Events are canceled, so instead we’re offering some of our favorite books, podcasts and movies and TV shows to watch while you’re at home. Because let’s be honest, you should probably be staying at home. For ways to help each other out check out our list here. Want to get creative? Check out ways to enjoy art at home here.
(Greensboro and High Point libraries are closed but Scuppernong Books is still taking orders. Forsyth County Public Libraries are still open for pick-up. Readers can also check out e-books using the Libby app if they have a library card.)
The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
NK Jemisin became the first black woman to claim the Hugo Award for Best Novel — one of the most prestigious science-fiction awards out there for writers — for her first installment in the Broken Earth Series when it debuted in 2016. The story centers around three different women across three different time periods and their personal experiences with the “Fifth Season,” a cataclysmic climate event that alters their world. While I’m only about 100 pages in, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. Jemisin’s world-crafting is deep and enriching and the concept of an almost world-ending climate change event is chilling and timely. The sequels, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky are both completed and out too, making this book the perfect one to read in quarantine. — Sayaka
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
This new novel by Charles Yu hits home even more now that the coronavirus is here. A few weeks ago when I first read the book, I was reminded of the racist stereotypes cast upon Asians for decades, especially in the entertainment industry. The book is written from the perspective of one Willis Wu, whose only aspiration in life is to be cast as “Kung Fu Man” in a TV series. Plenty of observations about racism abound, but also, individuals’ own compliance and even acceptance of those stereotypes elevates this novel from a simple critique on society to a self-reflection story that many can relate to. In recent days, Chinese individuals have faced horrible acts of hate in light of the coronavirus, only strengthened by Trump’s choosing to call it the “Chinese virus” repeatedly. While the story is about Chinese-Americans, and the larger story of Asian-Americans in this country, it’s also about how we view each other and relate to one another in the face of adversity. — Sayaka
Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump by David Neiwert
I’ve covered most of the canon in scholarship that traces the arc of the violent far-right leading up to the 2016 election and the debacle eight months into Trump’s presidency that was Unite the Right. I count Bring the War Home (2018) by Kathleen Belew, Everything You Love Will Burn (2018) by Vegas Tenold and Fascism: What It Is and How to End It (2017) by Shane Burley as essential contributions. Alt-America fills in some of the gaps for me, including the emergence of Alex Jones and InfoWars and the Obama “birther” conspiracy. Like its companions, Alt-America came out about a year after Trump’s election, and it’s hard to believe how quaint it all seems now. — Jordan Green
“Life Kit” by NPR
Everything is crazy right now. There’s no toilet paper anywhere and people are being spit on for being Asian. “Life Kit” by NPR is a bite-size podcast that takes on tough topics and combines them with self-care and produces episodes in a easily digestible manner. Each episode is about 15 minutes and covers topics like how to start exercising or how to tell the difference between allergy symptoms and COVID-19. Past episodes cover things like how to navigate birth control and whether or not you should date your co-worker. It’s fun and answers a lot of questions you’ve probably had but were too afraid to ask. — Sayaka
Sure, the leaked interview of Hillary Clinton bad-mouthing Bernie Sanders (“Nobody likes him”) that teased this four-part documentary did not land well. But in this suspended election year, the story of the thwarted 2016 candidate makes for riveting quarantine viewing. While Hillary gives its subject a pass on her track record of neoliberal warmongering, it does deliver some insight into how decades of mistreatment by hacky journalists and kooky conspiracy theorists prodded her to manufacture a guarded persona that ultimately no one believed. — Jordan Green
RiverRun International Film Festival may be canceled or postponed, but they’re curating a list of stream-able films through their website, riverrunfilm.com, during the dates of this year’s fest, March 26-April 5. Find out more on their website, riverrunfilm.com. — Brian
“The Plot Against America” (HBO)
David Simon, of “The Wire” and “Treme,” among other projects, brings a new HBO series based on Philip Roth’s novel of the same name. It’s an alternate history exploring what might have happened if Charles Lindbergh had become president during the run-up to World War II. You can’t binge this one — just one episode a week — but I’ve already watched the pilot and I’m hooked. — Brian
Ars Technica’s “War Stories” (YouTube)
This series by Ars Technica shines a light on the inner workings of the gaming industry from concept to what we experience in our homes. “War Stories” covers the behind-the-scenes trials and tribulations that took place to create some the biggest video games in the industry. Eaach episode lasts anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes and covers all the stages from proof of concept to sound design to the official release. Fun and enlightening, the YouTube show offers hours of insight for folks who are interested in the process of game design and production. — Rob
“Slave to the Grind” (YouTube)
This free documentary covers 35 years of noise and influence. Blast beats, chainsaw guitars, growls in furious bursts, this film covers how the underground genre, grindcore, has made an impact on other genres like metal, punk and even electronic music. Catch it on YouTube. — Rob
Lucky Ones by Alex McMurray
My favorite living New Orleans artist is something of an sleeper for people who don’t live in the Crescent City, but locals have known about Alex McMurray ever since he played lead guitar in the Vince Berman Trio way back in the late 1980s. He’s sort of a mix between Tom Waits, Randy Newman and Warren Zevon — poignant, dark, intensely musical. He began livestreaming last night on Facebook, and he’s got a recent album that I plan on buying this week. You can find all his stuff at alexmcmurray.com. — Brian
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