In recent weeks we have all spent much more time at home than usual, and indeed than we would like to. The confinements of working, living and studying at home mean we all need some downtime and a chance to escape, if not physically, then through some entertainment.
Here are some of our recommendations.
David recommends two books:
The Black Swan Theory by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Yes, this is the book that influenced our name. It’s a surprisingly easy to read and entertaining book about the unpredictability of economic, social, political and other events that can have a profound impact on financial markets and the world.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau. A book written in the 1850s and relevant for our time in 2020. It is an account of his time in self-isolation and is a reflection on a simple life.
Ed’s reading menu is shaped by his family: As the parent of a toddler, it’s no surprise that a large proportion of my shelf space at home is taken up by children’s titles. I grew up with Winnie the Pooh by A A Milne and I have the complete works at home which I love reading to my son. Where my own tastes are concerned, my favourite read recently was First Light by WWII fighter ace Geoffrey Wellum. At this time, it’s an important reminder that the previous generation had to do much more than just stay at home in order to protect their loved ones.
David: before we went into social isolation and lockdown I enjoyed podcasts when commuting. I still make time for podcasts and a couple of my current favourites are:
10 percent happier by Dan Harris- The TV presenter and journalist famously had a panic attack and meltdown live on air more than 10 years ago. This led him on a journey of research and discovery that brings us to this weekly podcast with the achievable aim of just becoming 10% happier. He is refreshingly sceptical of just about everything and offers great insights.
How to Invent a Country– for all the history nerds out there, this BBC series covers the key points in history across two or three episodes per country on what shaped its formation into its current state.
Ed: I don’t really listen to podcasts so I have an alternate recommendation. During the travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders around the world, a huge number of artists and performers have increased their online presence with live shows and uploaded material that you can access completely free through social media and streaming services. I thoroughly recommend searching Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram Live, Twitch or your preferred platform to discover new content from your favourite musicians, comedians, theatre companies and other artists or to catch a live show from somewhere around the world any time of the day or night.
Films & TV
When it all gets too hard one of the favourite places for most people to unwind is in front of the TV.
Ed: I love Masterchef. I wish that I could cook like the competitors on screen but the fact that there are dozens of seasons from the US, Australia, UK and others of this show available through most streaming services provides endless inspiration for your lockdown menu.
There’s a new season of Casa de Papel / Money Heist on Netflix and if you haven’t already seen the episodes up to now, this would be a great time to start watching this brilliant Spanish crime thriller series. Engaging and fast-paced from the beginning, you really should give it a look.
David: my latest favourite film is Lion – a moving true story of a young boy accidentally separated from his family in India, his life on the streets, adoption by an Australian couple and his search for where he is from. A great and uplifting film and available on Netflix.
My favourite series for binge watching is Call My Agent (called Dix Per Cent in the original French). Very funny show with great cameos by famous French movie stars in most episodes.
Old fashioned board games are being dragged out of dusty cupboards everywhere for when you have had too much screen time.
David says, our home favourite is Scrabble, played highly competitively. We were playing it regularly before lockdown and a lot more frequently now.
The other game we have tried is a much more modern, and timely one, Pandemic. It’s a bit like Risk with the opposite goal. It turns traditional games on their heads as it requires teamwork and does not have an individual winner. If you can get around the complex set up, it is fun, if a little unsettling at this time.
Ed offers this alternative: Red Dead Redemption 2 might be a few years old now, but it’s such a huge game that it would take months of dedicated play to come close to completion before you even consider the online options available. If you’re stuck indoors and missing the wide-open spaces, the enormous maps, intricately created scenery and diverse in-game wildlife and characters can at least make you feel like you are roaming free again. To escape your current confinement, you might find yourself delighting in hours of just riding your virtual horse across the virtual plains, but the missions and storylines in the game are a lot of fun.
Stay safe in lockdown and if you have any good recommendations let us know!