7 Best Summer Beach Reads to Take on Your Next Vacation

Man reading a book in water: 6 Best Summer Beach Reads to Take on Your Next Vacation

It’s time for a break, right?

Summer is finally here. Whether you’re headed to the beach, relaxing by the poolside, or hanging out in your background—nothing beats relaxing with a captivating beach read.

Stay tuned to find your next beach read, as we share our favorite summer fiction novels of 2019!

Honolulu by Alan Brennert

A wild adventure or engrossing family saga is just what we want in a summer read, isn’t it? Alan Brennert’s Honolulu blends both with the story of Korean picture-bride Jin’s life in Hawaii.

The ups and down of her years in Hawaii—combined with the lush setting of old Honolulu—make this novel perfect escapism for your summer reading list. Plus, if your summer vacation is more kiddie pool than tropical island? You’ll enjoy the scenes of Hawaiian life.

 

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah’s absorbing tales of female friendship are perfect for relaxing summer days. Firefly Lane spans years of friendship between Tully and Kate, and shows how their friendship evolves as they take very different paths.

Between Sisters is another engrossing, character driven story from this author. Both novels invite readers to meet realistic and complex characters.

And the best part?

They deliver satisfying conclusions to make them solid beach reads.

 

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner’s latest novel, Mrs. Everything, introduces two very different sisters and develops both of them as full, complex characters.

The story follows Bethie and Jo from when they’re teenagers in Detroit in the fifties through grandchildren today. It’s almost a family saga, with scenes showing the sisters’ mom and grandmother, and setting the girls on their paths.

But it’s also a slice-of-life novel, covering decades. Experience another time with these vibrant, multi-faceted characters.

 

Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

The girls in Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s Sarong Party Girls make plans to land rich, foreign husbands, before they’re on the shelf by their late twenties.

Narrator Jazeline will pull you in with her Singlish banter as she describes nights out, friendships, and schemes… but she also reveals the a darker side of life for Singaporean women.

This novel is great fun, with a distant, lively setting and an unforgettable heroine, but also points to dark systems of privilege and entitlement. You’ll think about Jazzy and her friends long after finishing the book!

 

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Another memorable heroine for your summer reading list is Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams.

When we first meet her, Jamaican-British Queenie is facing a breakup, work stress, an overbearing (but well meaning) family. Not to mention, the depressing gentrification of the old neighborhood.

The novel pops with clever—but realistic—dialogue, including some scenes of group texts (which usually feel like lazy writing, but work so well here to develop relationships and advance the storyline).

Carty-Williams brings readers to care for Queenie even when she does self-destructive things, and we can’t help but cheer her on.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Sometimes a chilling suspense novel pairs well with summer sun. So, try Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game. In this novel, old school friends revisit decades-old secrets, with layers of lies, half-truths and suspicions.

We know The Woman In Cabin 10 is getting more spotlight, but personally thought The Lying Game had the same brilliant suspense. Not only that, The Lying Game had more developed characters, fuller interpersonal relationships, and an even twistier story.

5 Captivating Historical Mystery Books That Will Thrill You

5 Captivating Historical Mystery Books That Will Thrill You

Don’t you love reading a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat?

A well-executed historical mystery blends a colorful, distant setting with page-turning suspense for some of the ultimate escapist reads. Here are some of our favorite historical mysteries.

The Cadfael Chronicles

A Morbid Taste for Bones - Book Cover with a Cross

The Cadfael Chronicles, by Ellis Peters, tells the story of medieval monk, Brother Cadfael, at Shrewsbury Abbey, in Wales.

The first novel, A Morbid Taste for Bones, shows Brother Cadfael leaving his herb garden and apothecary to solve a complicated mystery. In each story, the monk’s attention to detail, knowledge of herbs, and understanding of human nature lead him to the correct solutions.

To be honest, there’s a bit of gore in these novels. But the accounts of saints’ relics and wound examination were so interesting that I didn’t much mind it. Peters, a pen name of Edith Pargeter, wrote twenty novels about Brother Cadfael in all.

(And if you like seeing a book come to life on-screen, there’s a charming British TV series based on the books that stars Derek Jacobi!)

 

Murder At The Fitzwilliam

Murder at the Fitzwilliam - Book Cover - Man Standing on Stairs

Murder At The Fitzwilliam by Jim Eldridge begins when former inspector Daniel Wilson is summoned to investigate a corpse found in an ancient Egyptian coffin. A recent corpse, that is.

