For the entirety of this semester, I have been trying to read one book (an ambitious goal for an English undergrad, I know). The book sits on my desk with a bookmark a laughable third of the way through. While I’ve finished more books this semester than I ever have, I can’t get through this one. The wrinkles around the crushed base of its spine look like a furrowed brow.
The book is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I honestly can’t really offer a good summary (the Wikipedia page makes a good effort: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Leaves), but the bare bones of the story involve a mysterious death, Russian-nesting-doll-like layers of stories and their narrators, a lost documentary about a hallway, and a house that defies the laws of physics.
It belongs to a class of books termed “ergodic literature”. This format requires extra work on the part of the reader. You have to search through the piece to read it properly, perhaps skipping forward or backward, or turning the book around to see the words. In House of Leaves, this ergodic element comes in the form of misplaced text and footnotes. So many footnotes. Sideways footnotes, hidden footnotes, footnotes in different languages. Footnotes with their own footnotes, footnotes left by different narrators. Footnotes that spiral outwards from the center of the page, footnotes that are poems and pictures, footnotes that cite books that don’t exist.
That is what’s amazing about this book: it can’t be reduced. It is dependent on the format that it takes. The experience of reading it is so integral to what the book actually is that you can’t separate the two. It defies Cliffs Notes and eBook format. In an age that prizes convenience and digital, there is something so fascinating about forcibly returning to the analog. It feels like a new genre, yet it takes an almost old-fashioned approach.
I’m wading through the book at a snail’s pace. The plot and the format require it. It’s confusing and challenging and convoluted, but incredibly immersive. It makes me think about the physicality of reading. Searching through the footnotes makes me feel like part of the story. I am confused along with the characters. I explore the mystery with them. When they do research in the story, I do research, too. The confusing layers of narrators couple with this ergodic effect to blur the lines between the reader and the story to create something that’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Reading in small chunks is new for me. I’m a self-professed speed reader. I can honestly say that I have never been so defeated by a book. But I really, really have enjoyed it. While reading slowly originated in my frustration, it has morphed into a kind of purposeful rationing. I like this story and I don’t want it to be over. I’m saving it, savoring it.
Reading in a new way and challenging myself has made me fall more in love with books all over again. A lot of times, I think we tend to limit ourselves when it comes to literature. We say “I like this kind of book” or “I read in this way” and then self-confirm by seeking out only what we know. But the experience of reading outside of your comfort zone is too good to pass up.
So if you feel stuck in a rut with your reading or writing, try something different! Try a new format. Read a different genre, or read in a different way. Think about the process and purpose of reading in a new way. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, pick up an ergodic novel. You won’t regret it.
Written by Megan G.
My friend told me a while back that he encountered an "astounding ass." He was returning a textbook at a UPS station, and the man assisting him asked him his major, to which my friend responded that he wasn't sure yet.
"Well, let me give you some advice," Mr. UPS Man said. "Whatever you do, don't become an English major. I mean, why would you major in a language you already speak and know?"
My friend relayed this experience to me with righteous rage and frustration — probably half of which was for my benefit.
I wasn't even upset by the story. I mean, recently a Rice administrator literally said on the record, with extraordinary nonchalance, that our incoming humanities majors this year had lower test scores than STEM majors.
I've come to expect this attitude, at this point. It's so easy to feel the projected stereotypes — English majors aren't good at math, English majors have it so easy in school, English majors want to publish a novel and become the next J.K. Rowling. It's always a surprise if someone says, in response to my "confessing" that I'm an English major, "That's really cool, I don’t think I could ever do that!"
How many times have people I barely know asked me what I was going to do with an English major? How many times have people asked me why I wanted to be an English major? How many times have people asked me if I'm also pre-med or pre-law, as if that'll somehow justify "what" I am? Why can't I just be an English major?
Every first club meeting, every casual introduction during which we detail name, college, major, I flinch when I have to follow “CHBE” or “kinesiology pre-med” with plain old “English.” It’s a knee-jerk reaction of feeling, like I have to explain myself, because apparently being an English major is intrinsically confounding.
It's not just others' perceptions; I've begun to believe the prejudice myself. I won’t lie — I've had more than my fair share of moments of inferiority. When I hear that someone, especially a girl, is majoring in computer science or bioengineering, I feel awe and a strong pinch of jealousy. I always ask myself, "Why couldn't I do that?"
