Study Habits of Successful College Students

I tutor students as a way to supplement my income, get valuable teaching experience, and have an excuse to talk about some of my favorite subjects because I am an enthusiastic nerd.

 

I was inspired by one of my students to sit down and write this guide. No one is born knowing how to study for college. It is a learned skill that has to be both carefully taught and diligently practiced. You might ask, why are you qualified to write a guide about study habits of successful college students? Good question! Well, dear reader, I was a successful college student. I got good grades and successfully graduated from both undergraduate and graduate school. I can tell you that good time management skills help facilitate the habits outlined below, however, they are habits. They can be cultivated and practiced, even if you struggle with time management.
Suppose you are a college student. You’re going to class. You’re turning in assignments. You’re using tutoring services and doing group work. You’re taking the examinations. And you’re doing poorly. What is a student to do? Re-evaluate your study habits! Whatever you’re doing, it probably isn’t working as well as you think it is. Below is a list of strategies that successful students use to succeed in school.
  1. Read ahead before class.
    1. This might sound like a big ask, but it is very useful. You have a syllabus that tells you what you will be reading every week and sometimes professors give out the powerpoint presentations (PPTs) in advance.
    2. Over the weekend, review the text you will be reading the following week.
    3. Before class, read/skim the PPT if the professor provides one.
  2. Go to class and take notes.
    1. Take notes on what a professor says, rather than what is on the PPT, if a PPT is used.
    2. Strike a balance between writing down every word you can and keeping up with the pace of the professor.
    3. If you can’t keep up, use abbreviations, pictures, and leave blanks as needed.
  3. After class, re-write your notes as soon as possible.
    1. This is important. Notes during a class are often messy and incomplete, especially if you’re trying to be detailed. Taking the time as soon as you can after a lecture to re-write the notes to fill in blanks and clarify ideas will accomplish the following:
      1. You’ll have notes that are easier to study from for tests.
      2. You’ll have a clearer understanding of what did and did not makes sense from class.
      3. You’ll know what questions to ask your prof during office hours and/or your study group and/or your tutor.
      4. You’ll actually learn the concepts, especially if you take the time to incorporate parts of the PPT into your re-copy and/or page numbers from your textbook.
  1. Work on studying your material every day.
    1. The metric for success is: for each credit hour you should be studying two to three hours outside of class.
      1. EXAMPLE: 4 credit class = 8 to 12 hours of studying outside of class per week.
    2. If you study one hour every day during the week, and one and a half hours per weekend day, you will be keeping pace with the minimum amount of studying required.
    3. If you are struggling in a class, you will need to supplement your normal 8-12 hours of weekly studying with additional study sessions with tutors and/or study groups.
  2. Use a combination of solitary and group work.
    1. Solitary studying in a quiet place where you can focus on the material is essential to succeeding in college. When you take an exam, generally, you are working in solitude. No one is going to be there to help you organize your thoughts. You have to know the material on your own.
    2. Having a tutor and/or a study group to supplement your studying can be a fantastic way to clear up questions you have, think of creative memorization tips, and cement the understanding you have of the material.
  3. Do your homework and turn it in on time.
    1. This might sound elementary, but it is fundamental to success. If you don’t do the work and turn it in on time, you won’t succeed. The homework is there to help you stay accountable and make sure you’re learning the material.
  4. Ask questions when you’re confused.
    1. It’s okay to be confused, in fact, it is expected. College is hard, it is supposed to be hard. The purpose of college is to push your limits, expand your knowledge, and eventually achieve your goals. You need to be asking questions. If something is confusing in class or in the text or as you’re re-copying/reviewing your notes, write down your question, and ask your prof during their office hours and/or ask your tutor or study group. This is how you learn.

