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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

My favorite books and shows

As an English major, a lot of people — with good intentions — ask what my favorite book is.

Oh no.

Embarrassingly, I always nervously laugh as I desperately try to remember what I said the last time someone asked, and suddenly I can’t think of any book I’ve read in the past year.

I thoroughly enjoy most of the books I read, but there isn’t one that particularly stands out among the others. The same can be said for television. This is a mental note to myself of books and shows I would recommend to someone so I can avoid more embarrassing moments.

“Circe”

This book was my introduction to the recent wave of feminist retellings of ancient Greek mythology. I was incredibly emotionally invested in Circe’s story of finding herself despite facing immeasurable odds from the misogynistic system around her. The novel totally called into question everything I thought I knew about Circe from reading “The Odyssey” in high school. It made me think more critically about how she was represented; my image of her shifted from someone with a minor role in the story to a fully fleshed-out character with undeniable agency.

“A Darker Shade of Magic”

This is the first book in the “Shades of Magic” series, which focuses on a magician who illegally trades items between alternate universes and a thief from real-world London. The world is incredibly immersive, fleshing out completely fantastic kingdoms but also focusing on the real-world city of London that exists in every universe within the story. The characters are refreshing, dynamic and entertaining. The thief in particular is unpredictable and really fun to read about. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t stop reading it.

“Heartstopper”

“Heartstopper” is excellent in all of its forms, from the Netflix series to the original webcomics, but I particularly liked the graphic novels. The art style is cute, clear-cut and a good fit for the wholesome high school romance storyline. Although each graphic novel is short, the plot is well-developed and each character comes across clearly as having their own unique voice. I found reading these novels relaxing — the art and coloring is satisfying and cute — but at the same time, the story had pivotal moments in which I was very actively engaged with the plot.

“Extraordinary Attorney Woo”

This K-drama centers on the experiences of an autistic lawyer in her first year at a top South Korean law firm and the societal stigmas she faces. It is both emotional and incredibly fun to watch. I was really absorbed in every aspect of this show, from the intense legal drama to the budding friendships to the slow-burn romance. I can’t wait for season two.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender”

This animated series follows a group of teenagers who use elemental magic to end a hundred-year-long war. It’s a childhood favorite of mine, comedic at times yet serious at others, with a really well-constructed world and a plot that is as much about defeating the Fire Lord as it is bringing together people of different backgrounds. The characters are all unique in their own ways, but the dynamic between the group creates some of my favorite moments in television.

“Survivor”

“Survivor” is a classic — my favorite kind of messy reality television. With almost 50 seasons, there are so many flavors of drama to choose from. Take “Gabon,” for example — pretty much everyone makes decisions based on how much they hate each other. And in “Cagayan,” a cast of people with very strong, unique personalities make for a blend of camaraderie, fighting and generally comedic television. The more recent seasons have more strategy, which is also interesting to watch.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.