Why BYU Students Should Read Fiction and Nonfiction… For Fun

“Books are a uniquely portable magic,” Stephen King said. But the problem is that most people don’t read for fun, and that means that they’re missing out on literary magic. A recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts suggested that only 43 percent of adults read a work of literature in 2015. The survey excluded assigned reading to focus on people who read for fun, and the results revealed the lowest percentage of adult readers since the NEA began tracking reader data in 1982.

BYU students are no exception. Between their classes, homework, part-time jobs, and social lives, few students pick up books to read for pleasure. One article published by The Daily Universe suggested that students prefer reading during the summer, when they have much lighter loads. But what are the benefits of reading fiction, and why should you do it as often as possible? New psychological research suggests that readers are more empathetic than other people are, probably because reading trains the mind to put itself in other people’s shoes. Those findings have been replicated by many studies in the past few years.

FHSS has a reading list on its website, and we’re going to suggest two of our recent favorites to our readers. These are works of non-fiction written by our own professors, but they provide food for thought and fun.

  • A World Ablaze, by history professor Craig Harline. This book tells Martin Luther’s story, but it’s no history textbook. A World Ablaze reads like a work of fiction, and Harline’s storytelling will keep you flipping pages all the way to the end. Keep checking our blog for more information; we’ll publish a detailed post about the book next week.
  • Friends are fun, and psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad wrote a chapter in a recent book about the psychology of friendship, about what it means to be a friend and how we can befriend those across the race, ethnicity, gender, and orientation spectrums. This chapter also addresses what happens when a friendship turns sour, the effect of friendship on our mental health.

One of the most valuable things college students can learn is how to find books that interest them. Luckily, the Harold B. Lee Library ranks among the best college libraries in the nation, so you can find thousands of titles right on campus. You could also check out Pioneer Book on Center Street or purchase books through Amazon. If you don’t know what kind of books you yourself might be interested in, you might want to ask your roommates or favorite professors what they’re currently reading. For book recommendations, search #bookreviews, #amreading, #booknerd, or #bookstagram on Instagram.

What’s your favorite recent read?

Let us know in the comments section!

Student News: The BYU Farmers’ Market and How it Creates Community

Autumn is well under way, but there are still a few weeks left in BYU’s own farmers’ market. While students might not necessarily think of that market as important to their experience here, it can in fact provide them with multiple benefits, not the least of which is a greater sense of community. Research is beginning to show that that sense has started to erode with the explosion in popularity of online shopping, and is something that many scholars, including Professor Michael R. Cope, in our department of sociology, have studied. In that sense, farmers’ markets in general could be seen not only as a boon to students, but also a solution to societal problems.

Benefits to Students of Farmers’ Markets

  • connecting with your local community: You see other students on campus every single day, but you might not often get the chance to interact with local families and businesses. This is one way to immerse yourself in the experience of college life, a period most often experienced only once in a lifetime.
  • getting access to fresh produce: Now that you’ve been back at BYU for a month, you’re probably ready to eat something besides ramen or spaghetti. Give your physical health a boost by adding fresh produce to your diet.
  • experiencing local culture: In addition to offering produce, the farmers’ market includes booths for baked goods and arts and crafts. There are often live music performers present, so you can also become more familiar with the local music scene. It’s a way to “live in the experience,” as Michael Featherstone, an alum of our Economics department, said in their most recent magazine.
  • making grocery shopping fun
  • making a difference in the community

BYU’s Farmers Market takes place every Thursday afternoon through October 26 in the south parking lot of the LaVell Edwards stadium.

What other value do farmers’ markets provide?

The Sociology Behind Farmers’ Markets

“As our local communities increasingly shed their traditional production and consumption functions,” said Professor Cope in a 2016 study, “they may also increasingly fail to imbue their residents with identity and connections to larger social realities.” In other words, the less goods a community produces and the fewer goods bought within that community, the higher the likelihood that its residents will feel “hyper-individualized.” The good news is that research strongly suggests that farmers’ markets tie communities together as civic-minded people converge. The Local Food Movement (LFM) is a project that champions that cause and backs many of the 8,000 farmers’ markets around the country. It aims to help communities develop more self-reliant and resilient food networks, improve local economies; and have an impact on the health, environment, community, or society of a particular place.