And when a second one appears soon after, also in the Egyptian wing, supernatural theories abound. The descriptions of academic rivalries, the Egyptian craze, and Cambridge geography were perfect (even if a minor romantic subplot is a bit underwhelming).

Right now, this is a standalone mystery… but stay tuned. The sequel is due out this year.

SQQR  I: The Kings Gambit

SQPR Book Cover - The King's Gambit

In John Maddox Roberts’ SPQR series, Roman sleuth Decius Metellus finds himself caught up in murder mysteries no matter where he goes. Trouble always finds him. Whether he’s being summoned to the Palatine by the ruling Julio-Claudians… or hiding out in exile after getting mixed up in an unsavory mystery.

The intricacies of Roman customs and politics make up the background of these stories. They’re set in some of the most dramatic years of Roman history.

Not to mention, the thirteen novels in this series span Decius Metellus’ life. So there’s time for a lot of character development in these novels — you’ll enjoy meeting minor characters again in later novels.

 

Murder on the Orient Express

Sure, Murder on the Orient Express wasn’t written as historical fiction, but the accounts of international travel on an overnight train are sure to pull you back in time.

This classic novel plays with some of the conventions of the locked-door mystery, making it even more fun for mystery fans. As always, Poirot uses his careful powers of observation and deductive reasoning to see through lies and misdirection.

Also, this novel has some of the most memorable characters in an Agatha Christie mystery.

 

The Chef’s Secret

The Chef's Secret Book Cover with Plate of Produce

In The Chef’s Secret, by Crystal King, a chef’s apprentice is left with his Uncle Bartolomeo’s recipes and his diary. Including the instructions that he burn the diary unread.

Naturally, nephew Giovanni does no such thing. I mean, would you?

Giovanni starts to investigate his uncle’s past and his secret love, unlocking a story of murder, vendetta, secret babies, theft, revenge, and more murder. It’s not a typical whodunit, with one murder to wrap up.

Instead, readers are pulled along as Giovanni unravels a lifetime of secrets. This is also a wonderful foodie tour of renaissance Italy, as both uncle and nephew are skilled chefs.

Do you have a favorite historical mystery? Let us know!

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Young Lady Standing in Front of a Bookshelf

Black History Month honors the diversity and history of African-American culture. This selection of books is a mix of historical fiction, literary fiction, and biographies to kick off a month of celebration and legacy. Let’s dive into the titles.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month

If you haven’t had a chance to read this bestselling YA novel yet, you’ll want to get your hands on a copy. This novel is packed with heartbreaking references that feel thoughtful and strangely familiar. In fact, The Hate U Give was just made into a movie that was released in October 2018 to critical acclaim.

The Hate U Give is a fiction story — but it’s a timely one and the book feels like was based on real events. The story follows a 16-year-old named Starr Carter, who becomes a young activist after witnessing a cop murder her childhood friend, Kahlil.

 

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Roots by Alex Haley Cover

Roots was first published in the 1970s, and the wildly successful novel soon transformed into a very famous television miniseries in 1977. Beyond that, the final episode of the miniseries still holds the record for the third-highest-rated episode in TV history.

Why did it become such a phenomenon? Well, Roots was not only popular, but it was a monumental story.

Alex Haley grew up in Tennessee, where his grandmother told him stories about his family. In this case, her stories went back generations, all the way to Colonial America when Haley’s family was captured and forced over here from West Africa on a slave ship.

So Haley decided to embark on a decade-long detective search to trace the origin of his heritage, and this is the haunting story of his family.

 

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America by Ibi Zoboi

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Cover of Black Enough

This anthology is a collection of short stories about black teenagers growing up in the US, but everyone can gain something out of reading it. These incredible stories share events that were shaped by many different upbringings and experiences growing up black.

You’ll find tales from the perspective of being biracial, gay, wealthy, and creative. There are struggles with mental health. Some are difficult to read because of the subject matter, while other stories are heartwarming. All of them are important.

 

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Hidden Figures Cover

I saw the movie before I read the book, but I was eager to read this one and learn more about the untold stories of these women. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Hidden Figures is the true story of four black female mathematicians who worked for NASA during the Space Race and WWII.

These women did their calculations by hand as they were segregated from their white coworkers. And their contributions were largely ignored for over fifty years, until the release of this book.

 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Born a Crime Cover

Are you a fan of Trevor Noah from The Daily Show? This New York Times bestseller is a collection of eighteen personal essays that share his upbringing in apartheid South Africa to how he landed his role on The Daily Show today.

