged Couples by Alice & Robert Fryling.  The 5 Love Languages especially struck my interest so I began to read this book before completing the first one on my list.  It was a short read so I finished it in a couple of days.  It reminded me of when I first starting learning about the Enneagram – learning more about myself and how I interact with others in light of my personality type, or in that case, number.

In The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman dives into the 5 different love languages: words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, physical touch, and acts of service.  I personally found this book to be enlightening on how we all desire love in different forms and how it is crucial to discover our significant other’s primary love language and learn how to speak that love language to them more fully and intentionally.  I would highly recommend this book to any engaged couple who wants to better understand their fiancé and learn how to love him/her more specifically to how they emotionally desire to be loved.

The Meaning of Marriage has proved to be a solid foundational read and I am looking forward to finishing it up.  Keller takes time to explain how we see marriage in this day and age and then compares that with what a Biblical marriage looks like. For me, I am glad I chose this book for my list, because I already see how the foundational truths that Keller delves into will be very beneficial in helping shape my view of how marriage should look like at its core, as that indeed was my main hope in embarking on this little engagement reading and research adventure!

After finishing up The Meaning of Marriage, I plan to read Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. As some of these books are more designed to be discussed with one’s significant other, I am saving them for closer to the time that my fiancé and I begin marriage counseling. The two I am referring to include A Handbook for Engaged Couples by Alice Fryling & Robert Fryling and Our Bucket List Adventures: A Journal for Couples by Ashley Kusi and Marcus Kusi.

By no means do I claim to have all the right books for your premarital reading list, but I hope that this personalized account of my search for marital advice as a newly engaged individual will be helpful to someone along the way!

 

Top 5 Cookbooks At The Library

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Are you a college student who’s getting tired of takeout? We have several cookbooks in the library that can help you find easy, nutritional recipes that you can use in your dorm. These top 5 cookbooks have beautiful photos of the foods mentioned and step-by-step instructions to ensure your success.

 

The Healthy College Cookbook: Quick, Cheap, Easy by Alexandra Nimetz, et al.

This eBook is the perfect place to start your cooking journey! Learn how to set up your first kitchen and flip through 200 recipes that anyone can make.

 

Comfort Food Makeovers by Taste of Home Books

Comfort Food Makeovers is full of familiar, delicious recipes that are also low calorie. Its goal is to make you feel at home while also helping you make healthier dishes.

 

Oh She Glows Everyday Cookbook by Angela Liddon

Looking for something healthy and meatless? Angela Liddon’s cookbook will walk you through a variety of plant-based recipes. This book is available in our Recreational Reading section.

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Campbell’s Creative Cooking With Soup by Campbell Soup Company

For chilly days, soup really hits the spot. This cookbook offers over 19,000 combinations of easy soup recipes for the hungry student.

 

Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietician-Approved Program In Eating Your Way Back To Health by Marlisa Brown

If you practice a gluten-free diet, look no further than this helpful eBook. Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free offers tips in making the change to a gluten-free lifestyle and maintaining good health.

 

 

5 Steps To Study Abroad

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So you want to study abroad? You’ve fantasized about traveling to far off places, experiencing the culture, speaking a new language, and tasting foreign cuisine. However, despite the concept of living abroad making you starry-eyed, you may not know the best way to start planning such a trip. I recently returned from a six-month study abroad in Tokyo, and I am going to explain the steps I took to get there.

Step One: Deciding Where to Go

For some people, deciding where they want to travel is a no-brainer. For me, I had been interested in Japan for about as long as I could remember, so it had been my travel goal from the start. For some, the decision is not so easy. It can be daunting to pick one place out of the entire world to choose. To help you pick, making a list of your interests and expectations can weed out some options. Love soccer? Check out places in Europe or South America where the sport is popular. Noodles are your favorite food? Italy or a country in Asia might be your best bet. Even your dislikes can help you choose a place. Afraid of tsunamis? Avoid beachfront locations. Don’t want to learn a new language? Go somewhere that you already know the preferred tongue. After you’ve compiled your list, then you can work on the next step.

