Category Archives: School in a Book

School in a Book: Anatomy and Medical Science

We love our bodies, don’t we? It’s just so nice to understand what’s going on inside of all of this skin.

Basic Anatomy

The eleven systems of the human body: Skeletal system, respiratory system, muscular system, nervous system, digestive system, reproductive system, circulatory system, endocrine system, lymphatic/immune system, integumentary system, urinary system

Skeletal system: The framework of bones and cartilage that supports the body and provides hard surfaces for the muscles to contract on

The four types of bones: Flat (e.g., ribs), long (e.g., legs), irregular (e.g., spine), short (e.g. fingers)

Cranium: The skull bone

Mandible: The jawbone

Scapula: The shoulder blades

Clavicle: The collar bone

Sternum: The breastbone

Vertebrae: The bones that make up the spine

Pelvis: The main hip bone

Coccyx: The buttocks bone

Humerus: The upper arm bone

Radius: The bone on the topside of the lower arm

Ulna: The bone on the lower side of the lower arm

Femur: The upper leg bone

Tibia: The shin bone

Fibula: The bone on the underside of the lower leg

Patella: The kneecap

Metatarsals: The foot bones

Tarsals: The ankle bones

Carpals: The wrist bones

Metacarpals: The finger bones

Phelanges: The finger and toe (digit) bones

Joint: The places where bones meet. Most joints are movable.

Bone marrow: The store of fat inside the bone cavity

Cartilage: The alternative to bone that’s more flexible. Most baby bones are actually cartilage and slowly turn into bone later.

Muscular system: The system that enables the body to move using muscles

Muscles: Stretchy tissues all over the body that allow for movement. Some pairs work together with one contracting as the other relaxes. They can only contract and relax, not push.

Muscle contraction: The movement that occurs when muscles become shorter and harder and may bulge

Muscle relaxation: The movement that occurs when muscles become longer and softer

Voluntary muscle: (requiring conscious movement, such as the quads) or

Involuntary muscle: (such as the heart).

Skeletal muscle: (located on the skeletal system),

Cardiac muscle: (the heart and related muscles) or

Visceral muscle: (the intestines).

[add specific muscles]

Circulatory system: The system that circulates blood around the body via the heart, arteries and veins, delivering oxygen and nutrients to organs and cells and carrying their waste products away. It also equalizes the temperature in the body. It includes blood, blood vessels and the heart.

The four parts of the heart: Four chambers (two atria and two ventricles), valves to keep blood moving the right direction through the heart (each time one snaps shut there’s a heartbeat), veins and arteries that carry blood from heart to lungs, upper body and lower body and others for the opposite direction.

Artery: Move blood away from the heart

Vein:

Capillary:

White blood cell: The cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders

Red blood cell:

Digestive system: The system responsible for the mechanical and chemical processes that provide nutrients via the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines and eliminates waste from the body.

Esophagus:

Stomach:

Liver: The organ that allows us to go between meals without eating by storing food energy. It is the largest organ by mass. Extra energy beyond the liver capacity is stored as fat. The liver also processes waste materials we encounter in our environment.

Respiratory system: The lungs and the passages that lead to them and allow for breathing of oxygen and breathing out of CO2.

Windpipe/trachea: A tube that connects the pharynx and larynx to the lungs, allowing the passage of air

Primary bronchus: The tubes between the trachea and each lung. After passing through the bronchus, air goes into the lungs. Then oxygen goes into secondary and tertiary bronchi, bronchioles, air sacs and capillaries and from there is distributed throughout the body.

Lung: A large air sack containing many tubes

Diaphragm: A flat sheet of muscle lying under the lungs. When you breathe in, your ribs move up and out and the diaphragm flattens. When you breathe out, your ribs move down and in and the diaphragm rises.

Voice box/larynx: Top part of the trachea

Vocal cords: Two bands of muscle that open to let air past when you breathe. When you speak muscles pull the cords together and air makes them vibrate. Shorter, faster cords, as in females, make higher pitched sounds.

Integumentary system: Skin, hair, nails, sweat and other exocrine glands

Skin: The soft outer tissue covering of vertebrates. It contains the epidermis, the dermis and subcutaneous tissues (fat cells).

Melanin: Natural pigments found in most organisms

Pores: Tube-shaped sweat glands

Keratin: What skin and nails are made of

Hair follicle: The opening at the base of a hair. Its shape determines whether the hair is curly, wavy or straight.

Urinary/renal system: The system that controls the amount of water in your body and filters blood. It includes two kidneys, a balloon-like sac called the bladder and the tubes connected to them.

Urethra: The tube that connects the bladder to the urinary meatus for the removal of urine from the body

Kidneys: The two bean-shaped organs on the left and right in the retroperitoneal space. They are about 11 centimetres in length. They receive blood from the paired renal arteries; blood exits into the paired renal veins. Each kidney is attached to a ureter, a tube that carries excreted urine to the bladder.

Lymphatic/immune system: The system comprising a network of lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph. It defends the body against pathogenic viruses that may endanger the body. The lymph contains the leftover interstitial fluid resulting from blood filtration.

Lymph: Lymph is the fluid that circulates throughout the lymphatic system

Lymph node: A kidney-shaped organ of the lymphatic system, and of the adaptive immune system, that is widely present throughout the body. Lymph nodes are major sites of white blood cells and important for the immune system.

Endocrine system: The system that provides chemical communications within the body using hormones

Endocrine glands: Groups of cells that make hormones.

Hormones: Any member of a class of signaling molecules produced by glands in multicellular organisms that are transported by the circulatory system to target distant organs to regulate physiology and behaviour. The body makes over 20 types of hormones.

Pituitary gland: Makes growth hormone, prolactine, which control other endocrine glands, growth, mother’s milk production

Adrenal glands: The twin glands that make adrenalin and aldosterone which control blood glucose level, heart rate, body’s salt level

Thyroid gland: Makes thyroxin which controls metabolism

The ovaries:

The testes:

The pancreas: Makes insulin and glucagon which control the use of glucose by the body

Nervous system: The system that collects and processes information from the senses via nerves and the brain and tells the muscles to contract to cause physical actions. It is made up of the sensory organs, the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves. The nervous system coordinates both voluntary and involuntary body movements.

Brain: The organ under the skull that is made up of millions of neurons and cerebrospinal fluid. There are electrical impulses going on between nerve cells in brain all the time. Brain waves (patterns of impulses) can be measured.

Brain stem: Controls automatic functions like heartbeat and breathing. It contains two hemispheres: right and left.

Spinal cord: The thick bundle of nerves that joins the brain to the rest of the body. It is located inside a tunnel in the backbone.

Neurons: Nerve cells. They include sensory, association and motor nerves cells.

Nerves: Cords that contain bundles of nerve fibers. Can be sensory, motor and mixed (both).

Motor nerves: Nerves that receive signals from the brain to the muscles to move

Nerve impulse: A signaling action of a neuron

Sensory organs: Organs that send nerve impulses to the brain along nerves

How eyes work: Light enters the pupil through the clear cornea and lens. These bend the light rays so they form an image on the retina and back of eye. (Turns image upside down.) Rods and cones convert the image to nerve impulses which take the optic nerve to the brain. The brain interprets and turns the image right side up.

Stereoscopic vision: Perception of depth and 3-dimensional structure obtained on the basis of visual information deriving from two eyes

Ear: The hearing organ. It contains an outer, middle and inner part.

How ears work: The ear flap funnels sound waves to the ear canal, then to the eardrum. The eardrum vibrates. These vibrations pass through bones and holes to the cochlea, then to fluid chambers. Tiny nerve cells in the fluid convert vibrations into nerve impulses, which go along the auditory nerve to the brain. Ears also help keep you balanced through the vestibular system. This works by sensing movement of fluid in ducts and sending that info to the brain. Since you have two ears you can tell which direction sound is coming from.

Chemoreceptors: Small organs in the nose and tongue that detect smells and tastes, which are chemicals, and send this information to the brain.

Nasal cavity: The large air filled space above and behind the nose in the middle of the face

Cerebrum: (for physical activities and thinking)

Cerebellum: (for muscle movement and balance)

Corpus collosum: Bundle of nerve cells connecting the two hemispherres of the brain and allowing them to integrate cognitive, emotional and bodily functions

Cerebral cortex: Covers the two cerebral hemispheres; responsible for memory, concentration, problem-solving abilities, muscle coordination–four lobes: occipital lobe–interprets sensory info throug the eyes, parietal lobe–controls spacial reasoning and sense of touch; temporal lobe–hearing and storage of permanent memory; frontal lobe–sense of smell, body control, movement

Diencephalon: (with thalamus, which sorts and directs incoming impulses) and hypothalamus

Hypothalamus: (which controls hunger, thirst, body temperature, release of hormones from pituitary gland).

Amygdala:

Peripheral nervous system: The whole network of nerves throughout the body

Autonomic nervous system:

Sympathetic nervous system:

Parasympathetic nervous system:

Neurotransmitters: Various chemicals such as serotonin and epinephrin that allow neurons to communicate with each other. These are sometimes called “chemical messengers.”

Neurotransmission: The communication that takes place between neural networks

The lymbic system:

REM sleep: Rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep, REMS) is a unique phase of sleep in mammals and birds, distinguishable by random/rapid movement of the eyes, accompanied with low muscle tone throughout the body, and the propensity of the sleeper to dream vividly.

Reproductive system: The sex organs required for the production of offspring

Sperm/spermatoza: The male reproductive cell

Semen: The fluid made in the testicles that may contain sperm

Testicle: The testicle or testis (plural testes) is the male reproductive gland in all animals, including humans. It produces sperm and semen.

Prostate gland: A gland of the male reproductive system

Scrotum: The suspended dual-chambered sack of skin and smooth muscle that holds the two testicles

Vagina: The elastic, muscular canal leading to the uterus in which sex takes place

Cervix: The lower part of the uterus that contracts and opens during childbirth

Fallopian tubes: The tubes leading from the ovaries to the uterus

Womb/uterus: The organ in which fetal development takes place.

Labia: The major externally visible portions of the vulva. It has two layers.

Placenta: The temporary organ that connects the developing fetus via the umbilical cord to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, thermo-regulation, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother’s blood supply; to fight against internal infection; and to produce hormones which support pregnancy

Umbilical cord: The conduit between the developing fetus and the placenta inside a pregnant woman

Basic Medical Science

Infection: The invasion of an organism’s body tissues by disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agents and the toxins they produce

Immunity: The balanced state of multicellular organisms having adequate biological defenses to fight infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion, while having adequate tolerance to avoid allergy, and autoimmune diseases

Drug: A drug is any substance (other than food that provides nutritional support) that, when inhaled, injected, smoked, consumed, absorbed via a patch on the skin, or dissolved under the tongue causes a temporary physiological (and often psychological) change in the body

Nutrients: The vitamins, minerals, and proteins that are used to make body parts, either by facilitating a chemical reaction or by being used as actual material (like calcium an amino acids from protein breakdown), and the carbs and fats that are burned for fuel.

Virus: A small pathogen that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms and can cause illness

Vaccination: The administration of antigenic material (a vaccine) to stimulate an individual’s immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a pathogen

Antibiotics: A substance that kills bacterial. Not antiviral.

Pathogen: A germ, usually a microorganism like a bacteria or virus, that can cause illness

Tumor: An abnormal and excessive growth of tissue that starts as a neoplasm, then forms a mass

Preventive medicine: Measures taken for disease prevention, as opposed to disease treatment

Alternative medicine: Unproven or disproven medical techniques and substances

School in a Book: Geology, Ecology and Meteorology

As humans, we experience the effects of chemistry, biology and physics every day, but not always knowingly. For this reason, geology and ecology are to me the most visual–even the most sensual–of the hard sciences, the ones that allows us to better understand our immediate environment.

Geology isn’t theory and microscopes; it’s what we see around us every day.

Sometimes, it’s hard to mentally separate geology and ecology. Here’s the short version: geology is the study of all the stuff on the earth, and ecology is the study of the way living things interact with it.

Add: The elements of the earth’s crust (oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium). The parts of the earth (crust—oceanic and continental; mantle—litho-sphere and asthenosphere; outer core; inner core). Types of clouds.

Basic Geology

Layers of the earth: The four distinct parts of the earth, which include: the outer crust (oceans and tectonic plates), the mantle (rock), the outer core (extremely hot liquid metal), and the inner core (solid metal).

Rock: A collection of various minerals formed together into a hard mass. Common rocks include: limestone, shale, sandstone, granite, marble, basalt, obsidian, coal, quartz, conglomerate and chalk. Rocks are not made of single minerals or elements, but are compounds of several different minerals.

Mineral: A single material of uniform color, texture, luster and structure. It is usually made up of two or more elements.

Ore: Any natural, earth material that is mined and processed to obtain a desired metal. An example is iron ore, which is rock that contains iron.

Crystal: A mineral whose molecules are arranged in a highly regular pattern, which results in a characteristic shape. Some example of crystals are: table salt, graphite, ice and quartz.

Dirt versus soil: Dirt is a mixture of minerals and organic substances that have been broken down through weathering, animal digestion and more, while soil is dirt that is fit to grow plants in

Sediment: The dirt and sand that is carried away with water and wind and deposited in other places in layers. These layers separate according to the size and density of the materials and eventually harden into rock under the sea and elsewhere.

Fossil: The remains of organisms after those organisms are buried under layers of sediment and pressed upon for many years. Some fossils are rocks that show imprints of organic material that has eroded away. Other fossils are the actual remains of the organism, such as bone, or remains that have slowly become petrified (mineralized and turned into rock).

Clay: A kind of dirt that contains very small particles, which result in a soft, uniform, well-mixed substance. Clay soil (soil with a higher-than-average amount of clay in it) holds water well and is good for farming.

The three types of rocks: Sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic

Sedimentary rock: Rock formed when other rocks break down into sediment, then gradually reform other rocks due to pressure and layering. The Grand Canyon is an example of sedimentary rock. Its layers are visible.

Igneous rock: Rock formed from magma that erupted from a volcano, then cooled into layers and chunks

Metamorphic rock: Igneous, sedimentary or other metamorphic rock that has undergone significant changes due to heat

Geological time: A perspective of the history of the earth that divides it into periods based on the types of fossils found in the various layers of the earth’s crust

Radiometric/carbon dating: A scientific, though inexact, method for determining the age of a rock by the amount of carbon it still contains

Water: The most common liquid on earth, whose chemical formula is H2O. It is a solvent that is formed when hydrogen burns in air (oxygen).

The water cycle: The process by which water is continuously recycled between the earth, the atmosphere and living things through heat and evaporation and clouds and rain

The carbon cycle: The process by which carbon cycles through plants, animals, the soil and the atmosphere. This happens mostly due to the respiration of carbon dioxide by animals, the incorporation of carbon dioxide by plants during photosynthesis, decomposition and the burning of fossil fuels.

The nitrogen cycle: The process by which nitrogen cycles through plants, animals, the soil and the atmosphere. When the nitrogen cycle is not in balance, global warming and ozone depletion can occur.

Tides: The rise and fall of sea levels caused by the gravity of the moon and the rotation of the earth

Ocean currents: The movement of the water of the world’s oceans due to wind, the rotation of the earth and more

Groundwater: Water under the Earth’s surface. Most groundwater is found in porous rocks.

The water table: The depth at which groundwater is found, which is affected by rainfall or lack thereof

Air: The gas mixture that we breathe and that makes up the earth’s atmosphere. Air is made up of oxygen (21 percent), nitrogen (78 percent) and other gases, including carbon dioxide (1 percent). It helps plants make food; protects people from UV rays; and helps people obtain oxygen, which is an important component of human blood. The gases in air can be separated out by cooling and compressing the air. Each gas liquifies at a different temperature, allowing for separation.

Earth’s atmosphere: All of the air that surrounds the earth. It is held near the earth due to gravity. There is no distinct endpoint of this region, but instead a gradual decline into airlessness. This is because the gravitational pull on the higher air particles is gradually reduced. Higher air is thinner, with less oxygen, and unbreathable. (Side note: The moon’s gravitational pull isn’t strong enough to hold air down, which is why there is no air or similar gaseous atmosphere on the moon.)

Air pressure: A measurement of the closeness of the particles of air in a particular space. High-pressure air naturally expands into low-pressure air spaces due to its energy and momentum. (Side note: The eardrum in the human ear must have equal pressure on both sides; however, air has to move through a bottleneck and, during quick changes in atmospheric pressure, can move unevenly, resulting in what is known as “ear popping.”)

Earthquake: A sudden shaking of the surface of the earth due to tectonic plate shifts

Seismic activity: The sum of all of the tremors and earthquakes in a region

Tectonic plate: The plates that make up Earth’s crust, whose movement is driven by movements deep in the earth

Fault line: The deep cracks in Earth’s crust that make those areas vulnerable to extreme movement when earthquakes strike

Subduction zone: An area where two plates have collided, causing one plate to slide below the other

Volcano: Vents (openings) in the ground from which magma (molten rock), ash, gas, and rock fragments surge upwards, in an event called an eruption. They are often found at boundaries between the plates in Earth’s crust.

Basic Ecology and Meteorology

Ecology: The study of the way living things interact with their environments

Ecosystem: A group of plants and animals that interact with each other and their surroundings

Biome: A climate and soil type that is unique to a particular region of the earth

The eleven biomes of Earth: Tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, mountains, coniferous forests, scrub lands, temperate grasslands/prairies, tundra, tropical grasslands, deserts, polar areas and oceans

Biodiversity: The huge variety of living things in a particular area. Biodiversity is lost with selective breeding.

Renewable energy: Energy derived from renewable resources

Renewable resource: A natural resource that renews itself fast enough to keep up with human rates of use. These include sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat.

Non-renewable resource: A natural resource that does not renew itself fast enough to keep up with human rates of use. These include minerals, metal ores, fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas) and some groundwater.

Fossil fuel: A fuel that forms deep under the earth from the remains of decomposed animals and plants. Examples are coal, petroleum and natural gas. Fossil fuels are considered non-renewable because it takes millions of years for them to complete one cycle of formation.

The Ozone Layer: The layer of ozone (O3) that exists in the upper atmosphere of earth. It is poisonous to humans when inhaled but, at a distance, protects us from UV rays.

The Greenhouse Effect: The result of an overabundance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which traps heat and causes a greenhouse-like effect on Earth, warming oceans and air and, in turn, causing significant climate change

Global warming: A slow warming of the earth resulting from the Greenhouse Effect

Biodegradable: The ability of a substance to be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms in its environment

Erosion: The breakdown of minerals, rocks and organic materials through freezing, thawing, melting, abrasion, wind, acids and more. This is also called weathering. Erosion of soil lowers soil quality since topsoil is richest in nutrients.

Waterlogged: Oversaturated with water. Water-holding capacity is better for rich soil but poorer for sandy soil.

Aeration: The air flow to plant roots. Roots need oxygen, though plants take in CO2 and give off oxygen. Leaves transport sugar but can’t transport oxygen.

Drought: An extended dry period

Intensive farming: Farming with the help of chemicals, technology, high-output machinery and the like

Soil management: Maintaining proper balance of soil nutrients, airflow and water in soil

Soil conservation: Erosion prevention

Crop rotation: Rotating crops in order to balance the mineral levels in the soil since plants use and add different amounts of various minerals as they grow

Weather versus climate: Weather is the atmospheric conditions caused by changing air pressure and heat from the sun, while climate is the long-term weather conditions of a particular area

The four basic climate types: Tropical (hot all year); polar (cold all year); temperate (moderate, seasonal change); deserts (dry all year).

Wind: The movement of air that happens when higher pressure air is moving toward lower pressure air. If there is no pressure difference, there is no wind.

Storm: Any disruption in the atmosphere producing severe weather, including strong wind, tornadoes, hail, rain, snow (blizzard), lightning (thunderstorm), clouds of dust or sand carried by wind (a dust or sand storm)

Lightning: The visible and audible flow of electricity that occurs during a thunderstorm. It can occur inside a single cloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. It produces an audible booming sound called thunder. Since the speed of light is greater than the speed of sound, we hear thunder after we see lightning.

Tornado: A funnel-shaped column of wind, evaporated water, dust and debris that moves rapidly, sweeping up objects in its path. It is formed when a thunderstorm occurs in areas of both cold and warm air.

Hurricane: A group of thunderstorms that have formed in close proximity over the ocean, then collided to create a cyclone–a spiral-shaped movement of wind with a low-pressure center. Hurricanes are also called typhoons, cyclones and tropical storms.

Tsunami: A series of huge, destructive waves formed during major events like hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, meteorite crashes and earthquakes. Tsunamis are sometimes mistakenly called tidal waves.

Atmospheric particle/particulate: Microscopic solid or liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere. Some are organic and others are human-made.

Barometer: A tool to measure air pressure

School in a Book: Psychology

For me, the fascinating parts of psychology are the specific anecdotes and examples. What happened when that married couple showed early signs of apathy? Did they separate? How did that executive miss that seemingly obvious right move? Was he misled by his confirmation bias? How come that addict recovered while his friend did not?

That said, a few basics on the history of this field are nice, as they’re definitely part of our ongoing cultural conversation. For more in-depth, practical stuff, I highly recommend reading books on positive psychology and marriage books by John Gottman.

Basic Psychology

Psychology: The study of emotions and behavior and emotions. Psychologists attempt to identify normal, healthy behaviors and distinguish them from abnormal or unhealthy behaviors; to explain why these behaviors occur; and to alter undesired behaviors

Psychotherapy: Counseling with a counselor or psychologist. It usually takes place one-to-one in the therapist’s office (though group therapy is also common). The counselor and client work together to identify problems and goals related to the client’s emotional, mental, relational, vocational or spiritual well-being.

Psychologist: A counselor with a PhD

Mental health counselor or therapist: A counselor with a Master’s degree

Life coach: A counselor without an industry-specific degree

Psychiatrist: A medical doctor who specializes in mood disorders and drug treatments for these disorders

Clinical psychologist: A psychologist who diagnoses and treats mental disorders

Forensic psychologist: A psychologist who studies criminal behavior

Developmental psychologist: A psychologist who studies behavior over the lifespan

Cognitive psychologist or neuropsychologist: A psychologist who studies how the brain (neuroscience) affects behavior

Evolutionary psychologist: A psychologist who studies how human behavior has evolved over time

Other types of counselors and psychologists: Career counselor, school psychologist, occupational psychologist, marriage and family therapist, marriage counselor,industrial-organizational psychologist

Psychiatric disorders: Substance abuse disorders; psychotic disorders like schizophrenia; mood disorders like depression; anxiety disorders; dissociative disorders such as dissociative amnesia; phobias; sexual- and gender-related disorders; eating disorders; sleep disorders; impulse control disorders; adjustment disorders; personality disorders; disorders due to a medical condition; physical-seeming conditions that are not diagnosed, such as hypochondria; and falsely reported disorders by people seeking attention. (There are also some less common categories.)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): The basic text used by mental health professionals for diagnosis of psychiatric disorders

Common treatments for mental disorders: Talk therapy, group therapy, family therapy, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, dialectical therapy, existential therapy, psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy, hypnosis, meditation, medication, EMDR

Psychoanalysis: A method of psychotherapy that seeks to bring unconscious knowledge into conscious knowledge through dream interpretation, Rorschach tests, free association and more. It was developed by Sigmund Freud and rests on the idea that early experiences shape personality.

Rorschach test: A psychological test that present ambiguous stimuli in the expectation that people will interpret it in ways that reveal their concerns, desires, feelings and possible mental disorders

Behaviorism: A method of psychotherapy that seeks to change a person’s behavior through behavioral conditioning. This includes the use of negative and positive reinforcements. In classical conditioning, two stimuli are learned to be associated, such as Pavlov’s dogs and their dinner bell. Salivation, here, is the conditioned response. In operant conditioning, someone must perform some sort of task for their reward.

Extinction: Through behavioral conditioning, a lack of reinforcement leads to a weaker response that eventually leads to the ceasing of the response altogether (for example, not giving into a child’s tantrum until the tantrums cease to occur)

Desensitization: A behavioral conditioning technique for weakening a strong, undesirable response (such as anxiety about airplane flying) by repeated exposure to the stimulus (airplane flying)

Cognitive therapy: A method of psychotherapy that seeks to change a person’s negative or unhelpful beliefs by analyzing and questioning them. First, the counselor discovers the person’s schema, their belief system through which they interpret the world. Then the counselor and client identify automatic thoughts, fleeting thoughts that, if negative, need to be questioned in order to change one’s beliefs. Finally, those negative thoughts are disputed, logically questioned with the goal of finding more helpful thoughts to replace them.

The ten most well-known psychologists: Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, B.F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow; Ivan Pavlov; Carl Rogers, Martin Seligman, Aaron Beck

Sigmund Freud: The founder of psychoanalysis, which seeks to make the subconscious, conscious, primarily through free association, dream analysis and talk therapy. He is most known for his psychosexual theory of development; his id/ego/superego theory; and his theory of the unconscious.

Free association: A technique for uncovering a person’s subconscious beliefs by having them respond quickly to questions or prompts, without much thought

Freudian slip: An act or spoken thing that is close to the intended, but different, and reflects unconscious beliefs or anxieties

Freud’s theory of the unconscious: Most of what ails us psychologically resides in the unconscious or subconscious and must be coaxed out through various therapies.

Freud’s theory of the id, ego and superego: Freud believed that in our unconscious there is an id, a childlike mind who has little impulse control; a superego, a parent-like mind who tries to direct our behavior rightly; and an ego, the more rational self that balances the other two.

Freud’s theory of psychosexual development: A theory that explains human psychological development through human sexual development. Freud coined the term “anal retentive” to describe people who are too perfectionistic and controlled. He also believed boys become sexually attracted to their mothers, which he called the Oedipus complex, and that all women have “penis envy.”

Freud’s ego defense mechanisms: Denial; displacement (making an unrelated party the object of your anger or blame); intellectualization (to avoid emotion); avoidance; rationalization; projection (placing your own quality or desire onto someone else); regression; repression, sublimation (acting out impulses in a socially acceptable way); reaction formation (taking the opposite stance); suppression.

Carl Jung: A friend of Freud’s and also a psychoanalyst who focused on the unconscious and rejected Freud’s sexual focus. There are still many Jungian analysts today.

Jean Piaget: A developmental theorist who created a popular theory of cognitive development. According to this theory, children progress through the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage and the concrete operations stage before they arrive at the formal operations stage, at which they have an abstract and nuanced view of the world.

Erik Erikson: A developmental theorist who focused on the social development of children on their way to maturity. According to him, babies are in the “trust versus mistrust” stage; toddlers are in the “autonomy versus shame and doubt” stage; preschoolers are in the “initiative versus guilt” stage; children are in the “industry versus inferiority” stage, adolescents are in the “identity versus role confusion” stage, young adults are in the “intimacy versus isolation” stage, middle adults are in the “generativity versus stagnation” stage, and older adults are in the “integrity versus despair” stage. The names of these stages reflect the dominant goal of each and the positive and negative results if the goal is achieved or not achieved.

Abraham Maslow: A humanistic psychologist who created a hierarchy of needs, with warmth, rest, food, oxygen and water at the bottom; security and safety one step up; belongingness and love after that; prestige and the feeling of accomplishment after that; and self-actualization at the top. (Self-actualization is the realization of one’s full potential.)

Ivan Pavlov: A behaviorist who studied conditioned reflexes in the body, such as saliva secretions in dogs after hearing a bell stimulus.

B.F. Skinner: The most well-known behaviorist, who performed experiments on people that showed how their behavior could be modified through learning

Carl Rogers: The founder of person-centered therapy who believed that the therapist should not offer advice, but instead guide the internal processes of the client. He emphasized the importance of forming a strong client-therapist bond and the therapist having sincere positive regard for their client.

Martin Seligman: An early proponent of positive psychology, the study of what makes people happy.

Aaron Beck: The founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of cognitive therapy that also includes behavioral elements

John Gottman: A couples therapist and researcher who studies and writes about couples he observes in real time. He is possibly the most well-known couples therapist.

Theories of intelligence: Some researchers believe that there is a general intelligence factor (the “g factor”) which underlies all intellectual processes. Others believe there are many types of intelligence, such as componential intelligence, experiential intelligence, contextual intelligence and emotional intelligence. One researcher proposed the idea of eight types of intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical; musical; spacial; bodily-kinesthetic; interpersonal; intrapersonal; and nature.

