Online Books vs. Physical Copies

With the recent development of many different reading apps, Kindle and Nook for two examples, I find less and less people reading with physical copies of books. Sure, sometimes it’s easier to just have to carry around a phone and have 100 books rather than have to carry around 3 and have it weigh you down. But do you lose an aspect of reading when you’re unable to see how far you’ve read, turn the pages, and close the final pages satisfied with the ending?

With online books, there is not the satisfaction of getting to turn the page when you’re ready. With a physical copy of a book, you also get all the information that comes with the book cover, like an author’s note, summary on the back and inside, as well as the beautiful covers they come with. Online books also don’t allow for the same experiences of someone asking to see what book you’re reading and deciding it looks good. 

Physical copies of books also let you read at any time, without having to worry about wasting data like some online books do. Also, the online books can often cause eye soreness with the amount of reading some people do. If they stare at the screen too long, they might not get as much reading done than they would if they were reading a physical copy without blue light issues. 

While I do read online books, I always feel more satisfied when I’ve finished a book I held with my own two hands rather than through another app. With the growing amount of cellular device usage, I think it’s a good reminder that there is no better feeling than curling up with a book. No distractions, some hot drink, and a nice book is always my idea of a perfect weekend after some homework. 

-Danielle B.

Summer is here, now what?

Everyone is still adjusting from the pandemic controlled world to a slightly less restricted lifestyle. Now that summer is here, every teens has more freedom, but many are questioning how they used to live their old pre-covid lives. In this post I will give some suggestions of fun activities to do with your friends, family, or even yourself.

I would first like to start off this list with going on hikes. Hikes are an activity that is enjoyable both by yourself and with company. Find a fun trail that fits how difficult you would like to experience. If you are by yourself, pop in an earbud and play your uplifting songs while staying active. For those in the Mission Viejo area, some trails are the Oso Creek Trail, Alicia Trail, and the Nellie Gail Trails. Going on hikes can take up your time while keeping you active. The only thing to be cautious of is the weather, make sure to check the weather for the day you plan to make sure you do not accidentally hike on an extremely hot day, which I am guilty of, not fun. 

If you are planning a hangout with friends and have no idea what to do, like many of us, I would recommend having a picnic at a park. Choose any centrally located park or beautiful one near the beach. Each person can bring their own food to fit what they like while still enjoying the company of others with them. Make sure to bring a blanket and maybe a speaker to play some fun music. Besides eating, I love to bring other activities to do at a picnic. Some fun ideas are to bring cards or a board game. Or bringing canvases and paint to have a painting/art contest with your friends. 

Here is an example of a fun picnic setup you have have with friends!

Another idea I would recommend is to take a day trip. Whether you choose Los Angeles, San Diego, or any other location that is outside of your daily circle of travel, a day trip can be super fun. The night before, plan your stops. This way you have a roadmap of approximately which areas you will be in. Especially for L.A, it is a huge area so planning which part of it you will be in is a great idea. On day trips to areas in the city, I find it very fun to find trendy food places I see online and actually get to try it. Some ideas are getting mochi donuts, korean hot dogs, or bubble waffles that have been circulating across the internet but are mainly located in areas like Los Angeles. Also if going on a day trip, find cool activities you can only do in that area. For example, if going to LA find a swap meet like the Melrose Trading Place. Or go to famous spots like the Santa Monica pier, which is far enough away from home that it seems more exciting. 

Summer is the time where people can finally enjoy themselves after months of stress. Find an activity you personally enjoy. Your goal is to make yourselves miss summer as much as possible!

-Lilly G.

The Debate Between Libraries and Bookstores

I have recently written an essay on the prompt, “Are libraries still necessary?”. Just from the question itself, I was a little bit offended. But, it proved to be a passionate topic that I could write my essay on. Now, a different and perhaps better question to ask would be, “Which is better: libraries or bookstores?”

First, let’s just establish what each one is. Without the fancy dictionary.com definition, I would say that a library is a place that allows for people to borrow from a collection of books, resources, films, etc., usually meant for a community. It can also be a quiet place for working and studying. Now very similar, bookstores are everything libraries are, however instead of borrowing their resources, they have to be bought.

Now into the finer details of each; imagining a bookstore like Barnes and Noble, I walk into this massive store. It has shelves and shelves of perfect, freshly printed books. They all have the classic “new book” smell and minimal to no damage. But, the store is lacking in character.

