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Meg Wolitzer's book cover

Nic’s Picks: Winter Reading List

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There’s a chill in the air now, and while finals are a few weeks away, curl up with one of these books instead of prestressing about that project or test you’ll probably ace.

The Female Persuasion
Novel by Meg Wolitzer

After shy college freshman, Greer Kadetsky, is assaulted at a frat party, a friend introduces her to feminist icon, Faith Frank. Faith influences Greer to be less passive, more aggressive and to find her voice. After the two meet, they stay in close contact and Greer is offered a job at Faith’s newly formed feminist, girl-power driven publication. However, the company was formed with some shady funding and a mess of a PR team. Greer does what is right, and we follow not only her story, but Faith’s rise to fame. The perspective of Greer’s boyfriend Cory is also included, and how he drops his plans for a startup due to a family crisis shows that men can also have positive roles in feminism.

The Woman in the Window
Novel by AJ Finn

Anna Fox is a psychologist dealing with her own problems: her husband has left her and taken their daughter, and because of a traumatic incident, she is now a recluse and an alcoholic. Her only pleasures in life now include watching old films, counseling fellow agoraphobes online, and spying on her neighbors through her window. When a new, mysterious family moves in, Anna is intrigued by the fact that the son is incredibly sensitive, the husband is controlling, and the wife seems to be a figment of Anna’s imagination.
The novel, which is Finn’s debut, has at least three unexpected but still impressive twists. A movie based on this book is expected to be released next October.

Novel by Daniel Torday


This novel encompasses the millennial frustrations that are so common: lack of job prospects, housing, high cost of rent and the misconceptions that the baby boomers have about us. Former journalist, Mark, is upset with a lack of teaching positions due to baby boomers not retiring, so he heads from New York to his mother’s basement and begins a revolution online under an alias. He calls on his fellow millennials to create anarchy against the older generation, and chaos ensues. The novel shifts between Mark’s perspective, his ex-girlfriend Cassie, and his baby boomer mother as a way to show a counterpoint: Not all millennials like Cassie are struggling, and not all baby boomers are bad. The novel is exciting, well paced and amazingly written. Today really takes the idea of “showing, not telling” in writing to the extreme, which works great for the plot line.

a Kindle surrounded by books

From Typewriter to Bookshelf

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Picking up a book can take so little effort, yet the process of writing may have taken a lifetime of determination. The process of writing a book takes immense focus, but actually getting the book published requires perseverance. The steps are numerous and tiresome.

A disclaimer to remember is that every publishing procedure is, and will be, different. This article is just a collection of tips, tricks, and opinions to help give ideas and inspiration for book writing.

There are various routes of publishing: mainly self-publishing and trade publishing. Knowing more about the industry helps to gain footing in the publication process.

Self-publishing involves the work being published by the author themself, instead of a publishing company.

Recently, Amazon Kindle has opened up their own route of self-publishing by allowing their members to use Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing to upload digital copies of their own book. This process is completely free and allows blooming writers to push their work out into the online world for millions to read, while also giving the author a chance to earn royalty income.

While self-publishing gives the author more reign over decisions about their book, the book will have fewer sales due to only being exposed to a smaller book market.

Trade publishing is the traditional form of publication that society is most familiar with.

There are five top traditional publishing companies in the industry. They are Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster.

It is very difficult to be accepted by these large companies right off the bat. The pros and cons of trade publishing is directly opposite of self-publishing. Trade publishing allows the book and author to have more prestige, but the author loses a lot of their control over the product.

Upcoming authors can also attract attention for themselves and their work by creating a media platform, according to the Balance Careers. By building blogs, social media pages, and more, authors can gain more recognition for their brand from the public and from publications. The more well known an author is, the more likely a publisher will work with them.

Sending in work to publishing companies may seem like an easy task, but the stress that follows afterwards is daunting. To catch the publisher’s eye, a book proposal or manuscript has to be nearly perfect. A minor flaw, as seen in the work by the author, might derail the proposal for the publisher.