Crystallized intelligence: Collected skills and knowledge acquired over time. Increases with age.

Fluid intelligence: Ability to deal with totally new problems. Decreases with age.

Type A personality: A high-energy personality type characterized by competitiveness, impatience, and an achievement orientation.

Type B personality: A lower-energy personality type characterized by relaxed and easygoing behavior.

Attachment theory: The idea that securely attached babies develop better physically and emotionally, while others do not.

Dialectical reasoning: A therapeutic process involving identifying and analyzing opposing points of view in order to find the most helpful and rational perspective.

Existential therapies: Therapies that help clients find meaning and purpose in their lives, even in the absence of strong religious faith.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): An evidence-based therapeutic technique in which a client makes rapid back-and-forth eye movements while their counselor guides recollection of traumatic memories.

Systematic desensitization: A therapeutic technique in which the client is suddenly, rather than gradually, exposed to their fear in order to become desensitized to it.

Neurotransmitter: A specialized nerve cell in the brain that receives, processes and transmits information to other cells in the body. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, seratonin and endorphins are involved in creating emotions and other states of mind, like appetite and alertness.

Amygdala: A part of the limbic system of the brain that is involved in regulating aggression and emotions, particularly fear

Parasympathetic nervous system: Part of the autonomic nervous system that helps the body maintain calm

Etiology: The cause or origin of a disorder

Histrionic personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by attention-seeking behavior

Narcissistic personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by a desire to be admired

Antisocial personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by a lack of empathy

Avoidant personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by social withdrawal

Borderline personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by impulsiveness, emotional extremes and low self-esteem

Agoraphobia: The fear of crowds

Catharsis: The release of tension that results when repressed thoughts or memories become conscious

Cognitive dissonance: A tension inside someone who has two seemingly conflicting beliefs that they are trying to resolve

Compensation or overcompensation: A striving to rid onesself of feelings of inferiority in one area by striving harder in another

Compulsions: Repetitive behaviors that are used to relieve anxiety

Confirmation bias: The tendency to accept evidence that supports one’s pre-existing beliefs and to reject evidence that refutes those beliefs.

Egocentrism: The tendency to ignore others’ points of view in favor of one’s own

Fundamental attribution error: The tendency to attribute other people’s behavior to their (flawed) personalities though similar behavior in onesself is often attributed to circumstance.

Learned helplessness: The tendency to give up too easily, often due to a past pattern of failure

Placebo effect: The improvement of a physical or mental condition in people who believe they’ve received a treatment, but have not

Self-concept: The sum of the beliefs and feelings one has about onesself

Self-serving bias: The tendency to attribute one’s successes to internal factors and one’s failures to circumstance

Inferiority complex: A condition in which a person becomes angry or withdrawn because of feelings of insecurity. This concept was identified by Alfred Adler.

School in a Book: Philosophy

Whether or not you’ve studied philosophy, you’re probably already a philosopher. You think about the meaning of life, absolute and relative moral precepts, political ideals and the indelible qualities of human nature. For this reason, the formal study of philosophy isn’t so much about defining or comparing philosophical ideas–something you’re already quite capable of doing–but about the thinkers of the past who famously argued different sides of these questions. Basically, philosophy is history.

Here, I do briefly introduce some of the major questions of philosophical debate, with the caveat that the list is not comprehensive. There is philosophy in everything—every subject. Every … thing. But these are the questions that have so far seemed most fundamental (such as the meaning of life), most practical (such as political ideas) and have been most famously discussed (such as the empiricism versus rationalism debate). Then I introduce you to many of the major philosophers of history and their most notable contributions, which will hopefully give your philosophical discussions and debates more texture, context and depth.

Basic Philosophy

Philosophy: The study of the meaning and nature of life, consciousness and more. Every subject can be philosophically analyzed to determine the subject’s inherent qualities, purpose and right functioning. For example, the study of medicine has benefited from people asking what the ultimate goal of doctors should be, and then arriving at the Hippocratic Oath (“first, do no harm …”) The word “philosophy” literally means “love of wisdom.”

Some major questions of philosophy: What is the meaning of life? What qualities are fundamental to human nature? How can we know what we know (empiricism versus rationalism)? What is truth? How do we arrive at morality and values? What political structures are most beneficial? How does language shape our beliefs? What is the best way to live? Do humans have free will? What is the nature of existence? What is beauty?

Sub-fields of academic philosophy: Metaphysics (the study of ultimate, nonphysical reality), epistemology (the study of knowledge), ethics, ontology (study of what exists, i.e. God), cosmology (study of the cosmos), aesthetics (the study of beauty), political philosophy, logic and more

Eastern philosophy: The philosophical tradition of China, Japan, India and other eastern countries. Important contributions include Daoism (The Tao Te Ching of approximately 600 BCE), Confucianism (The Analects of Confucius of approximately 500 BCE) and Buddhism (which arose in India around 500 BCE). Eastern philosophy is characterized by an interest in the unknowable, the unspeakable and patterns and cycles.

“The dao that can be told is not the dao.” – Laozi, who taught about the Tao/Dao, also known as The Way, the indescribable ultimate truth which can partly be discovered by acting in harmony with nature and meditating
“Happy is he who has overcome his ego.” – Siddhartha Gautama, later the Buddha, who prescribed meditation, the middle way (life balance) and letting go of suffering through wanting nothing
“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.” – Confucius, who emphasized virtuous living, loyalty and obedience to one’s leaders, sincerity and self-reflection
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form.” – Rumi, a Persian who taught about reincarnation and Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam

Western philosophy: The philosophical tradition of the West dating from approximately 500 BCE with the Greeks (Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle), to the Romans (Cicero and Seneca), to medieval Christian philosophers (Aquinas and Augustine) and beyond. Western philosophy is marked by an interest in logic, absolute knowledge and the Christian faith.

Idealism: belief that ultimate reality is non-material (mind, spirit and/or merely essence)

Materialism: belief that ultimate reality is materialism

Determinism: belief that ‘nothing can happen other than what does happen, because every event is the necessary outcome of causes preceding it,’ which were caused by events preceding them (even thoughts and decisions)

Mysticism: knowledge that transcends the physical world
naturalism: belief that reality is explicable without reference to anything mystical

Postmodernism: distrust of unifying answers; relativity

Pragamtism: a theory of truth. Holds that a statement is true if it accurately describes a situation, fits well with past observation, etc. Uninterested in the unknowable, impractical

Utilitarianism: theory of politics, ethics that judges actions on consequences—most pleasure/good for the most people = good

Noumenon: the thing-in-itself; the unknowable reality behind what present itself to human consciousness/ultimate nature of something

Phenomenon: an experience that is immediately present and observable

Numinous: anything regarded as mysterious and awesome and somehow beyond natural world

Phenomenology: study of our experience of things without making assumptions about their essential nature as independent things

Semantics: Study of word usage

Transcendental: outside sense experience; belief in things outside sense experience

Ancient philosophy overview: During ancient times, philosophy and religion largely overlapped. Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism were of primary signficance.

Daoism: (The Tao Te Ching of approximately 600 BCE), Notable quote: “The dao that can be told is not the dao.” – Laozi, who taught about the Tao/Dao, also known as The Way, the indescribable ultimate truth which can partly be discovered by acting in harmony with nature and meditating

Confucianism: (The Analects of Confucius of approximately 500 BCE) and … Notable quote: “Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.” – Confucius, who emphasized virtuous living, loyalty and obedience to one’s leaders, sincerity and self-reflection

Buddhism: (which arose in India around 500 BCE). Notable quote: “Happy is he who has overcome his ego.” – Siddhartha Gautama, later the Buddha, who prescribed meditation, the middle way (life balance) and letting go of suffering through wanting nothing

Rumi: A Persian who taught about reincarnation and Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. Notable quote: “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form.”

Ancient Greek philosophy: The philosophy of the Greeks from approximately 600 to 300 BCE. In short, Thales influenced Pythagoras; Pythagoras influenced Socrates; Socrates taught Plato; then Plato taught Aristotle.

Pythagoras: Pythagoras combined math and philosophy.

Socrates: Socrates developed the Socratic Method in which he asked question after question in order to confound people who believed themselves to be wise, digging for deeper truths in everything. He was condemned to die due to his ideas. He drank hemlock.

“The life which is unexamined is not worth living.” – Socrates
“I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” – Socrates

Plato: Plato introduced the idea of the world of forms, an imagined place that holds the ideal of each type of real thing. (Example: A table has the essence–the form–of a table, even if it is old and broken. But the real table is a lesser version of the ideal table form.) He used the Allegory of the Cave to show how humans only see a mere shadow of what is ultimately real. Plato disagreed with this idea. He was not a rationalist (a believer in the primacy of reason and ideas in discovering truth) but an empiricist (a believer in the primacy of evidence and material reality in discovering truth). Plato founded a famous school called the Academy in Athens. Notable quote: “Earthly knowledge is but shadow.”

Aristotle: Taught by Plato. Opened his school, the Lyceum, also in Athens. Notable quote: “Truth resides in the world around us.”

Parmenides: Said that matter can’t die, and something can’t come from nothing, so everything that is real is eternal, unchanging, and containing some invisible unity. Protagoras argued for moral relativism. Notable quotes: “All is one.” “Man is the measure of all things.”

Ancient Roman philosophy: The philosophy of the Romans from approximately 300 BCE to 350 CE. The main Roman philosophy traditions were stoicism, epicureanism and cynicism.

Stoicism: The stoics (stoicism), led by Zeno, taught indifference to pleasure and pain and acceptance of one’s lot in life.

Epicureanism: By contrast, the epicureans (epicureanism), led by Epicurus, believed that the goal of life is pleasure.

Cynicism: The cynics (cynicism) taught that happiness is contentment with little, particularly little material comfort.

Philosophy of the Middle Ages: The philosophy of Western Europe from approximately 350 to 1300 CE. During this time, religion, particularly Christianity, influenced philosophy to the point of being intertwined with it.

St. Augustine: Wrote extensively about free will. He attempted to explain why both God and evil exist.

Boethius: wrote about God’s foresight but maintained Augustine’s philosophy of free will.

St. Anselm: Attempted an ontological argument for the existence of God, saying that if you can conceive of the greatest thing that could ever exist, it must exit, because the greatest thing has to exist or it wouldn’t be the greatest.

Thomas Aquinas: Wrote extensively about the logical and scientific nature of Christianity.

Renaissance Period philosophy: The philosophy of Western Europe from approximately 1300 to 1750 BCE: Here, philosophy becomes sharply more humanist.

Erasmus: Introduced modern humanism, arguing that religion is folly. Notable quotes: “To know nothing is the happiest life.” “Happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.”

Niccolo Machiavelli: Argued that government can’t be bound by morality if it wants to succeed. Notable quote: “The ends justifies the means.”

Francis Bacon: Wrote about the value of the scientific method. Notable quote: “Knowledge is power.”

Thomas Hobbes: wrote that the nature of reality is purely physical, that there is no ultimate meaning to life. He introduced the idea of the social contract, saying that our agreements with each other are what enables a relatively peaceful society to exist. Notable quote: “… The life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Rene Descartes: Unlike Bacon and Hobbes, Rene Descartes was a rationalist. He believed that even the existence of physical matter cannot be proven and the only thing we can truly know exists is our own minds. Notable quote: “I think, therefore I am.”

Blaise Pascal: A practical thinker, arguing that it’s safer to bet on God’s existence than to bet against it (“Pascal’s Wager”). Notable quote: “Imagination decides everything.”

Benedictus Spinoza: changed the argument, simply redefining God: everything is one, and everything is God. Notable quote: “God is the cause of all things, which are in him.”

John Locke: Returned us to empiricism, arguing that no truths are universal to all people and all cultures. He came up with the idea of the tabula rasa–the blank slate, which is a metaphor for the unknowing state in which each person is born before they are implanted with cultural ideas. Notable quote: “No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.”

George Berkeley: Foresaw quantum physics, saying that a thing only exists in so far as it perceives or is perceived, and that there is no material substance. Notable quote: “To be is to be perceived.”

David Hume: certainty is absurd; custom is the source of knowledge. “Custom is the great guide of human life.”

Immanuel Kant: Sought to prove the existence of the physical world. He tried to marry empiricism and rationalism, saying that both reason and perceptions are needed for knowledge. “There are two worlds: our bodies and the external world.”

Georg Hegel: believed reality is constantly changing and suggested people use dialectic reasoning and avoid assumptions. “Reality is a historical process.”

Arthur Schopenhauer said that we are all limited in our knowledge due to our unique experiences of life.

Jean-Jacques Rosseau: On the political philosophy front, Jean-Jacques Rosseau argued that though man is fundamentally good, laws and government create injustice and oppression. “Man was born free, yet everywhere he is in chains.”

Adam Smith, an economist, argued that the basis of society is trade. “Man is an animal that makes bargains.”

Edmund Burke said that governmental change should be slow and argued for a free market economy.

Jeremy Bentham tried to calculate pleasure and proposed that laws are created by considering which give the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. “The greatest happiness for the greatest number.”

Mary Wollstonecraft: The founder of feminism. “Mind has no gender.”

John Stuart Mill agreed with Bentham, adding that people should be free to do with their own bodies as they wished, but not harm anyone else. “Over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

Soren Kierkegaard said that as much as we think we want freedom, we really don’t. He is the father of existentialism, the theory that there is no meaning inherent in existence, that existence precedes essence. “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

Karl Marx said that class struggle is what causes all of the ills of society, arguing for communism, while “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”

Henry David Thoreau argued for individual liberty, non-conformism, and conscientious objection through non-cooperation and non-violent resistance. “Must the citizen ever resign his conscience to the legislator?”

William James founded pragmatism, saying that people should just do the best they can in spite of uncertainty. “Act as if what you do makes a difference.”

Friedrich Nietsche: an existentialist, wrote about the insufficiency of religion. “God is dead.”

Bertrand Russell: insisted that people attach too much importance to work. “The road to happiness lies in an organized diminution of work.” – Bertrand Russell

Ludwig Wittgenstein: described the limits of language and the limits placed on our thinking by language. “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Martin Heidegger: wrote about finding meaning in a meaningless world and about living authentically. “We are ourselves the entities to be analyzed.” – Martin Heidegger

Jean Paul Sartre: Agreed, saying that we must create our own life purpose. “Existence precedes essence.” – Jean-Paul Sartre – “Life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.” – Albert Camus

Simone de Beauvior: wrote about the oppression of women, “Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female.”

Noam Chomsky: argued for adherence to codes of ethics and

Jacques Derrida: was a deconstructionist who believed that knowledge is limited by language and by our ability (or lack of ability) to interpret it. Life is a series of flawed interpretations. “There is nothing outside of the text.” – Jacques Derrida “We are all mediators, translators.” – Jacques Derrida

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Sartayana

School in a Book: History of Africa

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Overview of Africa during ancient times: Ancient Africa is most known for ancient Egypt, the first and one of the greatest civilizations in history. Elsewhere in Africa, the Sahara Desert in the North prevented other African cultures from communicating with the advanced north. Also, due to a lack of mountains, the rainfall was extremely unpredictable in most of Africa. Therefore, most tribes were nomadic and did not have the opportunity for settled towns and civilizations. Still, civilizations began to arise in the coastal areas of Africa such as x, x and x. These included advanced architecture, unique pyramids, and a strong trading market with routes to Asia and across Africa.

The Sahara Desert: The desert located in northern Africa that expands and contracts regularly. In prehistoric times, the desert shrank enough to allow humans to migrate out of Africa. In ancient times, the desert became increasingly dry, preventing communication between Northern and Southern Africans. Egyptians in the North had much more contact with Middle Easterners and Europeans than they did with Africans south of the Sahara.

Sub-saharan Africa:

The Nile River: The deep, gentle river in Egypt with predictable patterns and surrounding deserts. Its independent biosphere causes predictable flood patterns so no irrigation systems were needed. Nile offered transportation and irrigation.

Ancient Egypt: The first civilization in Africa and one of the greatest civilizations in history. It included: farming of wheat and barley for beer and bread, flax for linen and more; advanced medicine, astronomy and engineering; a polytheistic religion; pyramids; hieroglyphics and papyrus paper; cattle for transportation; and more. In the time of Greeks, Egypt was conquered. Then, it became a Roman territory and remained so [how long?]

Egypt’s Upper and Lower Kingdoms: The two Egyptian kingdoms that existed before unification. The Upper Kingdom was located along the southern part of the Nile closer to the mountains, while the Lower Kingdom was located downhill at the northern part of the Nile called the Nile Delta.

Pharaoh: The ruler or king of ancient Egypt after Egyptian unification. The pharaoh eventually became thought of as a living god.

King Narmer/Menes: The ancient Egyptian king who, around 3000 BCE, united Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Narmer was the first Egyptian pharaoh. With his reign, Egypt began moving through three stages: the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom.

Egypt’s Old Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history during which Narmer reigned; pyramids including the Great Pyramid at Giza were built; and the tradition of mummification began.

Egypt’s Middle Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history during which, after a time of decline, Mentuhotep restored Egypt’s greatness and fIne art and literature flourished. Though during this time Egypt invaded Nubia for gold, it remained mostly isolated. 

Egypt’s New Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history during which, after another brief decline, Egypt’s golden age took place. With a more aggressive leadership in power, Egypt took Nubian slaves; engaged in wars with the Hittites and Arameans; became known abroad; conquered Palestine; had a caste system with a wealthy noble class, a scribe/priest class, a merchant class and a peasant farmer class; had legal equality of men and women. 

Amenhotep III: The most well-known New Kingdom pharaoh, who led Egypt at its height of wealth and influence.

Mummification: The process of preserving dead bodies into very long-lasting mummies. It involved a great deal of salt and cloth wrapping. Mummies of pharaohs were often buried in pyramids. Took 70 days.

Pyramids: Like social structure: pharaoh and nobles, middle class, merchants/soldiers, peasants/farmers. Pyramids were graves. Sand would blow away from graves and expose bodies so started building mud structures over them. Got bigger and bigger, more elaborate. Replaced mud with stones, got rid of steps. Egypt had a stable social structure and stable religious ideas, possibly due to the predictability of the Nile and the farming way of life.

Great Pyramid at Giza: built (when?) many passageways and chambers. Sought to please gods and make a permanent mark on history. Stones of up to 60 tons each. 2.3 million stones used altogether. Pharaohs. Egypt unified in one kingdom for most of their history. Pharaoh considered a living god. Body mummified when died, buried with treasure for afterlife–even food. Sacred writings on walls for protection. Many cities, all hugging the Nile. Most Egyptians were farmers. Mostly uneducated but all very religious. Then–decline for 100 years. No strong ruler….The Great Pyramid at Giza: 6 million tons of stone. Stone bossibly brought on bamboo sleds/stretchers to the desert. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Valley of the Kings: A large burial site of ancient Egypt with many buried pyramids and housing bodies of pharaohs

Amenhotep:

Aten:

Mentuhotep:

Akhenaten: One pharaoh, Akhenaten, tried to change religion to momotheistm (god Aten) but after he died the priests of old gods regained control. Dead king’s name removed from all monuments and records, and his new capital city was abandoned. Many New Kingdom pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings, including King Tutankahamen, whose tomb was rediscovered in 1922.

Cleopatra:

Ra: The ancient Egyptian sun god,

Osiris: The ancient Egyptian god of the underworld

Isis: The ancient Egyptian god of fertility

Nubia: Modern-day Sudan in northern Africa. It began as Nubia and later became the Kingdom of Kush. It was a source of iron and gold for the surrounding areas and an important trading partner for Egypt.

King Tutenkahamen/King Tut:

Book of the Dead: A collection of manuscripts and spells from Egypt

Hieroglyphics: 3200-2600 BCE. First deciphered by modern-day people in 1822 after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone which had both hieroglyphics and Greek writing

Rosetta Stone:

Kingdom of Kush: 2000 B.C.: Kingdom of Kush grew out of Nubia (Sudan), whichtook after Egypt. Trading partner for Egypt, source of gold….1500 B.C.: Egypt conquered Kush for 750 years…700 B.C.: Kush transitioned from stone working to iron working (no bronze) and flourished, supplying places in Africa and the Middle East. Ehipia was more self-contained but also important culture of this time.

Nok culture: 600: Growth of Nok culture on Niger River, Nigeria and Meroe, [?], Chad, Bantu. Southern Africa shepherds and hunter-gatherers called Khoisan.

Aksum Empire: “An empire located in the Horn of Africa that ruled from 100 ce to 940 ce. “350 B.C.: Meroi collapsed and was replaced by Aksum, which grew rich. Great cities and monoliths. Adopted Christianity. Thrived until AD 1000! … 1000: Collapse of Aksum in East Africa.

Jenne-jeno: 200: Jenne-jeno, the first African city (in West Africa) established. Partly due to introduction of camel to the Sahara, so trade could happen in West Africa.

Carthage: “A powerful city-state in North Africa on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.” For a time, it rivaled Rome.

Phoenicians: The Phoenicians established a colony at Carthage and controlled the western Mediterranean for nearly 600 years.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Berber: “The native peoples of North Africa.”

Boers: “Dutch and French settlers in South Africa.”

Overview of Africa during the Middle Ages: Various forms of government–councils, chiefs, indirect rule (during colonial times) and civil wars frequent…ununified…prior to colonialism, at its peak, there were up to 10,000 different states and autonomous groups with distinct languages and customs. Seagoing advances led to increased trade with Middle East and India. Gold, salt, ivory, slaves. Success based on trade, not conquest. Even though there were wars between kingdoms.

In 642 the Arabs conquered Egypt. In 698-700, they took Tunis and Carthage and soon they controlled all of the coasts of North Africa. The Arabs were Muslims, of course, and soon the whole coast of North Africa converted to Islam. Ethiopia remained Christian but it was cut off from Europe by the Muslims.

After 800 AD organized kingdoms emerged in northern Africa. They traded with the Arabs further north. (Trade with the Arabs led to the spread of Islam to other parts of Africa). Arab merchants brought luxury goods and salt. In return, they purchased gold and slaves from the Africans.

One of the earliest African kingdoms was Ghana (It included parts of Mali and Mauritania as well as the modern country of Ghana). By the 9th century, Ghana was called the land of gold. However, Ghana was destroyed in the 11th century by Africans from further north.

By the 11th century, the city of Ife in Southwest Nigeria was the capital of a great kingdom. From the 12th century craftsmen from Ife made terracotta sculptures and bronze heads. However, by the 16th century, Ife was declining.

Another African state was Benin. (The medieval kingdom of Benin was bigger than the modern country). From the 13th century, Benin was rich and powerful.

Meanwhile, the kingdom of Mali was founded in the 13th century. By the 14th century, Mali was rich and powerful. Its cities included Timbuktu, which was a busy trading center where salt, horses, gold, and slaves were sold.

However, the kingdom of Mali was destroyed by Songhai in the 16th century. Songhai was a kingdom situated east of Mali on the River Niger from the 14th century to the 16th century. Songhai reached a peak of about 1500 AD. However, in 1591 they were defeated by the Moroccans and their kingdom broke up.

Another great North African state was Kanem-Bornu, located near Lake Chad. Kanem-Bornu rose to prominence in the 9th century and it remained independent till the 19th century.

Meanwhile, the Arabs also sailed down the east coast of Africa. Some of them settled there and they founded states such as Mogadishu. They also settled on Zanzibar.

Inland some people in southern Africa formed organized kingdoms. About 1430 impressive stone buildings were erected at Great Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile in the Middle Ages Ethiopia flourished. The famous church of St George was built about 1200.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese were exploring the coast of Africa. In 1431 they reached the Azores. Then in 1445, they reached the mouth of the River Congo. Finally, in 1488 the Portuguese sailed around the Cape of Good Hope.

Mansa Musa: “Emperor of the Mali Empire who made a famous pilgimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He was one of the richest people in history.”

Ghana: The first known empire in western Africa was Ghana (5th–11th century CE). AD 700-1240: Ghana, the first true African state. Center of gold trade. Located inland and more4 north than modern-day Ghana. Successors were Mali and Songhai. Became rich due to Arabs using camels to cross Sahara for the gold, mined further south and west. Brought in sald, European goods came there and slaves were traded out. Fell in 1076, restored, then fell again and in 1240 became part of Mali.

Mali: Mali founed by Sundiata Keita. Well-organized state, fertile farmlands beside the Niger River. Gold trade. Powerful. Many wealthy cities. Great Mosque designed by an Egyptian. City called Timbuktu on Niger. Key destination of caravan routes. 100 schools, a university, mosques, market. Ivory, too. Slaves to Muslim world, Venice and Genoa. Imported salt, cloth, ceramics, glass, horses, luxuries. Became Muslim for a time under a sypathetic ruler.

Songhai: muslim. (c. 1400–1591).

Sunni Ali: 1465 – Ruler of Songhai in Western Africa. Created the largest empire ever in Africa, captured Timbuktu, took control of the trans Saharan route for gold and salt trade

Bantu: AD 500: Bantu-speaking people from Nigeria migrated south, “leaving the rain forests to the Pygmies and the Kalahari Desert to the Khoisan bushmen. Bantu speakers in east started trading with Greeks and Romans.

Ethiopia: 1137: Ethiopia (Abyssinia) founded. Christians. Capital moved from Aksum to Lalibela. 1270-1500s: Ethiopia expanded into mountains of East Africa, taking in many once-isolated tribes. Regarded as a mysterious Christian kingdom. Had an emperor. Built 11 cross-shaped churches carved out of solid rock. 1500s: Declined due to internal discord.Not great warriors and never expanded (or even tried to) by military means.

Kilwa – Built almost entirely from coral

Benin: 900-1480: Kingdom of Benin in modern-day Nigeria. Benin: West Africa. Forest kingdom. Benin City, capital. Had wide streets, large wooden houses, long surrounding walls. Bronze carvings. Traded in cloth, ivory, metals, palm oil, pepper, poottery and brass art like masks and carvings. King had a rich palace. Ruled at height by Oba Eware the Great, who modernized and didn’t enslave prisoners or engage in slave trade, which protected it from European colonization till 1897.

Zimbabwe: 900-1450: South: Great Zimbabwe. Stone structures built entirely without mortar Large reserves of copper, gold. Walled palace city called Great Zimbabwe. Massive stone structures (granite)–how? by whom? A mystery. (A Zimbabwe is a stone-built enclosure and we call Zimbabwes this because of this famous structure….1450: Zimbabwe overtaken. 1500: Conquered by Songhay (lower down the Niger River).

Kanem & Timbuktu: Two of the kingdoms located along the Saharan trade route that enabled more foreign trade

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

Overview of Africa during the Early Modern Times:

In the 16th century, Europeans began to transport African slaves across the Atlantic. However, slavery was nothing new in Africa. For centuries Africans had sold other Africans to the Arabs as slaves.

However, the trans-Atlantic slave trade grew until it was huge. In the 18th-century ships from Britain took manufactured goods to Africa. They took slaves from there to the West Indies and took sugar back to Britain. This was called the Triangular Trade. (Many other European countries were involved in the slave trade).

Some Africans were sold into slavery because they had committed a crime. However many slaves were captured in raids by other Africans. Europeans were not allowed to travel inland to find slaves. Instead, Africans brought slaves to the coast. Any slaves who were not sold were either killed or used as slaves by other Africans. The slave trade would have been impossible without the co-operation of Africans many of whom grew rich on the slave trade.

Meanwhile, from the 16th to the 18th centuries Barbary pirates from the North African coast robbed Spanish and Portuguese ships. They also took slaves from the coasts of Europe.

In the 16th century, a people called the Turks conquered most of the North African coast. In 1517 they captured Egypt and by 1556 most of the coast was in their hands.

Further south Africans continued to build powerful kingdoms. The empire of Kanem-Bornu expanded in the 16th century using guns bought from the Turks. However, in the 16th century, Ethiopia declined in power and importance although it survived.

Meanwhile the Europeans founded their first colonies in Africa. In the 16th century, the Portuguese settled in Angola and Mozambique while in 1652 the Dutch founded a colony in South Africa.

African slave trade: Late 1400s – Europeans joined the slave trade and expended it greatly. Started by trade rather than by force. First to buy slaves: Portugal-took ethiopia in 1543 and increased slave trade – millions shipped to the Americas – many died during slave wars or en route to the americas. Coastal slaves were joined by inland slaves after European developments in gun technology. A catastrophe for Africa to lose so many people. Less tribal security–greedy chiefs sold own people

Slave trade: 1700s: Africa relatively peaceful despite European settlemtn. 35,000 slaves each year sent to the Americas….1787: British established Sierra Leone as a refugee for freed slaves….1822: Liberia founded for freed slaves from the U.S….Early 1800s: Most European countries stopped trading in slaves, though Portugese continued till 1882.