Born to a white father and a black mother in the midst of apartheid, Trevor Noah was considered a criminal act in South Africa. And his powerful memoir is a story you just can’t put down. It’s funny, moving, and surprising. There are moments that will horrify you… and moments that will touch your heart.

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

6 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Black History Month: Sing, Unburied, Sing Cover

This haunting fiction novel takes place in the soul of Mississippi, where 13-year-old Jojo and his little sister have been raised by their grandparents.

Their mother, Leonie, weaves in and out of their lives due to her drug addiction. She’s haunted by the ghost of her brother who was murdered 15 years earlier — he appears when she uses. You get a glimpse into both of their minds, as the book shifts back and forth between the perspective of both Leonie and Jojo during a particular road trip.

7 Classic Books That Are Still Relevant Today

7 Classic Books That Are Still Relevant Today

What makes a book a classic? Who decides what books become essential reading? To me, a classic novel is a story that stands the test of time.

I’ve read many of the iconic classics in my lifetime (though it wasn’t always by choice). While I was an avid reader even as a young child, my mom wanted me to explore books outside The Rugrat Files or Twitches. So, she started picking up some of the classics for me.

Some I fell in love with. Some bored me, and I only pretended to read them. Many of them took a little time to really get into. But nonetheless, I’m grateful that my mom and our English teachers still encourage us to read these pieces of literature.

There’s a reason these stories last (even if the style of language can be hard to follow a few novels that go way back).

Here are a few of my favorites and why I think they’re still important today:

 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

7 Classic Books That Are Still Relevant Today: To Kill a Mockingbird Book Cover

We’ve come a long way since the 1960’s when it comes to race, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to inclusion. Whatever progress we’ve made doesn’t change the fact that we are still a divided world.

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kensey

7 Classic Books That Are Still Relevant Today: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Book Cover

Written in 1962, this novel was turned into a popular movie in the 1970’s. The reason it resonated with people is a topic that still applies more than 50 years later. This novel is told from the view of living in a psychiatric ward and, to many, represented the struggle of resisting against ineffective authority.

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

7 Classic Books That Are Still Relevant Today: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is another classic set in a hedonistic future. But this time, the plot is focused on the idea of toxic censorship. Books are banned and burned. The people living in this world don’t read–they spend their free time on pure entertainment. It’s not hard to see how this future feels eerily close to today’s world.

 

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

7 Classic Books That Are Still Relevant Today: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I read this coming-of-age story about growing up in the inner city when I was 10, but I didn’t really appreciate it until I re-read a few years later. It doesn’t feel like a novel that written over 100 years ago. It’s about struggling in poverty and how that experience compares to living in privilege. I think it applies to modern life and how we compare ourselves to each other on social media.

 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

7 Classic Books That Are Still Relevant Today: Of Mice and Men Book Cover

This one was assigned reading in my sophomore English class, but it was a book I couldn’t put down after starting to read it. Written during the Great Depression era, it tells the gut-wrenching story of two men who are struggling to reach their dream of someday owning a piece of land. (Note: This book is controversial due to offensive language and slurs)

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

7 Classic Books That Are Still Relevant Today: Brave New World Book Cover

Set in the future (more than 500 years from now), a Brave New World takes place in a dystopian society where technology is used to control society. As technology changes faster than ever, this classic has never been more important than it is today.

 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

7 Classic Books That Are Still Relevant Today: The Lovely Bones

Based on the true story of a young teen who was murdered in the 1970’s, this story is a fictional tale of grief, the afterlife, and the experiences that make us human. Death is something every human on earth faces. The perspective of life on earth shown in the book is touching and gives you a lot to think about.

 

What are some of your favorite classic books? How do you think they relate to us today?

6 Fascinating YA Novels You Might Have Missed

6 Fascinating YA Novels You Might Have Missed

From the high school romances to coming-of-age discoveries to teenagers surviving sci-fi futures, there’s something about a good YA novel that gets us every time.

If you’re a YA fan, you’ve probably already read popular titles like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. In this blog post, we’re sharing some amazing young adult novels you might have missed.

6 Interesting Books for Young Adults (That You Might Have Missed)

 

American Panda by Gloria Chao

6 Interesting Books for Young Adults (That You Might Have Missed)

American Panda by Gloria Chao is about Taiwanese-American MIT freshman, Mei, as she navigates her two cultures and the beginning of her independence. Many parents would be thrilled to have their child at MIT, but Mei’s parents want more.

