Ten Characters I Just Didn’t Click With

Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is “ten characters I just didn’t click with.”


the fault in our stars1. Hazel Grace Lancaster
The Fault in our Stars by John Green

I SO wanted to love this book… because all my friends did! I thought I would finish it and scurry off to go fangirl with them! Instead, I finished this book with a dejected sigh because… well, many reasons, actually. ONE OF THEM IS HAZEL. She’s pretentious and obnoxious and… she’s
supposed to be sixteen? I thought she acted like she was twelve or thirteen. NOOOOO WHYYYY.

2. Tyrion Lannister
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

OH, TYRION. I’m so conflicted about him! I love his bookishness, but I hate hate HATE
how he treats Shae – how he treats women in general, honestly. People keep telling me that he has a great, self-deprecating sense of humor but, like… so does his brother Jaime! IDK. I just feel super disconnected from the rest of the fandom’s adoration of Tyrion.

3. Jace Wayland
The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

boy meets boyWhat on Earth does Clary see in this boy? HE’S SO ARROGANT AND ANNOYING. Is there something I’m missing? Is he cute or something?! Am I too gay to notice this?

4. Paul
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Paul is just so BLAND. This book made me want to take a nap! PAUL, GET A HOBBY OR SOMETHING. YOU NEED TO BE MORE INTERESTING.

5. Simon Spier
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I was sooooo excited for this book because of all the hype surrounding it! It disappointed me, though, and one of the things I didn’t like was SIMON! I just… gah. He was perfectly nice, but completely boring!

6. Scott Pilgrim
Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley

I looooove the CONCEPT of this story: Fighting people as if they were characters in a video game! THAT’S SO COOL. Unfortunately, I… have less-than-favorable thoughts about the protagonist. Scott is such a deadbeat! And… well, he dates an underage girl and is super super biphobic and gross and… BLEHHHH. I want to rewrite the entire series with a girl as the protagonist. (A girl fighting all those characters in order to date Ramona Flowers, obviously. MAKE ALL THE STORIES QUEER. ALLLLLLLLLLLLL OF THEM.)

7. Lola Nolan
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

simon vs. the homo sapiens agendaLOLA. Lola, why. Why do you treat everyone around you so horribly? STOOOOOP.

8. Tris Prior
Divergent series by Veronica Roth

LE SIGH. There are the great female protagonists of our day and age, and then… there’s Tris. And Tris is the biggest problem I have with this story, honestly. Veronica Roth created a good plot! But… Tris. YOU’RE SO BLAND. PLEASE JOIN PAUL IN THE PURSUIT OF DEVELOPING A HOBBY.

9. Jacob Portman
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Jacob is very sweet… I liked that. But his indecisiveness?! UGH. It took him FOREVER to figure out what he wanted to do, explore the island, et cetera. JACOB. HURRY UP, PLEASE.

10. Nick
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

…who decided this book was a good idea? SERIOUSLY. I WANT TO KNOW. Nick is a selfish, petty, misogynistic, homophobic, spoiled brat. This book is about – among other things – the queer music scene in NYC and… no. Just no. WHY did Cohn and Levithan think this narrator was a good idea?!


SO. I learned three things from writing this post:

1. I need not limit this list to protagonists.

2. I tend to judge male characters harder than female characters. (But surely that makes up for all the people – and there are a lot of them – who do just the opposite?!)

3. “Characters I just didn’t click with” can mean a variety of things. Sometimes the character BORED me. Or annoyed me. Sometimes I HATE them. Sometimes… sometimes, I feel conflicted about a certain character. (Hello, Tyrion?! I feel like I’m standing on the sidelines while the rest of the fandom is all like YAY TYRION and I’m just like WHAT.)

But I digress.


So! Your turn! What characters did YOU not click with? Why?! Were they the only terrible character in an otherwise good book, or did the rest of the story suck too? And and and… do you find yourself disliking certain qualities in real people as well in fictional characters? I’M REALLY CURIOUS.