On the other hand, when someone says library, I imagine passed-down hardcovers wrapped in the iconic plastic to protect its dust jacket. I picture hundreds of books with multiple copies and different editions lined up on shelves that categorize them by genres. I see a kids/middle-aged section, a romance-filled young adult section, and the ever-so-imposing adult section. The books themselves show their years of dutiful use on their cracked spines, small bends, and tears from being tossed around in a backpack. So with each book that I pick up, I get to glimpse at what each reader’s journey with the book was like. Through its physical condition, I have been able to laugh, cringe, and wonder what exactly happened to this book before it got to me. Whether it be spaghetti sauce stains or hilarious side notes, a library book really gave me two adventures instead of one.

Though bookstores do a fantastic job at presenting their products for customers to buy, personally, nothing can beat the feeling that overwhelms my senses when I walk into a library. I grew up going to libraries at least once a week to study or pick up another round of books, so I may be biased. But, one thing I know for sure is that sometimes it’s better to have the used book: it reveals more than any new book could.

-Katherine L.

The Box Man: A Rhetorical Analysis

The Box Man is a short story written by Barbara Ascher. From the perspective of the narrator, the “box man” is a mysterious being who no one knows a lot of. However, he still finds happiness and is satisfied with his way of living: being separated from the rest of society.

Through the use of allusion and diction, Ascher can amplify the purpose of this piece, which is that everybody has a different perspective and viewpoints on life and those perspectives and viewpoints must be taken into consideration.

With the use of allusions in her piece, Ascher can create a sort of personal aspect, and create a closer tie between her and the reader. When Ascher tells the audience that “When I was little, my favorite book was the Boxcar Children” (Ascher), the reader will likely take Ascher more seriously, as they know her a little better. This is important because she mentions that in The Boxcar Children, these orphaned children run away from their family members to go live out in the woods where they are much happier. There are many similarities between the Boxcar Children and the Box Man, as both have decided to live away from society, rather than live within society, with the narrator saying near the end of the piece that the “Box Man knows that loneliness chosen loses its sting and claims no victims” (Ascher 3). This reference to the past is very important in making the reader notice the main purpose, as in no way does the box man ever seem sad at all. He just prefers a different way of life and likes living with a sense of freedom, which people need to understand before making assumptions about him.

Through diction, how other people see the box man becomes much more clear. When the author says “His collar was pulled so high that he appeared headless as he shuffled across the street” (Ascher 1), the audience gets the impression that the box man is trying to hide something, or is ashamed of something; maybe something he did once in the past explains this behavior. Of course, the reader will learn later in this piece that the box man is not sad, but this is a pretty good representation of how he seems to the rest of society. After this sentence, the narrator says “he shuffled across the street like a man who must feel Earth with his toes to know that he walks there” (Ascher 1). His way of walking also signifies a lot. Shuffling is mostly associated with elder people or fragile people who have already lived through most of their life, and are having trouble getting around efficiently. This implies that the box man is old, and maybe his choice of living like this comes from nostalgia or longing for the past. Such is important since different generations have different perspectives and different thoughts on life, but not everyone seems to understand that. It is no secret that a sixteen-year-old would be better equipped with a smartphone than a seventy-year-old, which is a huge difference, as smartphones are such a large part of our society today. However, the seventy-year-old may tell the sixteen-year-old that he or she is on their phone way too much and has to go out for a walk and enjoy nature. This difference in perspective between generations has caused a conflict, which is unfortunate for both parties. 

If people can understand both sides of the story and consider everyone’s perspective, people would be nicer and more loving towards each other. Everybody has a different perspective and ideas on how their life should be lived, and no two people have the same preference for everything in life.

-Jeremy L.

Twelfth Night and Gender Identity

Audra McDonald, Anne Hathaway, and Raúl Esparza pose as Olivia, Viola, and Duke Orsino in Shakespeare in the Park’s Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare is my personal favorite Shakespeare play. I read it for class in the 10th grade. At first, I approached this play cautiously. I have never read, listened to, or watched a Shakespeare play in my life—but I presumed that the language would be difficult, and the topics uninteresting to me.

And wow, was I wrong.

As we read along, I found myself completely invested in Viola’s story—the way she turns herself into ‘Cesario’ to navigate high society, how she manages to get a Countess to fall in love with her, and how she manages to fool Duke Orsino into thinking she was a man. I was interested in the way she navigated her relationship with not only Olivia and Orsino, but with her gender, as well.

The reason why I became absolutely obsessed with this play was because how it tackled gender and sexual identity, though maybe not completely outright, but it’s there! You just have to read closely, and watch closely.

Tamara Lawrance and Oliver Chris pose as Cesario and Orsino, in the National Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night.