They’ve planned a nice, stable medical career for her. Regardless of whether she’s interested in medicine or even able to stomach any of the work. Between secretly dancing and secretly dating a Japanese-American classmate, though, Mei might be setting her own path.

You don’t actually need a tiger mom to relate to this story of family expectations, first love, and identity.

 

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

6 Interesting Books for Young Adults (That You Might Have Missed) - One of Us Is Lying

In One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus, five disparate students find themselves in detention. One of them is brutally murdered before their eyes. This is where the Breakfast Club similarities end and a page-turning murder mystery begins.

Perspective shifting, although popular in a lot of recent YA novels, isn’t usually my favorite narrative style. But it works here. The other four students in detention take turns telling their truths (and let readers get closer to what actually happened that day).

Everyone in this story has something to hide. Fans of Pretty Little Liars will love the twists as the truth gets closer.

 

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

6 Interesting Books for Young Adults - The Truth About Alice

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu covers high school gossip, sexuality, and reputation in small-town Texas. While nasty rumors fly about slutty Alice Franklin, the reactions of her classmates reveal more about themselves than about Alice.

Many YA novels lean on the unsympathetic parents as stock characters, but this novel showed layered, complex relationships between teens and parents. This is a sympathetic story of peer pressure, teenage relationships, and finally independence in a small town.

 

Perennials by Mandy Berman

6 Interesting Books for Young Adults - Perennials

Is Perennials sophisticated young adult fiction…or is it adult fiction about teenage characters?

It turns out, it doesn’t matter. This summer camp story has maturing friendships, teen romance and realizations for the YA fan, as well as more adult themes of social class and consent.

As little girls returning to camp go from crafts and ponies to beer and boys, they discover more about themselves and their families. Recommended for your friend who needs a little nudge to fall deeply in love with YA fiction.

 

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

6 Interesting Books for Young Adults - Only Ever Yours

Fans of The Hunger Games trilogy or even The Handmaid’s Tale shouldn’t miss Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours.

Although the characters are all teenage girls, this is dystopian sci-fi with a hint of feminist satire.

In the future, girls are born, raised, and modified to be pretty and compliant male playthings. Then they’re sent into a competition with each other to attract the best mate. However, the voluntary suicides at the ancient age of thirty aren’t even the most disturbing thing in this novel.

(Were you annoyed by the Very Special Heroine tropes of Divergent and similar novels? Rest assured. When the dystopian world Only Ever Yours has a rule, it’s not broken for our heroine.)

 

I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

6 Interesting Books for Young Adults (That You Might Have Missed) - I Believe in a Thing Called Love

I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo is a sweet YA novel, especially for fans of Korean dramas. Clumsy overachiever Desi sets out a plan to attract the handsome new student. She decides to use all the tactics from her father’s beloved K-dramas to draw him in.

While the romance is central to the story, Desi’s two closest friends and her relationship with her Appa are also intriguing. You get all the fun, funny, and awkward beats of a K-drama story set in an American high school.

What are your favorite undiscovered YA gems? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us!

5 Books That Change Your Perspective on Life

5 Books that Change Your Perspective on Life - Girl Reading in a Library

What makes a great book, anyway?

Think back to the most memorable books you’ve read. They’re gripping. You experience intense reactions as you read them.

And most of all? They change you.

Here are 5 books that will change your perspective on life. If you’re looking for a fresh read that’s motivated and uplifting, check these books out.

 

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

5 Books That Change Your Perspective on Life - Man's Search for Meaning

Have you ever felt like your life lacked meaning? You don’t necessarily feel hopeless, but some days it feels like you’re unsure whether or not your life counts for something.

We all seek fulfillment in the world, whether it’s unconsciously or not. This memoir by Viktor B. Frankl shares that perspective from inside a Nazi concentration camp — and it’s considered to be one of the most influential books in the world.

The idea that a book on the Holocaust leaves you feeling positive and inspired seems counterintuitive, but a Man’s Search for Meaning does exactly that.

The author was a former psychiatrist imprisoned in a concentration camp. He describes the terrifying experiences they endured to share how his fellow prisoners adapted their mindset to cope with the awfulness.

 

Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

5 Books That Change Your Perspective on Life - Switch

Change is tough. Even when we seek out a change in the future, it’s scary.

