Cook Smarts Community Best of 2017: Books, Music, Movies, Games, Podcasts

Wrap up 2017 with the books, movies, shows, music, podcasts, and games that entertained you, moved you, and made your year all the more interesting!

  • By Jackie Sun
  • December 11, 2017

Last year, we started a new tradition of surveying our cooking community for the best books, movies, shows, music, podcasts, and games they enjoyed the most for 2016. These forms of entertainment are such a powerful way for us to live a more fulfilling life, whether it’s by giving us some much-needed relaxation time, increasing our knowledge, or even enjoying some good laughs with friends.

We love enriching our lives with books, movies, music, and games, which is why we are so excited to put together our Best of 2017 list!

Thank you to all the members in our cooking community for their recommendations. If you didn’t get a chance to submit your answers, or if you want to comment on the entries, let us know in the comments below.

Also, if you’re still in the process of shopping for holiday gifts, then this list may have some recommendations that will be just what your gift recipients are looking for. We’re already seeing plenty of items we want to add to our Wish List!

Cook Smarts Team Best Of

We’re going to kick off with our team’s top picks of the year first, then proceed with the categories listed above.

Jess Dang (Mountain View, CA) | Chief Kitchen Cheerleader

Best Book: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Best Movie: CoCo or Girls Trip
Best TV Show: Superstore
Best Song: Moonlight by Grace VanderWaal
Best Album: Lost on You by LP and Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper
Best Podcast: Nerdette Recaps Game of Thrones with Peter Sagal
Best Games: Drawful

Jess Smith (Kansas City, MO) | Meal Plan Creator

Best Book: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Best TV Show: Mad Men
Best Album: The Thrill of it All by Sam Smith
Podcast: Invisibilia

Jackie Sun (Portland, OR) | Content Producer & Social Media Cheerleader

Best Book: Non-fiction – Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime (so many good laughs!) / Fiction – Marissa Meyer’s Heartless (takes place in one of my favorite worlds; such great perspective and a fantastic story that pulls on my heartstrings)
Best Movie: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
Best TV Show: Stranger Things 1 & 2 (so addicting!)
Best Song: Call It What You Want by Taylor Swift
Best Album: Bruises by Dia Frampton
Best Podcast: The Sheroic Podcast by Cassey Ho & Lisa Bilyeu / The Joe Rogan Experience
Best Games: Digital – Heads Up! / Board: The Settlers of Catan

Sarah Byun (Washington, DC) | Kitchen Happiness Cheerleader

Best Book: Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. A great read for all parents! I try to re-read it every year.
Best TV Show: This Is Us. The producers of this touching, relatable show make me cry every week, but I keep coming back for more!
Best Song: Hard Love by NEEDTOBREATHE
Best Games: Set. It’s great for kids’ and grown-ups’ brains alike!

Best Books

Last year, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale was the most popular with 4 entries, and it is back again this year with the most entries! We follow up the top picks with all the books separated into categories.

Top Picks:


Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Mystery / Thriller

Historical Fiction

Poetry / Prose


Memoir / Biography


Best Movies

There were more entries for animated movies last year, although Disney’s CoCo made it to the Top Picks this year with 2 entries (one of which is Jess’, our Chief Kitchen Cheerleader). This year, we’re seeing more dramas and romance / comedies, with lots of love for Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman.

Top Picks:

For all the other movie entries, scroll here.

Best TV Shows

Netflix’s Stranger Things and NBC’s This Is Us totally hit it out of the park with our community last year, and they are both back again as the top shows of 2017. (One of those Stranger Things entries is mine; I totally binged both seasons back to back this year! And Sarah, our Kitchen Happiness Cheerleader, keeps coming back for more This Is Us despite the tears.)

Top Picks:

For all the other TV show entries, scroll here.

Best Music

Lots of pop faves from our community, with Taylor Swift not only have the most recommended album, but a few of her songs also made it to our “Best Songs” compilation.

We put together all the song entries in one Spotify playlist for easy listening. You can listen to the playlist here. We tried to include as many tracks / albums that were available, though some we were unable to find on Spotify.  There are nearly 23 hours of music on this playlist, so happy listening!

*Note: Some of the lyrics are explicit, so you may not want to listen with kids around (or just pop on some head phones).

Top Picks:


  • Despacito by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, featuring Justin Beiber (most popular with 2 entries)


For all other Music entries, scroll here.

Best Podcast

We love listening to podcasts when we cook or edit photos for our meal plans, so we’re excited to check out the recommendations for this year. The top picks this year are all different from last year, with S Town taking the lead with the most entries.

Top Picks:

For all other Podcast entries, scroll here.

Best Games

It’s awesome to see our community still getting into games, whether they are board games, card games, mobile games, computer games, or puzzles. We even have one entry for escape rooms, which is definitely a team favorite. (We’ve done them for two of our team work retreats already – once in the Bay Area and another time in Kansas City!)

Top Picks:


COMPUTER / video




  • Cooperative Chase (“This is my favorite because when I start to chase my 1 year old he giggles, spins, runs to me, and falls into my arms. Best. Game. EVER!” – Heidi B.)
  • Escape Room
  • Ringball

Full Lists

We were unable to link all the entries that were submitted, but hope you go searching for some of these below!

