Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Novels with Nell - The Overachievers + Book Lover Gift Guide

I may have mentioned this in previous posts, but Furman was full of overachievers. I'm sure there are plenty of overachievers at any college but it felt more prevalent in the small, liberal arts environment. Everyone seemed to have everything going for them and was somehow managing four extracurricular activities, a standout GPA, a wonderful social life, and never seemed to be too exhausted. Fortunately, many people at Furman were real about what they were going through and all that they were doing but that didn't mean the pressure to keep doing more wasn't looming. I've always been the type of person who likes to do things I like even if that means sacrificing other things. If I am interested and see a real point in doing something then you can probably find me doing that. I'm honestly not very good at relaxing and if you want me to watch a TV show or movie with you I can guarantee you that I'll be multitasking or fall asleep before you've realized that I'm not paying attention. In some ways I'm an overachiever which is why I am particularly interested in today's book pick from Nell.

Before we get into her recommendation I want to highlight the fact that she can be an overachiever as well. Starting freshman year I was always jealous of how much she could take away from class whereas I'm the type of learner who needs time to process the information outside of class to really understand it. From leading her sorority as president, being a great student, and finding time to hangout with friends, read, and have an early bed time Nell like many overachievers is good at excelling at what she puts her mind to (lets not forget she also put up with me as a roommate for two years and willingly offered to help out with PIYS on countless occasions). Her efforts don't go unnoticed, and I could not be more excited for her to have gotten into P.A. (physicians assistant) school yesterday! See, being an overachiever pays off!
The Overachievers
By: Alexandra Robbins

Ever feel like you just can’t keep up? No matter what you do you seem to fall short? Of your own expectations, your parents’ expectations, society’s expectations? I read this book junior year of high school as one of my independent reading books for AP English Language & Composition and felt like I could (in some ways) relate to the students in the book. I wasn’t trying to get into an Ivy League school or anything but I had high expectations for myself and my performance in school. Alexandra Robbins gets to know a handful of high school students and writes about the high pressure environment that can exist in high schools today. You can’t just be a good student. You need to be well-rounded, involved, philanthropic, passionate about something, and still maintain good grades. And don’t forget a social life and sleep. It’s a lot. For all you readers who are still in high school, parents, teachers, etc, it’s an interesting read that explores the extreme side of pressure on high school students.

“You can't just be the smartest. You have to be the most athletic, you have to be able to have the most fun, you have to be the prettiest, the best dressed, the nicest, the most wanted. You have to constantly be out on the town partying, and then you have to get straight As. And most of all, you have to appear to be happy." -- CJ, age seventeen

High school isn't what it used to be. With record numbers of students competing fiercely to get into college, schools are no longer primarily places of learning. They're dog-eat-dog battlegrounds in which kids must set aside interests and passions in order to strategize over how to game the system. In this increasingly stressful environment, kids aren't defined by their character or hunger for knowledge, but by often arbitrary scores and statistics.

In The Overachievers, journalist Alexandra Robbins delivers a poignant, funny, riveting narrative that explores how our high-stakes educational culture has spiraled out of control. During the year of her ten-year reunion, Robbins returns to her high school, where she follows students, including CJ and others:

  • Julie, a track and academic star who is terrified she's making the wrong choices;
  • "AP" Frank, who grapples with horrifying parental pressure to succeed;
  • Taylor, a soccer and lacrosse captain whose ambition threatens her popular girl status;
  • Sam, who worries his years of overachieving will be wasted if he doesn't attend a name-brand college;
  • Audrey, who struggles with perfectionism; and
  • The Stealth Overachiever, a mystery junior who flies under the radar.
Robbins tackles hard-hitting issues such as the student and teacher cheating epidemic, over-testing, sports rage, the black market for study drugs, and a college admissions process so cutthroat that some students are driven to depression and suicide because of a B. Even the earliest years of schooling have become insanely competitive, as Robbins learned when she gained unprecedented access into the inner workings of a prestigious Manhattan kindergarten admissions office. A compelling mix of fast-paced storytelling and engrossing investigative journalism, The Overachievers aims both to calm the admissions frenzy and to expose its escalating dangers.”
In my own personal attempt to be an overachiever I'm including another gift guide for you in this post! For any of your friends who may enjoy cozying up with a good book or who may have adored the library as much as I did in college here is your very own gift guide for the book lover. I'd love to know if y'all prefer for gift guides to be their own posts or if you like them embedded into other posts like this one!

If you're looking for any good books to give your book loving friends, be sure to check out the " book recommendation" label where you can find all of the book suggestions Nell has made on the blog! 

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