20-something miseries

The Best Books, Movies, Podcasts, and Music to Explore This Month

It’s August, and you know what that means: time is still passing while we are trapped in this hellscape of open misogyny, rising COVID numbers, and kidnapped protesters.

I know, it’s a lot. And we all need a break from it sometimes. So I’ve put together some of the best books, movies, and podcasts I’ve found over the last few months. So whenever you find yourself getting overwhelmed with the ridiculous reality of 2020, take a time out and explore one of these amazing sources of entertainment.

Books:

  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk
    I just started this book, but it’s already making a huge difference in how I think about trauma and myself. Be warned though, it’s heavy. Trauma healing isn’t easy or lighthearted, but it is vital to creating a better life for ourselves and a better world for everyone. And this book is basically the seminal work on understanding and healing from trauma.
  • Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
    Okay, this is another one that isn’t really a distraction so much as an incredible source of information on the nuances of our current sociopolitical landscape, especially the intersection of feminism, racism, and classism. If you consider yourself a feminist, you will devour this book, I promise. It’s honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read.
  • Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
    Okay, this isn’t actually a recent read, but I feel obligated to include a fun, lighthearted book in this list. I read this book of hilarious comics in college, when my mental health was at an all-time low. Even at my most depressed, Brosh never failed to make me laugh. If you need a pick-me-up (who doesn’t??), this is the book for you.

Movies + Shows:

Netflix on TV with a coffee mug
  • Palm Springs (Hulu)
    This is THE movie of 2020. I promise. You will not regret watching this movie. It has it all: debauchery, infinite time loops, Andy Samberg, confessions of love, and dinosaurs. My husband and I turned it on not expecting much, but it is one of those really terrible B movies that is so bad, it’s actually straight up art.
  • Middleditch and Schwartz (Netflix)
    This is a series of three long-form improv shows put on by Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz, and it is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. I know improv has a bad rep for being hokey and cringey, but that is not what this is. Middleditch and Schwartz are brilliant and hysterical, and I can’t recommend their special enough.
  • The West Wing (Netflix)
    If you want to be inspired and decimated at the same time, I highly recommend The West Wing on Netflix. Yes, it glorifies the “benevolent” power of the liberal white male, but it also shows a White House that functions with some semblance of competence, and that’s just really nice to see right now. Fair warning, it will also make you incredibly angry at our current administration. (TW: this show uses very outdated language that may be upsetting for some, i.e. they say “the gays” a lot *sigh*)

Podcasts:

Smiling woman listening to something on headphones
  • Ear Hustle
    This is an absolutely incredible podcast that is recorded and produced largely inside of the San Quentin State Prison in California. The podcast is hosted by artist Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods, who was incarcerated at San Quentin when the podcast started. Together, along with Antwan Williams and Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, they share stories about the reality of prison life, from people actually living it. I can’t even explain how captivating and touching and funny and interesting and insightful this podcast is.
  • Drunk Thunks
    If you want Drunk History in podcast form, this is it. Hosts Michael, Brittany, and Jake dig into some of the most fascinating people and events in history as they slowly get drunk. It’s hilarious, informative, and they cover some of the coolest stuff. They have one episode about the crazy history of Dungeons & Dragons that I highly recommend.
  • Unlocking Us
    If you aren’t already, you need to start listening to Brené Brown. She’s a shame researcher, and on her podcast she interviews other interesting, insightful people with something to say about the human condition. Beware, I have cried at nearly every episode I’ve listened to.

Music:

  • Manic by Halsey
    I was blown away the first time I listened to this album, and I’ve had it on repeat ever since. With lyrics that will smack you in the face and break your heart, and Halsey’s unique sound that combines indie with punk, Manic is a masterpiece.
  • Grief Creature by Mary Lambert
    To quote Mary Lambert’s website when you go to buy this CD, “This album is very sad and very good. Be gentle with yourself when listening.” It is indeed very sad and very good. It has opened up wounds in my heart that I’ve been ignoring and healed ones that have been festering for a while. It is gorgeous.
  • folklore by Taylor Swift
    Yeah, I don’t think I have to explain this one. It’s Taylor Swift’s quarantine album. And it’s freaking amazing.

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