Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge


by Anne Malloy, senior writing coach

If you have not yet seen the show Gilmore Girls, stop reading this post and head over to Netflix to binge watch the seven seasons. The show follows the dynamic mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore through their everyday life in the small town of Stars Hollow. The show was unique when it aired in that the actors were encouraged to speak fast and organically rather than slow and articulately as most cinema and television productions encourage. Among the spew of banter constantly outpouring from the characters mouths are frequent references to literature.

Rory is a huge bookworm, and while watching the show there is nothing more delightful than picking up on one of her references. It turns out that I am not the only one who takes pleasure in noticing the allusions – some people actually compiled a list of the approximate 361 books Rory mentions throughout the series. Thus, the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge was born.

Check out the reading list here

The books on this list range from the ever depressing children’s book The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen to Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It’s actually a fairly impressive list filled with classics as well as unique non-fiction stories. Albeit, some of the books on the list are obscure ones that I don’t think I will ever read, for instance, Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978. For the most part though, it comprises some great titles making it a reading challenge chock full of variety.

I have been pursuing the challenge for a little over a year now. It is not a typical challenge that I am racing to meet from start to finish as fast as possible. In fact, I am only at 34 out of the 361 so I have quite a ways to go. I have been using the long list as more of a reference for what to read next if I am ever stuck between books. If you are looking for something to read, check out the challenge, pick up a book, head on over to Luke’s… I mean a coffee shop, and tuck in for a good read.

Hard Times Require Furious Dancing – book review

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by Sophie Hicks, junior writing coach

As someone who has only recently begun to appreciate poetry, I can assure you that Alice Walker’s Hard Times Require Furious Dancing is a very approachable, yet still meaningful, collection of poems. It includes poetry from throughout Walker’s life and messages that can touch varied demographics of people.

I was gifted this book by a good friend for my birthday this past January, and I started reading it right away because I could see the poems were short and simple. At first, many of them did not make much sense, but I decided to spend some more time with the poems and really try to understand them. The coolest thing about poetry is the way it makes the reader slow down. It’s rather meditative, and you get a lot more out of it if you are patient with the poem.

Poetry used to not make sense to me, but as I started to analyze it more in school, and read more modern poetry, it started to become more relevant. Alice Walker’s Hard Times Require Furious Dancing explores themes of grief, feminism, love, growth, and spirituality. It is written in free verse and is very fluid. It does not rhyme frequently or have structure, but it is very rhythmic and flows well. My favorite poems in the collection are the ones where Walker explores her relationship with God. She challenges more traditional beliefs by bringing in interesting questions about humanity and its role in religion. I think anyone who has had spiritual beliefs or questions present in their life could connect with Walker’s poetry.

Another interesting theme Walker explores in her poems is love. Don’t worry, these aren’t sappy love poems you might expect from Emily Dickinson or Pablo Neruda. They are playful and enigmatic, and they take time to understand. They balance the seriousness and weight of love with flirtation and humor.

Alice Walker’s book of poems is wonderful for its relevant themes, interesting style, and overall bravery. It is a deeply personal, raw, and, sometimes, humorous work that I believe everyone can find a bit of themselves in.

Does Speaking One = Speaking None?


by Sarah Hamilton, junior writing coach

Earlier this fall, I was introduced to a cartoon with the title “Monolingualism is the illiteracy of the 21st century”. Both the cartoon and title portrayed the idea that speaking one language is now (or will soon be) equivalent to being illiterate. Ever since I came across this cartoon, the debate over the importance of bilingualism has stayed with me. It sparked my interest in the advantages of speaking two or more languages and made me consider whether or not the title is accurate in our community.

In a way, I didn’t fully agree with the cartoon because it was hard for me wrap my head around the idea that monolingualism is essentially the same as illiteracy. Although speaking an additional language is certainly an added benefit and enables more widespread communication, it seemed to me that speaking one language is sufficient to survive. In my opinion, those who speak only one language will still be able to communicate, but they would lose the advantages of bilingualism.

