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The Best of 2017 Best books, Albums, Movies,Tv Shows and podcasts

Books of the year:

‘Beyond the Label’ offers inspirational message for women

By Charlotte Seton

Photo courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Maureen Chiquet’s memoir, “Beyond the Label,” stuns with its exposé of her career failures. As the international CEO of Chanel, Chiquet’s utter honesty is what makes this book a very compelling read. “I’m just asking you to stop, open your ears, and hear what people have to say,” Mickey Drexler (CEO of The Gap) admonishes Chiquet after a particularly rocky business meeting. Scenes like this pepper the narrative, providing vivid detail of how Chiquet learned from the career and family challenges she faced to become a highly successful businesswoman.

Chiquet’s story is less about her job as head of Chanel than it is about the path of self-discovery that led to her high-ranking position. Her entertaining tale first describes the impact of the various Midwestern, Jewish and French experiences of her youth. Chiquet then shares her experiences as a marketing trainee at L’Oreal in Paris, her rise through the ranks at

The Gap and Old Navy and her stints as president of Banana Republic and Chanel.

Along the way she redefines the labels attached to women - wife, mother and CEO - in ways unique to herself. Chiquet was an introverted literature major, but she is also a living example of how such a background can make you an effective CEO. On the other hand, juggling a full-time career while bringing up two daughters amply demonstrated that there is no way to have the perfect work-life balance. Chiquet readily admits she wasn’t the mother of the year, although ironically the National Mother’s Day Committee awarded her the title of “Outstanding Mother.” A major theme of the book is that optimal work-life balance is something each woman has to define for herself based upon her own circumstances and available resources. This story inspires women to be true to themselves in all life choices, both professional and personal.

Besides encouraging honest self-reflection, Chiquet also gently motivates young women to question the norm: how should we think about our intellect, feelings and even our bodies? For example, Chiquet describes her newfound appreciation for French open-mindedness during her junior year abroad in Paris. She questions why we shouldn’t use intuition and gut feelings, as well as the traditional decision-making characteristics of judgment and logic, to resolve business issues. She shares her career successes (she developed The Gap’s first C-buckle belts) and failures (being “a train wreck of a mother”) in equal measure.

Ultimately, Chiquet’s sincere and fascinating narrative inspires women to embrace femininity as one of their greatest sources of strength and to pursue “what really makes your heart sing.”

‘Walkaway’ expresses social change through a different lens

Photo Courtesy of MacMillan Publishers

By Verenice Palczynski

Cory Doctorow’s “Walkaway” is set in a near-future dystopian society. Human interaction has been replaced by machinery. Those who still have a creative mind and disagree with the way that society is run ‘walkaway,’ living past the city limits in hopes of finding a better society.

“Walkaway” is odd and creative, all the way down to the character names. One of the protagonists goes by the nickname Etcetera, due to the fact that his true name is Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton and the list goes on. Etcetera, Natalie and Seth are the three main characters. Seth is witty and sarcastic while Natalie is a privileged, intelligent woman. Etcetera, on the other hand, acts as a neutral party to balance both.

Across the country, especially in the Bay Area, people feel more open to self expression of all kinds. This is true of the novel as well. It is refreshing to see that Etcetera is bisexual. It’s extremely rare that this sexual orientation is represented in any sort of media, and even more so in the portrayal of a man. Natalie chooses not shave her underarms, which is a recent social movement and mode of expression in today’s time. There is also a transgender character named Tam, another underrepresented identity in the media. Often when novels have this much diversity in their text, it becomes such an overpowering theme that it detracts from the plot, as if the author is doing all he or she can to prove they too can be diverse. However, in “Walkaway,” diversity is simply mentioned in a natural way and treats it as nothing new.

The technology in the novel, though extremely advanced, stays in the realm of possibility. However, there are inventive and odd concepts, such as uploading someone's conscience to a computer to create immortality. When a mind-boggling piece of technology is introduced by the author, it is eloquently described through narration and dialogue, which keeps the futuristic theme of the book plausible.

The characters in “Walkaway” are also extremely intelligent. Most of the people in the ‘walkaway’ society joined because they believed they were skilled enough to create a better system. The discussions between characters are always witty and arguments have real intellectual tension that is almost tangible. These discussions happen between females, males and everyone in between.

