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Like many other book lovers, I found myself trapped in the confines of “BookTok,” the community of TikTok users who share and discuss book recommendations, at the height of quarantine. The BookTok canon is both particular and chaotic, filled with young adult novels like “The Song of Achilles” and messy romance books like “Red, White, & Royal Blue.” Hanya Yanagihara’s 2015 book “A Little Life,” though not in the same genre, is still adored by those in the BookTok community. “A Little Life,” which attracted a strong fanbase but received mixed reviews from critics, operated on extremes and had a profound emotional impact on readers. My reaction to it was ambivalent. The novel operated on such insane highs and desperate lows that I was frankly left trying to recover emotionally. Yanagihara’s newest novel, “To Paradise,” elicited a similar response.
It’s been a while since I exited my young adult literature phase. Throughout seventh and eighth grade, I consumed YA novels as if my life depended on it — at least two a week at my peak. Since then, I’ve tried to reignite my excitement surrounding the genre that inspired me to fall in love with reading, but I haven’t been able to do so since middle school.
In the past decade, social media influencers have grown more and more in popularity. First, it was on YouTube. Then, it was on Instagram. Now, with TikTok, it’s easier than ever to become famous. On the Netflix reality show “Hype House,” these influencers break out of our phone screens and onto our televisions.
One of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” incited a mass exodus of fans from the comfort of their couches back to the theater’s big screen. With various spoilers circulating on the internet since the movie’s release on Dec. 17, the movie demands an in-theater viewing for the most genuine experience. Racing to see it myself, I was struck by the emotionality woven into the action of this film that celebrates Spider-Man’s legacy and future.
Co-created by Justin Noble and Mindy Kaling ’01, “The Sex Lives of College Girls” provides thoughtful entertainment with a title that promises intrigue.
If you’ll excuse the pun, I seem to be building a reputation for myself as The D’s resident Taylor Swift reviewer. In May 2019, I deemed “ME!” from “Lover” uninspired. In July 2020, I fancied the mature melancholy of “folklore.” Now, in December 2021, I’d like to talk about “Red (Taylor’s Version).” There is something so innately powerful in those parentheses — they signify that Swift has become the songsmith and owner of her music. Indeed, the re-recorded version of her 2012 album is a strong, intentional reflection on fame and heartbreak, guided by its thematic and tonal lodestar, the epic 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” A pivot from the in-your-face nature of her prior pop albums, this music, like “evermore” and “folklore,” employs minimal instrumentals and lucid, expressive vocals that tell a tale of graceful rebirth.
After the strange, pandemic-dominated year of music that was 2020, 2021 felt like a return to normalcy for the music industry. Albums that had been postponed due to COVID were released, major artists like Kanye West and Drake dropped new albums and many albums devised during the lockdowns of the previous year saw artists exploring new directions. One notable musical event of the year that will not be included on this list was Taylor Swift’s re-releases of her older albums as “Taylor’s Version”; because none of that music was written in 2021, it will not be included on this list. Otherwise, here are the ten best albums released in 2021.
With his fourth full-length album in five years, “LP!,” JPEGMAFIA furthers his reputation as one of the most experimental hip-hop artists working today.
This past weekend, I crossed the Connecticut River and visited the town of Norwich. A friend told me about a great restaurant there called Carpenter and Main. The fact that Bruce MacLeod, chef and owner of the restaurant, graduated from Dartmouth in 1984 piqued my interest, so I eagerly called the restaurant to make my reservation.
The Korean TV mini-series “Squid Game” seemed to appear out of nowhere, quickly receiving worldwide attention and inciting vast media discourse. Featured on Netflix, “Squid Game” tells the story of a cruel competition for immense wealth — won by playing children’s games with a deadly twist. The show is told through the perspective of player 456, Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae). Created by South Korean director Hwang Dong-hyuk, “Squid Game” tactfully explores class issues and its viewers’ role in them through superb acting and character development that evokes strong emotional responses.
Since the release of her sophomore album, “Melodrama,” four years ago, Lorde has been off the grid, retreating to the New Zealand countryside and even as far as Antarctica. This time in solace is reflected clearly, both lyrically and sonically, in her third studio album, “Solar Power.” Lorde has created a poetic and astonishing album with a beautiful –– though occasionally repetitive –– folk-pop sound.