In our growing multicultural world, it makes sense that speaking multiple languages would be handy in many situations. Just a few weeks ago, I was volunteering at Clear Springs Elementary and noticed that many families were speaking Spanish or other languages. We are surrounded by many cultures with many languages, so it is logical to conclude that we should be able to communicate in alternative languages besides English. Instances like my experience at Clear Springs made me consider our education system and the insistence on all students learning English. Don’t get me wrong, a common language is important and in some cases, can be a unifying force for a nation. However, as a country with many nationalities and no defined national language, it seems as if we should feel nationalism due to our differences and unite under our unique perspectives. Therefore, helping kids learn more languages would further encourage the next generation to embrace other cultures.

Here at Minnetonka, there are growing opportunities for bilingualism. In addition to traditional language classes that begin in middle school, immersion programs in Spanish and Chinese are growing in popularity as well. This could serve as an indication that an increasing number of people are recognizing the importance of being bilingual. Ultimately, I don’t have a clear answer as to if monolingualism will suffice later in life, but learning another language is certainly a good way to prepare for the future and promote communication now as well.

Ex-cite-ing Citations


by Christian Hilgemann, junior writing coach

Today I am forced to address what is quite possibly the most controversial issue in modern literature. Wars have been fought, entire continents have descended into chaos, and lifelong friendships have been torn apart because of this conflict, but now, in accordance with popular demand, I will be providing the final say on which formal citation format is truly the greatest of them all. I’m sure that you already have strong opinions on the subject, but even if you think that you already know all there is to know about this debate and are convinced that your favored style is beyond reproach, I would encourage you to read on; you might be in for a surprise.

Starting with the worst of the worst, APA (American Psychological Association) style citations are usually used by vampires, serial killers, and social scientists. This is the most generic, and frankly, boring citation format. It follows the “author-date” method of in-text citations, which is about as unique as that Harlem Shake video you were in in 2013 (Paiz 2018). The thing that really sets APA apart from the rest of the pack is that there is absolutely nothing to set it apart from anything whatsoever. Really, the only reason that it’s on this list is because it is a relatively popular practice in its field, and that clearly has nothing to do with its value as a method of citing things.

The Chicago style is truly the citation equivalent of that one guy who says “whom’s’t’ve” every other sentence for no reason, and is the most common style for published works rather than class papers. It has two variations, which are almost identical, and are representative of the larger problem with Chicago, which is that there is just too much complex detail and minutia incorporated into the style as a whole (Clements 2018). In fact, the lack of details in this paragraph is mostly due to the fact that I don’t really understand how the system works, so Chicago gets second to last.

Moving on to a legitimately useful style, MLA (Modern Language Association) citations also use the run-of-the-mill “author-date” method for internal citations. However, while other styles have different required elements for different types of sources (books, websites, etc.), MLA uses the same core list of elements for every source, including author, title, and others (Russel 2017). This simplicity makes it ideal for high school students, as well as other people who have better things to do with their time than write up citations (or blog posts about citations).

Of course, all of these pale in comparison to the little known, and much underappreciated, IEEE (Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) system, which is championed by some genius engineers. The supreme elegance of IEEE lies in its numbered in-text citation method. The only citation necessary is a number in brackets that corresponds to a source in the works cited page [4]. This solves the problem of bulky citations taking up room and distracting from the content of a paper, completely ends discrimination against authors with long last names, and reduces the amount of paper used, thus stopping deforestation and saving the environment and the human race from their previously inevitable doom.

This has been a one hundred percent objective ranking of citation formats. If you have any questions please email me at

Paiz, J. M. (2018, February 21). Welcome to the Purdue OWL. Retrieved March 01,
2018, from
Clements, Jessica. “Welcome to the Purdue OWL.” Purdue OWL: Chicago Manual of
Style 17th Edition. January 31, 2018. Accessed March 01, 2018.
Russel, Tony. “Welcome to the Purdue OWL.” Purdue OWL: MLA Formatting and Style
Guide, 23 Oct. 2017,
[4] “IEEE Style: All Examples,” Subject Guides, 18-Jan-2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 01-Mar-2018].