This book, however, is not all intellectual discussions and technology talk. There is romance and sexual tension, as well as friendships and rivalries. The interconnectedness is simultaneously complex, well described and fairly easy to follow. The book can definitely get steamy at times, but it is realistic and doesn’t sensationalize sex.

This book made me laugh, become frustrated and intellectually challenged me. Though it may not be a relaxed, lazy Sunday morning read, it is engaging and thought provoking. “Walkaway” is dystopian, science-fiction, romance, humorous and profound. “Walkaway” truly is a book filled with, and for, all walks of life.

'Beneath a Scarlet Sky' showcases forgotten history

Photo courtesy of Mark Sullivan Books

By Emily Sweet

Mark Sullivan delivers a heartbreaking and exceptional commentary on human nature in his 18th novel “Beneath a Scarlet Sky.” Based on the true story of Pino Lella’s life, Sullivan spent weeks with Lella in Italy working through his tale of death and destruction as a teenager during World War II.

Set in various locations throughout Europe during WWII, the novel follows Lella, a 17-year-old Italian boy from Milan, as he witnesses his city fall under the Nazi regime. Lella’s journey leads him to a job as the driver of high-ranking Nazi General Leyers, the seemingly humane man who commits inhumane atrocities. Lella begins working as a spy against the Nazi party, and finds himself swept in a whirlwind romance with Leyer’s housekeeper, Anna.

Though Lella is shocked to discover that the Nazis are transporting prisoners to horrific camps, his love for Anna is unwavering. The evolution of their relationship as developed by Sullivan, though slow, displays the vulnerability, emotion and passion of romance from the eyes of a young man.

The relationship between Lella and General Leyers serves as an inside account to war horrors, revealing the overlooked perspective of a Nazi general who is unsympathetic to the forced labor of thousands, yet willing to save a sick child from a concentration camp minutes before the trains left. By far the most complicated character, Leyers is written beautifully—to the point where I was surprised to find myself facing the same confusion that Lella faces in his own life—sympathizing for the very man who brings about many of the novel’s most agonizing moments.

Though because of graphic first-hand war stories, it is a difficult book to read, “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is a reminder of the obstacles we each face as humans. Before reading this, my knowledge about Italy in WWII was mostly limited to the overarching concept of fascism. However, Sullivan brilliantly turns a sensationalized war into a personable viewpoint, once again reminding the reader to view not only history, but the world with an emotional, heartfelt mind.

Though it is unlikely you will make it through “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” without tearing up, the tears are worth the read and are furthermore a sign of Sullivan’s effective message in his harrowing masterpiece. This novel is an exquisite choice for fans of historical fiction, heartbreak and a deeper meaning to the decisions we make that remain with us for life.

Albums of the year:

Getting personal with distinct new sounds

By Lily Baldwin

2017 brought many changes and while not all were positive, the incredible new music that came out this year provided an escape from everyday chaos. This year was one that brought revolutionary new rap albums and unique new artists and songs that shed light on lesser known genres, such as “R&B psychedelic funk” and “neo soul jazz.” While there were many amazing tracks composed by talented artists this year, here are just four of 2017’s best albums.

Flower Boy by Tyler, the Creator

In Tyler, the Creator’s stand-out 2017 rap album, Flower Boy, the curt rapper’s vulnerable side is bared to fans with a grain of comedic salt and sarcasm. The lyrics of tracks such as “911/Mr. Lonely” delve deep into the personal feelings of the rapper, a new frontier for Tyler, the Creator to explore in comparison to his last album, Cherry Bomb, in which lyrics are hardcore and blunt. The lyrics, written by the artist himself, reveal much about his perceptions surrounding his own life and emotions, with the acceptance of loneliness and solitude being an overwhelming theme in the album. Cohesively self-produced, the beginnings and ends of the tracks blend into one another. This style of production prompts listeners to go straight through the album without pausing, letting them experience an uninterrupted story about growing up from 26-year-old Tyler Okonma’s painful perspective as a young rapper who gains fast fame. Infusions of jazz and R&B in tracks such as “November” and “Glitter” give the album a streak of sophistication and airiness, contrasting Tyler’s deep, cold-cut vocals. The album sports an impressive list of features, including Frank Ocean and up-and-coming artists like Rex Orange County. Flower Boy, released in July, is nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2017 Grammys.

