7 Books You Have to Read Over Summer Break

Summer break is the perfect time to catch up on pleasure reading. After all, the school year can be so exhausting with papers, projects, and tests that it can be almost impossible to add more to your reading load. Now that you have a break, it’s the perfect time to sit back, relax, and dive into one of these books below. For best results, grab your sunglasses and a cool glass of water and enjoy your summer reading outside in the summer breeze.


Know what else is a breeze? Creating references with the BibMe.org MLA citation generator or APA generator. There are other bibliographic resources, too, including an automated plagiarism checker and a guide on what is an annotated bibliography. Check them out today!


1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple

This book is hilarious and heartwarming at once. It tells the story of a 15-year-old narrator, Bee, and her architect mother that turns up missing right before a family vacation to Antarctica. Soon to be made into a movie, this book is the perfect summer read. The story is told through a series of different artifacts, like emails or conversations, and you just won’t be able to put it down.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

You might have heard of this book from the its adaption into the hit TV series of the same name. The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian work that explores feminist themes like women’s independence. This would make for a great read in a group setting – after you all read the book, you can watch the show together and discuss which you preferred. 

3. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Often included on college required reading lists for incoming students, this book is a must for young people. The book’s style is that of a letter written to the author’s son about his experiences with racial conflict in America. The account is autobiographical, and it recounts Coates’s own personal history of his upbringing in Baltimore. This book has been heralded as one of the most important narratives about race in our time, and reading it is super insightful for a young person.

4. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett 

This book is pretty unexpected in a lot of ways: it tells the story of a group of high-profile businesspeople, diplomats, and an opera singer who are taken hostage by a group of young terrorists. Throughout the novel, some unexpected relationships form, and some of the characters even fall for each other. This exciting novel is full of subtle action, and it serves as a great beach or poolside read.

5. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

The Opposite of Loneliness is a compilation of short stories, poems, and non-fiction pieces by Marina Keegan that was published posthumously, as the author died only a few days after her graduation from Yale. The pieces are witty and strikingly capture what it’s like to be young and searching for love, a career, and meaning in life. This is a perfect book to read cover to cover and pass to a friend to share the experience. 

6. Less by Andrew Sean Greer

This 2018 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction is a real gem – it explores topics like same-sex relationships, love, and getting older through the character of Arthur Less, a gay writer. Despite writing about rather serious themes, Greer finds a way to make the humor shine through the book, making it deeply human.

7. Becoming by Michelle Obama 

Becoming is former first lady’s memoir about her own upbringing and her journey to the White House. She tells her own personal history, gives details about her family, and describes the major transition of her husband winning the presidency. This book gives great insight into one of the most prominent figures of our time’s experiences in an intimate way.

By now, I bet you’re feeling the urge to crack open one of these amazing books! Now that the weather is great and your school work load is light, there’s no better time to get started on this list. To make things even better, share with friends and start your own book exchange. You’ll be so happy at the end of the summer when you look at all of the amazing books you’ve gotten to read.


Looking to strengthen your grammar skills this summer? The BibMe grammar guides could be a good place to start! Find guides that explain what a pronoun is, how to use a prepositional phrase, the difference between a proper and common noun, and more! 

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10 Words You’ll Want to Cut Out of Your Next Paper

One of the best tricks for improving your writing is to take a look at the vocabulary you use. As you advance and become a better writer, your choice of words should continue to improve and become more versatile and sophisticated as well. Along the way, there are a few words that you should seriously consider cutting down on using – or cutting out altogether!

1.  You

In everyday speech, we use the second person quite often, either to directly address someone or to represent an amalgamation of any readers or people other than the writer/speaker. For informal writing or something addressed at a specific reader (like this blog article!), it’s okay to use. However, in formal writing, the use of “you” (pronoun) and its variations will weaken the essay. “You” is too informal for academic or business writing, and “you” sentence constructions (i.e., “you can see that X is true”) are less decisive than simpler sentences (i.e., “X is true”).

