5 Tips For Proofreading

proofreading day

A majority of our time in college is spent writing. We write essays, responses, critiques, and many other forms of writing throughout a given semester. With all of this writing, sometimes an important step can be left out: proofreading. So in the spirit of National Proofreading Day (March 8th), here are some tips for proofreading.

 

  1. Take A Break: After you have finished writing a draft of a paper, take a break. Leave the assignment, and if possible, give yourself around 24 hours to think about the topic you’re writing about. This method is most helpful for longer papers but requires you to get started early. If you have spent hours writing, you will lose some objectivity while looking over the paper. You will be too familiar with it and this will make finding mistakes more difficult. So get started early and allow yourself time to think about the paper before returning to proofread it.

  2. Read It Out Loud: Another great way of finding mistakes in your writing is to read it out loud. Sometimes when typing, we think something sounds correct in our heads. However, many times when we read our writing out loud we can see where an argument or sentence doesn’t make sense. This is a great way to see if your sentences are run-ons, if you repeat yourself too much, and if the paragraph or page flows well.

  3. Pay Attention To Wordiness: We all have word counts we need to meet with every paper, but many times better writing is concise writing. Sentences with too many words can be difficult to read, and you can lose your audience’s attention. Instead of adding extra words to try to finish the paper, take the time and energy to carefully choose your words. This will make your paper stronger and can lead to a better grade.

  4. Write Actively: Verbs drive language. When proofreading, look for how many times you use a “to be” verb, such as “is,” “are,” and “were.” These passive verbs make sentences weaker and can bring down an entire paper. Try to reorder the sentence so that you can remove the linking passive verbs and insert stronger, more powerful ones. To check, press “ctrl” and “f” on your keyboard and then search for those words. It may shock you to see how many times you use passive voice.

  5. Ask Someone Else To Read Your Paper: One of the best ways to proofread is to allow someone else to do it for you! Finding other students in a specific class and exchanging papers can be a great way to find mistakes in each other’s writing and make new friends! Have you ever lost something, spent minutes looking for it, and then someone else comes in the room and finds it almost immediately? As frustrating as that can be, writing is the same way. Sometimes one glance from someone who is not familiar with the writing can be all you need to improve your paper.

 

Writing is a challenge and after completing a difficult assignment, proofreading may seem like a useless check. However, if you dedicate yourself to editing and rereading your paper, you will see an improvement in your writing, and perhaps also in your grades.

*written by Brennan Kress

 

Top 5 Books About Writing

pex writing 1

At some point in your life, you’re going to have to write something important- an article, an academic essay, or website content for your company. Thankfully there are books that can help you improve on your writing (as well as great professors and the Writing Center here at Union). Listed below are some of the library’s best books on writing.

 

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

Lamott has written novels (Blue Shoe, Hard Laughter, etc.) as well as nonfiction, so she’s had a lot of writing experience. Bird By Bird teaches you not only how to write better, but how to use your own personal strengths and weaknesses as a writer. It’s about your personal growth through the context of writing.

 

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

A solid manual to writing better copy, social media posts, emails, and first drafts. See a more in-depth review here.

 

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Zinsser takes a more critical approach to writing as he warns against common mistakes and grammatical errors. On Writing Well is extremely practical and will teach you about the difference between good and bad writing.

 

Storycraft by Jack Hart

Storycraft is a how-to guide with helpful examples from classic essays and books. This book is specifically about nonfiction writing, but fiction writers can pick up some tips, too.

 

Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway

What? Isn’t this a book about bullfighting? Well, yes, but it’s just as much about writing (you’ll see). Countless people have tried to write like Hemingway since The Sun Also Rises, so it’s safe to say that taking writing advice from the man himself might be helpful.

 

 

Featured Book: “Everybody Writes”

everybody writes

Because the written word is so ubiquitous in the social media age, good writing is hard to find and yet more important than ever. It’s easy to lose someone’s attention in all of the noise- but you don’t want to do that when you’re writing for your job! In Everybody Writes, content creator and marketer Ann Handley advises readers on how to make their writing simpler and smarter. Generally, Handley focuses on shorter pieces- articles, Tweets, etc.- but her suggestions can also be applied to other kinds of writing. This book encourages you to approach writing as a work out, something you do each day to make you better at it overall.

pex writing

Handley starts out by defining what “content” means and how we can publish better content. She then goes on to provide general writing tips, ideas for better productivity, and how to make a great “lead” in to your story. While the book is divided into 6 parts, it’s short and direct with its message.

For Handley, “show, don’t tell” is a major part of good content:

Good content- and good writing- doesn’t preach or hard sell. Instead, it shows how your product or service lives in the world, explaining in human terms how it adds value to people’s lives, eases troubles, shoulders burdens, and meets needs.

By thinking about your audience and writing for their needs, you can create worthy content for your job, business, or blog.

Everybody Writes is available in the library. If you’d like to check out other books on writing, try these:

Book Review: “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

fangirl

 

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.

Spotlight On The American Poetry Review

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The American Poetry Review is a journal that publishes original literary work. Readers can view poetry and literary criticism from various resources, and they can also submit their own work under the APR’s guidelines.

The Union University library provides access to older editions of the APR via JSTOR, Academic OneFile, General OneFile, and Literature Resource Center. Newer submissions can be read online at the APR website.

 

FAQs about The American Poetry Review:

 

Is the APR also in print?

Yes, they do have print versions of APR for a price, here.

 

How often is the APR published?

Bimonthly.

 

How far back can I see APR entries, using the library databases?

We have 3 databases that carry APR from 1989 to the present. You can find access to the APR by conducting a general search on the library website or by searching for it by title using the “Journals” tab.

 

What kind of writing can I find in the APR?