Recommended: “See You Again” ft. Kali Uchis and “Boredom” ft. Rex Orange County and Anna of the North

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Ctrl by SZA

Best New Artist Grammy nominee, 28-year-old Solána Imani Rowe (known as SZA), released a powerful, neo soul R&B album this June, titled Ctrl. The widely popular track “Love Galore,” featuring rapper Travis Scott, was released in April and heightened anticipation for the release of Ctrl with its enchanting vocals over bassy hip hop beats. Injected with sounds of symphonic strings, synths and recordings of SZA’s own grandmother, this album is a deeply personal confession of the singer’s trials and tribulations with love. In songs such as “Normal Girl” and “Drew Barrymore,” SZA sings about her insecurities and troubled relationships, often apologizing for not being the perfect image of a woman. This album is a collection of femme-strong I-don't-give-a-sh*t songs (like the track “Go Gina”) that empower listeners with feelings of self-confidence. Rightly so, SZA is the most nominated woman this year for the Grammys, sporting five nominations, with Ctrl (now certified gold) nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album.

Recommended: “Prom” and “Garden (Say It Like Dat)”

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Melodrama by Lorde

In Lorde’s unapologetically emotional album, Melodrama, released in June of this year, the 21-year-old combines her whimsical voice with heavy-hanging percussion and blanketed harmonies to create an ethereal tracklist that topped charts in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The album’s genre is hard to define, with tracks ranging from emotional ballads like “Liability” and “Writer in the Dark” to upbeat dance songs like “Green Light,” and “Homemade Dynamite (Remix),” which features Khalid, Post Malone and SZA. The indie-rock vibe of “The Louvre” appeals to more light-hearted listeners, while the heavy “Sober II (Melodrama)” goes deeper with a slow-moving beat and darker tones. The personal lyrics behind each and every track in Melodrama strike the hearts of all listeners, telling a story of the artist’s heartbreak through beautifully mixed audio and unique use of instrumentals. Slow piano serenades can quickly transition into pounding drum beats, and the passion of the singer’s unwavering voice can be heard clearly through each track. Lorde’s ability to connect with her listeners is perfectly showcased in Melodrama, along with her unmatched lyrical and vocal talent. This impressive combination earned her a 2017 Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

Recommended: “Perfect Places”

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A Moment Apart by Odesza

Electronic duo Odesza released their third studio album this September, titled A Moment Apart. This chillwave tracklist consists of layered beats and major chords that uplift every listener, with songs like “Higher Ground” featuring Naomi Wild, that can take anyone back to that summer sunset you miss so much during finals week. The track “Late Night” was released as a single in April (along with song “Line of Sight”) and quickly became the anthem of everyone’s summer. In its first week of release, A Moment Apart reached #3 on U.S. charts. Considering its complex and high quality production value and wondrous array of electronic and vocal workings, it’s no wonder this album is nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album. The heavenly use of vocal samples can be heard in tracks like A Moment Apart, the first song on the album after “Intro,” the calm opener that tells the whispered story of a cosmonaut who falls in love with his surrounding sounds. Inspiring feelings of adventure and carefree youthfulness, this album pairs perfectly with an evening drive over Mount Tam and a couple good friends.

Recommended: “Boy”

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BEST MOVIES OF THE YEAR:

Diverse protagonists, stories dominate theaters

By Alexander Lieberman

2017 was a year of great movies. From blockbuster superhero films to long-awaited sequels of science fiction classics to incredible war films and smaller comedy-drama films, this year in cinema featured movies for everyone, from determined film buffs to casual movie fans. Several of this year’s best films featured strong female protagonists - from Amazon warrior Diana of Themyscira to the Sacramento high school outcast Christine McPherson. Here are just four—of the many deserving—best films of the year.

"Wonder Woman"

Courtesy of DC

Marvel has always had the upper hand on DC in terms of critically acclaimed and commercially successful superhero films. However, if “Wonder Woman” is any indication of DC’s future direction, they should have no problem catching up.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is introduced as a young girl named Diana growing up on Themyscira, a mystical island populated entirely by a tribe of warrior women. We follow her as she grows up and trains to be a warrior, eventually leaving the island with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American pilot fighting in World War I, after he crashes into Themyscira. Along with their allies, they fight the German army and try to find and kill Ares (David Thewlis), the god of war, to end the conflict.