African colonization: Portuguese explored the western coast in the 15th century. Before the late 19th century, Europe showed little interest in colonizing Africa, but by 1884 European countries had begun a scramble to partition the continent, and by 1920 much of it was under colonial rule. Anticolonial sentiment developed gradually, becoming widespread after 1950, and one by one the colonies became independent, the last in 1990. Political instability, refugee problems, famine, and AIDS are the chief problems facing the continent in the early 21st century….

African germs took numerous European lives and deterred permanent settlements. Diseases such as yellow feversleeping sicknessyaws, and leprosy made Africa a very inhospitable place for Europeans. The deadliest disease was malaria, endemic throughout Tropical Africa. In 1854, the discovery of quinine and other medical innovations helped to make conquest and colonization in Africa possible.

Dutch East India Company: 1637: Dutch drove Portugese from the Gold Coast..
1652: Dutch East India Company founded Cape Town.

The Middle Passage:

Horn of Africa:

The Ivory Coast:

The Gold Coast:

Zulu warriors: Early 1800s: Zulu trive in Southern Africa fought constantly with neighbors. Major bloodshed. Zulu warriors! “Time of Troubles.” Islam still going strong. Most of Africa still owned by Africans, but not united against Arabs and Europeans, so very vulnerable.

Fight to end slave trade: In the 1800s European states tried to stop the slave trade. Britain banned the slave trade in 1807.

In 1814 the British took the Dutch colony in South Africa. In 1830 the French invaded northern Algeria. However, colonization only became serious in the late 19th century when Europeans ‘carved up’ Africa.

In 1884 the Germans took Namibia, Togo, and Cameroon and in 1885 they took Tanzania. In 1885 Belgium took over what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The French took Madagascar in 1896. They also expanded their empire in northern Africa. In 1912 they took Morocco and Italy took Libya.

Scramble for Africa: Between 1884 and 1885, European nations met at the Berlin West Africa Conference to discuss the partitioning of Africa. It was agreed that European claims to parts of Africa would only be recognised if Europeans provided effective occupation. In a series of treaties in 1890–1891, colonial boundaries were completely drawn. All of Sub-Saharan Africa was claimed by European powers, except for Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia

Strong motives for conquest of Africa were at play. Raw materials were needed for European factories. Europe in the early part of the 19th century was undergoing its Industrial Revolution. Nationalist rivalries and prestige were at play. Acquiring African colonies would show rivals that a nation was powerful and significant. These factors culminated in the Scramble for Africa.[299]David Livingstone, early European explorer of the interior of Africa, is attacked by a lion.French explorer Paul Du Chaillu confirmed the existence of Pygmy peoples of central Africa … Knowledge of Africa increased. Numerous European explorers began to explore the continent. explorers included Sir David Livingstone …Missionaries attempting to spread Christianity also increased European knowledge of Africa.

The European powers set up a variety of different administrations in Africa, reflecting different ambitions and degrees of power. In some areas, such as parts of British West Africa, colonial control was tenuous and intended for simple economic extraction, strategic power, or as part of a long-term development plan. In other areas, Europeans were encouraged to settle, creating settler states in which a European minority dominated. Settlers only came to a few colonies in sufficient numbers to have a strong impact. British settler colonies included British East Africa (now Kenya), Northern and Southern Rhodesia, (Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively), and South Africa, which already had a significant population of European settlers, the Boers. France planned to settle Algeria and eventually incorporate it into the French state on an equal basis with the European provinces. Algeria’s proximity across the Mediterranean allowed plans of this scale.[citation needed]

In most areas colonial administrations did not have the manpower or resources to fully administer the territory and had to rely on local power structures to help them. Various factions and groups within the societies exploited this European requirement for their own purposes, attempting to gain positions of power within their own communities by cooperating with Europeans. One aspect of this struggle included what Terence Ranger has termed the “invention of tradition.” In order to legitimize their own claims to power in the eyes of both the colonial administrators and their own people, native elites would essentially manufacture “traditional” claims to power, or ceremonies. As a result, many societies were thrown into disarray by the new order.

The Boer Wars: 1836: Cape Colony at Southern tip ruled by British. Expanded northward. Fought Zulus and the Boers for control of area. Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, Cecil Rhodes, sought to unite all of Africa under British rule. Boer Wars.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

In 1914 the British took control of Egypt. By then all of Africa was in European hands except Liberia and Ethiopia. (The Italians invaded Ethiopia in 1896 but they were defeated by the Ethiopians).

Further south the British took Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya. The British also took control of Egypt. Angola and Mozambique remained Portuguese.

However, in the early 20th century attitudes to imperialism began to change in Europe. Furthermore in Africa churches provided schools and increasing numbers of Africans became educated. They became impatient for independence. The movement for African independence became unstoppable and in the late 1950s and 1960s, most African countries became independent.

In 1960 alone 17 countries gained their independence. However, Mozambique and Angola did not become independent until 1975.

In the early 21st century Africa began to boom. Today the economies of most African countries are growing rapidly. Tourism in Africa is booming and investment is pouring into the continent. Africa is developing rapidly and there is every reason to be optimistic.

Swahili: “An ethnic group in East Africa. Also, the language spoken by many East African nations including Kenya and Uganda.

1902: Peace treaty signed making Boer republics part of British empire, though self-governed.

1910: Union of South Africa founded, unifying several African provinces under the British.

1869: Suez Canal opens to shipping.

1875: Britain took advantage of a local financial crisis and bought 50 percent of shares of Suez Canal.

1871: Stanley, an American journalist, met Dr. David Livingstone at Lake Tansanyika (sp?). Livingstone was seeking the source of the Nile.

1876: Belgium took over the Congo.

1880-1912: European nations “scramble for Africa.” Led by Britain, France, plus Germany, Belgium and Italy.

Late 1800s: Britain had modern-day Ghana, Nigeria and controlled Sierra Leone, Egypt and the Gambia. Belgium had the Congo in Central Africa. [see map p362]. French were in West Africa, Britain in w, ne, south; belgium in center and other spred-out colonies. New forms of gov3ernment brought to Africa, but most Africans couldn’t vote and tribes were broken up in the “cake-cutting” process. European colonists often took best farmland for themselves. Profits all went to Europe.(here ins: how african nations gained independence)

1882: British occupy Egypt to protect Suez Canal, which cut their time to India hugely. This caused some fighting.

1884: European nations met in Berlin to divide Africa among themselves. Only Liberia and Ethiopia remained independent.

1893: Frech take Timbuktu, Mali, W. Africa.

1899: British-Egyptian rule of Sudan

Cecil Rhodes:

Suez Canal:

1912: African National Congress forms in South Africa.

Africa during World War I and World War II: With the vast majority of the continent under the colonial control of European governments, the World Wars were significant events in the geopolitical history of Africa. Africa was a theater of war and saw fighting in both wars. More important in most regions, the total war footing of colonial powers impacted the governance of African colonies, through resource allocation, conscription, and taxation. 

Decolonization of Africa: The decolonization of Africa started with Libya in 1951, although LiberiaSouth AfricaEgypt and Ethiopia were already independent. Many countries followed in the 1950s and 1960s, with a peak in 1960 with the Year of Africa, which saw 17 African nations declare independence, including a large part of French West Africa. Most of the remaining countries gained independence throughout the 1960s, although some colonizers (Portugal in particular) were reluctant to relinquish sovereignty, resulting in bitter wars of independence which lasted for a decade or more. The last African countries to gain formal independence were Guinea-Bissau (1974), Mozambique (1975) and Angola (1975) from Portugal; Djibouti from France in 1977; Zimbabwe from the United Kingdom in 1980; and Namibia from South Africa in 1990. Eritrea later split off from Ethiopia in 1993.[322]

1967-2000: Famine in Africa widespread. Drought. Civil war, which made sending aid very dangerous.

1990-2000: South Africa and Apartheid. S. Af was the last country without self-rule. Still imperialist till Nelson Mandella ended apartheid. Apartheid: separation ofr people according to color or race. Started by the Boers in s. af. in early 1900s. Different laws if you were white, black or “colored” (mixed). Blacks and colored forced to live outside cities and movement restricted. White people in power and resisted opposition from the ANC (African National Congress) in the 60s by harsh laws, including making it illegal to have all-black political parties.

1980s: Colored allowed into government but not blacks. Starting in 1978, several reformers for change, inc President Botha, Desmond Tutu (an Anglican leader), PresidentF.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandella, who was released from prison by Klerk after 28 years. Mandella became the head of the ANC, then president. Free elections that included all people came in 1994 andled to end of apartheird. Argued for peacefrul settlement. Focus turned to need for schooling, poverty, lack of electricity and clean drinking water, unemployment and street crime.

African National Congress (ANC):

Desmond Tutu:

Apartheid:

Nelson Mandela:

School in a Book: History of Russia

Ancient Times (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

East Slavs:The earliest known settlers of modern-day Russia. They were independent, nomadic clans with no known agriculture or writing who spoke various Slavic languages.

The Vikings: The various tribes from Scandanavia who, during the Middle Ages, joined the East Slavs in modern-day Russia

The Rus: The tribe (likely Viking) that eventually united the various Viking and Slavic tribes into the single nation of Russia, and the tribe that gave Russia its name

Rurik: The leader of the Rus tribe and the first Russian ruler mentioned in Islamic and Western literature

Kievic Rus: The first Russian state, with Kiev at its center. It was a loose federation of various Rus and Slavic tribes and the center of Varangian wealth and culture

The Varangians: The new name given to the various combined Rus and Slav peoples as they expanded south to Baghdad and Constantinople and along the river routes connecting the Baltic to the Black Sea. After their failure to defeat the well-defended city of Constantinople, they elected to create an ally of it instead by sending gifts of soldiers and more. This effective strategy meant that by 1000, the Varangians were in complete control of the region. However, there was no central government. Varangian clans (each with a prince) ruled local areas along these important (but sparsely populated) trade routes. 

Prince Vladimir: The Rus prince of Kiev who, in the 1000s, greatly expanded Russian territory but failed to fully unify Russia. He adopted Christianity, which started a significant political and cultural shift in Russia that eventually led to the creation of a Russian national identity. He allowed Constantinople to set up an Episcopal see there, beginning the blending of Slavic and Byzantine cultures.

Mongol invasions: The event of the 1200s that contributed to the decline of Kiev and of the Russian state as a whole. This occurred during the last part of the Middle Ages. It halved the population of Rus.

Tartars/Golden Horde: The combined group of Mongol and Turkic invaders that controlled Russia during the 1200s and 1300s. They helped Russia advance in military tactics and transportation while allowing local princes to continue ruling as before. During this time, Russia also developed its postal road network, a census, a fiscal system and its military organization. Soon after the Mongolian Empire broke up, they lost power in Russia.

Moscow: The Russian city that grew in prominence during the Tartar reign by cooperating with it. It became the center of the Russian Orthodox Church, then, under Ivan the Great, the capital of Russia.

Boyars: The Rus princes and upper class government administrators that reclaimed control of Rus from the Mongols. They did not attempt to unify the area under one rule and interfered minimally with the local clan rule. They collected taxes and performed other basic functions. There was only a rudimentary written law code. During this time, cultural and political distinctions formed from one Slavic territory to the next–distinctions that remain to this day.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Ivan the Great (Ivan III): The leader of Moscow who, in the mid-1400s, united Russia. He extravagantly renovated the Kremlin, reformed military service and more.

The Kremlin: The Russian fortress at the center of Moscow that is now the center of Russian government.

Early Modern Times (The 1500s to 1900)

Third Rome: The name given to Moscow after the fall of Constantinople to show that it had taken its place as the third Rome, after Rome and Constantinople

Ivan the Terrible: The ruthless, murderous Russian leader that ruled during the 1500s following Ivan the Great. He took the title of tsar, the Russian word for Caesar. He established the secret police, which terrorized Russia; however, he also established the first feudal representative government–an improvement on the previous feudal system

The Time of Troubles: A period of crop failure and famine in the late 1500s and early 1600s during which Russia lost territory to outsiders. During this time, there was no heir to the throne (Ivan the Terrible had murdered his son), so the other government leaders held the state together until appointing a new dynasty

Romanov dynasty: The dynasty that followed Ivan the Great’s, which ruled from the 1600s till 1917. During this time, the population increased significantly even though the peasants were burdened by high taxes

Peter the Great: The Romanov ruler who, in the 1700s, modernized Russia, which till then functioned under a primitive feudal system. Peter, a great admirer of Western culture, encouraged the arts; spent money carefully; abolished the boyar ruling class; moved the capital to St. Petersburg; gained territory; centralized the government; put the Orthodox Church under state control; hired Western teachers for Russians; created a civil service; improved and expanded infrastructure systems like roads and canals; introduced new industries; and more. Many of his improvements were inspired by his extensive travels to the West, which he undertook while disguised as an ordinary citizen.

The Crimean War: The war between Russia and Turkey over some Black Sea lands, which France and Britain entered on the side of Turkey to check Russia’s growing power. It included the failed Charge of the Light Brigade by the British and was the first war that was covered by newspapers with photographers.

Catherine the Great: The ruler that followed Peter the Great who extended his advances; expanded Russian territory; established social services like education and health care; and established free trade in Russia. Like Peter, she was an admirer of Western culture, and, like Peter, she did not abolish serfdom.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

Russian Revolution: The 1905 worker riots and strikes following Bloody Sunday, when defenseless demonstrators in St. Petersburg were fired on by government troops.

October Manifesto: Russia’s promise of civil rights and representative government following the Revolution. These promises were broken, however, leading to another revolt that ended the Romanov dynasty and instituted a liberal government in its place.

Bolsheviks: The socialist political party led by Lenin that took control of the new liberal government. The Bolshevik Red Army defeated the anti-Bolshevik White Army, then executed their enemies en masse. The Bolshevik party later became the Communist Party.

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR/Soviet Union for short): The nation created by a treaty between Russia, Ukraine and two other nation-states. It was led by the Communist Party under Lenin.

Vladimir Lenin: The leader of the Bolshevik party who founded the Communist Party in Russia and was the first leader of the Soviet Union. Following his communist ideals, he gave the land to the peasants and the factories to the workers and promised an end to poverty.

Marxism: Communism, as expressed by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto. Lenin was a follower of Marxism.

Josef Stalin: The communist leader that took over in 1924 after Lenin died (after fighting for power with Leon Trotsky). He served as dictator of the Soviet Union until his death in 1953.

Berlin Wall: The wall built between East and West Berlin in the 1960s to prevent people from the communist east to flee to the democratic west

The Iron Curtain: The metaphor used to describe the separation between the communist and democratic countries of Eastern Europe throughout the Cold War

The Cold War: The hostilities and threat of war between Russia and western countries that began after Russia obtained nuclear bomb technology (in the 1940s) till 1989, when Gorbachev allowed Eastern Europe to elect democratic governments

Sputnik: The first artificial satellite to orbit Earth, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957 and beginning the Space Age

The Cuban Missile Crisis: The threat to U.S. that occurred during the 1960s after the Soviet Union built missile bases in Cuba, aiming the missiles at the US. It came to an end after the U.S. blocked trade with the Soviet Union and the Soviets responded by destroying the launch sites.

The fall of the Soviet Union: The end of the communist government of the Soviet Union, after which it was re-named Russia. This event led to various revolutions in Eastern Europe as these countries fought to gain independence.

School in a Book: History of Europe

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Ancient Greece: The area of Europe and the Middle East that formed around 3000 BCE as a collection of individually governed city-states, but that were culturally related. Ancient Greece included modern-day Greece, Asia Minor, the Aegean Sea, Crete and more. Greece was mountainous, not in a river basin like Mesopotamia and Egypt. Therefore, land was highy valued. Also, Greeks were more isolated from each other and the rest of the ancient world and developed many unique ways. Each city was very proud of itself. Citizens referred to themselves by their first names and the name of their city (polis).

Major aspects of the Greek influence: Democracy, philosophy, rhetoric/oratory, rationalism, individualism, theater, and much more. As a fringe society, Greece assimilated cultural ideas from the larger, more vibrant Mesopotamian civilizations, then built on them.

Minoans: Lived on the island of Crete from about 1700 to 1450. A lost civilization. A palace complex that was the center of city life. Disappeared by 1500 for unknown reasons.

King Minos: The king of the Minoans that was said to be the stepfather of the fabled monster called the Minotaur. Palace called Kuossos (?). Large and elaborate, with a labrynth? Language called Linear A. NOT a predecessor of the Greek language. Large bureauocracy. First people to create indoor plumbing. First great artists. Huge, amazing architecture. Great traders, especially with Egypt. Rich. Peaceful. Since they lived on an island, wealth was directed at cultural achievement rather than protection.

Myceaneans: Linear B, which we know how to decipher. This was the precursor to Greek. Lived in Mycenae. Inhabitants there were called in Homer the “Acheans,” though we call them Myceneans. A very impressive city. Graves filled with gold, silver, ivory, weapons. Warlike. Ruled by kings, including King Agamemnon.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)

School in a Book: History of the Middle East

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

[move to prehistory] Cradle of civilization: The various areas of the world in which civilizations arose, largely independently, along important rivers. These include Egypt (along the Nile River); Mesopotamia (along the Tigris River and Euphrates River); the Indus River Valley (along the Indus River); China (along the Yellow River and Yangtze River); the Incan civilization (in modern-day Peru); and, sometimes, the Mayan civilization (in modern-day Mexico–though this civilization arose later than the others, it might have arisen independently, with little or no external influence).

*

Overview of the Middle East during ancient times: Several great civilizations concurrently, inc: [name all]. These interacted with each other frequently. Much fighting and vying between them for territory. [Then give broad strokes of who came first, second, etc]

2360 B.C.: Sargon of Akkad (one of the Sumerian cities) united northern and southern Mesopotamia into the world’s first empire. (Note that ‘Sumer’ refers to the collection of cities and Akkad refers to the Sumerian city that became dominant during Sargon’s time.)

The Hebrews/Jews: From Ur, from beyond the Euphrates. Then to Palestine (Canaan) in Israel.  “Hebrews” means “people from the other side” of the Euphrates River. Leaders Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jacob’s 12 sons that made up the 12 tribes of Israel. Fled to Egypt during a famine, then came back after becoming enslaved there. When came back to Palestine, had to fight the Palestinians (“Philistines”) for territory in Israel. Conquered Jericho as part of that effort. Had judges, then switched to kings: King Saul, King David, King Solomon. Set up Jerusalem as the capital. Peaceful time. Great temple in Jerusalem held the Ark of the Covenant, which housed Moses’ Ten Commandments. Solomon: wise, fair. One god. After Solomon’s death, Israel and Judah split and Hebrews were weakened (700s). Could no longer hold Israel. Assyrians (and Chaldeans?) took them over. Jews forced to Babylon as captives. 586-chaldeans attacked judah. sent jjews into the babylonian captivity. jews brought to babylon and made slaves. 515-king cyrus allowed jews to return to jerusalem. managed somehow to survive as a race. tolerated there for a time.587/97 B.C.: Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and deported most of the Jews to Babylon. Beginning of the “diaspora.” (?: who controlled israel now? assyria or babylong? compare all this with story of the world timelines)

Significance of Hebrews: Introduced monotheism and individualism and humanism/humaneness–originally one of the nomadic groups that wandered around the Near East. Not particularly well-liked. Small in number. No particular religion. Traders. Info about them from the O.T. Also, different perspective of time. Egyptians saw it as a circle, with history repeating itself. Hebrews saw it as a linear thing. also hebrews v concerned with social justice. patriarchal but treated women with respect. hebrews always believed they were the chosen people. also: universalism. applied their own laws to everyone else.

The Old Testament: Based on 6-7000 yr old oral traditions. Written by various authors. Thought to be very reliable historically, though few other sources exist to compare it with. (Ex: In 5700 BCE a flood occurred in the Black Sea that might have been the one in Noah’s time. A cataclysmmic event.) Torah (first 5 books) written on sheepskin and kept in an arc. no mistakes tolerated. no one allowed to touch it. ark of the cov was lost in a battle with the philistines early on in their history. the laws in the early OT books were based on the ten commands, but got more and more and more complex the more the jews mingled with other cultures while trying to remain distinct from them. the prophets, minor and major, often reinforced these strict guidelines. esp decrying baal worship and assimilation of culture.

Moses introduced idea that sinning is responsible for bad things that happen; individual responsibility for fate, fate not at the whim of a god. Revolutionary idea. Also comforting to the Hebrews. Hebrews=israelites=jews. After Moses, settled Canaan (?). Elected Saul as King and defeated the Philistines, who also wanted to settle Palestine, which was a great place to live. Then had King Solomon. A great empire built with Jerusalem as the capital. Jews started spreading their fairth. Grew quickly. 996–death of solomon, kingdom split. tribe of israel to north and tribe of judah to the south. after this, no longer a first rate power.

The Assyrians: The people in northern Mesopotamia unified and led by Shah-jad (sp?). Assyria was named after one of its prominent cities, Assur (sp?). While Babylon ruled in southern mesopotamia, Assyrians dominated the north. Valley of Upper Tigris River. Last great ruler was Ashurbanipal, who built the great library at Ninevah and vast gardens with plants from all over the world–a major palace. Ordered many historic records and math, chemistry, astronomy texts to be written down. Had some setbacks due to dictatorial leadership style and rebellions, but eventually conquered Babylon. At its greatest in mid-700s. Included Babylon, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, northern Arabia, Egypt. Siege warfare experts. Women and children sometimes sold into slavery.

Shah-jad (sp?): The ruler of Assyria, who ruled by force through a military dictatorship. His takeovers of other cities during his period of expansion were ruthless. Assyrians murdered, burned and brutalized their captured towns to instill fearful obedience.

The Babylonians: The civilization in southern Mesopotamia that was unified and led by Hammurabi. It was named after one of its prominent cities, Babylon. Babylonia co-existed with Assyria for several generations. Hamm, then Nebuchadnezzar. Invented base 60 for time and degrees of a circle. Famous for code of law. Stable, efficient rule. Well-disciplined armies. Hittites sacked Babylon, the main city, in 1595 B.C. Continued on but soon overshadowed by Assyria. From Babylongians we get the system of counting based on the number 60 that divides hours and the degrees of a circle. Built on Sumerian math and science. Code of Hammurabi especially known for fairness and “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” as quoted in the Bible. 612 B.C.: Assyria fell to the Babylonians, never to be (regained). 626-539 B.C.: Babylon Revived: Babylon declared independence from Assyria, then took over the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar drove the Egyptians back into Egypt and took Syria. Also captured Jerusalem and forced Jews to live in Babylon as prisoners because they’d tried to revolt. Babylon now master of all lands in Fertile Crescent. Neb made Babylon a beautiful world capital. Made the Hanging Gardens–stepped gardens overlooking the city, a large bridge, the tower of Babel, a fine palace and more. In later years, became mad. Trade and seafaring flourished. Huge metropolis and world market.

Hammurabi: The ruler of Babylonia, who is known for creating a fair justice system.

The Code of Hammurabi: The first known written set of laws. These were created by Hammurabi in order to strengthen Babylonia and encourage internal peace.

The Hittites: First to smelt iron. Warlike. Chariots. 1000 gods. Boulder sculptures. Peak 1300. Developed writing. Introduced the horse to the Middle East. Raided by the Sea Peoples and weakened, then fell. (Made up of several city-states united by warfare around 1650.) Partly concurrent with the Assyrians and Babylonians.

The Phoenicians: First alphabet, great art, great seafarers, made purple dye from snails. Prosperous. Helped rise of Greece, Rome. Independent city-states–no dynasty. 1500-500 B.C.: The Phoenicians. Greatest seafarers of ancient times. East end of Mediterranean Sea in modern-day Lebanon. String of independent city-states. Trade with India, China and crafts, not much large-scale farming or land conquering.. Prosperous, powerful. Saw rise and fall of Minoans and Myceneans and actively helped the rise of Greece and Rome. Invented glass blowing. Purple dye. Supplied materials and craftworkers to Solomon to build temple of Jerusalem. Had many colonies around the Med, inc Carthage in Egypt.

Myceneans (early Greeks) – Crete – 1450. 

Greek dark ages – 1200 to 700 till athens, sparta, other city-states (actually by this time run by barbarians not greeks but the barbarians assimilated into greek life–dorians and Philistines (sea people from the Med Sea) and others–sparse records of them so dark ages)

Homer – lived around 800- wrote down old stories

The Persians: Earliest lived around 700 BCE. 539 B.C.: Babylon conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia, who freed the Jews and created the Persian Empire. Conquered land from one end of MId East to other – Palestine to Indus River Valley. Persians ruled till Alex the Great took it over in 331. Cyrus the Great–assimilation–laissez-faire leadership. Good leader. Greeks fought hard against Persia b.c wanted independence, democracy, etc. Other places didn’t put up much of a fight against Cyrus since he incorporated existing leaders into his leadership structure and let them be. Arabs/Muslims (when were they called each?). Worshipped many gods til early 600s, Muhammed’s founding Islam in Mecca.  Muhammed Started preaching but Mecca felt threatened and he and his followers fled to Medina. There, religion grew. 656-661 B.C.: Muslims divided between Sunis and Shiites due to dispute over who should lead. Sunis more successful. During this time, Muslims seen as liberators and tolerant since they didn’t force conversiona. Arabic became a universal language except in Persia which was mainly Shiite. 636-642 B.C.: Muslims took Palestine, Syria, Persia, Egypt (jihad) 630 B.C.: Muhammad captured Mecca and became its ruler. 559-331 B.C.: Persian Empire. Modern-day Iran. Medes and Persians who made up the Persian Empire came from central Asia around 800 B.C. Their ruler, Cyrus the Great, rebelled against the Medes and gained control, then expanded Persia with capital on the Silk Road. Persia reached from Mediterranean to Afghanistan. Ruled fairly to gain support of subjects. One Persian king, Darius, especially great general. Followed religious teachings of a Persian prophet named Zarathustra. (teachings brought from Asia.) (Zoroastrianism.) This religion influenced Christianity later. Extended into India and Greece for a time. Satraps (governors) paid taxes and ruled peacefully. Darius built roads connecting all parts of the empire, introduced standard coinage and controlled the Western end of the Silk Road. Conquered by the Greeks.

Persia during Roman times: 238 B.C. to AD 63: First the Parthians, then the Sassanids rose to power in Persia. Not much is known about them, but they did halt Rome’s eastern expansion and were excellent warriors. They practiced Zoroastianism. They fell to Muslim Arabs in 63 and became Muslim, too. 200-100 B.C.: Rome destroyed Carthage and this started downfall of Phoenicians (fact check this).

The Greeks: City-states (polises) – began to arise in mid-800s. Sparta and Athens strongest in 500s and 400s BCE. By 300s, fighting each other too much and vulnerable to Alex the Great.

Ancient Greece: The area of Europe and the Middle East that formed around 3000 BCE as a collection of individually governed city-states, but that were culturally related. Ancient Greece included modern-day Greece, Asia Minor, the Aegean Sea, Crete and more. Greece was mountainous, not in a river basin like Mesopotamia and Egypt. Therefore, land was highy valued. Also, Greeks were more isolated from each other and the rest of the ancient world and developed many unique ways. Each city was very proud of itself. Citizens referred to themselves by their first names and the name of their city (polis).

Major aspects of the Greek influence: Democracy, philosophy, rhetoric/oratory, rationalism, individualism, theater, and much more. As a fringe society, Greece assimilated cultural ideas from the larger, more vibrant Mesopotamian civilizations, then built on them.

Minoans: Lived on the island of Crete from about 1700 to 1450. A lost civilization. A palace complex that was the center of city life. Disappeared by 1500 for unknown reasons.

King Minos: The king of the Minoans that was said to be the stepfather of the fabled monster called the Minotaur. Palace called Kuossos (?). Large and elaborate, with a labrynth? Language called Linear A. NOT a predecessor of the Greek language. Large bureauocracy. First people to create indoor plumbing. First great artists. Huge, amazing architecture. Great traders, especially with Egypt. Rich. Peaceful. Since they lived on an island, wealth was directed at cultural achievement rather than protection.