How to Study

  1. Read the book.
    1. The book is a fantastic resource that you have paid a lot of money to access.
      1. Read the chapter (or assigned portion), from the beginning to the end in a quiet place where you can focus without being disturbed (i.e. library, desk in your room, quiet kitchen table).
        1. Note: reading on the couch while texting, watching T.V., and listening to music is not a quiet environment conducive to focusing on the material.
      2. Go back through the reading and highlight significant passages and terms. Note anything you find confusing. Pay special attention to any figures, tables, or special sections/boxes incorporated into a chapter. Use any practice questions at the end of a section after you’ve read the text first.
  1. Memorize your vocabulary and key concepts.
    1. Flashcards are a fantastic tool for achieving this. Taking the time to write the cards will help you learn the material. Flashcards are portable and easy to use in odd moments of time like waiting for a class or a bus. They are great for quizzing yourself alone at home as well as in study groups.
    2. Written lists are great tools as well. Taking the time to write out a list of vocabulary and/or key concepts while reading it aloud to yourself will help fix the information in your brain using auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli. If you drill these lists, write them over and over again while reading aloud to yourself, you will definitely learn the material. This is best done in solitude so you don’t disturb others and you have no distractions.
  2. Review your class notes.
    1. This is especially helpful if you took the time to re-copy your notes and integrate it with the concepts from your textbook.
  3. Quiz Yourself
    1. There are multiple ways to do this. You can quiz yourself using concepts from the text, from your notes, and from your flashcards. You can quiz yourself using any practice questions from your professors. You can write your own quiz based on your experience of the professor’s style, wait a day, write your own answers, and then check the answers against the book/notes to make sure you got the concept. This is a great way to make connections in your brain for how the material fits together as a whole.
  4. Have others quiz you.
    1. Work with your tutor, study group, friends, or family to see if you actually understand what you think you understand.
      1. Note: This works most effectively if you’ve already done the work mentioned above.
  5. Look at any supplemental videos anyone provides you or look some up yourself.
    1. The Internet is a great resource for videos that explain complex concepts in easy to understand and memorize language, especially 3-D models of complex things like cellular processes. Professors, textbooks, and tutors frequently take the time to find/provide high quality videos on the Internet to supplement the other class material. Use this resource.
    2. Do not use supplemental materials taken from the Internet to replace the work mentioned above. Supplements build upon the primary material, not the other way around.

Final Thought

Always remember, learning is fun! Really. You’re in school because, hopefully, you want to be and you’re taking these classes either because they interest you or the classes are a necessary stepping-stone toward your dreams. It’s a lot easier to do the work when you remember how much you love something related to it. Have fun and keep up the good work!

Bumblebee on daisy by E.A. Schneider

Bumblebee on daisy by E.A. Schneider

Crows

Perched crow by E.A. Schneider

Perched crow by E.A. Schneider

Lately, dear readers, I’ve been pondering crows.

Watching a crow is always magical to me. I find them enchanting. They are like little patches of the night sky, complete with stars for eyes. Yes, I know, their eyes are black too, but, when I see them seeing me too, I swear I see a glimmer there that makes me think of stars blinking across time and space to Earth. Like stars, when I see a crow I feel compelled to stop and smile, to pause a moment and contemplate them. Even in the mundane moments of their life they seem mysterious. Why was this crow just hopping around between the branches of my tree? Was it trying to get comfortable? Was it looking for a snack? Is this the crow equivalent of step-aerobics? Flap one, flap two, and stretch those flight muscles! Maybe, as reductionist as this sounds, maybe it was just fun. I know if I had beautiful, black, glossy wings like a crow, I am pretty sure I would spend several moments of every day just flapping around for the feel of the wind in my feathers.

Wingspan by E.A. Schneider

Wingspan by E.A. Schneider

 

Spring Crafting

Hello, dear readers! I am happy to report that I have pictures of crafty projects to share with you today. This winter/spring I have been busy with an assortment of  fun little crafts. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave a comment, it would be fantastic to get some crafty discussion going. On to the crafts!

First up is my Doctor Who purse. I used fabric from Spoonflower.com as well as bits and bobs from my stash to make this purse. This purse is really special to me because it represents my return to sewing following a health-inspired hiatus. It’s not perfect but I will never ever tell why. I made it to wear to the screening of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. It felt amazing to walk into a show I had been looking forward to for months wearing a bag I had made after weeks and weeks of being unable to craft. It felt really, really great to be back at the pedal of my Husquvarna again. I will always cherish this bag.

