Category Archives: Lifestyle ?

Five great novels to read on the beach

  1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book spans the decades of the life of Evelyn Hugo, a retired Hollywood icon. After 70 years of silence, she relates the story of her life and her many marriages to a reporter. The sun won’t be the only thing that has you sweating while reading this book. It is a myriad of heartbreakingly tragic moments of loss, love, friendship and family that does not make for the easiest beach read. Jenkins Reid’s raw representation of what it meant to be a member in the LQBTQ+ community, as well as Cuban American, is impossible to be ignored under the harsh spotlight in the 1950’s.

  1. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, by Jessica Townsend

I actually did have the pleasure of reading this on a beach. I can tell you that this middle-grade novel — which is about an unlucky girl who gets sucked into the most wacky, imaginative fantasy world — is a perfect choice for when you hit the sand. I’ve never read a book that has reminded me of Harry Potter to such an extent, while standing on its own two feet as a fantasy novel: full of giant talking cats, dragon riders, and dangerous trials.

  1. Summer of Salt, by Katrina Leno

Every time I think of summer and the beach, my mind is inadvertently brought back to this book. This is a whimsical tale of a family in which every female member is blessed with a magical ability, crucial to them being able to protect the strange island they live on. It’s a heartwarming tale about finding yourself, and is truly magical realism at its finest.

  1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen

I had to put a classic on this list, and although the latter half of this book takes place in perpetually rainy Bath, I still think it’s a perfect pick for the beach because it’s a lot lighter compared to Austen’s other books, following the story of two young lovers who meet many years later and try to give love a second chance.

  1. The Shades of Magic Trilogy, by V. E. Schwab

This one is for all the fantasy lovers out there. The series follows a man who can travel between four parallel London’s, and the antics that ensue when he smuggles an artifact out of one London to another. It may not be a quintessential beach read, but it is a hilarious, fast paced series with witty dialogue and characters that you will find yourself rooting for till the very end.

Five books to read on the TTC

  1. The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Imagine this. You’re on the subway and you have an exam in fifteen minutes. You’re stressed, and you barely got any sleep. In a panic, you rummage through your backpack for notes to do some last-minute studying, only to discover you left your notebook at home. You cry out to God in anguish just as the robot lady announces, “doors will open on the left.”

But then, what’s this? The Tibetan Book of Dead? It immediately calms you by reaffirming that this life is an allusion and we will all be reincarnated in the end anyways, and you go to your exam in peace.

  1. Catch 22, by Joseph Heller

 You’re waiting on the subway platform, preparing for the commute to UofTears. The train pulls up, and who do you see taking up a blue seat with their backpack? That cutie from your tutorial last semester. You whip out a copy of Catch 22, and they are immediately entranced.

It’s said to be one of the most commonly unfinished book in the world, and they’ll be so impressed that you’re reading it they might even give you an awkward smile. Prepare to catch that honey with Catch-22.

  1. Goosebumps, by R.L. Stine

For the shorter commutes — say, a ten-minute bus ride — you can’t go wrong with the Goosebumps series. My personal favourite is the one where the kid turns out to have been dead all along, but you can pick any one. They’re short, sweet and spooky, and simple enough that you won’t miss your stop because you’re too engaged in reading it.

  1. The October Country, by Ray Bradbury

But wait, you wonder, what if I have to take several different modes of transport? Like a bus followed by a streetcar followed by the subway followed by a bus again? Never fear, because The October Country is here!

A collection of short stories is the best for this type of journey, because you can read one story per trip, and no short story collection is better than Ray Bradbury’s October Country. From “The Scythe,” the story of a farmer who learns each blade of wheat in his field is a human life, to “The Skeleton,” about a man horrified to discover that there is a skeleton inside him (which, I mean, aren’t we all), these stories are wonderful and I highly recommend them.

  1. For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf, by Ntozake Shange

I haven’t finished reading this yet, but it’s incredible and I think everyone should read it anytime, anywhere — and that includes the TTC. It’s a series of interconnected poems that can be performed as well as read, and it is the choreopoem that pioneered the form. Detailing the struggles that coincide with themes such as love, abandonment, and trauma, it is a triumph of the written word.

Time to read something that’s not on your syllabus

It’s summer and there’s finally time to read something that’s not on your syllabus. But what to pick when you both want to unwind and catch up on the titles you’ve missed in the last year?

Whether you’re looking for quick reads or something longer, whether you’re longing for advice or mythology or horror, The Squirrel has you covered!

1. A Thousand Beginnings and Endingsedited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

In this new take on East and South Asian mythology and folklore, 16 bestselling writers have their short stories span across fantasy, sci-fi, romance and more. Along with each contemporary version of a myth, you also get a summary of the original.

Available at Toronto Public Library.