2. Really/Very

“Really” (adverb) and “very” are the supermarket cupcakes of descriptive words: they’ll do the trick, but they’re so bland and non-specific that nearly any other word would be an improvement. There are plenty of other words that can be used to intensify a noun or adjective without having to resort to that boring old “very” or “really.”

3. Sort of

When you’re writing an essay, you want to sound authoritative on your topic of choice – that’s the entire point, right? “Sort of” undercuts your knowledge from the get-go: it’s a wishy-washy phrase that creates wiggle room where you don’t want there to be any. If you need to describe an ambiguous situation, try for a more specific description of that particular ambiguity. Note: this goes for other variations like “kind of” as well!

4. Just

This is the perfect example of another wishy-washy weasel word that allows a writer to be non-committal or downplay their own points. Whenever you’re tempted to insert “just” into a sentence, resist the urge and read the sentence without “just” in it. Does it still make the same point you intended? Great. If not, it might be one of those rare moments where “just” is actually necessary (to make a contrast, perhaps); in that case, you have full permission to use it.

5. Irregardless

There’s one very good reason not to use this word: it’s not actually a word. As a writing instructor, even at the college level, this was quite possibly the single most common word-choice mistake I saw. “Regardless” is the word you’re looking for; “irregardless” does not exist.

Spare yourself (and your professors/classmates/bosses) the awkwardness.

6. Thing

Much like “really” and “very,” “thing” is a wildly non-specific word that isn’t bad but can be replaced by an infinite number of more specific, more interesting words. Within an academic context, there’s rarely a situation where “thing” (noun) is a better word that some other, more particular noun.

7. Any conjugation of “to go”

This one pops up most often in creative writing, but it may show up in professional or academic work as well. Think about it: what kind of images or connotations does “went” or “goes” conjure up? It’s pretty generic. For instances where you need to convey movement or change, find a different, more vivid word – it’ll give you the freedom to embrace all the connotations and subtle cues that a basic word like “goes” doesn’t have.

8. Amazing

“Amazing” (adjective) has two major downsides. One: it’s become very informal language. It’s the sort of word you might use to enthusiastically describe a meal or a movie to your friends, but it feels like it doesn’t quite fit into a more formal context. The other problem: it’s so common that it’s been watered down. “Amazing” is used so often that it doesn’t have the strength you’re probably looking for.

9. Always/Never

Your parents might have already taught you this one, albeit in a different context. “Always” and “never,” unless statistically accurate from your own research or from a source you cited in your annotated bibliography, have the opposite problem of many of the words on this list: they’re too specific and box you into a statement that is absolute. In reality, absolutes are rare, so not only do “always” and “never” create weak or amateurish writing, but they’re also probably inaccurate.

10. Literally

In its actual definition, there’s nothing inherently wrong with “literally” (adverb) – it’s a great way to express contrast with something figurative. In reality, especially in recent years, “literally” has, ironically, become a figurative expression itself and is too often used as a deliberate exaggeration or a verbal tic.


While you’re improving your writing, make sure your references are included and correct. BibMe.org can help with APA citations, MLA works cited, a plagiarism definition, and more!

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6 Habits That Could Be Hurting Your Mental Health

A little bit of stress is a normal fact of life for pretty much everyone. But when your stress or worry becomes overwhelming, it’s time to change up habits. While some health concerns obviously need to be addressed by a professional, there are plenty of small changes you can make that have the potential to make a big difference. You might not even realize it, but these six habits could be messing with your mental health:


Do you have a research paper due soon? No need to stress — BibMe.org has your back! There are resources like an APA citation maker, MLA citing forms, and guides that cover Chicago format and annotated bibliographies, too. Visit BibMe.org today!