Doctor Who purse made and designed by E.A. Schneider

Doctor Who purse made and designed by E.A. Schneider

I used glow in the dark thread to outline quilt the swirls and the TARDIS on the front. It is subtle but fun.

Back of the Doctor Who purse made and designed by E.A. Schneider

Back of the Doctor Who purse made and designed by E.A. Schneider

The variegated fabric I used gives the illusion of more piecing than I actually did. I love it when I can do that! Mwahahahaha!

Hey look! It's bigger on the inside of the Doctor Who purse! (Not really, but the universe fabric does give a nice illusion, doesn't it?)

Hey look! It’s bigger on the inside of the Doctor Who purse! (Not really, but the universe fabric does give a nice illusion, doesn’t it?)

In this picture you can see the pocket I sewed for emergency hand sanitizer (holding actual sanitizer no less!) nestled underneath a galaxy. I used a snap clasp to close the purse. You can also see the brass ring, towards the left of the picture, that secures the strap to the bag body.

Matching potholders by E.A. Schneider

Matching potholders by E.A. Schneider

Above you can see a set of matching potholders I made for a favorite person. These are hopefully industrial strength since I used two layers of pre-quilted fabric as well as special insulated batting. No burns on my watch!

Fishing scarf by E.A. Schneider

Fishing scarf by E.A. Schneider

Another couple favorite people got fleece scarves from me this year. Long time pond visitors might remember that I like to make these scarves a lot. I forgot to take pictures of a cute one I made with turtle fabric but I get pictures of the fun fishing themed one I made above.

Tea wallets with vintage buttons by E.A. Schneider

Tea wallets with vintage buttons by E.A. Schneider

Tea wallets! I love making these tea wallets. I used a tutorial from here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=403079.0#axzz2clJOep3z

I can make them in under two hours, use up small pieces of fabric, and customize them with vintage buttons. It is a great gift project that is perfect for two of my very favorite people.

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Inside of the tea wallets by E.A. Schneider

 

Finally, I will leave you with a sneak peek at another project I’m working on. Hopefully I’ll be back at the pond soon with pictures of the completed project.

I see amazing border fabric! Is that, perchance, a quillow? Yes, dear readers, it is.

I see amazing border fabric! Is that, perchance, a quillow? Yes, dear readers, it is.

 

Thanks for joining me here at the pond!

70 Books: My 2014-2015 Reading List

70 Books: My 2014-2015 Reading List

 

Launch! by E.A. Schneider

Launch! by E.A. Schneider

It’s time and past I post my updated 2014-2015 reading list. Last year I had a goal of reading 35 books, which I was able to surpass. This year, my goal is to read 40 books largely from the list below; hopefully I’ll surpass my 40 book goal, and I have no doubt some surprises will come along the way. The list is in no particular order and I am happy to say that I have read 10 books from it already. Woot! I will periodically update this post using purple text. Keep checking back and commenting, dear readers. 

Fox River by E.A. Schneider

Fox River by E.A. Schneider

  1. A Sand County Almanac with other essays on conservation from Round River by Aldo Leopold <–Done! :-)
  2. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss<–Done! :-)
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
  5. Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow
  6. Orison by Daniel Swenson<–Done! :-)
  7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  8. Deerskin by Robin McKinley<–Done! :-)
  9. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis<–Done! :-)
  10. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  11. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  12. Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines<–Done! :-)
  13. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion<–Done! :-)
  14. Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling<–Done! :-)
  15. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  16. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter<–Done! :-)
  17. The Iron Heel by Jack London
  18. Almanac for the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko
  19. Landfill Meditations by Gerald Vizenor
  20. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
  21. Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce
  22. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  23. Kwaidon translated by Lafcaido Hearn
  24. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  25. Beastly by Alex Finn<–Done! :-)
  26. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  27. From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne<–Done! :-)