From a sociological standpoint, their objectives are admirable, possibly even necessary. The bad news: despite that, farmers’ markets aren’t always inclusive. The number of female shoppers is significantly higher than the number of male shoppers, and shoppers are disproportionately white and highly educated. But it’s important not to view the LFM as an egalitarian movement taking on the Goliath of agribusiness. Instead, Wheaton College sociologist Justin L. Schupp suggests that “the more interesting prospective framing of the LFM could have the movement admitting its potential for intra-group stratification while working further toward its stated goals of the democratization of food access.”

Vendors and shoppers at farmers’ markets have the right idea, but they would increase their community impact if they operated in more low-income neighborhoods and attracted a wider variety of people.

The Geography Behind Farmers’ Markets

Common sense tells us that farmers’ markets bring communities together, but it doesn’t fully explain how or why that happens. Interacting with other people fosters a sense of community, but can geography teach us something about farmers’ markets as well, their benefits to students, and their role in creating more unified communities? While shoppers can find farmers’ markets all across the United States, there is geographic disparity in their distribution. There are higher percentages of farmers’ markets in communities in California, New York, and Midwestern states than in southern states; farmers’ markets are also more common in urban areas than in rural areas. Are those communities more tight-knit or egalitarian? Do many students shop at farmers’ markets?

While research doesn’t yet point to direct answers to those questions, it does show that those who do shop at those markets tend to not visit the markets nearest to their own homes, and that the LFM has a ways to go in terms of helping to establish farmers’ markets in more low-income and ethnically-diverse neighborhoods (Schupp, 2016).



The Status Quo of Farmers’ Markets

Be that as it may, farmers’ markets continue to grow not only in number but in symbolic value. From 1984 to 2001, farmers sold goods in a large market at the base of the World Trade Center, but the morning of 9/11 was the market’s last day of operation — until June 20, 2017. The newly reopened market is located next to the Oculus. Security is tighter than you’d find at another farmers’ market, but vendors are fairly optimistic about its future.

In fact, the entire future of American farmers’ markets is bright. The number of markets has boomed since the 1970s, and it doesn’t look like they’re going out of style anytime soon.



Benjamin Madley to Lecture on an American Genocide

Genocide, according to the United Nations, is “…acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”  Benjamin Madley, an associate professor of history at UCLA, applies the term to describe the treatment of American Indians in mid-19th century California in his book, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe. In two weeks, Dr. Madley will lecture at an FHSS event to argue that California Indians didn’t fare much better than Armenians, Rwandans, or even European Jews during the Nazi regime.

You’re invited

  • Who: Dr. Benjamin Madley, hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies
  • What: A presentation on the American Genocide
  • When: Thursday, September 21st, from 11 a.m. to noon
  • Where: B192 JFSB (the Education in Zion auditorium)
  • Why: To discuss important historical events that often lack awareness and understanding
Courtesy of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies.

An American Genocide

An American Genocide, in which Dr. Madley estimates that 9,000 to 16,000 California Indians were killed from 1846 to 1873, has been reviewed by The New York Times, Newsweek, The Nation, and many others. Some of Dr. Madley’s fellow historians have criticized his book for applying the term “genocide” to the conflicts between Americans and California Indians. Gary Clayton Anderson, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma, challenges Dr. Madley’s death toll estimates and characterizes the California massacres as “ethnic cleansing.” The reasoning? Dr. Anderson argues that government policy never supported mass killings, so the genocide label might be inappropriate.

But An American Genocide details murders and massacres carried out by vigilantes, state militias, and the United States Army. Dr. Madley “methodically [gives] examples of each and [tags] the incidents like corpses in a morgue,” according to Richard White of The Nation. A seasoned historian, Dr. Madley also compiles many accounts of the incidents in nearly 200 pages of appendices. Every reader can weigh the evidence and conclude whether or not the incidents were genocidal.

Dr. Madley developed a passion for the interactions between indigenous groups and colonizers during his childhood; he was born in Redding, California, and lived in Karuk Country in northwestern California. Dr. Madley has earned degrees from Yale University and Oxford University, and he has authored many journal articles and book chapters.

