The Echo Recommends is comin’ to town


In the December 2020 edition of The Echo Recommends, The Echo staff has curated a list of things to keep you warm this cold winter break.

After spending a majority of the year at home, celebrating the holidays at home may be upsetting. The thing we want to do most is end the year with the people we love by our side—the people who’ve been there for us through it all; although, that doesn’t necessarily have to happen in person. The Echo has hand-picked a variety of TV shows, music, books, apps, games and activities that we have been enjoying to keep you entertained over break. Whether you want to celebrate with your loved ones or simply treat yourself, we hope The Echo Recommends will provide a bit of warmth to the cold of winter. 

Jason Verdin – Tiny Desk Concerts

NPR has a music series on YouTube titled Tiny Desk Concerts, now titled Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts because of COVID-19, where music artists perform simplified sets of popular songs. It’s a great playlist to have while you’re lounging around, doing homework, cleaning your room or just living life. Some of my favorite Tiny Desk Concerts are Tobe Nwigwe, Mac Miller, Anderson .Paak, The Roots and Leon Bridges.

Dana Balmas – “Grey’s Anatomy”

The popular medical TV show follows the life of surgical intern Meredith Grey as she discovers the difficulties of keeping her work and love life separate. Although the situations she must deal with may sometimes seem like the end of her road, Grey remains a strong example to her audience that people are capable of surviving anything. More importantly though, she illustrates how any adversity, no matter the size, is a growth opportunity and a way to showcase her incredible resilience. From the first moment my little insecure, unconfident self watched it in sixth grade, I knew it was and would stay my favorite show. In a way, I would say I ended up growing alongside one of my favorite fictional characters as she also learned to stand her ground and be unapologetically herself. Ultimately, that connection is one I hope others get to experience as they watch the show as well. 

Hazel Booth – “Anxious People”

A wonderful recent release from Fredrik Bachman, a Swedish author.  “Anxious People” centers around a bank heist where strangers’ lives collide and are forever changed by the experience. The book spans the emotional register, having great wit and pulling beautifully at your heartstrings. Meanwhile Bachman weaves in observations on the nature of humanity and our inherent struggles. This digestible yet satisfying tale of a bank heist reminds us of the good in people, our connections and shared experiences, even with those who seem so unlike us. 

Abby Apeland – Webtoon

Webtoon is an online publishing platform where many artists can share their creations. There are over 22 different genres to choose from including  comedy, romance, fantasy, horror and many more. Most comics have a mix of those genres as all the stories are very entertaining and a great way to rewind, relax or laugh. Overall, it’s a great app that has something for everyone to enjoy. 

Jaclyn Bobbe – Hooda Math Escape Games                 

Playing Hooda Math Escape Games is a fun way to pass time, and it isn’t blocked on Chromebooks! There’s a great variety of games you can pick from including room escape, state escape, capital city escape, national park escape and Find HQ. There’s also many math problems and puzzles you need to solve in order to escape. These games help you become more observant and better at solving puzzles. 

Alice Braun – Valorant

Valorant is a fun first-person shooter game to keep you entertained over the break. I have started playing this game recently, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes these types of games. It has multiple game modes, and many characters you can earn while leveling up. Each character has different abilities to help you out, along with in-game voice chat, making it easy to talk along with others during the game!

Olivia Durcan – Anime

If you’re unsure of where to start, there’s plenty to choose from. A couple of popular and well-known anime are “My Hero Academia,” “Attack on Titan,” “Death Note” and “Haikyuu!!.” If you don’t have Netflix, other services that provide anime streaming include Crunchyroll and Funimation. 

Sachin Fong – “How I Met Your Mother”

 You can watch this one on Hulu, and it is one of the best shows to sit and relax to. Barney Stinson isn’t the main character, but is definitely the best one. Everyone wants to end up like Marshall and Lily, and Ted and Robin are like a modern Ross and Rachel. It’s one of the best sitcoms of the 21st century.

Augustine Gallespen – Pandesal

Baking is a great hobby to get into, especially during quarantine. Pandesal is a traditional Filipino bread that is quick and easy to make. Pandesal is derived from the Spanish translation of “Pan de sal” or “Salt bread.” For new quarantine bakers, pandesal is a great beginner recipe. If you don’t have instant yeast but have active dry, follow the directions to bloom the yeast and add it into the wet ingredients. Then while kneading the bread, add in one cup of flour in one-fourth cup intervals until the dough is no longer sticky and starts taking form. The light and fluffiness of the bread gives it great texture. The final product goes well with butter and jam.