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Books I Brought To College | Childhood Favorites & Why Packing Is HARD


…that’s why I brought as many as I could possibly fit into a small box. I ended up packing exactly twenty-five books, which doesn’t seem like a lot to me! I wanted to bring ALL my books! BUT. My roommate didn’t bring ANY, and many of my next-door neighbors in the dorm didn’t bring any/many, either. THAT IS QUITE TRAGIC.

ANYWAY. I bought an old bookcase at a garage sale, and… well, it’s scuffed up and a bit small (two shelves, not counting the top), but HEY. IT’LL DO FOR COLLEGE.

In this bookcase, I keep alllll my books and bookish thingies:

  • The twenty-five books from home
  • Textbooks
  • Novels that I have to read for class
  • My dictionary
  • Any books (and DVDs) that I’ve borrowed from the Iowa City Public Library
  • Library receipts
  • My coffee mug that says, “I’m silently correcting your grammar”
  • …and eventually, the books I’ve preordered, such as Derek Landy’s Demon Road! (It should be here any day now! I’M SO EXCITED.)

AHHHH SO MANY BOOKS. I HONESTLY DON’T KNOW WHAT I’D DO WITHOUT MY BOOKS. I needed to bring them to college, because reading was my first love AND I’m so so so content when I read AND books are reassuring.

So now I have my own little bookish corner, and I sit in the big, fuzzy, green armchair that my roommate inherited from her sister, and I READ. I’ve read four books at college already! (I know I’m not even close to reading as many as I normally do, but… COLLEGE LIFE IS SO SO BUSY.)

ANYWAYYYY. Here are the lovely, lovely books I brought to college!

dark days1. The Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy

BECAUSE THIS IS MY FAVORITEST SERIES EVER. And because these books aren’t as popular in my country as they are in others, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to borrow them from the local public library. (And guess what?! The library only has the first three. I’M SO GLAD I BROUGHT MY ENTIRE COLLECTION.)

2. The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

This book – any Calvin and Hobbes book, TBH – is always there for me when I need a laugh!

3. The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz

Oh my godddd, I just realized that I haven’t talked about this book on my blog before! HOW HAVE I NEVER DONE THIS YET?! It’s  partially a how-to manual and partially a YAY GIRLS YAY FOR FEMINISM book. Like, it teaches you basic karate moves and how to walk in high heels, aaaand then it has biographies of awesome famous women. OOH AND IT HAS SOOOO MUCH MORE STUFF TOO. It’s a ton of fun to browse through, which is what I intend to do with it during college!

4. The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings – J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski 

This biography was a graduation present from my parents, who knew I’d been eyeing it! I’M SO EXCITED TO READ IT. Buuuut the length is so so intimidating!Ella_enchanted_(book_cover)[1]

5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine


6. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

I’ve read this short novel over and over and over again! SOOO MANY TIMES I’VE LOST COUNT. It’s a really good YA dystopian about, of all things, friendship. It’s super well written, too – not one word seems out of place.

7. The Landry News by Andrew Clements

I read this story so many times growing up! I thought it might remind me of why I’m here at the University of Iowa – when I’m feeling homesick or like I don’t belong here, I can read it and feel re-energized about my future career as a journalist.

the giver8. Hickory Dickory Death by Agatha Christie 

I found this on the free/discarded shelf at my hometown library! I love mysteries, especially Agatha Christie’s, and I look forward to finding out what this one is all about!

9. The Giver by Lois Lowry 

AHHH OMG IMHO THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS EVER WRITTEN. Like, not just in terms of the plot and characters and setting, but in terms of Lowry’s choice of words, too. She writes so clearly and concisely, and I really admire that! I brought this book with me because A) I love it and B) hopefully it’ll remind me of what I hope to achieve in my own writerly endeavors!

10. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

…aaaaand this novel is a perfect hybrid of the sort of stories I want to write someday – YA and mysteries! It’s just plain FUN, too.Matilda[1]

11. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins


12. Matilda and The BFG by Roald Dahl

…yet more Reassuring Books From My Childhood! I’m not even going to deny that there is a definite theme to this list and that I am Basically Still A Child.