    Maple tree buds by E.A. Schneider

    Maple tree buds by E.A. Schneider

  28. Round the Moon by Jules Verne<–Done! :-)
  29. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  30. Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
  31. King Lear by William Shakespeare
  32. Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
  33. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  34. Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
  35. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  36. Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
  37. Skin Game by Jim Butcher
  38. These High Green Hills by Jan Karon
  39. The Flamingo’s Smile by Stephen Jay Gould
  40. The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick
  41. Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
  42. Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip<–Done! :-)
  43. Bluebeard edited by Heidi Anne Heiner
  44. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  45. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  46. Moon Over the Back Fence by Esther Carlson
  47. 100 selected poems by e.e. Cummings
  48. Bully for Brontosaurus by Stephen Jay Gould
  49. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  50. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  51. The Prelude by William Wordsworth
  52. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  53. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  54. Once On A Time by A.A. Milne
  55. The Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card<–Done! :-)
  56. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card <–Done! :-) 

    Willow tree buds in the wind by E.A. Schneider

    Willow tree buds in the wind by E.A. Schneider

  57. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins<–Done! :-)
  58. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins<–Done! :-)
  59. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins<–Done! :-)
  60. Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin
  61. The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin
  62. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  63. Bonk by Mary Roach
  64. Gulp by Mary Roach
  65. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  66. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  67. Book One of the Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, W.J.F. Jenner (Translator)
  68. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
  69. Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  70. The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit
  71. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  72. The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris
  73. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delaney

Some of the above books are re-reads, others are previously abandoned testaments to former ambitions, some are canon members I have put off, and many are recommendations from friends & lists. I am making a conscious effort to read more non-fiction and poetry with this 2014-2015 list. Considering my liberal arts education you would think I would have a stronger background in those areas but, alack, I don’t. That’s the nice thing about books: they are there on library shelves and bookstore tables waiting for me to find myself in their pages.

What do you think, dear readers, do you have your sights set on reading anything in particular over the next two years? Any gaps in your reading knowledge you are hoping to fill in 2014-2015? Thanks for stopping at the pond, dear readers, I hope to be back soon with some reviews on the 10 11 20 books I’ve read so far.

Spring Wings by E.A. Schneider

Spring Wings by E.A. Schneider

Flash Fiction: Flight

Flash Fiction: Flight

This story was written on 11/13/13 when I was having severe difficulties. I am rather proud of it so I am posting it for you to enjoy, dear readers. May you read it in a better state of health than it was written.

Slime mold art by E.A.Schneider

Slime mold art by E.A.Schneider

Flight

by E.A. Schneider

It wasn’t a proper treehouse. Nothing like a kit from a catalog. If anything, Beth thought it was a deer stand that somebody built for bow season then abandoned. The treehouse had the weatherbeaten look of something old, neglected, but too sturdy to quietly collapse into oblivion. Beth had found it on one of her rambles when her parents had just bought the land. Since they moved in Beth came out to the treehouse more and more. Beth had always wanted a proper secret and a treehouse of her own. Now she had both. Her parents approved of nature and encouraged self-reliance so Beth wasn’t missed on her nature hikes. Beth smiled to think of her secret treehouse. Her mother would fret over the height of the tree and her father would be anxious of the wood’s integrity. Valid fears, true, but at 12 Beth was thrilled to be rebellious and secretive in so modest a way as a 4×8 built treehouse on a sturdy white pine. Every day she went Beth noticed new things. One day it was the shape of an oak tree silhouetted against the vault of blue sky like a perfect silhouette people stick on their walls to seem natural.

Another day it was the electric orange of a delicate slime mold decorating the edge of the log Beth balanced on to climb the rungs up. The mold was like delicate little beads of paint brightening a rough canvas.

Every day Beth went she discovered the rich smell of forest pine. Part of her felt when she went home that it couldn’t possibly smell as good as she thought and every day she discovered with a smile that it could and it did. Beth perched up there in a blanket reading Choose Your Own Adventure novels, slurping cocoa from a thermos, turning the yellowed pages.

