Too much television, too many movies, too many video games, probably even excessive reading can be detrimental to your health and well-being.
But nevertheless, I love watching a great TV show. Movies are awesome. I’m a little addicted to self-help books. This year, for the first time in a while, I’ve started really getting into fiction too.
Not all creative works and media are created equally, however. A few have really stood out to me over the past few months, and I’ve found these rattling around in my brain long after I’ve completed them, and in some cases, I’ve ended up going in for seconds.
Here are a few of the movies, television shows, fiction and non-fiction books, music, media, and artistic creations that have influenced me in a spectacular way lately, and I highly suggest you check some of these out.
1. You’re the Worst (Television Show)
You’re the Worst is one of the most interesting television shows I’ve seen in a while, and is also one of the funniest. Although the show kicks off with a great premise, two horrible people who don’t do relationships hook up and kinda sorta start seeing each other, the show’s exceptional writing pushes the show into even greater unique, hilarious, and emotional places.
Laugh out loud moments, quirkiness, and realistic depictions of modern relationships, are fueled by clever writing and great characters. Some of the episodes in the second season, like LCD Soundsystem, are so unique and well-written that I just want to watch them and study them over and over again, in hopes of becoming a better writer.
Unlike many current and recent shows, the writers know not only when to tear the characters apart, and induce conflict, but they also know when to bring the characters back together, and the show is all the better for it.
2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle (NOVEL)
If you don’t count Haruki Murakami novels, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is probably the strangest novel I’ve ever read. The story follows two strange sisters who live together in a small village, and the story develops slowly and precisely into an unsettling little tale. The protagonist, Merricat, is probably one of the most interesting narrators of all time. She begins like this:
“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had.”
I don’t want to give away too much, but the way the story develops over the course of the novel is pretty great and super strange. I highly suggest you check it out. I couldn’t put it down while reading and this is definitely on the top of my “re-read” list.
The author, Shirley Jackson, is a bit better known for her novel The Haunting of Hill House and her short story The Lottery, but to me, this one takes the cake.
3. Les Miserables (FILM/MUSICAL)
I know the film version of Les Miserables has been around for almost four years now, but I’ve only just now gotten around to watching it. I saw a stage version a long time ago, so I knew that when I finally watched the film I was going to need to be prepared for an emotional experience.
Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine and her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” particularly stood out as a heart-wrenching moment of the film, but so many different characters’ stories throughout the course of the film packed huge depressing punches.
On the lighter side however, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter’s rendition of “Master of the House” is absolutely hilarious.
The nearly three-hour long film punched me in the gut over and over again while making me question the human condition, sing along, and yes, also sorta kinda ball my eyes out…
But yet… I loved every second of it.
4. Singles (FILM)
“My dad left home when I was eight. You know what he said to me? Have fun, stay single. I was eight.” – Steve
This early 90s film by Cameron Crowe takes place in grunge-era Seattle and stars Kyra Sedgwick, Matt Dillon, Bridget Fonda, and Campbell Scott.
Singles is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a while and although it’s a bit older, it’s a nice look into relationships, single-ness, and becoming an adult. There are some really laugh-out-loud funny moments, and this is a film that everyone needs to see at least once.
I’ve already re-watched it a few times, and I’m sure I’ll continually be watching it over and over again for years to come.
5. Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway (NON-FICTION BOOK)
While the title alone is a great suggestion for living life, this self-help book delves even further into great suggestions for persevering and embracing the things that we’re afraid of.
The author, Susan Jeffers, goes into various methods for pushing through fear and inaction, changing how we think about things we’re afraid of and worry about, and simply living life more fully.
Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway makes a lot of great points and although many of Susan Jeffers’ ideas seem obvious after reading them, they are incredibly helpful. Many of her ideas and simple mindset tricks are not only smart, but easy to implement.
For example, she suggests that instead of living in hope (i.e. “Hoping things will work out” or “Hoping I won’t get fired”) to simply say to yourself “I’ll handle it.” when something goes wrong. I find myself thinking this often, and this tactic has made a great and immediate impact on my thinking throughout the day.
If you ever get stressed out, or find yourself living in fear and inaction, I highly suggest you check this one out.
I hope you’ve found this list helpful and if you haven’t checked some of these out before I hope that you will soon. Almost anything can be bad in excess but I’ve found that television, movies, and books can sometimes be incredibly helpful in improving our awareness of the world and to expand our thinking, while also getting a little entertainment value.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. Do you have differing opinions on the above? Do you have any suggestions for what I should add to my watching/reading lists?
I would love to hear from you.