College Is Weird ~ A Dark Academia Discussion

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You’re expected to know everything about a profession you chose in your late teens within a 4 year span. At least enough to get you started on the bottom rungs. Most college movies feature frat parties and lots and lots of drinking. But for me, at least, dark academia novels like Bunny and movies like Dead Poets Society seem closer, although not close to the reality. 

People do drink; I have drunk, although I don’t have a high tolerance and tend to avoid it lest I do stupid things like email my ex or come out to my mother. I don’t actually know how accurate college movies like Neighbors are, although I sure wouldn’t want to live next to or in a frat house.

I’m thinking of Bunny, how a very small group of girls get together and do demented things. I’m thinking of If We Were Villains, when the gang would stay up late studying in the common area and let out a few grunts in class the next morning. I’ve sadly not encountered a murder (although there was one the semester before I came here.) But people, my people at least, tend to take college seriously enough because they genuinely care about the things they’re learning. They rave about their favourite classes and wonder how to explore the subject further. 

That is what Dark Academia conveys best: people go to college because they’re passionate about something. It gets to the root as to why so many of us get sick in our college years; if you devote yourself to study or your gang to the point where you loose sleep and skip meals, you will get sick. In real life it can result in mental health complications. In books, it leads to murder. 

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I love Bunny and If We Were Villains. But I haven’t read another DA book that I loved, or even liked. I avoid many because I know that the systemic racism, sexism, elitism, etc. that pervades IRL university systems seep their way into these books and go unchallenged. We read to be critical of the world around us and the institutions we engage with. 

I am not a patriotic college student. I was on the newspaper for a year, and that’s part of the job. But it’s more than that; there are problems with my university that I’ve never been able to ignore. How the dining hall still underfeeds vegan students despite high marks from PETA and emails/petitions from vegan students like myself. How it claims to be a leader in environmental issues, despite watering the sidewalks everyday during the worst drought in CA ever. How the best professors are the least rewarded because of how much time they spend on students rather than research or winning awards. How they cut the budget for humanities as it prepares to bloat the sciences. 

I want to see some of these IRL issues addressed in these DA books. I love the murder, please keep the murder. And the books, and the passion. But I want a book that addresses the elitism and other systemic issues. I want a book where the admin and professors are realistic people driven by money and selfishness. I want to see students fighting for their right to an education that both enlightens them and prepares them for the future. 

Do you, dear reader, have Dark Academia recs? What’s a book that reflects uni life well? 

University Tips & Tricks

Goal

 So these are my general tips for school and life that you’ll maybe find useful but it’s probably pedantic? I guess if you’re a struggling student you’ll hopefully find something useful, but these might also just be common sense. I also started this before the pandemic happened so some may not be available rn. Let me know in the comments if you found something helpful!

 It pains me to say, I am a 22 yr old junior Journalism major, with a double minor in Philosophy. For reference, the mates I came in with freshman year graduated last spring. 

 Why? I had to go back home midway through my first year and continued to have medical and financial difficulties that prevented me from coming back. During my time away, I worked at a city tree care organization, took two semesters at community college, found out that the meds I was on were making my problems worse, and was rejected by my university three times. (one an internal mistake)

Tip #1 

 Find an internship or volunteer organization that will connect you with jobs. There might be one in your school. I went through one that served 16-25 year olds- if you are in that age range there’ll likely be one available if you live in or near a city. There were posters at my local library, along with tons of other job and scholarship opportunities, a lot of them for coding programs. Bonus tip: check your library website or other community bulletin regularly. 

Trick #1

 Notebook doesn’t have pockets? Cut a page in half and tape it to the bottom of cover or divider paper. Had to do this for a class on “others”- a general overview of the ways queer, POC, and disabled peopled are put at a disadvantage. We had to submit half-sheet mini essays and this was perfect for holding spare papers since I didn’t want to tear up my notebook. 

Gay pins and stickers

Tip # 2

CONNECT WITH YOUR ADVISOR. I didn’t connect with my major advisor until I took a class with her, and she became overly concerned after I wrote an essay on using the food bank. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and even if you don’t think you need help now, it’s always a good idea to have a strong connection with someone in your field. 