Other days she brought her mother’s old camera, the one with the chipped casing and the sticky shutter, to take pictures. There was a crow nest two trees over that Beth caught on camera. She watched the babies grow from ugly bald hatchlings to fluffy black balls with gaping mouths and bright eyes through the viewfinder and a zoom lens.

Unbeknownst to Beth, they were watching her back. The whole time she watched them through the camera they wondered about the featherless creature that had strange objects and sat in a pine tree two trees over from them. Where was her mother? Where were her father and siblings? Why did she never beg for food? Why was she alone? Beth was a source of mystery for those crow chicks. To a one they vowed to fly over to her nest as soon as they could, the way teenagers drive that one road in their town when they get the car just to see where it goes.

Beth read about crows. She liked them. They were clever and social and mysterious. Apparently they also liked peanuts. She dreamed of getting a picture, a really good picture, of a crow flying. She wanted to see those inky wings silhouetted against the sky. Slowly, after weeks of peanuts spread on the railings and floorboards of the treehouse sitting patiently beside them with her camera, two things happened. Three crows fledged, leaving the nest on wing beats of optimistic necessity, heading toward the funny creature’s nest and Beth hit the shutter in time to catch their wing beats on the blue canvas of the sky.

It felt like magic and really, as Beth and her parents looked at the prints, they rather thought it was.  –600 words.

2013 Reflections

Thoughtful bear by E.A. Schneider

Thoughtful bear by E.A. Schneider

Hello, dear readers, it has been a while. The last months of 2013 were very challenging for me and kept me away from my pond. Now I’m back with an overdue post on my 2013 reading adventures. 2013 has either been my best or my worst year depending on perspective; mine is not fixed by any means but its average is above the horizon. The year meant many things to me; my life is forever altered from the events of those months but 2013 has become and will remain the year I truly became close to stories.

Clearly, I love reading and I love writing. I have been “the girl with the book” since I was little and I am rarely without my pens & journals. This year though I discovered what stories are for in a way that I think most people are blessed never to discover. Stories can be friends, can be diverting sources of entertainment and escape to wile away an evening. Stories can give a certain cred to the reader, a certain cocktail party or water cooler cachet amongst one’s circle. Stories are edifying, sources of wisdom and wit that can help you be the person you always wanted to be. Stories can be and are so very many precious wonderful things that hold our lives together and bring artistic meaning to a writer’s life. This year though I discovered that stories are for times of trial.  I don’t mean times when you’re blue. I don’t mean times when things could be going a bit better, when you just need a little pick-me-up, times that are a bit gloomy or grim.

When I say trial I mean times that blow apart everything you ever thought you were or could be. Those times when you stop thinking of time as time and start thinking of time as before and after. Those times when all other lights seem very far away and you honestly question who & what you are; those are times of trial and those are precisely the times stories become the beacon to guide you on your path. The path isn’t just the way out. This is something that stories, really good stories, get right. Frankly, sometimes, an ordeal just has to happen. The cup does not pass from you. You must carry the ring to the fire. No one can save you but yourself.

October indoor still life by E.A. Schneider

October indoor still life by E.A. Schneider

But whether you can carry that burden well, whether you can make peace with your reversal of fortune and live in that trying place, whether you can reassemble the pieces of yourself into a reality you can like: those are the questions that stories can help sustain you through asking, guiding you as you find the answers for yourself. Like any hero’s journey the path one takes during a trial is long and fraught with hazards but with stories, I at least, found I could make it easier than I thought it could be.

I needed the small to persevere and surmount. I needed to know that the weak had reserves of untold strength. I needed to know that the ordeal could be got through and that the sun would still rise. I needed heroes. And I found them. I always said certain books were good medicine. But if Agatha Christie and L.M. Montgomery are good over-the-counter medicine for a deep blue day, if Dickens can stimulate the slow day away, I found that Morris, Tolkien, LeGuin, Gaiman, McKinley, Miyabe and Bronte proved to be maximum strength rescue therapies for the soul.

My hero’s journey isn’t over. In fact, it has only just begun. Yet I have come to a place where I can say that I’m okay with that and I think I can go the distance, one step, and one story at a time.

