What Work of Art or Culture Would You Recommend That Everyone Experience?

What Work of Art or Culture Would You Recommend That Everyone Experience?

Times theater critic Ben Brantley on “Hamilton” in 2015

I am loath to tell people to mortgage their houses and lease their children to acquire tickets to a hit Broadway show. But “Hamilton,” directed by Thomas Kail and starring Mr. Miranda, might just about be worth it — at least to anyone who wants proof that the American musical is not only surviving but also evolving in ways that should allow it to thrive and transmogrify in years to come.

Times music critic Jon Caramanica on Beyoncé at Coachella in 2018 (which became both a documentary and an album)

Let’s just cut to the chase: There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon, than Beyoncé’s headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Saturday night.

It was rich with history, potently political and visually grand. By turns uproarious, rowdy, and lush. A gobsmacking marvel of choreography and musical direction.

Writer John Green on “Eleanor and Park” in 2013

When I began reading contemporary fiction in high school, I remember feeling that each book was an absolute revelation. Whether I was reading Michael Crichton or Amy Tan or Tom Robbins, there had never been anything like it before in my life. The novel’s novelty passes, of course. I’m 35 now. I’ve read a dozen “we brought back the dinosaurs and they are mad” books. I’ve seen the conventions, and I’ve seen them interrogated.

But I have never seen anything quite like “Eleanor & Park.” Rainbow Rowell’s first novel for young adults is a beautiful, haunting love story — but I have seen those. It’s set in 1986, and God knows I’ve seen that. There’s bullying, sibling rivalry, salvation through music and comics, a monstrous stepparent — and I know, we’ve seen all this stuff. But you’ve never seen “Eleanor & Park.” Its observational precision and richness make for very special reading.

Students, read these pieces, then tell us:

  • What artistic or cultural experience would you rave about? Keep in mind that you can recommend a book, a movie, music, a TV show, a live performance, fashion, architecture, dance, a work of visual art, a video game, a restaurant, or even technology. Think about something that has deeply impressed, moved, delighted or taught you — something you think others would benefit from experiencing too.

  • Then, tell us why. What could you say to convince others that the experience is worth having? What details would you focus on? How does this work compare with others like it?

  • Notice how in John Green’s review of “Eleanor and Park” he begins with his own reading history to explain why the book blew him away. Why is this work so important to you?

When you are finished, read what others students have posted and comment on, or “recommend” some of the most interesting. What can you learn from other students’ posts?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.