Trick #2

Put your RA or housing office number in your phone. Uni dorms can get pretty wild and you never know when someone will get in a fight, lose their key, or set off the smoke alarm. 

Tip # 3

Pick a Fun class. You should be enjoying your major classes, but those are also the classes you’ll have the most pressure to excel in. Pick something you’re curious about or have a hobby in, but won’t hurt you if you don’t get an A. (AND PREPARE TO GET FEWER As OVERALL) This should be a class to let of some steam and just enjoy yourself. I’ve done a playwriting class, death class, and music class. There’s also other other creative classes like dance or art. 

Trick #3

The uni library has more fiction than you think. If it has won an award or has hit bestseller’s lists there’s a good chance they have it, even if it looks like rows upon rows of technical nonfiction books. They won’t have everything, but they’ll likely be a designated area for those books. Depending on your uni system, you can also request books from other unis. When searching online, make sure you expand your search to include all universities in your system. 

When Reading Isn’t Challenging: Discussion

We read for a variety of reasons; to escape, to experience dangerous things safely, and clichely, to expand our minds. So my question to you is this: what do you do when books just don’t surprise you as often as they used to? When you feel like you’ve read this before, or that this book just isn’t at the reading level you want it to be?

I’ve tried a couple things. The Rory Gilmore Reading list is something I’ve been chipping away at for years, and I’ve found some gems. Others just aren’t my type. I’ve also expanded the variety of books I read, mostly because I only have access to the uni library during the pandemic and they are selective in the books they get. So I’ve read a lot more nonfiction and adult fiction, and found my new favourite but not strictly classified genre: the speculative fiction literary, non American… Yeah, just think Margret Atwood, M.R. Carey, and Never Let Me Go. Usually British/Canadian/Japanese fiction that has an element of dystopia but has more passive MCs than Katniss or Tris. If you have recs please let me know!

I’ve also looked at summer reading and bestseller lists. These are lists designed to combat the Summer slide- the theory that low-income students come back to school in a worse place academically than they were when school was let out. They basically loose the learning gains they made in the last month of the last school year. Only these lists usually stop after grade 12- while there may be lists of recommendations for college kids or reading lists for specific classes, there aren’t really age and skill specific rankings like you get in k-12.

(not really) fun fact- most American adults have an 8th grade reading level. Our education system sucks. And maths is worse.

But at least we’re in the bookish community and we take charge of our education, right?

Thanks for any recs you have! I’d love to know your thoughts- what can adults do to keep our books challenging?

I Match my Classes With Books- Pt 2!

 At the beginning of last semester, I posted I Match My Classes With Books!, which I now believe to be somewhat off. Environmental Policy was nowhere near as fun as Dirk Gently and I actually changed my minor to Natural Resources because of it.

So, my tentative schedule, tentative due to corona and the uncertainty that comes with it, is:

Magazine Production

I don’t know what’s going on with this class, as it’s the only production class scheduled online due to corona. My uni is taking a hybrid approach for now- most classes are online except for science labs, dance, and the like. The newspapers are counted as labs, but the ‘zine isn’t. A bummer.

I’m coming up with such a blank for this. Obviously there’s Ugly Better, but this is supposed to be about books! Maybe Hearts Unbroken

American Government

*sigh* The wonders of General Ed. This is self explanatory- some stuff about politics and the branches of fed. government.

Red, White, And Royal Blue

The class may be repetitive and dull, but the book sure isn’t! Alex and Henry’s story- asides from being an international relationship in of itself- is filled with fascinating snippets of queer historical figures such as Hamilton and Virginia Woolf.

“You should not have taken advantage of my sensibilities to steal into my affections without my consent.”

Investigative Reporting 

This is the advanced version of Beginning Reporting, which I really felt unchallenged by. I’m hoping this class will be up to my hopes; a, in-depth crash course on How To Interview.

So maybe another place to put Hearts Unbroken… There’s also the MG Cub

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Cover of Cub. Blond girl in orange dress holds notes against blue newspaper background

Sexuality 

Um, yeah. Just a general overview of human sexuality that I have to take three semesters of to count towards my minor.