And I think this feeling of inferiority is especially prevalent at Rice, a school so obviously focused on STEM students, that every English major I meet is a treasure to behold, a rare sympathizer and genuine peer.
Some people think we sit on our butts all day and think about books, that we don’t actually do anything while other students are at lab or research or the OEDK. Yes, the STEM students are incredibly busy — I respect that. They’re brilliant and they do so much in school and the real world. But the fact that English (and really any humanities) majors have shockingly fewer class requirements does not invalidate what we do. We make sure we’re busy, and we choose what makes us busy. Trust me, we’re loaded on the extracurriculars, and our classes take time too, in a different way.
Such critics should be ashamed for shaming us and what we love. What right do they have to criticize the choice we've made? Maybe we know something they don't — something hidden in the (literal) hundreds of books we have to read in school, our analyses, the millions of words we've written.
Language built this world. Who cares if we all already know it? In the Old Testament, when the people grew too arrogant and tried to build the Tower of Babel with an intent to reach the heavens, God only had to take away their ability to communicate, and they fell apart, just like that.
English teaches us about people and how to understand them. It teaches us about experiences we have yet to encounter. It teaches us about the many facets of the world about which we would otherwise have no idea.
So before you assume English majors had no other choice and that they are literally incapable of everything else, ask yourself if you're able to analyze the hell out of a seven-word sentence the way we can, or turn a three-second encounter into a 16-page short story, or even begin to comprehend the world in all its layers and people and confusions.
And before you take to criticism, ask yourself if you love your major as much as English majors love theirs. Very few people these days can boast they truly know their passions. In the millennial world, where instant gratification (not to mention instant money-making) is all the rage and ladder-climbing is considered an absolute necessity, many have lost sight of what they genuinely love. If there's one thing I know about English majors, it's that we all love what we're studying.
English majors aren't the lackadaisical, last-resort people some might assume them to be. We didn't swivel around looking for anything but this and find that we had no choice but to sigh, settle for English. And so what if being purely an English major without a pre-____ track sometimes means having to "wait and see"? There's nothing wrong with that. People jump from job to job in their 20s anyway — sometimes later than that.
I'm tired of defending my life choice to people. I'm tired of having to cite people like Mario Cuomo, Sting (ha), Diane Sawyer or Steven Spielberg. Do I really have to justify my major based on celebrities' successes?
I’m not going to make it my mission to critique your or anyone’s major because it’s not like mine. Major in whatever the heck you want. The point is, don’t shit on *insert major here* because you probably have no idea what you’re talking about.
Trust that it's nearly the same across the board for any major: If we work hard, we'll get somewhere. Simple as that. Even if our “somewhere” is not as concrete as "I'm going to be a pediatric oncologist" or "I'm going to be a software engineer," doesn't mean it's not valid. We'll figure it out. There's nothing wrong with giving it a little time.
Written by Julianne W.
Yesterday was the start of one of my favorite-and-least-favorite months of the year. It’s now November, which means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, as you may have heard it called) has officially begun. For anyone not familiar with this challenge, writers around the world will be spending the next 30 days attempting to write 50,000 words, roughly the length of a novel. As someone who has won NaNoWriMo a few times before, I wanted to share a few of my tips and tricks.
1. Make your NaNo experience yours.
It can be hard to motivate yourself to write if you aren’t going into it with a clear goal about what you want to get out of the challenge. NaNoWriMo is a set challenge – 50,000 words in 30 days – but it’s also an entirely flexible framework. You can take advantage of all the excitement of the month and the tremendous support NaNo writers get, even if you aren’t attacking the challenge directly. Maybe it would be more meaningful to you to try something different. Let me give you some examples – my own experience.
The first time I did NaNoWriMo, it was just because it seemed like a really exciting challenge to me. I wrote a book in 30 days and managed it quite well; at the end, I did have a complete book. However, when I decided to attack this process for the second time, four years later, I realized that I didn’t need to write a first draft of a novel in a month. What I did instead was devote myself to a more challenging month – 65,000 words split up over working on and wrapping up three or four projects I’d been working on for years. I got a lot out of both of these experiences, even though I didn’t technically achieve what the goal of the program was.