13. Girl, Going on 17, Pants on Fire by Sue Limb

This book is… how do I even describe it? It’s like the feeling you get when you eat too much sugar, AND that giddy feeling you get when you stay up sooooo late talking to friends that even the littlest things seem hilarious, AND… I don’t even know. Like when you inhale helium from balloons and suddenly your voice sounds like that of a chipmunk. THIS BOOK MADE ME LAUGH UNTIL MY SIDES HURT.

the wee free men14. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett 

Because Tiffany Aching has a kickass, no-nonsense attitude. Because she’s very reassuring. BECAUSE TERRY PRATCHETT AND DISCWORLD ARE THE BEST.


Sooooo… yeah. BASICALLY I BROUGHT THE BOOKS I LOVED WHEN I WAS BUT A WEE ENGIE. I brought stories that inspire and comfort me! I brought the stories that make me happy!

I’m very pleased with my bookish packing decisions. It was SOOOO hard to decide which books to bring, because I’m very attached to ALL my books! (And I’ll probably end up bringing more books back to the dorm after Thanksgiving and/or winter break, too! BECAUSE REASONS.) In the end, though, I think I made the right choices about which books to bring vs. which books to borrow.

Like, I’m soooo glad I brought the entire Skulduggery Pleasant series, and left my boxed set of Lord of the Rings (+ The Hobbit) behind. I can’t find the former series at the public library – well, not the ENTIRE series, at any rate – but I CAN find the latter series there if I feel like rereading it! (And at the university library, too, probably.) I think I really made the most of the limited amount of space in this bookcase… and in this dorm room, TBH.


If you moved and could only bring as many books as would fit into a smallish box… which stories would you choose? How would you choose which books came with and which ones stayed behind?!

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I Made It Through The First Week Of Classes ALIVE! | Writerly History, Cute Girls, Mjolnir, & More

Hello, everyone! I thought it would be fun to recap the past week… I’m not going to do this EVERY week, but hey. This was my first week of life as a full-time COLLEGE STUDENT! That deserves a post all its own, doesn’t it?

SO. Here is what I’ve been doing in each of my classes!

Creative Writing

One of my first assignments involved reading a short story by Sherman Alexie! EEEEEE I CAN ALREADY TELL THIS COURSE IS OFF TO A GOOD START. I only have one session of this class per week, and the first one was cut short because my teacher had a meeting to attend, so we didn’t do very much.

BUT. But we did tour the Dey House! This is an old house on campus that is used for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop classes – the graduate program! I want to earn an MFA in Creative Writing someday, so it was really cool to get a tour of this place and imagine studying there in just a few more years!

City of Literature

SO. MUCH. LOVE. FOR. THIS. CLASS. It’s about the literary history of Iowa City and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop! I’m learning allllll kinds of things I didn’t know before coming here – Dylan Thomas and Robert Frost visited the town for an extended period of time and spoke to the students about writing?! Alumni have won seventeen total Pulitzer Prizes, and four of the last six United States Poets Laureate were graduates of the program? NICE


Intro to Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies

GAH THIS COURSE IS SO AMAZING. I mean, one of the very first thingies I had to read for class was about the fallacy that there are only two genders! YES YES THIS IS PRECISELY THE SORT OF THING I WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT.

Also, I am SO AMUSED by how few guys are in this class. Like… five? Maybe? In a lecture class of one hundred and thirty? (The discussion sections are smaller – about fifteen or twenty students in each.) It IS kind of unfortunate, though… I mean, are there fewer guys because they think this isn’t a subject worth studying? Probably, and that’s unfortunate.


Superheroes Unleashed:
3,000 Years of Heroes, Villains, and a Mad Race for Immortality


Also, she has a replica of Mjolnir that lights up and makes thunder-y noises! She lifts it and strikes a dramatic pose and makes the hammer do the light/thunder thing every time she wants us to pay super-close attention to something she says! OH MY GOD.


