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Reading more often is at the top of my New Year’s resolutions list. It’s a hobby that I struggle to keep up with during the semester because course readings tend to occupy my time, but I think I can find ways to incorporate at least a little bit of leisure reading back into my daily routine. I have been building a pretty lengthy “To Be Read” list, so I should be set for 2021. Here are a few books that I am most looking forward to reading this year!

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

I just recently started reading A Place For Us as my first read of the year and I am so excited to watch the story develop. It follows an Indian-American Muslim family as they begin to confront issues both past and present that haunt their relationships, while trying to balance cultural and personal values. I feel especially connected to this story because it is one of the first books I’ve read with characters from a cultural and religious background similar to mine. I imagine that my shared background with the character will make for a richer, possibly more emotionally connected, reading experience.  

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I have seen this book repeatedly raved about all over TikTok, so of course I had to add it to my list. The Secret History is an unconventional murder mystery in the way that the readers are aware of who the murders are on the first page and are guided through the events leading up to the crime. In short, a young man attends an elite liberal arts college in New England and forms an unexpected bond with five of his classmates and their classics professor, sharing experiences that leave them grappling with their sense of humanity.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People is one of my many “I need to read this before watching the tv show or movie” books. The story was released as a Hulu Original Series in Spring of 2020 and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I was originally pulled to the book because I was looking broaden the genres I read, romance being one of the ones I don’t read as often, and a coworker had recommended it to me. It seems like a sweet story, following the relationship between characters Connell and Marianna as they fall in and out of each other’s life from high school to college, being held together by a strong emotional connection.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

I have heard amazing reviews for Atomic Habits. Everyone I know who has read the book noted positive changes in their daily routine, being able to successfully implement some of the strategies it discusses. Especially with the start of the new year, I have been looking for ways to break out of old habits and build better ones. Clear takes readers through the psychological processes associated with good habit building and provides tools for finding success. I’m hoping to use this book to help me get on track with both personal and academic goals.  

10% Happier by Dan Harris 

One of the many self-help books on my list, 10% Happier follows new anchor Dan Harris’ journey through what he has found to be the most effective means of managing stress and anxiety. More specifically, he explores the practice of meditation and the ways in which it can positively influence our lives. I have been wanting to start meditating for the longest time, so I’m hoping this book can give me some of the motivation and clarity that I’m looking for to get started. Following the release of his book, Harris created a podcast about mental health and maintaining happiness, as well as an app with guided meditations.

Iqra is a sophomore majoring in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching her favorite shows on Netflix, and trying new coffee shops. Iqra also loves getting involved in creative projects!
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