Heavens by E.A. Schneider

Heavens by E.A. Schneider

Speaking of stories, I want to talk about the titles I read during this year of discovery. My original list can be found here and I have made efforts to update it as I went. For ease of reading I will list the titles and my capsule reviews below. I already discussed thirteen titles in an earlier post, which I’ve linked to here.

14) Dreams of the Raven by Carter

This is a fun, character driven piece of quality science fiction and a dang fine Star Trek adventure. I enjoyed Carter’s dialogue a lot. She really captured the voice of the original series. I like the fact that the calamity of possible interstellar war is really just the setting for an in-depth exploration of McCoy’s character, choices, and convictions. Well done, Carmen Carter, I think LeGuin and her Mrs. Brown would be pleased.

15) Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott

An amusing piece of satire filled with geometry jokes; I can understand why my high school geometry tutor recommended Flatland to me. That said, I found the misogynist perspective of A. Square tiresome and was relieved the book was short but overall it was entertaining and clever.

16) Cloud Atlas by Mitchell

This is an extraordinary book. I found the complex structure fascinating and the characters, drawn across time, utterly captivating. In a way the novel is a series of interconnected short stories. I found the future depicted by Mitchell to be very plausible and more terrifying as a result. This is one of those books that I know I will revisit later in life and find new depths within its pages, as well as in myself, after the effort. The language, the architecture, and the ideas are all so impressive. When I think of the book of the year 2013 for me I think it was a three-way tie with this book being one of the three; more on that later.

17) Song for the Basilisk by Patricia McKillip

I became interested in this because it made an NPR list of science fiction worth reading. I would say Song for the Basilisk is more high fantasy than sci-fi but I found it interesting. As always, McKillip has beautiful language and world building though at times I wished for more narrative clarity.

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Water in the woods by E.A. Schneider

18) The Well At the World’s End by Morris

This is a book that will stick with me for years. Indeed this story was part of the after part of my journey and it helped sustain me during the worst parts of that road. I felt enchanted by Ralph and Ursula. I was especially gratified to find Ursula to be a woman who does things and has individual strength of character; one could easily imagine a novel chronicling her adventures alone. The novel has a slow start and an ambling pace but Morris does tie up every loose end with deftness reminiscent of Dickens.

19) The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Funny, sweet, and enchanting, I very much enjoyed The Last Unicorn. It ended well. Waves will also have new images for me in my imagination, you’ll need to read the book to know what I mean by that.

Stampeding wave by E.A. Schneider

Stampeding wave by E.A. Schneider

20) The Book of Heroes by Miyuki Miyabi

This is a bittersweet and complex book. At first I resented its lack of tidy tropes because at the time I wanted HAPPY-EVER-AFTERS but sometimes, even if that is what one wants, it isn’t what one needs. Sometimes bittersweet realities tinged with grace are a lot more salubrious. This is one of those books that stays in your brain and makes you think about your life, habits, and assumptions in a new way.

21) The Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K. LeGuin

This collection of stories is fantastic. They are all sci-fi and some of them feature the Ekumen universe and the Hainish from Lefthand of Darkness. There are many splendid stories in this collection but my favorite by far was the title story “The Fisherman of the Inland Sea.” It really captured the bitter sweetness of being on the forefront of science as well as the hard work it takes to live in a loving family.

22) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimen

Reading this book into the late hours by the light of my little book light was my luxurious birthday present to myself. It is an enchanting book, a fairy tale in the most classic sense that speaks to the difficulties of growing up, a process that only ends with the grave. This is the third member of my three-way tie for book of my 2013 experience. I will re-read it for years to come.

Between shore, sky, and sea by E.A. Schneider

Between shore, sky, and sea by E.A. Schneider

23) A Princess of Mars by Burroughs

This book was challenging for me to read, it almost didn’t survive my 50-page rule. It was so heavy with misogyny and racism that even repeating to myself “it was a different time” didn’t really help me that much. I admire the way Burroughs can keep the plot twists going, only logical in a successful serial, but I won’t be reading the sequels.