Media History and Culture

like all of my classes, but this one definitely confuses me. I don’t feel like I’m smart enough to be there! I thought it was just a history course, but it seems as though we’ll focus a lot on business-type stuff, too, and… I don’t know. ALSO THE TEXTBOOK USES UNNECESSARILY HUGE WORDS.

(This has been one of my writing pet peeves for a while, and in last week’s honors Primetime class, my professor ranted about how textbook authors frequently use loooong words and complicated sentences to say something that’s really quite simple. MY TEXTBOOK DRONES ON AND ON ABOUT “TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM” AND I’M JUST LIKE. WHY. WHYYYYY.)

But it’s only the first week of classes, so I’ll just have to wait and see how it goes, I suppose…


Have you gone back to school yet?! What subjects are you studying this year? TELL ME ALL ABOUT THEM IN THE COMMENTS, PEOPLES. I WANT TO KNOW.

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23 Thoughts From My First 11 Days In College


I LOVE it here at college. I love my classes, I love the campus, I love the town, I love my new friends. I’m looking forward to attending the first meetings of the clubs I joined. I’m so excited for each new day!


I didn’t think I would love college this much, though, or maybe even at all. I think this way all the time, however: I worry INCESSANTLY about the littlest things and blow problems totally out of proportion. Sometimes my worrying is rightly placed, but oftentimes I make a big deal about nothing particularly important!

I need to remember to RELAX and just see how a certain experience turns out. Most of the time, I adjust perfectly well to a New Thing, but… yeah. My poor little brain gets waaaaaay too worked up when what it really needs to be doing is calming down.


I mostly like living in a dorm, but sometimes I DO miss having my own room! It’s not even an issue of space – this room is bigger than my bedroom at home. Instead… well, it bothers me that I don’t really have ANYWHERE on the entire campus where I can be entirely alone. (I mean, I guess there’s always the bathroom, but I WANT A LITTLE PLACE WHERE I CAN HANG OUT AND RELAX AND IT WOULD BE A BIT WEIRD TO DO THAT IN THE BATHROOM.)


Speaking of bathrooms, the ones on my floor are REALLY NICE. Like, there are seven or eight rooms in the bathroom area, each with its own toilet, sink, and shower. One of the showers is so large you could fit at least a twin-sized bed in there. OH MY GOD.


Purchasing a meal plan and eating in the cafeteria is helping me to eat more healthily, I think. Sure, there’s plenty of junk food – fries and cheeseburgers and pizza – but also tons and tons of healthy options.

ALSO. I’m a very lazy person. When I had to make breakfast and lunch for myself back at home, I’d usually make whatever was easiest, even if it wasn’t necessarily the healthiest thing to eat day after day. Endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? HECK YEAH. Not anymore, though.


Also? I love not having to wash dishes or clean up!


I love milk and I really missed drinking it with every meal until I finally found the milk-dispenser-thingy. HALLELUJAH.


I have eaten so many burritos in the past few days.


I do not recommend eating a burrito while trying to take notes on something you just read for class. OMG I MADE A MESS BOTH ON THE TABLE AND ON MY NOTES.


I love reading on this ginormous lawn in the middle of campus, or on the steps of the buildings surrounding it! Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day, and I read both The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (!) and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (!!!!!!!), moving around as the sun changed positions in the sky.


I love knowing how my mental map of the campus/town slooowly but surely expands as I venture further out!


I looooove getting packages in the mail… I ordered my textbooks from used-book websites, so I’ve been receiving a lot of mail lately. PEOPLES, FEEL FREE TO SEND ME MAIL. I reserve the right to not give out my address to anyone I don’t know exceptionally well (so that I know you’re you and not some creepy creeper), but ANYWAY YES. MAIL!

Send me drawings with your letters, too, if you’d like! Even if you can only draw stick figures. (That’s all I can draw, too.) I NEED STUFF TO PUT ON MY WALLS BECAUSE THERE WASN’T ENOUGH ROOM IN THE CAR FOR POSTERS AND DECORATIONS AND STUFF.