Think about your first day of college. You could be counting down the days until move-in, but when the day finally comes? You get pretty nervous.

So why is change such a nerve-wracking experience? That’s the question the Heath brothers seek to answer in the book Switch. Their vision is simple: In order to motivate change in your life, you have to understand both sides of your brain.

We have a logical type of brain and an emotional type. Using a simple metaphor, the authors of the book explain how you actually change your behavior.

 

Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders

5 Books That Change Your Perspective on Life - Congratulations, By the Way

Think back to your graduation. Do you remember the speakers?

Commencement speeches can be hit or miss, but the really great ones leave you feeling encouraged. They move you.

This book is an extended version of George Saunders speech at Syracuse University in 2013 — it’s perfect for recent college graduates or anyone in need of a pick-me-up. It’s an easy, short read. His main point might sound a little corny but it’s an excellent reminder of what’s really important in life.

 

Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht

5 Books That Change Your Perspective on Life - Leave Your Mark

What’s your dream job?

Aliza Licht is a top publicist in the fashion industry and a career mentor for young graduates just getting started in their industry. Her book spills the insider secrets of her experience in PR and offers a straightforward guide for getting ahead in today’s professional world.

But it goes a lot deeper than the fashion industry. Her lessons apply to every industry — and it’s not just for women.

Aliza fully embraces social media. She shares advice on building your personal brand, how to communicate, and the social etiquette inside the corporate world.

 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

5 Books That Change Your Perspective on Life

You might have already seen the movie and that’s okay. I still believe the book is worth reading at least once.

If you don’t know the premise yet, here’s a little backstory. Hazel is a 16-year-old girl battling thyroid cancer when she meets Augustus in a cancer support group. Augustus is currently in remission after years of facing bone cancer.

I won’t give away the ending, but this novel deals with oodles of tough topics like death, cancer, love, and the afterlife. Sounds kinda depressing, right? However, The Fault in Our Stars is equally heartwarming and inspiring too.

5 Inspirational Books for College Students: Freshman to Senior Year

5 Inspirational Books for College Students: Photo of two women studying

Between classes, studying, work and a personal life–college is a serious balancing act. No matter what year you’re in.

For instance, everything feels foreign during freshman year. You’re encountering new situations and the exhilarating experience of being on your own for the first time. It’s exciting…but you probably have a lot of questions.

But what about when you reach your junior or senior year? Once more, you’re close to a huge life transition. Now you’re faced with thoughts about your potential future path.

Here are 5 inspirational books every college student should have around for those times when you need a pick-me-up.

 

Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate

5 Inspirational Books for College Students

We’re all connected online in today’s world. In fact, most of us are on at least 1-2 social media networks (if not more). Social media is fun, entertaining, and an excellent way to stay in touch with your friends.

Especially since college can mark the first time you’ve ever lived away from your hometown.

But what about the flip side of social media? Like cyberbullying. Privacy concerns. Safety threats.

It can happen to anyone if you’re not careful. Shame Nation covers some pretty groundbreaking territory. The authors, Scheff and Schorr, explore the intense backlash and nastiness people can face on social media.

She uses incidents like the 2016 presidential election and high-profile tragedies in recent years to demonstrate how we communicate has changed.

And it’s powerful.

 

The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College

5 Inspirational Books for College Students

Are you the new kid on campus? Pick up a copy of this book.

Moving into your dorm is thrilling, but once your parents leave? It hits you. You’re alone in a (tiny) room living with a total stranger. It’s totally normal to feel a little homesick in this moment, even if you get along perfectly with your roommate.

The Naked Roommate contains letters, stories, and advice from students who’ve been in your shoes before. Some of the advice might seem obvious but most of the tips are great reminders–they cover just about any topic or challenge you could run into at school.

 

How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country’s Top Students

5 Inspirational Books for College Students

Imagine a straight-A college student. What do you think of first?

Many of us picture someone with their head down in a book, studying in every moment of free time. Or we think of a high-achiever in school on a full scholarship. Someone who is obsessed with their GPA.

These scenarios might be true for many people. But what if the key to success in college was simply thinking outside of the box?

Inside this book, you’ll find the strategies used by real-life students to become standout students. Their advice is unique, no-fluff, and unpredictable.

 

Freshman Year of Life

5 Inspirational Books for College Students

Picture your first year of life away from school. For good.

It’s an exciting thought, but let’s be real–it’s a little intimidating too. You’re trying to find your place in a new professional environment. Maybe you’re moving to a new city. And dating? It can get pretty complicated.

