May we recommend that you have a good summer?


In our final edition of The Echo Recommends for the 2020-2021 school year, we give you some ideas to kick off your summer break and express your post-finals frustrations.

After quite the school year, summer break is finally coming to a theater near you. Just kidding, but it is true that summer break is almost here, and we all deserve to relax. If you’re looking for somewhere to start your vacation, we’ve got you covered with some of our favorites. Have a great summer!


Alisa Christensen – Etsy

In a time period where online shopping has become the norm, I don’t think I’m alone in finding joy in receiving all sorts of goods from the Internet. Opening up a package has started to feel like opening up birthday gifts for me. However, with my shopping habits in mind, I have tried to find a way to make it more of a positive thing. The answer? Etsy. Utilizing Etsy to purchase accessories and home decor has allowed me to support small businesses and artisans. Sustainability has become a focal point of shopping in recent times, and buying from independent businesses has helped to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastics so often used by larger retailers. When it comes to Etsy, I typically receive my hand-crafted goods in cardboard packaging, with many sellers taking initiative to be more eco-friendly. So, if you want to treat yourself or a loved one, I recommend looking into Etsy to support an independent artist, promote sustainability and find the perfect gift!


Dana Balmas – Longboarding

Here is the perfect way to get some sun and have fun! I recently bought a longboard from, and it is the best purchase I have made in a while. The board I got is clear, has yellow light-up wheels and has a pineapple design on it. Since receiving it last Wednesday, I have ridden it everyday multiple times around my neighborhood. Easier to ride than a skateboard, the longboard is a great tool to kill some time and remain active. In regards to the exact board I purchased, the ride itself is very smooth and worth every penny. If you have ever had thoughts about buying a longboard, this is your sign to get one now just in time for the summer!


Hazel Booth – “The Dissident”

“The Dissident” is a 2020 documentary from director Bryan Fogel that analyzes the assasination of journalist Jamal Kashoggi that was ordered by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). “The Dissident” is thorough in its reporting on Kashoggi’s rebellion against the crown of Saudi Arabia, who he once worked for, and the plan MBS cooked up to kill one of his loudest critics over a thousand miles away. “The Dissident” reveals MBS’s indisputable evil, the brave work of Kashoggi before he was killed for it and the invincible spirit of those who continue Kashoggi’s fight for the people of Saudi Arabia’s freedom.


Abby Apeland – K-Dramas

K-Dramas are shows that captivate the soul, pull at the strings of your heart and make you ugly-cry laugh. There is a wide range of variety to choose from this genre, action, historical, school, medical, legal and romantic; of course, all of these will have some sort of romantic aspect to it. They pack on the drama with well-written characters and unique plotlines while also giving a glance to the world and culture of South Korea as well. Personally, I have learnt (and emotionally been through) so much from watching these shows, and for this summer, I would highly recommend vacationing in the K-drama section of Netflix. (Recommendations: “Crash Landing On You,” “Abyss,” “Oh My Ghost,” “Vincenzo,” “Strong Woman Bong Soon” and  “K2.”)


Jaclyn Bobbe – Herb gardens

May is the perfect time to start planting some herbs, since it is the beginning of spring and the ground is no longer frozen. My family and I have an herb garden in our backyard where we plant peppers, basil, thyme, parsley and a lot more. Herbs are typically low maintenance; you just need to plant them in good soil in the ground or a raised bed, and you need to make sure that they get enough sunlight and water for them to thrive. 


Olivia Durcan – “The Dream Chapter: STAR” 

“The Dream Chapter: STAR” is the debut EP made by the South Korean boy band, TXT, in March 2019. Despite how fresh they are, they have phenomenal talent, and this album has zero skips. The EP is perfect to listen to during summer with the end of the semester nearing around the corner. My favorite song from the album is “Nap of a star,” which is a slower and easy tune to play during any time of the day. 


Sachin Fong – The dunes

Going to the dunes is one of the best ways to enjoy a summer day. Suburban Illinois has its perks, but going for a little road trip up to the Indiana dunes is definitely a nice little getaway. Bring some food and pack your car, and take a drive up to the dunes. I’d recommend bringing a 24-pack of water, though, because you don’t want to be at the beach without water. Bring friends, a spikeball, a volleyball and food for a fun day at a freshwater beach.


