When we first posted our 2018 recap of our favorite books and T.V., we almost had too much to share, and, based on the comments, it seemed that many of you did too. Instead of waiting until the end of 2019 to share our picks, we wanted to share the shows and books we've loved most this year (so far):
1. T.V. Show: PEN15
When it comes to binge-worthy shows, I rarely pick comedies since I typically prefer things that are heavier and darker. But after G practically forced me to try PEN15, I decided to give it a try, and I'm so glad that I did. The premise sounds a bit odd: two 30-something-year-old-women play awkward, middle school-aged students from 2000... and it's painfully hilarious. They act with actual 13-year-olds and the juxtaposition, paired with all of the nostalgic moments from my youth, make it something I'm literally always in the mood to watch.
I've had a lot of misses with books this year. I swear I've started and nearly finished about four, bailing on them with only a few pages left. But the one that I couldn't put down was Bad Blood, about the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, the youngest and wealthiest self-made billionaire, and her company, Theranos. It's so compelling that it's no surprise there are also versions of the same story told through a podcast (The Dropout), HBO documentary (The Inventor), and upcoming motion picture starring Jennifer Lawrence.
1. T.V. Show: True Detective (Season 3)
It's lists like these that make you realize T.V. has never been better. The year isn't even halfway through, and I've already loved so many shows it was nearly impossible to pick just one, but this season of True Detective, starring Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff as detectives investigating two missing children, blew me away. Like the first season (I skipped the second), there are so many layers to it, from the effects of dementia to small-town politics and the power wealth sometimes has to conceal the truth. The story revealed itself beautifully, and I was stunned by the ending. I'm also loving Shrill on Hulu (very different, but fantastic!), the PBS Les Mis miniseries (started it last night, but it's amazing), and Game of Thrones (duh).
2. Book: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
2019 is going to be a good year for books. I was lucky enough to get my hands on some advanced copies that I would go so far as to call life-changing, including Liz Gilbert's City of Girls, Mona Awad's Bunny, and Lisa Taddeo's Three Women (y'all are in for a treat). But one of my favorite books so far has been Candice Carty-Williams' Queenie, released last month. It's literally laugh-out-loud funny from the first line, as Queenie, a twenty-five-year-old woman living in London, somewhat inelegantly but hilariously navigates a breakup, her relationship with her friends, online dating, and her first "serious" job. At the same time, it deals with some serious issues, like racism and sexual assault, in a way that feels very real and important.
1. T.V. Show: Jeopardy (with James!!!!)
I have distinct memories of my brother filling up our family DVR with Jeopardy episodes as a teenager—and also feeling like there was no way we could be related if his passion for Jeopardy (of all shows) ran that deep. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I became enlightened to its magic. My fiancé started watching old episodes before bed and, as two extremely competitive people who also love witnessing others' unconventional knowledge (his is politics and mine is anything biblical), it quickly became an evening ritual. This all just happened to coincide with the All-Star Games, Alex Trebek's Stage 4 pancreatic cancer announcement, Leslie's brother being on it, and James Holzhauer's rise to Jeopardy fame, so our timing feels almost cosmic. Watching at perhaps the apex of Jeopardy's 35-seasons has been thrilling, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
A friend of mine invited me to a taping of Busy Tonight earlier in April, and I went in with pretty lukewarm expectations. By the end, I was blown away by her presence, both while taping and between takes with the audience. She's actually laugh-out-loud funny and engaging in a self-deprecating yet empowering manner I had never seen before, so naturally I quickly became infatuated with her. Reading This Will Only Hurt A Little seemed like the obvious next step, and man, she's been through some stuff. I admired her blatant honesty, and could tell that she actually wrote it (which was both refreshing and a bit distracting). Overall I found it to be one of my favorite celebrity memoirs to date and a fun, easy read before bed each night.
