“Frances Ha”

As college students, we may expect to emerge into the world after our four years as fully formed human beings with career paths, relationships and interests all securely in place. Noah Baumbach’s 2012 film, “Frances Ha,” contends that this idea is more fantasy than fact and, more importantly, suggests that uncertainty is not as scary as it seems. The film follows  Frances (Greta Gerwig), a 27-year-old dancer, as she stumbles in and out of jobs, apartments and relationships. “Frances Ha” is a meandering celebration of a young woman who doesn’t quite have it all figured out yet. The movie’s nostalgic black-and-white visuals and charming lead performances cast a warmth over the entire film that soothes the common fear of the unknown. “Frances Ha” provides a gentle reminder that all of us could use: It’s okay to be a little lost. — Saru Garg

“The College Dropout” – Kanye West

Armed with a sharp sense of humor and a whole lot to say, Kanye West’s debut album is a masterclass coming-of-age tale. He recounts his humble beginnings and his efforts to make it as a rapper after a car accident left his jaw wired shut — an affliction that persisted through the recording of his debut single, “Through the Wire.” Those only familiar with West’s current media persona may find themselves surprised at how poignant and relatable his lyrics are, as “The College Dropout” is a thoughtful meditation on growing up, gaining freedom and choosing what you want to do in life. It’s a message that resonates powerfully in a society that expects you to have your life figured out by the age of 18 and portrays a college degree as the only route to success. Tracks like “We Don’t Care” and “All Falls Down” cleverly comment on social issues such as poverty and race relations. West’s skits even highlight some of the absurdities of higher education. For any college student uncertain about their future, this album is a cathartic reminder of our free will. — Aidan Vick

“Little Fires Everywhere” – Celeste Ng

It’s not uncommon for Emory’s freshmen to feel distinctly out of place. Celeste Ng’s novel “Little Fires Everywhere” should appeal to Emory students who can relate to the isolation of being in a new place for the first time as well as the challenges faced by minority groups in diverse communities. For protagonist Pearl Warren, her cookie-cutter suburban community in Ohio is an alien landscape compared to the free-spirited life that she lived before moving. Ng’s manipulation of perspective allows for the audience to truly understand the characters in a thought-provoking way I have never experienced with any other novel. Reading about the Warren and Richardson families vividly brings back the tumultuous feelings of navigating Emory’s social sphere for the very first time. The conflict that arises in the community after the Warren family’s appearance speaks to the pressure some students face to assimilate into mainstream culture. “Little Fires Everywhere” changed how I make and maintain relationships, especially at Emory. It put me at ease with friendships that naturally ebb and flow throughout my years in college. — Joel Lerner

“Nineteen Minutes” – Jodi Picoult

In a nation plagued by gun violence and heated gun control debates, young people may struggle with determining their stance on the issue. Jodi Picoult’s best-selling novel “Nineteen Minutes” offers insight into the lives of those affected by gun violence. Picoult tells the story of a shooting at the fictional Sterling High School, as well as the events that unfold before and after the shooting, from a variety of perspectives: a judge, a student caught in the shooting, the parents of the shooter and the shooter himself. Through these many perspectives, we begin to understand that such an act of violence can have a ripple effect, destroying an entire town forever. Painfully honest and evocative, “Nineteen Minutes” reminds us that there are often no right answers to our questions and that people are more than what we see on the surface. — Becca Moszka

“Dear White People” 

Based on the 2014 feature film directed by Justin Simien, “Dear White People” meets almost all of the qualifications for the perfect bingeable drama. Now in its third season, the satire details the complexities of black student life within a predominantly white institution (PWI), following various characters who attend the fictitious Ivy League, Winchester University. Sometimes challenging and sometimes laugh-out-loud hilarious, the show addresses topics relevant to Emory life and to the current American cultural climate. Still, more principally, its ambitious experimentation with both style and substance helps to create a mood most fitting and comfortably relatable within a moment defined by societal fatigue, confusion and rage. Though imperfect, the fast-paced, 30-minute episodes of “Dear White People” are great for quick, fun, bite-sized consumption during study breaks, and the sharp commentary will give you just enough to consider as you go about the rest of your Emory career. — Kamryn Olds