Laura Recommends

April and May Recommendations

June 8, 2020

Yes, I’m aware that I’m awfully late with this post (for various reasons relevant only to myself), but alas, here is another list of books, movies, and resources that I appreciated in the past two months.

A note on future content: Starting June, I will also add more books authored by BIPOC and movies/series about black history (and not only!) to my Recommendations as a conscious, constant, and long-lasting duty in my content curation.

BOOKS

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

This must be one of the most eye-opening books I have read in 2020. In her 1990 book, Naomi Wolf presents how social and cultural stereotypes have increasingly shaped women’s physiques, behavior, and mentality.

On top of all the layers described by Wolf (media, advertising, education, religion, etc.), social media is increasingly influencing how women perceive themselves, so I’d be very curious to read a second volume on the topic.

Open – Andre Agassi

This autobiography has been on my list for two years and I am so thrilled I finally got to it. I read it almost feverishly and then quickly instructed my mother to read it as well. The book tells the story of Andre Agassi, a world-renowned tennis player, from his early childhood on the tennis court in his backyard to the last match he played professionally. It is told almost breathlessly and it’s not easy to put down.

Fiction-wise, I have enjoyed reading Where the crawdads sing by Delia Owens and Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng. I don’t frequently read fiction, but when I do, all I want is to be immersed in well-built and believable worlds and be engaged in relevant and thought-provoking themes, which both of these books provide.

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Laura Recommends

March Recommendations III

April 10, 2020

How is everyone doing? I figured most of us are craving for bits of our “old” lives, hence why I decided to go on with my regular editorial scheduling, bringing you my favorite cultural recommendations in terms of books, movies, documentaries, videos, exhibits and more. Obviously, everything I will mention in this month’s post will be accessible from home, the place where we should be most of the time for the sake of everyone’s health and for the sake of worldwide health systems.

PFEW. Saying all this makes me feel like a broken record, but alas… here are all the things I loved during March 2020:

BOOKS

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

This book was everywhere on my Instagram feed ever since it launched. There were multiple interviews with the author which I saved in my TBR folder because I wanted to read the book first. And my God, I basically inhaled the 300+ pages in 3 days, it was that good! It’s an amazing book about relationships, desire, human needs, trust, despair, disappointment, sex, societal influences, labels and so much more.

Invisible Influence by Jonah Berger

I knew I would like this book the moment I saw it. It explained simply and scientifically how most of our decisions are actually triggered, inspired or influenced by members of the society around us. We aren’t really that free and independent in our choices as we would like to think, but I believe that if we are aware of the factors influencing us, then we can truly better understand why we do certain things/ buy certain objects/ crave a specific lifestyle. Super good read.

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

I love everything Alain de Botton writes and this book made no exception. I found its story very compelling and its structure very useful in providing constructive explanations and reasoning into the story. I think it’s a fantastic read for anyone who wants to better understand oneself and who wishes to have an equally emotionally intelligent relationship with their romantic partner.

A Man called Over – Fredrik Backman

Building unlikeable characters which you end up loving by the end of the book is no easy feat, but Backman does a particularly great job at this. I laughed out loud a few times, deeply felt the tearjerking moments and overall tried to empathize a lot with Ove and his way of living. A delightful read to hopefully put into perspective the life of elders around us.

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Laura Recommends

February Recommendations III

March 6, 2020

SEEN

Thierry Mugler exhibit at Kunsthal, Rotterdam

Kunsthal constantly manages to create absolutely incredible exhibits and the Thierry Mugler exhibit is no exception. The exhibit wastes no time in introducing people to the designer – the first room is instantly immersing people in Mugler’s early work involving stage costumes. Besides this aspect, I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of iconic items they have gathered. I must have spent at least 25 minutes in total just gasping at the craft behind the pieces. The expo will move In March-April to Munich, so if you want to see you can catch it there.

1917 and 1917 Explained: How and Why They Did One Shot – The Take

I have absolutely loved this analysis of 1917! Obviously, the movie itself is a technical masterpiece – a rare immersive experience. I almost forgot to breathe during the movie because I felt it so intensively, but this is proof that it is definitely worth watching.

American Factory

This documentary shouldn’t have shocked me, but somehow it did. it takes an insider look at an American factory which is reopened by Chinese investors. The whole story made me feel very uneasy due to a lot of reasons I will not list here, but I would still recommend it. And btw, it was created by the production house set up by Michelle and Barack Obama.

Miss Americana

I did not think I would enjoy Taylor Swift’s documentary so much, but I did. And I am glad she made the step of opening up and letting people in her thoughts, her process, and her own issues. Naturally, I became OBSESSED with Only The Young – it’s a really good song.

Parasite – ending explained – The Take

Surprise, surprise – the second The Take video in a Recommendations post! Seriously, I am mesmerized by their video analyses. This one is also very nuanced, going through a lot of the movie’s layers.

