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Boredom Be Gone: 10 Binge-Worthy TV Shows and Book Companions

by  | August 27
Image from Avatar the Last Airbender

Shower thoughts: Has anyone ever gotten to the end of their Netflix queue? If so, that’s a feat worthy of a spot in the Guinness World Records. For us, there’s a never-ending supply of content to binge-watch at any point. In case your to-watch list is getting low…bahahaha…anyway, here’s a list of books to read before or after to enhance the viewing experience.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

by Iain Reid

Nick’s Pick for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone

If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of Jordan Peele’s quirky, mind-bending work. That’s why I’m pairing his binge-worthy series, The Twilight Zone, with Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Both will have you questioning your existence, which is one of my favorite pastimes 🙃. (I don’t know what the upside-down smiley face means, but it felt right to put there.) I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an ABSOLUTE page-turner about a twistedly nightmarish road trip, one that’ll keep your heart bumping through every page. It’s the type of brain-knotting novel you’ll want to read on repeat…oh yeah, and the movie comes out on Netflix this September 4, and it’s directed by Charlie Kaufman—so get to it!

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Louisiana Lucky

Louisiana Lucky

by Julie Pennell

Sara’s Pick for Sweet Magnolias

Full of laughter, drama, and a good dose of Southern charm, it’s hard not to get sucked into Sweet Magnolias. Helen, Dana Sue, and Maddie are the closest of friends, living in the small town of Serenity, South Carolina. They each have their own struggles and dreams, including opening a spa/women’s club together. But as their business begins to take off, problems arise that will test the bonds of their friendship and inner strength. If you binged the first season in one weekend (no judgment, I was right there with you), then you’ll love Louisiana LuckyHanna, Callie, and Lexi Breaux are three sisters who hit it big when they win the Louisiana state lottery. And while the money might seem to make things better—with Hanna being able to send her kids to a good school and funding Lexi’s wedding—it turns out you better be careful what you wish for. Heartwarming, witty, and with just a touch of bite, this book is a reminder that all you really need in life is friends, family, and a little bit of luck.

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Legendborn

Legendborn

by Tracy Deonn

Nicole’s Pick for Cursed

Cursed is an epic retelling of the King Arthur story of Nimue (Lady of the Lake), which is similar to Legendborn in its King Arthur and coming-of-age angles. But Legendborn is so much more than a twist on the King Arthur legend. Bree Matthews begins the Early College program at the University of North Carolina with a chip on her shoulder and grief in her heart. After her mother dies in a tragic car accident, all Bree wants to do is start fresh, far away from home, where the reminders of her mother are plentiful. But then Bree witnesses a magical attack on campus. A teenage mage attempts to wipe Bree’s memory of the events of that night, but when he fails, Bree’s unique magic is revealed. She’s able to remember that on the night of her mother’s accident, another mage attempted the very same memory wipe.

Determined to get to the bottom of her mother’s death, Bree finds herself embroiled in the Legendborn secret society. It’s a world of scions and oaths and the descendants of King Arthur’s really, really old white legacy. A war is coming, and Bree has to decide how far she’s willing to go to get at the truth, and whether or not she will use her magic to join the fight. More than just a tale of fantasy, Legendborn is a powerful look at institutionalized racism in the South; the whitewashing and gatekeeping of history; Black girl magic, and what legacy truly means.

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The Floor Is Lava

The Floor Is Lava

by Ivan Brett

Saimah’s Pick for Floor is Lava

Do you remember playing the Lava game when you were younger? This year seems to be the year when everything is on fire, so it’s appropriate that Netflix launched a competition game show for The Floor is Lava! I have to say I binge-watched the show in a weekend, and it was highly entertaining. I don’t know if I have the strength and endurance to currently run through that obstacle course myself (because quarantine snacks), but I love that this game is making a comeback! The best part about the game? You can play it outdoors with your family and friends while socially distancing. If staying home has got you going a little nutty, head outside and try playing the game in your yard. Ivan Brett’s book also has a ton of other great game ideas that you can check out when you get sick of playing Scrabble for the 100th time.