I love that my roommate is a music therapy major, so she already knew about film scores and doesn’t think it’s weird that I listen to them when I study.

(Hans Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean scores are my current obsession.)


One of the girls who lives on the same floor as mine looks like Perry from Carmilla – I SWEAR TO GOD. All right, so her hair is brown and not red, but it has the same CURLS EVERYWHERE thing going on, and and and HER DEMEANOR IS EXACTLY LIKE PERRY’S. She’s kind of like the mom to everyone on my floor, and her room is as neat as a pin, and she’s suuuuuper nice to everyone, and I just…

…every so often I think that maybe I’m exaggerating her Perry-ish-ness, and then I interact with her again, and I’m just like NO THEY REALLY ARE TWO PEAS IN A POD. THIS IS GREAT.




Last week I learned that Iowa City is the third gayest city in the United States!


I’ve met more LGBTQ+ people IRL in the past week and a half at college than in the previous (almost) nineteen years of my life.


…and so many of them are queer women, too! The handful of gay people I knew before coming here were all gay dudes. I’D NEVER MET ANOTHER QUEER WOMEN IN PERSON BEFORE. So I’m rather happy about this new development, obviously.


There are a lot of churches in Iowa City, and many of them have either Pride flags hanging out front or little rainbow stickers in their windows. I love this. I love this a lot.


Places on campus / in town that I still need to explore:

  • University library
  • University of Iowa Museum of Art
  • Daydreams Comics
  • Englert Theater
  • Iowa Book
  • Hickory Hill Park


I am too intimidated by my now-rather-large pile of dirty laundry to have actually washed any of it yet. (WASHING MACHINES ARE SCARY BECAUSE TOO MANY BUTTONS AND IDK WHICH ONE TO PRESS.) I have loads of free time tomorrow though, so I should figure it out then.


I joined Spectrum UI (the campus LGBTQ+ group – ALSO, the first university LGBTQ+ group in the nation!), University of Iowa Democrats, and Collegiate 4-H… which ALL meet on Wednesday evenings! Gah, I’m going to be SO BUSY.


I am very very tired and should go to bed now so that I can do this all over again tomorrow. GOODNIGHT, PEOPLES, AND REMEMBER TO CHECK FACEBOOK IF YOU WANT ADORKABLE SELFIES OF ME BEING A SMALL NERD ON CAMPUS.

Posted in Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Top Ten Books That Would Be On My Syllabus If I Taught Words 101

Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is “top ten books that would be on my syllabus if I taught X 101.

This prompt is particularly apt now because I started college classes this week! EEEK. I mean, I’ve attended dual-credit classes before, but I’ve never been a full-time college student. IT IS EXHILARATING AND INTIMIDATING ALL AT ONCE.

Anyway, if I could teach any class ever, I would teach one about words! I LOVE WORDS. In this class, my students would learn about grammar, vocabulary, writing, stories, etymology, the history of books, and much, much more! AHHH I WOULD LOVE TO TAKE THIS CLASS. I DESIGN THE BESTEST CLASSES, OBVIOUSLY.


1. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson

OMG BILL BRYSON IS SO FREAKING FUNNY. I have never laughed out loud while reading a book about language before… OH MY GOD OH MY GOD. His nonfiction works are crammed full of information, and they’re hilarious!

frindle2. Made in America:
An Informal History of the English Language in the United States
by Bill Bryson

This was a really interesting look at how the English language evolved in America. I loved the comparisons between UK and US vocabularies!

3. Frindle by Andrew Clements

BECAUSE NEW WORDS ARE CREATED ALL THE TIME. I would include this book because it shows that words aren’t created by a Highly Official Committee of Wordiness – ordinary people create them, and then others start imitating them!

