And no, Euphoria is not included on this list, because I may be the only person who hasn’t been watching Euphoria. You could say I’m behind on the trend, which may be fair, but, hey, some of us don’t have access to HBO Max. So today I’m going to give you some recommendations for what to read, watch, and listen to if you, like me, have not been keeping up with Euphoria (or if you are and just need something new after this week’s season finale!).
I don’t usually listen to audiobooks, but I listened to this audiobook, which is narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda, years ago and fell completely in love with it. It is a coming-of-age novel which follows two Mexican-American teenagers, Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza and Dante Quintana as they navigate their struggles with racial and ethnic identity, family relationships, their friendship, and sexuality. I think about this book a lot and with the release of the sequel, Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World, late last year, what better time to revisit the original.
This book is an ode to theatre, and specifically the Shakespearean tragedy, but even if you aren’t a fan of Shakespeare or theatre, you may still enjoy this book. It follows a group of seniors at a prestigious art school surrounding the mysterious death of their classmate and deals heavily with their reactions in the months following the death that they may or may not have had a hand in. It is a haunting and gripping mystery that will keep you guessing and it definitely worth checking out.
This book is so hard to recommend because revealing everything I loved about it would spoil a major part of it, but what I can say is that even though there is a lot in this book that I will never experience, there was so much in it that I related to. One of the Good Ones deals with loss and multi-generational trauma, grief and why only certain people are deemed worthy of being missed, it’s about what happens when the people we lose aren’t who we remember them to be. It deals with difficult family relationships, especially between sisters, race, sexuality, and social justice.
You’ve probably heard of this book if you’ve been anywhere near BookTok in the last year, but I promise it lives up to the hype. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo paints a picture of the glamorous and scandalous life of classic Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo. In her final interview, with unknown reporter Monique Grant, whose life connects with hers in unexpected ways, Evelyn describes her own ruthless ambition and illicit love. It deals heavily with themes of identity, secrecy, and connection, all with the stakes of the world watching. I could talk about this book forever because there was so much in it that resonated with me.
This is another book that has been popular on BookTok for very good reason. The Song of Achilles retells the story of The Iliad, this time from the perspective of Patroclus. The book threads a stunning emotional story between Achilles and Patroclus that reflects on love and war, glory and legacy, and the hand Fate has in our lives. I cannot stress enough how gorgeous of a read this book is.
Encanto has been my, and a lot of other people’s, obsession since it was released on Disney+ in December and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s been on repeat constantly in my house. You’ve probably heard at least some of the songs, and rest assured they’re all just as catchy and fun. This may have quickly become my new favorite Disney movie because of the fun characters, beautiful animation, and, honestly, really relatable story.
If you’re in the mood for something more scary, you might prefer Fear Street: 1994. This film is an homage to the slasher genre, but with some unique twists that make it all the more interesting as a result. At its surface, it’s about teen lesbians and their friends investigating the source of the brutal killings that have plagued the town for generations, and taking on the evil force that’s supposedly at its center. And if you like this one, there’s two more to round out your weekend movie marathon!
I know this masterful whodunnit murder mystery came out almost three years ago, but with a plot this thrilling and with so many twists on the genre, it certainly warrants a rewatch. And with a sequel coming out later this year, what better time than now to revisit the original mystery and how wrong your first theories were?
If you like superhero movies, or Spider-Man movies specifically…you’ve probably seen this movie already. But it’s undeniable that this movie is incredible, it’s a thrilling new adventure for a beloved new character. The best description I heard of this movie is that, when you say a movie is emotional, that usually means it’s sad, but this movie really covers the full spectrum of emotions. You’ll laugh out loud, you’ll cry, you’ll be excited and a little outraged. Spider-Man: No Way Home is leaving theaters in March so it may be your last chance to see it on the big screen (if that’s something you’re comfortable with).
Tick, tick…BOOM is as fun as it is devastating. Adapted from the autobiographical musical by Rent playwright Jonathan Larsson, this film is a stunning navigation of love and friendship through the lens of an artist who fears he is running out of time and may have made the wrong decisions. It’s about living your life while it’s happening. It is a deeply emotional, moving, and relatable watch.
This is not a high stakes show and I think that might be what makes it so great. When I watched it over Christmas, it felt like exactly what I needed. It introduces some incredibly fun and interesting new characters, is set during the holidays, and includes a really cute dog. Truly, what more could you ask for. So while I know the holidays are technically over, it’s still cold outside so this is still a perfectly acceptable (and endlessly rewatchable) option if you just need a break.
Jane the Virgin is a great binge for anyone who is looking for a fun show and loves over the top drama. The show centers Jane after she is accidentally artificially inseminated and follows her through love triangles, family drama, and international crime. The series finale may have premiered three years ago, but that just means you can watch all five seasons without getting stuck on a cliff-hanger!
Although this show, loosely based on the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name, came out three years ago and has had sequels released since then, there is something so great about this original series that keeps me coming back. If you haven’t seen this show, it follows the Crane family, past and present, and explores the trauma that has literally and figuratively haunted them since childhood. I have consistently noticed new details on each rewatch that makes me appreciate the show more and more.
The Magicians ages up the typical “chosen one” narrative, following a group of graduate students at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. Based on the series of novels by Lev Grossman where magic is real, but more dark and dangerous than it appears in their kids’ books. The show follows different means of learning magic and creates a very interesting world, but it really excels with the characters, who are fun and complex and relatable. If you haven’t seen this show before, it’s a fun take on a fantasy narrative.
The Umbrella Academy, at its surface, is about an estranged family of superhero siblings trying to stop the apocalypse after being reunited by the death of their father, but it is so much more than a typical superhero narrative. It involves fights against time, family secrets, exciting fight scenes, a cast of extremely compelling and entertaining characters, and a great use of music. With the third season set to release later this year, now is a great time to catch up on the first two seasons with the Hargreeves kids.
Honorable Mention: WandaVision
I know I already included a Marvel show (and I stand by that recommendation) and I know WandaVision came out last year, but if you haven’t seen it I cannot stress enough how much you should watch this show. It is an absolute love letter to the sitcom and television as a medium with a compelling mystery and a breathtaking emotional arc. And if you’ve seen it, it absolutely holds up on a rewatch…just saying.
If you’re in the market for a new podcast to listen to on your commute or on your walk between classes, look no further. YouTube’s Super Carlin Brothers, J and Ben, sit down each week for a conversation between brothers that’s as philosophical as it is funny. So tell a corny joke, have strong opinions about weak things, and bring it all full circle because Popcorn Culture is an easy listen that will leave you with more to think about.
I hope you enjoy some of these recommendations, I know some of them are older at this point but I wanted to start this series off with some of my personal favorites. Tell me what you thought about my picks and recommend some of your favorite books, tv shows, movies, podcasts, and whatever else I missed.