Last year, my third NaNo win, I decided that my writing pace had gotten to the point where 50,000 words wasn’t going to be enough to constitute a real challenge. I’m a pretty disciplined person, so I stuck myself with 75,000 words towards a new project. This was a welcome break from my primary novel project, which I’ve been slaving over for years, but looking back, I only have about half a book out of that project. Even though I hit my word limit – 75,000 words – I don’t have a complete project yet, and the story has sat untouched in my Dropbox for a year now.
This year, therefore, I’m prepping myself for a writing challenge that will really address my goals at this precise moment. Instead of NaNoWriMo, I’m tackling “NaNoEdMo,” aka the month I edit 10-11 pages of my novel per day. I don’t need to generate new material; I need to work more diligently with the material I already have.
The point is this: NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a fun and challenging exercise that helps you grow as a writer. Whatever that may mean to you is an entirely personal process; don’t feel like you have to do the same thing as everybody else.
2. Get some support.
The NaNoWriMo website (http://nanowrimo.org/) has lots of opportunities built into it that can help you find some people in your area also attempting NaNo this year, or you can just designate a friend who will help motivate you throughout. Having some sort of group message that you can just rant your NaNo problems to can be extremely relieving, and you get to celebrate together when you’re done.
It’s also really important to make it clear to your family and friends the challenge you’ve set yourself up for. I’ve been preparing for NaNoWriMo for about two weeks now by working through some writing exercises every day and by telling everybody around me that I’m doing NaNoWriMo. Your family will thank you when they have an explanation for your stress over Thanksgiving, too!
3. Forget "inspiration" - just write.
Every writer can cite a time when writing has seemed like the hardest thing in the world. Dispel the myth right now that a writing burst or mood will just “come to you,” because maybe inspiration can work like that sometimes, but you don’t have to wait on a magical sparkle of divine energy in NaNoWriMo. My advice in this situation (and in general) is just to sit down, take a deep breath, set yourself up with music or snacks or whatever you need, and write. Write until your fingers bleed and you can’t look at the words on the page anymore (or you hit your wordcount, whatever comes first).
And have a backup if you really get stuck. Last year, my 75,000 word story for NaNoWriMo was about pirates. I cannot tell you how many times I got slightly stuck and sent my main character walking across the deck talking to various other characters until I found a place to go with the story. Have one of these types of “when-in-doubt” cards you can play. If even that doesn’t work, you can always just break the fourth wall and start writing about how awful this whole writing thing is; you’ll probably hit your word count eventually.
4. But what if I really need inspiration?
Check out these resources, which may help to get your brain up and going in that writing mood again or can guide your interests and stories!
http://fantasy-faction.com/ (for fantasy)
http://www.springhole.net/index.html (articles about writing, also a whole bunch of random generators for names, objects, settings, everything you can think of)
http://www.charlottedillon.com/characters.html (character development documents)
http://alyssahollingsworth.com/2015/08/06/100-questions-for-character-couples/ (if you’re trying to develop a realistic romance)
http://100-prompts.livejournal.com/692.html (a whole bunch of prompts)
And, if you want your writing inspiration in small doses:
Good luck, NaNoWriMo community! Happy writing!
Written by Erika S.
This interview was taken by Bailey Tulloch and appears in the 2016 Edition of R2.
Sara Shepard is the author of the hit young-adult-series-turned-television phenomena Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game. Shepard graduated from Brooklyn College with an MFA in Creative Writing. She is also the author of the young adult series The Heiresses and The Perfectionists, and the adult novels The Visibles and Everything We Ever Wanted. Shepard currently lives in Pennsylvania with her family.
What has it been like watching your work move from page to screen, and, in a way, handing your characters over to other writers? Has there been anything in particular about the Pretty Little Liars television series that surprised you?
I had written seven books of the Pretty Little Liars series before ABC Family developed the pilot. At the time, I thought I had one more book to go. I had rounded out the characters and the world, and I knew them pretty well. When Marlene King and her writers wrote the series, they had a lot of material to draw from—and it shows. The TV characters closely resemble the book characters. The premise is the same, and so is the world. Sure, they’ve taken some creative liberties, but you have to for TV. I wasn’t very sensitive about handing over my characters to TV’s writers—I was thrilled! You can’t look a gift horse in the mouth—how could I have ever predicted I’d get a series on TV period? The show has brought so many new readers to my books and, for an author, that’s an opportunity of a lifetime. As for the second part of the question, I’m sure I’ve been surprised about certain elements of the show—like who A is!—but I’ve enjoyed the twists and turns the series has taken. And nowadays, I watch the show like a regular old viewer, excited for what’s coming next.