4. The Professor and the Madman:
A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

OMG THIS BOOK WAS SO WEIRD. And really, really good! The two men in charge of creating the OED worked together for years and years and years, but did not meet one another in person until several decades had passed… because one of them was in prison. For murder. And he hadn’t told the other man. Like I said, this was such an odd book… and a really interesting look at life in the Victorian era!a step from heaven

5. A Step from Heaven by An Na

An Na’s use of language in this book is absolutely freaking wonderful. Her protagonist, Young Ju, moves from South Korea to California, and the novel follows her from age four to age eighteen-ish. Along the way, she learns English, and her understanding of language grows by leaps and bounds. This is BRILLIANTLY portrayed through Na’s use of vocabulary and sentence structure. OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, I LOVE THIS NOVEL SOOOO MUCH.

6. Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English
by Patricia T. O’Conner

This book is so so so so helpful! It’s funny, down-to-earth, practical, and packed with examples of what to do… and what not to do. There’s even a special section about grammar on the Internet!Matilda[1]

7. Matilda by Roald Dahl

I wanted to include a book about the power of stories on this list… this one’s my favorite!

8. Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Technically, this is a kid’s book, but “how to” manuals for kids are so much better than those for adults, aren’t they?! I find them to be funnier, much more creative, et cetera. They’re so helpful when you’re trying to learn the basics of a particular subject! hurt go happy

9. Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby

This is a story about – among many other things – American Sign Language! I think it’s important to understand the validity of all forms of communication: Speaking, writing, sign language, and more.

10. Misery by Stephen King

If you want to understand the relationship writers have with their creations – or if you already understand it and just want to find someone else who knows that feeling – then you need to read this book. IT IS SO SO SO GOOD.


What class would you love to teach? (What class do you think you’re QUALIFIED to teach?!) And which books would you require your students to read as part of that class?

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Fall 2015 Classes | Literature, Heroes, Women’s History, & More

Hey, everyone! I thought it would be fun to talk about the classes I’m taking this semester! Now that my Honors Primetime seminar is over, it’s time for my regular classes – they begin tomorrow!

If I count Primetime along with all my other classes, then I’m taking seven courses this semester… but Primetime already ended, and one of my courses is strictly Internet-based AND will conclude by September twenty-fifth. So. Most college students aren’t enrolled in seven (or even six) classes at the same time, buuuut some of my classes are ridiculously easy. YAY.

FYI, I am double-majoring in creative writing and journalism, and I think I’d like to earn a certificate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies as well!

In this post, I’ve included the course description from the University of Iowa’s website, as well as a few of my own thoughts about these courses! ALSO: Some of my courses are honors classes, so I’ve indicated which classes those are with an asterisk (*).


Success at Iowa

Teaches skills to help students transition successfully to the University: online tools specific to the University of Iowa including Iowa Student Information Systems (ISIS) and Iowa Courses Online (ICON), resources for navigating life on campus, financial aid literacy, strategies for making healthy behavior choices, and sexual assault awareness and prevention.

This is basically an orientation course, and it’s SO BORING. But unfortunately REQUIRED OF ALL FRESHMEN. Hey, at least it’s online… and it’s really short, too! This is the class that’ll be over by late September. Also, YES MY SCHOOL’S SOFTWARE IS CALLED ISIS. THEY REALLY NEED TO THINK ABOUT CHANGING THAT ACRONYM OMG.

Creative Writing*

The poet Billy Collins says, “Write the poem only you can write,” while fiction writer Neil Gaiman advises, “Tell your story…. As quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only you can tell – because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you … but you are the only you.” In this class, we’ll uncover and interrogate the material that is uniquely yours, and we’ll engage with prose poetry, narrative poetry and (especially) short fiction to pinpoint and learn from how accomplished writers turn their material into art.

We’ll read a diverse collection of mostly (but not exclusively) contemporary writers – like Sherman Alexie, Sandra Cisneros, Eudora Welty and others – reading not to escape into their worlds, but to understand how they’ve used the tools of craft to conjure them.