24) The Beginning Place by Ursula K. LeGuin

I’m afraid that this is a rather forgettable book. Despite LeGuin’s mastery of language and imagery I found the world, the characters, and the plot rather tiresome.

25) Ico: The Castle in the Mist by Miyuki Miyabe translated by Alexander O. Smith

Reading this was fun. I was impressed at how well Miyabe translated the energy and structure of a video game to the novel form. I liked the characters, the story, and Miyabe’s language (translated by Smith) is enchanting.

26)  Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins by Maddalena Bearzi and Craig Stanford

At first, I was skeptical about how much I would enjoy this book and it did have a slow start. I found the almost anthropomorphic language used at times to describe the animals disquieting. The way the authors also, at times, seemed to condemn captive animal research despite having benefitted enormously from it struck me as hypocritical. That said, there is a lot of interesting information in this book and I appreciated that the authors did not equivocate about the hard legislative work necessary to effectively conserve primates and cetaceans for future generations.

27) Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

This is an incredible piece of allegory and sci-fi adventure. I admire Lewis’ world building and imagery; he always seems to create worlds I can see myself inhabiting.

28) Perelandra  by C.S. Lewis

This book infuriated me. For as much as Lewis creates tantalizing, imaginative, and textured worlds the arrogant misogyny permeating this book disappointed me. The redeeming feature for me is Lewis’ admirable description of evil. The pettiness, the childishness, and the senselessness of the evil antagonist struck true.

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Into blue by E.A. Schneider

29) Letters from Nowhere by Tracy McCusker

A debut collection of poetry, Letters from Nowhere demonstrates a lot of passion and the promise of great talent. There were two poems that I particularly liked: “Ants and Beetles” and “The Redwood.”

30)  Manifesto for All by Tracy McCusker

This second collection by McCusker delivers on the possibilities promised in Letters from Nowhere. Manifesto for All  is more polished than her first collection, the limitations of the blackout format only serving to focus McCusker’s craft with words. I have read the Communist Manifesto in the past and this collection really brought me to a new level of appreciation to Marx’s original work as well as for McCusker’s poems. There were several that I particularly liked. I also appreciated that McCusker included the original blackouts she made on the text. I like the visual drama of the format. I highly recommend this collection.

31) The Moving Finger

An old favorite, I like this poison pen adventure with Miss Marple and her network of friends of friends. Like so many of the best Miss Marple stories I also really like the romances that add heart, color, and urgency to the mystery.

32) Sleeping Murder

Clearly I was on a Miss Marple kick during 2013 because I re-read three of my very favorite Miss Marple adventures. I like that Christie had the courage to point out that sometimes people do get away with murder, for a time, but I like that her Miss Marple is there to help facilitate the cause of justice in Sleeping Murder.

33) Murder at the Vicarage

This is such a marvelous introduction to a character, I marvel at Murder at the Vicarage every time I re-read it. I like the way Miss Marple is introduced, I like the layout of the mystery, and I like the careful attention to the details of St. Mary Mead.

Beach grass by E.A. Schneider

Beach grass by E.A. Schneider

34) The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie

I love short story collections, especially ones that are connected throughout somehow. Seeing Hercule Poirot retrace his namesake’s achievements in a modern setting was a treat as always.

35) Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie

This is one of the more challenging stories I’ve read by Christie. I’ve read it a couple times now and each time I find myself troubled by the knotty questions of innocence, guilt, punishment, motive, and angst that can be found in the patchwork family she chronicles as they face a terrible trial. There is no Marple or Poirot but it is as compelling a story as any of theirs and just as worth re-reading.

36) Shadows by Robin McKinley

I had been looking forward to reading this for months. Overall it satisfied my expectations. I liked the world McKinley created, I liked the characters, and I liked the journey she took the reader on. What I didn’t like was the abrupt, very rushed, feeling that the ending had. I hope that McKinley follows up on the adventures of Maggie and her family in a sequel.