Augustine Gallespen – Beach Bunny

Beach Bunny is an Indie rock band that has been getting more recognition after having some of their songs trended over TikTok. Their songs “Cloud 9” and “Prom Queen” are the most notable in popularity, but my personal favorite at the moment is “Sports.” I would describe their music as catering to both positive and negative emotions simultaneously (upbeat music with deep meanings) that you can sing your heart out to. Also, fun fact, they formed in Chicago, Illinois!


Isabela Graham – Amazon

If you have a shopping addiction and love to just buy things for the heck of it, I suggest Amazon. Amazon is great because it has competitive pricing, speed-of-light shipping and reliable customer service. Amazon has always won my heart simply because it gives me everything I am looking for, especially at low prices. The great thing about Amazon is it’s literally so easy to use and purchase things, and you can really do it from anywhere. Amazon is a great way to buy great things on the low!


Aarti Gupta – “The Good Place”

Looking to vacation this summer? Take a trip to the afterlife with Eleanor Shellstrop, Chidi Anagonye, Tahani Al-Jamil and Jason Mendoza—four polar opposites who form an unlikely friendship when they’re sent to The Good Place. Between a frozen yogurt shop and a Janet (neither girl, nor robot, she’s a self-proclaimed anthropomorphized vessel of knowledge that gives the residents whatever they desire), there’s a lot of good in The Good Place… except maybe Eleanor. She’s convinced that she ended up in the wrong place and that there might be something wrong with the place’s architect and host, Michael. Maybe Eleanor truly does belong in The Bad Place, or maybe, just maybe, she can change herself and the people around her to become worthy of entering The Good Place. I guess you’ll just have to find a good place to watch the show and find out for yourself. 


Salman Khan – “Dungeons & Dragons”

Does a fantastical midsummer getaway seem nigh impossible under a seemingly endless lockdown? Adventure no further than into the rich, high fantasy worlds of “Dungeons & Dragons.” Originally an RPG (Roleplaying Adventure Game) structured for the tabletop, the modern age has made D&D completely playable online as well (check out a site like!). While many may conjure up the image of nerds in wizard hats in the forest, there are so many possibilities within this open-ended, story-telling game. Whether you wish to be a glamorous elf, an orcish warlord, an icy priestess, a loyal dwarven companion or even a Mary-Sue K-pop star flying around on a hoverboard made from the souls of a near extinct species, D&D can cater to you! Grab a couple of friends and a starter handbook, and you can start your adventure today!


Enoch Kim – “Mortal Kombat 11”

Looking to take out your post-finals frustrations in a healthy(ish) way? Pick up “Mortal Kombat 11,” a brutal fighting game that transitions the traditional fighting game into a new style. The combos are surprisingly easy to learn and can be strung together in complicated ways to beautiful executions. There is also a plethora of characters to choose from, from the hellfire assassin Scorpion to Relentless cannibal Bakara. Each character has different versions to play from, changing their look and ability set. Finally, the best part of the game is the brutal brutalities and fatalities. Fatalities require a complicated string of commands, but if you can pull it off, you’ll be rewarded with a brutal, gory finishing move that absolutely decimates your opponent in glorious HD. Overall a great way to relieve stress and a lot of fun, Mortal Kombat 11 is a great game to pick up this month.


Ben LeGrand – J. Cole’s “The Off-Season”

Cole is back with his highly anticipated album “The Off-Season.” 3 years in the making, the album fails to disappoint. Already one of the biggest albums of the year, fans are loving the album all over social media. While the album has a different sound than his previous work, it still delivers after the long wait. At 39 minutes long with 12 songs, the album is not overly drawn out either. With Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” and Travis Scott’s “Utopia” also scheduled to drop in 2021, J. Cole starts off what should be a great year for music heading into the summer.


Ollie Mallett – “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” 

As of this year, the movie “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” is celebrating its 11th anniversary. On April 30, the movie was shown in Dolby Cinema theaters  in America and continued to be for the rest of that week. The movie is a live-action adaptation of Brian Lee O’Malley’s comic series “Scott Pilgrim,” which was still being written during the movie’s production. O’Malley worked alongside the movie’s director, Edgar Wright, to create the best possible live action version of the comics. In my opinion, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is the best live-action remake of a comic book there is. While you’re watching, it feels as if a comic book or video game has been magically created into a full length movie. The graphics are amazing, many of the overlays taken straight out of the comics. The fight scenes look just like what you’d read in any sort of comic, complete with sound effects and the classic text you’d see when a character lands a punch or kick, things like “pow” or “bam.” Every single transition is meaningful and creative, something you might not even notice while watching another movie or show. You can’t have an Edgar Wright movie without amazing visual comedy, so the entire movie is filled with creative jokes. This movie is amazing, everything from the soundtrack to the backgrounds is impactful to the viewer. Seeing “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is always amazing, whether that be in theaters or in your own home.