Sleep habits

Okay, we’ve all been there: not getting enough sleep while you’re finishing a big project or stressed about an interview or rehearsals. If it happens once in a while, that’s no big deal. The harm comes when you start making your “normal” sleep habits bad ones. Not getting enough sleep – and yes, pulling all-nighters to cram for a test – is actually really bad for your brain and your overall well-being.

It’s not just about the hours, either. The concept of “sleep hygiene” basically helps you develop good behaviors around sleep so that you can get the most rest and benefits. Make small changes:

  • skip caffeine and heavy
  • hard-to-digest foods in the hours before sleep
  • turn off your digital devices
  • start a small pre-sleep routine to teach your body to wind down

These practices can help you get a more restful sleep, which translates to a more refreshed and alert day!

Avoiding exercise

When you feel crummy, the last thing you want to do is exercise. The truth is, though, that exercise might be the best thing you could do. Getting physical movement going, whether you like weights, running, dancing, or yoga, is the key here. Not only does exercise help you feel better physically, but it’s a great outlet for stress and frustration. When your body is strong, your mind is stronger too!

Time management

Getting your schedule under control is one of the best ways to start feeling like you can tackle other things in your life. It’s easy to fall into habits of procrastination, poor scheduling, or overcommitting yourself, and then your stress just gets compounded when it feels like you never get anything done.

Instead, find a time management system that works for you. Do you like color-coded digital schedules? Do you like writing out your to-do list by hand on a pretty day planner? A neat and sleek to-do checklist? Figure out what works best for you, divide up your time – and then work to stick to it. Be sure to schedule in downtime, too, to avoid burnout!

Perfectionism

The pressure to do everything and do it perfectly is everywhere these days. If you spend all your time trying to be perfect, however, it’s going to take a major toll on your health. Pursuing excellence is not the same as overloading yourself in the effort to achieve some benchmark of “perfection.” Focus on effort and excellence instead: set realistic goals, focus on the journey as much as the outcome, and check in with yourself to make sure you’re not pushing yourself too far. You’ll find that your work is much better, and you’re much happier, when you’re not fussing over every single possible mistake.

Over complaining

Sometimes, you just need to vent, and that’s okay. But like many other behaviors, it’s when the complaining becomes a common habit that it gets in the way of your health. Negativity only leads to more negativity, which then gets you spiraling into a pretty miserable mood all the time. If your complaining is something that can be acted upon, try to do that instead. If it’s not something you can change, then allow yourself a set time to vent to yourself, your friend, or your cat, and then redirect your thinking to more positive things. The same goes if someone wants to complain to you: it’s okay to listen or even commiserate briefly, but don’t let your relationships with friends or colleagues become focused on sharing complaints.

Social media

Be honest: how much time do you spend scrolling Instagram or Twitter? It’s probably more than you realize. While social media can be a great way to stay connected, that constant sense of connection is a double-edged sword. Not only does it get in the way of your real, relaxing downtime, it also makes it all too easy to constantly compare yourself to the image that others put out online. Instead of automatically reaching for your phone, try to get away from your devices and enjoy a different hobby some of the time!
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If you need more stress-relievers, check out the BibMe plagiarism checker and its extensive (and fun!) grammar guides. They cover just about everything for you, including how to use helping verbs, a possessive adjective, and correlative conjunctions. BibMe.org makes citing and writing easier.

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How Be Your Bestest Self in Every Cover Letter

Graduating felt pretty sweet, but now it’s time to get down to business and find a job. You might already have a general cover letter and resume, but you can’t send the exact same thing to all the jobs you’re applying to. That’s not going to cut it if you want to stand out and land your dream job.

Instead, try these cover letter dos and don’ts to refine that stock cover letter into a customized piece that truly reflects your unique talents.


A cover letter is an opportunity to make your writing pop — BibMe is here to help you stand out from the crowd! Check out their free grammar guides for info about first person pronouns, adverb examples, and an interjection list. Then, give your cover letter a final touch and run it through the BibMe grammar and plagiarism checker and land that dream job!


