Students share current favorite books

Jessica Garcia, Life & Arts Reporter

With heavy course loads and full schedules, finding time to settle into a comfortable spot and read a book can prove difficult for most college students. However, a new book offers an opportunity to relax from the bustling energy of college life.

The Daily Texan asked students about their current favorite reads and why they’d recommend them to others.


Surekha Balakrishnan

“The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now” by Dr. Meg Jay

Before her 20th birthday in January, marketing and government sophomore Surekha Balakrishnan feared entering a new decade of her life. Looking for something to quell her anxieties, Balakrishnan stumbled upon “The Defining Decade,” a book about making the most of your twenties.

Written by clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay, “The Defining Decade offers advice to 20-somethings as they navigate the early years of their adulthood. 

“It’s not just a transitory decade,” Balakrishnan said. “The 20s is where you define a lot (of) your personal values, establish your career and develop lifelong meaningful connections.”

While directed toward those in their 20s, Balakrishnan suggested anyone who reads “The Defining Decade can learn something from it.

Rachel Rodriguez 

“Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” by Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Rachel Rodriguez, an English and speech, language and hearing sciences sophomore, said though she came across her current favorite book in one of her English classes, she would have read it regardless.

“Borderlands,” a 1987 semi-autobiographical work written by Gloria E. Anzaldúa, a queer Chicana poet, writer and feminist theorist, discusses the Chicano and Hispanic identity through her personal experiences.   

Rodriguez said she enjoyed “Borderlands” because it explores prevalent issues in the Mexican-American community, delving into cultural appropriation, the phenomenon of a white savior complex and empowering readers to feel pride in their culture. Above all, Rodriguez said she related to the author.  

“It stood out to me because it resonated with me,” Rodriguez said. “It was the first time I had heard an author put (these issues) into words so well.” 


Alec Leaper 

“Dune” by Frank Herbert

Science fiction fanatic Alec Leaper said “Dune” remains his favorite book of all time.

“Dune”— a landmark sci-fi novel written in 1965 — follows Paul Atreides as he fends off attempts to overthrow a galactic empire on planet Arrakis.

Although fictional, the English and government junior said the book warns against following excessively charismatic leaders and showcases the dangers of falling prey to misinformation, making readers more perceptive and aware of their modern surroundings.  

“‘Dune’ does a fantastic job conveying that sci-fi can have deep themes, political allegories and an overall emphasis on real-world issues,” Leaper said. 


Sia Ramchandran 

“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah

Though the historical fiction novel brought her to tears, business freshman Sia Ramchandran said her current favorite read is Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale.”

The novel follows French sisters Vianne and Isabelle during World War II. Although the sisters have different personalities, the war intertwines their lives as they must work together to live through a frightening time.

Ramchandran said she most enjoyed watching the sisters mature and take on different roles to help the war effort because it made her feel invested in their lives. 

“If you want a book (where) you pick it up and cannot stop reading, it’s ‘The Nightingale,’” Ramchandran said.