The things we watched, listened to and streamed over winter break

“Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System” by Ian Angus

C.S. Lewis wrote that nature was “that which is real”, which I take to mean the nonfictional. My interest has been increasingly in the nonfictional as our culture is losing its grip on what is real, relying instead on what doesn’t matter. In “Facing the Anthropocene,” Angus suggests that we must learn how to respond to the increasing but hardly reconciled effects of industrial activity on all aspects of the “earth system.” His writing style is casual, but informative — those who have shirked away from dry or overly academic writing will enjoy this book or at least tolerate it. Since all writers are propagandists and I have no interest in feigning objectivity anymore, I chose a book that directly relates the strains of our sociopolitical system with the environmental crisis. If you are cringing at the title or the politics pushed by this book, it may say more about your own assumptions than those of the author. (Kyle Hayden, Design Editor)

“Known and Strange Things” by Teju Cole

After reading this Nigerian-American novelist and New York Times “On Photography” critic’s 2016 collection of essays, I knew that Teju Cole had solidified himself as one of my favorite living essayists. Cole fully utilizes the power of the essay as a means to encapsulate a dynamic progression of thought or narrative in sometimes as few as three pages. He is a writer’s writer, often interjecting snippets from his favorite poems that play like an accompanying soundtrack to his prose. Cole has an outrageous ability to craft consistently impactful introductory paragraphs. (My favorite: “Not all violence is hot. There’s cold violence too, which takes its time and finally gets its way.”) Particularly in light of current events, Cole’s essays on former president Barack Obama, racial tension in the United States and the role of the immigrant in modern American society resonate even more now than when these pieces were first published. (Emily Williams, Managing Editor)

“Shameless”

Over break I fell into the often horrifying, unflinchingly hilarious world of “Shameless.” The series follows degenerate drunk Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) and his ragtag group of kids that he’s abandoned. Twenty-something Fiona (Emmy Rossum) takes charge of the family, no easy task when she and her younger siblings are perpetually embroiled in criminal and legal trouble (sometimes simultaneously). The show’s general episodic formula is one of the Gallaghers making a massive, life-altering mistake, then enlisting the help of the family, and sometimes the neighborhood, to fix it. But their South Side shenanigans never get old (or at least, they haven’t as of season three), and the show’s near-constant, borderline slapstick humor makes its rare emotional punches sting even more. (Kirby Davis, Entertainment Editor)

“Hamilton” Soundtrack

It’s been just over two months since two of my fellow editors introduced me to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop Broadway musical about the eponymous ten-dollar founding father, but I still find myself listening to it every day. The show combines lyrical brilliance (“My Shot,” “Washington On Your Side”) with showstopping melodies (“Helpless,” “Dear Theodosia”), likening Hamilton’s story to that of a modern-day rapper as he uses his linguistic genius to write his way out of poverty and achieve greatness. It’s an original idea — where else will you see cabinet discussions framed as rap battles? — that’s executed with passion and precision. And what better time than now to listen to the story of an immigrant embracing the opportunities his new nation offers him? (Devon Shuman, Culture Editor)

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