Book Clubs Tips and Takeaways

From How to Write a Lot book club:

Graduate students who are preparing for academic careers, and the expectation for publishing – lots and lots of publishing – met before classes started to discuss Paul Silvia’s book How to Write a Lot. The author’s tips to promote more productive and stress-free writing include:

  1. Stop using specious barriers to more productive writing. Like what? “I can’t find time to write.” “I need to do more analysis, read more articles/books/scrolls.” “I need a new computer. Or chair. Or home office.” “I need inspiration.” “I need to wrap up a few (dozen) other things first.”
  2. The cure for writer’s block is writing.
  3. Start or join a writing group to help you with goals and accountability.
  4. Choose good words.
  5. Write strong sentences.
  6. Avoid wordy, limp, or passive phrases.
  7. Write first; revise later.

If you missed preregistering for this session, you can join us for more about writing and publishing in our Masterclass Series on writing and publishing.


From Baking Pie and Tarts book club:

About three years ago, responding to the requests of graduate students who stay in Ithaca for all or most of the winter break, the Graduate School began hosting Winter Book Clubs. Students read an excerpt from a book and meet for a lunch or dinner discussion. Some of the books have focused on academic writing and productivity and others on self-awareness and personal or professional development. The most popular sessions in the past three years have focused on designing and making pies. (Sister Pie was this year’s cookbook.)

If you want to know more about what we learned while making pies, read more…

  1. Berry-based pies don’t necessarily need a top crust to retain moisture. Apple pies do.
  2. Pie baking is not very hard. Of all the desserts you might make, pies can still be good with imprecise amounts of most of the ingredients. For example, you can omit sugar altogether from a blueberry pie.
  3. The answer to the very first Ask a Dean question included a pie recipe (blueberry). That prompted a second question about pie (strawberry pie). And that prompted a question about a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Finally, another book club session this winter included a recipe for chocolate chip cake, because if you join a writing support group, you will want to bake and bring cake to your supportive writing colleagues!
  4. Students who attended this book club session introduced themselves by revealing their favorite pie or dessert: Swedish Princess Torte, triple chocolate cheesecake, fruit cobbler, chocolate cake, apricot/raspberry/almond pie, apple pie, and persimmon upside-down cake. The book club group will reconvene in February with all of the above on the menu!
  5. The (very southern) lemon icebox pie includes eggs but no baking. How is that possible? The addition of ​acidic lemon juice acts on ​proteins in the bacteria in the eggs, ​the lower pH denaturing vital proteins and leading to bacterial death. (We still advise caution eating raw eggs. You can be skeptical that the addition of lemon juice lowers the pH enough and has enough time to kill any bacteria.) A big thank you to Demi Perry, expert baker and Ph.D. student in the graduate field of food science and technology, for shedding light—and facts—on this portion of the discussion.

Look for announcements about upcoming spring and summer book club sessions!