Courtesy of UCLA’s Department of History.


How do you think historians should apply the modern definition of “genocide” to historical events?

Four Benefits to New Students of Attending the New Student Orientation FHSS Breakout Session

It’s that time of year again: Fall, school, and New Student Orientation. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will host its breakout session on Friday September 1st from 3-5pm. The event starts with a presentation by the Advisement Center in B002 of the JFSB that will cover:

  • Information about the Advisement Center
  • Information about advisors and career paths
  • Myths regarding the liberal arts

Following that will be tables manned by representatives of the individual departments, as well as other college entities. in the Southeast Breezeway of the JFSB Courtyard. Those tables will include

  • Economics
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • The School of Family Life
  • Geography
  • Neuroscience
  • Anthropology
  • FHSS Writing Lab
  • Office of Civic Engagement.

The Dean’s Office will have a table and representatives will be available to answer any questions you have about the college.

If you’re a new student, what are the benefits of attending FHSS’s New Student Orientation?

1. Learn about different majors

Trying to figure out what to study can be daunting. Taking advantage of NSO to ask various department representatives about their department can help you decide what you want to study.

giphy (4)

2. Build connections

Because you are interacting with faculty and department representatives, you will be able to establish a valuable connection early on. The connections you form during your time here will serve you long after you graduate.


3. Meet people with similar interests

You can never have too many friends! Take this opportunity to meet people who are interested in the same things you are. giphy (1)


4. Get a cookie!

The Dean’s Office table will be giving out cookies. Enough said.

giphy (2)


Be sure to stop by the JFSB on September 1st to learn more about the wonderful opportunities offered by the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences!

Tips for Surviving Finals


It’s the end of the semester; in a matter of days you’ll be free to binge watch The Crown, go visit your family, and sleep. But there’s one thing you have to do first: survive finals. Long, stressful, draining finals. But they don’t have to be that bad. We in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences want to help you get through these emotionally exhausting times. So, we present to you eight tips for surviving finals, as suggested by various FHSS students on Twitter, and learned by experience.

Tip #1: Pack Snacks

When you’re hungry you can’t focus. And when you can’t focus, you can’t study. And if you can’t study, you fail. Nobody wants that. But be sure to keep the snacks healthy. While caffeine can keep you awake, the crash can kill any chance you have of doing well. So whether you’re burrowed in the library or camped out at home, just remember that one apple can mean the difference between an A and a B.


Tip #2: Sleep

Recommended by FHSS student Samantha Hawkins, who says:

You retain more and test better when you’ve had enough sleep. Don’t overdo it, but don’t cut yourself short either.


Tip #3: Stay off electronics.

Unless, of course, you’re using them to study. But stay as far away from Netflix, apps, and social media as you can! Think you’ll go on Instagram  just for a minute to see if T-Swizzle posted something about her cats? Wrong! Four hours later and you’re on Facebook stalking some random dude you knew in middle school. Trust me, non-study related internet use is a bigger waste of your time than the new Ghostbusters.


Tip #4: Go outside.

Every few hours, take some time to poke your head outside. Leave whatever cramped corner of the library you’re currently living in and go take a walk. Do a lap around the WILK. Climb the RB stairs. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever you do will help wake you up and clear your head, two things you need if you want to study efficiently and test well. If you don’t, pretty soon you’ll end up just like Spongebob.


Tip #5: Take an hour to relax.

Take some time for yourself. Take a hot bath, watch your favorite movie, jam out to your music. Obviously, don’t make this a day(s) long affair- just let yourself breathe for an hour. (Unless of course, you’re two days away from finals and have just started studying.) This will lower your stress and help you focus.


Tip #6: Before the Test,Wake up early.

This gives you some time for the last minute cram sesh. It also allows you to get to the testing center (or wherever your test is) early. This will help you relax and feel more prepared. Besides, who wants to wake up late and have to run to the testing center?


Tip #7: Calm down.

You can do this. You’ve prepared and you’re going to kick this test in the butt.


Tip #8: After the Finals,Congratulate Yourself.  

You’re done! Yay! And you learned so much! (Hopefully)


Good luck!

