Summer 2017 Reading List

Summer 2017 Reading List

The end of this semester means that this is the last [required] blog post. In the spirit of keeping one theme throughout the semester, I tried very hard to find something uncomfortable that I could write about. Long story short – I couldn’t.

So I’ve decided for my last post that I will pivot and make a summer reading list of books I would like to read, have read, or am making myself read purely for the sake of saying I have read them (you do it too, don’t lie).

Before I start listing, I need to post a disclaimer – I’m not very good at gauging an appropriate amount of books to put on a two to three month reading list. Do I list five or twenty-five? Is there some superhuman race that finishes a fifty book reading list in three months? (These are the questions that keep me up at night.)

Second disclaimer – I personally enjoy female written memoirs/autobiographies, so I apologize if your tastes are more masculine and this list somehow caused your estrogen levels to skyrocket.

Without any further ado, here is the absolute best summer reading list on the internet  are fifteen books I would like to read this summer.

1. Unfiltered – Lily Collins *
2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling *
3. Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert ~
4. Life of Pi – Yann Martel *
5. Home – Julie Andrews ~
6. Blue Latitudes – Tony Horwitz *
7. Milk and Honey -Rupi Kaur *
8. The Jane Austen Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler *
9. The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher *
10. Waking Up  – Sam Harris ~
11. I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai *
12. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway *
13. One More Thing – B.J. Novak *
14. The Sellout – Paul Beatty *
15. Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes *

~ Started but haven’t finished
* Want to read

Photo by
Photo by












If you want to read any of these, head over to your local library, or use the link below to shop – I kid you not I bought 7 books (in good condition) for $13! They have a massive selection and are constantly restocking. The link is below.




Sleep is for the Weak… and Also the Healthy

Sleep is for the Weak… and Also the Healthy

It’s safe to say that every college student wants more sleep. Between finishing homework, going to meetings/events for school-based organizations, studying for that test they forgot about until right now, exercising, and trying to maintain a healthy social life, there’s not much time left in the day to catch up on your Z’s.

I am no exception to this rule and my average nightly sleep lasts about 6 hours. My days start at 7 am and go nonstop until 12:30 or 1 the next morning. As the side effects of sleep deprivation have slowly crept up on me throughout the semester, I have been vigilantly trying to find new ways to convince myself that sleep is for the weak (spoiler alert: it’s not). One week, it involved cutting out exercise – that didn’t work. In another attempt, I decided to skip my lunches in order to catch up on homework – that lasted two days before I spent an entire two hour lunch break eating and not getting anything else done. Most recently, I decided to increase my morning coffee intake to two cups – which gave me plenty of energy, but also caused me to organize a doomsday plan in case of a zombie apocalypse… for three hours. Two cups of coffee was definitely a no-go.

I had exhausted all other options and my last resort was also my worst fear: going to bed earlier.

It’s not that I’m afraid of going to bed early, but I am afraid of what that means. On a normal day, I stay at the library until it closes at 11 pm, head home, shower, tidy up, and get my things ready for the next day. Going to bed earlier means cutting one of these out of my schedule (relax, I didn’t cut my nightly shower). I tried not cleaning up my house before bed, but found myself too anxious to have a dirty house every night, and I knew that if I didn’t get my things around for the next morning I would run late..r than normal.

If you aren’t great at deductive reasoning, that leaves only my library schedule on the chopping block. I went back and forth with myself for quite a while on the decision to leave the library early. I can’t study at home, and I barely get all of my homework done in the time that the library is open already, how could I leave earlier?! Only after I realized that I spend roughly 30% of my time at the library scanning Twitter and Pinterest, did I decide not only to shorten my time at the library, but to be more productive while I was there.

To sum up what has been a great battle (or just a mediocre push in the right direction), I have been leaving the library at 10 or 10:30 for about two weeks now, and while I still feel like I’m not getting ALL of the sleep I need, I definitely feel more rested than before.


Working Out Can Be Fun?

Working Out Can Be Fun?

Does something count as “uncomfortable” or “out of your comfort zone” if you end up enjoying it? Or is that just a happy accident?

As a chronic sufferer of “I-care-too-much-what-people-think-itis,” going to workout is always scary for me. Am I running weird? Are people going to make fun of me for only using the small weights? Are my workout clothes sporty enough?

However, given the fact that a three year diet of breakfast cereal and Top Ramen causes significant weight gain, I decided that this year I would actually go to the gym regularly.

I began by taking an abs, glutes, & thighs class in the fall. Thankfully, the idea that this was a class and not just any old Joe or Jane on the street could see me wheezing after my second crunch helped me push myself a little bit harder. By the end of the semester, I could tell a difference in my energy, and that I actually craved exercise. I enrolled in yoga for the spring, and decided to workout for an hour before every yoga class.

With the exception of one particularly stressful week, I have stuck to this routine! And although I still have my reservations about doing abs at the rec, I am always eager to go run on the treadmill and get the day’s frustrations out of the way. Along with having something to look forward to, my mood and energy have improved and I’m now trying to fit in one more day of working out per week.

So putting myself outside of my comfort zone frequently and regularly actually resulted in me [maybe] finding a new hobby, and definitely resulted in a healthier lifestyle (I no longer eat Top Ramen).