Nwanne Nwosisi – “Infinity Train”

“Infinity Train” is an animated sci-fi anthology series about characters who end up on a train whenever they have made any mistakes. They have a number on their hand, and they must deal with their problems and reduce their number to zero in order to get off the train. It is so much more than a redemption show. They tackle more serious issues, like divorce, grief, abandonment and many more. Because it is an anthology series, you meet new characters every season with newer stories. This series has a compelling plot with compelling characters as well as a well-diverse group of characters, cast and crew. Book (seasons are called books within the show) 2 of Infinity Train features Lake, a trans-coded character and Jesse Cosay, an indigenous character. Book 3 has Grace Monroe, a black female lead with the most in-depth and complex character arc, and Book 4 has two Asian queer-coded musicians who were childhood best friends. “Infinity Train” was supposed to continue with Book 5 being a movie starring a woman in charge of the train but was cut short due to Book 5 not having any child protagonist, leading to its cancellation. There still is a chance to save the show by watching on HBO Max because it deserves better.


Jena Patel – ROOH in Chicago 

If you enjoy Indian food and are looking for a new place to try, check out ROOH in Downtown Chicago. ROOH is one of the best fine dining restaurants for Indian cuisine. It is an amazing restaurant with lots of options, including a vegetarian selection. The aroma of the food floods the streets, and everything on their menu is delicious. There are so many different flavors and twists that they have put on common dishes which make the dishes taste so good. 


Jailen Poole – “Days Gone”

“Days Gone” is a single player survival game developed by Bend Studio where you work to uncover the mysteries surrounding a deadly virus that killed 70% of the population in a day, with 20% becoming animalistic zombie type creatures known in this world as Freakers. You play the main character deacon two years after the initial outbreak and fight against freakers, rippers (a cult of bald headed people) and marauders (ordinary people who prey on the weak as you try to learn the truth of your wife’s death.) I had the opportunity to play this game in April when it was released as a free PS4 PLUS exclusive. Suspenseful music and realistic zombie combat (if you’ve played a zombie game before, you know what I mean) gives this game a feeling of real life that I had never experienced before prior to playing this game. It is a story-based game where you complete a variety of missions to progress, with well over 15 hours of gameplay. If you indulge yourself in the single player life of video games, this is one you must grab. 



Skylar Serrano – “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”

As the inevitable stress of finals week peeks it’s head around the corner, what better way to relax and destress in between study sessions than a cute sandbox game? In “Animal Crossings: New Horizons,” fly out to your very own island with Tom Nook and Isabel! Work to develop your island with infrastructure like bridges, pathways, stairs and even buildings that can house new villagers! The game allows you to meet the hundreds of characters, form bonds and even invite them to live on your island with you. The game has mechanics that allow you to garden and grow rare plants, collect rare artworks and fossils and catch and fish for the largest, most colorful and flashiest fish and bugs in the game. For the collectors out there, the social butterflies, the city designers, the fashionistas, the travelers and the plant parents, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is a game you will absolutely enjoy.


Bhoomi Sharma – “The Poppy War” by R. F KuangI 

 “The Poppy War” is a story of children growing into a war, told by an orphan hungry for vengeance and power, willing to burn the world down for it. You all wanted your main character to be a villain? Kuang gives it to you. An odd but perfect mix of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “Game of Thrones.” She gives you a bloodthirsty hate filled girl who is driven by reckless rage. You see her from a young girl grow into a soldier and then some more. If you’re sure you can handle it, go pick up this book right now so you can read the story of a young girl willing to give up her humanity to end a war of centuries. Just please make sure to look up trigger warnings before reading.


Maya Stone – “A Beautiful Mind”

While this movie is older, it is most definitely the most emotion-evoking movie I have ever seen. Following the life of genius mathematician John Nash, we are witnesses to his battle with schizophrenia and how he was able to cope with it. Not to mention, the movie is a true story! If you have heard of his story, then you get a personal look into his life with details that you may have never have known of before. Otherwise, enjoy the twist! 


Amerie Zaininger – Dollar Store 

Try just going to the Dollar Store, see what weird things you can get. Maybe you can even set up a mini scavenger hunt with friends, family, or people you can joke around with, to see what you could find there.