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15 Fun Pop Culture Favorites to Catch Up on This Summer!

15 Fun Pop Culture Favorites to Catch Up on This Summer!

By Josh Sorokach

B&N.com

It's practically summer. How do I know this? Because I'm writing this post from New York's historic Madison Square Park, where all the telltale signs of summer are on full display. Shirtless dudes looking cool and tossing the ol' frisbee around? Check. An elderly man in purple pants? You betcha. A pretty girl adorned in a stunningly beautiful orange sundress doing everything short of looking directly into the sun to avoid my flirty eye contact? Double check. Double sad, sad check. Whoops. Never mind. Sundress Girl is gone. If I've said it once, I've said it 1ooo times: stop narrating your intros, Josh!

Here are 15 pop culture suggestions that have been scientifically proven to increase your summer's awesomeness by no less than 74%!

Books:

Book-savvy Sparklers, assemble! I need a few new summer reading recommendations. You may be thinking to yourself, "Hey jabroni, YOU'RE supposed to be giving US recommendations. What kind of summertime flim-flam are you trying to pull?" First off, the term "jabroni" is always funny. Second, I'm glad I'm not the only person whose internal voice sounds like a 1920's mob boss.

My Barnes & Noble virtual shopping bag currently consists of Chuck Klosterman's I Wear the Black Hat, The Grapes of Wrath, Charles Bukowski's Post Office, Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat, and DC Pierson's The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To.

Here are a few of my personal recommendations:

15. What in God's Name? by Simon Rich

14. A Bad Idea I'm About to Do by Chris Gethard

13. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

12. You're Not Doing it Right by Michael Ian Black

Be sure to check out SparkLife's comprehensive summer reading post for additional suggestions!

11. Treat Your Parents to a Summer Movie

I rarely find myself agreeing with adults (bedrooms are MEANT to be messy), but I like the idea of surprising them with a surprise trip to the movie theater. It keeps them on their toes. Plus, in a "am I an awful person for thinking this" way, it builds up some much needed goodwill for when you invariably find yourself in trouble. Also, parents are fascinating. Exhibit A: I was home for my sister's wedding last week and my Dad mentioned that I should write an article about how there are always Almond Joy candy bars in vending machines, but never any Mounds bars. I decided to investigate this matter and found this comment on an internet candy blog:

It vexes me that you can often find Almond Joys in vending machines here in Northern California, but rarely, if ever, Mounds. I’ve never seen one in a vending machine here, and believe me, I noticed. I’ve long suspected the California Almond Growers may have something to do with it. Conspiracy!

Did I just uncover the greatest conspiracy of our time? Since I accidentally intrigued myself about this stupid candy bar—and because I apparently have a lot of free timeI decided to call the Hershey consumer relations hotline to investigate further. Needless to say, Donna, my new Hershey consumer relations phone friend, was quite perplexed regarding the absurdity of my inquiry, but promised to have someone call back with an answer. Also, when I told her the title of this post she said it sounded very interesting and wished me a "sweet" day. I laughed at her candy pun, took a moment to comprehend what exactly I'm doing with my life, and eagerly awaited their return call. More on that later.

Netflix:

Netflix is an outstanding source of quality television and compelling independent movies. Netflix is also the number one internet location to find the most hilariously bizarre movies ever created by mankind. For example:

Harold: Classmates make Harold's life miserable because of his early male-pattern baldness, so he tries to turn his luck around by taking a janitor's advice.

Here's a fun game for aspiring writers to play: picture the writer of that movie buying a boat with the money someone willingly paid them to create this movie.

10. Television Shows You May Have Missed:

Friday Night Lights, Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, Parks & Recreation, and Comedy Bang Bang. I know it's the summer and you should be outside playing basketball or participating in a friendly neighborhood re-enactment of the Hunger Games, but these television shows are the business. Do people use the term "the business" to classify something as cool? ARE WE STARTING A TREND?

09. Safety Not Guaranteed

08. Adventureland

If you're a fan of independent movies, I'd also suggest the understated Take Me Home, as well as the refreshingly unique comedy Sleepwalk With Me.

Web Series:

07. Daily Grace

I'm always in a minor state of panic when conversing with females, but I'm very rarely absolutely flustered. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened when I met Grace Helbig at a comedy show in NYC. "Met" is probably the incorrect term; "stood near and sweated" is probably a more accurate description. I recognized her from her routinely hilarious Daily Grace videos and instead of partaking in normal human behavior like complimenting her, I chose the road less traveled and attempted to will myself into becoming invisible. It was not successful. Most people grow out of their awkward stage, but not this guy. I prefer to let it age gracefully like a fine, overly nervous wine.

06. 7 Minutes in Heaven

SNL writer Mike O' Brien finally combines two internet classics: short form interviewing and awkward makeout sessions.

05. Clark and Michael

This 2009 series starring Michael Cera and Clark Duke is the Arrested Development of web series'. Yes. It's that spectacular.

Stand-up Comedy:

04. John Mulaney

I don't watch a tremendous amount of live stand-up comedy. I have an overwhelming desire to want the performer to think they're doing a good job, so I laugh at everything. Everything. The problem with that is that I don't typically laugh at normal things which forces me to fake laughwhich is unfortunate because my fake laugh sounds like a robot who suddenly spilled coffee on himself. Something like: Ha-ha-HOOO. Ha-ha-HOOO. So yeah, I'm a mess, BUT you don't have to worry about fake laughing with John Mulaney.

Music:

03. Discover Some New Tunes

No summer would be complete without some new music to help you celebrate a new crush, forget about about an ex, and everything in between. Much like the summer reading section, I'm in dire need of some new tunage, so if you have any recommendations please let me know. I suggest keeping up with Josh Radnor's (Ted from How I Met Your Mother) Song of the Day feed, as well as these four songs that I've been listening to lately: Until We Get There by Lucius, Simple Song by The Shins, Now by Mates of State, Sunset by The XX.

Television Series:

02. New Girl, The Mindy Project, Justified, The Walking Dead

If you're looking to add a new television series to your life this summer, these four programs receive the Josh Sorokach Gold Star of Television Approval.

01. Nathan For You

Comedy Central's Nathan For You is a refreshingly original comedy series. The concept is simple, but the results are extraordinary funny. Host Nathan Fielder attempts to utilize his business degree to assist small businesses in various outside the box marketing techniques. From poo flavored frozen yogurt to having a 7-year-old assist you on a job interview, Fielder not only attempts to help restore local businesses, but also himself.

Update on the great Almond Joy/Mounds vending machine mystery! According to a Hershey employee, items available for purchase inside vending machines are typically left to the discretion of the vending machine's ownerso basically Mounds aren't available due to their lack of popularity. What a sad ending to our little adventure.

Dad, if you're reading, this counts as your Father's Day gift.

Which of these fine pop culture recommendations will you be checking out/becoming borderline obsessed with this summer?

Topics: Books, Life
Tags: books we love, pop culture, comedians, book recommendations, movies we love, new music, podcasts, netflix, movie recommendations, tv shows we love

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About the Author
Josh Sorokach

Josh Sorokach is a comedy writer living in New York City. He's a former American Idol winner, three time Olympian, and habitual liar. Follow him on twitter @Joshsorokach.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.