Poetry translations, critical essays, articles, poems, and interviews.

Featured Book: “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”

murakami

Haruki Murakami is a world-renowned Japanese author. He just recently debuted a new book, Killing Commentadore, and is well-known for his previous books such as 1Q84, Sputnik Sweetheart, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, etc. Typically, you’d expect a Murakami book to be strange yet familiar, and to feature characters who experience loneliness, isolation, intrigue, and great epiphanies about love and human understanding. However, if you pick up What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, you’ll get a glimpse at the man behind the famous fiction- a man who is not just a writer, but an avid runner.

Murakami explains that everything he knows about writing, he learned from running. He goes on to encourage writers to nourish two disciplines: focus and endurance. Both of these apply to running as well.

Murakami also reflects on aging and the life lessons he’s picked up along the way. On the art of self-acceptance, he writes:

This is my body, with all its limits and quirks. Just as with my face, even if I don’t like it it’s the only one I get, so I’ve got to make do. As I’ve grown older, I’ve naturally come to terms with this. You open the fridge and can make a nice- actually even a pretty smart- meal with the leftovers. All that’s left is an apple, an onion, cheese, and eggs, but you don’t complain. You make do with what you have. As you age you learn even to be happy with what you have. That’s one of the few good points of growing older.

Even while realizing that his aging body may not be as fast or as sturdy as he may wish, Murakami keeps running throughout, averaging a marathon a year (!). He keeps his eyes on his goals and steadily moves forward. This book documents in particular his goal of running in the New York Marathon, a prestigious race. The reader can keep pace with Murakami as he describes each rung of his journey, along with anecdotes and scattered reflections along the way.

If you’re interested in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, check it out from the library! It’s only 179 pages long, counting the Afterword- it’s a quick read that still accurately describes a long process.

Top 5 English Literature Databases

man reading

English majors are no strangers to writing papers, researching various texts, developing persuasive arguments, and integrating critical thinking. If you’re studying English, chances are you will need access to several different databases as you collect resources for your next assignment. Look no further: the library has you covered with the databases listed below.

 

MLA International Bibliography

The MLA International Bibliography provides “indexing for journal articles, books and dissertations in modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics.” Here you can find articles like “Disembodied Voice and Narrating Bodies in The Great Gatsby” and “Will, Change, and Power in the Poetry of Adrienne Rich.”

 

JSTOR

JSTOR’s not just a database, it’s a powerhouse of information with a strong social media presence. JSTOR is your go-to for older documents, high-quality scans, and quirky viewpoints. You can also narrow down your JSTOR search by discipline, which helps give you an idea of the many subjects they have content on.

jstor

 

Literary Sources (Gale)

The great thing about Gale databases is their “Topic Finder:” a tool that helps you find new topics and connections when you enter in phrases. This Topic Finder can be a helpful resource in developing a thesis. Literary Sources features articles like “Hemingway’s Hunting: An Ecological Reconsideration” and “Edgar Allen Poe as a Major Influence on Allen Ginsburg.”

 

Fine Arts and Music Collection (Gale)

This database is particularly attuned to how literature connects with the arts. If you need research on a play or other dramatic works, this is a go-to database. With more than “150 full-text magazines and journals covered in databases such as the Wilson Art Index and RILM, this collection will provide support for research in areas such as drama, music, art history, and filmmaking.”

 

Oxford English Dictionary

Need to define a tricky word, or want to discuss its etymology in your next research paper? The OED is here to help! It contains the meaning, pronunciation, and history of over 600,000 words.

 

 

 

 

National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! When was the last time you read some lines from a favorite poet? Now is the time to dive back into poetry!

 

We have several famous poets in our library collection. Check out the list below if you’re looking for a good read:

  1. Pablo Neruda
  2. William Carlos Williams
  3. Anne Sexton
  4. Sylvia Plath
  5. Gwendolyn Brooks
  6. Robert Frost
  7. Christian Wiman
  8. Elizabeth Bishop
  9. T.S. Eliot
  10. Gary Snyder

 

Or maybe you’re a poet yourself! Check out our books on writing if you need any tips:

  1. The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
  2. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
  3. A Poetry Handbook
  4. Everybody Writes
  5. How To Write Everything

 

And finally, a poem for you to celebrate National Poetry Month: “Of Modern Poetry” by Wallace Stevens.

The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice. It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
Then the theatre was changed
To something else. Its past was a souvenir.

It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time. It has to think about war
And it has to find what will suffice. It has
To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,
And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and
With meditation, speak words that in the ear,
In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,
Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound
Of which, an invisible audience listens,
Not to the play, but to itself, expressed
In an emotion as of two people, as of two
Emotions becoming one. The actor is
A metaphysician in the dark, twanging
An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives
Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly
Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,
Beyond which it has no will to rise.
It must
Be the finding of a satisfaction, and may
Be of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman
Combing. The poem of the act of the mind.

 

 

 

Featured Author: Ernest Hemingway

july 21 1899

On this day in 1899, author Ernest Hemingway was born. Hemingway grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, and served in WWI as an ambulance driver for the Italian army. After working in journalism, Hemingway soon became known as a novelist and short story author.

A bullfighting aficionado, Hemingway wrote a nonfiction book called Death in the Afternoon detailing all he knew about the sport. He also traveled the world, drawing from his big game hunting experiences, cultural development, and personal relationships to enrich his writing.

Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for his famous novella The Old Man and the Sea in 1951. Then, in 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In regards to writing advice, Hemingway stated in Death in the Afternoon:

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.

Hemingway died in 1961, leaving behind a legacy of memorable and moving literature. The library has a Hemingway collection featuring most of his works, as well as several biographical books and professional criticism of his various books. Below are just a few of the titles you can find on our shelves related to Hemingway: