Books That You Should Read if You're True-Crime Obsessed
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Books That You Should Read if You're True-Crime Obsessed

Who doesn't love a good true-crime?

1. Helter Skelter - Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (1974)


This is an absolute must-read. Like, seriously, you cannot miss out on this one. It's no surprise that it is the best-selling true-crime novel in history. It's written by Vincent Bugliosi, who was the prosecutor in the Manson murder trial, which took place in 1970. It tells the tale of the Manson murders, including the investigation, arrest and prosecution of Charles Manson. We also get a look into the members of his "family" (young girls who were essentially brain-washed into thinking Manson was some sort of god). Creepy, interesting and true... perfect for the true-crime lover.

2. Just Mercy - Bryan Stevenson (2014)


Now, this one is a little different from the others. It's written by Bryan Stevenson, a defense attorney who created and worked for a non-profit legal practice. His legal practice focused its efforts on helping those who were wrongly condemned, those who were mistreated, the poor, etc. Basically, his goal was to help people who needed help the most. He took on the cases of those who were given punishments much too harsh for their crimes (including those incarcerated as children in adult prisons), those who had (for lack of a better word) shitty defense teams, etc. It may upset you with just how much corruption was and still is present in our criminal justice system, but it's fascinating and is a definite must-read.

3. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote (1966)


This one tells the tale of the quadruple murder of the Clutter family in 1959. The author, Truman Capote, traveled to Kansas (where the crime took place) before the murderers were caught to write about the crime. Fun fact, Harper Lee (the author of To Kill a Mockingbird) accompanied him! They talked to the people in the area, as well as those working on the crime and took a bunch of notes. Capote spent about six years writing this novel. It is the second best-selling true-crime novel in history, right after our beloved Helter Skelter.

4. The Stranger Beside Me - Ann Rule (1980)


We all know about Ted Bundy, right? The super charming guy who murdered several young women, who they are now making a movie about starring Zac Efron as the killer himself? Yeah, that dude. Well, if you're interested in serial killer novels, I highly recommend this one. This novel is written by Ann Rule, who actually personally knew Ted Bundy before (and after) he committed his heinous crimes. Intrigued? I bet you are.

5. Columbine - Dave Cullen (2009)


As the title indicates, this novel looks at the awful shooting massacre that took place at Columbine High School in 1999. It looks at the killers' evolution leading up the massacre. Also, since it was published ten years after the shooting took place, it looks at the victims' lives over the ten years following the crime. Super sad, but super interesting.

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College Life |  Source: L. Smith, Oregon Live

Quentin Tarantino's Newest Movie Is About The Manson Murders

About damn time.

The acclaimed director of Inglourious Basterds, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill is starting to put together his tenth film, which is supposedly inspired by the Manson Family and their cult killings.

For those who don't know about this terrifying "Family" and their horrifying murders, here's some background.

Charles Manson was the official leader of the cult and was considered a "father" to his followers - a tad concerning when you think about how much sex they had with one another.

The women in the group were actively used as bargaining chips to bring other men into the group, Charles' hold on them was so strong that they were more than willing to do this and stayed loyal to him even after his imprisonment. A majority of the family's murders were committed in 1969.

Charles Manson never participated in any of the murders, but instead sent members of the family to commit them. One of these many killings included the infamous Tate murders, which was the horrifying murder of actress Sharon Tate (director Roman Polanski's wife at the time who was eight months pregnant) and four of her guests.

A gruesome story in its own right, I'm sure Tarantino will manage to make his film even more bloody. The project's title is currently unknown, but it will be written and directed by Tarantino, ensuring that it'll be a quality film.

According to The Hollywood Reporter the film will begin shooting sometime next year and rumors claim Brad Pitt (who also starred in Inglourious Basterds) has been tapped for a role alongside Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence.

With this upcoming project being the first of Tarantino's films inspired by true events, it'll be interesting to see if this film will be different than his original stories. Will it be like Inglourious Basterds, where Hitler is murdered in an assassination plot, and some facts will be changed?

Either way, I'm excited.

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College Life |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

Books For People Tired Of Reading Old Dead White Male Authors

The classics are cool and all, but let's hear some different voices.

Let's face it: sometimes you just don't want to read books by old dead white guys.

Are some of their works classics? Sure. Are the classics classics for a reason? Yes, they're usually good. However, sometimes you just really need some fresh perspective, a different voice.

There's such a drastic difference between a white man writing about minority oppression versus actual minorities writing about it--the white guy will never fully understand oppression.

As an English major, I spent most of my school career dredging through the works of, you guessed it, old dead white guys. However, I was lucky enough to be able to take a class called "Voices of America", which focused specifically on American authors that weren't just white males.

I hadn't put much thought into who was writing the stories that I was reading, and after taking this class, I have become much more aware of the voices that are creating what I read.

It certainly doesn't stop me from reading a story by white guys that I'm interested in reading, but I put more thought into the creation of the work itself now.

Anyways, not all of these authors are still alive, but most are. If you're interested in reading different voices besides the old dead white guy, here's a great list of works to check out:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie


Based partially on Alexie's own experiences growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, the book follows Arnold Spirit Jr., a fourteen-year old Native American coming of age as he transfers to an all-white public school.

Hilarious, but also poignantly raw, Alexie tells Arnold's story not only with words, but in comic illustrations, too.

This is a great read if you aren't a huge reader, or even if you are and just want something that's still raw and real, but less dense than other books. There's still absolutely those gut-punching moments, and sometimes they came through the drawings. I've been making it a point to try to read Alexie's other works after reading this one.

Drown by Junot Diaz


Junot Diaz, a Dominican American author, tells the semi-autobiographical story of Yunior, whose family immigrates to America to pursue the American dream, and the story of the pitfalls and struggles that accompany chasing that dream.

Drown is a collection of short stories that are not chronological, and it's honestly that ambiguity of time that makes it so powerful. This has been my personal favorite read. Junot Diaz has a way of capturing emotion that hits you right in the chest, and his other works are excellent, too. However, Drown stands atop them all.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou


I know that some high schools required reading this book, which is how I first stumbled across it many years ago, but if you haven't read it already, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is the autobiography of Maya Angelou (RIP), a black woman growing up in Arkansas.

Angelou tells the story of the racism she experienced as a black woman, and how she transformed from only a victim to somebody who can respond to the prejudice.

Angelou tells a story we, as white people, try our best to avoid engaging with: the racism of our grandparents, parents and their societies, and of even our peers and society today. Her prose is beautiful, and she does not mince her words nor sugarcoat anything that happened to her, and her words echo in you long after you've finished the book.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri


Jhumpa Lahiri, an Indian American author, tells a series of short stories about different Indian and Indian American people, all struggling between their roots in India and the world they face in America.

Lahiri's succession of stories that follow different characters sounds like it would be difficult to care for a rotating cast, but she develops them so fully that you cannot help but care for each one. You wonder what will happen to each one, and whether the problems that are presented will be solved or fall further apart.

Sula by Toni Morrison


Sula by Toni Morrison tells the story of the predominantly black neighborhood of The Bottom in Ohio, and follows the narrator, Nel Wright, and her best friend, Sula Peace, as they grow up in The Bottom. This is the story of their friendship and their relationship to the world around them.

Morrison creates a vibrant world that fights back against the girls, who aren't quite strict of moral, either. The complexity of the novel, as well as the numerous parallels that run through it, leave you as a reader with so much to mull over at the end, and it's almost impossible to not sit there and make connections between things in the text.

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan


Amy Tan tells the story of Ruth, a Chinese American, and her mother, an immigrant. Ruth's mother, Lu Ling, is developing dementia, and Ruth explores her frustrations and feelings towards her ailing mother. Lu Ling had written her life story in Chinese, and Ruth takes the documents for translation, learning her mother's story and truth of her life in China.

There's two stories being told: Ruth and Lu Ling's. Their relationship is not the best, but the realistic way it's portrayed hit me right in the feelings place. My own mother has been struggling with my grandma's dementia, and I have given her this book in hopes that reading the relationship between Ruth and Lu Ling will help her feel less guilty about the things she might be feeling towards her mother.

The way this book is written really makes you contemplate the relationships we share with our families, and how they can be made and broken.

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Things to Thank Your Older Siblings For as Told By Full House

It's nice to have a partner in crime.

For those of us who grew up with big brothers and sisters, we know that back then, it felt like there were a whole lot more costs than benefits. Try to put the tattling and petty fights aside for a minute. There are a few things you should thank your older siblings for.

They took the brunt of your parent's wrath.

You know what I mean here. Just like there are probably 50 times more baby pictures of your older sibs than you, your parents were way harder on them.

By the second, third or fourth kid came around, your parents were probably tired and much more lenient. So go ahead, sneak out. Your parents are so tired they may just sleep straight through it.


They gave you their rockin' hand-me-downs.

Love that cool sparkly skirt your big sister rocked at her middle school dance? Great, you can wear it for your 7th grade class pictures. I lived for the days when my older sibs would clean out their closets. One older sister's trash is a little sister's treasure, am I right?


They had your back.

Remember the first time your SO came over to meet your parents? Thank God for your older sibling who had been through it all before. They provided a nice barrier between you and your overbearing parents. Or that time there were FOR SURE monsters under the bed? Thank goodness you shared a room.


They call you on your bullshit.

It's nice to have someone close by who's been through it all before. As adorable as your hissy fit about that cute boy at school is, your older siblings will be there to tell you when it's time to chill out. Older and wiser... most of the time.


They'll cover for you.

Thank goodness your older brother agreed to play dumb that time you smashed your mom's favorite frame. Who did it? Oh, I don't know, the cat probably knocked it over. It's nice to have a partner in crime...


They gotta love you.

It's nice to know that no matter how bad you screw up, you've got someone in your corner. They were there for you when you forged your mom's signature on your report card and got grounded for a month and they'll be there when you get dumped. It's pretty comforting to have somebody looking out for you.


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College Life | 

Primary and Secondary Sources

A quick and dirty explanation

When you're writing a research paper, there's a good chance you'll cite primary and secondary sources. Not sure what the difference is? You're not alone. But they are a basic part of knowing how to do research for a college paper--and something all college students should know. So, we've made a primer of sorts for you. (See what I did there?)

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are the original work or firsthand account of some event. They are created by someone who has direct knowledge of the event. Some examples of primary sources are:

  • The first published results of a study
  • A novel or theatrical play (Hamlet is a primary source, even though it is a fictitious story.)
  • An autobiography
  • An eyewitness from an event
  • A newspaper or magazine article written soon after an event (An article that reported the U.S.'s first moon landing and was published the day after the event is a primary source.)
  • Original paintings, sculptures, and photographs

What are secondary sources?

Secondary sources are one step removed from an event. Secondary sources interpret and analyze primary sources. For instance, a secondary source could be:

  • A news article that reported the results of a study
  • A critique of a novel or play
  • A history book that offered an interpretation of Anne Frank's The Diary of A Young Girl
  • A documentary that featured interviews with eyewitnesses to a crime
  • A magazine article written in 2015 that discussed the U.S.'s first moon landing
  • A picture of a sculpture (The sculpture is the primary source, so a picture of it is a secondary source.)

How do you use primary and secondary sources in a paper?

In general, you would cite primary sources when you're offering your own interpretation of that source. For instance, say you're writing a paper about your analysis of a study on cognitive behavior. You would use the findings of that study as a primary source.

Secondary sources could be other published analyses of the study. Let's say you believe those analyses are completely missing an important takeaway from the study. You could quote those analyses to show that they don't touch upon that takeaway--which, btw, helps confirm that your interpretation is original. Booya!

In a nutshell: Know the difference between primary and secondary sources and make it a point to use both of them in your papers.

Word to your flocker.

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College Life |  Source: FlockU, Amazon

Easy Style Tips For Guys From A Girl

Never go home alone again.

I've often had boys ask me for style advice. Whether by asking me to go shopping for them or responding "Y" or "N" to a certain outfit they have texted with a selfie, guys tend to want some confirmation or guidance on their outfit choices.

While I would like to say I get these questions because I dress nicely (I did win Best Dressed for Senior Superlatives LOL #peakedinhighschool), I think most guys just appreciate the style taste of women.

I mean, there is the fact that guys typically don't see color as well as girls, and more guys than girls tend to be color blind to some degree. So, yes, we do usually notice when you're trying to play off navy blue as black.

Also, though, as absurd as the idea is, guys sometimes think asking for fashion tips from other guys is not very masculine or cool or weird (or I don't even know), so they prefer to seek out female help. Not right, but definitely a thing.

Then there is the reasonable idea that heterosexual guys want to dress in a way that appeals to women. And, as can be evidenced by a whole range of things, sometimes guys opinions don't match up with that of their female counterparts. Thus, a woman's two-cents is likely a better indicator of what women in general might like to see.

Fashion choices can be expensive, and if you're getting into the nitty gritty details of an outfit, perhaps even intricate. However, there are simple ways that a guy can instantly look good in what he wears.

Before I start the list, though, I should mention that anything you wear should be clean (and not just sprayed with Axe)...

Leather Jacket
A guy in a leather jacket gets me every damn time. I think it's the juxtaposition of the clean cut structure with the bad boy edge the leather provides. Also, it's so versatile in it's ability to take looks to the next level. It adds a carefree aura to a going out look and a sexiness if worn over a t-shirt while running errands.

Still, I hear a lot of guys say, "I could never pull it off," and to that I say: I've never seen a boy look bad in a leather jacket.


Brown Leather Oxfords
I can't really explain why, but guys with nice shoes stand out to girls. It exudes a mature manliness that we like when we are at a time in our lives when frat parties are inundated with tank tops that say "SB 2K17".

Although leather oxfords can be pricey, they are stylish footwear that can be worn casually or for something a little fancier, and are most definitely timeless. So, I assure you boys, these are a solid investment.


Wayfarer Style Sunglasses
As I'm sure you've heard before, wayfarer style sunglasses are pretty universally flattering. More than that, I think they can add a very carefree sexy edge to any guy's look. Black, brown, or tortoise shell, I believe, looks best, but some solid colors can look cool. Just no neon... or sunglasses that have "American Pie Pledge Party" emblazoned on the side...


Vans or Converse
Instant cool status can be achieved with these lowkey kicks. The classic styles of either brand are dope (from the check-print Vans to the high top Converse), but it's also stylish when a guy tries out a new or different take on the original.


Plain White V Neck Tee
The most basic of staple can look good on you guys all the time. Although the V neck is a hot and highly contested debate, I do think most girls can agree that it looks really nice on guys. Just do make sure the V is subtle, as a very deep one may have us thinking you look more Jersey Shore than sexy cool.


Button Down and Jeans
A tried and true going out outfit. To make this work, though, make sure the shirt is clean, wrinkle-free, and fits you right (us girls know what it's like to have buttons popping in the chest region, but it doesn't justify the look). The button down is also usually paired best with dark denim jeans.

I also like that this outfit can be pulled off well with the button down tucked (with a nice belt) or untucked .


Cool Concert Tee
An easy style that can look attractive on anyone, but also speak volumes about personality. If it's a shirt from an iconic tour, it'll make him seem cool. If it's worn ironically, he comes off funny. If it's from a band's recent tour, it shows he likes going to concerts. Of course, it also let's girls get a sneak peak into what he enjoys listening to.

Not to mention, it's an easy talking piece. If I see a guy wearing a cool concert shirt, I'll often use that as an opening line.


Nice Leather Belt
Girls definitely notice when you wear belts with silly or gaudy buckles or ones that are a little immature or out of style (like those seatbelt belts...).

If an outfit was a movie, a nice belt would be the supporting actor. It doesn't always take center stage, but it can be a real game changer in polishing and supporting the overall look. With a leather belt that looks nice, a guy comes off as more mature and put together, which, again, most girls gravitate towards.