Overall 2013 was a great year for me in terms of reading. When I think of 2013 the three books that define it for me are Cloud Atlas, The Well at the World’s End, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  As before, during, and after books go they are amazing. I hope to re-read them someday, hopefully during a less painful time. In 2013 I surpassed my Goodreads goal of 35 books by reading 36. For 2014 I plan to push my limits and read 40 books. Soon I hope to post my 2014-2015 reading list as well as some notes on what I’ve read so far in 2014. Thanks for stopping by the pond, dear readers. Here’s hoping that I will come here more often in 2014 myself.

Morning glory by E.A. Schneider

Morning glory by E.A. Schneider

Creations

It was a busy spring and summer here at the pond.  Things have been happening here that have kept me away from my computer. Still, I have managed to work in some crafting which I will finally share now that it’s autumn & my ability to post here has been curtailed.

First up is a scarf I made my father-in-law as an unbirthday gift during the winter that just wouldn’t leave. It is a novelty cotton on one side and a fleece on the other like these  from Christmas two years ago. I have to admit that this is a fabulous go-to present that is pretty, easy to make, and relatively inexpensive while being very customizable.

Fisherman scarf by E.A. Schneider

Fisherman scarf by E.A. Schneider

Next are a series of tea wallets I made using this tutorial: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=403079.0#axzz2clJOep3z

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Railroad wallet for my mom by E.A. Schneider

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Railroad wallet for my mom by E.A. Schneider

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Mother's Day tea wallets by E.A. Schneider

Mother’s Day tea wallets by E.A. Schneider

Mother's Day tea wallets interior by E.A. Schneider

Mother’s Day tea wallets interior by E.A. Schneider

I also made one for my dad.

Dad's tea wallet

Dad’s tea wallet

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I made myself a Darwin coffee cozy using fabric from here. I love that I can drink coffee with Darwin whenever I want.

Darwin coffee cozy by E.A. Schneider

Darwin coffee cozy by E.A. Schneider

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For my mother-in-law  I made an armchair remote control caddy. I didn’t use a pattern, I just made it up. How do you like the action shot complete with nook and fountain pens? It matches the bedside organizer I made her in 2012. Thankfully she likes using both.

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Armchair remote caddy by E.A. Schneider

Armchair remote caddy by E.A. Schneider

My great crafting achievement for the season were these eye-patches.

Eyepatch model III as modeled by my toy fox.

Eyepatch model III as modeled by my toy fox.

My eyepatch model IV as worn by my awesome griffin puppet. This is my favorite eyepatch.

My eyepatch model IV as worn by my awesome griffin puppet. This is my favorite eyepatch.

Just the eye patches. I made both using quilting  cotton, black rayon, cotton binding, heavy duty stiffener, and thin black elastic. I sewed them by hand.

Just the eye patches. I made both using quilting cotton, black rayon, cotton binding, heavy duty stiffener, and thin black elastic. I sewed them by hand.

I got tired of having random people impertinently ask me “What did you do to your eye?!?!?” Therefore I did what I make a point of doing: take circumstances and turn them into an opportunity to craft something beautiful. When I wore these I heard “Oh! That is so pretty!” instead and I felt powerful again. That’s a good feeling when you need to wear an eye-patch. I’m not going to tell you why I needed these, so don’t ask. All you need to know is that, yes, I needed them; no, it’s not contagious and yes I’m better now.

I made the pattern up after a lot of trial and error, three prototypes in fact.  I have to say that when you make something just for you it is a lot more comfortable than something out of the box. Perhaps I will finally learn how to sew my own clothes. If I can drive on a freeway, sew, work in a lab, wade in a pond, volunteer, and take pictures with one eye I hypothesize that I can do pretty much whatever I set my mind to with patience and God’s grace.

I’ve been plugging away on three quilts, a quillow, and an appliance cover. Given my continuing health adventures I don’t know when I’ll get them done but where there’s a will there’s a way. I’ll share pictures of them as I get them finished and sent off to people.

Thanks for reading and joining me here at the pond, dear readers. Today I will leave you with a little bit of autumn from my back yard.

Turning colors by E.A. Schneider

Turning colors by E.A. Schneider