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Bloodsucking Fiends

Bloodsucking Fiends

by Christopher Moore

Sara’s Pick for What We Do in the Shadows

Having roommates can be a real pain in the neck. When your roommates are one-hundred-year-old vampires, that pain can be literal. What We Do in the Shadow’s Nandor, Laszlo, Nadja, and Colin spend their time in their Staten Island home fighting over chores, throwing parties, and getting victims for dinner. If you are looking for the same balance of dark humor and horror in a novel, you will find it in Christopher Moore’s take on vampires. Jody didn’t ask to be a vampire, but she’s been bitten, and it’s more than she can chew. When she meets aspiring writer Tommy, she finds that there’s some hope in her afterlife for something more. A few laughs, a dash of romance, and a kick-ass vampire coming into her own, Bloodsucking Fiends is exactly the kind of story fans can sink their fangs into.

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Black Sun

Black Sun

by Rebecca Roanhorse

Emily’s Pick for Avatar: The Last Airbender

I already binge-watched Avatar: The Last Airbender and am now working my way through the follow-up series, Legend of Korra, which takes place when the next Avatar resurrects as Korra. In a fantasy world divided between powers of Air, Water, Fire, and Earth, the Avatar is the only one with the ability to master all four elements and who is able to maintain the balance between the physical and spirit worlds. Although the Avatar series is targeted toward kids, it sensitively covers heavy topics such as genocide, civil war, and oppression, themes that are also explored in Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, an incredible fantasy world inspired by pre-Columbian myths, coming out this October. Like all great epic fantasies, it’s a bit hard to summarize quickly, but I’ll just say it follows multiple characters who are on their own quests through a world to conquer dark forces (or in some cases become them) and discover their fate. Like Avatar, it involves supernatural powers, celestial alignment, and strong friendships that withstand evil. It’s the first in a series, so now I’m dying for the next one. And, because I love Avatar so much, I have to recommend a second book. If you’re particularly obsessed with the food in the Avatar series, or in any anime for that matter, another book to look out for is Cook Anime, coming September 1, which features recipes from some of the most beloved anime shows. I recommend reading both of these books to extend your stay in the world of Avatar long after you finish binge-watching.

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The Companions

The Companions

by Katie M. Flynn

Emily’s Pick for Devs

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that Devs made me go down a Google black hole, searching engineering terms, Jesus history, near-future technologies, etc. One of the main catalysts and themes for the TV show is the idea of how loss consumes and changes a person, which brings me to the book I’m matching it with, The Companions by Katie Flynn. This book is set in a future where a person’s post-mortem consciousness can be uploaded to a robot body, but when one robot’s conscious goes rogue, she begins to upload herself into various other bodies to hunt down her murderer. Thus the book explores the deep layers and existential questions that would arise from this dystopian situation. More similarities between the book and TV show: they both explore the ethics of technology gone too far; there’s a creepy murder mystery, and the plot points all converge on an intense ending sequence.

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School for Psychics

School for Psychics

by K.C. Archer

Sara’s Pick for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist 

Zoey has the strange ability to hear people’s heart-songs, which means she ends up being able to hear people’s innermost thoughts while watching spectacular song and dance numbers. In some ways, this comes in handy, like when she can speak to her paralyzed father, but other times it just complicates things. Similarly, in School for Psychics, Teddy Cannon is a twenty-something who is able to read people like a book, which she uses to win big at the many casinos in Las Vegas. Her special power leads to her recruitment into a psychic school where she will learn to hone her skill among similarly gifted students. But having the ability to read people comes with its downfalls, and Teddy soon finds herself embroiled in something darker happening at the school. Sure, School for Psychics doesn't have any musical numbers, but it’s every bit as fun and colorful as Zoey’s adventures.

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Mrs. Everything

Mrs. Everything

by Jennifer Weiner

Sara’s Pick for Mrs. America 

Women are expected to do a lot—often they carry the emotional burden of the family, as well as the expectation to keep house and home, on top of a job. And for the women of FX’s Mrs. America, that struggle carries into the political arena as they debate the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. The show features the fierce women on both sides of the aisle facing the brave new world of women’s liberation and increased political presence. If you’re looking for a similar story about the historical struggles of defining femininity and figuring out what kind of life to strive for, look no further than Mrs. Everything. Jennifer Weiner’s book follows Jo and Bethie, two sisters who are opposites, leading radically different lives. Jo, who grew up as a tomboy, ends up having a picture-perfect family in Connecticut while sweet, mild-mannered Bethie dives hard into the 1960s countercultural movement. A powerful story about finding your own happiness, the novel never belittles or denigrates the lives these sisters lead, but rather seeks to empower them, and the reader, to find the life that feels authentic to them.

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