A Quick And Easy Guide To Queer & Trans Identities + A Quick And Easy Guide To They/Them Pronouns

This is more gender based than sexuality based, but it is an educational look at what these identities are and tips on how to use pronouns properly, and WHY these are important.

Public Relations

PR is not my concentration, but I decided to take the class because a lot of jobs require some PR work. I know nothing about it. I know it has to do with publicity and representing your company to the outside. 

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Books Brightsiders and Queens Of Geek by Jen Wilde

Queens Of Geek

Charlie has a lot on her plate. She’s a popular youtuber who has to attend comic-con with her horrible ex. Charlie is bisexual- a sexuality that’s misunderstood and misrepresented by the media covering her. When she kisses her girl crush on-camera, and accidentally uploads it- chaos ensues. And I have to mention her co-protagonist Taylor, who’s just a super geeky and relatable autistic character for aspies everywhere. 

Overwhelmed

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 I was going to call this post ‘Distracted,’ but it doesn’t sum up the intensity of everything. EVERYTHING. I’m experiencing intense body dysphoria while texting my friend who lives in a riot zone while living in a quiet neighborhood feeling like I haven’t done anything with my life, all I’ve done is sign who knows how many petitions and retweeted every resource that came my way.

I’m taking two summer classes that are wildly different: American Government, which is extremely tone-deaf to what’s happening. The professor has shared a single contemporary article while having us read and watch outdated material that gives the impression that the civil rights movement of the ’60s solved everything.

 Then there’s my Journalism class on analyzing the media, which is talking about different ways of critiquing, from feminist to critical race theory. An excerpt: “They converge around the belief that racism is endemic, not aberrational, in American society.”

 Anyway, I know in the grand scheme of things, there’s people in far more danger than I will ever be, so I wanted to give a shout-out to Jesse @ Bowties And Books. You may have heard me talk about them before, but they need support as they go out in Minneapolis and cover the protests on their IG.

Jessie’s IG

If you go to a protest, remember to do research, as some police and white nationals are setting up traps. THEY’RE the ones inciting violence, not our beautiful, strong, people going out there in the name of justice. 

I want to do some uplifting posts highlighting the work of our activists. If you have ideas, please let me know.

Beautiful artwork 

If I Were Rich: Scholarship Contests

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 Coming from poverty, I’d always fantasize about various scenarios about what I’d do with money if I had it. Start a farm, travel, teach. And while searching for scholarships I want to apply to, I think of ideas for much better scholarships. This might be a new series, but maybe just a fun standalone.

Homeless Student Rent Coverage

I would really appreciate it if the dorms just stayed open all the time, but with summers and corona, it’s not always possible. I propose to cover summer/ emergency housing costs for hardworking homeless students. I’d also want some mentors on my team to make sure the students are aware of possible part-time jobs and they have what they need to succeed in class.

School Specific 

 As a hopefully-future alumni, I’ve seen a few classes where the students should be paid for their hard work. In multimedia, students create their own blog from scratch on their desired topic. The student newspaper and magazine reporters could use some motivation to do better. And there’s a dramatic writing class, where students write several short plays and one big one over the course of the semester. So why not give the best writer in each class a little reward that’ll cover their loans for the semester? In my experience, you usually have to take a 2,000-3,000 loan after grants per semester. Relatively cheap, I know, but could be free.

Why I Love The Environment

 This could go for any major, as long as there’s some positive environmental impact in their career. I want to do one that focuses on the environment because few people really take the time to relax and be in nature, or really consider the environmental impact of their daily choices like food and transportation. there could be two categories: a Why I Love The Environment essay and an essay considering what the environmental impact of their future career will be.

(Queer) Books Are Better Than People

As much as I love the bookternet as a whole, I wish there was more focus on queer books. For this award, I’d like queer book bloggers, booktubers, and bookstagrammers in their teens or college years to submit the queer bookish content they’re most proud of. And hey, I may not have any awards to give, but if you have a queer bookish blog, I’d love you to comment the link!

Dear Author

For this, any emotional letter to an author, book, or character will do! You can really see the impact the book had and are some of my favorite posts. But this one will have to come with a list of the author’s books in case it’s not a widely read one.

What are scholarships you’d like to see?

 

College Journalism Assignments!

