New Year, New Reads: Book Recommendations for the New Decade

student reading a book

Now that New Year’s Day has come and gone, we are officially well on our way into the rest of January. For those of you reading this, I am confident that at least a handful of you have made some sort of resolution in an effort to better yourselves this year. Those resolutions may include: maintaining a more healthy/active lifestyle, practicing more self-care, or even just reading a few more pages from a novel each night. If your goal is more closely related to the last one on the list, you are in luck! I have done some reading and have a few recommendations for you so that it will be easier for you to fulfill your resolutions! These books explore the different lived experiences of a variety of individuals. As students of a diverse and multicultural campus, I believe that we should all strive to understand each other’s perspectives, with reading being one way of doing that. 


The following are my top three recommendations for the new year! 


  1. Educated by Tara Westover
    1. Available at Koerner Library (
  2. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
    1. Available at Koerner Library (
  3. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
    1. Available at the Vancouver Public Library


Ranked at the top of my charts is Educated by Tara Westover. In this memoir, Westover guides us on a journey beginning in the mountains of Idaho. She transports us back to her childhood days that were filled with life lessons from her ultra religious Mormon father, and self taught midwife mother. When one of her elder brothers yearns and manages to escape their obsolete way of living, Tara also begins to possess the same desires of becoming educated. Tara’s childhood stories made me re-evaluate some of the things that I had taken for granted during my own childhood, things such as my access to education and healthcare. I think any individual can really benefit from reading this novel because it encourages us to re-examine our privileges.


If you are a fan of action and adventure, I would recommend the novel Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Although fictional, Pachinko explores the effects and aftermath of when Korea was annexed by the Japanese empire between 1910-1945. It explores the war by following the lives of a Korean family while they resided in Korea, and after they immigrated to Japan. This novel has a whole slew of characters ranging from Japanese yakuzas to Christian missionaries. Each character is meaningfully written and developed, and if you read this novel, I think you will become as invested in each person as I did. 


The last one on my list is Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. The story follows the life of Kimberly Chang from when she first immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong with her single mother. It explores the hardships that she had to face due to language barriers, cultural differences, and villainous family members. Girl in Translation made me think about the different types of baggage that each person you encounter may carry. It also encouraged me to practice my empathy for everyone that I came across, but with new immigrants especially.


I chose these specific books to recommend because I have always had a great personal interest in people’s backgrounds. What sorts of circumstances are they coming from? What type of lived experiences have they gone through? Why do some people function the way they do? I read books because they allow me to better understand people (albeit fictional people). It’s especially important for me to try to empathize and connect with people because we all live in the same world. 


Will any of these be on your reading list this year? Do you have any that you would like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments section down below, or through twitter @UBCLearn!  

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