Experts in the writing business have an ever changing list of tips and tricks they have gathered. One of the morals an author must keep when undergoing this process is keeping their individuality. By compromising too much with their publisher, the writer loses their own creative touch in their work.

A writer should expect rejection when sending out their proposals, but they should not let it discourage them. Being rejected should be viewed as a learning process where an author can look at their work and analyze why it was vetoed.

A common mistake in the business is thinking an author must have a literary agent in order to get published. While it is definitely helpful for building credibility and status, a writer doesn’t need a literary agent to become successful.

The most basic necessity for proposing a book or even writing one is to use clear communication. An author must be able to get their point across in their book poetically without confusing their readers.

After publication, an author might face judgement surrounding their work. Criticism may be taken harshly, but it is better to use it as feedback for the next time. Analyzing these harsh comments about your work can show you what to avoid for your next work.

Being an writer may seem to be a fun way to make a living, but it takes a lot of living to become a great author. It is a constant learning process that never ends no matter how established that author may be.

Rachel Kushner's book cover

Insight’s Fall Reading List

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Have you reached that point in the semester where school is kicking your ass? Need a mental break but don’t want to scroll on your phone for hours on end? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our fall reading list for some fun, enjoyable books that are the perfect escape from school or work.

The Mars Room

Novel By Rachel Kushner

Review by Nikki Moylan

In 2003, Bay Area native and former stripper Romy Hall is sentenced to two life terms in prison due to a botched trial. Acting in self-defense, Romy is seen as a true murderer despite what really happened and feels like a misfit once she is locked up. She meets intimidating characters that quickly warm up to her, despite their bleak chances of ever getting out. Kushner does a great job of showcasing the serious flaws in the California prison system, and writes the diverse prisoner population in a realistic and somewhat sympathetic way. The novel also includes the perspectives of other characters for some chapters. Romy’s fate at the end, however, seems unjustified based on the other circumstances she’s already endured.

The Chalk Man

Novel by C.J. Tudor

Review by Nikki Moylan

Five childhood friends, all disconnected from each other due to unfortunate circumstances, come together once again to solve a series of murders in their tiny English town. The killer communicates using chalk symbols like Eddie and his friends used to when they were in school. The novel switches between present day and the memories of Eddie’s youth. Readers identify with Eddie in the present day, as he is just overwhelmed with stress and life. In between the thrills, it’s humorous how Eddie tries and fails to connect with the high school students he teaches and also his gothic and stereotypically millennial roommate. It is well-paced, beginning and ending with gruesome twists. This thriller is Tudor’s first book, and it sets high expectations for the next, all while making her an author to watch in the future.

Scar Tissue

Book by Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman

Review by Andrea Heerdt

Scar Tissue begins by Anthony Kiedis exploring childhood memories after he decides to move from his mom’s house in Michigan to live with his dad in Los Angeles. Kiedis recalls going to clubs in Hollywood as a kid with his dad who was heavily involved in the acting and celebrity scene at the time. The book explores Kiedis’s first encounters with drugs and sex at a very young age as he remembers smoking pot for the first time when he was just 11 years old and his dad offering up his girlfriend to help Kiedis lose his virginity in middle school.

Throughout the book Kiedis continually struggles with heavy drug use especially when his funkadelic mega band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, starts to explode in the late 80s music scene. The memoir is a sincere look at the lead singer’s struggle to get his substance abuse problem under control as he disappears on several day-long drug binges causing him to miss recording sessions and shows. Kiedis dives into the detail of his outings using dirty needles on the street to inject China white heroin and dirty socks to clean up the injection site, while also facing homelessness for a period of time.

There are many ups and downs in the book as the band’s success skyrockets them to the top of the music charts, but crack, heroine, and speedballs are a reoccurring theme as many of the band members can’t seem to shake the drug use despite the early demise of former Chili Peppers guitarist, Hillel Slovak. For musical and non-musical people alike, this book is a captivating read that explores themes of substance abuse and sobriety, love and belonging, and musical artistry as the book walks through the formation of every Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album.