Each week, The Spyglass Magazine brings you a rundown of the best books, music, TV, movies and more to get you through long days in self-isolation. Whether you’re looking to expand your horizons, make sense of the world or come to terms with uncomfortable truths, there’s something here for you.
Documentary: One of Us (Netflix)
If the acclaimed miniseries Unorthodox has whetted your appetite for learning more about Brooklyn’s Hasidic Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, then this acclaimed Netflix documentary will be right up your street. Following three former members of the community as they come to terms with leaving everything they had ever known behind, evaluating their identities and struggling to find a future. One of Us provides a fascinating insight into an insular community in one of the world’s most outward-looking cities.
Book: The Underground Railroad – Colson Whithead
President Obama’s annual list of his favourite books should inspire everyone’s reading list. This astonishing Pulitzer Prise winning novels follows escaped slaves Cora and Caesar as they escape the Georgia plantation they were forced to work on, spurring a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the ruthless slave-catcher Ridgeway.
The actual Underground Railroad was a network of safe-houses and secret roads which smuggled escaped enslaved people to safety in free states in the North. Whithead imagines it as a literal train, similar to the doors in Mohsin Hamid’s Exist West, which was featured in and earlier COVID-19 Quarantine Culture Club.
The Underground Railroad is a compelling and frequently shocking book, which should be considered essential reading in any climate. President Obama clearly has excellent taste in books.
If you’re somebody who loves musicals, or somebody who can’t stand/doesn’t get them, this podcast has you covered. Join musical-sceptic Kaveh Taherian as Lindsay Ellis and an assortment of guests try and convince him to embrace the madness.
Movie: The Martian (20th Century Studios)
A film about a man stuck alone on an alien planet is perfect viewing for a time when we’re all marooned in our homes. Thankfully, The Martian is deliciously enjoyable viewing. Drew Goddard and Andy Weir’s sparky script is brought to life by an impressive all-star cast, with an excellent lead performance from Matt Damon as the titular botanist who must use his wits to survive on Mars after being left behind my his crew. Thankfully, he’s the best botanist on the planet.
It’s clear that the true heroes of this pandemic are the healthcare workers caring for the sick and the scientists analysing the spread of the disease and developing treatments and vaccines. The Martian presents us with a compelling and likeable scientist-hero, talking through his thought processes as he works out to grow food in his own poo, make water on a desert planet and try and communicate with home. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the world is united by the endeavours of the lone martian and the quest to bring him home. It’s definitely appropriate for these times.
What would you recommend to fellow members of the COVID-19 Quarantine Culture Club? Leave a comment below and sign up for future updates.
For more information on COVID-19 please go to the WHO website or your national health authority.