Step Two: Finding an Academic Program

If you’re lucky, your school will have a program available in the country you want to visit. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll have to be a bit more creative. If you don’t want academic credit, you don’t have to worry about finding American accredited programs, but you may also have difficulty finding scholarships. If you need academic credits, find programs that are either accredited or have connections to an American institution that can transfer those credits for you. You’ll want to contact that particular institution at this point and ask if they allow students at other institutions to concurrently enroll. This is what I did when I studied in Tokyo. I attended an international language school called KCP International but had my course credits transferred through Western Washington University. It may cost an extra fee to do this, but it shouldn’t cost a fortune, and it will open up the opportunity for a variety of academic scholarships.

Feel free to communicate with your study abroad advisor during this process. They are a wealth of information about a number of options you can choose regarding the international study. Once you’ve chosen an institution, bring it up to your advisor so that they can clear it.

Step Three: Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy

This is the part that will wear you out if you’re not careful. Between your school, the U.S. Government, and the government of the country you are visiting, you will have plenty of paperwork and requirements you will have to figure out. I cannot stress enough that you need to GET STARTED EARLY! It took me around two full years between initially talking with my study abroad advisor to actually departing for Japan.

Depending on your stay, your steps will be different. Is your country on good terms with the United States? What kind of travel insurance is the ideal one for you? Will you be flying or using some other mode of transportation? Will you have to apply for and receive an international visa? Where is the nearest consulate for your destination country? Can you bring prescription medications and, if so, how much? Will you live in dorm housing, a homestay, or will you have to arrange housing for yourself? Will you need to research and request for disability accessible amenities? Do you have to make down payments on anything for your trip? When is the best time to book travel tickets? All these and many more are questions you are going to have to figure out during the prep stage.

Use government web resources, your university staff, and your international contact to address unexpected questions. You may need to get a physical or vaccines depending on the country or program you attend, so be sure to get that done well before your trip. If this step is done well, it can save you a lot of headache down the road.

 

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Step Four: Raise Money

While you shouldn’t wait to start building your savings, you’ll probably need to apply to a program first in order to apply for some scholarships. As boring and annoying as applications can be, it can make or break your finances. I was able to receive several thousand dollars in funds from outside organizations and federal and university scholarships. Your advisor can probably recommend some scholarships for you, but a quick internet search can provide country, language, or field-specific scholarships to apply for.

Keep good track of what you’ve applied for and received, as well as application and disbursement deadlines. For many scholarships, you’ll probably need a transcript as well as letters of recommendation. I recommend getting these one time and then saving the copies to send off to however many scholarships you apply for. Many scholarships have other requirements such as writing papers after the study abroad, completing service projects, or even working for a specific entity for a specified amount of time, so please read the fine print of whatever you want to apply for. For extra liquid funds, some students get help from family members, start crowdfunding campaigns, or work to build up savings. Between my savings from two summers and winters of interning and delivery driving, as well as a generous gift from my grandparents, I had enough cash to pay for my program fees and live comfortably in one of the most expensive cities on earth while only taking out a small safety net loan. As long as you’re willing to set realistic expectations and work hard, you likely won’t have too much difficulty getting the funds you need.

Step Five: Getting Ready To Go

You’ve gotten your passport and visa, you bought your plane tickets months ago, you’ve made mental lists of everything you want to see and eat once you arrive, and you’ve even been studying your target language with renewed vigor. Now you just have to make sure your affairs are in order.

If you have a long layover before you reach your target country, I highly recommend getting a hotel room near the airport. I made the mistake of booking a sixteen-hour layover in Shanghai Pudong Airport after my fifteen-hour long-haul flight betting that the in-airport hotel would have a room available. Upon fumbling my way through Chinese customs and immigration, I hoisted my luggage on a cart and made the incredibly long trek to the hotel only to find that they were completely booked. None of the seats in the airport recline, so I was reduced to lying on the floor of the very cold international terminal, using my jacket as a blanket and maneuvering my travel pillow into a very uncomfortable headrest. All and all it was miserable, and the few hours of sleep I did get left me sore, stiff, and cranky just in time for my flight to Narita Airport.

Also, don’t forget to go to your preferred local bank and request currency for your target country as well as any countries you stop at in between. You don’t want a delayed flight to make you choose between the unfortunate airport exchange rate or starving to death in terminal C. Always remember to weigh your baggage in both pounds and kilograms before you leave and to pack only what you need. Don’t be like me and pay an extra hundred dollars on overweight charges because of a pair of ice skates I only used once.