The film flips typical gender roles of this genre with a woman as the main hero and a man providing emotional support, making it unique among comic book films. Diana is a strong-willed female character who is able to defend herself and her allies. Gadot and Pine give very impressive performances and have great chemistry. “Wonder Woman” is an inspiring character who sets the tone for future female leads in the film industry.

"Dunkirk"

Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Director Christopher Nolan has directed some of the best and most unique films of recent years. With “Dunkirk,” he tells a little-known story from World War II and makes it into an engaging action-adventure movie.

The story is divided into three parts—air, land and sea—detailing the evacuation of Allied forces from the coastal French town of Dunkirk during World War II. We follow a Spitfire squadron flying from Britain to France, soldiers waiting on the beach to be rescued and British civilians sailing across the English channel to evacuate soldiers. These three storylines remain largely separate throughout the film, each developing independently until they all reach Dunkirk at the end of the film. This was a different style of filmmaking from what viewers may be accustomed to, but it worked well for the story that the movie told.

The film is one of Nolan’s best. The intense musical score adds to each scene. There is minimal dialogue from stars Fionn Whitehead and Tom Hardy, who play a British Army Private and Spitfire pilot, respectively. This allows the viewer to fully focus on the film’s exciting action and beautiful views of the French coast. All of these features add up to a great film that is worthy of its recognition and acclaim.

"Lady Bird"

Courtesy of A24 Films

In her solo debut, writer-director and actress Greta Gerwig paints a beautiful picture of adolescence, personal identity and the importance of family.

“Lady Bird” tells the story of Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a 17-year-old girl living in Sacramento who prefers to be called ‘Lady Bird.’ The film focuses mainly on Christine’s relationship with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) and their recurring conflict over Christine’s desire to go to college on the East Coast. Their complex relationship is developed through this and other conflicts throughout the film. This is a relatable film for high school students, as it portrays the elaborate relationships we experience with our parents, friends and classmates. Teen viewers will be able to relate to Christine’s desire to be the best version of herself. Her and her mother’s conflicts about where to go to college were also relatable for me and my family, and would be for a lot of students. The film is very well made, with emotional performances by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf that establish their dynamic as mother and daughter. The film is a relatable, funny and emotional journey.

"Blade Runner 2049"

Courtesy of Warner Brothers

In 1982, the first “Blade Runner” movie questioned the advancement of technology and what it means to be human. Thirty-five years later, its sequel explores those questions further in a well-acted, visually stunning masterpiece.

Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is a replicant (a bioengineered human) Blade Runner, a type of police officer who eliminates rogue replicants. During an investigation, he finds the remains of a female replicant who died during childbirth, leading him to question how it is possible that a replicant could give birth. With the help of retired Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), Officer K is able to find and protect the replicant’s child, Ana Stelline (Carla Juri).

Director Denis Villeneuve establishes an eye-catching setting of 2049 Los Angeles. The film is a faithful sequel to the original. The questions asked about the limits of technology and human consciousness are timeless. “Blade Runner 2049” successfully revives another Harrison Ford character from the ’ 80s, further develops Ryan Gosling’s stardom, and continues to establish Villeneuve’s identity as an excellent science-fiction filmmaker.

Best Tv Shows of the year

The greatest binge-worthy shows of the year

By Christine Watridge

This past year tumultuous, to say the least, but one thing that stayed constant was the high quality of TV series. From dramatic battle scenes to mysterious murders, here are some of my personal favorite shows of the year.

"Stranger Things" Season 2

The sequel to a great movie, book or TV series is often underwhelming to fans. To my fortunate surprise, season two of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” was just as compelling as the first. The show follows a group of middle schoolers and supernatural events in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the 1980s.

The Duffer Brothers, creators of the ’80s science fiction-horror show, introduced compelling new characters such as skater “MadMax” (Sadie Sink), high school jock Billie Mayfield (Dacre Montgomery) and RadioShack nerd Bob Newby (Sean Astin) while evolving existing fan favorites. The plot expanded immensely with the addition of a terrifyingly awesome villain: the “Mind Flayer,” or shadow monster, from the “Upside Down,” a universe unlocked by Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) powers in the first season.

Noah Schnapp portrayed Will Byers’ distress and vicissitude with incredible skill for a 13-year-old actor. Additionally, the bond between Brown (Eleven) and David Harbour, who plays Sheriff Jim Hopper, added lovely familial dimension to both characters.