Sex Education

Right after the second season dropped on Netflix, it seemed that all my friends had been hard-core fans of the show because everybody was hyping it left and right. So, obviously, I had to watch it to satisfy my curiosity. And I get it now. The topics, the acting, the characters, the aesthetic, the jokes – the combo of everything is a winner.

Burger King ad

In case this campaign has not reached you in February, I decided to list it here as well. I will not spoil it for you (you’ll get this pun after you see the ad), but it’s really good and provocative.The Goop Lab – Cynical reviews

The Goop Lab – Cynical Reviews

I didn’t even attempt to watch The Goop Lab because I don’t want to support in any way pseudo-science that aims to capitalize on gullible people, but I still wanted to know what they talk about in this show. This analysis is great and funny and very important, especially if you have the tendency to believe celebrity sponsored activities and products.

How Bollywood Gave Britney Spears Her Greatest Hit – INSIDER

WOW. I promise you that after watching this video you will never listen to Toxic in the same way. I wish more songs were broken down and analysed like this.

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Laura Recommends

December and January Recommendations

February 5, 2020

I know it may seem like I haven’t written a Recommendation post in years, but moving forward I was thinking of publishing these posts only once every two months as my schedule is getting increasingly busy. Any thoughts on this new frequency?

Other than this quick update, I hope the beginning of the new year found you happy, healthy, and determined to make the most of this decade.

Meanwhile, to keep you informed, entertained, and curious, I have prepared a list of all the books, articles, and movies I have enjoyed in the past two months. Obviously I included only the things I really loved and feel comfortable recommending.

BOOKS

The Fate of Food – Amanda Little

I have absolutely adored this book and will not spam you further with content about it, but if you are curious about it and still haven’t read my review, you can find it here.

Lab Girl – Hope Jahren

This book taught me that’s it’s not necessary to have crazy action and events to write a beautiful book. Hope Jahren is a professor and scientist in geochemistry and geobiology. In her first book, she manages to beautifully capture and share her passion for plants and nature and the struggles of being a researcher in a field where money is not necessarily pouring out of the sky. She also manages to present an honest perspective over friendship, particularly about finding friends who are as weird and passionate as you.

How to Stop Time – Matt Haig

I am a sucker for most books addressing time travel. While this particular book’s main character is not a time traveler, but a guy who lives for a bizarrely long period of time, readers can still enjoy stories from multiple centuries. This book is clever, emotional, gripping, and very pleasant to read.

This is going to hurt – Adam Kay

I laughed so much while reading this book that it actually started to hurt 😂 While this book is incredibly funny and enjoyable, I think its biggest achievement is its authentic depiction of a doctor’s life (in NHS). We don’t usually read stories this long about the exhaustion and the crazy shifts medical professionals have to go through, but perhaps the reason why is because most of them barely have time to sleep, let alone write a book. I am also curious to read his second book: Twas the nightshift before Christmas, so let me know your thoughts if you have read it!

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Laura Recommends

One of the best books to read in 2020

January 29, 2020

Back in August last year, I spotted in one of London’s many Waterstones a book that made all the other books fade away. It had a cover depicting a branch of kumquats that had a USB instead of roots. It was eery, beautiful and thought-provoking at the same time.

That was the cover of The Fate of Food by Amanda Little, a book I desperately wanted to get in London. I have confidently delayed the purchase until one hour before my train ride, thinking that the station will be the best place to get it – a naïve belief since I was among the last ones to board the Eurostar, obviously sans my book.

But I bought it eventually and read it in January. I have underlined countless paragraphs, I have scribbled dozens of OMG, WTF and Holy Cow (in pencil, of course, I am not a monster!) and I have arrived at the conclusion that this must be one of the best books I will probably read in 2020, if not the best.

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Laura Recommends

October and November Recommendations

December 1, 2019

Perhaps some of you noticed that in October I did not publish my list of favourites. I was not on an unannounced break, I just realized at the end of the month that there weren’t enough things to make for a full and worthy article. So, my call was to combine October and November recommendations in one post (I usually do November and December together).

BOOKS

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

I saw this book on one of my coworker’s desks and then one of my best friends told me about it, so obviously I had to give it a go. I listened to the audiobook version of it and I was hooked from the first few minutes. The book explores death and mortality in sincere, hopeful, and raw ways and it quickly became one of my 5 stars books this year.

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

WOW. Let me tell you I had no idea about the ride I was embarking on when I started this book. Although it’s pretty big (over 400 pages), I read it faster than I expected because the writing was great, flowing and clear. I don’t think it’s easy to follow multiple timelines and characters, but Rebecca Skloot certainly did a great job telling the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman who died in 1951 due to cervical cancer and whose cells have been harvested and commercialized as the first-ever immortal human cells. The book leads to a lot of discussions about the medical industry, ethics, privacy, racism, and future practices and I highly recommend you to read it.

In the past weeks, I have also read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, which resonated to me more than I thought and which now made me add the movie adaptation on my To Watch list as well. I also read Outline by Rachel Cusk and found the writing absolutely beautiful and last but not least, I finally read This is how you lose her by Junot Diaz. Cannot wait to read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao soon!

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