2. Creative Questby Questlove

Drummer, DJ and creative all-rounder Questlove’s inspirational Creative Quest was called the most anticipated book by many last year. Drawing from both his own experience and what he’s learned from others around him, and blending this with philosophies of creativity, Questlove guides us how to best lead a creative life.

Available at John M. Kelly Library, Hart House Library and Toronto Public Library.

3. The Princess Saves Herself in This Oneby Amanda Lovelace

This is poetry that makes sense even if you’re not used to reading poems. In all its simplicity, the book shows in beautiful and painful words the process of resilience.

Available at UTS Library Information Centre, Hart House Library and Toronto Public Library.

4. The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline

Looking for a novel-length dystopia to sink into on your day off? In Cherie Dimaline’s near future, Indigenous people are hunted for their bone marrow because it will help humanity recover the ability to dream. Frenchie and a group of others travel north and try to stay hidden — but the enemy may be closer than they realize.

Available at U of T Libraries, Hart House Library and Toronto Public Library.

5. When I Arrived at the Castle, by Emily Carroll

Emily Carroll’s gothic horror graphic novel starts off with an eerie Edgar Allan Poe-feeling, but then goes somewhere completely different. The fairy-tale-like story weaves several threads together to raise questions about what evil is and who is whom. This is a quick read that stays with you.

Available at New College Library and Toronto Public Library.

The best five places to go swimming near you (outside of U of T)

Temperatures have finally gone up. Instead of suffering from Toronto’s cold climate, we’re all suffering from the heat! Thus, time for a dip. But where’s the best place to go? That all depends on your preferences. 

  1. The Easy Pick: Alex Duff Memorial Pool

This outdoor pool in Christie Pits Park has a little bit for everyone, including a spring board and deep pool for diving, a water slide as well as a separate 25-metre lap pool. Good to know: this is one of the city’s pools that’s usually open late during heat waves.

Get there: TTC to Christie Station

How much: Like all City of Toronto outdoor pools, it’s free

  1. The Olympic: Donald D. Summerville Pools

If you’re not about playing around but want to get right down to it, this pool complex right on the beach at Woodbine Park is for you. There’s a 50-metre Olympic size pool, a 25-metre training pool, and even a separate pool for diving with both 5- and 10-metre diving platforms.

Get there: Bus 92 to 1816 Lake Shore Boulevard East

How much: Like all City of Toronto outdoor pools, it’s free

  1. The Adventure: The Elora Quarry

For those of you who want to get out of the city, the Elora Quarry is just an hour’s drive from downtown Toronto. This place used to be a limestone quarry, but it is now a park that offers amazing scenery. There’s a beach on the south side of the quarry that’s otherwise surrounded by cliffs.

Get there: An hour’s drive from downtown Toronto

How much: Park entry is 10 dollars

  1. The Splurge: Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel

Just want to have a good, luxurious time while pretending to be a visitor in this city? The financial district is where you find this indoor/outdoor swimming pool. It’s best to check ahead, as guest passes sometimes sell out, especially on hot summer days.

 Get there: Streetcar 301, 501 or 502 to York Street & Queen Street West

How much: 30 happy dollars

  1. The Beach: Ward’s Island

Do you long to get out of the city but want to skip the drive? Toronto Islands is the place to go. On the eastern-most tip is an area called Ward’s Island with a nice and relaxed atmosphere. The beach, located on the southern part of Ward’s Island, is sandy with some rocks as you enter the water and the water quality is generally good here. 

Get there: Take the ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal between Bay & Yonge on Queens Quay. You can either go straight to Ward’s Island, or to Centre Island and then walk or rent a bike.

How much: Like the air, the water here is free to enjoy

Five out-of-the-box travel destinations — for students

Being a student is tough. Between balancing classes, jobs, and an ever-limited budget, finding the time to actually see and explore the city is tough. Even when you do find the time, Toronto is expensive. So here are five budget-friendly travel destinations for students:

  1. Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Under a new pricing model that began on May 25, 2019, admission to the AGO for those aged 25 and under will now be free. So go on, see various pieces of Canadian, Indigenous, and international art, including exhibits like Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room.

  1. High Park

Like nature? Like picnics? Like zoos? Like free things? Well, High Park is the place for you! A spacious park in the West End, it’s known for its annual cherry blossom bloom, but also has a free zoo open all year from 7:00 am to dusk.

  1. Bike Share Toronto

Although not a destination, Bike Share Toronto offers a $7 Day Pass to bike as much as you’d like for 24 hours, from Humber Bay Park in the west to the Beaches in the east. Good for exercise, the environment, and sightseeing, the only downside is you have to dock your bike every 30 minutes or face overage charges.