Make sure to read up on your airline carry-on policy and to pack your carry-on bag in such a way that you can easily access its contents. You’ll also want to check the country safety rating provided by the state department for your target country and all countries you’ll stop in. The rating for China went down just a few days before I was going to leave the country. This allowed me to decide against my plans to visit the city during my layover. Look up the country’s emergency numbers before you leave and research sim card options online. I purchased a data-only sim card for my time in Japan and it was a more cost-effective tool than buying a sim card with data and a cell plan. Ultimately you’ll have to choose which option best fits your location and budget. Once all your incidentals are in order you are ready to go! However, no matter how prepared you think you are, life will still find a way to bring in odd, confusing complications to your trip. Just remember to remain flexible, and that this will probably become a funny story in a month or two.

Wherever you decide to go, I wish you the best of luck and happy travels. Studying abroad can provide a rich experience that you can learn so many things you’ll never find in a book. I know I enjoyed my experience more than words can say. If you found this useful, don’t forget to share this post and check out what else we have on the Union University Library Blog.

Bon Voyage!

 

*written by Ruth Duncan

Book Review: “Shoji Hamada: A Potter’s Way And Work” by Susan Peterson

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In my opinion, I find that sometimes the most interesting biographies are the ones whose people aren’t too well known. Oftentimes household names have so much in the way of lore and common knowledge that, in many ways, we already know some of the best parts. This trend continued in the book Shoji Hamada: A Potter’s Way and Work. For those who don’t know, Shoji Hamada is a former living national treasure in Japan due to his work as a folk potter. He has become internationally renowned in the ceramics community, his works becoming synonymous with Japanese mingei (民芸 meaning “folk arts” or “art of the people”) ceramics. Having spent four months with Hamada, author Susan Peterson has written a charming glimpse into his life, home, and work.

The book is based in the small town of Mashiko located in Tochigi prefecture and about a two-hour drive north of Tokyo. As the book was written in 1970, the context is of what Mashiko was like during Hamada’s time. However, I had the privilege of visiting Mashiko during this past spring break, and it was wonderful to compare with what was written during Hamada’s life with how the town has changed throughout the years since Hamada’s fame. Shoji Hamda’s house has been turned into a museum of his life and work, and it was fascinating to compare the images from the book’s photo galleries to the real thing. After reading the book, I can’t imagine not wanting to visit.

This book covers anything and everything one might want to know about the potter and his work, but even so, it is still an incredibly easy read. The language is accessible to people who have not studied pottery, but also enriching for those that have. The book covers everything from his workflow, techniques, glazes, kilns, family life, and even the way Hamada himself thinks. The book is not a detached biography written by historians years after the death of the person, but rather a living telling complete with the thoughts and actions recorded in these first-person accounts. The photo albums scattered throughout the book are both an enjoyable and invaluable addition to the biography, as seeing the work for oneself is both contextually important as well as very interesting to see the stages of his work and life. If you are at all a fan of the arts, even just a little, I would definitely recommend this book.

 

*written by Ruth Duncan

Top 5 Tips For A Great School Year

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The fall semester is finally here: new friends, new classes, and new school supplies. Unfortunately, you might be adding “new stress” to that list. So what can we do to make this school year a great one? We’ve got 5 tips to help you do your best and reduce stress this year.

 

Make a planning system.

Whether you use a bullet journal, a paper planner, or your phone to jot down notes, it’s a good idea to have a planning system. You’ll have a lot to keep up with- from school assignments to work hours- so find which system helps relieve your stress and use it!

 

Sleep.

As tempting as it is to stay up all night chatting with your roommates, your body will appreciate you more if you get 6-8 hours of sleep instead. Plus, your brain may remember more from your study session if you get a proper amount of sleep.

 

Ask questions.

No, really, it’s okay to ask where Cobo is, or how to use Paw Print, or what your professor meant in that last lecture. Union employees are always happy to help you and point you in the right direction- and chances are, your fellow students are, too.

 

Remember your purpose.

God is still in control, even through stressful times and bad situations. Pick up the Word regularly, and get involved in a local church, a prayer group, and/or a mentorship with a trusted advisor. There’s so much more to life than that next test. God has a purpose for you!

 

Actually use the library.

We’re more than just a study space! We have tons of books and articles that you can use for research and class assignments. Once you graduate, you won’t have unlimited access to these resources, so make the most of it while you can!

 

 

Tips For Incoming Freshmen (From A Sophomore)!

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Brennan Kress reflects on his freshman year so that he can pass on some tips to new freshmen!