The show perfectly balanced humor with drama and gravity, and I loved the binge-worthy second season of “Stranger Things.” Watch it on Netflix.

"Game of Thrones" Season 7

Courtesy of HBO

HBO’s award-winning “Game of Thrones,” based on the “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels by George R. R. Martin, is a fantasy show about the struggle for the Iron Throne of Westeros. The series has been a huge hit, winning 38 Emmy awards since it first aired in 2011.

Warning: DON’T read on if you haven’t watched the rest of the show and plan to (which you should)! The seventh season follows Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) as she crosses the sea to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms. Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) battles to retain her crown and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) faces the White Walker threat from beyond the Wall.

This show has always been extremely graphic, violent and bold in plot twists, character deaths and special effects. This season is no different; the battles are epic and, frankly, awesome. The actors’ performances are excellent and the plot twists are riveting. It’s impossible to mention every amazing character because there are so many, but each and every actor fully delivered. I think I speak for every fan when I say that we’re anxiously awaiting the final season.

“Game of Thrones” can be found on HBO streaming with a valid account or Xfinity On Demand.

"Big Little Lies" Miniseries

“Big Little Lies” is an HBO series released this year, receiving 16 Emmy nominations. It explores the brutal social undercurrents of affluent families in Monterey, California. The show is based on the 2014 New York Times bestseller by Liane Moriarty, which delves into an elementary school fundraiser murder. It is delightfully turbulent, combining elements of reality-TV-like cattiness with an intriguing plot.

The community is ruled by wealthy, ambitious and petty mothers, including Madeline Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon), a housewife cheating on her husband; Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman), a lawyer abused by her husband; Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley), a mysterious single mom; and Renata Klein (Laura Dern), a mother intent on protecting her daughter.

The story is told through present police interviews and flashbacks from before the murder. Though it starts off slow, momentum built quickly and soon I was completely wrapped up in the upper-middle-class suburbia nightmare.

Kidman and her co-star Alexander Skarsgård, who played her abusive husband, did an outstanding job in the difficult roles of the perverse couple. The pain and internal turmoil was apparent in every scene, and the narrative felt real and emotional.

Watch “Big Little Lies” with an HBO account or on Xfinity On Demand.

Courtesy of HBO

"Riverdale" Season 2

The Archie comics-inspired “Riverdale” explores the darker, grittier side of a fictional small town. The CW hit first captured my attention last year, as it followed the aftermath of the disappearance of high school football jock Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines). [SPOILERS] After we find out he was murdered by his father, who trafficked drugs through Riverdale, a new threat is revealed when Archie Andrews’ (KJ Apa) father Fred (Luke Perry) is shot in the iconic Pop's Chock’lit Shoppe. The “Black Hood” serial killer is on the loose, preying on the sin of the seemingly innocent town.

The foreboding soundtrack, sinister lighting and murky colors perfectly capture the mood of the story. The costume design is also on point, with each character’s comic book essence reflected in their individual styles.

This second season has shown us different sides of every character, which is refreshing but also concerning to those of us that have grown attached to characters we know and love. Archie’s obsession with his father’s shooter leads him on a downward spiral, while Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) wrestles with her moral compass.

Catch episodes of Riverdale on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. on the CW network or watch season one on Netflix.

Podcasts of the year

Four series for any mood

Photo by Tilly Friedlander

Whether you’re driving your car to school on a rainy morning, snuggling in the warmth of your bed with a cup of steaming hot coffee or simply in the mood to listen to your news rather than read it, podcasts are an engaging and informative way to hear real-life stories. According to the Edison Research Center, 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast in 2017—an increase of 11 percent since 2016. They range from being funny and lighthearted when you need some cheering up to serious and heavy when you’re seeking “real” news. No matter what type of podcast you may be craving, here are four that every teenager could benefit from listening to on their phone or computer.