Myceaneans: Linear B, which we know how to decipher. This was the precursor to Greek. Lived in Mycenae. Inhabitants there were called in Homer the “Acheans,” though we call them Myceneans. A very impressive city. Graves filled with gold, silver, ivory, weapons. Warlike. Ruled by kings, including King Agamemnon.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Overview of the Middle East during the Middle Ages: Major advances in chemistry and astronomy. Invention of algebra. Baghdad became the capital and a flourishing center of culture after the Abbasid Dynasty unified the Islamic Empire and created stability for about 1000 years. Abbasids ruled for most of Mid Ages. Also: Crusades, more (see below)

750-1258: The Abbasid Dynasty. Abassids defeated previous Sunni leaders, the Umayyads. During this time the Islamic Empire was unified, culture flourished and Baghdad, the captial, became great. Court in Baghdad was the setting for much of ‘the Thousand and One Nights.

The Byzantine Empire:

The Ottoman Empire: The Byzantine Empire soon became the Ottoman Empire under the Ottoman Turks and built the Ottoman Empire. Byzantine Empire retook Constantinople in 1261, but Ottomans exanded all over Greece nd Central Europe, then in 1453 finally defeated Constantinople! Ottomans keen on good ties and trade with West. Occupied the Balkans, Blak Sea, Anatolia, Syria, more. Constantinople became Istanbul. Europe did feel threatened by closer presence of Muslims. Ottomans dominated Middle East, especially under Suleymon the Magnificent.

The Seljuk Turks:

The Mongul invasion: 1258: The Monguls overra and destroyed the Abbasid dynasty and the Turks, who had been divided not 150 years before. Turks moved closer to Constantinople.

1095-1291: The Crusades

Palestine was the Muslim and Christian holy land, with Jerusalem as the holiest city. The Turks didn’t allow Crhristians to pilgrimage to there, which sparked the Pope to call on Christians to “fre” it from Muslims. At first, loners went. In 1099, well-disciplined army went and succceeeded in caturing Jerusalem. Massacred inhabitants.

1187: Recaptured by Muslims. Later, after attempts to get it back, a peace treaty signed sharing Jerusalem. Christians allowed to visit again. A fourth through eigth crusade unsuccessful. In 1291, Palestine conquered by the sultan of Egypt and crusades ended.

1347-1351: The Black Death. One of worst disasters in history. Wiped out 1/3 of population of Middle East and Europe.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

Early 1500s: Persians gained independence under the Safavid dynasty. Shiite Islam became sate religion. Many religious wars with Sunni Ottomans but held strong against being taken over by Ottomans.

1600s: Slow decline of the Ottomans began. Prosperity reduced gradually by military defeat[?}, plagues, new sea routes let to reductiion of traffic through trade routes. Lost more and more of the empire–chipped away. Russia took the Crimea and most of Ukraine. Whole middle east greatly weakened. Persia, though, remained stable. Did avoid colonization, though. (!)

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

1948: State of Israel formed. Many Jews returned to Palestine. Conflict between Israel and the Arab countries of Egypt, Jordan and Syriaincreased. Arabs aided by other Arab countries, too.

The U.S. sided wih th Mid-Eastern allies who sold U.S. oil, especially Kuwait. Shiite fundamentalists came to power in Iran in 1979. Israel often aggressive, proactive.

1990: Iraq invaded Kuwait to improve its sea access and U.S. and other countries united against Iraq and liberated Kuwait

*

3000 B.C.: The Bronze Age began in the Middle East when copper was smelted by Egyptians and Sumerians.

3000 B.C.: Writing was developed in Sumer (cuneiform) and Egypt (hieroglyphs), triggering the beginning of recorded history.

2360 B.C.: Sargon of Akkad (one of the Sumerian cities) united Mesopotamia into the world’s first empire. (Note that ‘Sumer’ refers to the collection of cities and Akkad refers to the Sumerian city that became dominant during Sargon’s time.)

2100 B.C: Ur, then Assyria and Babylon took over location of prominence in Mesopotamia.

1200-1150 B.C.:Bronze Age collapse

1100 B.C.: Use of Iron spreads.

1180 B.C.: Disintegration of Hittite Empire

In Mesopotamia, assyrian empire, persians… Nebuchadnezzar rules as king of Babylon …Cyrus the Great rules over Medes and Persians

3000 B.C.: Wheels first used on chariots in Mesopotamia. Before that, carts/ wheelbarrows.

2500 B.C.: Bricks first used for buildings (Indus Valley).

1900-700 B.C.: Babylon. Under Hammurabi the Great Babylonians began to take over southern Mesopotamia. Then controlled whole of Mesopotamia. Famous for code of law. Stable, efficient rule. Well-disciplined armies. Hittites sacked Babylon, the main city, in 1595 B.C. Continued on but soon overshadowed by Assyria. From Babylongians we get the system of counting based on the number 60 that divides hours and the degrees of a circle. Built on Sumerian math and science. Code of Hammurabi especially known for fairness and “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” as quoted in the Bible.

1900-612 B.C.: Assyrians: While Babylon ruled in southern mesopotamia, Assyrians dominated the north. Valley of Upper Tigris River. Last great ruler was Ashurbanipal, who built the great library at Ninevah and vast gardens with plants from all over the world–a major palace. Ordered many historic records and math, chemistry, astronomy texts to be written down. Had some setbacks due to dictatorial leadership style and rebellions, but eventually conquered Babylon. At its greatest in mid-700s. Included Babylon, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, northern Arabia, Egypt. Siege warfare experts. Women and children sometimes sold into slavery.

1800-587 B.C.: The Hebrews: First settled Palestine (Canaan) about 1800 B.C. Came from Ur. “Hebrews” means “people from the other side” of the Euphrates River. OT says leader was Abraham, a shepherd from Ur. Grandson Jacob had twelve sons, twelve tribes of Israel. When famine struch Canaan they all went to Egypt but became enslaved there until Moses brought them back to Canaan, around 1200 B.C. Fought the Philistines (Palestinians) for land, established Israel. Conquered city of Jericho as part of this effort. Wise king Solomon was one of their leaders. Fair, and very rich, too. After his death Israel split into two different states, Israel and Judah, which weakened them and led to their downfall.

Significance of Hebrews: Introduced monotheism and individualism and humanism/humaneness–originally one of the nomadic groups that wandered around the Near East. Not particularly well-liked. Small in number. No particular religion. Traders. Info about them from the O.T. Also, different perspective of time. Egyptians saw it as a circle, with history repeating itself. Hebrews saw it as a linear thing. also hebrews v concerned with social justice. patriarchal but treated women with respect. hebrews always believed they were the chosen people. also: universalism. applied their own laws to everyone else.

The Old Testament: Based on 6-7000 yr old oral traditions. Written by various authors. Thought to be very reliable historically, though few other sources exist to compare it with. (Ex: In 5700 BCE a flood occurred in the Black Sea that might have been the one in Noah’s time. A cataclysmmic event.) Torah (first 5 books) written on sheepskin and kept in an arc. no mistakes tolerated. no one allowed to touch it. ark of the cov was lost in a battle with the philistines early on in their history. the laws in the early OT books were based on the ten commands, but got more and more and more complex the more the jews mingled with other cultures while trying to remain distinct from them. the prophets, minor and major, often reinforced these strict guidelines. esp decrying baal worship and assimilation of culture.

1600 BCE: Great famine in Isrel, where the Hebrews were, so Jacob took his family to Egypt. Then other Hebrews followed. 1225: Jews fled slavery in Egypt and settled in Canaan. Moses was the leader. Moses introduced idea that sinning is responsible for bad things that happen; individual responsibility for fate, fate not at the whim of a god. Revolutionary idea. Also comforting to the Hebrews. Hebrews=israelites=jews. After Moses, settled Canaan (?). Elected Saul as King and defeated the Philistines, who also wanted to settle Palestine, which was a great place to live. Then had King Solomon. A great empire built with Jerusalem as the capital. Jews started spreading their fairth. Grew quickly. 996–death of solomon, kingdom split. tribe of israel to north and tribe of judah to the south. after this, no longer a first rate power.

722–assyrians attacked and expelled israel.

586-chaldeans attacked judah. sent jjews into the babylonian captivity. jews brought to babylon and made slaves

515-king cyrus allowed jews to return to jerusalem. managed somehow to survive as a race. tolerated there for a time.

1600-1200 B.C.: The Hittites. First to use iron. Warlike people. Chariots. 1,000 gods (chief is a strom god). Boulder sculptures. Peak 1300. Developed writing. Introduced the horse to the Middle East. Raided by the Sea Peoples and weakened, then fell. (Made up of several city-states united by warfare around 1650.) Partly concurrent with the Assyrians and Babylonians.

1500 B.C.: Iron smelted by Hittites in Middle East. Stone age – bronze age – iron age sometimes describe historical periods but dates of these ages are different for different areas, depending on when these technologies developed there.

1500-500 B.C.: The Phoenicians. Greatest seafarers of ancient times. East end of Mediterranean Sea in modern-day Lebanon. String of independent city-states. Trade with India, China and crafts, not much large-scale farming or land conquering.. Prosperous, powerful. Saw rise and fall of Minoans and Myceneans and actively helped the rise of Greece and Rome. Invented glass blowing. Purple dye. Supplied materials and craftworkers to Solomon to build temple of Jerusalem. Had many colonies around the Med, inc Carthage.

1037 B.C.: Alongside the Abassids, the Sejuk Turks from central Asia arrived in modern-day Afghanistan and conquered it. Then they conquered Baghdad and defeated the Byzantines

1020 B.C.: Philistines threatened them again. Hebrews changed to a king system (instead of judges between tribes). Saul, then David, who united all the tribes and made Jerusalem the capital and enlargened territory. Built great temple of Jerusalem. Peace-loving, wise king. Temple housed the Ark of the Covenant, the greatest tresure of the Israelites, which housed Moses’ Ten Commandments. (here insert solomon stuff) (cut child in two to discover mom story)

721 B.C.: Assyrians invaded Israel, dispersing many Jews.

683 B.C.: Took Judah, too. Scattered Jews widely. Some became Assyrian slaves.

656-661 B.C.: Muslims divided between Sunis and Shiites due to dispute over who should lead. Sunis more successful. During this time, Muslims seen as liberators and tolerant since they didn’t force conversiona. Arabic became a universal language except in Persia which was mainly Shiite.

636-642 B.C.: Muslims took Palestine, Syria, Persia, Egypt (jihad)

630 B.C.: Muhammad captured Mecca and became its ruler.

626-539 B.C.: Babylon Revived: Babylon declared independence from Assyria, then took over the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar drove the Egyptians back into Egypt and took Syria. Also captured Jerusalem and forced Jews to live in Babylon as prisoners because they’d tried to revolt. Babylon now master of all lands in Fertile Crescent. Neb made Babylon a beautiful world capital. Made the Hanging Gardens–stepped gardens overlooking the city, a large bridge, the tower of Babel, a fine palace and more. In later years, became mad. Trade and seafaring flourished. Huge metropolis and world market.

612 B.C.: Assyria fell to the Babylonians, never to be (regained)

610 B.C.: Muhammed experienced his first vision, which led to his founding of Islam. At this time, Arabs worshipped many gods. Started preaching but Mecca felt threatened and he and his followers fled to Medina. There, religion grew. Based on prayer, one God, purification, assistance to poor.

587/97 B.C.: Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and deported most of the Jews to Babylon. Beginning of the “diaspora.” (?: who controlled israel now? assyria or babylong? compare all this with story of the world timelines)

570 B.C.: Muhammed born in Mecca.

559-331 B.C.: Persian Empire. Modern-day Iran. Medes and Persians who made up the Persian Empire came from central Asia around 800 B.C. Their ruler, Cyrus the Great, rebelled against the Medes and gained control, then expanded Persia with capital on the Silk Road. Persia reached from Mediterranean to Afghanistan. Ruled fairly to gain support of subjects. One Persian king, Darius, especially great general. Followed religious teachings of a Persian prophet named Zarathustra. (teachings brought from Asia.) (Zoroastrianism.) This religion influenced Christianity later.
Extended into India and Greece for a time. Satraps (governors) paid taxes and ruled peacefully. Darius built roads connecting all parts of the empire, introduced standard coinage and controlled the Western end of the Silk Road. Conquered by the Greeks.

238 B.C. to AD 63: First the Parthians, then the Sassanids rose to power in Persia. Not much is known about them, but they did halt Rome’s eastern expansion and were excellent warriors. They practiced Zoroastianism. They fell to Muslim Arabs in 63 and became Muslim, too.
early 500s: Haggia Sophia built in Constantinople.

200-100 B.C.: Rome destroyed Carthage and this started downfall of Phoenicians (fact check this).

69 B.C.: Cleopatra born

School in a Book: History of China

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers: The two rivers in China along which ancient agriculture-based civilizations arose. Though early Chinese dynasties were centered along the Yellow River, both of these areas are considered cradles of civilization.

The Xia Dynasty: The first Chinese dynasty, located along the Yellow River in the 2000s BCE. Due to sparse historical references and no historical records, this dynasty’s existence is disputed. It did not feature strong monarch; instead, it was a collection of small, mostly independent farming villages led by a ruling clan. During this time, irrigation and dams were developed.

The Shang Dynasty: The second Chinese dynasty and the first with written records. Like the Xia Dynasty, it was located along the Yellow River and was ruled not by a strong monarch, but by a ruling clan. This dynasty featured bronze and jade works; horses and chariots; domesticated animals; wheat, millet and rice agriculture; silk and calligraphy; and ancestor worship.

The Zhou Dynasty: The third Chinese dynasty, which was characterized by civil war. During this time, paper was invented.

The Warring States Period: The period during the Zhou Dynasty (around 500 BCE) during which Chinese towns were in civil war.

The Qin Dynasty: The fourth Chinese dynasty and the first to feature an emperor. This dynasty marked the beginning of China’s imperial (strong monarch) era and saw great advancements; however, it only lasted fifteen years. The wheelbarrow was invented during this dynasty.

Shi Huang Di (Qin Shi Huang): The first emperor of China. Sometimes called the Yellow Emperor, Shi Huang Di united who, after the Warring States Period, united China for the first time and started the Qin Dynasty. (This happened around 200 BCE. “China” comes from “Qin.”) Born Qin Shi Huang, the emperor changed his name to Shi Huang Di, which means “first emperor.” He introduced standardized weights and measures, a single currency and a writing system; created the Terra Cotta Soldiers; began construction of the Great Wall of China and the Silk Road; instituted Confucianism as the official state religion; replaced feudal system aristocrats with capable administrators; built roads, canals, irrigation systems and other infrastructure improvements and more. However, a modernist, Shi Huang Di also destroyed classic literary works, including some by Confucius.

Xiling Ji: Wife of Huang Di, who is credited with the discovery of silk

Great Wall of China: The wall started by Shi Huang Di in the 200s to help protect China from invaders, such as the Mongols

Silk Road: The trade route stretching across China and into Europe. Traversing it was treacherous and could take several years each direction.

Terracotta soldiers: The over 7,000 larger-than-life terracotta statues that were housed in Shi Huang Di’s tomb

The Han Dynasty: The fifth Chinese dynasty and one of the most powerful and important in Chinese history. Co-existing with the Roman Empire, the Han dynasty started trade with Central Asia and Europe along the Silk Road. During this time, Confucianism became the official Chinese religion and Buddhism and Taoism also grew in popularity. Chinese inventions during this time included the first anesthetic, the first seismograph and improvements in paper making. For a time, its capital was the largest city in the world, and China was as large as the Roman Empire.

Emperor Liu Bang: The first emperor during the Han Dynasty. Popular, he relaxed harsh laws and instituted fair Confucian laws. He also worked to replace classic writings destroyed by the Qin Dynasty, introduced Buddhism from India and beat back the Huns of Mongolia.

Mandarins: The professional Chinese officials that ran the government during the Han Dynasty. Their education included an exam on Confucianism.

Wei Dynasty, Jin Dynasty, and the Southern and Northern Dynasties: The other ancient Chinese dynasties to rule (briefly) before the more stable period that began around the start of the Middle Ages. Like Rome, China was in political disarray during this time due to economic troubles and border encroachment by outsiders. Buddhism grew in popularity during this time, partly due to its emphasis on suffering well.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

The Sui Dynasty: The Chinese dynasty that restored stability during the early Middle Ages. During this time, China built the Grand Canal and rebuilt the Great Wall. Even more important, a strong bureaucracy was established. Bureaucratic positions were established and given to highly educated individuals who passed an imperial exam. This merit-based bureaucratic system lasted until the 1900s and provided a strong foundation for Chinese culture, unity and economy. Japanese emissaries sent to China brought these ideas back to their country, which vastly influenced their government.

The Tang Dynasty: Tang dynasty took over, organized empire beyond anywhere else in world. Stable for 300 years. Expanded to west to keep control of Silk Road. Empire extended from Korea to Afghanistan and Thailand.

The Tibetan period: The period of Chinese history after the Tang dynasty and before the Song dynasty during which Tibet defeated parts of China and China was highly unstable. Still, during this time, porcelain was invented and the Chinese printed the first book. 

The Song dynasty: The Chinese dynasty that restored Chinese unity in the middle to late part of the Middle Ages. Initiated long period of cultural eminence and great economic growth (surpassing the economies of the West). Painting. Made peace with the now-unified states on their borders (Tibetan, Liao, Thai and Vietnamese states.) Agriculture expanded, population grew. 100 million people. Invented porcelain, far ahead of Europe. Also invented gunpowder, clocks, movable type printing, paddle-wheel boats, magnetic compass. Had poetry, theater, banking, trade expansion. Government reform. Increase in shipbuilding. First paper money of the world. Start of foot binding practice. The “four great inventions” of the Chinese people in ancient times (paper, printing, the compass, and gunpowder) were further developed in the Song Dynasty

The Mongol Empire: After several hundred years of peace and eminence, China fell to the Mongols under Kublai Khan. This empire was the largest in history. Took Turkestand, northern China, Korea (failed to get Japan), then Afghanistan, Persia and parts of Russia. Fast horses, far-firing bows, disciplined army. Pacific Ocean to Black Sea by 1200s.

Genghis Khan: The first leader of the Mongol army, which eventually created the Mongol Empire. was 13 when he took leadership of his small warlike tribe. GK means “emperor of all men.”

Kublai Khan: The grandson of Genghis Khan and the second leader of the Mongol army who completed the conquest of China (and other places in Asia) in the late part of the Middle Ages. 

The Yuan Dynasty: The Chinese dynasty that was started by Kublai Khan in China, and which Khan ruled as emperor. Khan encouraged trade, opened Silk Road to the west.

Marco Polo: The Italian merchant and explorer who famously spent 17 years at the court of Kublai Khan and wrote about the luxury enjoyed by the Chinese

The Ming Dynasty: The Chinese dynasty that followed the Yuan Dynasty, which returned China to Chinese leadership and restored peace and stability. (“Ming” means “bright” in Chinese.) Though the Mongols retained control of parts of China during the first part of this dynasty, they had fallen from power in China as well as Russia and other areas by 1400. During this dynasty, the Forbidden City was built. Roads, canals, palaces, temples, leraning, arts, trade, exports. Ornamental gardens. Capital goes from Xian to Beijing. More foreign trade and exploration.

The Forbidden City: The extravagant residence of the emperor that was built during the Ming Dynasty. No one was allowed to enter or leave it without the emperor’s permission. It is said that it included 9,999 rooms. Its halls and temples, some of which were used solely by the emperor, were astonishingly ornate.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

China during the colonial period: Colonists arrived in southern China in early colonial times, establishing thriving trading ports. The foreigners were met with suspicion by the Chinese.

Qing Dynasty: The last imperial dynasty of China. It ruled from the mid-1600s till 1911. Prosperous, it was ruled by the Manchu people. They expanded the Chinese empire to become the largest in the world in 1800; brought efficiency without greatly disturbing existing Chinese customs; and increased trade, especially of tea, porcelain, cotton and silk. However, they were isolationists, only allowing Chinese to take silver as payment for their goods and disallowing foreign goods to enter China. This policy increased illegal foreign trade, including the opium trade.

Manchus: The rulers of the Qing Dynasty and a foreign people from the northeast. At first, the Manchus lived separately from the Chinese in closed-off areas and Chinese men had to wear long hear in pigtails to show inferiority to the Manchus; however, both Manchus and Chinese were allowed to be civil servants (mandarins). Eventually the Manchus assimilated and were accepted.

Opium Wars: The wars between China and the colonists over the illegal importing of opium into China. It occurred partly because the colonists were not allowed to trade their goods for Chinese goods, only silver. This policy caused an increase in illegal foreign trade, with opium as a key export. Colonists encouraged heavy opium use by the Chinese and exported huge quantities to this country. When Chinese officials burned British stores of opium, Britain sent warships. Britain won the war and took Hong Kong as its own. After this, China was forced to open trade and made trade agreements with many countries.

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)

Boxer Rebellion:

The Republican Revolution: The revolution led by Sun Yat-sen in 1911 which overthrew the Qin Dynasty and ended the Chinese imperial era.

Sun Yat-sen: The first president of the Republic of China and the leader of the Republican Revolution

Republic of China (1912-1949): The government that took the place of the Qin Dynasty, which was ruled by a president and military leaders. It had two centers, one in the north in Beijing and one in the south at Nanjing. It was characterized by continuous civil war between the communist north and the nationalist south.

Chinese Civil War: The war that began with the Republican Revolution and continued throughout the time of the Republic of China.

China during World War I:

China during World War II:

Chiang Kai-Shek: The leader of the joint nationalist and communist forces who defeated northern rebels during the beginning of the Chinese Civil War, then became the leader of the Nationalist Party after the communists broke away.

Mao Zedong: The leader of the Communist Party who prevailed after the long Chinese Civil War and created the People’s Republic of China

The Long March:

Chinese-Japanese War: The war between China and Japan that took place during the Chinese Civil War. It started in the 1930s when Japan invaded China and captured several important cities, including Beijing. For a time, nationalists and communists allied to fight them. When they defeated Japan in 1945, they resumed fighting each other.

People’s Republic of China (1949 to the present): The modern government of China, started by Mao Zedong. Strictly communist for several decades, in the late 1970s it began adopting free trade policies that brought on an economic boom

Great Leap Forward: Mao Zedong’s campaign to end poverty through the redistribution of land to be run by giant peasant communities. It was a failure, leading to widespread food shortages and the death of millions by starvation.

Cultural Revolution: Mao Zedong’s campaign to suppress anti-communist ideas in which over one million intellectuals, political opponents and others were placed in concentration camps and killed

Little Red Book: The nickname for Mao’s political treatise titled The Thoughts of Chairman Mao

Tiananmen Square demonstration: The 1989 student demonstration in Beijing in which 3,000 people were killed and 10,000 people were injured for advocating for democracy

Return of Hong Hong: The 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China after 100 years of colonial rule

Add: invention of gunpowder, paper, magnetic compasses, abacus (best calculator/computer until the early 1980s)

School in a Book: History of Australia and Oceania

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

The Polynesians: The first people to settle modern-day Australia. [?] They might have first come from Taiwan, then Melanesia, an area in the Pacific Islands (2000 BCE). After that, they settled the Polynesian Triangle around Fiji, then moved to Tahiti and the Marquesas (1300 BCE). From there, they visited America, Easter Island and Hawaii. They carved wood; kept livestock; and grew coconuts, taros, yams and vegetables. They were remarkable sailors, with large oceangoing canoes featuring sails and paddles stabilized with outriggers or doubled up like catamarans. They also had advanced knowledge of stars, currents and winds.

Easter Island statues: They might have created the famous Easter Island statues, or they might have been created by unknown earlier settlers since the Polynesians weren’t known to be stone carvers.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

The Maori: The Polynesians who settled modern-day New Zealand during the Middle Ages (850 CE and on). They traded with the Aborigines.

The Aborigines: The Polynesians who settled modern-day Australia. [?] The Aborigines were tribal societies ruled by chiefs. They were experts in wood carving, even though they were isolated from Asia and Indonesia.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

New Holland: The name the Dutch gave the Australian continent in the 1700s after discovering it in the 1600s. (The Dutch also discovered Tasmania and New Zealand around this time.)

Captain Cook: The British explorer who claimed New Zealand and Australia for Britain. He also traveled to Tahiti, Hawaii and Antarctica. In Antarctica, he was pushed back by glaciers.

First Australian colonists: Convicts exiled from Britain in the late 1700s. These were followed by free settlers, who also colonized New Zealand. They introduced new diseases to the Aborigines and changed local culture.

British takeover of New Zealand: During the 1800s, the British colonists of New Zealand competed with the Maori for land. Eventually, the Maori gave ownership of the island to the British in exchange for land ownership rights. Some accounts claim that two versions of the treaty were written, though, with one leading the Maori to believe they were giving up governorship, not ownership. Following this, there were violent Maori uprisings. Eventually, New Zealand became an official British colony.

The new nation of Australia: The nation created by the British in the 1800s. Following this, the British and Aborigines coexisted, but not entirely peacefully. Many Aborigines were killed in conflicts over land and many others died of Western diseases.

Portuguese and Spanish explorers may have landed in Australia in the 1500s. In the 1600s several Dutch explorers reached the continent. They included Dirck Hartog and Abel Tasman. Hartog discovered the west coast, and Tasman sailed along the southern tip of what is now called Tasmania. Because of all these voyages the Dutch named the continent New Holland in 1644. But they did not settle there.

William Dampier, an English pirate turned explorer, landed on the west coast twice in the late 1600s. In 1770 Captain James Cook landed in southeastern Australia and claimed it for Great Britain. He named the region New South Wales. Others later explored the continent further, including Matthew Flinders, who suggested the name Australia.

First Fleet and Settlement

Captain Cook thought that New South Wales was a good place for settlement. At the time, England’s prisons were overcrowded. So the English government decided to send prisoners to Australia to start a penal colony—a place where criminals are sent to live.

Captain Arthur Phillip was in charge of the First Fleet. He led 11 ships carrying about 200 marines, a few free settlers, more than 700 convicts, food stores, and farm animals. The trip took eight months and conditions were very hard. They reached Australia in January 1788 and settled in a bay that they named Sydney Cove. Phillip became the first governor of the colony.

Convicts and settlers worked to clear land and to establish farms. They were not used to the climate, which was different from England, so the colonists struggled to survive. But soon more convicts and settlers arrived. The settlement grew bigger and stronger. In the 1800s other parts of the country were settled. Some were also penal colonies. In 1851 the discovery of gold drew thousands of new immigrants to Australia. The settlements grew and became colonies separate from New South Wales. They became TasmaniaWestern AustraliaVictoriaQueensland, and South Australia.

The flood of settlers nearly wiped out the Aboriginal population. Many Aboriginal people died while fighting for their land or from European diseases.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

The Commonwealth of Australia: A federation of various Australian colonies founded in the early 1900s. These colonies set up governments based on free trade and equal rights. Many of them achieved independence from Britain and wrote constitutions based on the American and British constitutions.

By the late 1800s the six separate colonies each had an elected assembly. In 1901 they became states when they joined together to form a federation. The new Commonwealth of Australia had a national parliament and six state parliaments. It kept ties with Britain, however, as part of the British Commonwealth (a group of former British colonies).

The Australian gold rush: The influx of settlers in the 1900s (mid or early?) resulting from the discovery of gold there. (Need more.)

Australia in World War I & II: During both world wars, Australia fought for Britain.

Postwar Australia: During the robust postwar economic times, Australia gained wealth and tourism. They imported a great deal of American technology and culture. Immigrants came from war-torn countries.

School in a Book: Writing

In some people, the word writer inspires a feeling of pride or admiration. In others, it inspires dread. If you’re in the latter category, consider making writing improvement your top educational priority. If you aren’t, practice a lot anyway. It’s likely the most useful skill you’ll learn in school.

Essential Writing Skills

How to write a paragraph: Write the main idea. Follow this with several supporting sentences. After mastering this basic formula, experiment with placing the main idea elsewhere in the paragraph. Switch to a new paragraph when the main point you’re making and supporting changes–no sooner and no later.

How to take notes on a text: First, find the main idea of the entire section of writing. Practice this skill alone until you are good at it. (This comes in handy in both personal and philosophical arguments, in which the main point of the speaker often gets lost.) After that, identify the main supporting ideas in the section—the points that give rise to the main idea. Finally, make note of any particularly insightful or important side point. Record your notes in the simplest form possible, without unnecessary blank spaces on the page. Use bullets.