When I came to Union University in the fall of 2018, I can say that I felt a little out of my element. I struggled in certain areas of academic and social life. But now as a sophomore I look back, and with the benefit of better vision, I can see where I went wrong and what I could have done better. So, here are a few tips for freshmen as you start your journey at Union University.

 

  1. Don’t Be Intimidated By A PhD: Every professor at Union University cares for your academic career. They are also all well-versed in their area of study. As a freshman, I was impressed and sometimes intimidated with the vast knowledge that my professors held. Many times the feeling of inferiority on a knowledge level made me feel disconnected from my professors. Instead, I should have used their knowledge and gotten to know them better. So get to know your professors, and don’t let their wealth of knowledge intimidate you!
  2. Be Free To Change Your Mind: Many times I found myself in conversation doubling down on ideas I had little knowledge to support. I reverted back to what I had always been taught and failed many times to ask the right questions. College is, at a very basic level, about learning. You will be presented with ideas you have never heard before on topics you didn’t know existed. So, first, be open to new ideas even if they sound strange, bizarre, or at the outset, heretical. Take time to form your opinion and then once you have, feel free to change your mind! We are all learning and growing in multiple facets at college so don’t expect to think the same at the end of the year as you do now. And if somehow you do, I would argue you didn’t learn like you should!
  3. Take A Sabbath: One of the hardest parts about college is finding good time to rest. Many people struggle from a common inability to rest well. Some of us rest too much, sleeping in and missing classes, and some of us rest too little, staying up late grinding away on projects and homework. Thankfully, we all have a very Biblical mandate to rest, and one of the best ways to rest is to take a Sabbath. Every weekend my freshman year of college I chose either Saturday or Sunday (depending on which day made sense) and I would do no school work on that day. I would not study, read, or do any homework. Surprisingly, this practice actually made me a better student as I would prepare better in the days leading up to my rest. I would take that Sabbath as a day to sleep in, hang out with friends, and occasionally play a few video games. And the best part was that my grades never suffered. I have told countless people about my Sabbath and many thought it would be impossible to get all the work done and take a Sabbath. I don’t say this to brag, but I still managed a 4.0. All that to say, taking a Sabbath is doable and shows faith and trust in God. Pick a weekend day and take the day off! You won’t fall behind. In fact, it will keep you ahead!
  4. Be Willing To Sacrifice The Good For The Great: College is filled with many amazing opportunities for growth and learning. There are endless clubs and organizations on campus and one of the greatest challenges can be finding out what you feel most inclined to do. This can lead some people to try to do everything. A good skill to learn, especially as a freshman, is the ability to say “no” to some things so you can say “yes” to others. Don’t fill your plate to the brim. Find the things which you consider to be most valuable and pursue those.

 

Featured Book: “Surprised By Oxford”

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Christians should never underestimate the power of their priesthood among nonbelievers. I was hooked, and drawn deeper into the faith, by the character of various believers and how it spoke of their God: by their humility, humor, compassion, perspective, even priorities. – Carolyn Weber

Surprised By Oxford by Carolyn Weber is a memoir that shares the author’s testimony. Weber arrives at Oxford ready to hit the books but is surprised when she instead begins wrestling with what she believes about the afterlife, the Bible, and theology in general. She also meets a fellow student who intrigues her, but she is wary of dating and Christian men in particular. What follows is a beautifully written tale of discovery, faith, friendship, and a little bit of romance.

If the title of the memoir sounds familiar, you may be thinking of Surprised By Joy, the autobiography of C.S. Lewis. Like Lewis, Weber also struggled with theology before coming to accept Christ as her Savior. And also like Lewis, Weber recorded her story so that others might have hope and believe.

To learn more about Carolyn Weber and her book, you can read her interview with The Gospel Coalition. Surprised By Oxford is available at the library in our main book stacks.

 

 

Library FAQs

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We’re here to answer all of your questions at the library! Here are some of our most popular questions from our students and guest patrons.

Student FAQs

  1. How can I apply to work in the library as a student assistant?

Students can go online through the Vocatio Center to submit their resume. The Circulation Manager will review their resume and may invite them to an interview. If approved, the students will need to submit paperwork to the Vocatio Center and sign up for hours on the Circulation schedule.

 

  1. I need more prints. Can I buy them?

Yes, we have print cards for $1 and $5, it just depends on how many prints you need. If you need to do a print refund, though, that falls under IT- you can request one here.