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I love my major, for the most part. (I’m not the only *extremely* introverted journalist.) I’m currently taking two journalism classes and took one in the past; Intro to Multimedia, Beginning Reporting, and History Of Mass Communication. If I had to say my favourite, I’d say Mass Comm because I learned a lot about how different news sources form across time and space frame things differently- also I didn’t have to talk to anyone outside of a group project.

Mass Comm

Here’s a fragment of a paper I did about how the media covers climate change: 

  “Al Jazeera’s coverage of the hurricanes gives a good sense of the places where the hurricanes made landfall, but have not mentioned climate change in any of their coverage. The separation of climate change from daily news helps climate denialists by allowing them to easily filter out the news they don’t want to believe…

 It is possible to cover hurricanes and climate change simultaneously. CNN does it well in its articles ‘Yes, Climate Change Made Harvey and Irma Worse’ and ‘EPA Rolls Back Carbon Emissions Rule’. We should be talking about climate change, CNN argues, because now there’s always going to be a recent hurricane or forest fire that people are suffering or recovering from.”

Beginning Reporting really goes back to the basics: the who, what, when, where, and why. My professor says we can do two types of opening for our stories: a descriptive opening or the nut draft opening. The Nut draft is all of the W’s:

  • Who: Queer yogis                                                                                                                     
  •  What: yoga                                                                                                                                   
  •   When: 5-6 pm wednesdays                                                                                                   
  •   Where: Arising                                                                                                                             
  •   Why: to destress from the pressures of living in a society that hates us

Come get away from the heterosexuals and destress with stretching and breathing, AKA yoga every wednesday from 5-6pm at Arising.

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Multimedia 

I’m not looking forward to our audio and video assignments- I suck at technology. We did recently cover photoshop, and It’s- kinda fun? So I’m hoping my second experience with the other techs are better than last time. I set up Queer Science Blog  for the class, so if you miss me here, I probably had to do something over there. 

An early assignment we didn’t put up on the blogs was Imitation Is Flattery, where we had to talk about a journalist we admire. I chose environmental journalist Naomi Klein:

Naomi Klein is a top environmental journalist who authored several books including This Changes Everything, which explores how capitalism is the problem, not climate change in itself. It was turned into a brilliant documentary that Klien narrates  in a very human way- she even says “Can I be honest with you? I always hated films about climate change,” and goes on to show how human lives, instead of the typical polar bear imagery,  were affected by poor regulations at local oil and gas companies, including a family whose goat farm was flooded with oil. 

Klein is a correspondent at the Intercept, and I recently read her article highlighting the strengths of Bernie Sanders’ campaign. While I respect how much of her personality shows in her writing, I found it jarring to feel to rage at Hillary Clinton while our collective hatred of Donald Trump is a simple fact. I believe that true journalism is objective, if framed. 

Klein’s brand is putting a human voice to climate change, to make people see that it’s not something that’s going to happen; it’s something that has been happening for years and is happening right now. It’s affected people.

https://theintercept.com/2020/01/22/bernie-sanders-movement-solidarity/ (Links to an external site.)

I hope this gave you some insight into the world of a journalism major. If you’re going to college, what do you think your major will be? If you went to college, or are in college right now, what was/is your major?

How I Know I’m Queer

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 Rhiannon @ CrescentMoonReads recently did a great video where they went over their experience as a non-binary person. It was interesting to hear how different our experience is, and some similarities. 

 So I realized that I’m heavily book focused here- and I love books! But it’s also been great to start another blog about my campus queer activity. I want to start integrating more queerness into this blog. 

  So about my queerness- I am not a human, but a tiger in a human body. That’s how I’ve seen myself since I was very young, around 7-9. One of the things that stood out to me was how Rhiannon would picture themself as the night sky, or feel a close connection to Wildcats. Humans put a lot of emphasis on how men and women look different, but most animals don’t. Cats, domesticated and wild, seem very removed from gender, like anything that has to do with humanity. 

 But I would vehemently defend my femininity and straightness for most of my teen years. There was a day in english class in 8th grade when we were supposed to act out a scene from a book where the protagonist was a girl who had to pretend -not very hard- that she was a boy for protection. Being the only AFAB in the group, I was pressured to play her role, but I said it wouldn’t work because “I’m obviously a girl.”

