Editorial Notebook

For the trip back home

With the semester coming to a close, many of us will soon have to begin a long trip back home. Whether it be a plane ride or car trip, a lot of us face a tedious pilgrimage. For those that don’t get carsick, here are some books and movies to make traveling time a bit easier and more enjoyable.

The Happy Couple by Naoise Dolan is a 272-page novel that follows the soon-to-be-wed Luke and Celine. With the groom being a serial cheater and the bride more in love with music than the groom, the novel presents itself as a dramatic will-they-won’t-they book. However, while it certainly has major plot twists and some intense page-turning chapters, the novel is actually overall a calm, contemplative story that explores love, friendship, and especially commitment. Read it to feel sadder, but in a healthy way.

Spellbound (2002) is a documentary that follows eight teenagers and their mission to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee. It has only heroes, no villains, and the documentary showcases these kids’ hard work and talents in a way no resume or biopic could ever hope to. More than heartwarming, Spellbound is a film where the competition comes second, and the kids come first. It’s slow, strangely funny at times, and I recommend it whenever I get a chance.

Y/N by Esther Yi is a bit of an enigma. With strange imagery and a deeply obsessive protagonist, the book follows the journey of a young German woman’s journey to meet and profess her love for Moon, a K-pop idol she has obsessed over since seeing him in concert. It’s certainly a questionable premise. However, it becomes clear that this book was not written as a fantasy, but rather an analysis of it. At times, it’s a bit disturbing; it's also introspective. Overall, this book is definitely interesting, and I have not decided if it’s good or bad. I’d recommend reading it in the daytime.

While certainly not the first to do it, All My Friends Hate Me (2021) is a film in the rare social paranoia horror genre. The movie is great at creating discomfort, squeamishness, and indignation through the screen as you watch all the little mistreatments that Pete suffers from his so-called “friends.” It has a little sprinkle of horror mixed in, which pushes the plot forward and makes you even more tense and annoyed. This is the opposite of a feel-good movie, but I would still say it was a good watch when you want to feel less happy, but still want a good movie.

Mr. Go (2013) is a film where a young girl trains her circus gorilla to play baseball. It’s goofy, doesn’t make sense sometimes, and no, it’s not based on a true story.

If you’re tired of watching stuff that you need to be completely aware to consume, here’s a quick list of things that you don’t need to be “all-there” for: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2022), The Croods 2 (2020), and Crazy Rich Asians (2018). These are just a couple of movies that I know are simple, not too serious, and at their core, are perfect movies to binge and burn time.

These are my recommendations if you’ve got a long stretch of time where there’s only so many cornfields or empty blue skies you can stare at. Boring though they may be, I’ve found that long trips are a unique opportunity to absorb a wonderful book or movie.