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Winter Break 2020: Books I Read and Shows I Binged

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I spent most of my winter break at home spending time with my family. Of course, this gave me plenty of free time to do two of my favorite things: read and binge-watch. Here are the shows and books that have kept me occupied this winter break:

Books

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

The book takes place in a society where people are notified of the day that they will die, but do not know how or when they will die. It is to allow people to live their last day to the fullest. “They Both Die at the End” is the story of Mateo and Rufus, two teenage boys who receive the call on the same day and meet up to make sure they do not spend their final day alone. Honestly, I thought this book was a bit slow at the beginning. By the end, I genuinely cared about the characters and was dreading what the title indicated would happen at the end. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the romance and coming of age genres.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

It has easily become one of my favorite books. “When Breath Becomes Air” is the memoir of the late Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Kalanithi recounts his journey from being the doctor in charge of caring for patients to becoming the patient being cared for himself. Throughout the book, he reflects on the meaning of life while being faced with death and expressing his experience of undergoing such an uncertain disease. I recommend this book to anyone, as there were so many key takeaways about living life to the fullest in it.

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

“This is Going to Hurt” consists of the journal entries of Adam Kay, a junior doctor from the UK that ultimately ended up leaving the position and becoming a comedian. He explains the raw and unfiltered experiences he had while being a physician in training, full of countless hours spent in the hospital having to deal with crazy encounters. As an aspiring physician, I enjoyed the documentation of the untold trials and tribulations of becoming a doctor. Overall, Kay’s humor tied the whole book together, and I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in entering the healthcare field.

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

I absolutely adored this book. “Love and Gelato” follows Lina, a high schooler who loses her mother to cancer. Her mother’s dying wish was for her to visit Italy, as she spent some time there in her youth. Lina decides to fulfill that against her mother's wishes. She discovers more about herself and that maybe she might not have known her mom as well as she thought she did. This book is heavy on romance and I could not help but root for the characters. Overall, it was a wholesome read that I tore through rather quickly and definitely made me want to take a trip to Italy to try some gelato. 

Shows

Bridgerton on Netflix

If you are into historical romance, then this show is definitely for you. Season one of "Bridgerton" focuses on the courting season of Daphne Bridgerton. She is the oldest of the eight Bridgerton children who belong to a high society family in England. It has everything from drama, romance, scandal, orchestral pop music covers, and tea (metaphorically and literally). I binged watched this show within a few days because I was so drawn in by the beautiful ball gowns, charming characters, and of course, the piping hot gossip. I highly recommend this show to suckers for romance and drama.

Julie and the Phantoms on Netflix

If you are a fan of cheesy, Disney-like shows, then you have got to check out this one. It is even directed by Kenny Ortega, director of the High School Musical and the Descendants series. The show follows Julie, a high schooler who recently lost her mother, whose influence resulted in Julie's passion for music. One day, three cute boy banders appear in the space where she used to practice music, and Julie discovers that they are actually ghosts that can only be seen by her. The show follows her path to rediscovering her love for music while navigating the grief of losing a loved one. It was a very light-hearted and fun show to watch, but beware there were definitely a few tearjerkers here and there. 
 

Euphoria on HBO Max 

"Euphoria" takes place in a town full of misfits, with each of the high schoolers struggling to face their identity issues. This is all narrated by Rue, a 17-year-old drug addict, played by the amazingly talented Zendaya. This show highlights a lot of issues, from sexuality to drug use, and depicts it in a raw and unfiltered manner. I found myself having to look away from the screen at certain parts of the show because it felt a bit graphic, but overall, I enjoyed hearing each of the characters' stories and seeing how each of them dealt with their insecurities.

Marciana Castillo

Virginia Tech '23

Marciana is a sophomore from Norfolk, VA majoring in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise with minors in Integrative Health and Wellness and Creative Writing. She aspires to become a physician and author one day. When she's not studying you can catch her watching rom coms, teaching with Hokie Wellness, sipping matcha boba, jamming to music, or playing spikeball!
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