 Some years later, during my freshman year in college, my dormmates were watching the notorious 50 Shades Of Grey. And I felt nothing. I understood nothing. Afterwards, I talked to my friend who spoiled the entire series for me in an attempt to convince me there was a point. To this day, I still believe there is no point.

 I went through a bit of a gay panic, without really realizing it was a gay panic. I had really confusing thoughts and feelings that I attributed to anything but Gay. I thought  ‘we’re BFFs’ or ‘It must be a side effect of depression.’

When the semester was over, I had a lot of time to myself to really think about what was happening to me and did some internetting to find out that I resonated with the ‘biromantic asexual’ label. I’ve had crushes on boys and girls, but the physical side of things never really occurred to me. I then went on a queer reading spree that continues to this day. 

I Wish You All The Best came out in May of 2019 and I was highly anticipating it. I started exploring some nonbinary memes and started to question that maybe this applies to me. I drew triangles of male-female-other and tried to plot out where I felt I belong, and I shifted away from my assigned gender. 

I came to the conclusion that I’m non-binary in the middle of reading I Wish You All The Best, and that’s why it will always be a #1 book for me despite it’s technical flaws. I also encourage you to pick it up because I love it and I’m a book blogger; it’s what I do.

I’ve questioned and explored since then, played with masculinity and the idea of being demi in some way. I don’t think a label will tell you everything there is to know, and it’s so different from person to person that I usually just say I’m queer. I really resonate with asexuality, but I’ve found that telling people tends to bring out a lot of aphobia. There’s three standard types of attraction: romantic, sexual, and aesthetic, and I know I don’t feel one kind of attraction. 

I hope this was in some way, enlightening. If you have any questions about queerness, you can always comment a post idea for this new series, or DM me on twitter.

January Wrap-Up///College Update!

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 I have learned the most horrific thing: for one of my journalism classes, I will have to write a blog post between 1200-1800 words! For reference, my recent post are usually  420-490 words, with my last discussion post, Masculinity In The Movies  is composed of 677 words. 

 Don’t worry, this blog is not about to become academicized, I am to create a separate blog about something probably gay and maybe science-y but I’m not sure yet. I hope I learn things that can help me be a better blogger here, but I’m not looking to fundamentally change this space.

That being said, you probably want to know about the books. Because of the college stuff, I’m only on book 5 of the month. And just FYI, If you click on a link, it’ll take you to Indiebound, an online network of independent bookstores. And if you buy, a small commission will be sent to your favourite blogger! 

 

If It Makes You Happy

 The first book I read this month was If It Makes You Happy, by Claire Kann. I originally confused it for a memoir, but it’s actually fictional. It’s about Winnie, a black, biromantic asexual polygamist. It’s very similar to my own orientation, except I’m pretty sure I’m monoamorous, and it’s something that I want any future love interest to read. Winnie is in a QPR (queerplatonic relationship) with Kara, and might be into adding a boy that chose to become their town festivals’ royalty with her.

 Every summer, Winnie, her brother and cousin work in their grandma’s small-town diner. Their grandma is pretty tough, especially on Winnie because of her weight and “bad attitude.” Winnie does not let white people get away with things, and her Grandma believes that the best policy is the polite policy.

 The festival side is very wrapped up in the boy side. They show up to appearances together, like parties and talent shows. I felt like this took away from Kara time, and that we didn’t get to know Kara as well as some of the other characters. She did seem cool, but we never really saw depth. The same goes to most of the not-Winnie characters, but Kara and the brother are the people that were most underused.

Into The Woods

 This was creepy. It’s a series of graphic short stories (as in comic, not in gore (There was some gore) They follow different people, victims of certain circumstances that include ghosts, resurrection, and other gothic tropes. I especially loved Her Lady’s Hands Are Cold, about a bride of an arranged marriage hearing a song in the walls.  

I was really surprised to get to the author’s page and found out that she’s a married lesbian! The stories center hetrosexual characters, although, me being queer, I kept reimagining them with gay ships.

The art is extremely detailed, but not over detailed. There’s a few different simple color palettes that fit each story. It really works, even though I mostly read manga with a simpler style, maybe I just need to read more creepy stuff.