 

  1. I need to request transcripts. Where can I do that?

The library does not handle transcripts. We can transfer you to the registrar’s office instead, or you can request them online via the registrar’s page.

 

4. I need to keep this book for a little longer than the due date for a project, but I’ve reached my renewal limit. Can you help?

Yes, generally we can extend the due date of a book when a student needs it for school-related purposes.

 

5. Can the library schedule appointments for the Writing Center?

No, the library and the Writing Center are separate entities (that do work together, though)! You can schedule an appointment with the Writing Center through their website here.

 

6. What are the library’s hours?

You can view the library’s hours 24/7 on our website!

 

7. I need help with APA/MLA/Turabian citations. Can the library help me?

Yes, you can schedule an appointment with a Research Coach for help with citations. You can also check out the APA manual, the MLA manual, and the Turabian manual from the library.

 

Guest FAQs

 

  1. Does the library offer tutoring services?

No. The library does have research help for Union students, but not for high schoolers, children, or adults who do not attend Union.

 

  1. Does the library partner with any local home school or education programs?

No, but families with children are welcome to visit the library.

 

  1. I’m a college student at Jackson State. Can I check out books from Union?

Yes, through a local university & college agreement, higher education students at other nearby institutions can check out a limited number of Union library items. See our website for more information.

 

  1. Can I look at eBooks and articles on the library website as a guest?

Yes and no. If you are on Union’s campus, you can view eBooks and articles on our library website. If you are not on campus, you will not be able to view them without a Union login.

 

  1. I’m a Union alumnus. What can I do in the library?

As an alumnus, you qualify for a free guest card, which allows you to check out up to 3 books. You can also be logged onto a computer as a guest and print for $.10 a page.

 

  1. Can I pay with a credit card?

No, we can only accept cash or checks at Circulation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is cute, relatable, and touching.

I’m a nonfiction person- I like true crime, journalism, and feminist books- but this young adult novel was a nice change of pace for my reading list. For starters, the book is set on a college campus in 2011. The main character, Cath, is getting used to college as a freshman. Maybe it’s because I also came to college in 2011 that I felt a connection to the story. Or maybe it was the references to how Cath and her twin sister, Wren, remembered 9/11 happening when they were in elementary school. That’s a sad thing to relate to, but it’s also a unifying experience that everyone of a certain age has. I still feel shocked when one of my student workers tells me that they don’t remember 9/11, or (gasp) they weren’t even born yet! They don’t remember Y2K either- which, if you don’t know how important that was, here’s an example: my husband’s family of 11 stockpiled food and supplies for months leading up to Y2K, only for nothing to really happen. There’s nothing wrong with not remembering 9/11 or Y2K, though. It just makes me feel old.

Anyway, back to Fangirl. So Cath and Wren go to college, and Wren wants time away from Cath. College is scary for Cath, who struggles with anxiety, but she manages to make a small cast of interesting friends. One of these friends turns out to be a love interest for Cath, and their romance is pretty cute. They’re very different in personality and interests, but they both put a lot of effort in their relationship, which is heartwarming to read about. Plus, this character brings out the best in Cath, who can often withdraw when she really needs to be asking for help.

Another major point in the book includes Cath coming into her own as a writer. She excels at fanfiction writing- in fact, she’s writing a really long and Internet-famous piece about Simon Snow (who is basically this world’s Harry Potter). However, Cath learns in her Fiction Writing class that she may need to branch out and create her own characters.

Fangirl also has brief but powerful descriptions of mental illness and, thankfully, getting the help the characters need. Cath’s family has trouble coming to terms with the reappearance of Cath’s distant mother, Cath’s father struggles with manic/depressive episodes, and Wren has to face up to an alcohol addiction. Still, in all of the turmoil, the characters make progress in their treatments and with their relationships. It’s encouraging to read about mental illness in a real way- it’s hard, it affects others in your life, but there is also help for those who need it.

I’d recommend Fangirl to any freshman who’s still new to college, growing up, and figuring out your relationships (with family, friends, or significant others). I’d also recommend it to people who have graduated already and want to take a look back at how things used to be. It’s nostalgic without being overwhelming. Added bonus: if you love Harry Potter, you will definitely relate to Cath’s Simon Snow obsession.

 

You can check out Fangirl from the library here.

 

Content note: Fangirl contains some suggestive scenes and language.