A lot of Rice students often tend to let their creative writing fall to the wayside amidst the craziness of college life. Were you able to find time to write creatively while in college, and how did you balance it among academics/ social life/etc.?
Even before college, I kept journals—I had this fear of losing important memories and felt the need to write everything down. (And remember, this was before camera phones, Instagram, etc., when I could have just taken a picture to document so much.) Often, I wrote what happened to me or what I was worried about like little pieces of short fiction, and this continued into college. I took some creative writing classes as well, but for the most part it was just in journals—though, unfortunately, I’ve lost quite a few of them, either to computer crashes or leaving them in bars. Websites and blogs were becoming popular when I was in college, too, and my sister and I made this fictitious online newspaper based on a strange, square-headed world we invented as kids, so I guess that was creative, too, although most of the stories talked about uprising pelicans, counterfeit doctors, and doppelgängers. My sister and I were odd kids for sure.
Many Rice students are really passionate about writing and would love to pursue a career in that field but tend to feel pressure to stick with paths that are more “financially predictable.” What advice do you have for these students, and what influenced your decision to get an MFA in Creative Writing?
To be honest, I got an MFA in Creative Writing post-9/11—I had a sort of “life is short” epiphany, and I’d always wanted to get an MFA, so I decided to go for it. I had no preconceived notions of ever building a career with my MFA, unless you counted teaching. During that time, though, I started ghostwriting for Alloy Entertainment, which got my foot in the publishing door. After that, I guess I was just dogged. I badgered my contacts for work. I worked quickly. I worked around the clock. I think that’s what people forget about being a writer—you do work a lot. Sure, there are times when I have weeks off, between deadlines, but for the most part, I’m always thinking about what I’m working on, even when I’m not at the computer. And the thing about making writing your career these days is that, at least in my opinion, there are a lot more options now than there were before. Yes, there’s traditional publishing, or working for a newspaper or a magazine, but there’s also self-publishing, which is making a lot of strides in the market, and there are so many new online venues to tap into—and so many of them are respectable. I also know a lot of people who support themselves by blogging—something unheard of not so long ago! It seems that if you’re creative, and if you have an interesting idea, and if you persevere, you can at least get your work out there. If you want to go the traditional route and get, say, a novel published, agents are so much more accessible these days, either through online contacts or through writing conventions, like SCBWI, which are popping up everywhere. At writing conventions, you can meet with an agent of your choice, pitch your idea, and get honest, constructive feedback—and sometimes the agent will ask to read more. I had no clue of such means of getting my work reviewed back when I was starting out.
Most of the protagonists in your books are young females. How do these age and gender preferences interact for you? Why are they interesting to you?
I feel like adolescence and young adulthood are such fertile, tumultuous times—everything is new, your emotions are swirling, you don’t quite know how to handle yourself. Plus, people don’t treat you as an adult yet, no matter how hard you try, so you’re in this curious limbo of worlds where you want to be taken seriously and you don’t even realize that’s probably not going to happen for a few more years. At least that’s the way it was with me. I enjoy writing about women because it’s interesting to share the female experience, and I try to create strong, interesting, non-stereotypical female characters. However, in the new series I’m writing, The Amateurs, there are a couple of male protagonists in the mix, and it was fun trying to tap into the male perspective. What have you found is the biggest difference between writing for an adult audience and writing for a young adult audience? I used to feel that with adult you could be a little more experimental, though I think YA fiction has come a tremendously long way since I started out. With adult, your plot can move a little slower, and you can develop your characters a bit more, and obviously your subject matter is different. But again, these were lessons more when I was staring out ten years ago—nowadays, I feel like the lines between YA and adult have blurred. And a good story is a good story—you always have to keep that in mind. I do as much intense plotting for my adult novels as I do for my YA ones. And these days, I make no assumptions about my audience—all my readers are smart, and all of them want a good, engaging book, no matter their age.