  1. Allan Gardens

Located at 160 Gerrard Street East, close to Carlton Street and Jarvis Street, Allan Gardens is a mixed-use park and an indoor botanical garden, featuring beautiful plants and flowers from around the world. Open all year from 10 am to 5 am, admission is free and wheelchair-accessible as part of the Toronto Parks system.

  1. Hamilton

If you’re looking to leave the city and not break the bank, spend a weekend in Steeltown! Take a bus from downtown Toronto to Hamilton for as low as $10, and take a day or weekend exploring the burgeoning food, bar, and café scenes while exploring its natural beauty — whether the lake or its various waterfalls!

My first online dating experience: how to scare off a guy in less than 48 hours

Meant to be?

Creating an online dating profile proved to be the most ambiguous way I could have started off 2019. I spent several of my last hours of 2018 letting the idea of meeting someone online for the first-time brew in my head. The more I did that, the more I felt like I should follow through just because it was something completely out of my comfort zone.

Before I knew it, my online profile was up in early January.

Wanting to prepare myself for what was to come, I went over the pros and cons with my friend Jordan, but little did I know that my emotional reaction spiked to a degree that caught me off guard.

You know those days that show you exactly how you’re going to feel for the whole day? Well, that was my Saturday morning – it was fucking cold and clearly screaming, stay indoors.

Guess who didn’t stay indoors?

That morning I dragged myself into campus, and lo and behold I was lost inside the new Highland Hall (HL) building at UTSC. Wanting to pass time, I checked to see my new matches and one in particular – his smile – drew me in (but seriously, it’s hard to find a guy genuinely smiling into the camera on this app!) and I decided to start a conversation with him.

“Hi,” I wrote.

He replied almost immediately.

“Hi. How are you?”

“Kinda lost… in a building actually.”

Oddly enough, the convo with him felt casual, and he always had something to say. My goal was to get the hell off the app as soon as someone agreed to go on one date with me. The moment I realized I could keep a digital conversation going with this guy, instead of working in the study spaces, I procrastinated for five hours analyzing and dissecting our messages.

Was he the one? Meh, he’d do for now. I knew it was time.

Ok you can do this.

Just. Nike. It.

So, on Saturday evening I told him that this was my first online dating experience and that my goal was to go on one date only.

“Wow that was fast. And you’d want to go on that one date with me?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “since our convo hasn’t been awkward on here. I’d really want to see what it’s like IRL with you.”

“I’d really like that too,” he responded.

And I, after consulting with two of my friends, Michael* and Jordan*, and examining about every text, I sent the message: “It’s a date then.”

Don’t celebrate yet, he’s not fully on board.

Immediately I asked Jordan how I could steer the convo back to setting a venue and time. Yet, at this point it almost seemed easy to slip in various questions. So, I tested the waters by sending one question at a time and he responded almost instantly, which was awesome. While my heart was skipping beats and my mind was racing faster than Tokyo’s Metro that night, I started to plan my outfit.

I also began to plan how Jordan could come to spy on us and keep an eye out for for stranger danger while I was enjoying myself.

Hey everybody, look at me I’m kicking off 2019 by leaping out of my comfort zone—yes, clap for me. I did it.

Opening Pandora’s Box

Sunday morning, I locked eyes with my phone and grabbed it from my night table to check it.

No messages.

He was on my mind all day, so much so that by the afternoon my eyes drifted to the clock each time I uttered “Hallelujah” in church.

Right after church, I begin a conversation with him. This time, it was different. I realized that my feelings for him had inflated overnight.

For some reason, I found myself asking questions about the sharks on his bio photos, and it’s like this switch turns on inside him to send strings of messages with loads of fucking info.

And then he dropped the f-bomb. Family bomb. And kept going.

This sent my attraction signals off the roof because the more I was learning about the kind of person he was, the more my desire to meet him in person grew. I noticed how strongly intertwined his family and work were.

Not long after, we reached a convo plateau.

It’s a good time to stop now, yes? Oh …n o? You want to keep going? Sure, don’t listen to reason. Go, be selfish, indulge yourself.

I wish I’d stopped there. Instead I took a guessing game a little too far – oopsie?

“What if I guess where you work?” I wrote. He hesitated, but still told me to give it a shot.

I should have at least asked him “Are you ok with me checking?” one more time before he said, “You can give it a try.”

I guess we were both ignorant, him with the huge amount of information he spilled to a complete stranger online, and me being the stranger who was cocky to admit that I knew enough about him to find out where he worked.

And inevitably, I guessed right. He was probably having a fucking panic attack then and there because he said, “I’m actually kind of worried that you know where I work now.” A short while after he stopped replying. I cried myself to sleep that night.

I knew things wouldn’t be the same, but a small part of me wanted things to go back to normal so Monday morning I asked him where things were at. Nothing.