Do:

Keep it fresh

Write a new/revised cover letter for every job application. You can of course copy and paste a bit between drafts. Just be sure to use the following tips to make it feel tailor-made because a cover letter’s sole purpose is to answer the question: Why am I the best person for this job?

Search keywords

Read over the job description highlighting words specific to the job. Since many employers use software to narrow down huge applicant pools, the more harmony between your cover letter and job description, the better.  

Tip: When searching for keywords, think like a search engine. Which words in the job description are most important for finding the right person for the job?

Your homework

Research the company itself. Is there a specific project or recent news about the company that appeals to you? Do they have a reputation for hiring a certain type of person? Incorporating this information in your letter will further prove you are a good fit and demonstrates a genuine interest in the company rather than treating it like one of a million organizations in your application pile.

Think customer service

Ask yourself the question: What can I do for you?

The entire purpose of a cover letter is to highlight the answers to this question. Because you’ve done your research and collected keywords, you know exactly what they are looking for. Now it’s time to match your personal history and strengths with those needs. Think about everything you’ve done from volunteer activities, part-time jobs, or special school projects and match those with the company’s needs.

Don’t:

Don’t go beyond a page

If your job application was a movie, the cover letter would be the trailer. Keep it short, tight and full of the best you have to offer.

Don’t include your GPA

The same can be said for graduation rank or any other school-related metric unless it is perfect and provides a direct correlation to the job itself. Employers know that great students are not always great employees. Focus your limited space on what makes you the best fit for the position.

Don’t let creativity run wild

Resist the urge to use unusual words, fonts, or phrases. They will make you stand out, but unless you are applying for a highly creative job, you will stick out for all the wrong reasons. Focus instead on the experiences and talents you can lend the company.

Don’t go it alone

Your potential employer should not be the first person to set eyes on your cover letter. No matter how diligent and thoughtful you are, there is bound to be a mistake or two hidden between the lines. Your best bet is to ask someone who has been in the workforce to read over your letter to weed out any potential missteps.

A cover letter is a company’s first introduction to you. With a little extra time, care and research, it can also be the very first step toward your dream job.
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You probably won’t need citations in your cover letter, but BibMe.org is there when you’re ready to research. Whether it’s an APA bibliography or MLA citing you are looking for, thousands of styles to choose from (Chicago format, too!) at BibMe.org. You can also find help on putting together your annotated bibliography.

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5 College Prep Tasks to Do the Summer Before Senior Year

Summer vacation means you get to finally take a relaxing break from school — but if you’re a high school senior, summer can also be an opportunity to get a jumpstart on college applications.

If you can devote even just a few hours each week to college apps, you’ll save yourself a TON of stress later when it comes time to press that “submit” button.

Here are 5 college prep tasks you can work on over the summer:


Applications, essays, and resumes, oh my! Let BibMe.org give you hand. There’s a paper checker to help you avoid plagiarism, and grammar guides that provide examples of interjections, lay out the difference in usage of adjectives and adverbs, and even help with research paper topics and example papers!


#1: Start drafting your application essays

As many colleges allow you to apply via the Common App, you can count on having to complete their essay. The Common App gives students several different prompts to choose from, and they’re all pretty broad. Come up with a draft of your 650-word essay over the summer. That way, you can ask a tutor or English teacher to read it over for you once school starts back up. If you plan to apply to schools that don’t use the Common App, check and see if their essay questions are online.

#2: Decide on a final college list

By the summer before senior year, you may have already toured some colleges and may even have a dream school in mind. This is a good time to finalize the list of schools you’re applying to, considering factors like academics, social life, location and cost. The exact number of schools students apply to varies quite a bit, but if you have your eye on highly selective universities, somewhere around 12-15 sounds about right. Make sure to have at least one “safety” — a school where you feel confident you’ll be admitted with your grades and SAT/ACT scores.