New Approach to Self-Improvement

New Approach to Self-Improvement

The past few weeks have been blissfully uneventful and I struggled to find anything out of my comfort zone. I spent 35 hours of spring break at work, and the rest catching up on homework, and binge watching The Office… The opportunities didn’t exactly come a-knockin’.

In light of my absence of uncomfortable things, this post is going to pivot from actively putting myself outside of my comfort zone to discussing other ways of self-improvement – like a healthy diet or simply being optimistic.

Since I do not have a PhD in Self-Improvement (is that a thing?), I’m going to refer to‘s list of 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself and pick three favorites from that list to discuss.

The first self-improvement tip that I liked was to pick up a new hobby. It’s (almost) always fun to learn to do something new, and it’s even more satisfying to be good at something your friends aren’t (*side note: that’s not a shining example of self-improvement, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t boost my ego just a little.) When you take up a new hobby, you’re expanding your knowledge by learning about a topic you previously didn’t know about and continuous learning is a HUGE part of self-improvement, but I’ll save that for another post.

The second tip is to ask for feedback. A lot of us are painfully aware of tiny problems that no one else notices, but completely oblivious to bad habits or character traits that they do. When you ask someone for feedback on how you could improve, you’re not only learning more about yourself, you’re also making yourself uncomfortable (I knew I’d tie it back somehow), and in a sense really proving to yourself that self-improvement is something you’re serious about.

Lastly, is to “Set Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs).” Goal setting is something that comes up in almost every lower level college course, and if I’m not wrong, it has been thoroughly beaten into the brains of every college student across the country. Goals are fun to make, exciting to chase after, and leave the sweet, sweet taste of victory in your mouth when they are accomplished.

So, while my self-improvement in one specific area may have slowed to a crawl, maybe it will speed up to a sprint jog in another.


Weeks 3 & 4: The Time That I Was Actually Pretty Comfortable

Unfortunately, I haven’t put myself too far outside of my comfort zone in the past two weeks. Some of that is probably from me being too lazy to do anything or go anywhere out of the ordinary. Most of it is because I had a Calculus II test this week and in preparation, I turned into a tiny, over-anxious hermit whose nose never left her book (despite all of this, I still might have failed).

Even though I didn’t make any huge leaps outside of my beloved comfort zone, I did take a few tiny steps.

  • Last week, in preparation for my descent into hell  Calculus test, I went into the math tutoring lab and asked for help.
  • This weekend, I went out for drinks with some coworkers and through some intense persuasion, actually danced in public.
  • Today, in the class that this assignment is for, I gave a whopping 90 second presentation on our mini website.

In case you lost count of how many herculean steps of discomfort I took while reading that lengthy list, I tippy-toed out of my comfort zone three whole times in these past two weeks. Maybe my math isn’t wonderful (I did possibly fail a Calculus test today), but I’m pretty sure three tippy-toes add up to one massive stride.

Hopefully next week will be better.


Uncomfortable Week 2: The Audition

A few weeks ago, I saw a flyer on my way home from class. It was the day after I had decided what my blog was going to be about, so the assignment was still fresh on my mind. The flyer offered the dates of auditions for a student-directed short film. I immediately brushed it off and continued walking. I don’t act and have always thought of people who participate in student films as being either the embodiment of the over-zealous Rachel and Kurt from Glee, or the “I hate everything but I hate this less”crowd. However, with this on my mind, I back pedaled and thought that, in terms of comfort zones, this would be as far out of mine as the Apollo 11 moon landing was from Earth.

So I emailed the contact, set up a time last Friday, and auditioned (terribly) for the part. I tried to talk myself out of the audition – if I’m counting correctly- at least three million times. But the more uncomfortable and embarrassed I was to go do this, the more I knew that I needed to do it – even if it was awful.

The audition itself was a terrifying mixture of social awkwardness and horrible acting, but since no one else showed up I was, by default, the best actress there and was offered a part. Unfortunately very fortunately, the film schedule doesn’t work out with my own school and work schedule and I will not have to endure the horror of seeing myself on the small screen.

The poster for the student film.

Side note: The student making this film still needs two actresses and an actor for the roles if anyone is interested!


Uncomfortable Week 1: Holding a Conversation

This week’s venture out of my comfort zone included having extended conversations with multiple faculty/staff members, because I am finalizing my study abroad trip to Italy!

Face-to-face conversations with professionals is something that I dread (and that I really need to improve on). However, in order to go on the trip this summer, I have had to communicate with quite a few members of PSU’s faculty and staff, as well as file an extraordinary amount of paperwork. Just thinking about either of those induce an involuntary shiver in my spine, but two weeks in Rome and Florence most definitely outweigh my reservations.

While in Italy, the group I will be with will be studying sensory aesthetics – a fancy way of saying that I will be drinking a lot of wine (what quantifies “a lot,” exactly?), eating a lot of food, and admiring a lot of artwork all in the name of science. After all of that grueling coursework, I will have to prepare a presentation on olfactory sensitivity based on my experience in the fall semester.

I think that I can honestly say pushing myself outside of my comfort zone has paid off well more than it’s worth this time. Although I doubt anything else I do outside of my beloved zone of comfort this semester will be quite as exciting, hopefully the consequences of it stay just as positive!