What do You do to Prepare for Finals?

GIFs courtesy of giphy.com

Five Things for Students to do over Thanksgiving Break in Provo

Say you’re a student who will be staying in Provo over Thanksgiving break, due to limited funds, home being too far away, the need to study, or other reasons. But you feel like you need to do something fun, something that will help you catch the spirit of the holidays. Consider these five fun activities around and about town as possibilities:

Play Football at Kiwanis (or any other) Park

This is a tradition you can keep anywhere. So, grab your friends or anyone else who’s in Provo over break, get a football, and duke it out at the park. You can play it for as long or as little as you like. But, if playing football isn’t your thing, you can always watch it on TV. Snow is expected on Thursday, so it could well look like this:



See a Movie

Disney has a long history of releasing films in November- in recent years around Thanksgiving. This year is no exception: Moana is coming out on November 23, the day before Thanksgiving. But if that’s not your style you can also go see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, if you haven’t already.



Plan an Escape

Head over to GetOut Games. The premise of this is pretty cool. You go with a group, get locked in a room for 60 minutes, and then solve puzzles to find the way out. Rooms range from Egyptian Tomb to Zombie on Chain. It can be pricey, $14-$20, but if you want to treat yourself (since it is a holiday), it might be a good option to do with friends.



Learn to Cook

Nothing tastes as good as your mom’s cooking, but with a little effort, you can start getting there. Use this time to master the culinary arts so that when you do go home, you can wow your family. Besides, what else are you going to do with the leftovers? You can only eat so many turkey sandwiches…



Get Ready for Christmas (After Thanksgiving)

On Friday, you can bring out the tree and the tinsel. Bake some cookies (see number 4). Dance to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Or, my personal favorite, watch a Christmas movie! Thankfully, you have a ton of options: Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, and the Hallmark Channel, to name only a few.



What will you do this Thanksgiving?

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.

The Power of Prayer


The Study

BYU professors Loren Marks and Dave Dollahite are passionate about researching the connections between families and faith. As we mentioned in an article in our most recent Connections issue, that passion has grown into a decade-spanning, religion-spanning project. Amongst the Jews, Muslims, and Christians included in their research, prayer was universally acknowledged as a

  • catalyst for change,
  • a facilitator of humility and positivity, as well as of communication and understanding among couples
  • a unifier of couples and an aid in resolving conflict.”



The Meaning

 The families interviewed were, in fact, very open in discussing prayer, says Dr. Marks. “We did not ask any direct questions about prayer, yet prayer was directly mentioned by our participants in substantive ways nearly 300 times and by a majority of the participants.”

The Impact

Eleven studies conducted over the last ten years combine to show the following, as expressed here:

  • the ability to unite during challenges, more than avoiding challenges, defines strong marriage,
  • marriage [partners] benefit not merely from sharing the same faith, but from sharing similar levels of involvement and commitment, or have a ‘shared vision’ of faith and family life,
  • youth spiritual development is more successful when based on certain anchors of religious commitment,
  • it is not necessarily what families believe, but what they do that matters most.

They provide a variety of tips gleaned from their research here.

Dr. Loren says that he will be studying specific religious activities, such as the Jewish Shabbat, the Mormon Family Home Evening, and the Muslim Ramadan, next. He will also be analyzing the ways in which people emotionally struggle with religion and what religious parents believe are the paramount traits they need to possess and exemplify in regards to their adolescent offspring.

How has prayer influenced your life?


Incoming Freshmen: 5 Tips for Success

September is fast approaching, and that means two exciting things are incoming: football and freshmen. But since there’s already enough hype surrounding this year’s BYU football team, we’ll use this post to give a few helpful tips to the freshman entering or considering the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. This advice comes from many resources available to incoming freshmen: BYU’s Freshman Checklist, students and alumni who commented on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, and Sam Prestwich, an Academic and Career Advisor with the FHSS Advisement Center.

Tip #1: Don’t Stress

cat-649164_1920Selecting a major is one of the most stressful decisions a college student can make, but a sizable portion of that stress can be relieved by the paths an FHSS degree opens up. Rather than constraining a student’s options, an FHSS degree expands them. “Instead of saying, ‘this major is going to make me who I am,’ you can say, ‘I’m going to utilize this major and this degree as a vehicle to get wherever I want to go,'” Prestwich said. “Each one of our majors allow a full array of career and grad school options.”