How to write an outline: Place your thesis statement at the beginning. Then list the major points that support your thesis using Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.). Under each of these, list all of the supporting ideas or arguments using capital letters (A, B, C, etc.). If needed, under these, list subordinate ideas using numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.), then small letters (a, b, c, etc.).

How to write a short story: First, create a compelling dilemma involving interesting characters. Think of the story as a movie without a narrator, and write each scene like a movie scene without any background explanation. Start the story at a particularly interesting place in media res (in the middle of action). Make sure that every character undergoes inner change, and the protagonist is quite changed by the end. Make sure that in each and every scene there is an immediate conflict in addition to the story’s larger conflict, and make sure that every scene moves the story forward. Use the standard plot graph, with a slow introduction, then rising action (when lots of complications are thrown in), then a climax (when everything bad happens all at once), then a quick resolution.

How to write a poem: Read several poems of several types, including free verse, odes, haikus, rhyming poems with regular stanza lengths, nonrhyming poems with regular stanza lengths and more. Find a feeling within yourself and choose a subject that in the moment of writing causes that same strong feeling in you. Write a straight description of that subject/metaphor that includes words that convey your reaction to it, without ever describing your thoughts or feelings directly. As you edit it, get rid of any extra words and any words that sound in any way corny (flower, sunshine, beauty, etc.).

How to write an essay: First, research the topic. Then, write a great thesis statement. This will often be one sentence in length, but for more complex themes, you can state the argument, then use a second sentence to review your supporting evidence; for example, “This paper argues that rabbit habitats should be more carefully preserved. It discusses several reasons for this, then offers two practical changes that can be made.” Note that most instructors won’t object to the use of the passive voice or the self-referencing phrase, “this paper.” “Here, I,” as in, “Here, I explain …” also usually works. Next, choose references that support that thesis statement. Then, write a fairly thorough outline that includes the supporting arguments, evidence and references. Write a first draft of the essay without overly concerning yourself with proper grammar and perfect phrasing. The introductory paragraph should grab the reader’s attention and clearly state the position the paper will support. It usually briefly mentions several important supporting arguments and ends with the thesis statement. The middle paragraphs provide support for the main argument, one point at a time and offer credible references, and the conclusion restates the argument and the main supporting points, then ends by widening the reader’s scope. It might refer to the significance or larger application of the position or contain a call to action.

Writing Rules

The goal of writing is to be understood, and preferably, to be understood easily. This happens when language is clear, concise, well-organized and direct. The following rules for good writing can and should be selectively broken in creative writing, but in most nonfiction writing and in most practical writing (letters, emails, instructions, etc.), they stand.

Be organized. Write an outline first, and use it.

Be specific and concrete. Otherwise, you’ll lose me.

Be concise. Overwriting sounds arrogant.

Don’t use a lot of adjectives and adverbs. They’re out of style.

Pay attention to transitions. When possible, don’t confuse the reader by jumping from one step to the next or one idea to the next without showing (subtly) how they relate.

Pay attention to rhythm. Intersperse long and short sentences and read the piece out loud or have someone else read it out loud to you to see if it flows well.

Use the active voice. This just means to avoid “is” and “are” when possible, particularly when doing so creates a needlessly long phrase, as in “is trying to help people figure out” instead of “helps” or “advises.”

For dialogue, use either “said” or “asked” or leave the quote bare. Don’t use “stated,” “exclaimed,” etc.

State quotes in the past tense, even if the author still believes what they said.

Use the positive form of the statement, avoiding double negatives when possible.

Do not use run-on sentences. One sentence per sentence is enough.

Place the phrase you want to emphasize at the end of the sentence.

Keep related words together. A clause (a descriptive phrase) should be right next to the person, place or thing that it’s describing.

Express coordinate ideas in similar form. (For example, when using bullet points, all of the points should be in the same form, same tense, and as parallel in structure as possible.)

Don’t accidentally inject opinion. When making unsupported statements, consider using “may,” “might” or “can” instead of “should” or “will.”

Don’t be awkward. When grammar rules feel wrong, they can safely be broken. Usually.

Don’t be fancy. No one will like you more for it.

Practice. Revise and rewrite. Wait a year, then revise again. To become a faster, clearer, more organized writer, practice outlining nonfiction texts. Also, master the art of writing short, factual, straightforward stories worthy of a top-notch news reporter. Then move on to the more creative stuff.

Essay Writing Tips

Pretend you’re in an argument. An essay is an argument, after all. Pretend someone is in the room with you right now. They don’t agree with what you’re saying but they’re willing to listen without answering back—yet. How would you answer these questions? (When stuck, imagine someone screaming them at you.)

  • Why is what you’re telling me important? Why should anyone care about your opinion on this? Are there relevant statistics, or is there a reason someone might disagree with you? (Introductory sentences or paragraphs, including introductions to new sections.)
  • What is your main point, anyway? (Thesis statement.)
  • What is your evidence? (Supporting paragraphs.)

Just spit it out. Do NOT stare at a blank screen. If you can’t think of a great first sentence, skip it and write the second one. Just write. If the person you’re arguing with were here in front of you, and your grade depended on your convincing them, you wouldn’t not talk. You would just start saying something. You’ll edit later.

Don’t be fancy. It’s harder. Use short, simple sentences. Pretend the person you’re arguing with is a high school student. You can always make things sound more professional in the final edit, combining short sentences to make longer ones and switching out a few key words to bring it up a level. (You might notice that you keep more of those unpretentious sentences than you thought you would, though.)

Be scannable. The goal of writing is to be understood, and preferably, to be understood easily. Don’t make your teachers work too hard to understand what you’re saying. A good reader should be able to fully digest your paragraph in under thirty seconds. If it takes them longer than that, it’s the writer’s fault, not the reader’s.

Don’t pad. This is a first draft. Don’t add in any sentences that don’t strictly need to be there. In the final edit, if a point needs more explanation (and you need more pages), go ahead. Doing so before getting to the end is a waste of time.

Pretend it’s just an outline. Still too intimidated to start writing the real thing? Tell yourself you’re just filling in your outline a bit. Write full, simple sentences (and a few longer, more inspired ones as they come to you) within the outline itself. Then pop in your source quotes or ideas (properly referenced).

Oh, and do write that outline. Organization is everything. Writing is just what happens later.

Don’t go in order. First paragraphs are the hardest. Write whatever seems easiest first. Success begets success.

Don’t stop to research. Add something like [REFERENCE NEEDED] in the paragraph and move on. Which reminds me:

Bracket everything that isn’t yours. [LIKE THIS.] That way, you don’t end up accidentally plagarizing.

Take some hits. It’s painful, but some sentences don’t sound perfect. If you revise endlessly, you’ll spend twenty percent of your time perfecting one percent of your essay (and improving your grade not at all). Teachers aren’t looking for professional-quality writing. They’re looking for professional-quality thinking.

Use your last perfectly-formatted essay as a template. Erase the text, retitle the document, and you’re off.

Tell yourself you’ll bang the whole thing out in an hour. You won’t, but you’ll get the first draft mostly done, and after that you’ll just tie up few “loose ends.” (This really works.)

Remind yourself that this essay isn’t your whole grade. If your organization and thinking is clear, you’ll likely be just fine, grade-wise.

Remember that there’s never a good day to write an essay. They’re almost all equally unfit, and equally fine.

Questions for Literary Analysis

  • What main point does the piece make?
  • What is the historical context of the piece?
  • Who was the author (profession, social standing, age, etc.) of the piece?
  • What is the genre of the piece?
  • What does the author have to gain or lose from others accepting or rejecting his ideas?
  • What events led to the writing of the piece?
  • What events resulted from the writing of the piece?
  • How did the piece change people’s thinking?

School in a Book: Literary Analysis

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When it comes to analyzing a literary work, here is what you need to know: the basic historical context of the piece; the reason the piece is considered great or important; and what the piece is, ultimately, about (what’s the point?). After that, you’ll want to look at the literary devices in the work and understand how they add to its meaning, beauty and effectiveness. This sounds like a lot of work, but don’t be a martyr: for context, and to get through more difficult works, I highly recommend CliffsNotes and SparkNotes . . . and skimming.

Bonus points: Understand the difference between good and great literature (one is well-written and entertaining while the other is these, plus important and universal in some way) and don’t confuse a work’s true meaning with the meaning that the author intended (the authorial intent). Great literature, it is said, is a mystical creature with a life independent of its creator.

A few additional notes on poetry interpretation: Though any great literary work can abide line by line analysis, due to its shorter length, poetry is particularly amenable to it. At least once in your life, choose a poem you like and study its use of some of the literary devices below, its use of repetition, rhyme, rhythm and cadence and, most importantly, its diction (both the connotations and the denotations of each word). Think about how each of these elements furthers the meaning of the poem. You might be surprised how much there is to say about those few lovely stanzas.

Most people should probably know most of these terms; it just makes for better conversation about books. Play with literary analysis by choosing one or two favorite works and identifying some or most of the following literary devices in them. This will help you appreciate their beauty in a way you haven’t before.

Basic Literary Analysis

Subject: The objective main topic of a piece of writing (i.e. Tom Sawyer’s adventures on the Mississippi)

Theme: The subjective, philosophical idea that is being explored in the work (i.e. boyhood or independence)

Narrative: The work’s story line

Genre: The type or category of writing (i.e. mystery, science fiction, romance, etc.)

Motif: A recurring idea, symbol or set of symbols in the work (i.e. the Mississippi River)

Premise: The question or problem posed by the work

Diction: Word choice

Syntax: The ways words are organized in sentences and paragraphs

Style: The unique way something is written, including the work’s diction and tone

Tone: The unique way the audience receives the work (i.e. formal, conversational, etc.)

Voice: The unique way the author writes. A magazine can have many voices, but maintain a single tone throughout.

Mood: The overall feeling of the piece (i.e. dark, brooding, light, fanciful, etc.)

Pace: The speed and rhythm with which a story is told

Literary convention: A commonly used style, idea or technique in literature

Figurative language: Language that implies or represents an idea rather than directly stating it, often for mood, dramatic effect, or humor (i.e. hyperbole, understatement, analogy, personification, euphemism, simile, metaphor, etc.)

Image/imagery: A mental picture or representation of a person, place, or thing

Analogy: A comparison that goes into some detail

Simile: A short description that compares two different things using the words like or as

Metaphor: A word or phrase that stands in for the object it’s being compared to. (Metaphors don’t use the words like or as.)

Symbol: Something that appears in a piece of writing that stands for or suggests something else

Onomatopoeia: A word or words that imitate a sound
Personification: The attributing of human characteristics to something that is not human

Irony: What occurs when reality is exactly the opposite of one’s reasonable expectation. Example: “I was hired to write books but instead, I am burning them.”

Paradox: A statement that initially appears to be contradictory but then, on closer inspection, turns out to make sense

Foreshadowing: Hints of upcoming events in the story

Pun: A play on words that relies on a word’s having more than one meaning or sounding like another word

Cliché: An overused expression

Double entendre: A phrase that can be interpreted in two different ways

Euphemism: An innocuous-sounding phrase used in place of something disagreeable

Allusion: A reference that is not directly stated or explained (i.e. using “to be or not to be” without mentioning Hamlet)

Oxymoron: A phrase composed of two words with contradictory meanings

Synecdoche: Substituting a part for the whole (i.e. “boards” for “the stage”) or the whole for a part (i.e. “the Americans” for “the American team”).

Metonymy: Substituting a related concept for the whole (i.e. “the White House” for “the President”).

Alliteration: The repetition of initial sounds in closely-placed words

Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds in closely-placed words (anywhere in the words)

Consonance: The repetition of consonant sounds in closely-placed words (anywhere in the words)

Connotation: A word’s unspoken implication

Denotation: The dictionary meaning of a word

Plot: The events of the story

Subplot: An additional plot interwoven with the main plot

Conflict: A struggle that affects the story line

Setting: The time, place, and conditions in which the action takes place; the work’s context

Point of view (POV): The view from which the story is told. It can be first person (the narrator speaks as himself), objective (the reader knows no more than the reader), limited omniscient (the narrator knows a bit extra about the characters, as when he/she tells the story through the eyes of the protagonist), or omniscient (the narrator knows everything about the characters and situations).

The five parts of dramatic structure: Exposition (inciting incident), rising action, climax, falling action (resolution), and dénouement

Rising action: The set of conflicts in a story that lead up to the climax

Climax: The peak moment of the action, occurring at or near the end of the work. It is the turning point for the protagonist.

Reversal: The point in the plot at which the action turns in an unexpected direction

Falling action: The action that occurs after the climax, moving it toward its resolution

Dénouement: The final resolution of the story

Characterization: Writing that brings a character to life and makes them unique

Protagonist: The story’s main character

Tragic hero/tragic figure: A protagonist whose story comes to an unhappy end due to his or her own behavior and character flaws

Antihero: A protagonist who isn’t all good and may even be bad

Antagonist: The story’s main bad guy

Round character: A character that is complex and realistic

Flat character: An uncomplicated character that doesn’t feel real to the reader

Foil: A character who provides a clear contrast to another character

Soliloquy: A monologue by a character in a play

Fiction: Imagined, untrue literature

Nonfiction: Factual literature

Biography: A nonfiction life story written by someone other than the subject

Autobiography: A nonfiction life story written by the subject

Memoir: A nonfiction story written by the subject about his or her own experiences, but not about his or her entire life

Anthology: A collection of short stories written by various authors, compiled in one book or journal.

Myth: A story that attempts to explain events in nature by referring to supernatural causes, like gods and deities. Usually passed on from generation to generation.

Fable: A story intended to depict a useful truth or moral lesson. Fables frequently involve animals that speak and act like human beings.

Tale: A story about imaginary or exaggerated events that the narrator pretends is true

Parable: A short story that teaches a moral or spiritual lesson

Parody: A humorous imitation of a popular work

Satire: A humorous work that makes fun of another work or anything else, revealing its weakness

Editorial: A short article expressing an opinion or point of view. Often, but not always, written by a member of the publication staff.

Exposition: Explanatory writing

Didactic writing: Instructional writing

Freewriting: Writing continuously without much thought in order to discover hidden ideas or feelings

Serial: A series of related works or a regularly published work, as a newsletter or magazine

Synopsis: A brief summary of a story, manuscript, or book

Rough draft: The first organized version of a document or other work

Hook: A starting sentence or idea that grabs the reader’s attention. In an essay, the hook might be a statistic or a paraphrased idea presented by an expert. In an article, the hook is usually the main idea.

Thesis statement: The part of an essay that clearly states the essay’s main point. It might also briefly mention several of the relevant supporting points. It is usually either one or two sentences in length (most commonly one).

Three-prong thesis statement: A thesis statement that offers three supporting points and is usually only one sentence long; for example, “I love rabbits because they are fast, soft and beautiful.” This is a simple way to go, if your ideas allow for it.

Five-paragraph essay: A simple essay format that includes one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs and one concluding paragraph. The three body paragraphs present three supporting points for the thesis (which is usually a three-prong thesis).

Jargon: Terms only familiar to those in the know

Bibliography: The list of books, magazines, journals, people, websites, or any other resources that you consulted in the process of writing a book, article, or paper.

Boilerplate: A piece of writing that gets reused frequently, sometimes with minor changes

Canon: Works generally considered by scholars to be the most important of a genre

Byline: The author’s name appearing with his/her published work

Pseudonym: A “pen name” 

Public domain work: Any written material not under copyright

Query: A short letter pitching an article or a book idea to an editor or agent

Side bar: Extra information put alongside, but not in, the main article

Slant: The bias or angle in a piece of writing

Solicited/unsolicited manuscript: A manuscript that an agent or editor has or has not asked to see

Types of poems: Ode (dignified poem written to praise someone or something), lyric, free verse (rule-free poetry), limerick (lighthearted rhyming poem with a particular structure), haiku, sonnet, villanelle, sestina, acrostic, elegy, epigram, ballad (narrative folksong-like poem), epitaph (brief poem sometimes written on a gravestone paying tribute to a dead person or commemorating another loss), more.

Stanza: A group of lines in a poem that form a metrical or thematic unit, set off by a space.

Verse: Poetic lines composed in a measured rhythmical pattern, that are often, but not necessarily, rhymed.

Beat: One count pause in speech, action, or poetry.

Stress: The emphasis, or accent, given a syllable in word pronunciation or in poetry reading

Meter: A recurring rhythmic pattern of stresses and unstressed syllables in a poem

Rhythm: A term used to refer to the recurrence of stressed and unstressed sounds in poetry

Couplet: A group of two rhyming lines

Triplet: A group of three rhyming lines

Quatrain: A four-line stanza. Quatrains are the most common stanzaic form in the English language, having various meters and rhyme schemes.

Epic: A long narrative poem, told in a formal, elevated style that focuses on a serious subject and chronicles heroic deeds and events important to a culture or nation.

Lyric: A brief poem that expresses the personal emotions and thoughts of a single speaker, not necessarily of the poet.

Sonnet: A fixed form of lyric poetry that consists of fourteen lines, usually written in iambic pentameter, with a varied rhyme scheme.

Acrostic: A sentence where the first letter of each word of the sentence helps to remember the spelling of a word, or order of things

Vilanele: A type of fixed form poetry consisting of nineteen lines of any length divided into six stanzas.

School in a Book: Punctuation and Grammar

Some of the rules of grammar and punctuation don’t need to be taught; instead, they’re inbued, like social skills. However, as with social skills, a little direct coaching goes a very long way. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you how much more educated you’ll seem when you don’t make simple writing mistakes.

Basic Punctuation

The fourteen punctuation marks: Period, question mark, exclamation point, comma, semicolon, colon, apostrophe, dash/hyphen, en dash, em dash, brackets, braces, parentheses and ellipsis

Comma: Used to separate ideas within a sentence. Sometimes there’s no clear right or wrong way to use a comma. The serial comma is the comma sometimes used right before the “and” in a list, and most writers don’t use it anymore. Do use commas to set off parenthetic expressions and before other independent clauses.

Semicolon: Used to connect separate sentences, the second of which includes a restatement of the first. It is also used to separate words and phrases in long lists that already have commas in them. Example: I was sad; she hurt me on purpose. Example: I own: three black and yellow hats; one long, dark skirt; and one pair of shoes.

Colon: Used to introduce a quotation, explanation, example, or series. It is also used between sentences instead of a period to show that the second explains or adds directly to the first. Finally, colons can be used for emphasis. Example: I have four pairs of boots: one for rain, one for snow and two for fashion. Example: My sister is beautiful: she has dark hair and a great smile. Example: Yes, I have a best friend: my sister.

Dash/hyphen: Used to connect compound phrases. Example: Cold-water fish

En dash: Used to connect dates and more. It is largely a stylistic choice when to use it.

Em dash: Twice as long as an en dash and used in place of commas, colons, or parenthesis.

Brackets, braces and parentheses: Used to contain additional information that isn’t otherwise grammatically connected to the sentence. Example: My dog (who I love) is sweet as heck. Parenthesis are most common. Brackets are used for technical purposes or to clarify a quote. Example: He [Mr. Smith] is my friend. Braces ({}) are used to contain two or more lines of text or listed items to show that they are considered as a unit. Used mostly in mathematics and computer programming. Example: 2{1+[23-3]}=x.

Apostrophe: Used to indicate the omission of a letter or letters from a word, the possessive case, or the plurals of lowercase letters. Examples: I’ve; Sara’s.

Quotation marks: Used around quotations. Single quotation marks are used for quotes within quotes.

Ellipsis: Used to indicate that something is missing, the idea or list continues in the same way, or there was a pause in speech. They’re also used to end a quote if the actual quote did not end at the chosen ending.

Basic Grammar

The eight parts of speech: Noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection

Noun: A person, place or thing. Proper nouns are capitalized and are the given name of someone or something in particular. Common (generic) nouns are not capitalized.

Pronoun: A small word used in place of a noun: she, he, they, we, them, it, I, you, etc. You may use they, them and their as the indefinite singular pronoun, but try to avoid this pronoun entirely.

Verb: An action word

Adjective: A word that describes a noun, like “pretty” or “smart”

Adverb: A word that describes a verb, like “slowly” or “carefully”

Article: The words a, an, and the. (These are also considered adjectives.)

Preposition: A word placed before a noun to form a phrase that, taken as a whole, modifies another word in the sentence. (This phrase is called the “prepositional phrase.”) The most common are in, with, by, for, at, in, on, out, to, under, within and without. Example: “With my dog as company, I can do anything.” Contrary to popular understanding, it’s okay to end a sentence in a preposition; however, choose the wording that is the most clear. “The building in which I live” and “The building I live in” are both correct, but “The building I live in is brown” is hard to read.

Conjunction: A word that joins words, phrases or clauses but are not part of a clause or prepositional phrase. The most common are and, but, therefore, however, so, for, or, nor, yet, since, while, and because. Coordinating conjunctions connect grammatically equal elements, while subordinating conjunctions connect clauses that are not equal (because, although, while, since, etc.). There are other types of conjunctions as well.Interjection: A word used to express emotion: oh, wow, ah, etc.

Sentence: A unit of writing consisting of a single main subject (someone or something that is doing something) and a single main action. (Caveat: If two complete sentences convey the same idea, a semicolon can be used to separate them and make up a single sentence.) Sentences may also include adverbs, adjectives, small words and clauses. The number of the subject of the sentence (whether it’s singular or plural) determines the number of the verb in the sentence. A clause should be placed directly after the noun or verb to which it refers. A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.

Run-on sentence: Two or more sentences joined as one, without a period separating them

Loose sentence: A sentence that connects two different ideas with a conjunction like “and.” These give the paragraph some breathability and flow, but too many in a row are tiresome.

Sentence fragment: A sentence that is missing the subject, the verb, or both. “Aha!” is a sentence fragment, as is “Good question.”

Topic sentence: The sentence at the beginning of a paragraph that includes the main idea of the paragraph

Verb tense: The form of the verb that denotes the time of the action. It’s important to hold to one tense throughout a piece of writing.

The six verb tenses: Past, present, future, past perfect (“has eaten”), present perfect (“has been dancing”, and future perfect (“will have danced”).

Clause: A phrase that as a whole, modifies a verb or noun. Example: Running to meet her, I slipped.

Independent clause: A modifying sentence that, if desired, could stand alone

Helping verb: A verb that helps the main verb express the action. There are 23 or 24 in all: be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being, have, has, had, could, should, must, may, might, must, can, will, would, do, did, does, and (sometimes) having.

Suffix: A word ending that changes the word’s tense or meaning

Prefix: A word beginning that changes the word’s meaning

Synonyms: Words with the same or approximately the same meaning

Antonyms: Words with opposite meanings

Homographs: Words which are spelled alike but have different meanings and/or pronunciations

Homonyms: Words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings

Homophone:

Dipthong:

Palindrome: A word or phrase that means the same when read in either direction (i.e. “eve”)

Acronym: An abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word

School in a Book: Classic Nonfiction

When I was in school, nonfiction was textbooks. And the encyclopedia and the dictionary, too. What nobody told me is that there’s another kind of nonfiction out there. There’s the kind that’s actually fun to read.

Modern nonfiction is some of the most entertaining, well-written stuff you can find. (After all, if you want to make money writing about neuroscience, for example, you’d better make it relevant, understandable, and full of fascinating anecdotes, right?) It’s stimulating and informative, but that’s not all it is: it’s a road map for becoming a better person. Nonfiction can widen your perspective, give you wisdom, make you stronger . . . maybe even make you a happier person. Nonfiction helps us come up with new goals and ideas about what our lives can encompass–then takes our hands and helps us draw the circles.

It’s such a great time to be a reader, isn’t it?

Of course, the lists below also feature numerous difficult-to-read works, particularly the advanced compilation. Confession: I haven’t read all of these. Instead, somewhere along the way (mostly in philosophy and history classes) I learned about the significance of the texts–the historical context, the main takeaways and the way the text changed people’s thinking. Feel free to do the same.

Introductory and Intermediate Classic Nonfiction

  • The Holy Bible
  • The writings of Buddha (500s–300s BCE)
  • The Analects, Confucius (500s BCE)
  • Tao Te Ching, Lao Tze (500s BCE)
  • The Art of War, Sun Tzu (500s BCE)
  • The Magna Carta (1200s)
  • The Declaration of Independence (1700s)
  • The Constitution of the United States (1700s)
  • The Bill of Rights (1700s)
  • The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Olaudah Equiano (1700s)
  • Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Thomas de Quincey (1800s)
  • The Gettysburg Address (1800s)
  • Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Sojourner Truth (1800s)
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1800s)
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs (1800s)
  • Walden, Henry David Thoreau (1800s)
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Frederick Douglass (1800s)
  • The Souls of Black Folks, W. E. B. DuBois (1900s)
  • Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, James Weldon Johnson (1900s)
  • I Have a Dream, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1900s)
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (1900s)
  • The Story of My Life, Helen Keller (1900s)
  • Roots, Alex Haley (1900s)
  • Autobiography of Malcom X, Malcom X (1900s)
  • The Jungle, Upton Sinclair (1900s)
  • Black Boy, Richard Wright (1900s)
  • Native Son, Richard Wright (1900s)
  • Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin (1900s)
  • The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom (1900s)
  • A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking (1900s)
  • The Meaning of It All, Richard Feynman (1900s)

Advanced Classic Nonfiction

  • The Histories, Herodotus (400s BCE)
  • The Republic, Plato (400s BCE)
  • History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides (400s BCE)
  • Rhetoric, Aristotle (300s BCE)
  • Apology, Plato (300s BCE)
  • Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle (300s BCE)
  • On the Nature of Things, Lucretius (60s BCE)
  • De Republica, Cicero (50s BCE)
  • The Early History of Rome, Livy (20s BCE)
  • Wars of the Jews, Josephus (70s CE)
  • Annals, Tacitus (100s CE)
  • The Twelve Caesars, Suetonius (100s CE)
  • Anabasis of Alexander, Arrian (100s CE)
  • Meditations, Marcus Aurelius (100s CE)
  • Lives of Noble Greeks and Romans, Plutarch (100s CE)
  • Enchiridion, Epictetus (100s CE)
  • The Confessions, Saint Augustine (300s)
  • The City of God, St. Augustine (400s)
  • The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius (500s)
  • The Quran (600s)
  • The Ecclesiastical History, Adam Bede (700s)
  • The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, Peter and Heolise Abelard (1100s)
  • Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas (1200s)
  • The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis (1400s)
  • In Praise of Folly, Erasmus (1500s)
  • The Education of a Christian Prince, Erasmus (1500s)
  • The Freedom of a Christian, Martin Luther (1500s)
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin (1500s)
  • History of the Reformation, John Knox (1500s)
  • The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila, Teresa of Avila (1500s)
  • The Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila (1500s)
  • Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross (1500s)
  • The Defense of Poesy, Sir Philip Sidney (1500s)
  • Novum Organum, Frances Bacon (1600s)
  • The Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes (1600s)
  • Meditations on First Philosophy, Rene Descartes (1600s)
  • Discourse on Method, Rene Descartes (1600s)
  • Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke (1600s)
  • The Second Treatise of Government, John Locke (1600s)
  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Samuel Pepys (1600s)
  • Wonders of the Invisible World, Cotton Mather (1600s)
  • An Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope (1700s)
  • An Essay on Man, Alexander Pope (1700s)
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin (1700s)
  • The Rights of Man, Thomas Paine (1700s)
  • Common Sense, Thomas Paine (1700s)
  • On Liberty, John Stuart Mill (1800s)
  • The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1700s)
  • The Journal of John Woolman, John Woolman (1700s)
  • The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith (1700s)
  • A Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant (1700s)
  • On American Taxation, Edmund Burke (1700s)
  • Life of Johnson, James Boswell (1700s)
  • The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton (1700s)
  • Memoir, Correspondence and Misc., Thomas Jefferson (1800s)
  • The Memoirs of Victor Hugo, Victor Hugo (1800s)
  • Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville (1800s)
  • A Child’s History of England, Charles Dickens (1800s)
  • For Self-Examination, Soren Kierkegaard (1800s)
  • On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, Charles Darwin (1800s)
  • The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx (1800s)
  • The Education of Henry Adams, Henry Adams (1800s)
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Frederich Nietzsche (1800s)
  • Beyond Good and Evil, Frederich Nietzsche (1800s)
  • An Autobiography, Annie Besant (1800s)
  • Notes on Nursing, Florence Nightingale (1800s)
  • Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud (1900s)
  • The Ego and the Id, Sigmund Freud (1900s)
  • The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud (1900s)
  • Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler (1900s)

Other Recommended Nonfiction

  • The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, parts one through four, Susan Wise Bauer
  • The Well-Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer
  • The Well-Educated Mind, Susan Wise Bauer
  • What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your First Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Second Grader Needs to Know, E.D. HirscWhat Your Kindergartener Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Third Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
  • A good world history encyclopedia
  • A good science encyclopedia
  • Wikipedia
  • The free online video learning series by the Khan Academy
  • Alexander of Macedon, Peter Green
  • Treblinka, Jean-Francois Steiner
  • The War Magician, David Fisher
  • Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer
  • The Particle at the Edge of the Universe, Sean Carroll
  • The Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene
  • Endurance, Scott Kelly
  • Genome, Matt Ridley
  • The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin
  • Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, Laurence Gonzales
  • The Underachiever’s Manifesto, Ray Bennett
  • Being Mortal, Arul Gawande
  • Flourish, Martin Seligman
  • Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmivaly
  • The Inner Game of Work, W. Timothy Gallway
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcom Gladwell
  • Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcom Gladwell
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini
  • What Would Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis
  • The Long Tail, Chris Anderson
  • Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • Discover Your Inner Economist, Tyler Cowen
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman
  • Switch, Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath
  • The Gift of Fear
  • On Writing, Steven King
  • Save the Cat!, Blake Snyder
  • The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
  • Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell
  • How Children Fail, John Holt
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman
  • Love Sense, Sue Johnson
  • Parenting with Love and Logic, Foster Cline
  • If I Have to Tell You One More Time, Amy McCready
  • The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle
  • A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle
  • The Conversations with God series, Neale Donald Walsch
  • Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, Robert Lanza and Bob Berman
  • Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable–and Couldn’t, Steve Volk
  • Dying to Be Me, Anita Moorjani
  • A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken
  • Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klostermann
  • When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  • Educated, Tara Westover
  • Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
  • A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
  • A House in the Sky, Amanda Lindhout
  • Into the Wild, John Krakauer
  • In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

School in a Book: Religion and Spirituality

Spirituality feels complicated: cultural, nuanced. And it is. I understand that. But the basic tenets of the major world religions are actually fairly straightforward, and it is these that I seek to present here. Please note that this treatment is highly simplified and does not represent all adherents of the given faith. Other religions with over one million adherents that aren’t discussed here include Falun Gong (a 20th-century Chinese religion similar to Buddhism that incorporates meditation and qigong exercises), Sikhism (a 15th-century Indian religion that follows the teaching of Sikh gurus and rejects religious certainty), Korean shamanism, Caodaism, Bahá’í Faith (a nineteenth-century Middle Eastern religion that seeks to unify all world religions), Tenriism, Jainism, Cheondoism, and Hoahaoism.