Viola dressing as a man, and turning herself into ‘Cesario,’ addresses gender fluidity in such an amazing way—and brings up so many possibilities for newer adaptations of Twelfth Night and so many more possibilities for actors playing Viola. In Shakespeare’s time, for example, all roles in his plays were played by men. So, in turn, Viola was played by a man, playing a woman, who was trying to pass as a man. A bit confusing, isn’t it?

This shows that… does gender actually matter in Twelfth Night? What is gender actually? A person’s gender identity is what that person makes of it, and Twelfth Night showcased this perfectly. People fall for Viola, and people fall for Cesario—no matter the gender, Viola’s self is what wins people over. Even in the end, Orsino tells Cesario (technically still Cesario), that, once he gets his old clothes—he can be Viola once more. It’s almost as if gender is something you can put on, then take back off again, a perfect explanation of gender fluidity.

“I am all the daughters of my father’s house, And all the brothers too—and yet I know not.”

Act II, Scene 4

As I discussed before, Viola’s gender fluidity allows for so many newer adaptation of Twelfth Night. A particular favorite of mine is Shakespeare in Clark’s Park’s production Twelfth Night, which, in the end, had Viola renaming themself to Vi, and forgoing gendered terms, possibly being nonbinary.

Johnny Flynn and Mark Rylance as Viola and Olivia. This is a more traditional take on Twelfth Night, as this production at The Globe had an all-male cast, just as Shakespeare did.

Taking these age-old plays and turning them into something relatable, modern, completely realistic in this day and age is extremely important. It’s how you get younger generations to read and analyze these works of literature and interpret them for themselves. Relating to Viola’s journey of self-discovery is exactly how I felt myself so connected to this play. Though, obviously, it is not a completely perfect dissertation on gender and identity, but I believe it made leaps, especially during Shakespeare’s time. People conflicts with identity, sexuality, and gender, didn’t just start in modern times. It has been happening for a very long time, it’s only recently we’ve been able to give these labels names.

Twelfth Night explores these themes in a great way, and relating to the characters makes this play so much more meaningful.

Guide to Crystals

Quite recently crystals have sparked an interest in a lot of people. This got me invested in finding out what the whole point is, other than the beauty of the rock of course. With this curiosity, I decided to do a little research and discovered so many rad things about these crystals.

Each crystal contains a vibration and energy that re-aligns with your energy resulting in a higher vibration for you which is like a higher state of mind. There’s quite a lot of evidence and research from lab tests about these crystals proving this as well. The vibration is emitted at a constant frequency and uplifts you resulting in healing. Depending on what aspect you’d like to heal in, there are usually specific crystals sorted out for that job. One of the most common crystals is Rose Quartz and it’s used for a lot of emotional healing and love. Other healing powers of other crystals include balance, protection, empowerment, optimism, grounding, and even inner growth. There’s really a crystal for everything. There are even ways to energize your crystals. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, with a new year comes new beginnings and you should definitely consider checking a couple crystals out. I know I will be.

There are a lot of places where you can purchase crystals, but some of my favorites include crystals.com, crystalvaults.com, or other Etsy shops. There are so many stores and personal crystal quizzes! The options are endless.

-Kaitlyn Y.

Summer Plans

With the end of the school year coming up, I’ve begun planning my summer break. With the stress of finals still looming but reaching an end, you begin to wonder what you’re going to do for the next three months. Of course, there is the usual hanging out with friends, going on family vacations, and soaking up the sun. But when the heat gets too hot and you can’t be outside any longer, I look for fun options that keep me in the house.

Of course as an avid reader, my first thought is to start reading. Now I find this not only fun but beneficial. Oftentimes when I head out on summer vacation, I don’t do anything “academic” for those three months and then come back to school feeling unprepared for the first few weeks. However, with my plan of reading this summer, I hope to not only find books that I love but also ones that will keep me at the level I was when I left school so I can come back ready to learn.

As I head into my last year of high school, I hope to continue this love of reading over all my summers as I know school only gets busier and busier from here. So when planning your summers, make sure to keep in mind any books that you’ve been eyeing as well as ones that haven’t come out yet. When you’re looking for something to keep you busy but isn’t in the sweltering heat, make sure reading is at the forefront.

-Danielle B.

Life lessons from the founder of Apple

Many know Steve Jobs as the founder of both Apple and Pixar. However, Jobs’ path to success was not easy, and he faced many mental challenges.

