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.


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.


Normal People

I was curious to watch Normal People in the hopes of better understanding why Sally Rooney’s novel clicked with so many people. I have read both of her books and I was left feeling very unimpressed, so when the show gripped me from episode 1, I knew I had to give the story a second chance. In the book, I was very annoyed at everything Rooney was not saying because the assumption that the reader should guess, understand, and relate to everything felt lazy. Luckily, the acting in the show compensated for much of the missing dialogue and necessary discussion between the two coming-of-age protagonists.

I also read an article about the show’s Intimacy Coordinator, which I found fascinating.

Foodie Love

The premise of this show starts from a dating app where you meet people based on shared culinary preferences. While this is poorly described in the show, leaving readers to search for context, the show is not in fact a commentary on dating, nor on technology. It is a parade of foods (with episode 5 taking the crown on most appetizing shots – that could have also been longer, I wouldn’t have minded!) shared by the protagonists who play the classic game of will-they-won’t-they. Oftentimes, the dynamic between the two felt authentic and similar to couples’ behaviors in real life, especially in Episode 7. It’s a nice show if you love food, need something light, and want to hear media that’s not originally in English.

Sharp Objects

I took a 3-week gap between episode 2 and episode 3, but I am glad I didn’t stop watching. I know this show is based on an older book by Gillian Flynn and that I am late to the party, but still – maybe you’re in the same boat too. It’s a show with dark themes (murder, toxic family relations, self-harm) with deeply flawed characters and a matching soundtrack. It is a slow burner, but still very satisfying to watch. With Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, and Chris Messina. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who also directed season 1 of Big Little Lies.


The Farewell (2019)

I loved this movie so much for its cast, the story’s gentleness, the dynamic between a grandma and her beloved granddaughter (played by Awkwafina), and the absurd relatability of the planned wedding (the pre-wedding photoshoot scenes were brilliant!). Hopefully, this movie inspired more quality time between children (of any age!) and their grandparents.

The Hate U Give (2018)

By the time this movie ended, I was snotty, ugly crying, and angry. In retrospect, watching this only a few weeks before the murder of George Floyd was even more heartwrenching because the book and the movie are labeled as fiction, but it is clear as day that this is not the case. I wish I would have read Angie Thomas’ book before watching the movie, but I will read it nonetheless asap.

Won’t You Be My Neighbour (2018)

A heartwarming and positive documentary about the life of Fred Rogers, famous for his TV programs for kids, his kindness and his gentle way of living. In case you need to watch something that gives you hope, inspiration, and energy, I highly recommend watching this documentary. I also can’t wait to see the new movie starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

This movie was long overdue, but this is already a reoccurring theme in my cultural journey. Nonetheless, I am happy I got to watch Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell in their Oscar performances. I thought the acting was absolutely amazing, especially when the characters weren’t necessarily model citizens.

Breathe (2017)

Another tearjerker movie in the same spirit as The Theory of Everything, this is a story based on the real-life couple Robin and Diana Cavendish (played by Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy). When Robin was struck by polio in 1958, their whole life and universe changed. Back then, the disease wasn’t well understood and there was no vaccine available.

I knew a bit about polio (after reading a moving story called The Last Iron Lung – mentioned it in my Jan 2019 Recs), but this movie taught me a lot about the public perception of the disease and the medical conditions. It’s a very emotional movie that also manages to be very uplifting.

Jane (2017)

I have been keeping Jane Goodall’s “In the Shadow of Man” on my Short Reading List for almost six months now (I will get to it in 2020, mark my words!), but in the meantime, I watched an award-winning documentary about her on Netflix. It was lovely, educational, emotional, and absolutely beautiful, and overall, it made me even more curious to read her book.

The Big Short (2015)

Again, yes, I know I am late to the game. But I was 17 when this movie came out and had no idea how economies functioned or what really caused the 2008 financial crisis. This is mostly because there were little to no resources that accessibly explained the mechanisms and mistakes that lead to the crisis. As I am still learning about what happened, I found this movie helpful. Plus, its flow is fantastic, and the actors made the watching experience extremely enjoyable. With Steve Carell, Christian Bale, and Ryan Gosling.

84 Charing Cross Road (1987)

Absolutely delightful recount of the real-life friendship between Helene Hanff and the staff of Marks & Co., a London bookshop. Her correspondence with Frank P. Doel, one of the booksellers there, is a joy to read (the movie is obviously based on a book!), and as I have recently discovered, also a joy to watch. With Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, and Judy Dench.

Until next Recommendations installment!

Stay safe!

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