During the first part of the semester, you will have weekly reading assignments and short writing assignments that give you the freedom to experiment and discover. Then you will apply your sharpened skills to writing a short story – a story only you can tell – and will workshop it with your classmates.

Yeah, I have a class that’s literally just called “Creative Writing.” HOW UNCREATIVE IS THAT. Anyway. I’m really looking forward to getting feedback from my teacher and classmates! I LOVE WRITING AND I LOVE HEARING WHAT OTHERS THINK OF MY WRITING.

City of Literature

Learn the literary history of Iowa City from the founding of the Writers’ Workshop to our designation as a UNESCO City of Literature in this new lecture course. We will read poems, short stories, and essays by faculty and graduates of the Workshop and Nonfiction Writing Program alongside reminiscences by writers of their time in Iowa City.

Lectures will cover such topics as the short story and the lyric poem as pedagogical models, the problem of whether writing can be taught, the role of literary prizes, the significance of local businesses such as Prairie Lights and the Foxhead tavern, the rise of creative nonfiction, and the idea of a Writing University.

Assignments will be designed to engage students with the university and the city, including archival research in Special Collections, attendance at local readings, walking tours, interviews with local writers, and contributions to the City of Literature website.

Iowa City is one of only eleven Cities of Literature in the world – and it’s also the only US city on that list! I chose the University of Iowa for, among many other things, its location: Iowa City is a hotbed of publishing, bookstores, literary festivals, author readings and book-signing events, drama performances, poetry, et cetera. AHHH I’M REALLY EXCITED TO STUDY THE WRITERLY CULTURE OF THIS CITY. And as you can see from the third paragraph of the course description, this looks like a really hands-on class, too! Yayyyy!

Intro to Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies*

Where do Beyoncé, Tina Belcher, Thelma, and Louise stand in feminism’s vibrant puzzle? Why is it important to bring up gender inequality at the Oscars, or to introduce the #HeForShe campaign at the UN? This course explores a variety of texts and materials about how cultural and social beliefs about gender and sexuality intersect with race, ethnicity, and class to shape our identities, voices, relationships, and choices.

I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS CLASS. (I’m so excited for all my classes, in case you haven’t already guessed.) Neither women’s history nor LGBTQ+ history are commonly taught in high school, so I’m sooooo excited to finally learn more in college! I think this course will help me become a better writer, too – it’ll help me figure out how to write characters who are vastly different from myself, aaaaand understanding the lives of real people (especially minorities) will help me be a better journalist someday.

Superheroes Unleashed:
3,000 Years of Heroes, Villains, and a Mad Race for Immortality*

What do Gilgamesh, Achilles, Odysseus, Aeneas, King Leonidas, Beowulf, and Frankenstein have in common? In so many ways they are the superheroes of Western history and art from the past three thousand years! Their cultural impact is undiminished and permeates the pages of Superman, Batman, Star Wars, Spiderman, X-Men, The Matrix, Watchmen, and Frank Miller’s 300.

Students are required to read three graphic novels – Frank Miller’s 300, Eric Shanower’s Age of Bronze, Part One: A Thousand Ships, and a graphic novel version of Beowulf – and a number of short handouts that will help them explore the fabric of academic inquiry and delve into the nature of art and culture of the past and their relevance in today’s world.

AHHHHH THIS IS MY OTHER HONORS FRESHMAN SEMINAR… but unlike Primetime, this one lasts the entire semester! DSLAKGJDSLKHDALGS. I love graphic novels and comic books, and I love superheroes, aaaand I think this course will also teach me a lot about writing! I love writing fantasy and heroes are so important to that genre, perhaps more than to any other genre.

Media History and Culture*

This course surveys the historical and cultural development of journalism in the U.S. from the Revolution to present.

JOURNALISM. AND HISTORY. I CAN’T EVEN. Seriously, this sounds super fun… especially for an introductory course! Like, if I have to take a course that teaches me the basics of any subject, then I want the course to be FUN.


SO. Now it’s your turn! What classes are you taking this fall… or if you’ve already graduated, then what was your favorite and/or weirdest class you’ve ever taken?!