1. T.V. Show: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Season 2)
When I first heard about The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I was instantly excited. It had so many of my favorite T.V. elements: an intense and classic storyline, teenage romance, and one of my favorite actresses, Kiernan Shipka (I'm a huge Mad Men fan). Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed by the majority of the first season. It felt slow, and the scenes with her mortal friends were largely boring. Luckily, by the end of Season 1, the plot picked up enough for me to stick with it and try the next few episodes of Season 2. I couldn't be happier that I did. Season 2 is everything that the first lacked. Every episode moves insanely quickly, and both the romance and the horror elements are intensified x1000. By the last line of the final episode, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next season.
2. Book: Here Are The Young Men by Rob Doyle
Published in 2016, Here Are The Young Men is hardly a new release but something I nonetheless downloaded based on Amazon's suggestion. After four years of intense, classic French literature in college, I now look for fiction that is modern and outside the scope of my current life. This novel is exactly that. Doyle tells the story of four 18-year-old Irish boys as they embark on their post-high school lives. It deals with everything from drug use to suicide to national disillusion. It was equal parts heavy and blackly humorous—a combination that makes for a quick read.
1. T.V. Show: Homecoming
Technically this show was released last November, but I didn't find out about it until this spring. It's a psychological thriller (my favorite genre) about running experiments on people, which I shamelessly binged-watched by myself in a single weekend. It stars an incredibly well-cast Julia Roberts as a therapist who works with war veterans to overcome PTSD, but it's clear from the very beginning that something about the facility where she works is just a little off (cue eerie music). Homecoming is thought-provoking, mysterious, detailed, and honestly just conceptually strange, which makes it so interesting! If you liked Shutter Island as much as I did, give Homecoming a shot.
2. T.V. Show: Game of Thrones (Season 8)
Yes, I've been very T.V. heavy so far this year, and obviously I am obligated to write about the final season of GOT, am I right?! Winter is HERE, and I'm absolutely shaking in anticipation of finding out how one of my most beloved T.V. series of all time will come to a close. Season 8, Episode 3, 'The Long Night' (a.k.a. The Battle of Winterfell) was one of the best things I've ever watched on television (but no spoilers for those of you who haven't caught up yet). I cried multiple times, screamed at the T.V., gasped in surprise/shock/awe at least 17 times, and actually started clapping (who am I?) all in the span of about 90 minutes. It was absolutely glorious. For all my fellow Game of Thrones fans, the series finale on May 19th can’t come soon enough.
1. T.V. Show: Killing Eve (Season 2)
Killing Eve premiered last year and easily became my favorite series ever—killer performances, killer writing (with a female showrunner!), killer wardrobes, and a literal killer made this appointment television. Now Villanelle is back and ready to strike again in season two, and so far it's picked up right where it left off. If you're new to the series, you can stream Season 1 on Prime right now as this is a series where you need to watch every episode (even if it's from between your fingers).
2. Book: Ladies Who Punch by Ramin Setoodeh
Back in the early days of the internet I took my passions online, creating fan sites for some of my more exciting hobbies: Mario Cart, Road to Avonlea, and The View. Yes, I used my spare time to create and moderate a View fan-site where I was the sole builder, contributor, and visitor. So it goes without saying that the new behind-the-scenes exposé of the history of The View is made for me. Luckily, it’s actually worth recommending to those who might not share my enthusiasm! Equal-parts interview and insider knowledge, author Ramin takes the history of a daytime series and reflects on its legacy the influence it continues to have today (with a little gossip thrown in for good measure).
1. Movie: Guava Island
Ever since watching A Star is Born, I have become completely fixated on movies with a strong musical soundtrack (I listened to the soundtrack on repeat for approximately three months). Though I initially watched Donald Glover's Guava Island for the music, the storyline hooked me, as did Rihanna's performance.
2. Book: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I first heard about this book through Emily, and I could not recommend it highly enough. It's an alluring story about a young girl who moves to Alaska with her parents and faces extreme adversity from the land, her family dynamics, and a new, unfamiliar social setting. It's beautifully written and since finishing it at the beginning of the year, I still think about it.
What have you been loving this year so far? Tell us in the comments below!
P.S., Wondering who all these recs are coming from? You can meet the team here!
Hero and Promo image via Killing Eve on Pinterest