Read, breathe, relax

Yingyu Sun Computer Science, Free Time, Viterbi Life, Yingyu

We’re back to business! It’s somehow the end of week 3 of the spring semester and my weekly to-do lists are already getting longer and longer. I’ve always found the first few weeks so important in setting the right tone for the rest of the new semester. It’s so easy to set those new year’s resolutions and forget about them a week later! So I’m keeping myself accountable by setting academic AND personal goals (because mental health is important!) and making sure I stay sane when school gets tough by doing something that always lifts my mood — reading books.

But before I get into some of my most recent book recommendations, I have a quick life update: I’m going to (try to) get my Master’s degree in Computer Science! Last semester, I applied to USC’s Progressive Degree Program (PDP) which lets undergraduate students work towards getting their Master’s degree while also finishing up their Bachelor’s degree. And I got accepted! This means that starting now, I’m going to be taking some grad-level classes. This semester, I’m taking CSCI 570 (Analysis of Algorithms) and needless to say, it’s hard, and I can already see that from the first few weeks of class. Keeping up with my undergraduate classes, grad classes, student organizations, and research takes up almost all of my time and energy.

That’s where reading books comes into play. At the end of the year, when everyone starts thinking about their resolutions for the new year, I realized I hadn’t read nearly as many books as I had hoped. When’s the last time we’ve actually sat down with a good book to read for fun? When did skimming a data structures textbook become our version of “light reading”?

I made it my goal to read at least 20 books this year and write some thoughts/reviews about each one. It seems so easy! But finding time in your schedule to do something as mundane as reading can get tough when it seems like you have a never-ending list of things to do. I’ve found that saving even a few minutes every day (maybe before you go to sleep!) to read a little can be so relaxing, especially if you’ve found some great books! Here are some of my most recent favorites:

    • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

      A great dystopian novel! It added more to the bleak idea of “plague kills millions, survivors struggle to survive” by weaving a lot of tales from the past and present together. The whole time I was reading this I felt like I /almost/ had enough information to figure out the big plot reveal but it was just out of my reach — so worth it when you get to the ending.

    • The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

      Another dystopian novel (they are my guilty pleasure) but this time, victims of the plague are mostly children and women. One remaining midwife figures out how to survive in a broken world where men take control (very interesting if you enjoy books that question existing societal structures!) and tries to help every woman and child she encounters.

    • Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut

      A collection of 25 short stories and they are some of the funniest short stories I’ve ever read! Disclaimer: I have a pretty dry sense of humor so Kurt Vonnegut’s sarcastic and ironic (and kinda dark) humor really gets to me. Short stories are also so easy to read because they don’t take a lot of time or commitment!

    • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

      One of the only romance books I’ll ever recommend because that is not my go-to genre. But luckily this one was a romance sci-fi novel about a time traveler who has no control whatsoever over when and where he travels. Where’s the romance, you ask? He’s already met his soul mate, who he knows he marries in the future, but when he meets her in the present, she obviously doesn’t know what he does. Imagine how hard it would be to be in that relationship — read to find out 😉

    For me, books are such a great way to wind down without resorting to staring at a screen for hours (as much as I do love Netflix). I’m currently checking out Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West and so far I’m enjoying it! I’d really recommend adding some me-time to your day if you feel overwhelmed by your classes and work and everything else college students do.

    Good luck this semester! You got this 🙂

    About the Author

    Yingyu is a junior studying Computer Science. Click above to find out more!


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