Students exploring the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences have a big advantage: the majors within the college provide an almost limitless number of post-graduation opportunities. “The path for students here doesn’t always need to be linear,” Prestwich said. “If you’re an engineering major, most of your opportunities are going to be in engineering. But if you’re a psychology major, for instance, that’s a degree which is applicable over a variety of disciplines and career options.”

Tip #2: Take Introductory Courses

Every department in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences offers introductory courses to students not in the major as a way of exploring the field. You want to learn more about sociology? Take Sociology 101. Anthropology sounds cool? Anthropology 101. Always been curious about psychology? You’re in luck—Psych 101 is one of BYU’s most popular classes. Intro level courses are a great way for students to explore their options, learn about a variety of disciplines, and gain valuable insight into future major and career paths.

“Incoming freshman usually haven’t declared a major, so they have a lot of schedule space to fill with these introductory courses,” Prestwich said. “It’s one of the best ways to find out if you’re passionate about a subject.”

Tip #3: Get Involved

“Students need to recognize that there’s more to an education than just taking classes,” Prestwich said. “There are valuable opportunities to supplement your education with real-world experience.”

Internships, volunteer work, professor-aided research, teacher’s assistant positions, part-time jobs, and study abroad programs are just a few of the many ways that an FHSS student can get involved, build their resume, and gain valuable experience. “These kinds of opportunities are going to shape the direction a student can go, whether to grad school or directly into a career,” Prestwich said. “Sometimes students only focus on schoolwork and forego all the other great resume builders and experiences that are readily accessible through each department in the college.”

Tip #4: Develop Good Study Habits

Some people can coast through high school on brains alone, but without good study habits, college can overwhelm even the smartest procrastinator.

“Most students I talk to who are struggling have trouble with time management,” Prestwich said. “They also don’t take advantage of resources available to them—teachers, TAs, study groups. Lots of students tell me they wish they’d done that.” Consider buying a day planner to help organize the workload, and regularly set realistic goals that push you to improve.

Tip #5: Seek Advice

Some of the most helpful resources in getting through college are people who have already done it. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences has an amazing network of students and alumni who are passionate about their fields and eager to provide advice. Here are some tips we recently got from FHSS students and alumni on Facebook…:


…and Twitter


So, perhaps the best advice we could offer is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get connected with other students in the college! Good luck!


Sculpted by the Creator



“As Michelangelo saw the potential within the block of marble, God sees the divinity within us,” said one our newest Brigham Young University FHSS graduates Ashley LeBaron at our recent graduation ceremonies. Her comparison of slabs of marble with graduating students who now have their ” hammers and chisels” in hand, so to speak, and who are seeking direction in their lives, was very apt.

When students graduate from college, they’re often surrounded by choices and changes. She encouraged graduates to seek heavenly help in determining the direction of their futures. “God has the power to direct and perfect [your] lives,” Ashley reminded them, saying that it is [your] duty to “hand over the hammer and chisel to [Him]. Consecration, [or the act of dedicating service or worship to God], is the key to sanctification. Graduates need to make a conscious choice to “relinquish control of [their] lives and offer [themselves] to His care.”

To some, her advice may seem self-evident. Indeed, it can be easy to forego control of one’s life and simply react to the obstacles thrown across one’s path. But doing so while truly submitting oneself to the process of becoming a work of art requires more than passiveness, it requires a “faith-filled consecration.”

Sometimes the careful chisels of the Creator can be painful. Just as with Michelangelo, the production of treasured works of art would often take time and great effort.  “It is very probable that our lives will not go according to our plan. If consecrated, though, they can go according to God’s perfect plan.”

Indeed, her comments echoed those of C.S. Lewis, another great artist, whom she quoted:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.


As a family history major, art history minor, and valedictorian who once struggled to decide her direction, she bore witness to the many times in God had sanctified her life-changing choices. He was able to “make much more of my life than I ever could,” she said.


Feature photo courtesy of flickr.