Along with that, Jobs learned a couple key ideas. One of them being: you have to do what you love to do in order to become successful. If one does not love what they do, their work does not become passionate, lowering the chance of success. On top of that, being passionate about your work is also better for the consumer experience. In Jobs’ case, loving his work led him to satisfying millions with apple products, that you see everywhere today.

Jobs also stuck by the idea that “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward”. What he means by this is that it is impossible to see into the future and try and figure out your life that way. However, it is very possible to look into the past and reflect on past experiences, and learning from them. Jobs had done this when he was first fired from his own company. At the time, Jobs thought his life was over, but in reality, this had been the best thing to ever happen to him, as he grew a lot from this and started Pixar, another huge company that we all know today. Eventually, Jobs was hired back into Apple and worked there until he passed away. Another lesson that Steve Jobs has learned in his life was how life is limited, and one has to do what they enjoy and prefer, rather than paying attention to other peoples’ lives.

Especially today, so many people are wrapped up in what others think of them and how they can improve themselves for others, when in reality, focusing on self-growth and setting standards for yourself is what will really make people better. Today, although Jobs unfortunately has passed away, people learn and take ideas from the thoughts Jobs had, and will overall benefit society if everybody thought this way.

-Jeremy L.

AP Studying??

AP test month can be one of the most stressful periods in your entire high school career. Unlike regular tests AP exams demand a year’s worth of information from you. The best way to handle the overwhelming stress is to be prepared for what is coming. I have taken many AP courses and have found some of the more efficient ways of studying along with the methods that are not beneficial. 

Perhaps the most important variable to consider when studying is making a clear cut schedule for studying that aligns up with your AP test day. For example, for history or science based tests designating a certain time block to study each unit a day is very helpful. Personally, about a month out from my AP world exam I started studying half a unit every single day. This way revisiting information is not overwhelming when test time comes. 

Now that you have a set time for studying it is very important how you spend that time you have created for yourself. I have personally found that simply rereading a textbook and labeling that time spent as studying is not efficient when trying to remember information from an entire year. If you are someone who enjoys using notes to study rather than just rereading them add an extra layer. First look at the topic for the section and try to recall all the information you can about that topic. Next read the page/pages of notes. Lastly, and most importantly, outloud recall all of the information that you just reread without looking at your notes. Doing so stimulates your brain to try and read the information rather than simply forgetting the info minutes later.

When studying for history and science based tests there is so much information that no one can remember every single detail. So, when reviewing try to focus more on patterns that you recognize or different relationships. It is important to remember the college board does not just test you on verbatim facts that you have learned. The test evaluates you on different thinking processes so you have to be able to understand different relationships between time periods or scientific concepts. 

Now for the English based tests such as AP Lang one of the best tips I got was to focus on the News. At first I did not understand how this would be helpful. But, for some AP tests you must write papers where evidence comes straight from your brain, no documents. On these occasions you have to think of different important events in history to make your argument. Therefore, listening and keeping up with the news a month before testing seasons can provide you with great relevant evidence to incorporate into your essays. 

For some people, the hardest part of preparing for such a demanding test is getting the motivation to actually sit down and review. For these people, I recommend getting a study partner. As cheesy as that sounds it can be beneficial for those lacking motivation. Having someone that is supposed to study with you every day holds both your partner and yourself accountable to actually reviewing. Your partner does not need to be studying for the same AP, but having someone who is also preparing can force you to sit down and just begin. If you have a close friend you can study over facetime or at the library(considering after COVID). Other ways are finding study discords servers or zoom servers that are offered online where you can study with other people with the same goals as yourself. 

-Lily G.

Rediscovering Reading

During quarantine, from the beginning, I have found myself straying away from reading and being pulled into the constant stream of new shows coming out of streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+. While these are great, I found myself missing books and wondering why I wasn’t reading more. So during the winter break, I took the time to read two books that made me fall in love with reading all over again. 

I found that it wasn’t the book specifically that got me back into reading but rather the act of picking up a book of my choosing and being able to hold it physically in my hands. I also rediscovered how therapeutic reading is, especially at a time where it is one of the only things you can do as most things are currently shut down. 

While any genre will do, I always find myself drifting towards this weird combination of romance, historical fiction, and dystopian. Perhaps this is why I am constantly reading because every book is so different. With all the social media apps now, it was very easy to find book recommendations that looked as though I would actually enjoy them and now my to- read list is almost 20 books long. 

With school picking back up, I know we all won’t have as much time to read but I set a New Year’s resolution to try and read at least one book a month to give myself a break from everything else going on it the world and be transported into a completely different place where I can be a spectator rather than a participant.

-Danielle B.