Out Of Salem

This was hecka queer. We have genderqueer zombie Z and their lesbian werewolf friend Aysel. Their elderly guardian is also a lesbian, and owns a bookshop that hosts werewolf support groups in a time where werewolves are being persecuted for some murders that happen during full moons.

I loved the analogy between the supernatural and the queer. Z’s feeling of decay were similar to my feelings of gender dysphoria. The feeling of distance, knowing that your body is not your own, and needing treatment to better look like yourself.

 The plot centers around both Z’s quest to decay slower and their community’s werewolf intolerance. Both lead them into trouble with the law, and puts their science teacher under house arrest for helping out.

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Bread And Roses, Too

This is a rare white, hetero MG, and that’s because someone gave it to me for christmas. I’m not sure why, but thanks? 

It’s set during the Industrial Revolution’s Bread and Roses strike, a strike that lasted months and sent children to live with foster families. I think it would be a good read for elementary or middle school kids learning about the Industrial Revolution or capitalism in general. Might look around and drop this at a school.

Current Read: Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers

I’m reading this pretty slowly; I started this over a week ago and I’m currently on page 68 of 292. The title is pretty descriptive, but also not; we’ve already covered face lifts, necrophilia, body theft and now researchers are positioning bodies outside to find out the details of the decay process.

Being back at a 4 year- it’s tough. It’s kinda sick that I’m homesick for a shelter, but those people are my friends. It was a smaller, closer community, despite being a severely under resourced community. 

 I have Writer’s group every sunday, but about half of the people have changed. I look forward to getting to know them, but also terrorfied. I hope I can get there a little early to find someone willing to be interviewed for a journalism assignment. 

I don’t expect to be able to read for fun very much in the upcoming months, but I have my eye on a few books for Blackathon- hosted by Jesse @Bowties And Books.  We’ll see how much I read during college! 

And this is a few hundred less than 1200 at 936 words. I guess I’ll have to practice to get ready for the assignment! 

 

I Match My Classes With Books!

I am *finally* returning to state this semester after two years. I will see remeet old friends, some about to graduate and some that also suffered leaves for various reasons. As is, I should graduate in 3 years with two summer classes, but we’ll see.

JMC Beginning Reporting 

This is a class all about asking strangers questions and writing them in a coherent way. We go out in pairs and find someone to ask a small set of preset questions ask expanding questions as we go. 

Book Of Joy

I haven’t talked a lot about this book, but the reason I say something now is it’s Q&A format. Douglas Abrams is asking the Dalai Lama XIV and his bff, Desmond Tutu a series of questions concerning joy. It taught me the importance of a gratitude journal, to remember to do things for the sake of doing them, and that simple things like pudding can be a great source of joy.

My Best Friend Made Me Read The Book Of Joy?!

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JMC Intro To Multimedia 

This is something that I struggle with, especially the audio part. (Obviously I’m a great blogger.) It’s time consuming and hard to make a video and I applaud all of the booktubers and youtubers in general. There’s also photography involved, which I tend to be good with. 

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Tash is an asexual youtuber working on a successful adaptation of the love of her life, Anna Karenina. She manages her team of actors while dealing with fame and how to date boys when you have no sexual desire. 

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Stats

I hate stats. It’s the only type of maths that I vaguely understand. I hope it will be useful to my work in some capacity, but forbid that I actually have to do any maths after this semester. 

The Sun Is Also A Star

I loved this book. It’s the only YA off the top of my head that interspaces its chapters with factual information concerning astronomy. I love how the main character is a logical person that wants to be a data scientist. 

PSCI Environmental Politics  

The course description is a little complicated, but basically we’re looking at environmental issues across different levels of society and how to implement policies to fit those challenges. This is required for a potential minor, Environmental Science Management. 

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency/ Hitchhiker’s Guide

I Love Douglas Adams. I love how everything is connected, how there’s little random bits that add up to create the end. I also love the Dirk Gently netflix adaptation that was unhappily canceled, so please complain to Netflix about that. It’s just weird and wonderful. 

What are your classes this semester? Do you know the perfect book that goes along with your favourite class?