Isabela Graham – “You’ll Come Back to Yourself”

A collection of poems. Throughout quarantine, I’ve been faced with many challenges within myself and the world. You’ll Come Back to Yourself is more of a women’s empowerment book. The book explores lost love, infidelity, depression, body image and learning how to choose yourself. This helped me connect with people on a deeper level, and it also has helped bring people together through reading it.

Aarti Gupta – “Psych”

Gifted with an eidetic memory, Shawn Spencer must fake being a psychic in order to avoid being charged as an accomplice in criminal cases he is able to solve. The show follows his experience with his best friend, Burton Guster, as they open a psychic detective agency called “Psych” and team up with the Santa Barbara Police Department to solve crimes in their own silly manner. While the show is not traditionally classified as a sitcom, all eight seasons of it have continued to fill me with laughter, and it even features various holiday episodes in the spirit of the season. You can sit down and watch it by yourself or with your loved ones over the holidays on Peacock, and psych yourself out with a good binge.

Salman Khan – Fire Emblem: Three Houses on Nintendo Switch

Released in July 2019, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the most recent entry in the Fire Emblem series. Arguably the strongest entry in the series, Three Houses is complete with several major branching story paths and a large, colorful cast. The game follows the story of three monarchs-in-training, and the greater conflicts between their nations, the church and a mysterious force lurking around the academy. A turn-based strategy game with multiple difficulties, Three Houses is easy to pick up for new or casual players, while also providing a steep challenge for more advanced ones. If you’re looking for a fantasy fix this winter break, consider Fire Emblem: Three Houses. 

Enoch Kim – NPR’s Modern Love

A story-driven podcast about love, loss and exploring those deeper topics that make us human. It ranges from romantic relationships to familial stories, and it tries to tie a deeper meaning within every episode. Each story is read by celebrities who feel a personal connection to their poem. My favorite episode is titled “nursing a wound” and is read by actor Jake Gyllenhaal.

Ben LeGrand  – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

The newest installment of the popular open world adventure series takes you across the Dark Ages as you play as a Viking attempting to take over England. With one of the biggest maps in the series, you could play for hours on end raiding villages, overthrowing kings and gaining new gear. Assassin’s Creed continues to provide great games, and this next installment only continues the trend.

Jena Patel – Christmas activities

Putting up Christmas decorations with your family is a great way to spend time with them and have a blast. When we put up our decorations, we make some of the funniest memories. Decorating the tree while blasting Christmas music is definitely underrated. 

Maddie Pope – “Criminal Minds”

Although it officially ended this past February 2020, “Criminal Minds” can still keep you busy and entertained for a long time. There are 15 seasons of the show, and it is constantly different and surprising. With Matthew Gray Gubler, AJ Cook, Pajet Brewster, and so many more great actors who create roles that you get attached to, it’s a great binge. You can find seasons one through twelve on Netflix and the last three seasons on other streaming programs and hopefully the last seasons will be up soon everywhere. 

Skylar Serrano – Be the main character

Bored of feeling like an extra in the movie ‘2020- global pandemic strikes back’? Grab some warm sweats, a winter jacket, and headphones, and blast the song ‘Bon Iver’ by mxmtoon while you freeze your ears off. I promise, you’ll feel like the lead in this crazy movie in no time. 

Bhoomi Sharma – “folklore” and “evermore” 

It’s time to move on from the 2016 drama and accept that Taylor Swift is one of the best singer/songwriters ever. Stream ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’, which were both surprisingly dropped less than five months apart! They’re very aesthetically pleasing and incredibly sad to listen to. If you need a good cry with vivid storytelling or a song to bury a body to, you know where to go! Trust me, you will not regret listening to any of them, even when you’ve exhausted your entire supply of chocolate crying your heart out.

Maya Stone – Peanut butter cookies

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies are definitely something that you should make over the Holiday break! Not only are they incredibly easy, but they are also crazy delicious! One batch makes up to 20 cookies, and any toppings of your desire can be added to the batter. All they need is to be heated at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, and you get a delicious and easy cookie that can be paired perfectly with a cup of hot chocolate. 


Happy Holidays from The Echo! Have a safe and fun winter break.