#3: Build your resume with a job, classes, etc.

The summer before senior year is your last chance to add something big to your resume. Get a job lifeguarding at a local camp, enroll in classes at a college or intern at a company that does something you’ve always been interested in. Volunteer work is another great way to boost your resume and give back during your extended vacation. Of course, summer is also the time for fun: Don’t forget to relax with pool days, Netflix binges, or a family trip.

#4: Think about financial aid options

College is notoriously expensive, and this is a good time to look into different financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The FAFSA — the federal form used to determine how much you qualify for in loans/aid — should be submitted as close to Oct. 1 as possible, as you can increase your award by filing early.* Many students also seek out merit scholarships, which often have rigorous applications that require you to submit additional essays or letters of recommendation. While most of these won’t be due until the fall or later, summer is a good time to do some research and figure out which opportunities are a good fit.

*Always check with the official FAFSA website for any changes or updates.

#5: Study for your final SAT/ACT

Most students take the SAT or ACT in the spring of their junior year, but if you’re not yet satisfied with your score, you’ll have one final opportunity in the fall before applications are due. Order a prep book, join a class, or schedule sessions with a tutor to make sure you’re prepared for test day.


You may not need to create MLA citations or an APA reference page for the ACT or SAT, but BibMe’s citation guides can give great help for your college-level paper. Why not check out what BibMe.org can do for you before your first semester starts?

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Research Habits that Sabotage Your Papers

Research papers are hard work. Don’t sabotage your paper’s grade before it’s even turned in. Help make your research process more efficient and ethical by kicking these four research habits to the curb!

Habit 1: Waiting until the last minute

We all do it. When it’s not something fun or easy, the natural instinct is to keep putting it off until it absolutely has to get done. Starting an essay at the last minute is convenient and temporarily nice, but can stress you out later and won’t help anyone do their best writing.

The answer: Set smaller deadlines for yourself before the teacher’s due date (e.g., outline, research, draft, editing, etc.). This makes the entire process of writing a paper less intimidating and can help you manage your time without resorting to doing it all the night before. Planning ahead means you can rest easier knowing you’re ahead of the game.

Habit 2: Using unreliable sources

“Of course it’s true! I read it on the internet!” is a classic joke for a reason. Always question anything you read online, even when the source seems legit. For example, did you know that some sites put out ads disguised as articles? Also, blogs can be great but be aware of the blogger’s background. Some bloggers are experts in their fields and really know what they are talking about. Others are novices with opinions and no evidence to back them up.

When reading a source of dubious credibility, there are a few things you can do to check if they are reliable. Go to the “About Me” or “About Us” section of an article to learn about the author or site’s authority and background. Scan the headlines and a few other articles of the website to judge if the website is fairly objective or leans toward an agenda. Finally, verify the information you’ve found with another source or two...which brings us to the next tip...

Habit 3: Getting all of your information from one source

Getting all a paper’s information from one source might seem like an easy solution, but what if that source is wrong?

Using multiple sources might take a little more researching time, but it also means more evidence that supports your thesis. It is also the best way to help you present a balanced view of a topic.

Avoid plagiarism and make sure your facts are straight by checking at least two or three sources and citing all the ones you use in your paper. That brings us to the last habit...

Habit 4: Forgetting to cite your sources

Your paper is done, and it is beautiful: double-spaced, a neat heading, the perfect creative title. There’s just one thing missing: parenthetical citations and your works cited (or references) page. The annoying part is all that work you just did will be for nothing if your sources are not cited.

Luckily, this part is easier today than it has ever been before! Citation Machine citing tools can help you easily create MLA citations, APA citations, and more! Just remember that you still need review the tool’s form to see if there’s any information you can add from the source that wasn’t automatically included, like a year of publication (often found in the first few pages of a journal or the very bottom of a website).


Master grammar basics with our free guides that talk about linking verbs, what is an adjective, how to use a preposition, and more!

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