It just went downhill from there I sent about eight or so messages mentioning that he was my first date online and I completely understood if he wanted to block me. Finally, on Tuesday night… after heavy convincing from Jordan we decided to delete his chat, so I sent him a final text saying I wasn’t going to be on the app much longer and ended off with “It was nice meeting you. This was definitely different.”

And a minute later all I got was:

“I’m sorry.”

At. Least. He. Replied.

But that was it.

There it is, a date that never happened. It promised a lot ,but my lack of patience ended it in less than 48 hours.


*Names have been changed at individuals request

The four types of cute guys in tutorial

Tutorial is the holy grail place to find attractive people at school because you’re forced to sit next to them and discuss stuff. Projecting way too much onto cute boys will solve all your problems. There are only four types of cute tutorial guys, but I swear you can fit all of them into one or more of these categories if you don’t look too deeply at their souls.

The Philosophy major with a capital ‘P’

Philosophy Guy’s hair is just a bit too long, bordering on shaggy but ending up artfully tousled instead. He’s also trying to grow out some facial hair with really mixed results. Every other class, he wears a patterned short-sleeve button-down, usually with one more button than necessary undone. You talked to him once and he mentioned his psychedelic funk band within the first minute. In class, he sits at the front with his Moleskine and fountain pen and really thinks hard about what the prof says, scrawling down random things but never taking notes when actually important stuff is on the slides. He wears scuffed Converse, or maybe Vans. If they’re absolutely falling apart, you know he’s actually a Philosophy specialist.

The human red flag

Red Flag is almost always late to tutorial. There’s only a 50 per cent chance he’ll even show up, but when he does, you melt a bit despite everything about him screaming ‘run far, far away’: his Supreme laptop sticker, his Chance hat with the ‘3’ on it, his white sneakers that are so white it’s actually suspicious. He leans back in his chair a lot in class and manspreads on occasion. The fuckboy vibes are strong with this one, but you can’t help it. Maybe it’s his messy (the hot kind of messy) hair. Maybe it’s his disturbingly large collection of nice hoodies that you can imagine yourself wearing. I’m sorry, but this is your life now. Seek help.

The walking J.Crew ad

This guy is like if you took an ad for J.Crew and then added even more hair pomade. If U of T had a rowing team for rich kids (dragon boating doesn’t count), he’d be on it. He might own more than one peacoat, and he’s generally well-groomed but still misses some stubble here or there. He’s a little bit too good with people and talks a lot, to the point where it’s truly shocking when the TA asks a question and he doesn’t immediately offer some crazy articulate answer. When other people answer a question or respond to what he says, he nods his head thoughtfully. He sticks mainly to button-ups and nice sweaters, but every now and then he breaks out that rowing blazer with confidence you wish you had. You really want to hate him but just can’t.

The quiet guy in the corner, but ohmygod his eYeS

Quiet Guy is really unassuming-looking in basically every way. He always goes straight for the back of the room and then just looks intensely at every person who speaks. He isn’t trying to stare or anything; his eyes are just that piercing. You can rarely find him in class because he sits by himself and blends into the crowd. When you speak up in tutorial, he looks at you and your actual identity shatters because he sees through everything you have ever said or done. His voice is probably super deep… but who’ll ever know?

Best first date spots in Toronto

Let’s be real, Toronto is a great city for romantic time with that someone special. But on a first date, don’t settle for the cliché wine and dine. Open your mind to some unique possibilities you didn’t know existed.

To get started, I have compiled a list of exclusive dating categories to choose from based on your taste. Make the first date one you truly won’t forget.

Are you the adventurous type?

If you are, you should check out Scarborough Bluffs Park.

Located east of Toronto’s downtown core, this beautiful park will offers a spectacular glimpse of Lake Ontario. At the same time, you can enjoy a hike or walk along its many trails. The view is definitely Instagram-worthy!

If physical activity is not ideal, why not try one of Toronto’s Escape Rooms. Lock yourself in a room with hidden clues to achieve answers and escape the room you’re in! It’s the perfect get-to-know-you activity.

Try one out at: Escape Casa Loma, The Great Escape, or Riddle Room.

Do you love the great outdoors?

Why not stroll across Toronto’s Harbourfront? I assure you it is budget friendly!

In an instant, you’ll be on the docks, surrounded by yachts on Lake Ontario. There are also beautiful lights at night.

Do you have expensive taste?

Think big. Now think extravagant! Toronto has you covered. Why not make a romantic first impression up the CN Tower?

Not only can you grab spectacular views of the city, but also grab a bite at the 360 Restaurant.

Better yet, how about being whisked away on a helicopter provided by Toronto Heli Tours over our beautiful city? It’s sure to wow your date.

Whatever you fancy, this list should make your first date memorable and unique — you might even get asked on a second date!