The year is at its end. And in 2018’s honor, Nerdette host Greta Johnsen talked to four people who’ve made some amazing things about their favorite thing of the year.
Make sense? It’s kind of like a miniature phone tree but for books, music, and TV. Or like a binder’s worth of homework dumped on you hours before the end of the semester. (You’re welcome!)
Here are our guest professors:
- Celeste Ng, author of the 2017 novel Little Fires Everywhere
- Curtis Sittenfeld, author of a 2018 collection of short stories titled You Think It, I’ll Say It
- Dessa, a singer, rapper, and writer responsible for both an album called Chime and a memoir called My Own Devices in 2018
- Jenny Han, author of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which became a smash-hit Netflix movie
To make things as easy for you over-achievers as possible, here’s a list of all their recommendations.
Celeste Ng: Watch The Good Place on NBC
Celeste Ng: It’s been a while since I went, “OK, this TV show is on and it’s on at this time because it’s on the network, so I’ve got to sit down and watch it … when it’s on.”
I will sit there and I will wait through the commercials. That’s how sincere I am about watching The Good Place. In an age when you can Tivo through things, that’s a good testimony.
I’ve really been enjoying it and I’m so happy to hear that it just got picked up for a fourth season.
Curtis Sittenfeld: Watch Crashing on HBO
Curtis Sittenfeld: I would not have thought that what I need in my life is a cable sitcom where a white male comedian plays himself, but it turns out …
Greta Johnsen: [Laughs] That’s so funny because even looking at the premise, that was my exact thought.
Sittenfeld: I know what you mean, but the thing that I think makes it different: Crashing has this real sweetness at its core that I feel like is very unusual.
Sittenfeld: I feel like so many TV shows have this almost clever, post-ironic tone and kind of quick banter that I personally don’t actually find that funny.
I almost feel like you could divide fiction into books that admit that people go to the bathroom — and those are in the minority — and that don’t admit it. Or like TV shows that admit that people have bad breath some of the time. I think that Crashing captures that really nuanced, granular thing that is being a human.
Dessa: Read You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
Dessa: I happen to really love short stories, in part because my attention span caves on me every once in a while. And also because I do my reading in little pieces. But I think that in collections very often, even with some of the writers who I most admire, by the fourth story you got the gist of what we’re doing here. Do you know what I mean?
Johnsen: Totally. It’s like the same set of notes …
Dessa: It’s like the third bowl of ice cream is never as exciting as that first spoonful — good still. Whereas I feel like each story, there’s no homogenizing experience as you read this book. At least there wasn’t for me.
Johnsen: Yeah. It’s a new flavor every time.
Dessa: Yeah! Man, it’s good.
Nerd’s note: You don’t know Dessa? Get ready. She’s amazing.
Jenny Han: (Re)listen to thank u, next by Ariana Grande
Jenny Han: Not even the video, which I thought was really fun, but the song.
Everyone thought it was going to be this petty revenge, kind of like tea, on her exes. But then when it came out it ended up being a celebration, not just of her old relationships but of Ariana herself.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation, which was produced and adapted for the web by Justin Bull.