Life Choices: 5 things to check out this week

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Books, essentials, and shows recommended by the CNN Philippines Life team. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — For your new pop cultural and habitual prospects, we recommend literary anthologies, a gender bender of a BL, an essentials pack, and a book/movie combo that’s sure to blow your brains into pulp.

READ: “The Big Book of Modern Fantasy” by Ann and James Vandermeer

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ben Okri, and George R. R. Martin are only a few of the established names in the fantasy genre in this huge tome. At 800+ pages, the worlds assembled in this anthology are amazing, even spanning names and countries not often represented in books such as these. In case you’ve read our interview with Dean Francis Alfar, you’ll know there is at least one Filipino tale existing alongside these marvelous flights of fancy. Another Filipino writer is Netherlands-based Rochita Leonen Ruiz whose story “The Wordeaters,” is what you’d expect it to be, and more. What I really love about this book is the ease of reading. The stories are laid out in a two-column page which facilitates for quick and breezy reads, even if the stories span more than four pages. It just encourages you to devour one story after another. — Don Jaucian

Copies are available at Fully Booked.

WATCH: “Great Men Academy”

The bonkers gender/body swap trope has been the stuff of madness ever since its invention. But when it’s being played for romance, it comes with a whole set of complications — especially if it’s in the Boys Love genre. It occupies a slippery slope: are we expecting two boys to fall in love together? Or is it going to be a regular cis het romance in the end? The push and pull of these questions make gender benders an interesting watch, especially shows like “Great Men Academy,” because you know at least there's one BL love team. What makes “Great Men Academy,” a little different though, even from other BLs, is that there is an attempt to directly discuss homosexuality (they are in an all-boys school anyway). But BL or not, “Great Men Academy” is still a fun ride. It exists in that throughline between a generic rom-com and a cute BL romp. — DJ

Watch the series on Netflix.

READ: “Outsiders” Anthology

Released by independent publisher, 3 of Cups Press, Outsiders is an anthology of short fiction edited by Alice Slater. Jumping off the idea of the outsider character prevalent in some of the most beloved stories we know today, the collection reimagines what this means, resulting in a broad spectrum of stories, looking at themes like wildness, hunger, desire. A thrilling homage to the strange and wonderful things that set us apart, Outsiders makes a case for the familiar unfamiliar, allowing us to see something within us, reflected in characters who are flawed, different, but ultimately, still very much human. — Carina Santos

Get the book here.

COP: Fresh Formula Good Days Ahead Essentials Pack

Am I the only one who feels like a slave to sanitizing? The fear of dirt and disease has never been more real these past few months, but the constant washing only makes me conscious of how dry my hands have become or how sensitive my face is to cloth masks. The new Good Days Ahead Essentials Pack from Fresh Formula is a welcome part of my post-PPE regimen. With four pieces in each kit, I’m able to cleanse my hands, body, and face in a pretty seamless system. I also like that the cleanser and toner have pH levels of 5 to 5.5, which helps minimize the redness I get after wearing a mask all day. I’ve liked bringing this with me in the few times I stepped out this week; it’s an added layer of security and comfort, which we honestly can’t get enough of right now. — Marga Buenaventura

The Fresh Formula Good Days Ahead Essentials Pack is available on Lazada and Shopee.

READ/WATCH: “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” by Iain Reid

Was it a distinct act of madness to read this book then watch the film immediately after? If anything, doing so just informed me that to appreciate both feels like two very different pieces of work. Iain Reid’s debut novel is a quick, bitingly creepy read; the exposition was wonderfully tense, and allowed me to peer into the unnamed female protagonist’s mind more intimately. Charlie Kaufman’s film adaption took wonderful liberties with the existing material and gave us, more than anything, a view into his own mind — the central theme of the story, from what I see, is this: we don’t really know anyone’s thoughts as well as our own. Jessie Buckley, who is radiant as the protagonist, is a wonderful anchor to the bizarre spread. (Plus, I love her quirky girl fashion — a reminder to me that, hey, this could happen to me too.) If you’re worried about jump scares, I assure you that there are none. But any horror that creeps in (thanks, in part to Toni Colette and David Thewlis, who played the parents to Jesse Plemmons’ Jake) will haunt you later on. As I watched it at two in the morning, I told my friends, “I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or scream in panic.” Maybe it’s a little bit of each one, if I’m being honest. — MB

Watch the film on Netflix. Buy the book here