Yesterday was R2's annual Open Mic Night event, held in Rice's own Willy's Pub. We had an awesome turnout of both performers and spectators, so thank you to everyone who dropped in! Below you'll find some of the pictures from the night.
Open Mic Nights are one of many much-needed venues for the sharing of ideas and expressions. Whether it's through a favorite poem, a meaningful song, a few minutes of comedy, or a crazy beat, we can learn from each other and give each other a little bit more freedom and support at the same time. Personally, I got a lot out of watching each person give their performance. It can be vulnerable, when you stand on stage reading a piece you spent weeks perfecting. It can be terrifying to step on stage and spend a few minutes trying to entertain a crowd you aren't entirely sure wants to listen to you. But when you finally do, something magical happens: everyone in the audience cares, at least for a moment, at least about a bit of what it is you're doing. And maybe when you get up there and start speaking, it can inspire someone in the audience, who wasn't feeling brave at first, to jump up and give it a go.
So thanks to Open Mic Nights, for provoking the courage and creativity in us, and for bringing us together for a few hours in delicious cheese dip, laughter, and self-expression.
Photographs and blog post by Erika S. ('19)
When moving across the country this summer from Seattle, WA, to Houston, TX, I had to pack up my entire life into a few boxes. Clothes were easy; I was able to leave the parkas and wooly hats at home. Books on the other hand, I saved until last, unable to execute the inevitable downsizing that my library required. I had decided to choose from my floor to ceiling bookshelf just ten books to make the cross-country trip with me to my dorm room. The last thing I did before I left was carefully select this group, like a well-balanced Spotify Playlist. I tried to mix books I had read thousands of times with ones I hadn’t even cracked the spine on. I placed fun five-minute reads next to heavier, more serious books to match my future moods. In the end, these are the ten books that made it into my U Haul box:
1) As You Like It, William Shakespeare
Why: A Shakespearean classic, and also one of the few I haven’t read, As You Like It was the first book tossed into the box. It sits on my shelf in order to inspire me to one day read an unassigned Shakespeare play.
2) Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Why: This book serves as a little bit of a reminder of home for me, as this was the first book I read in freshman English with my all time favorite high school teacher. I also love dystopian novels, and this one is a classic.
3) The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Why: Sylvia Plath’s haunting handle on emotional turmoil can sometimes be cathartic to read, and though the subject matter can make for upsetting and not exactly pleasant reading, her prose always draws me in.
4) The Gene, Siddhartha Mukherjee
Why: What kind of Biochemistry-English double major would I be if I didn’t have a biography of a gene in my bookshelf? This book expertly combines compelling stories with real information, and avoids the dense downfall of most scientific writing, so you look smart and learn something while still enjoying the writing.
5) Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham
Why: Sometimes I just want to read something for fun, and Lena Dunham’s comedic memoir is a perfect pick me up. At the same time, this book’s feminist messages are empowering.
6) Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Why: While this book will never thrill me in the way it did when I first read it, by pulling an all-nighter to get to the big reveal, it’s still a page turner. Everyone needs a bit of excitement in his or her library, and I can always count on this book to provide that for me.
7) We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo
Why: This book was my “something new”. I bought it the day before I flew out to Houston. The idea of having an entirely untouched book in my collection was exciting, and a friend who knows me very well recommended this book, so I look forward to reading it.
8) Internal Medicine, Terrence Holt
Why: This is the book that made me want to be a doctor. It doesn’t glamorize medical professions a la Grey’s Anatomy, but instead shows you the nitty-gritty side, as real as it can get without violation patient confidentiality. While the subject matter is what drew me to this book, it’s also one of the best-written doctor’s memoirs I’ve found in a while.
9) Looking for Alaska, John Green
Why: As a busy college student, sometimes I need a book I can fly through in an hour, and Looking for Alaska is that for me. I’ve read it so many times that I can skim the whole thing and still understand it, but still get the escapism of living in a different world that books provide for me.
10) And of course, a copy of R2
While these books might not appeal to you for the same reasons that they do to me, they’re all great, and I recommend them to anyone. Or, if none of these appeal to you, start building your own well-balanced college bookshelf.
Written by Emma E. ('20)
Now that autumn is upon us, what better time to curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and some great speculative fiction? If you ever find yourself searching for a great new read, keep an eye out for the following titles:
A Tale of Love, Pain, and Sacrifice
What if you had the power to take away people’s pain and absorb it as your own? What if someone else could remove all your physical and emotional pain? Would you let them? What if you could live free of pain for the rest of your life?
It’s not often in which I come across a book that actually impacts me, a book that I’m unable to put down and even afterwards, I find myself overcome with emotion for days on end. Such a book that I had the privilege of reading is called Bruiser, a beautiful tale spun by the masterful storyteller Neal Shushterman. I came across it by complete chance after exploring the bookcases of my high school library in search of a new read and noticing its acqua-colored spine protruding from the shelves. This dark and twisting yet emotionally gripping story is chronicled from four characters’ perspectives: Tennyson, the athletic high school jock who is blinded by his arrogance; his twin sister, Brontë, who lets her sensitivity and romantic character influence her decisions; Bruiser, the loner at school whose large size and intimidating demeanor have led to his reputation as the school bully, a circle of rumors to constantly surround him, and a “Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty” vote by his peers; and finally his younger brother, Cody, who lives freely in a world of innocence. When Brontë decides to spend time with Bruiser and eventually date him, much to the school’s shock and Tennyson’s fury, she and Tennyson begin to learn more and more about Bruiser, ultimately shattering their preconceived judgments of him in ways that will haunt them. After discovering Bruiser’s horrifying secret and why he is known as “Bruiser” rather than his real name, Tennyson and Brontë, along with Bruiser himself and Cody, undergo a profound journey that none of them anticipated, one that will change the course of their lives forever.
This heartwarming yet thought-provoking book explores love, courage, pain, and trust. It is a journey of change, self-awareness, and above all self-sacrifice, in which the characters ponder questions about sacrifice and friendship. Shushterman forces his readers to think deeply about life, relationships, and how far one would be willing to go for love. What I found fascinating was how the characters’ distinct narrations effectively work together to create a believable, powerfully deep tale that make the characters come alive: Tennyson’s humorous and cocky attitude that changes as he transforms from cruel to caring, Brontë’s insistence that Bruiser is misunderstood and her naive desire to love and protect him that is tested by the harsh realities of life, and Cody’s exuberant words that offer a nostalgic reminder to the readers of their long-lost childhood innocence. But the ultimate power lies in Bruiser’s perspective, narrated in the form of free verse. The use of poetry adds a unique voice to the story, an artistic retelling of the world’s cruelties through a broken teenager’s lens. The poetry causes his sufferings and his attempts to comprehend why people treat each other the way they do to be incredibly relatable. It somehow makes the impossible seem believable.
Bruiser seems like a simple story of high school drama in the beginning, yet it almost immediately darkens and develops into so much more. It is a tale of what it means to have hope in a world that requires us to be constantly selfless. It is a story about the will to love, to break our boundaries and let love in, to learn what it means to love selflessly and to do what is right despite the consequences. The book also explores other issues - alcohol, divorce, and so many family and social issues that affect people, especially children, on a daily basis. Bruiser is painful to read at times yet upon finishing it, you will be left overcome with emotion and a rethinking of your entire life. While it will undeniably leave a bruise on your heart, it will be a marking of self-awareness, rediscovery, and a desire to reevaluate the world in a way that you’ll want to preserve forever.
Written by Sarah S.
Need a way to unwind? Looking for a new way to procrastinate? Have no fear--The List App is here! Created by B.J. Novak and Dev Flaherty in 2015, “The List App” is a quirky new social media platform that I have been spending way too much time on lately.
Made up of a ridiculously vibrant and positive community, the List App is a place to share your experiences, opinions and expertise about anything and everything. The best part? It has to be in bullet form.
Leading voices in TV, film, music, sports, comedy and fashion have already hopped on the bandwagon, sharing lists about a whole plethora of topics like “Memorable Bad Dates,” “Von Trapp Children, Ranked by Sass” and “Pictures of Barack Obama Eating Hot Dogs.”
The app’s FAQ page states, “Human beings are innately inclined towards structuring information; it’s one of our primary means of understanding. Lists are simple, powerful; the gold standard of sorting and sharing information for thousands of years.”
