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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Virginia Tech chapter.

Before the ball dropped on this New Year’s Day, I set a resolution to read more nonfiction books in 2023. I’m extremely pleased to tell you that I have followed through with the promise I made to myself. Even more so, I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed reading nonfiction books. I swear my brain feels a little bit bigger, so I wanted to share some of the book wisdom I have gained so far this year. These books will change your entire perspective on life. And if reading nonfiction sounds tedious, try reading 10 pages a day. I promise it’s worth it. 

Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Never in a million years did I expect myself to purchase a book like this one. I’m so glad I did. Stepping out of my comfort — young adult fantasy books — to books about space and science was new territory for me. This is the first nonfiction book I have ever read willingly and I can attribute it to a newfound appreciation for this genre. This book will knock your socks off. I think my jaw touched the floor the entire time I read it. If you are unfamiliar with Neil deGrasse Tyson, he is a brilliant astrophysicist. This book explores various themes including vegetarians, gender, race, and more from a cosmic perspective. His ability to zoom out and disassociate from human nature and opinion, while adopting a clinical approach to some of our most controversial topics, is extremely refreshing and eye-opening. 

The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander

This book is small but mighty. It’s so small that I had a hard time finding it in Barnes & Noble. Nonetheless, it packs in so much emotion, thought, and wisdom. During the summer of 2020, Elizabeth Alexander wrote a viral essay that was published in The New Yorker. It was an essay about the experiences and expressions of black youth in America, inspired by the ongoing police brutality and protests. This book will rip your heart out and put it right back where it belongs. It will make you rage and then promise to be better. It will expose just how omnipresent racism is in America. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking book that I’d suggest anyone reads.

Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain

Susan Cain wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking which is another amazing book of hers. However, this book explores a more sorrowful approach to creativity, leadership, and morality. She weaves together the worlds of bitter and sweet through personal anecdotes, research, and religious examples. She makes sadness feel okay. If you are someone struggling with a recent loss, I’d highly recommend reading this book. I applied a lot of her sentiments about longing to my recent vision loss. She points out the crucial balance between hardships and happiness. More specifically, how the latter is sometimes amplified by the former. Everyone suffers from loss so we should foster that connection for the sake of our creativity, transcendence, and discord. 

I hope one of these grabs your attention, so get to reading and feel your mind expand. 

Alden Koupal

Virginia Tech '26

Hi, my name is Alden Koupal. I'm from Richmond, Virginia. I'm a freshman at Virginia Tech majoring in international studies. I enjoy going for long walks, listening to music, and eating sweets. I'm an introvert at heart and I adore reading and writing. Her Campus feels like a dream come true. The freedom to contribute to such an inclusive community feels infinitely rewarding.