Hack Your English Class with Book Summaries from SparkNotes
Name: SparkNotes (Visit SparkNotes)
Type: Book Summary Collection
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SparkNotes is a way of life. Instead of reading or in conjunction with reading, you can utilize their book summaries to get a full grasp of whatever literature you're studying in class. It's particularly popular for studying Shakespeare.
Dear Auntie, I live in a small town and go to a small school. Everyone knows everybody. My friends and I just started high school, and it seems like a whirlwind came through our moral compass. We all used to be respectful, and do what we were raised to do right. Lately though, most of my friends have started cussing, drinking, and gossiping, which has really made me worry. For instance, at the beginning of the semester, we were allowed to read letters sent to us my our classmates who had already been through the class. I knew I'd get some advice that I could use. However, there was a letter read aloud to the class that said for me to, "Stop being a know-it-all and shut up. You aren't the teacher, so you might learn something for once." This really hurt, not just because of the mean words, but that this person (who I probably am "friends" with because we're in AP classes) wouldn't come and tell me to my face. Most of all, I hate to see all these people that I've grown up with and care about do things that will hurt them for the rest of their life. I know so many people that I were once friends with that have started doing illegal drugs, and I've distanced myself from them because of this. So my main question is, how can I tell my friends what they are doing is wrong and dangerous without seeming like a brown-noser and losing the friendship? I know I am not perfect, but I still think I can help. Oh, this is awkward. Because I know you do, honey. And I even believe that you mean well! But that honest and well-intentioned desire to "help" your peers by lecturing them about how to live their lives is, alas, the source of all your problems, because…well…because you're wrong. Not even morally, but factually. The truth is, you can't help. The kind of meddling you want to do is very inherently unhelpful. And not only are you not helping, but you're apparently alienating everyone around you and making them angry and crazy—to the point where your friends have resorted to writing you horrible, humiliating anonymous letters begging you to back the heck off. Which is incredibly hurtful, of course! And, uh, for the record, no matter how on-the-money the criticism might have been, it's massively inappropriate for your teacher to allow something like that to be read aloud in class (said Auntie, as she brandished an extra-large salmon and shot meaningful looks at all the adults involved). But as much as that situation really, truly sucked, it also makes it clear that you have a choice to make: you can keep haranguing people about the immorality of their behavior, or you can keep your friends. It's one or the other. You cannot do both. And if you'd prefer to keep your friends, then not only do you have to immediately and forever stop it with the holier-than-thou stuff, but you'll probably need to apologize, too. I know that probably seems unfair to you when your friends are (gasp) experimenting with drugs (and more on that in a second), but acting like a judgmental scold is pretty much social kryptonite unless you can convince people that you've seen the error of your ways and aren't going to do it again. That said: I must also gently point out to you that most people mess around and do rebellious stuff on their way to adulthood, and it's only in the rarest cases (and usually in combination with other issues) that it ruins their lives. Cussing, gossiping, and experimenting with illicit substances may not be fantastic behaviors, per se, but they are well within the range of normal things that teenagers do—and the vast, vast majority of people who do them turn out just fine. Having a phase like this is in no way predictive of a lifetime of pain or delinquency. And I know this isn't what you're used to; like you said, "We all used to be respectful, and do what we were raised to do right." But you've gotta realize, Sparkler, that you also all used to be children. Things change when you get older. It's natural (and necessary!) for teenagers to abandon mindless rule-following in favor of boundary-pushing and experimentation, because you're all starting to figure out who you are and what you want and where your values lie. It may not look like it, but your friends are actually doing the important work of learning how to be their own people. Which is work you're going to do, yourself, even if you end up starting a little later and don't go about it quite the same way. But you can definitely expect your values, your desires, and your sense of self to evolve, too, in unexpected ways, as you draw closer to adulthood. And because you'll want the freedom to do that—because having that freedom is vital to becoming whomever you're going to be and pursuing a life's that's happy and fulfilling on your own terms—you'll also want to take the opportunity now to let your friends live, even if you don't love how they're living. Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.
I don’t know who invented Netflix, but we could give them every honor, award, and accolade it’s possible to bestow upon a living human person, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Without Netflix, what would any of us DO with our time? Go outside? Be serious. Speaking of Netflix (which I often and loudly do, demanding to know why people aren’t obsessed with the same shows I’m obsessed with), what do you think Shakespeare’s most celebrated characters would have in their various queues? What? No, no, I’m asking YOU. Don’t look at me, I’ve barely thought about this. Just kidding. I think about it constantly, and this slideshow is the result.
