COVID-19 Recommendations

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are now at home looking for something to pass the time. We thought it would be a good idea to give our readers some recommendations. These recommendations include books, movies, television shows, and new hobbies to try and pick up during this period of time. Stay safe and remember to wash your hands.

Books

Noah Garfinkel: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe – Patrick Radden Keefe’s book on The Troubles in Northern Ireland is a fantastic example of great storytelling and writing. It manages to go into the incredibly complex world of Belfast and Northern Ireland during the last half of the 20th century and brings out an exciting and urgent tale. It is a terrific book and one that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Charles Hilu: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevski – This is one of the classics that I’ve always felt I like I should read but have never taken the initiative to. It focuses on a man’s mental anguish and moral dilemmas after committing a murder. The lessons it teaches still hold up to today.

Frances Smith: Dune by Frank Herbert – I started reading this book over Christmas break after my brothers begged me for years.  Published in 1965, this book is the OG science fiction novel that series like Star Trek and Star Wars have riffed off of.  A delightful mix of politics, action, and great writing – plus a major motion picture (hopefully) coming out in December!

Lindsay Keiser: A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen – If you’re at all interested in Russia, either present-day or during the Soviet era, this is a fantastic book to submerge you in daily Russian life.  The main character finds himself locked in an eternal debate between remaining in the United States and having a mediocre life with mediocre success, or living with his grandmother in Moscow and reconnecting with his Russian heritage.  The language flows so well that you can just lose yourself in the book for hours.

Cameron Derwin: The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Is there a better time to read post-apocalyptic fiction than during a global pandemic?  Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-winning novel follows two nameless characters — “the man” and “the boy” — struggling to survive in a bleak and deserted world.  The Road is a great choice to remind us of the perennial proverb that things can always get worse.

Movies

Noah: Goodfellas – The Martin Scorsese classic just became available on Netflix, and I implore you to watch it. The movie is incredibly well constructed from beginning to end and features brilliant performances. This movie is all about the story, however, and it is fantastic. I am begging you, please watch this.

Charles: The Dark Knight – Like my book recommendation, I just needed to take the initiative the watch this movie, and, boy, am I glad I did. Christopher Nolan’s direction is excellent. The themes which he and his brother explore in this movie are compelling and thought-provoking. Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the late Heath Ledger’s Joker performance. He is one of the highlights of the movie, and it is truly his best work.

Frances: Original Disney Princess films – With all this time inside, my little brother and I have been rewatching all the original Disney Princess movies and it is hilarious to watch them now that we’re older.  You’d be surprised what details you forgot from childhood.

Lindsay: Rain Man – Although incredibly offensive by today’s standards, Rain Man was one of the best films I have ever seen.  Beware- it was emotionally draining and made me cry myself to sleep. I do think it was worth it, though, because Dustin Hoffman’s award-winning acting will have you hooked in no time.  Definitely a thought-provoking piece.

Cameron: The Endless – This sci-fi horror cult-classic is a Lovecraftian masterpiece, well-received by the academy, and has recently made its way onto Netflix.  The film follows a pair of brothers who return to visit a death cult they belonged to as children and start to wonder if there might be more to the cult than they believe. Streaming now on Netflix.

Television Shows

Noah: Avatar: The Last Airbender – The hit Nickelodeon show starts off as a bit of a silly kids show and takes a bit to find its grove. Once it does, about midway through the first season, it really becomes something special. It is fun, exciting, and extremely uplifting. During these dark times, getting lost in the battle to save the world from the fire nation is a terrific escape and one that can be enjoyed thoroughly by any age group.

Charles: All the MCU films – Marvel’s Infinity Saga isn’t quite a TV show, one can binge the movies as though it were one. I missed the boat when they first came out, so now I’m catching up on them. One thing that should be said about the MCU is that it really doesn’t have a bad movie, in my opinion. There are some movies that don’t quite compare to the best ones, but that says more about how great the highlights are, rather than how bad the lowlights are.

Frances: I have way too many on the go – right now I’m simultaneously watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Brooklyn 99, Hell’s Kitchen, and The Sopranos. Yeah – I’m ashamed of myself too.

Lindsay: Endeavour – I’ve been watching this crime show with my dad almost every night.  Each episode is an hour and a half, which lets the plot develop quite fully for each different case.  It’s set in Oxford, England in the 1960s, and follows a young detective, Morse, through various cases.  It’s a spin-off of the show Inspector Morse, which is set in more modern times and, although released previously, shows Morse as an older detective.  Incredible storylines and compelling characters abound.

Cameron: The OA – Spoiler alert: it’s cancelled.  But while it lasted the two seasons of The OA delivered everything I could ask for in a television series.  It’s beautifully acted, has a phenomenal screenplay, and raises genuinely challenging questions without alienating its audience.  The showrunners Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij left a permanent mark on my soul with this one. Streaming now on Netflix.

New Hobbies

Noah: Yoga – I want to work on my flexibility, so yoga seemed like a perfect thing to start trying. I am struggling through it but I think it will be great once I get it down.

Charles: Old college basketball games – With no March Madness happening this year, sports networks are showing reruns of the best basketball games in recent memory. I’d heard about a lot of the great Michigan basketball moments: the Fab Five, Trey Burke’s clutch shot to send the game against Kansas into OT, Jordan Morgan’s dunk to cap off the Final Four game against Syracuse and send Michigan to the National Championship, but I’d never seen them. Now, I can see what I’ve missed.

Frances: After I graduate [ virtually 🙁 ] in May, I’m moving to Boston, MA to work for Wayfair.  I’ve really been enjoying looking for apartments, scouring Pinterest for room ideas, and imagining my life out there once this is all over!

Lindsay: Biking – My dad helped me pump up the tires on my bike and now I try to ride for half an hour most days, exploring my neighborhood and getting some exercise.  Boy, my thighs hurt!

Cameron: The Wiki Game – Instead of spending countless hours mindlessly thumbing through TikTok and Pinterest, why not spend your time in the virtual thumbing through Wikipedia articles in a blitzkrieg to connect two random entries through links?  Bonus points if you can do it in the fewest links possible.

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