This American Life

When I first heard the name “This American Life,” I thought ‘Okay, it sounds a little patriotic and cheesy, so it may not be my cup of tea.’ But, let me apologize for judging this podcast by its “cover.” This American Life proved me wrong through its wide range of story genres and in-depth interviews. While this isn’t true for all of the stories on the podcast, most have an uplifting feel to them, which gave me a more hopeful mindset. This American Life’s website is one of those rare and beautiful sites that you can simply find what you’re looking for without seeing an ad for the shoes you almost purchased last week. I first clicked on favorites and listened to Three Miles, a touching story about a program that brings students from opposite high schools in the Bronx together. The editing was sharp and I never lost interest because the story had heart to it. Rather than reading an article with quotes from the leaders of the program, I got to hear the actual voices of the students. Their interviews gave a better glimpse into what went through their minds and what their emotions were. This American Life doesn’t exclusively cover heavy topics. In fact, I was able to find multiple interviews that actually made me laugh to myself while alone in my bedroom. I recommend David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries. Sedaris, a famous comical storyteller himself, describes his time, at 33 years old, working as a “full time elf” for Macy’s. The only drawback of This American Life is that each podcast is an hour long, which is not practical for someone without the time to spare.

The Moth

The Moth describes itself as “the art and craft of storytelling.” And that is exactly what it is. The first mysterious podcast I listened to was “Girl Interrupted” by Anya Rymer. I had no idea what I was about to hear as I saw no description of the story under the recording. Despite its vague website design, The Moth proved very honest and Bohemian. In 14 minutes, Rymer told the story of when she found out that she had AIDS. There were no interview questions in the story and there were no other voices. It was a raw recording told solely by the person affected. The Moth lets people tell their story exactly the way that they would want, giving it a more personal aspect that works well with the content of the recordings. When I listened to “Girl Interrupted,” I felt as though I was sitting there with Rymer, crying, laughing and hearing the story exactly how she wanted it to be told. I continued to click around for another, less heavy topic to listen to and came across Charlotte’s Deadly Scissors by Erik Heen. Heen’s story was about his attempt to fit in when he moved from Ohio to Texas by getting a haircut. The story had character to it, like many on The Moth’s website. If you are in the mood for a quick story, whether that be touching or comical, then The Moth is right up your alley.

Where We Should Begin

I know that we’re just in high school and most of us haven’t had tons of experience with serious romantic relationships, but if you’re into addictive soap operas or reality TV, like I am, then go ahead and listen to Where Should We Begin. Listeners have been raving about the podcast for months now, and even the New Yorker decided to review it. They called it “couples therapist extraordinaire.” I thought it was best if I also searched it up to see what the hype was all about, since I tend to almost always fall for the newest entertainment. Esther Perel is the therapist that started the “audible original series,” as she calls it. I went ahead and listened to the most recent episode, titled “I Can’t Give You A Child.” It took me through a couple’s very personal conversation regarding how they took their own journey to have a child. The content is very heavy in this podcast and if you’re interested, get ready to sit through what feels like your very own therapy session. It’s juicy, dramatic and at times even spiritual. If either of those three aspects does not appeal to you, then “Where Should We Begin” most likely isn’t for you. But, if you’re anything like me, then yes, it was very entertaining to listen to couples fight and share their gossip with the world.

S-Town

Created by the same maker of Serial and narrated by Brian Reed, a famous murder mystery podcast, S-Town veers the farthest away from the other three podcasts as it follows the same story throughout its entire season; not only that, but the podcast investigates a mystery case. Personally, I am a fiend for anything horror: Law and Order, the Conjuring, Dexter—you name it and I’ve seen it. So, of course, S-Town caught my eye, or I guess you could say my ear. When I clicked on Chapter one, the beginning of the series, I read a quote that said, “If you keep your mouth shut, you’ll be surprised what you can learn.” Try to tell me that doesn’t sound intriguing. The podcast investigates a murder that occurred around the time that a wealthy man in Alabama bragged that he got away with murder. John, who is from the small town of Woodstock, Alabama where the murder took place, leads a reporter to investigate the case. The podcasts turn into a fascinating character study of John as the episodes continue. The reporter starts the chapter with a metaphor about an old antique clock breaking to foreshadow what’s to come in the mystery. It’s a compelling way to begin the podcast while, at the same time, providing context for what is about to be heard. S-Town differs from Serial because of its many different characters. Like Serial, there is conflicting evidence surrounding the case. In my opinion, this is the perfect podcast for distracting yourself or binge-listening to during exercise? Of course, if you’re like me, you will not be exercising while you listen to it. You’ll be in bed, popcorn in hand, fully focused on the podcast.

Credits:

Created with images by Brigitte Tohm - "Sparklers at new year"

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