I needed an experience to lift my mood after the stress of midterms, so my partner and I headed to White River Junction again this weekend. Since we had such a pleasant time at Tuckerbox, we thought we’d see what else the town has to offer. After walking around the narrow, one-way streets, packed with parallel-parked cars on either side, we decided to check out a curious cafe on the corner of North Main Street: Juel Modern Apothecary.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” introduces Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), the titular character, as the newest superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released in theaters on Sept. 3, Shang-Chi is the first Marvel movie to feature a predominantly Asian cast, have characters with Chinese names and incorporate Mandarin dialogue. The movie weaves classic Marvel action scenes with themes of love and family to create a film that is simultaneously fun and exciting but has the depth of a well-written story.
Since the release of her critically acclaimed second studio album, “Punisher,” in June 2020, Phoebe Bridgers has had a busy year. From her four Grammy nominations to her controversial Saturday Night Live performance, Bridgers has generated more commercial success than your average quiet, melancholic indie folk singer-songwriter. To top it all off, Bridgers is ending 2021 by going on her first tour since the beginning of the pandemic. On Sept. 27, I had the privilege of attending the second night of her performance at Boston’s Leader Bank Pavilion. While her low-key musical style may not seem particularly well-suited for a venue that seats a few thousand, she gave a generally fantastic performance that captivated the audience.
As of this past Sunday, Lindsey Buckingham is seventy-two years old; however, audience members at any of his recent concerts would agree that he seems to be doing better than ever. On Sept. 3, Buckingham took a moment to address the audience, including me, gathered in Prior Lake, Minnesota for the second concert of his 2021 tour. Buckingham had not provided commentary between songs for most of the concert, allowing his chosen tunes to speak for themselves. Yet, he paused to preface one of the last songs of the set, “Time,” a cover of Michael Merchant’s mournful ballad, by recalling that the song was the first he recorded for his new album, “Lindsey Buckingham,” nearly three years ago. Buckingham stated that the song has “taken on a more visceral meaning” after the “twists and turns” that delayed the album’s release.
The CNN original series “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” follows actor, writer and producer Stanley Tucci across Italy as he explores the nation’s cuisine and culture. The six-part documentary series combines some of the very best things in life: travel, cooking and all things Italian. Tucci — a four-time Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee known for his roles in “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Big Night” and “Spotlight,” among others — travels to a different region of Italy for each episode. Both charismatic and down-to-earth, Tucci introduces each episode by telling the audience that his goal is to explore his Italian heritage and “discover how the food in each of this country’s 20 regions is as unique as the people and their past.”
As a Dartmouth student, there are times I need to flee from the stress of campus life and the monotony of Hanover. In these moments, I often find myself seeking refuge just over the Connecticut River in White River Junction. Most of us have been there at least once — quickly accessible on weekdays by Advance Transit, the town can provide a full day of outings with its many restaurants. These foodie stops vary greatly in both their cuisines and prices, from the chic Thyme bistro to the casual millennial fusion Trail Break taqueria to the flavor-filled Taj-E-India — which gives Jewel of India a run for its money. This week, however, my partner and I spent an evening in White River Junction at a bustling and warmly lit restaurant whose facade faces the confluence of the White River and the Connecticut: Tuckerbox.
It’s a brisk day. Students flit between classes, cutting through the college quad and ivy-covered buildings. Sound familiar? I thought so too. However, these images of a New England college campus are not of Dartmouth, but rather the opening scene of “The Chair.” This Netflix original, released on August 20, delves into the academy at the fictional Pembroke College. For me, “The Chair” is a winner. It captures the peculiarities of academia and balances tragic realities with satiric comedy.
Reading Sally Rooney is like finally being compensated for being a young woman. Her first two novels, “Conversations with Friends” and “Normal People,” catalog the romantic and intellectual obsessions of her college-aged subjects with rare tenderness and precision. She takes seriously the kind of stories that are often deemed frivolous merely because their subject matter (girls) is not seen as a viable cultural subset for which to make art, manifested in the phrase “chick lit.” Art which portrays female perspectives — especially young, contemporary female perspectives — is often viewed as separate and illegitimate. Rooney is the novelist I go to when I want to be seen and validated, so waiting for her highly anticipated third novel was like waiting for an old friend to return home.
This is the first edition of Green To Go, a fortnightly column that will review restaurants in the Upper Valley with a focus on vegetarian options, detailed accounts of the food and ambiance and accessibility to a variety of students, especially FGLI students.