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Primetime | Iowa City Guide

Hey, everyone! It’s nice to be able to finally sit down and write on this blog… I’ve been so busy lately that I didn’t even turn on my laptop yesterday! I mean, I still had my phone, but… yeah. Anyway.

What have I been doing lately? I’VE BEEN BLOGGING SOMEWHERE ELSE. OH MY GOD.

As you may know, I moved in this past Sunday, but classes don’t begin until this coming Monday. So what on earth was I doing on campus so early? Well, I’m in the honors program – and the honors dorm, as well – and there is a special seminar called Honors Primetime that takes place one week before regular classes begin.

It’s optional, and I decided to do it because A) the subjects sounded really fun and B) I wanted to get adjusted to college life before I’m inundated with Real Classes. Also, we earn one credit for this class!

(I have no idea if other countries have the same system, but in the US college classes have credit hours/semester hours – they’re just different terms for the same thing. Most classes are three credit hours, which means that you spend three hours per week in class, and will have anywhere from one to three hours of homework for each hour spent in class. So it’s really really awesome to earn one entire credit hour in just three days!)

We had morning and afternoon classes on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then a wrap-up session yesterday morning, and then in the afternoon each class group gave a short presentation about what they’d learned.

There were twenty-five different seminars available, and we didn’t get to pick which one we’re in. Instead, we chose a general subject like science or art or English. I chose writing/journalism, and ended up in a class called “Iowa City Guide.”

OH MY GOD I LOVED THAT SEMINAR. Here’s the course description:

“In this short course, students will explore Iowa City, map their experiences of it, talk with locals, and contribute to the ongoing Primetime Iowa City guide. Students will compose mental maps in class and compare those maps with their expanding experience of the city. Students will be encouraged to take their learning outside the classroom as they photograph Iowa City and converse with its citizens.

By the close of the course, students will write brief blog posts about a local business or locale for use by other first-year students. The course invites students to view their new surroundings as a community larger than the campus alone. In this way, students come to see themselves as students in Iowa City rather than students at the University of Iowa.”


  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Blogging
  • Interviews/journalism

And and and it taught me more about the city! I’m so so so glad I was assigned this seminar, because I now feel that I understand Iowa City much better! There’s still so much to learn, of course – I still don’t know many of the street names – but it’s easier to navigate the city after attending this seminar.

We read a whole bunch of essays in class. One of them was about writing clearly and concisely, and another one – my favorite – was about this dude’s preconceived ideas about Iowa and how they differed from reality.

We also made mental maps at the beginning and end of the seminar… you can see mine (and my messy handwriting) here and here!

Writing our reviews/guides/thingies of places in Iowa City was so much fun! We worked in pairs for this part of the project, so this dude and I originally decided to write about the library… but we couldn’t find it. Then we looked for this “awesome Japanese restaurant” he’d eaten at the day before, but we couldn’t find that either, so we ended up writing about the Old Capitol Museum. (Iowa City used to be the capital of IA, but it was moved to the more central locale of Des Moines.)

We took a tour of the museum, interviewed one of the staff members, took tons and tons of photos on my phone, et cetera. Writing and editing the post was certainly a weird experience, since we did that together – I mean, I’ve done collaborative posts on this blog, but they generally consisted of other people sending me their writing. I’ve never written a blog post with someone, like, sitting right next to me and giving me their input. I’m not saying that it was a BAD experience, because it DEFINITELY wasn’t – it was just weird!

Anywayyyyy. This post would be far too long if I added our review thingy, so I won’t: Instead, you can expect to see it sometime within the next few weeks! I’ll post the link to the main Iowa City Guide blog at that time as well.

All in all, my Primetime seminar was AMAZING and I only wish that I could do it all again next year! But I can’t, because it’s only for incoming freshmen. NOOOOOO. IT’S NOT FAIR. IT WAS SO AWESOME THAT I WANT TO EXPERIENCE IT AGAIN.

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