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What’s on Your Pandemic Nightstand/TV Screen? Book & Movie Suggestions

One of the silver linings of this extended stay at home time has been much more downtime for reading and watching movies. What are you reading and watching during? The Your Teen staff shares what we’re engrossed in right now.

Jane Parent, senior editor

Reading: I’m reading The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. It’s about the London Blitz and the intense bombing campaign of Great Britain during 1942. It’s about how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless” and also details wartime life during the Blitz for his 18-year-old daughter Mary and her frustration and longing in trying to find a way to serve her country. The book is fantastic, and when everything feels overwhelming it’s surprisingly comforting to read about how other generations survived enormous challenges.

Watching: We started out leaning into pandemic with Contagion and World War Z but now I’m into mindless, pretty home and garden shows like Hometown and Property Brothers because I’m so tired of my own house! My son has had Naked and Afraid on for several seasons’ worth which has really helped me to appreciate a roof and no bugs. (And yes, Tiger King—but only so I could understand all the memes!)

Podcast: For fun, I’ve been listening to Office Ladies as I finally watched the last season of The Office, which I never saw the first time it aired.

Susan Borison, editor-in-chief

ReadingAmerican Dirt by Jeanine Cummins about the terrifying ordeal of a Mexican woman and her son who escape as undocumented immigrants to the United States. The book is embroiled in controversy. For me, this work of fiction is a window into a world I knew nothing about. And it’s a gripping story.

Watching: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. It’s a lot like Seinfeld, watching people talk and laugh about mostly nothing. Exactly what I want right now. Uncomplicated. Mindless. The den TV is blasting The Office and Schitt’s Creek. The Office makes me cringe–I’m not a fan of that awkward humor. But Schitt’s Creek is quite perfect for this moment in time.

Listening: Satellite Sisters. It’s like hanging with friends. Their banter is soothing. I’ve abandoned my former love: How I Built This. At the moment, I want stress-free banter with “girlfriends.”

Jessica Port, SEO expert/assistant editor

Watching: My family enjoyed the 2017 Jumanji 1000% more than we thought we would.

Jody Podl, digital consumer products manager

Reading: On my night stand I see a big stack of books that I cannot focus on. Trying to get myself in the right place to dive in.

Watching: Lots of Harry Potter movies as they are a source of comfort in this house. I imagine we’ll be able to recite them before this is over. But we also watched two great first-run movies: Camp Crip on Netflix, which was about a camp for disabled teens and how the experience that some of the campers had there led them to lead the fight for disability rights; and Peanut Butter Falcon on Amazon, which is worth watching for the name alone. It’s a quirky movie that reminded me of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Forrest Gump and features a young man with Down Syndrome who goes on the adventure of his life, changing people (for the better) along the way.

Stephanie Silverman, publisher 

Reading: Little Fires Everywhere, which takes place in the town where I live. I may be the last person in my town to read it.

Watching: Ozark (new season); Tiger King with the family, which was RIDICULOUS and like nothing I had ever seen (not a reality tv watcher). It was such a departure from COVID—I do not regret a single minute (and I do believe that Carole Baskin whacked her husband).

Kristina Wright, digital editor

ReadingOther People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman, which is told from the point of view of Frances Bloom, whose life is calm and predictable—until she discovers one of her neighbors is having an affair. It’s a funny, poignant, and relatable novel about marriage, parenting, and life in the ‘burbs. And because I can’t read just one book at a time, I’m also reading The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica, which centers on Sadie Foust and her family who move to a small island town in Maine after her husband inherits an old house and takes over the guardianship of his troubled 16-year-old niece. What should be a fresh start for Sadie and her philandering husband becomes terrifying and unpredictable when a neighbor is murdered. Sadie isn’t sure who to trust—including herself.

Watching: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, a charming and surprisingly emotion-packed show about a young woman who discovers she has the ability to hear other people singing what she calls their heart songs. Zoey determines that when she hears someone sing, she’s supposed to help them with their problems—which leads to all sorts of complications. The show has a diverse and talented cast of characters and the singing and dancing are a delight. Oh, and my family has discovered The Librarian franchise (the movies and TV series starring Noah Wyle), so we’re watching those together. Lots of geeky, campy, fantasy fun for book lovers!

Emily Vitan, special projects editor

Reading: I’m reading The Great Influenza by John Barry (about the 1918 pandemic), a gift from my dad which is providing perspective, understanding, and inspiration to get through this pandemic. I’m also reading Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman, about a woman who begins wearing her dog in her teen son’s baby sling as she struggles with the human relationships in her life.

Watching: I’m late to the game but am watching Schitt’s Creek and loving every chance to laugh and also all of the beautiful moments when this dysfunctional family takes care of each other.

Listening: Brene Brown’s new podcast Unlocking Us. It’s absolutely timely as she launched it right as the stay at home orders were going into place and she provides framework and language for what we’re collectively experiencing right now.

Eca Taylor, circulation manager

Reading: Just finished reading Radium Girls by Kate Moore. Haunting. Now switching to light reading of Entertainment Weekly.

Podcasts: 13 Minutes to the Moon, about the first Apollo lunar landing. Ironically, the writer/producer won’t be able to finish season 2 due to his work as a doctor in London, which is more critical right now. The Bowery Boys: New York City History, focuses on one place, person, or event in NYC. Two podcasts down, 323 to go!

Shari Silk, sales and advertising

Reading:  Just started The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns.

Watching: Little Fires Everywhere, Ozark, and Masterpiece Theatre (World on Fire and Sanditon).

Sharon Holbrook, managing editor

Reading: Grocery by Michael Ruhlman. It’s a little bizarre but oddly comforting to read about the grocery store business when I can’t set foot in one—especially since his childhood grocery store, which he discusses in depth, is my current grocery store. With my daughters, I am reading Pride and Prejudice aloud. It’s slow going because, well, it’s 200 years old, but it’s also a total escape. I can’t wait to show them the BBC miniseries when we’re done!

Watching: My husband and I recently watched the new Paul Rudd show Living with Yourself, which manages to be light, dark, and fast-moving all at once. The Office is on pretty much at least once a day, thanks to the teenager. And Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window was a hit—with two out of three kids, anyway.

Mindy Gallagher, social media editor

Reading: The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, by Robert Duboni. In these times when we need hope and something to believe in, this is the perfect book. Just finished it last night but it’s one of those books you just don’t want to end. Now looking for recommendations!

Watching: Homeland, starting Ozark, and just watched the Oscar nominated 1917. After watching 1917 my 23-year-old son (who has joined us in working from home during this quarantine) stated “Wow! These kids (soldiers) were younger than me.” We’re also bingeing on Curb Your Enthusiasm—it’s a great show to watch just before going to bed. End your day on a happy note.

Jane Parent

Jane Parent, former editor at Your Teen, is the parent of three.

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