11 People On The Entertainment That Actually Made Them Smarter This Year

By | Thursday, March 24, 2016


A few weeks back, I put out a call to action in our Sunday night newsletter (which you should totally subscribe to if you haven’t already, by the way!). In it, I briefly described my growing concern with the fact that I feel like I’m not as stimulated by the media I consume as I was when I was a student. In college, when I was in a classroom three times a week learning new shit, doing projects, reading, and writing every day, I took all those different ideas and perspectives around me for granted. Now that I’m older, I realize you have to make so much more of an effort to seek that kind of learning out on your own. You can’t be lazy about growing and evolving as a person or else you’ll just kind of stagnate.

In the newsletter, I expanded upon this feeling, expressing my concern with the different types of media/entertainment I consume and the lack of stimulation they provide. I wrote, “Lately, I’ve been thinking about my go-to sources of entertainment and the degree to which they are engaging and thoughtful. For a long time, I survived on a steady pop culture diet of hit shows, blockbuster movies, and radio segments that were produced for the masses. I never bothered to do much digging into finding more stimulating, educational, or thought-provoking content for myself.”

Finally, I asked the newsletter community to send me suggestions for movies, music, books, podcasts, radios shows, websites, YouTube channels, and anything else they thought we could all benefit from knowing about. For example, once I discovered Radiolab, I feel like life got just a little bit brighter and more interesting. Today, I tell everyone I can about it and urge them to go onto the site to give a few episodes a listen. Being influenced by diverse voices, experience, and insights makes us all more engaged and thoughtful humans, which is something I’ve personally been trying to focus on since the start of 2016.

Without further ado, I present 11 TFD community-sourced suggestions for really cool stuff across the different mediums I listed above. Check it out!

1. “NPR podcasts! Especially InvisibiliaThis American Life, and Serial. First off, Invisibilia is a science/medicine genre podcast, and I can’t get enough of it. I feel like I don’t learn anything cool anymore, and this podcast gives you a neat/different perspective on life. It’s personal story narrative combined with science research, facts, and data. It’s described as being, ‘all about the invisible forces that control human behavior.’ Just listening to it honestly makes me feel smarter. This American Life is a classic one, and it comes out with new episodes weekly. Lots of my friends listen to it. (I freakin’ love Ira Glass too, btw.) It’s the type of show you can name drop into a convo if you want to feel super ~cultured~. The show itself is kind of hard to describe, but in a nutshell, it’s stories about different people’s lives and their (sometimes dramatic) situations. Each episode has a theme that the stories are centered around. Finally, the Serial podcast is neat, and it was created by the same people that did This American Life; it’s almost like a spin-off. However, they take one season to tell one true story, and the episodes are always really interesting!” — Jenna

2.Dear Hank and John! John and Hank Green do this hilarious podcast where they just kinda act like themselves, answer questions, give life advice, and talk about random personal stuff. It’s neat. I was already a fan of their other projects (which is how I found TFD!), and this is just another space where they do more neat stuff. Definitely worth checking out!” — Erica

3.Minimalism for the Rest of Us (which is no longer releasing new episodes, but the backlist is still incredible). It ‘provides both inspiration and information for people interested in living a minimal, simple, frugal life.’ Each episode is thought-provoking, educational, and humorous all at once!” — Amanda

4. “Buzzfeed’s Another Round. It’s by far my favorite right now. They talk about race, tell jokes, and make everything so joyful (even the hard stuff like depression).” — Blake

5. “TANIS podcast. I just re-listened to all of their ~spooky~ podcast this weekend. It is scary in all the right ways (but not too scary).” — Dara

6. “The Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin, which is a great lifehack podcast about finding more joy in the everyday moments. She has also written a few books, which are worth checking out. I’ve plowed through nearly all the episodes of the podcast, and I’ve really enjoyed them all.” — Samantha

7. “Call Your Girlfriend: two long-distance besties who talk about feminism, politics, periods, and Kanye. I LOVE Aminatou and Ann (and Ann’s newsletter is so great!).” — Whitney

8. “My favorite book from last year is Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. The book starts off with a collection of letters and emails as a girl puts together what happened to her missing mother. Definitely got five stars on Goodreads.” — Whitney

9. “Death, Sex and Money Podcast from WNYC. The show explores a different personal story or topic each episode that is related to either death, sex, or money. Like TFD, Death, Sex, and Money addresses the uncomfortable issues most people don’t want to openly talk about and/or that might not always come up organically in conversation. I’ve listened to soooo many interesting stories and have been exposed to lots of unique perspectives through the show. I obviously highly recommend it for new, stimulating entertainment! You can find the most recent episodes here.” — Emily

10.  “The Economist app. I don’t use it as often as I’d like, but my brother introduced me to it, and it’s awesome. Basically, the app has a function that reads you the latest edition of The Economist (cover to cover) in a British accent. They cover current events, but also have more in-depth reported stories. Whenever I listen, I learn a lot, and I feel infinitely classier than I would while using any other app.” — Maya

11. “I would highly recommend the combination of using a public library card and The best thing about using the library is being able to choose books on a whim and not worry about how much you’re spending if you find yourself not liking the book. Personally, I love being able to bring home a bunch of books that appeal to me and know that I can read whichever ones I feel like choosing. My favorite place for finding out about books to read is Bookriot; they publish a wide variety of articles and recommendation lists, and I love that they focus on different genres and diverse subjects.” — Christina

Image via Unsplash

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