The Freshman Year of Life is a light-hearted and entertaining read. It’s full of short essays from young college graduates, making it a great book to have handy when you need a quick pick-me-up for inspiration.

Their stories are honest and relatable. Each essay offers practical advice that’s perfect for any current students, those who are about to graduate, or recent graduates about to enter the “real world” for the first time.

 

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now

5 Inspirational Books for College Students

Your 20’s is a rollercoaster ride.

You get to share the fun experiences of your twenties…but it can also be a little overwhelming. Sometimes we feel a little lost in the world or unsure of ourselves.

According to author Dr. Meg Jay, your twenties mean something. In fact, they’ll change your life. In a world where we’re constantly told to live in the moment, this book offers a different perspective on life as a twenty-something today.

What’s her point? While we’re still very young in our twenties, we have the chance to build the foundation for the rest of our lives. Dr. Jay covers that in terms of our career and personal lives.  

6 Must-Have Tech Gadgets for College Students

6 Must-Have Tech Gadgets for College Students

Seriously, why do college checklists have so much stuff on them?

When some of them have upwards of 150 items, how do you know what you actually need to bring along to school?

Obviously, you need school supplies, textbooks, clothing, and shower gear. But to be 100% honest, outside of your basic living essentials…you probably need less than you think.

Especially when it comes to school supplies–I didn’t use half of the things that I first brought along to college.

Your dorm room or apartment will be small and you won’t have a lot of room to store these things. The less you bring, the less clutter you have (which means less time you spend on cleaning).

However, there are a few tech items that will make your life WAY easier away from home. Let’s take a quick look.

6 Best Tech Gadgets for College Students in 2018

 

1. Portable Phone Charger

Let’s be real–we’re on our phones all the time. It doesn’t take long to drain the battery. The only problem is, your schedule tends to be all over the place in college.

You could have some days with back-to-back classes and then you’re heading to work straight from your last class. Even if you DO have breaks in between your classes, your dorm room or apartment might not be anywhere close.

You’ll end up stopping for food in between classes or hanging out the library to study. It just might not make sense to go back to your room during the day.

That’s where portable chargers come in. This one is lightweight and charges your phone incredibly fast.

 

2. Lap Desk

My parents gifted me a lap desk before I went off to college. At first, I kind of laughed at it. The lap desk didn’t really seem necessary because I already had a desk in my room. However, it turned out to be a total game-changer.

Sometimes you just don’t want to get out of bed.

Or it could be the total opposite.

Maybe you’re getting major cabin fever and need to escape your room for the common area. I frequently met up with my neighbors and friends in the commons space to study together or work on homework. My lap desk offered a sturdy surface so I could get work done from anywhere. This lap desk is less than $20, holds your laptop, and has a space for your tablet.

 

3. Portable Speaker

Whether you have friends over for a movie night or want to hang out with some background music, you want a compact, portable speaker for your room.

Do yourself a favor and get a speaker that’s compatible with most mobile devices via Bluetooth, in case you want to let somebody else play DJ for the night.

This speaker is small, shockproof, and water-resistant. Perfect for your new shared space. (It’s built to withstand outdoors and the elements, if that’s your thing!)

4. Noise-Canceling Headphones

Because nothing is worse than going to the library to study and being forced to listen to your neighbor’s loud conversation. Be in your own little world instead.

Noise canceling headphones are perfect for blocking out distractions. You can also listen to your favorite music, hit the gym, tune out your roommate, or watch videos at a normal volume–and eliminate any background noise.

 

5. Roku Streaming Stick

Your dorm room or new apartment doesn’t come with cable? Not a problem if you have a Roku Streaming Stick.

If you’re not familiar with Roku, it’s a remote device that allows you to stream  content from sites like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and more. they’re super affordable.

The only thing you have to do is connect your Roku stick into your Wi-Fi and to your TV. Before you buy this, double check to make sure that your TV has an HDMI port. That’s how you’ll connect the Roku to your TV.

Most TVs today come with this, but it just depends on how old your TV set is.

 

6. Kindle Tablet

While you can certainly get away without owning a tablet in college, it definitely has some advantages. Especially the Kindle. Here’s why.

You can save a TON of money on textbooks. Use a textbook search engine like Textbook Nova to find the cheapest version of your assigned textbooks. Another way to save is to use Amazon Textbook Rentals.

Their textbook rental service allows you to rent textbooks for an entire semester OR for however many weeks you think you’ll need it.

The great part about having a Kindle or Fire tablet is that you can immediately download these text books onto your tablet. Amazon also allows you to extend your rentals for 30 days or renew them again for another semester, in case you need to keep the textbook around for a little longer.

 

5 Practical Digital Photography Books for Beginners

5 Best Photography Books for Beginners

Want to learn how to capture that perfect snapshot?

From shooting portraits to getting the most out of your lighting, these books will provide the novice photographer with an awesome foundation.

Already have some experience? You’ll get an excellent refresher on how to take your shots to the next level.

 

5 Best Photography Books for Beginners: Learn How to Take Photos Like a Pro

 

The Perfect Portrait Guide – How to Photograph People  by Michael Busselle

5 Best Photography Books for Beginners

What’s your favorite subject for shooting photos?

If you’re like us, your camera roll is full of photos of your friends, families and…selfies (of course). This book is an awesome introduction to capturing better photos of people.

The Perfect Portrait Guide covers everything from snapping casual photos to taking shots in different light settings. Although, I want to note something. This book was written a little over 15 years ago, so it covers film camera and not digital cameras. However, I thought the advice still applied to shooting great portraits with digital photography.

You’ll find inspiration in the stunning examples of composition, whether you’re an experienced amateur or total newbie.

 

Better Photo Basics: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro by Jim Miotke

5 Best Photography Books for Beginners

The author, Jim Miotke, created this guide based on his experience as a professional photographer and teaching photography online. This book offers the perfect introduction for those of you who are new to photography. 

It’s jam-packed with gorgeous photos. Even better, Miotke includes a chapter of these photos and demonstrates the camera settings used to take them.

He’s a great teacher. The book is simple and easy to follow, breaking down the basic settings on your digital cameras (like the various modes and other automatic settings). The best method for improving your photography skill is to practice, right? You’ll discover that Better Photo Basics includes assignments so you can get out there and use his advice.

 

Picture Perfect Posing: Practicing the Art of Posing for Photographs and Models (Voices That Matter) by Roberto Valenzuela

5 Best Photography Books for Beginners

Written by Roberto Valenzuela–the author of Picture Perfect Practice–this photography guide is loaded with useful tips and tricks. Valenzuela wrote it based on his philosophy. Deliberate practice is what leads to photography skills and achievement (not talent). Therefore, you can become a great photographer too–if you work at it over time.

Picture Perfect Posing is incredibly detailed and you’ll have to read it more than once to fully absorb it. He shares his specific methodology for getting expression out of your models, positioning the body, and using emotion to capture jaw-dropping images.

In fact, Valenzuela even includes photos he took in the early days of his career. They demonstrate examples of bad posing techniques (so you can spot them when you’re shooting photos yourself).

 

Essential Elements of Portrait Photography: Lighting and Posing Techniques to Make Everyone Look Their Best by Bill Israelson

5 Best Photography Books for Beginners

This book lays down a solid foundation for photography, teaching the core skills for shooting better photos of people. Bill Israelson explains everything from your equipment basics to shooting inside a studio.

He offers a step-by-step process for capturing that perfect shot. Even if you’re a practiced amateur photographer, you’ll gain a lot of useful advice from here. Israelson breaks down those complicated photography methods and theories into simple, practical steps.

Inside this book, you’ll discover how to approach lighting based on different situations. You’ll learn how to handle light sources in every setup, which will instantly make people look better in your photos.

 

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson

5 Best Photography Books for Beginners

Getting better at photography is ALL about experimenting with your camera.  

If you’re ready to take your photos beyond the automatic settings, this is the book for you. Bryan Peterson breaks down the complexities of your camera and teaches you how to take powerful, beautiful images in manual mode.

You’ll want to come back to this book over and over. I’m a hobby photographer who never really understood exposure settings before I read this book. I just edited it afterward! But now I know exactly what the exposure triangle is capable of capturing.

Peterson is a great teacher. He shares many stories in the first half of the book while offering insights into more practical concepts in the last half. I’d recommend this to anyone learning photography (especially if you’re scared of manual mode).

Remember:

The best method for improving your photography skills is to keep practicing. Now let’s get out there and create something awesome!

 

7 Good Travel Books That Will Give You Wanderlust

7 Good Travel Books That Will Give You Wanderlust

Looking to escape into another world?

Travel can transform your view of the world. Even if you don’t intend to drop everything to travel the world, getting out of your bubble is an eye-opening experience. If you love books like Eat Pray Love, keep reading.

Get ready to be inspired by these 6 good travel books.

1. Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts

7 Good Travel Books That Will Give You Wanderlust

Have you ever felt like traveling around the world is one of those far-fetched dreams?

It’s a fantasy that can feel out of reach for most of us. Maybe you’ve even daydreamed about leaving home but you’ve accepted it’s totally out of your budget.

Vagabonding dispels the myth that long-term travel isn’t possible for everyone. The biggest lesson I learned from this book is that it doesn’t matter what your age is or how much money you make. If you want to board that plane and explore the world–you CAN make it happen.

The author shares his perspective on what makes long-term travel so fulfilling and how it can transform your perspective on life. The only downside? I guarantee you’ll catch the travel bug after reading this book.

 

2. Eat Pray and Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir 

7 Good Travel Books That Will Give You Wanderlust

Eat Pray and Love filled thousands of women with hopes of finding their own spiritual journey in life. This book is a collection of essays inspired by the famous memoir.

In fact, it features nearly 50 stories of women who took action towards changing their lives after finishing Elizabeth Gilbert’s book. Whether they followed similar steps or were inspired to find their own path, you’ll find short stories of people who felt unfulfilled in life and decided to change things.

What’s great about this book is that the essays are all pretty short. On the other hand, this means you won’t build a deep connection to any of the writers, but you do get to see how people from all different backgrounds transformed their lives in search of happiness.

 

3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

7 Good Travel Books That Will Give You Wanderlust

At age 26, Cheryl Strayed was completely lost. After her mother died, she turned to drugs and impulsive sex to fill the void in her life. Once Cheryl realized she had fallen down a dangerous path, she decided to turn to the wild to find herself again.

I first discovered this book through the movie starring Reese Witherspoon, But if you enjoy travel inspired books like Eat Pray Love, I think you’ll want to check this one out too.

Cheryl decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone. Without any hiking or backpacking experience to fall back on, her journey becomes extremely dangerous. It challenges her strength, willpower, and ultimately her spirit.

 

4. Life Nomadic by Tynan

7 Good Travel Books That Will Give You Wanderlust

 

Don’t have any experience with travel but want to get started? You need this book. It’s a quick read–one that you can finish in less than a day.

The author, Tynan, shares practical tips on how to travel around the world and live in multiple countries. He wrote it for the novice traveler, making it easy to digest.

Tynan is a nomad and shares advice geared towards his lifestyle…but that doesn’t mean that in order to enjoy this book you must want to ditch your home to live in another country. He shares a lot of great advice on simply how to travel cheaper and get out there to explore the world.

 

5. No Place Like Home: A Memoir In 39 Apartments by Brooke Berman

7 Good Travel Books That Will Give You Wanderlust

Okay, this memoir doesn’t seem to really be about traveling right off the bat. However, I thought I would include it on this list because it’s the story of a journey toward finding a home. If you’re a new graduate or young adult trying to find your way in life, this book is for you.

Brooke Berman is an 18-year old who left her hometown of Detroit and moved to New York City in pursuit of a common dream in the city: a successful career in theater.

Brooke doesn’t have much money but she’ll do anything to make her dreams work–even if means crashing on people’s couches and becoming a nomad in the city of New York.

 

6. How to Travel the World on $50 Per Day by Matt Kepnes

7 Good Travel Books That Will Give You Wanderlust

How can you travel the world on a college student budget? The author behind Nomadic Matt took the advice from his popular travel blog and transformed it into this book.

It packs a ton of advice that’s excellent for beginner OR experienced travelers. Heading to Europe? Want to take a backpacking trip? Matt Kepnes will show you how to hack your way to cheaper flights, discover low-cost accommodations, and explore other tips and tricks for saving money around the world.

 

7. This Book Is About Travel by Andrew Hyde

7 Good Travel Books That Will Give You Wanderlust

Andrew Hyde traveled to 15 countries in less two years.

While the title of this book implies it’s a guide, it’s really more of a collection of stories on his travel experiences. But that doesn’t mean you won’t catch the travel bug after reading it!

Andrew explains the significance of why we should all travel. Not to mention, he also shares how to decide what places to travel to (and how to budget for them).

Nonetheless, the most interesting chapters are where he shares the tales of entertaining yourself in an unknown country. (Wait until you read about what happened when he found himself with literally no money.)