Basic Religion and Spirituality

Christianity

Rank of Christianity in terms of number of followers worldwide: Number one

Holy book of Christianity: The Bible. The Catholic Christian version of the Bible includes additional sections, and Mormons have an additional holy book called The Book of Mormon.

Concept of God in Christianity: There is one all-knowing, all-loving, everywhere-present, all-powerful, gender-neutral God, who created the universe.

Notion of life after death in Christianity: Salvation–that is, eternal life in a place of bliss called Heaven–comes to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. Others go to Hell after death.

Other basic tenets of Christianity: Humans are sinful and in need of redemption. Jesus Christ, the sinless son of God, came to Earth to preach faith in Him and to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. In addition to faith, Christians should practice love, charity, self-sacrifice, humility, morality, prayer, Bible reading, sexual abstinence prior to marriage and monogomy thereafter, and other good works.

Origins of Christianity: Christianity began with the life of Jesus Christ, who lived in the first century AD in the Middle East. His followers spread the faith widely over the following several centuries. From these early Christians, Catholicism developed, which appointed a Pope as its leader. Then Orthodoxy and Protestantism split off from Catholicism, in that order. Protestants divided into many different sects, including Methodist, Anglican and Lutheran Christianity. Later, Mormonism split off from Protestant Christianity with even greater changes.

Islam

Rank of Islam in terms of number of followers worldwide: Number two

Holy book of Islam: The Quran, which is the verbatim word of God revealed to the prophet Muhammad, plus the sunnah, the other teachings of Muhammad, and the hadith, the record of Muhammad’s life.

Concept of God in Islam: There is one God, with Muhammad as the messenger of God. God is merciful and all-powerful.

Notion of life after death in Islam: Muslims go to a blissful Heaven, and non-Muslims go to a place of eternal punishment.

Other basic tenets of Islam: Islam is the final expression of a faith that pre-existed and was partially revealed through Adam, Abraham, and Jesus. Therefore, it is considered an Abrahamic faith like Judaism and Christianity. Muslims must practice the five pillars of the faith, which include (1) recitation of the creed, (2) daily prayers, (3) almsgiving, (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. They also must follow sharia law, which is more specific and lengthy and includes guidelines on clothing, relationships, finances and more. Most Muslims belong to either the Sunni or the Shia sect, with the major original difference between them being who they considered the proper leader of their faith after the death of Muhammad. Muslims also believe in angels.

Origins of Islam: Islam was started in the early seventh century in Mecca by the Prophet Muhammad. It spread in Europe through war and coercion, and in Africa through trading relationships.

Hinduism

Rank of Hiduism in terms of number of followers worldwide: Number three

Holy books of Hinduism: Hindu texts are many and varied. They are not considered absolutely true. They are divided into two categories: the Shruti and the Smriti. The Shruti are the oldest traditions and include the four Vedas. The Upanishads are the parts of the Vedas that discuss meditation and philosophy and are the foundation of Hinduism. Of the Smritis, the Hindu epics, especially the Bhagavad Gita, and the Puranas are most important.

Concept of God in Hinduism: Varies by tradition. Some traditions teach the existence of multiple deities (dualism) while others teach of a single supreme being that is reflected in all other beings (the divine in all/non-dualism). Hindu gods are depicted in art and stories. Various incarnations of the same god are called avatars.

Notion of life after death in Hinduism: Reincarnation, called samsara. Hindus desire liberation from samsara through moksha (enlightenment).

Other basic tenets of Hinduism: Dharma (the path of rightness) is considered the foremost goal of a human being. It includes religious duties and moral virtues, but it is also equated with the eternal, unchanging truth. According to Hinduism, achieving dharma allows people to be in harmony with their true nature and with the world. Other Hindu goals are artha, properly pursued economic prosperity; kama, aesthetic pleasure; and moksha, liberation from suffering (enlightenment). Hindus also believe in karma. Hindu monks are called sanyāsī, sādhu, or swāmi. Religious rituals are observed mostly at home and are not mandatory. They include yoga, chanting, meditation and more. Hindus recognize four social classes: the Brahmins (teachers and priests); the Kshatriyas (warriors and kings); the Vaishyas (farmers and merchants); and the Shudras (servants and laborers). They believe in non-violence, respect for all life and vegetarianism.

Origins of Hinduism: Hinduism is a fusion of various ancient Indian cultural ideas and tradition, with no single founder. It began to take its current form between 500 B.C. and AD 300. It is widely practiced in India and parts of Southeast Asia.

Buddhism

Rank of Buddhism in terms of number of followers worldwide: Number four

Holy books of Buddhism: Numerous and highly varied. Some are based on the words of the Buddha, like the sutras, while others were created by ancient Buddhist schools, like the tantras.

Concept of God in Buddhism: There is no creator God or supreme being in the Universe.

Notion of life after death in Buddhism: Reincarnation. This cycle of death and rebirth, which is affected by one’s karma, can be escaped through nirvana (enlightenment).

Other basic tenets of Buddhism: Meditation, mindfulness, nonattachment, compassion, lovingkindness and virtue; taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma (the way) and the Sangha (teachers and fellow travelers); the Four Noble Truths; and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths are: suffering is universal; suffering is caused by desire and attachment; suffering can end; this happens through the Noble Eightfold Path (right understanding, right thinking, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration). There are two main schools of Buddhist thoughts: the Theravada and the Mahayana. They differ in their recommended approach to nirvana and more.

Origins of Buddhism: Buddhism was founded between 500 and 400 B.C. in India by Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha, who as a wealthy but unhappy young man who became enlightened while sitting underneath a Bodhi tree. Buddhism is prominent throughout Asia.

Confucianism

Holy book of Confucianism: The Analects of Confucius

Concept of God in Confucianism: None. Confucianism is sometimes considered a religion and sometimes considered a philosophy.

Notion of life after death in Confucianism: None.

Other basic tenets of Confucianism: Kindness; manners; rituals; morals; respect of elders and family; moderation.

Origins of Confucianism in terms of number of followers worldwide: Confucianism was founded by Confucius, a government worker-turned-philosopher who lived around the time of Buddha (551-479 B.C.) in China. Confucius taught his philosophy to his subordinates at work before quitting to travel and teach only. His teachings became the state philosophy during the Han Dynasty in China, which liked Confucius’ emphasis on strong central government and respect for authority.

Taoism

Holy book of Taoism: The Tao Te Ching, the I Ching, the Daozang/Treasury of Tao, and the Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu). The Daozang is a collection of over 1500 texts written up to the Ming dynasty, and is considered the Taoist canon. The Zhuangzi is an important, beautiful, lighthearted description of the ideal sage written by Master Zhuang (Zhuangzi) (c. 369-301 B.C.).

Concept of God in Taoism: Various gods exist but none are supreme, and all are subject to the Tao. (Most Taoist gods are borrowed from other cultures.)

Notion of life after death in Taoism: Unclear. The soul is eternal, but there is a regular afterlife and an enhanced one.

Other basic tenets of Taoism: Taoists are naturalists. They believe in the interconnectedness of all things; acceptance of contradiction or paradox, called Yin and Yang (concepts originated in the I Ching); and the pursuit of harmony through virtue. They also believe in fortune telling, honoring deceased spirits, and more.

Origins of Taoism: Taoism (sometimes called Daoism) began with the writing of the Tao Te Ching, likely by the teacher Laozi around 500 B.C. (This is close to the time of Buddha and Confucius.) The Tao Te Ching was influenced by an ancient divination text, the I Ching (Yi Ching), which as the oldest Chinese classic text was compiled around 800 B.C. Like Confucianism, Taoism became prominent during the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-AD 220). It might have developed as a reaction to that more authoritarian philosophy.

Shinto

Holy books of Shinto: The Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, written in the 8th century.

Concept of God in Shinto: There are many gods, spirits and essences, all with unique roles and purposes.

Notion of life after death in Shinto:

Other basic tenets of Shinto: Shinto emphasizes the importance of performing rituals for the purpose of connecting with the past.

Origins of Shinto: Shinto is the traditional religion of Japan. It is a collection of animistic folk mythologies. Practices were first codified around 700 B.C.

Judaism

Holy book of Judaism: The Torah, which is part of the Hebrew Bible, and additional oral tradition found in later texts like the Midrash and the Talmud. Texts are open to interpretation by rabbis and is a highly scholarly and intellectual endeavor.

Concept of God in Judaism: Orthodox Jews believe in one all-knowing, all-loving, everywhere-present, all-powerful, gender-neutral God, who created the universe. Other Jews believe that belief in God is a matter of personal choice.

Notion of life after death in Judaism: Unclear and controversial.

Other basic tenets of Judaism: Jews, particularly Orthodox Jews, practice a complex, laborious array of rituals dating to the time of Abraham. They believe that by doing so, they are keeping the Covenant (the law of God given to the Jews by which they earn God’s favor). Among these practices: not working on Sundays; not eating pork or shellfish (eating kosher foods only); and celebration of Jewish holidays. Conservative and Reform Jews take a more lenient approach to Jewish law.

Origins of Judaism: Abraham, a man who lived in the Middle East, had a son, Isaac, who had a son, Jacob, who was the father of twelve sons, who founded the twelve tribes of Israel. These tribes, who lived around 1200 B.C., later became known as Jews, or the Jewish people. Later, Christianity and Islam developed from Judaism. Jews have been persecuted throughout history and repeatedly forced to leave their nation, Israel, yet they have largely maintained their ethnic and cultural identity. About 43% of Jews reside in Israel and another 43% reside in the United States and Canada.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints/Mormonism

Holy books of Mormonism: The Bible and The Book of Mormon

Concept of God in Christianity: There is one all-knowing, all-loving, everywhere-present, all-powerful, gender-neutral God, who created the universe.

Notion of life after death in Christianity: Salvation–that is, eternal life in a place of bliss called Heaven–comes to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. Others go to Hell after death.

Other basic tenets of Christianity: Humans are sinful and in need of redemption. Jesus Christ, the sinless son of God, came to Earth to preach faith in Him and to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. In addition to faith, Christians should practice love, charity, self-sacrifice, humility, morality, prayer, Bible reading, sexual abstinence prior to marriage and monogomy thereafter, and other good works.

Origins of Mormonism: Mormonism is a branch of Christianity, with the same historical development, until the 1830s, when Joseph Smith was visited by the angel Moroni and given the Book of Mormon to transcribe.

Alternative Forms of Spirituality

Holy book(s) of alternative forms of spirituality: None. Modern spiritual thinkers read modern spiritual-but-not-religious authors like Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, and Esther Hicks, plus Buddhist authors like Pema Chodron, Ram Daas and more.

Concept of God of alternative forms of spirituality: God is the one, unified something that makes up everything in the Universe. As such, God is part of everything, including each person. God is sometimes called the creator, the force, the all-that-is or simply the universe. God is good and loving.

Notion of life after death of alternative forms of spirituality: Reincarnation, another afterlife including the experience of oneness with the Divine, or unknown. There is no Hell, but there is no one clear and correct path to a happy afterlife.

Other basic tenets of alternative forms of spirituality: Sin does not exist. Though people often judge poorly or act out of fear, they are naturally and fundamentally good. Onesself is one’s only spiritual authority. Meditation and mindfulness are helpful. So are various healing modalities, such as Reiki. Discovering one’s highest self is a priority, as is practicing love and non-judgment. Truth is often relative and experiential and may be discovered through the law of attraction; divination/clairvoyance/mediums; angels, spirits and ghosts; near-death experiences; deathbed revelations; intuition; and more. Enlightenment or something akin to enlightenment is the goal of many modern spiritualists.

Origins of alternative forms of spirituality: Alternative spirituality includes Buddhist Modernism, some new religious movements (NRMs), spiritual-but-not-religious ideas, New Thought spirituality and New Age spirituality. It primarily refers to belief systems that originated during the twentieth century. Alternative spirituality evolves rapidly as new spiritual teachers, channels and authors become known. It is largely influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism.

School in a Book: Prehistory

The Beginning of Time

The Big Bang: The theoretical beginning of the universe during which a large force of energy resulted in a huge explosion of matter. Rapidly, the matter cooled and expanded, forming stars, planets and everything else in the Universe. The approximate date of the Big Bang is 14 billion BCE.

The formation of Earth: 4.5 billion BCE. Oceans formed around 4.4 billion BCE.

The formation of the first living organisms (microorganisms): Approximately 4 billion BCE.

LUCA: Last universal common ancestor. 3.5 billion BCE. LUCA is the most recent living organism that survived to evolve into all current life on the planet.

Hominid: The great apes that eventually evolved into humans. The first hominids lived approximately 7 million BCE.

The Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic Eras

Homo habilis: The first human species. They evolved in East Africa from an unknown, extinct great ape around 2.5 million BCE. They were the first great apes to use stone tools and they had larger brains than their ancestors.

Homo erectus: The human species that evolved from Homo habilis around 1.5 million BCE and migrated out of Africa to Asia. These humans walked upright and were the first animal to use fire for cooking (around 1 million BCE). Around 500,000 BCE they started hunting with spears, building shelters and creating more complex tribal communities.

The Neanderthals: One of the most successful subspecies [?] of the Homo erectus [?]. They evolved around 250,000 BCE in Africa and migrated across Asia and Europe after the Sahara desert became passable [when?]. They mated with Homo sapiens, but went extinct around 25,000 BCE.

Homo sapiens: The modern-day human species. They evolved around 200,000 BCE in Africa and were highly successful, migrating across Asia and Europe along with the Neanderthals. They were the first apes to speak in a complex way. They led other related species in the complexity of their societies and technology. Around 25,000 BCE they began performing ritual burials and making clothing, artworks, jewelry, advanced tools, boats, ovens, pottery, harpoons, saws, woven baskets, woven nets and woven baby carriers.

Cro-Magnons: The Homo erectus subspecies [?] who, around 25,000 BCE, replaced the Neanderthals. Like the Neanderthals, they mated with Homo sapiens. From them, Homo sapiens inherited larger brains.

Early modern humans: The group of Homo sapiens [subspecies?] that evolved around 40,000 BCE and settled that last two habitable continents: Australia (using boats) and North America (using a land bridge connecting modern-day Alaska to Asia).

Last Glacial Age/Last Ice Age: The most recent Ice Age (of many throughout the history of the earth). It lasted from about 2.5 million BCE to about 10,000 BCE. During this time, a land bridge formed between Asia and modern-day Alaska, which humans used to cross into the Americas. The land bridge formed because much of the world’s water was locked up in huge ice sheets and could not flow freely. From the Alaska area, humans settled North, Central and South America.

The first farms: People began raising crops in Mesopotamia, in an area called the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, around 10,000 BCE. Just prior to this, animal husbandry had begun. Some of the most important crops were barley and wheat, but other grains and vegetables were also grown.

The first towns: The ability to cultivate land and use it as a reliable food source led to a decrease in the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle and the formation of the first towns. Town-based Mesopotamians built religious sites, smelted copper, developed writing, built irrigation channels, invented the wheel (which was only used for pottery until later) and much more.

The Neolithic Revolution: The move from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to a town-based, agriculture-based way of life. The revolution occurred at different times in different places throughout the world; however, the change was seen on all continents in the span of several thousand years, despite no known contact between some of them. Note that the Neolithic Revolution is also called the Agricultural Revolution, though the Second Agricultural Revolution of the 1800s that helped bring about the Industrial Revolution is sometimes also called the Agricultural Revolution.

The settlement of Europe: Around the same time that the agricultural revolution began, Caucasians settled Europe for the first time.

Sumer: The first human civilization. Sumer was built in Mesopotamia along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers around 5,000 BCE. It was made up of a collection of individual city-states featuring ziggurats (pyramid-like centers of worship), a more advanced form of writing called cuneiform, scribes, accountants and much more. The people of Sumer are called Sumerians.

Cuneiform: The first complex written language. It was developed and used in Sumer after approximately 3,000 BCE and used pictographs. Its use triggered the beginning of recorded history.

Hieroglyphics: The second complex written language. It was developed and used in Egypt shortly after cuneiform was developed and, like cuneiform, used pictographs.

School in a Book: Classic Fiction: Older Kids and Adults

Did you ever wonder what the best thing in the world is? Well, pay attention, because I know the answer: it’s reading. Reading is the best thing. Here is my list of the best books in the world that aren’t true, besides the ones in my classic children’s literature list.

Classic Poetry

  • The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe (1300s–1400s)
  • The poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt (1500s)
  • The poetry of John Donne (1500s–1600s)
  • The poetry of John Hopkins (1600s)
  • The poetry of William Blake (1700s)
  • The poetry of William Wordsworth (1700s–1800s)
  • The poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1700s–1800s)
  • The poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1800s)
  • The poetry of Edgar Allen Poe (1800s)
  • The poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1800s)
  • The poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1800s)
  • The poetry of W.B. Yeats (1800s–1900s)
  • The poetry of Robert Frost (1800s–1900s)
  • The poetry of Emily Dickenson (1900s)
  • he poetry of Ezra Pound (1900s)
  • Eight Sonnets, Edna St. Vincent Millay (1900s)
  • The poetry of E. E. Cummings (1900s)
  • The Waste Land and other poetry of T. S. Eliot (1900s)
  • A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas (1900s)
  • The Song of Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Introductory Classic Fiction

  • The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan (1600s)
  • Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (1600s)
  • Gulliver’s Travels, Johnathan Swift (1700s)
  • The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann David Wyss (1700s)
  • Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott (1800s)
  • Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen (1800s)
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1800s)
  • Emma, Jane Austen (1800s)
  • Mansfield Park, Jane Austen (1800s)
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving (1800s)
  • Rip van Winkle, Washington Irving (1800s)
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1800s)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas (1800s)
  • The Three Musketeers, Alexander Dumas (1800s)
  • The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1800s)
  • The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1800s)
  • The Professor at the Breakfast Table, Oliver Wendell Holmes (1800s)
  • Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (1800s)
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (1800s)
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (1800s)
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne (1800s)
  • A Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne (1800s)
  • From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne (1800s)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days, Jules Verne (1800s)
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (1800s)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (1800s)
  • Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (1800s)
  • The Awakening, Kate Chopin (1800s)
  • The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett (1800s)
  • Little Lord Fauntleroy, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1800s)
  • The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton (1900s)
  • The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton (1900s)
  • Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling (1800s)
  • The Time Machine, H.G. Wells (1800s)
  • The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells (1800s)
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson (1800s)
  • Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson (1800s)
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson (1800s)
  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howard Pyle (1800s)
  • The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry (1800s)
  • Dracula, Bram Stoker (1800s)
  • The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux (1900s)
  • The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane (1900s)
  • Twelve Men, Theodore Dreiser (1900s)
  • The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford (1900s)
  • The Ball and the Cross, G. K. Chesterton (1900s)
  • The Innocence of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton (1900s)
  • The Man Who Was Thursday, G. K. Chesterton (1900s)
  • The Wisdom of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton (1900s)
  • The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann (1900s)
  • Buddenbrooks, Thomas Mann (1900s)
  • The Call of the Wild, Jack London (1900s)
  • To Build a Fire, Jack London (1900s)
  • White Fang, Jack London (1900s)
  • Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson (1900s)
  • A Room with a View, E. M. Forster (1900s)
  • You Know Me Al, Ring Lardner (1900s)
  • Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, T. S. Eliot (1900s)
  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (1900s)
  • Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie (1900s)
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie (1900s)
  • The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck (1900s)
  • The Lord of the Rings series, J. R. R. Tolkien (1900s)
  • The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien (1900s)
  • Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley (1900s)
  • Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (1900s)
  • Our Town, Thornton Wilder (1900s)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque (1900s)
  • The Out of the Silent Planet series, C.S. Lewis (1900s)
  • The Once and Future King, T. H. White (1900s)
  • Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (1900s)
  • The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900s)
  • Lost Horizon, James Hilton (1900s)
  • Stranger In A Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein (1900s)
  • Magic, Inc., Robert Heinlein (1900s)
  • Waldo, Robert Heinlein (1900s)
  • A Death in the Family, James Agee (1900s)
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee (1900s)
  • The Lord of the Flies, William Golding (1900s)
  • You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You, John Ciardi (1900s)
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger (1900s)
  • Franny and Zooey, J. D. Salinger (1900s)
  • Nine Stories, J. D. Salinger (1900s)
  • Books by Isaac Asimov (1900s)
  • Dune, Frank Herbert (1900s)
  • Twelve Angry Men, Reginald Rose (1900s)
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (1900s)
  • Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut (1900s)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut (1900s)
  • The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut (1900s)
  • On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1900s)
  • The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac (1900s)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote (1900s)
  • Music for Chameleons, Truman Capote (1900s)
  • Other Voices, Other Rooms, Truman Capote (1900s)
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin (1900s)
  • A Separate Peace, John Knowles (1900s)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee (1900s)
  • The complete works of John Knowles (1900s)
  • Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (1900s)
  • The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass (1900s)
  • The American Dream, Edward Albee (1900s)
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee (1900s)
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (1900s)
  • My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potak (1900s)
  • The Chosen, Chaim Potak (1900s)
  • The Promise, Chaim Potak (1900s)
  • No Longer At Ease, Chinua Achebe (1900s)
  • The Princess Bride, William Goldman (1900s)
  • I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Hannah Green (1900s)
  • Rabbit, Run, John Updike (1900s)
  • Rabbit Revisited, John Updike (1900s)
  • The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (1900s)
  • A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines (1900s)
  • Summer of My German Soldier, Bette Greene (1900s)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey (1900s)
  • Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller (1900s)
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker (1900s)
  • The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (1900s)
  • Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card (1900s)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (1900s)
  • Walden Two, B.F. Skinner (1900s)
  • The Seven Story Mountain, Thomas Merton (1900s)
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1900s)
  • The Trumpet of the Swans, E.B. White (1900s)
  • The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1900s)
  • The Trumpet of the Swans, E.B. White (1900s)
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1900s)
  • The stories of Edgar Allen Poe (1900s)
  • The Way of a Pilgrim, Anonymous
  • The Pilgrim Continues His Way, Anonymous
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

Intermediate and Advanced Classic Fiction

  • The Illiad, Homer
  • The Odyssey, Homer
  • The Aeneid, Virgil (70–19 BCE)
  • The Metamorphosis, Ovid (43 BCE–17 CE)
  • Beowulf, Anonymous (900s–1000s)
  • The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri (1200s–1300s)
  • The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer (1300s)
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Anonymous (1300s)
  • La Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory (1400s)
  • The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli (1400s–1500s)
  • Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (1500s)
  • The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser (1500s)
  • Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (1500s)
  • Hamlet, William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
  • Macbeth, William Shakespeare (1500s)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare (1500s)
  • Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare (1500s)
  • Othello, William Shakespeare (1500s)
  • Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare (1500s)
  • Paradise Lost, John Milton (1600s)
  • Paradise Regained, John Milton (1600s)
  • The Sufferings of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1700s–1800s)
  • Don Juan, Lord Byron (1700s–1800s)
  • Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (1800s)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo (1800s)
  • Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens (1800s)
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (1800s)
  • Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman (1800s)
  • Moby Dick, Herman Melville (1800s)
  • Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1800s)
  • The Brothers Karamozov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1800s)
  • Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1800s)
  • The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1800s)
  • The Man Without a Country, Edward Everett Hale (1800s)
  • War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy (1800s)
  • Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (1800s)
  • Green Mansions, William Henry Hudson (1800s–1900s)
  • The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James (1800s)
  • The Golden Bowl, Henry James (1800s)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde (1800s)
  • Lady Windermere’s Fan, Oscar Wilde (1800s)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde (1800s)
  • The Seagull, Anton Chekhov (1800s)
  • The Three Sisters, Anton Chekhov (1800s)
  • Uncle Vanya, Anton Chekhov (1800s)
  • The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov (1800s)
  • Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse (1800s–1900s)
  • Siddhartha, Herman Hesse (1800s–1900s)
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce (1800s–1900s)
  • Ulysses, James Joyce (1800s–1900s)
  • A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf (1800s–1900s)
  • Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf (1800s–1900s)
  • Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf (1800s–1900s)
  • Jacob’s Room, Virginia Woolf (1800s–1900s)
  • To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf (1800s–1900s)
  • The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka (1800s–1900s)
  • The Trial, Franz Kafka (1800s–1900s)
  • The Castle, Franz Kafka (1800s–1900s)
  • Sons and Lovers, D. H. Lawrence (1900s)
  • Women In Love, D. H. Lawrence (1900s)
  • Lady Chatterly’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence (1900s)
  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Eugene O’Neill (1900s)
  • The Iceman Cometh, Eugene O’Neill (1900s)
  • Desire Under the Elms, Eugene O’Neill (1900s)
  • Morning Becomes Electra, Eugene O’Neill (1900s)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway (1900s)
  • A Movable Feast, Ernest Hemingway (1900s)
  • Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway (1900s)
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway (1900s)
  • In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway (1900s)
  • Men Without Women, Ernest Hemingway (1900s)
  • The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway (1900s)
  • The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand (1900s)
  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (1900s)
  • Anthem, Ayn Rand (1900s)
  • Night of January 16th, Ayn Rand (1900s)
  • We The Living, Ayn Rand (1900s)
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams (1900s)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams (1900s)
  • The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams (1900s)
  • The Stranger, Albert Camus (1900s)
  • Catch-22, Joseph Heller (1900s)