All Movie Entries that Weren’t Listed Above:

  • A Walk to Remember
  • Arrival
  • Baby Driver
  • Beauty and the Beast (“It was really good; perfect for live action.” – Lauren L.)
  • Big
  • Cars 3
  • Casino
  • Deadpool
  • Doctor Strange (“Benedict Cumberbatch is a SUPERHERO and awesome graphics!” – Heidi B.)
  • Forrest Gump
  • Get Out
  • Girls Trip
  • Inside Out
  • Kill Bill 1 & 2
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Lady Bird
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moana
  • Rush Hour
  • Secretariat
  • Star Wars
  • The Godfather 1 & 2
  • The LEGO Batman Movie
  • The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  • Thor: Ragnarok (“It was amazingly ridiculous. So fun.” – Andrea J.)
  • Wonder
  • Your Name

All TV Show Entries that Weren’t Listed Above:

  • A Chefs Life
  • Alias Grace
  • Atypical (Netflix)
  • Big Little Lies
  • Boy Band
  • Criminal Minds
  • Gilmore Girls (“I was on maternity leave and rolling through this show again was what I needed.” – Kathy F.)
  • Grimm
  • Hawaii Five 0
  • House Hunters
  • Iron Fist (Netflix)
  • Life in Pieces
  • Love (Netflix)
  • Mad Men
  • Man in the High Castle (Amazon)
  • Married at First Sight
  • Narcos
  • NCIS (“Well acted, intriguing main characters, good stories.” – Reenie L.)
  • Newsroom
  • Outlander
  • Planet Earth 2 (BBC)
  • Sense 8 (Netflix) (“It’s awesome to consider how we might interact if all the walls were stripped away.” – Heidi B.)
  • Superstore
  • The Americans
  • The Curse of Oak Island
  • The Deuce
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • The Leftovers
  • The OA
  • The Office (US)
  • The Property Brothers
  • Uitblinkers (kykNET)

All Song Entries that Weren’t Listed Above:

  • White Flag – Joseph
  • 99 Red Balloons – Nena
  • Birds – Coldplay
  • Braver Still – JJ Heller
  • Broken Together – Casting Crowns
  • Dandelion – AudioSlave
  • Delicate – Taylor Swift
  • I Like the Way this is Going – Eels (“I know this is an old song but I discovered it today and I LOOOOVE it!” – Kenzie D.)
  • Evermore – Josh Groban
  • Everything Now – Arcade Fire
  • Eyes Closed – Halsey (“It has a really great meaning for girls that it does not matter how you look.” – Melanie J.)
  • Get Better – Frank Turner
  • Heathens – Twenty One Pilots
  • I Dare You – The xx
  • La Bicicleta – Shakira
  • Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift
  • Lucy and Tighty – The Okee Dokee Brothers (“Listen to it. Really. It’s great.” – Kathy F.)
  • Net Vir Jou – Karen Zoid
  • New York – St. Vincent
  • Noel – Lauren Daigle
  • Oh Baby – LCD Soundsystem
  • Paperwhite – Only us
  • Perfect – Ed Sheeran
  • Phases – Nasty C
  • Roll the Bones – Shakey Graves
  • Set on Fire – Magic Giant
  • Summer Bummer – Lana Del Ray
  • The Story – Brandi Carlile
  • Thunder – Imagine Dragons
  • What About Us? – P!nk

All Music Album Entries that Weren’t Listed Above:

  • A Deeper Understanding by War on Drugs
  • A Seat at the Table by Solange
  • American Dream by LCD Soundsystem
  • American Teen by Khalid
  • Are You Serious? By Andrew Bird
  • Awaken, My Love! by Childish Gambino
  • Chichuna
  • El Dorado by Shakira
  • I See You by The xx
  • The Nashville Sound by Jason Isbell
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Laws of Gravity by The Infamous Stringdusters
  • In The Wind by Magic Giant
  • Newsboys
  • Positive Songs for Negative People by Frank Turner
  • Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcomb
  • Relaxer by alt-j
  • Rock of Ages (Remastered) by The Band
  • Zonkey by Umphrey’s McGee

All Podcast Entries that Weren’t Listed Above:

  • Bitch Sesh
  • Food Psych
  • For the Love
  • Jacaranda FM 94.2
  • John Dehlin Mormon Stories
  • Killing on the Cape
  • Lazy Genius Collective: #21 (The Lazy Genius does Laundry)
  • Levar Burton Reads
  • Live from the Poundstone Institute
  • Matt & Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure
  • Mindful Mama
  • Missing Richards Simmons
  • Mom and Dad are Fighting (Slate)
  • NPR Up First
  • Off the Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe
  • Radiolab: Episode “Stranger in Paradise” (“Finding out the cherished mascot of a tiny island is just a normal raccoon that is allowed to run amok. Interesting history. Awesome interviews.” – Kathy F.)
  • Rationally Speaking (“It challenges me to think logically while bringing up fascinating topics that spur me into further reading and conversations with others.” – Heidi B.)
  • Reality Life with Kate Casey
  • Reply All
  • Revisionist History
  • Screenwriters Beat
  • Serial
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • Terrible, Thanks for Asking
  • The Adventure Zone (“Who knew listening to three goofy brothers and their dad playing Dungeons & Dragons could be so emotional and endearing?” – Erin P.)
  • The Allusionist by Helen Zaltzman
  • The Bright Sessions
  • The Happy Hour Podcast, EP 150: Christy Wright
  • The Longest Shortest Time
  • The Moth
  • This American Life: Epiosode “The Other Mr. President”
  • Wow in the World
  • Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood

A little note: Some of the above links are Amazon affiliate links, which means we earn a small percentage from those sales. We use this affiliate revenue to support the continued growth of Cook Smarts. Thank you!

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