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Phoenix Staff Picks of 2023

Emergency Contact
The Beths
This is Why
King Coal


Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (2021)
People throw around the phrase “modern classic” without critically thinking about the message a
piece of media carries and its longevity. When used in association with this book, no words
could be more true. The author’s relationship with her mother and how she retains her ties to her
culture is something I think about weekly. Each interaction I have with my mother is now shaped
by the lens of this book. - Madisun

Just Kids by Patti Smith (2010)
I would happily read Patti Smith’s grocery lists. Luckily, her wistful reminiscence of icy
Brooklyn streets and the art scene of the 1970s with Robert Mapplethorpe are captivatingly
chronicled here instead. - Diana

Silas Marner by George Eliot (1861)
A classic that includes all the drama and tropes of modern literature with a satisfying ending;
what else could you ask for? - Lidia

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert (2021)
A must-read for environmentalist literature, with a biotechnical focus explored through unique
case studies - sometimes mind-boggling and sometimes hilarious. - Diana


frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss (2021)
This collection reads like a diary and is filled with cultural quips. - Lidia

Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency by Chen Chen (2022)
Chen Chen is the poet for longing over things that never were, thinking magical thoughts while
cooking dinner, and calling your parents. - Diana

The Captain’s Verses: Love Poems by Pablo Neruda (1952)
I cannot elaborate. Go find a copy. - Diana



The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We by Mitski (2023)

Mitski strikes again! This album illustrates the bittersweet feelings of love, yearning, and loss
through musical sounds with stylistic origins from the American South. So…if you want to be
reminded of Appalachia while having a mental breakdown, this album is for you! - Raina

The Record by boygenius (2023)
If you’re sad and want to feel even worse, consider this. - Lidia

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (soundtrack) (2023)
Listening to the album, especially imagining the visuals from the film, is an ethereal experience.
It truly encapsulates the concept of Miles, his heritage, and who he wants to be. Special Mention
to “Mona Lisa” by Dominic Fike. - Madisun

Expert in a Dying Field by The Beths (2022) - Max

Unreal Unearth by Hozier (2023)
Really, no one else has recommended this yet?! I’ll take one for the team. - Diana

MUNA by MUNA (2022)
They’re the greatest band in the world for a reason. - Lidia

Barbie: The Album (soundtrack) (2023)
Do I even need to say anything? - Madisun

This is Why (2023)
The storytelling found in each song floats on rock melodies that transport me to another plane of
existence. - Madisun

GUTS by Olivia Rodrigo (2023)
Olivia gets it and she writes about it too. - Lidia

The Little Mermaid soundtrack (2023)
Lin Manuel Miranda strikes again! The original songs added to the soundtrack bring another
layer of heartfelt whimsy that is unmatched. - Madisun


Past Lives (2023) dir. Celine Song
Everyday I wake up and think about this film and mourn my life a little. - Madisun

Fair Play (2023) dir. Chloe Demont

A really solid directorial debut, Demont is one to watch! - Lidia

King Coal (2023) dir. Elaine McMillion Sheldon
I’m a sucker for a magical-realist documentary unfolding a tale of the impacts of the coal
industry on Southern Appalachia through an *actually* Southern Appalachian eye. Bonus points
for the cinematography and soundscape

Asteroid City (2023) and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (2023) dir. Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson never misses. Well, except for… - Diana

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023) dir. Joaquin Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson,
and Kemp Powers
Literally watch any Spider-Verse film because they’re all perfect. - Lidia

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022) dir. Joel Crawford
One of the best animated films I have seen. A prime example that animation is merely a medium,
not a genre. - Madisun

Barbie (2023) dir. Greta Gerwig
Best final line in film history. - Lidia

Cocaine Bear (2023) dir. Elizabeth Banks
I laughed at scenes that were not intended for laughter. The funniest movie I have ever seen. -


Carol & the End of the World (2023) - Max

The Bear (2022-2023)
The Bear is a drama series about an over qualified chefs’ journey to revive his familys’ deli in
Chicago. This show does a phenomenal job showing the characters’ lives and how familial chaos
ultimately manifests in the kitchen. I can’t believe a show about a sandwich shop pulls at my
heartstrings like this. Watch The Bear ASAP! - Raina

Derry Girls (2018-2022)
Comedic gold that uses The Cranberries and the Spice Girls as plot devices. - Lidia