Additional Classic Fiction

  • The Orestia Trilogy, Aeschylus (c. 525–c. 456 BCE)
  • Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus (c. 525–c. 456 BCE)
  • The Oedipus Plays, Sophocles (c. 497–405 BCE)
  • Medea, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BCE)
  • The Bacchae, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BCE)
  • The Trojan Women, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BCE)
  • Hippolytus, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BCE)
  • Lysistrata, Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BCE)
  • The Frogs, Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BCE)
  • The Clouds, Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BCE)
  • Odes, Horace (65–8 BCE)
  • The Golden Sayings of Epictetus, Epictetus (c. 55–135)
  • Cur Deus Homo, Anselm (c. 1033–1109)
  • The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375)
  • Mabinogion, Anonymous (c. 1350-1410)
  • Orlando Furioso, Ludovico Ariosto (1474–1533)
  • Utopia, Sir Thomas More (1478–1535)
  • The Schoolmaster, Roger Ascham (1515–1568)
  • Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
  • Faust, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
  • Volpone, Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
  • The Alchemist, Ben Johnson (1572–1637)
  • Tamburlaine the Great, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
  • The Jew of Malta, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
  • Every Man in His Humour, Ben Johnson (1572–1637)
  • The Duchess of Malfi, John Webster (c. 1580–c. 1634)
  • Life is a Dream, Calderon de la Barca (1600–1681)
  • Pensees, Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)
  • Absalom and Achitophel: A Poem, John Dryden (1631–1700)
  • Oroonoko: The Royal Slave, Aphra Behn (1640–1689)
  • The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe (c. 1660–1731)
  • The Bassett Table, Susana Centlivre (c. 1667 to 1670–1723)
  • The Way of the World, William Congreve (1670–1729)
  • The Beggar’s Opera, John Gay (1685–1732)
  • The Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
  • Satires and Epistles of Horace Imitated, Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
  • The Dunciad, Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
  • Pamela, Samuel Richardson (1689–1761)
  • Fantomina, Eliza Haywood (c. 1693–1756)
  • The Bourgeois Gentleman, Moliere (1622–1673)
  • The Misanthrope, Moliere (1622–1673)
  • Tartuffe, Moliere (1622–1673)
  • Candide, Voltaire (1694–1778)
  • The Vicar of Wakefield, Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1774)
  • Sartor Resarus, Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881)
  • Pere Goriot, Honore de Balzac (1799–1850)
  • Tom Jones, Henry Fielding (1707–1754)
  • Joseph Andrews, Henry Fielding (1707–1754)
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Lawrence Stern (1713–1768)
  • Erotica Romana, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
  • Hermann and Dorothea, Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749–1832)
  • Edmond, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797)
  • Charlotte: A Tale of Truth, Susana Rowson (1762–1824)
  • The Charterhouse of Parma, Stendhal (1783–1842)
  • The Red and the Black, Stendhal (1783–1842)
  • Mr. Midshipman Easy, Captain Frederick Marryat (1792–1848)
  • Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852)
  • Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880)
  • Sentimental Education, Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880)
  • The Inspector-General, Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852)
  • Henry Esmond, William Thackeray (1811–1863)
  • Vanity Fair, William Thackeray (1811–1863)
  • Two Years Before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana (1815–1882)
  • The Small House at Allington, Anthony Trollope (1815–1882)
  • Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope (1815–1882)
  • Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883)
  • The Deerslayer, James Fennimore Cooper (1789–1851)
  • The poetry of Robert Browning (1812–1889)
  • The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot (1819–1880)
  • Adam Bede, George Eliot (1819–1880)
  • Middlemarch, George Eliot (1819–1880)
  • The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins (1824–1889)
  • The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins (1824–1889)
  • The Egoist, George Meredith (1828–1909)
  • The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, George Meredith (1828–1909)
  • The Rise of Silas Lapham, W. D. Howells (1837–1920)
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
  • Tess of the D’ubervilles, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
  • The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce (1842–c. 1914)
  • Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy (1850–1898)
  • The Hound of Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930)
  • The Virginian, Owen Wister (1860–1938)
  • What Every Woman Knows, J.M. Barrie (1860–1937)
  • The Petty Demon, Fyodor Sologub (1863–1927)
  • The Three-Cornered World, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916)
  • Kokoro, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916)
  • I Am a Cat, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916)
  • The Pastoral Symphony, Andre Gide (1869–1951)
  • The Pit, Frank Norris (1870–1902)
  • The Octopus, Frank Norris (1870–1902)
  • Sarra, Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919)
  • The Seven Who Were Hanged, Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919)
  • The Life of Man, Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919)
  • Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945)
  • An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945)
  • Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust (1871–1922)
  • My Antonia, Willa Cather (1873–1947)
  • O Pioneers!, Willa Cather (1873–1947)
  • Death Comes For the Archbishop, Willa Cather (1873–1947)
  • Of Human Bondage and other selected works by W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965)
  • The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein (1874–1946)
  • Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein (1874–1946)
  • Giants in the Earth, O.E. Rolvaang (1876–1931)
  • Demian, Hermann Hesse (1877–1962)
  • Red Roses for Me, Sean O’Casey (1880–1964)
  • Finnegans Wake, James Joyce (1882–1941)
  • Dubliners, James Joyce (1882–1941)
  • Arrowsmith, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)
  • Giant, Edna Ferber (1885–1968)
  • Main Street, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)
  • Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)
  • The Key, Junichiro Tanizaki (1886–1965)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty, Charles Nordhoff (1887–1947) and James Norman Hall (1887–1951)
  • The Horse’s Mouth, Joyce Cary (1888–1957)
  • At the Bay, Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923)
  • In a German Pension, Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923)
  • Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter (1890–1980)
  • The Sea of Grass, Conrad Richter (1890–1968)
  • Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak (1890–1960)
  • The Light in the Forest, Conrad Richter (1890–1968)
  • Black Spring, Henry Miller (1891–1980)
  • Johnny Tremain, Ester Forbes (1891–1967)
  • Anthem for Doomed Youth, Wilfred Owen (1893–1918)
  • The Maltese Falcon, Dashiel Hammett (1894–1961)
  • The Citadel, A. J. Cronin (1896–1981)
  • The 42nd Parallel, John Dos Passos (1896–1970)
  • Nineteen, Nineteen, John Dos Passos (1896–1970)
  • Three Soldiers, John Dos Passos (1896–1970)
  • The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • Light in August, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • Sanctuary, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • The Skin of Our Teeth, Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)
  • Snow Country, Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972)
  • The Sound of the Mountain, Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972)
  • You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe (1900–1938)
  • Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther (1901–1970)
  • Selected works of Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991)
  • Too Late the Philanthrope, Alan Paton (1903–1988)
  • The Day of the Locust, Nathaniel West (1903–1940)
  • God’s Little Acre, Erskine Caldwell (1903–1987)
  • The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene (1904–1991)
  • The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene (1904–1991)
  • Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt (1907–2001)
  • Alas, Babylon, Pat Frank (1908–1964)
  • The Ox-Bow Incident, Walter van Tillburg Clark (1909–1971)
  • Free Fall, William Golding (1911–1993)
  • The Inheritors, William Golding (1911–1993)
  • The Assistant, Bernard Malamud (1914–1986)
  • The Fixer, Bernard Malamud (1914–1986)
  • Dangling Man, Saul Bellow (1915–2005)
  • Herzog, Saul Bellow (1915–2005)
  • All My Sons, Arthur Miller (1915–2005)
  • The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk (1915–)
  • The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers (1917–1967)
  • A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1917–1993)
  • The Ballad of Peckham Rye, Muriel Spark (1918–2006)
  • The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008)
  • A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck (1928–)
  • Selected books by Toni Morrison (1931–)
  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ernest J. Gaines (1933–)
  • Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya (1937–)
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard (1937–)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Nora Hurston
  • Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad
  • Nana, Zola
  • Modern Love, George Meredith (1828–1909)
  • The complete works of Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906)
  • The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler (1835–1902)
  • Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
  • The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
  • Miss Julie, August Strindberg (1849–1912)
  • The complete works of George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)
  • The Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (1857–1924)
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)
  • As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • Everyman, Anonymous (1909)
  • The Bald Soprano, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994)
  • The Lesson, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994)
  • Jack, or the Submission, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994)
  • The Chairs, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994)
  • No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980)
  • Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)
  • Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)
  • Endgame, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)
  • All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989)
  • Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler (1905–1983)
  • Act Without Words, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)

School in a Book: Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary

I have a basic working Mandarin vocabulary–what I call “traveler’s Chinese.” Though it’s one of my life goals to become fluent or close to it (mostly because it would be so much fun), I also feel that this basic level is extremely valuable in its own right. Once you get past the language basics and talk to some natives who–surprise!–actually understand you, the groundwork has been laid; you become confident. After that, you have fun with it: talk to people you meet, ask them to explain things, practice a bit here and a bit there. A decade or so later, you’re ready to visit the land of your chosen second language and make a lot of progress in a relatively short amount of time.

A note on the list: There are four tones in Mandarin Chinese. Fortunately, they’re not hard to master; just do an Internet search to hear them and practice. One more tip: At first, don’t worry about grammar too much. Get the main verbs, the main short words (“because,” “with,” “and,” “very,” and the time- and distance-related vocabulary) and the whole introductory conversation basics, then move on to your nouns–food, body parts, etc. When you practice, make as many mistakes as you can possibly make, grammar-wise; just get yourself understood. That’s the goal.

Conversational Basics and Common Phrases

Hello: Ni3 hao3
How are you: Ni3 hao3 ma
What is your name: Ni3 de ming2 zi jiao4 shen2 me
My name is: Wo3 de ming2 zi jiao4
First name: Ming2 zi
Family name: Gui4 xing4
How old are you: Ni3 ji1 sui4 le
I am __ years old: Wo3 you3 __ nian2
Good morning: Zao3 an1
Good afternoon:
Good evening: Wan3 an1
Yes: Shi4
No: Bu4 shi4
Please: Qing2
May I: Ke3 yi3
Thank you: Xie4 xie4
Excuse me/I’m sorry: Dui4 bu4 qi2
You’re welcome/I don’t mind: Mei2 guan4 xi1
No problem/I don’t care: Bu4 yao4 jin3
Where are you from: Ni3 lai2 zai4 na3 li3
I am from: Wo3 lai2 zi4
I speak __: Wo3 shuo1 __
Do you speak __: Ni3 shuo1 __ ma?
U.S.A.: Mei3 guo2
American: Mei3 guo2 ren2
English: Ying1 wen2
China: Zhong1 guo2
Chinese (person): Zhong1 guo2 ren2
Chinese (Mandarin language): Pu2 tong2 hua4
Chinese (Cantonese language): Guang3 dong1 hua4
How do you say: Wo3 zem2 me shuo1
What does this mean: Shen2 me yi4 ci2
Say it again: Zai4 shuo1 yi1 ci4
May I ask: Qing2 wen3
Can you please: Ni3 ke3 yi3
Nice to meet you: Hen3 gao1 xin1 jian4 dao4 ni3
Be careful: Xiao4 xin1 (yi1 dian3)
Hurry up: Kuai4 yi1 dian3
Wait a moment: Deng3 yi2 xia4
I am ready: Wo3 zhu3 bei4 hao3 le
Both are fine: Shen2 me dou1 ke3 yi3

Verbs

To be: Shi4
To go: Qu4
To want: Yao4
To use: Yong4
To need: Xu3 yao4
To know: Zhi1 dao4
To like: Xi3 huan1
To love: Ai4
To live: Zhu4
To be born: Chu1 sheng1
To die: Si2
To sleep/go to bed: Shui4 jiao4
To wake up: Xing3 lai2
To cook: Zuo2 (fan4)
To read: Kan4 (shu1)
To practice: Lian4 xi3
To make/do: Zuo3
To look at: Kan4
To see: Kan4 dao4
To look for: Zhao3
To walk: Zou3 (lu4)
To run: Pao3 (bu4)
To go to work: Shang4 ban4
To finish work: Xia4 ban4
To rest: Xiu2 xi3
To play: Wan2
To sing: Chang4 ge1
To smile: Wei1 xiao4
To laugh: Da4 xiao1
To hug: Bao4
To cry: Ai1 hao4; ku1; bei4 qi4
To dance: Tiao4 wu3
To swim: You2 yong3
To take pictures: Zhao4 xiang4
To go shopping: (Qu4) guang4 jie1; gou4 wu4; mai3 dong1 xi1
To go to the bathroom: Shang4 ce4 suo3
To take a shower: Xi3 zao3
To wash hands/face: Xi3 lian2/shou3
To ride (a bike, etc.): Qi2
To ride (a car–no movement): Zuo4
To visit (someone): Bai4 fang3
To visit (something): Can1 guan1
To leave: Zou3
To wait: Deng3 (dai4)
To stay (there): Liu2 zai4 (zhe1 li3)
To stay home: Dai4 zia4 jia1 li3
To stand up: Zhan4 qi3 lai2
To sit down: Zuo4 xia4
To find: Zhao3 dao4
To pay: Fu4 qian2
To break: Sui4; lan4
To fix: Xiu1
To take: Na2
To listen: Ting1 (shuo1)
To lay down (something): Fang4
To lay down (body): Tang3 xia4
To meet (regularly): Peng4 dao4; peng4 tou2
To meet (past or future): Kan4 jian4
To show/indicate: Zhan3 shi3
To mistakenly think: Yi3 wei2
To try: Shi4 yi1 shi4
To taste/experience: Chang2 hang2; chang2 yi1 chang2
To guess: Cai1 yi1 cai1
To translate: Fan1 yi4
To hate: Hen4
To put on/wear: Chuan1; dai4
To change clothes: Huan2 yi4 fu2

Time Words

When: Shen2 me shi2 hou4
How long: Duo1 jiu2
Early: Zao4
Late: Wan2
Soon: Hen3 kuai4
Not soon: Hen3 man4
Always: Zong3 shi4
Never: Cong2 lai2 (mei2 you3)
Again: Zai4
Often/usually: Jing1 chang2
Sometimes: You3 shi2 hou4
Still more (time): Hai2 (you3)
Daytime: Wan3 shang4
Nighttime: Wan3 shang4
Day: Tian1
Morning: Zao3 shang4
Afternoon: Xia4 wu3
Time: Shi2 jian1
Hour: Xiao3 shi2; zhong1 tou2
Minute: Fen1 zhong1
Second: Miao3 zhong1
This week: Zhe4 zhou1
Next week: Xia4 zhou1
Last week: Shang4 zhou1
Before/earlier: Yi3 qian2; zai4 shi1 qian2
After/later: Yi3 hou4; hou4 lai2; dai1 hui3
At the same time: Tong2 shi2
First: Di1 yi1
Second: Di1 er4
One time: Yi1 ci4
The first time: Di1 yi1 ci4
Midnight: Ban4 ye4
Long (time): Jiu2; chang2 shi2 jian1
A while: Yi2 xia4
Future: Wei4 lai2
Past:
Ever: Guo1; ceng2 jing2

Size and Amount Words

How much/how many: Duo1 shao1
More: Bi3 (jiao4) duo1 de;
Less: Bi3 (jiao4) shao3 de
A little: Yi1 dian3
A little more: Duo1 yi1 dian3
Most: Zui4
Some: Yi1 xie3 de
Only: Zhi2 you3
Still more (amount): Hai2 you3
Almost: Cha4 bu4 duo1
Not enough: Bu2 gou4
Not quite: Bu2 tai4
Too (much): Tai4
Size: Da4 xiao3
Short (people): Ai3
Short (stuff): Duan3
Tall (people): Gao1
Long (things): chang2
Wide: Kuan1 kuo4 de
Deep: Shen1 de
Empty: Kong1 dong4
Amount: Deng3 yu2
Enough: Gou3 le
None: Mei2 you3 yi1 ge
Both: Liang3
Both/all: Dou1; quan2 bu2 de
Another one: Zai4 yi1 ge
Equal: Deng3 (yu1)
How many?: Ji3 ge
Another: Bie2 de
One or two: Yi1 liang2 ge
Either one: Bu2 lun4 . . . dou1 (hao1)
Only: Jiu4
Pound: Bang4
Kilo: Gong1 jin1
1/2 kilo: Jin1
Still more: Hai2 you3
Others: Qi2 ta1 de
Every: Mei3 yi1; mei3 ge
Each: Mei3 yi1 ge
The whole (one): Zheng3 ge4
The whole (time): Suo3 you3 (shi2 jian1)
Everything: Yi1 qie4 dou1; shen2 me dou1; suo3 you3 shi4 wu4
Something: Xie1 shi4
Nothing: Mei2 you3 dong1 xi1; mei1 you3 shi4
Everybody: Mei2 ge ren2; ren2 ren2
Anything: Wu2 lun2 shen2 me
Somebody: Yi1 ge ren2
Nobody: Mei2 you3 ren2
Anybody: Ren4 he2 ren2; shen2 me ren2
Everywhere: Mei3 ge di4 fang1; dao4 qu4 dou1
Somewhere: Yi1 ge di4 fang1
Nowhere: Mei2 you3 di4 fang1
Anywhere: Ren4 he2 di4 fang1

Direction and Location Words

A direction: Fang1 xiang4
A location: Fang1 wei4
Here: Zher4
There: Nar4
High: Gao1
Low: Di1
Beside: Zai . . . pang2 bian1/lin2 jin4
Between: Zai4 . . . zhi1 jian1/zhong1 jian1
Ahead: Zai . . . qian2 fang1/qian2 mian4
Over/above/on: Zai4 . . . shang4 mian4; gao1 yu2
In: Zai4 . . . li3 bian1
Under: Zai4 . . . xia4 mina4
The top: Zui4 shang4 mian4; zui4 shang4 bian4
The bottom: Di3 bu1; zui4 di3
Side/limit: Bian1
Behind: Zai . . . hou4 mian4
Both sides: Liang3 bian1
This side: Zhe4 bian1
That side: Na4 bian1
Central: Zhong1 yang1 de
Inner: Li3 bian1 de
Outer: Wai4 bian1 de
Right: You3
Left: Zuo3
Center: Zhong1 jian1
Close/near: Jin4
Far away: (Yao2) yuan2
To travel forwards: Ziang4 qian2 zou3
To travel backwards: Ziang4 hou4 zou3
On the corner: Zai4 jiao3 luo4
One block: Yi1 kuai4 zhuan1
To turn right: Xiang4 you4 zhuan3
To turn left: Xiang4 zuo3 zhuan3
To go straight: Zhi2 zou3
North: Bei1
South: Nan2
East: Dong1 fang1
West: Xi1 fang1
Easterner: Dong1 fang1 ren2
Westerner: Xi1 fang1 ren2

Other Small Words

This: Zhe4 ge
That: Na4 ge
But/nevertheless: Ke3 shi4; dan4 shi4
If: Ru2 guo3; yao4 shi4
Which: Na3 yi1 ge
Although/even though: Sui1 ran2
Therefore: Suo3 yi3
Will: Hui4; jiang1 (yao4)
Should: Ying1 gai1
Because: Yin1 wei4
Anyway/regardless: Qi2 shi2; bu4 guan3
Also: Ye3; you4
Probably: Huo4 xu3; ke3 neng2
In addition: Ling4 wai4; hai2 you3; chu1 ci3 gi4 wai4
Instead of: Er4 bu2 shi2
Not so: Bu4 ran2
To: Qu4 (location); gei1; zi1 (time)
From: Cong2; lai2 zi
Of: Shu3 yu2
For: Wei4
(Word at end of a question): Ma
(Word at end of a completed statement): Le

Numbers and Money Words

1-10: Yi1, er4, san1, si4, wu3, liu4, qi1, ba1 jiu3 shi2
11: Shi2yi1
20: Er4 shi4
Hundred: Bai3
Thousand: Qian1
Ten thousand: Wan4
Million: Bai3 wan4
Billion: Yi4
1/10th yuen2: Yi1 jiao3
1/100th yuen: Yi1 fen1
To barter/exchange: Huan4
Passcode: Mi4 ma3
Number one: Yi1 yao4
1.00: Yi1 dian4 ling2 ling2
Money: Qian2
The cost: Jia4 ge2
Debit card: Jie4 ji4 ka1
Credit card: Xin4 yong4 ka3
Receipt: Shou1 ju4

Family Members

Husband: Zhang4 fu1; lao3 gong1
Wife: Qi1 zi; lao3 po2
Mother: Mu3 qian1; Ma1 ma
Father: Fu4 qian1; ba1 ba
Parents: Fu4 mu3 qian1
Son: Er2 zi
Daughter: Nu3 er2
Older brother: Ge4 ge
Younger brother: Di4 di
Older sister: Jie3 jie
Younger sister: Mei4 mei
Grandparents: Ye3 ye3 nai3 nai4
Grandmother (mom’s mom): Wai4 po2
Grandmother (dad’s mom):  Nai3 nai1
Grandfather (mom’s dad): Wai4 gong1
Grandfather (dad’s dad): Ye3 ye

Adjectives

Best: Zui4 hao3 de
Better: Geng4 hao3 de; bi (jian4) hao3 de
Worse/worst: Geng4 huai4 de; bi3 (jiao4) huai4 de; bi3 (jiao4) cha4 de
The same: Yi2 yang4 de
Different: Bu4 tong2 de
Big: Da4
Small: Xiao3
Clamorous: Da4 shan1
Loud: Chao3 nao4
Quiet/peaceful: An1 jing4 de
Old (people): Lao3
Old (things) jiu4
Young: Nian2 qing1 de
Weak: Ruo4 de; shou4 ruo4
Strong: (Qiang2) zhuang4 de
Heavy: Zhong4 de
Light: Qing1 de
Light/bright: Deng1
Soft: Ruan3 de
Hard: Ying4 de
Wet: Chao2 shi2 de; shi2 de
Dry: Gan1 (zao4) de
Clean: Gan1 jing4 de
Dirty: Zang1 de
True: Zhen1 de
False: Bu4 zhen1 de
Cheap: Pian2 yi4 de
Used: Er4 shou3 de; yong4 guo4 de
New: Xin1 de
Stinky: Chou4
Handsome: Ying1 jun4
Pretty: Piao4 liang4
Beautiful: Mei3 liang3
Broken: Sui4 le; lan4 de; huai4 de
Bright: Ming2 liang2 de; xing3 mu4 de
Dim: Bu4 liang2
Well-organized: Zu3 zhi1 de; zheng3 li2 de
Works well: Zuo2 de hen3 hao3
Doesn’t work: Mei2 zuo4
Happy: Gao1 xin1; kai1 xin1
Sad: Bei1 shang1; shang1 xin1 de
Hopeful/to hope: Xi1 wang4 (de)
Surprised: Chi1 jing1 de
Angry: Sheng1 qi4 de
Jealous: Du4 ji4
Afraid: Hai4 pa4
Excited: Xing4 fen4
Nervous: Jin3 zhang1 (DE??)
Worried: Dan1 xin1; zhao1 ji2
Embarrassed: Diu1 ren2; gan1 ga4
Bored: Wu2 liao3
Famous: Zhu4 ming2; you3 ming2
Popular: Liu2 xing2
Unpopular: Bu4 de ren2 xin1; bu4 luo3 xing2
Shy: Hai4 xiu1
Outgoing: Kai1 fang4
Nice: Hao3 de
Mean: Huai4 de
Friendly: You3 hao3 de
Scholarly: Hao4 xue2 de
Smart: Cong2 ming2 de
Stupid: Ben4 de
Rich: You3 qian2 de
Poor: qiong2
Funny: You3 mo2 de; hua1 ji4 de
Interesting: You3 qu4
Unique: Tu4 bie2 de
Ordinary/common: Pu2 tong1 de; ping2 chang2 de
Rare: Xi1 you3 de
Important: Zhong4 yao4
Complicated: Fu4 za2

Food Words

Food: Fan4; shi2 wu4
Fruit: Shui3 guo3
Vegetables: Shu1 cai4
Apple: Ping2 guo3
Banana: Xiang1 jiao1
Orange: Ju2 zi
Grape: Pu2 tao2
Carrot: Hu2 luo2 bo1
Peas: Wan1 dou4
Cucumber: Huang2 gua1
Spinach: Bo1 cai4
Broccoli: Ye1 cai4
Cabbage: Da4 bai2 cai4
Onion: Yang2 cong1
Corn: Bao1 gu3; yu2 mi3
Cauliflower: Hua1 cai4
Tomato: Xi1 hong2 shi4
Celery: Qin2 cai4
Green pepper: Qing1 jiao1
Red pepper: Tian2 jiao1 hong2 jiao1
Rice: Mi3 fan4; fan4
Noodles: Mian4 tiao2
Bread: Mian4 bao1
Chicken: Ji1 rou4; ji1
Fish: Yu2 rou4; yu2
Tofu: Dou4 fu1
Pork: Zhu1 rou4; zhu1
Egg(s): Ji1 dan4
Meat: Rou4
Beef: Niu3 rou4; niu3
Hamburger: Han4 bao3 bao1
Milk: Niu2 nai3
Alcohol: Jiu3
Beer: Pi2 jiu3
Wine: Jiu3
Potato: Tu3 dou4
Soy sauce: Jiang4 you3
Sauce: Jiang4
Oil: You2
Sugar: Tang3
Dessert: Tian2 shi2; tian2 dian3
Wheat: Mai4
Cookie: Bing3 gan1
Seafood: Hai3 xian1
Steak: Niu3 pai2
Beans: Dou4 li3; dou4
Shrimp: Xia1
Berry: Jiang1 guo3
Lettuce: Sheng1 cai4
Green vegetables: Qing1 cai4
Green beans: Ji1 dou4 ji1
Beverage: Yin3 liao4
Water: Shui3
Ice: Bing1
Sweet: Tian2 de
Salt: Yan2
Salty: Xian2 de
Spicy: La4 de
Sour: Suan1 de
Fresh: Xin1 xian4 de
Menu: Cai4 dan1
Fork: Cha1 zi
Knife: Dao1 zi
Spoon: Shao2 zi
Bowl: Wan3
Chopsticks: Kuai4 zi
Cup: Bei1 zi
Plate: Pan2 zi
Wok/pan: Ping2 guo1; guo1
Caffeine: Ka1 fei1 yin1
Coffee: Ka1 fei1
Decaf coffee: Two1 ka1 fei1 yin1 de ka1 fei1
Bottle: Yi4 ping2
Spices: Xiang1 liao4; tiao2 wei4 pin3
Cheese: Nai3 lao4
Pizza: Pi1 sa4
Snack: Dian3 xin1
Salad: Sha1 la1
Fast food: Kuai4 can1
Butter: Huang3 you2
A dish: Cai4
Soup: Tang2

Personal Effects

Pencil: Qian1 bi3
Pen: Bi3
Paper: Zhi3
Scissors: Bi3 ji4 ben3; ben3 zi
Tape: Zhao1 dai4
Computer: Dian4 zi3 (ji1 suan4 ji1)
Glue: jiao1 shui3
Map: Di4 tu3
Cards: Ka1 pian4
Letter: Xing4
Calendar: Ri4 li4
Stamp: You2 pian4
Envelope: Xin4 feng1
Cell phone:
Sign: Biao1
Light/lamp: Deng1
Clothes: Y2 fu2
Shirt: Chen4 shan1
Pants: Ku4 zi
Sweater: Mao3 yi1
Shoes: Xie4 zi
Skirt: Duan3 qun2; qun2 zi
Hat: Mao4 zi
Coat: Wai4 tao4
Socks: Wa4 zi
Underwear: Nei4 yi1; nei4 ku4; duan3 ku4
Bra: Wen2 xiong1; xiong1 zao4
Pajamas: Shui4 yi1
Shorts: Duan3 ku4
Jeans: Niu3 chang2 ku4
Blanket: Bei1 zi
Hairbrush: Shu1 zi
Comb: Shu1 zi
Handbag: Shou3 ti2 bao1
Purse: Qian2 bao1
Towel: Mao2 jin1
Shampoo: Xi3 fa1 shui3
Conditioner: Zhe1 li3 shui3
Soap: Xiang1 zao4; fei2 zao4
Lotion: Ying1 yang3 shuang1
Toothpaste: Ya2 gao1
Toothbrush: Ya2 shua1
Backpack:
Suitcase: Xiang1 zi; lu3 xing2 xiang3
Toilet paper: Ce4 zhi3
Garbage: La1 ji1
Garbage can: La1 ji1 xiang1
Air conditioner: Kong1 tiao2
Heater: Dian4 nuan3 qi4
Keys: Yao4 shi2
Batteries: Dian4 chi2
Clock: Zhong1
Camera: Zhao4 xiang4 ji1
Wallet: Qian2 bao1
Glasses: Yan3