The structure of the app resembles other social media apps we already know and love—a news feed tab, a search function, a notifications tab and your own profile. Lists can be about anything, but the app offers a few suggestions to get you started, including “Go-to karaoke songs,” “Things that will improve the world, according to me,” “Misconceptions I had as a child,” and “Three happy moments from today.” Lists can be liked, re-listed, and commented on. You can even suggest additions to other lists, which the creator can approve and give you credit for (low key fangirled when BJ Novak added my idea to his list!).
Included below are some of my favorite lists!
If Parks and Rec Characters Wrote Autobiographies
Days of the Week, Ranked, According to “Friday I’m in Love”
Grey; break my heart; heart attack; stay in bed (Note: Wednesday is identical to Tuesday but worse because it is the second straight day)
Grey; break my heart; heart attack; stay in bed
I don’t care about you; doesn’t even start; never looking back; watch the walls instead
Blue; you can fall apart; black; you can hold your head
Always comes too late
I’m in love
By @elliemix (yours truly)
7 Tips I Use to Spark my Creativity
2. Follow my interests.
Instead of focusing on what I “ought” to be doing, I allow myself to wander—by buying an odd book, poking around the internet, or exploring an unusual place.
3. Buy supplies.
I encourage myself to make an occasional creativity-supporting purchase.
4. Draw an idea-map.
This is a process of writing down ideas in a way that helps you see new relationships and possibilities.
5. Enjoy the fun of failure.
Telling myself I can enjoy the “the fun of failure” has made me (somewhat) more light-hearted about taking risks.
6. Read random magazines.
7. Indulge in my magpie impulses.
When I have the urge to collect materials, articles or information, I now indulge it. Although I generally fight against any stuff that could become clutter, I find find that these collected materials help spur my creativity.
Have a great week! Happy listing!
Written by Ellie Mix (Class of '20)
Over the past year, my taste in music has evolved from the Rock & Roll my parents teethed me on. There's still a lot of love in my heart for AC/DC and Zeppelin, but man, give me some fingerplucked guitars and soft poetry, and I'm in heaven.
The love affair started with a month of nothing but Hozier in the snowy northeastern winter, something to help roll the wheels of my beat-up '89 Honda Civic to school, something to fall in and out of relationships to. Hozier tells stories through his songs, mournful and multilayered tales that transcend a linear concept of love. It's something living, something pure and bittersweet and catching.
A few months later, I overheard a song in a tea shop that set me off on a new tangent. If you’re interested in indie folk, you’ve probably heard of Gregory Alan Isakov -- and if you haven’t, here’s your cue to plug your headphones in and pull up YouTube. “The Stable Song” is the first song I've ever heard that took my breath away. It's poetry through and through, and it never quite says what it wants you to understand. It's an artful form of melancholy that both soothes and fans my homesickness for a place I’ve never been, and it’s unwoven my stress many a late night. Beyond anything, though, “The Stable Song” renewed my faith in the lyricism that I’d lost in my music, and these two lines in particular:
now i’ve been crazy couldn’t you tell
i threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell.
Something had stepped out of my reach the day I realized music was an industry, and that industries are made to make money above anything else. It was always this question, with every song that came on the radio - is this a feeling or a sales pitch? Discovering the indies reminded me that music is an art form, even if it comes in the two-lines-repeated-for-three-minutes-straight variety. It’s what you need in the moment, what your friends have in their hands, what your family has in the car. We find the poetry that follows the same rhythm as our heartbeats, and we fall in love with the words that we can memorize and stylize on the way to class. Some days, it’s Barns Courtney; some, it’s Big Sean; others, you can find me bouncing back and forth between Lord of the Rings scores and the Eagles. There’s a whole universe of sound out there that you can wield throughout your day to day to compose the kind of soundtrack you wouldn’t mind being remembered with. Draw from the classics, the popular, the path less traveled. Throw your own beats into the ring, tell your own story. It’s all music, in the end; and that’s what matters.
and i ran back to that hollow again
the moon was just a sliver back then
and i ached for my heart like some tin man
when it came oh it beat and it boiled and it rang...it’s ringing
ring like crazy, ring like hell
turn me back into that wild haired gale
ring like silver, ring like gold
turn these diamonds straight back into coal
turn these diamonds straight back into coal.
Written by Kristen Hickey ('20)
R2: The Rice Review
Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.