Believe it or not, we are halfway through 2021! I still accidentally write 2007 on every single paper that I encounter, but I can recognize that we are in fact living in 2021. I have noticed my reading patterns changed a little this year, perhaps due to lingering burnout from 2020. One of my goals this year was to not take my reading goals too seriously. Instead of focusing on a number of books that I want to read, I’m just focusing on actually enjoying what I read! What a wild thought. So far this year, I have been lucky enough to read some great books, and here are five that I would recommend to you in no particular order.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his groundbreaking podcast, John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet—from the QWERTY keyboard and Staphylococcus aureus to the Taco Bell breakfast menu—on a five-star scale. John Green’s gift for storytelling shines throughout this artfully curated collection that includes both beloved essays and all-new pieces exclusive to the book.

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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

A lone astronaut must save Earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian. Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and Earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone. Or does he?

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The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods. The crops are failing, the water is drying up and dust threatens to bury them all. In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli, like so many of her neighbors, must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life.

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Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

What would you change if you could travel back in time? Down a small alleyway in the heart of Tokyo, there’s an underground café that’s been serving carefully brewed coffee for over a hundred years. Local legend says that this shop offers its customers something else besides coffeethe chance to travel back in time. The rules, however, are far from simple: you must sit in one particular seat, and you can’t venture outside the café, nor can you change the present. And, most important, you only have the time it takes to drink a hot cup of coffee, or risk getting stuck forever. Over the course of one summer, four customers visit the café in hopes of traveling to another time: a heartbroken lover looking for closure, a nurse with a mysterious letter from her husband, a waitress hoping to say one last goodbye and a mother whose child she may never get the chance to know.

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Sapiens: A Graphic History by Yuval Noah Harari

In this first volume of the full-color illustrated adaptation of his groundbreaking book, renowned historian Yuval Harari tells the story of humankind’s creation and evolution, exploring the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be ‘human’. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens challenges us to reconsider accepted beliefs, connect past developments with contemporary concerns and view specific events within the context of larger ideas.

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