Colors

Color: Yan2 se4
Red: Hong2 se4
Blue: Lan2 se4
Yellow: Huang2 se4
Green: Lu2 se4
Orange: Ju2 se4
Purple: Zi3 se4
Pink: Fen3 hong2 se4
Black: Hei1 se4
White: Bai2 se4
Gray: Hui1 se4
Brown: Zhong se4/ he1 se4
Silver: Yin2 se4
Gold: Jin1 se4

Body Parts

Body: Shen1 ti3
Head: Tou3
Mind: Si1 xiang3
Face: Lian3
Eyes: Yan3 jing1
Ears: Er3 duo1
Mouth: Kou3
Lips: Zui3 ba1
Nose: Bi2 zi
Hands: Shou3
Feet: Jiao3
Fingers: Shou3 zhi3
Toes: Jiao3 zhi3
Legs: Tui3
Arms: Shou3 bi4
Hair: Tou2 fa1
Back: Bei4
Neck: Bo2 zi
Skin: Pi2 fu1
Stomach: Du4 zi
Butt: Pi4 gu3
Poop: Fen4 bian4
Pee: Niao4

Travel Words

Car: Che1
Bus: Gong1 gong4 qi4 che1
Taxi: Chu1 zu1 che1
Motorcycle: Mo2 to2 che1
Plane: Fei1 ji1
Ship: Lun2 chuan2
Airport: Ji1 chang3
Bus station: Gong1 gong4 qui4 che1 zhan4
Train: Huo3 che1
Train station: Huo3 che1 zhan4
Bus stop: Gong1 gong4 qi4 che1 zhan4
Culture: Wen2 hua4
Foreign: Wai4 guo2
Foreigner: Wai4 guo2 ren2
To travel: Lu2 you2
Overseas/abroad: Hai3 wai4
Nation: Guo2 jia1; guo2 min2
Native language: Ben3 zu2 yu3
Trip/journey: Cheng2
Passenger: Cheng2 ke4
Hometown: Jia1 xiang1; ben3 guo2
Fare: Fei4 yong4
Hotel: Fan4 dian4; lu2 guan3

Places

Where: Zai4 na3 li3; nai4 nar3
Place: Di4 fang1
Supermarket: Chao1 shi4
Small market: Cai4 shi4 chang3; shang4 dian4
Park: Gong1 yuan2
Library: Tu2 shu1 guan3
Street: Jie1 dao4
Bank: Yin2 hang2
Hospital: Yi1 yuan4
Building: Jian4 zhu4
Elementary school: Xia3 xue2
Middle school: Zhong1 xue2
High school: Gao1 zhong1
College: Da4 xue
Gym: Jian4 shen1 fang2
City: Cheng2 shi4
Church: Jian4 tang2
Temple: Miao4
Post office: You3 ju2
Bar/nightclub: Jiu3 ba1
Movie theater: Dian4 ying3 yuan4
Theater: Ju4 yuan4
Outdoors: Wai4 mian4
Indoors: Li3 mian4
The zoo: Dong4 wu4 yuan1
Great Wall: Chang2 cheng2
Art museum: Bo4 wu4 guan3
Apartment building: Gong1 yu4

Rooms and Furniture

Room: Fang2 jian1
Bedroom: Fang2 jian1; wo4 shi4
Bathroom/toilet: Ce4 suo3
Kitchen: Chu1 fang2
Living room: Ke4 ting1
Dining room: Fan4 ting1
Bed: Chuang2
Window: Chuang1 (hu4)
Wall: Qiang2 bi4
Chair: Yi3 zi
Desk/table: Zhuo1 zi
Couch: Chang2 sha4 fa1
Pillow: Zhen3 tou2
Closet: Zha3 wu4 fang2
Door: Men2
Home/house: Jia1
Apartment: Fang2 zi

Nature Words

Weather: Tian1 qi4
Hot: Re4
Cold: Leng2
Warm: Nuan3 he de
Cool: Liang2 kuai4
Spring: Chun1 tian1
Summer: Xia4 tian1
Fall: Qiu1 tian1
Winter: Dong1 tian1
Sun: Tai4 yang2
Moon: Yue4 liang4
Stars: Xing1 xing1
Land: Lu4 di4; tu3
Sea/ocean: Hai3 yang2
Wind: Feng1
Rain: Yu3
Snow: Xue3
Clouds: Yun2
Cloudy: Yin1 tian1 de
Storm: Feng1 bao4
Grass: Cao3
Flower: Hua1
Tree: Shu4
Bush: Guan4 mu4 cong2
Nature: Zi4 ran2
River: He2 liu2
Lake: Hu2
Beach: Sha1 tan1
Mountain: Shan1
Fire: Huo3
Sunny: Qing2 lang3
Rainy: Xia4 yu3 de
Temperature: Wen1 du4
Animal: Dong4 wu4

Professions

Doctor: Yi1 sheng1
Nurse: Hu4 shi4
Waitress: Nu3 zhao1 dai4; fu2 wu4 guan2
Waiter: Nan2 zhao1 dai4
Salesperson/shopkeeper: Shou4 huo4 yuan2
Driver: Si1 ji1
Manager: Jin1 li3
Supervisor: Zhu2 guan3
School principal: Xiao4 zhang3
Cook: Chu2 shi1
Janitor: Men2 wei4
Writer: Zuo4 jia1
Secretary: Mi4 shu1
Librarian: Tu2 shu1 guan3 li3 yuan2
Scientist: Ke1 xue2 jia1
Soldier: Shi4 bing1
Journalist: Bao1 jie4
Minister: You2 di4 yuan2; mu4 shi1
Singer: Ge1 shou3
Artist: Yi4 shu4 jia1
Dancer: Wu2 dao3 jia1
President: Zong3 tong3
Government official: Gong1 wu4 yuan2
Tutor: Jiao1 jao4
Boss: Lao3 ban3
Interpreter: Fan1 yi4
Cashier: Shou1 ying2 yuan2
Garbage collector: qin1 jie3 gong1
Fireman:
Police officer:
Housekeeper/housewife: Bao3 mu2; (jia1 ting2) zhu2 fu4
Computer programmer:
Business owner:

Activity, Entertainment and Celebration Words

Game: You3 xi4
Sports/exercise: Yun4 dong4
Ball: Dan4; qui2
Basketball: Lan2 qui2
Football: Gan1 an1 qui2
Baseball: Lei qui2
Soccer: Zu2 qui2
Volleyball: Pai2 qui2
Ping-Pong: Ping1 pong1 qui2
Badminton: Yu3 mao1 qui2
Karate:
Competition: Bi4 sai4
Song: Ge1 qu3
Team: Huan2 dui4
To skate: Bing1 chang3
To see a movie: Kan4 dian4 ying3
Birthday: Sheng1 ri4
Christmas: Sheng4 dan4 jie2
New Year: Xin1 nian2
Spring Festival: Chun1 jie4
Happy birthday: Sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le
Merry Christmas:
Happy New Year: Xin1 nian1 kuai4 le
Congratulations: Zhu4 he4
Celebration: Qing4 zhu4
Holiday: Jia4 qi1
Vacation: Jia4 re4
Present/gift: Li3 wu4
Wedding: Hun1 li3
Funeral: Chu1 bin1

Sickness Words

Death: Si3
Life: Shen1 ming4
Sick: Bing4 le
Sickness: Ji2 bing4
Pills: Yao4 pian4
A cough: Ke2 sou4
A cold: Gan3 mao4
Fever: Fa1 shao1
Flu: Liu2 xing2 gan3 mao4
Stomachache: Du1 zi tong4
Headache: Tou2 tong4
?: Ban2
?: Shen1 bing4
To hurt/ache: Tong4
Allergy:
Tired: Lei4

Miscellaneous Words

Word: Zi4
Character: Xie1 zi4
New word: Sheng1 zi4; dan1 zi4
Sentence: Ju1 zi
Phrase: Ci2 zu3
Pronunciation: Fa1 yin1
Grammar: Yu2 fa3
Language: Yu3 yan2
Story: Gu4 shi4
Number: Hao4 ma3; hao4
Vocabulary:
Phone number: Dian4 hua4 hao4 ma3
Address: Di4 zhi3
Driver’s license: Jia4 shi2 zi2 zao4
Passport: Hu4 zao4
Age: Nian2 ji4
Literature: Wen2 xue2
Math: Shu4 xue2
History: LI4 shi3
Science: Zi4 yan2; ke1 xue2
Art: Yi4 shu4; mei3 shu4
Music: Yin1 yue4
Politics: Zheng4 zhi4
Government: Zheng4 fu3
Physical education: Ti3 yu4
Sign: Biao1 zhi4
Wood: Mu4 tou2
Plastic: Su4 liao4
Electricity: Dian4
Electric: Dian4 de
Machine: Ji1 qi4
Action/movement: Xing2 dong4
Problem: Wen4 ti3
Plan: Ji4 hua4
Idea/concept: Zhu2 yi4
Level: Shui2 ping1
List: Dan4 zi
Stress: Ya1 li4
Feelings/emotion: Gan3 jue2
Attitude: Tai4 du4
Mood: Qing2 xu4
Personality: Ge4 xing4
God: Shang4 di4
Classmate: Ton2 xue2
Relationship: Guan1 xi4
Friendship: You3 qing3

School in a Book: Chemistry

“So that’s what stuff is.” That’s an important thought. It could be a breakthrough moment in one’s education. Don’t underestimate young children’s ability to grasp many basic chemistry concepts, either; the earlier they start thinking about the big questions, the more interested and less intimidated they’ll be by them later on.

Like most other subjects, science is best learned through conversation. Experiments are great, too, but they’re not always necessary. If like me you have little kids who can’t yet handle close proximity to anything magnetic, explosive or filled with water, choose a few scientific concepts to talk about per day, and send the older kid to a more hands-on science class. (Video demonstrations, like those on YouTube, are great, too.)

That said, if you can manage it, there’s a huge number of great science project ideas out there, and hands-on stuff is definitely a great memory aid.

Basic Chemistry

Chemistry: The science of matter, including what it is and how it’s made

Chemical: Substance. This word is usually used when the chemical’s molecular structure and chemical properties are being discussed. Of course, the word “chemical” is also used to refer to inorganic, human-synthesized combinations of elements; however, this is a colloquial usage.

Matter: Anything that is made of particles, takes up space (has volume), and has mass. Matter is one of only two “things” in the universe. The other is energy.

Mass: A measurement of something’s absolute heaviness that doesn’t change when the forces (such as the gravitational force) change

How to measure mass: One liter of water has a mass of one kilogram. Anything we measure the mass of, we compare to the mass of one kilo of water. If the water were on the moon, and we compare it to a book, the number ( plus or minus the kilo of water) is same as it would be on earth.

Density: The measurement of something’s mass per unit of volume. Dense objects are heavier than other, less dense objects that take up the same amount of space.

Particle: A bit of something that is still the original thing and not something else

The three states of matter: Solid, liquid and gas

Solid: A substances with definite shapes and volumes

Liquid: A substances with definite volumes but varying shapes. This category includes gels and other plasma-like substances.

Gas: A substance with no definite shapes or volumes. Because there is a great deal of space between the molecules in gases, they can be compressed. (However, sometimes, when gases are compressed too much, they turn into a liquid, such as liquid nitrogen.) Note that air is not a gas, but a mixture of gases. The various gases aren’t chemically bonded to each other, and can be separated without breaking any chemical bonds.

Atoms: The building blocks of molecules. Each atom is made up of a nucleus containing protons and neutrons with electrons spinning around it. They also contain other subatomic particles and a great deal of empty space. (The space between subatomic particles in an atom is relatively similar to the space between heavenly bodies in the Universe.) Atom types are determined by their chemical properties, which are determined by the number of protons in the atom. Also, since each element contains only one type of atom, each atom type corresponds with one element type. Note that whereas molecules can be easily split through everyday chemical reactions, atoms require extraordinary amounts of energy to split them. This is called atomic fission, and it is the basis of nuclear power. Also note that a sheet of paper is about one million atoms thick.

Subatomic particles: The incredibly tiny pieces of matter that make up atoms. They include protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks, and more. They cannot be separated from each other without using extraordinary amounts of energy.

Nucleus: The center part of an atom

Protons: The positively charged parts of an atom. These are located inside the nucleus. The number of protons in an atom is what determines the atom’s chemical properties and, therefore, its type. An atom’s type corresponds with its element and its placement on the Periodic Table of Elements. For example, the oxygen atom has eight protons. Its atomic number is eight. When only oxygen atoms bond together, they create more of the oxygen substance. This substance is called the oxygen element, because it is the pure form of oxygen. When oxygen combines with other elements, its chemical properties change and it becomes part of a different kind of substance. 

Neutrons: The parts of an atom that contain no charge. These are located inside the nucleus.

Electrons: The negatively charged parts of an atom. These are located outside the nucleus and spin around it.

Quark: The most well-known of the indescribably small particles that make up protons and neutrons. Like other subatomic particles, its existence is theoretical, as it is not directly observable in any way. Its behaviors are described in theoretical physics.

Element: A substance that contains only one kind of atom

Isotope: A different form of the same atom, with different number of neutrons. It has different physical properties but chemically it is the same.

Molecule: Any chemically bonded group of atoms, whether atoms of the same type (which form an element) or atoms of different types (which form a compound). Molecule bonds can only be broken through chemical change. 

Compound: A material that contains two or more elements that are chemically bonded together. The atoms of the elements can’t be separated by physical means and the end product has different properties from the original elements. For example, a baked cake, whose molecular structure has changed through heat.

Mixture: A combination of ingredients that are not chemically bonded and can, therefore, be separated through physical means. For example, cake batter, which is a simple combination of ingredients that have not experienced molecular change.  

Periodic Table of the Elements: A chart listing each known element, organized by these elements’ atomic numbers

Atomic number: The number of protons in an atom, which indicates the atom’s chemical properties and, by extension, its substance type (element). The number of protons in an atom is the same as the number of electrons in an atom. 

Mass number: The total number of protons and neutrons in an atom

Chemical bonding: The joining of atoms to create molecules. Atoms share electrons to form molecules. They do this to fill their outer shell and thus become more stable.

Chemical reaction: When the atoms in substance(s) rearrange to form new substances. Example: Baking a cake. Heat and electricity are often used to break the bonds.

Chemical symbol: The letters that represent the atoms of a particular element

Chemical formula: CO2, H2O, etc.

Ion: An unstable atom or molecule whose net charge is either less than or greater than zero

Enzymes: Catalysts that speed up chemical reactions in living things

Covalent bond: A chemical bond formed when atoms share electrons. Each atom still has its proper total number, but some of its electrons are attracted to the other atoms and stick there. Most non-metal elements are formed with covalent bonds.

Double bond: A chemical bond formed when atoms share two electrons each with each other

Ionic bond: A chemical bond formed when an atom gains or loses electrons

Metallic bond: A chemical bond between metals where free electrons travel between them

Electrolysis: Separating individual elements in a compound by passing an electric current through it when it is molten or in a solution

Salt: Any metal and non-metal bonded together. Salts have a crystal structure. There are many different kinds, not just table salt.

Organic compound: A compound that includes carbon. All living things contain organic compounds, and many can be made artificially. They are used to create fabrics, medicines, plastics, paints, cosmetics and more.

Fermentation: A chemical reaction that produces alcoholic drinks. It is caused by fungi, which produce enzymes.

Metal: An element or an alloy that is shiny in appearance; conducts heat and electricity; and remains solid at room temperature (except mercury). Some, like iron and nickel, are also magnetic. Note that the definition of the term “metal” is not exact, and changes as its application changes. Some non-metal elements become metals at very high temperatures.

Alloy: A mixture of two or more metals

Semiconductor: A semi-metal element

Carbon monoxide: A poisonous gas formed when fuels burn in a place with limited air (oxygen), such as an engine.

Oxygen: The element that helps plants and animals release energy from food. In the human body it is one of the most important things the blood sends the cell. As blood flows over body cells, oxygen and other nutrients are “let in” and waste products are deposited into the blood. It is the third most abundant element in the universe.

Hydrogen: An element that can form compounds with most other elements. Water is formed when hydrogen is burned in air. It is the most abundant element in the universe. (Helium is the second.)

Carbon: The element that occurs in all known organic life. It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe and is found in more compounds than any other element.

Soluble: Able to dissolve in liquid

Insoluble: Unable to dissolve in liquid

Solution: The liquid that results after dissolving something into it

Evaporation: Water vapor that is breaking free from the rest of the liquid

Condensation: The water vapor that collects back into drops on a solid. It comes from the air.

Water vapor: The gas that forms when water evaporates

Corrosion: The damaging chemical reaction that occurs when metal comes into contact with oxygen. The damage happens because oxide forms on the metal.

Acid: A chemical found in various substances that donates protons or hydrogen ions and/or accepts electrons. These chemicals taste sour when found in liquid solutions.

Base: A chemical found in various substances that accept protons from hydrogen ions. This can neutralize acids. Combining acids and bases produces water and salts.

pH: A measure of how acidic or basic a liquid substance is. A pH of 7 is neutral, containing no acid or base chemical. A pH higher than 7 indicates the presence of a base chemical and a pH lower than 7 indicates the presence of an acid chemical.

pH scale: The 14-point scale used to measure whether a liquid solution is basic, acidic or neutral.

Endothermic reaction: A chemical process that absorbs heat

Exothermic reaction: A chemical process that emits heat

Oxidation: A chemical reaction in which oxygen is added, causing a substance to change in some way. An example is the presence of rust in metal exposed to water.

Reduction: A chemical reaction in which oxygen is removed

Oxidation-reduction (redux) reaction: A chemical reaction in which one substance undergoes reduction, causing another to undergo oxidation. This happens because the substance undergoing reduction donates electrons to the other substance.

Experiment:

Hypothesis:

The scientific method:

School in a Book: Computer Science

Computer science just isn’t a specialty anymore. Most companies create and/or manage several websites and computer programs, meaning that if you want to be successful in business, it’s helpful to understand these common terms.

Basic Computer Science

Computer Hardware

Parts of a computer: A computer is made up of memory, including applications, an operating system (OS) and a kernel stored on microchips and/or the hard drive; a CPU; and an imput/output (I/O) unit connected to a power source.

How a computer works: When the computer is turned on, some of the microchips immediately reads some of their memory, which then attempt to make connections with other chips. Together they run the EFI (extensible firmware interface) which starts the computer, then passes the control over to the boot loader. The boot loader is a program that initializes the hardware, loading the first sector of the hard drive to the memory. After this, it loads the operating system (OS), the kernel, the computer settings and the shell. The shell presents the login screen to the user. After the user logs in, the OS tells the driver to start talking to the hardware. After the user opens a program, the driver detects the clicks and talks to the kernel. The kernel then passes the information to the shell. The shell interprets it, then communicates it to the program. Finally, the program interprets it and the program is launched.

The program loads the needed threads and processes into the RAM. Threads are run and interrupted on a regular basis according to how many time slices they’re allotted. (One time slice = 1/30th of a second.) The system clock tells the OS when to stop each process, which is done after each time slice, no matter what. Each time this happens the OS checks to see if the program’s time is up or if it has more. It adjusts priorities and may switch to a different process. This activity is done in kernel mode, a mode in which the program isn’t allowed to control anything. After this, the OS switches back to user mode and gives control back to the program. Computers running with multiple CPUs must share the kernel between them. Mistakes in this management can lead to crashes.

Software and hardware: Hardware are the physical components of the machine. Software, also called applications or programs, are computer-readable instructions and data that live in the computer’s memory. The core part is the executable file (.exe), which talks to the OS using calls. The program also contains lists of needed DLLs and other code for use by the application.

Hard drive: The physical place in the computer in which memory is located

Central processing unit (CPU): The place in the computer that loads instructions from memory, parses (interprets) them, then executes them. It performs all of the logic of the computer and is compared to the brain of a human.

Operating system (OS): The software that runs all the basic operations of the computer so every program doesn’t have to recreate the wheel. It provides a secure, reliable environment and grants applications access to inputs, outputs, memory, system software like drivers, and networking features. Importantly, it also schedules processes (start, interrupt and stop commands when more than one application competes for time on the CPU). The most common OSs are Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s OSX (and the more popular IOS, which is used for mobile devices), and various OSs by Linux (an open-source software creator group), including Android.

Parts of the OS: System clock; a file system; a user interfaced called the API that includes a set of calls or methods app programmers use to interact with the OS; algorithms, stored process for services.

The shell: The OS’s user interface (the part of the OS that the user sees and interacts with)

Memory: Applications, programs and other data and instructions located on the hard drive disc and/or microchips. There are three types of memory: internal, external and virtual. Internal memory is ROM (long-term stored read-only memory, usually unalterable, containing system-level instructions), RAM (fast copied temporary memory located on the hard drive disc or in microchips which is lost when the computer is shut down), and cached (super-fast copied temporary memory located on the CPU, also lost when the computer is shut down). Virtual memory is also located in the internal memory but is made up of addresses that point elsewhere in the memory for the purposes of convenience and security. External memory is located on external hard drives, USB keys, etc. Memory is stored in strings. It can be written to (changed), or read (retrieved, fetched, loaded).

Pointer: An object that contains the address of each piece of memory

The leap section: The place in memory that stores dynamically allocated variables needed by a program

The stack section: The place in memory that store info in stacks, with the lowest addresses (oldest) on bottom, like cafeteria trays

Buffer: A place in memory that receives and holds data until it can be handled by requested processes. Each process can have its own set of buffers. Each buffer has a predetermined length and data type

The kernel: The part of a Windows computer that loads drivers, handles hardware, enforces security, enables network communication–anything the application needs permission to do, even just opening MS Office. (Accessing memory is not included in this.)

Service: A background process run by the OS. (Example: system clock, firewall, window update checks.)

Kernel mode: The mode an application goes into when it is accessing the computer’s kernel. A program can only go into kernel mode when allowed and only run the kernel code, not its own code at all.

User mode: App mode in which the OS can be accessed through an app can switch back and forth from kernel to user frequently.

Native system services/executive system services: OS services that are callable from user mode.

Kernel support functional routines: Subroutines inside the OS that are callable only from kernel mode.

Four events that transfer control from an application back to the OS: I/O interrupt, system clock interrupt, system call, process page faults, a deadlock

Computer architecture: The way the parts of a computer interact with each other, including which parts of the memory are able to communicate with which other parts and in which order. There are many different working computer architectures.

Virtualization: Hosting one or more remote OSs

Virtual machine: A remotely located package of software that presents itself to the local machine as a complete separate machine. Virtual machines are highly convenient for purposes of testing code, working on a networked machine with network privileges, and on other occasions when a second or different computer/operating system package is needed.

Database: An organized collection of data, usually stored electronically. If available on the Internet, it can be accessed through servers.

Windows API: Application Programming Interface. The set of functions (almost like a language) programmers use to talk to the OS. Thousands of callable functions exist relating to everything the OS is responsible for. (Examples: Create message, get message.)

DLL: Dynamic Link Library. A program’s library of functions that are callable by programs.

Computer Programming

Program/application: A set of instructions to be executed on a computer, usually with a particular use. To program software is to create the program’s source code using a programming language of choice.

Programming language: A set of standardized rules for coding that results in functional source code. There are many programming languages, including C# and C++. A script is a language that is Internet-appropriate, like JavaScript.

Binary code/machine language/machine code: A language made up entirely of 0s and 1s, which are the only units a computer can directly work with (execute on its CPU). These true/false or 1/0 binary choices are also called boolean expressions. All other programming languages are made into source code, then finally parsed (interpreted by the computer) as binary code by a compiler. (A decompiler turns machine readable code/binary back into source code.)

Data: Information, often represented by symbols and measured in bits (binary digits–0s and 1s) and bytes (units of bits–historically eight bits). A kilobyte (KB) is 1,024 bytes. A megabyte (MB) is 1,024 kilobytes. A gigabyte (GB) is 1,024 megabytes. A terabyte (TB) is 1,024 gigabytes. A kilobit (kb) is 1,024 bits. A megabit (Mb) is 1,024 kilobits. A gigabit (Gb) is 1,024 megabits. A terabit (Tb) is 1,024 gigabits.

Command: A computer instruction. Many commands put together make up an algorithm, a complex logic-based instruction set that play a specific role in the application. Commands and data together make up computer code, the set of instructions forming a computer program that is read and carried out by a computer, which is used in turn to make up computer programs.

Procedure/function/subroutine: An independent code module that fulfills some concrete task and can be reused by the program. Procedures perform operations without returning data and functions do return data. A procedure might be part of an object in object-oriented programming.

Process, thread, job and multi-processing/multi-threading: A single iteration of a procedure is a process. It contains everything needed for that instance. In turn, processes are made up of threads. A group of processes that are performed as a unit for a single goal is a job. Multi-processing/multi-threading is running more than one process simultaneously in the same program using a single CPU, which schedules these processes to occur successively but seamlessly.

Objects and object-oriented programming: Object-oriented programming is a popular way of designing software by making them out of objects (files, data units, independent procedures or a procedure/data object that perform a particular function) that interact with one another

Hacking: Sometimes, cleverly solving a programming problem and sometimes, using a computer to gain unauthorized access to data

Bug: Any kind of error in a software program. It may cause a program to unexpectedly quit, to be vulnerable to attack, or to work improperly. The process of removing bugs is called debugging. Reviewing programs to find bugs and other problems is called testing.

Crash dump: A record of a program’s slate system memory at the time of a crash. A crash dump can be analyzed to figure out why it occurred.

Deadlock: A conflict of needs and allocations that stops all computing

Computer Networks

Network: A group of computers that talk to each other and share resources through one or more shared computers called servers. A virtual private network (VPN) is network that allows users to connect to remotely.

Local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN): The two types of computer networks. LANs are smaller than WANs and include WiFi and ethernet. WANs are larger and include the Internet.

Server: A computer that provides information to other computers or allows other computers to connect to each other, usually remotely over the Internet or in a smaller computer network. The main server in a group is called the domain controller. The manager of a domain (or any group of users) is called an administrator. Servers talk to individual computers called clients. Some computers have both a server side and a client side. A network that is managed with administrators, passwords and the like is called a domain. A proxy server is a backup server used on corporate networks to protect against web attacks.

Internet: The global collection of computer networks and their connections, all using shared protocols to communicate

Internet 2: A second, higher-speed Internet that is used to send very large files, such as research data between universities

Protocol: Rules to standardize processes in networks. They are used on both the sending and the receiving ends of the communication.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): The set of rules for transferring files (text, graphic images, sound, video, and other multimedia files) on the Internet. HTTPS is HTTP, but with encryption.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL): An Internet address that is used by the browser to look up the IP address of the server and the server’s name so that it can talk to that server and retrieve the page’s HTML

Packet: Small chunk of information that has been carefully formed from larger chunks of information in order to more efficiently communicate over a network. If not encrypted, packets are vulnerable to capture. Packets might be distributed over multiple routers according to which is currently available.

Router: A machine that captures and sends on data packets. Many routers are involved in most Internet communications.

Switch: A smart hub/router that connects network segments, thereby routing packets more efficiently

Modem: A router used on a small scale, as between private homes or small networks

Session: All of the applications running on a single user ID between login and logout

Bandwidth: The maximum rate of data transfer across a given path

Cookie: A small text file with various fields that is stored in the web browser and/or on the client’s computers. Normally, it is used to manage a session (keeping a user logged in across multiple pages, etc.).

Cyber security: Practices, including web development and application development practices, that mitigate Internet exploits

Computer vulnerability: A mistake or oversight in computer code that exposes the program to attack. A client-side vulnerability exists in the client (end user) computer and a server-side vulnerability exists on the server.

Computer exploit: An attack on a local computer or many local computers that either damages it or allows the attacker to make use of it in any way without permission

Firewall: A network device used to filter traffic. Usually between a private network and a link to the internet. Prevents unauthorized incoming traffic, but ineffective when user initiates communication.

Three most common types of computer exploits: Exploitation of browser vulnerabilities, exploitation of email application vulnerabilities, and social engineering (gaining compromising information by exploiting human vulnerabilities)

Cryptography: The process of encrypting (scrambling) plain text messages, that are then sent and unencrypted/decrypted on the receiving end with the use of a text key.

Piracy: The illegal copying, distribution, or use of software

Direct memory access: Writing directly to RAM without going through the hard drive, as when a network file system is doing a transfer, over the internet.

Active directory: A directory service that contains a database that stores security info about objects in a domain, inc users, computers, security IDs, etc.