I think we can all agree that John Milton needed to do less. The man wrote an entire epic poem in blank verse, and he did it while blind. Who does that? What was he trying to prove? (For comparisons’ sake, one time I stubbed my toe and then I didn’t leave the house for three days.) Now, I’m not saying you should SKIP reading Paradise Lost in favor of this slideshow. Milton spent something like five YEARS penning this masterpiece with the help of various friends and amanuenses; the least we could all do is read it. But if you don’t have the time (and who could blame you?), here’s the “do less” version.
Picture a self-made billionaire from humble origins who plucked themselves from obscurity to become an illustrious, borderline mythical figure in our cultural zeitgeist. Am I talking about Beyoncé Knowles, or Jay Gatsby? Okay, I'm not saying Beyoncé is a twenty-first century Gatsby (Gatsby WISHES), but I am saying I have no idea where one ends and the other begins. (Just kidding. Beyoncé just invented Coachella and Gatsby is not only fictional but also dead. It's pretty clear who's the superior being.) Anyway, can you tell their works apart? [viralQuiz id=440]
Hi Auntie! So last weekend when my roommate was gone, I had my friend over who recently dropped out of school. I left her alone in the room for a few hours while I was at work, and I came back to find that she invited people over and started drinking. I was ok with it but still frustrated that she didn't ask me. The next day she left a mess that I had to clean up (and she had sex on my rug). She is known to be disrespectful of others' belongings, and a few times I've lent her clothing and she's never returned it. The problem is that when my roommate came back, she claimed that approximately $50 was missing. I told her that I had no idea what happened to it (I didn't want to throw my friend under the bus, especially as I have no proof that she did this). I did, however, text her asking if she might have moved stuff, and she denied it. My roommate wants me to repay her the money. I do not have any money as I work 9 hrs a week for minimum wage and I'm a full-time student with many expenses. My roommate, however, can afford to go shopping weekly, and regularly gets her hair and nails done. She has never worked, and I know that her parents give her plenty of money. I feel that it's extremely unfair for her to be holding me responsible for something that I did not do. She knows that I have never touched her stuff before, and am always respectful of her privacy. It is much easier for her to get $50 from her parents than it is for me to get money, as I have bills to pay. Please help me explain this to her! And let me know what I can do. Well, okay, Sparkler. Here's what you can do: you can apologize for lying to your roommate when you said you had no idea what happened to her cash. You can admit that you brought an untrustworthy person into your shared living space, without her knowledge or permission, and apologize for that, too. And unless you want to rethink your choice to let your friend off the hook for the theft (which, not for nothing, you clearly believe she committed)? Then you can pay your roommate back, even if you have to do it in installments of five or ten dollars per week. Because I'm sorry to tell you this, kiddo, but while you might not be guilty of taking her money, you left her belongings vulnerable to the person who did—a person you invited over and chose to cover for—and that makes you culpable. And everything else, from your roommate's grooming habits to her parents' financial status to the fact that you're strapped for cash, is really beside the point. I mean, imagine for a second that the damage wasn't financial: if your friend (or one of the people she brought over) had puked on your roommate's duvet, broken her mirror, and taken a dump in one of her shoes, you wouldn't tell her to clean up the mess and replace her belongings herself just because you weren't the one who pooped in her booties—and you certainly wouldn't trot out her privileged background as a justification for not doing your part to make things right. It's awful to have your belongings stolen or vandalized, and even if you're lucky enough to be able to replace your stuff easily, the material damage is only part of that. The sense of violation (and the harsh reminder of just how crappy and selfish people can be) is really upsetting, no matter who you are. The thing is, I know you understand this on some level—that a mess can be your responsibility even if you didn't make it yourself. After all, you quite literally cleaned up after your friend when she left your room in disarray, right? You didn't leave it for your roommate to deal with just because her rich parents could easily hire a maid service to take care of the mess, or whatever. What you need to realize is that the same principle applies here: if you're not going to hold the person who did the bad deed accountable for fixing things, then the buck passes to you. Of course, that is the other thing: you've made a choice here not to hold your friend accountable. And if that's how you want to play it, that's fine, but I've gotta point out to you that you could choose differently—and considering how little you seem to like or trust this girl, maybe it's time to rethink your approach to that friendship. You've even got a rare opportunity here to weigh its value in very concrete terms: is this girl worth paying fifty bucks to cover for? Or is that just too much, when she's already taken more than enough from you? If you can answer that question for yourself, you'll know what your next move should be—and while it's going to cost you either way, be it financially or emotionally, you can be confident that it's the price you chose to pay. Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com. Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.
Instead of boring you all with examples of how dateable I’m NOT, let’s focus on what’s important here: would hot people in 1579 like me and want to date me, or would they find me wanting just like everyone currently alive in the 21st century? I wonder this constantly, but now I don’t have to, and neither do you. [viralQuiz id=439]