Not sure how to spend your last free moments before your life is consumed by schoolwork? Look no further. Here are the Arts & Living editors’ favorites — reads, watches, and listens — from the summer. Check out the recommendations below! And if you become inspired to jot down your own artistic reflections, be in touch. The Student would love to feature reviews of any book, album, movie, show, or performance.
“Bunny” by Mona Awad
“Bunny” was just south of normal, and kept me on my toes the whole time. Commenting on the culture of prestigious schools and the dangers that lurk within, the book was full of suspense with a bit of whimsical horror. As an Amherst College student, I could get really engrossed in the story on a personal level, as I could relate to the lonliness and exclusion of the protagonist.
— Mackenzie Dunson ’25
“Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer
Detailing the 1996 Everest Disaster through a personal account, Krakauer lets you in on the intimate details of 8000-meter peak climbing, providing an engrossing read no matter how much or little you know about this mountaineering subsection. I highly recommend the memoir to anyone who enjoys adventure books, movies, or media, especially told through a personal lens.
— Cassidy Duncan ’25
“Maeve Fly” by C.J. Leede
When I saw that this new horror release was being marketed as "American Psycho but for women," my expectations were low. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Maeve Fly is a thrilling and absurd dive into female rage and the L.A. psyche. Must read for fans of Ottessa Moshfegh, Mona Awad (see “Bunny” above!), and Shirley Jackson.
— Sophie Durbin ’25
“The Neapolitan Novels” by Elena Ferrante
Though I have only read the first two books in the four-book series so far, I’m already putting them on my favorites list! It’s a meditative series that never feels rushed, dissecting a young woman’s psyche and narrated when she’s much older. I am super excited to take some time to read the final two novels and see how the friendship between Lila and Lenú develops into the cryptic opening of the first book.
— Madeline Lawson ’25
“The Age of Pleasure” by Janelle Monáe
I had Monáe’s incredible new album on repeat this summer. It is energetic, lyrically brilliant, sensual, brassy, and rich with meaning and sounds. It’s the kind of album where you discover something new with every listen. I would recommend you check out Monáe’s music videos too for an additional layer of amazing artistry.
— Sarah Weiner ’24
“Gravity Falls,” created by Alex Hirsch
I rewatched my absolutely favorite show this summer, which follows twins Dipper and Mabel as they visit their mysterious great uncle in a supernatural town in Oregon. Perhaps part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was because I only watched one episode a day. The climate of streaming means that it's easy to absorb a show so quickly that you don't get to ruminate on it, but taking it super slow means that you have time to reflect and create your own theories, even if you've already seen it before.
“The Bear,” created by Christopher Storer
Season 2 of The Bear does something remarkable: it expands from a insular look at an angsty chef to an ensemble show that forces us to sympathize with unlikeable characters from Season 1. The cherry on top is the infamous Christmas episode that explains Carmy’s troubled past. Although Hulu has yet to renew the show, I’m already counting down the days until the next season comes out.