It is a bad time. Many people across the globe are sick with coronavirus. Those who aren’t are being encouraged to stay away from public spaces.
Schools, museums, movie theaters, bars, restaurants: all closed. You’re home, and you need a distraction. Let us help. Below are some suggestions for what to watch, what to listen to, what to cook, how to entertain your kids. We’ll update it every weekday with a few suggestions. Be safe.
Mo Willems, the children’s book author and illustrator (the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny and Elephant and Piggie series) has launched a “Lunch Doodles” series that streams from the Kennedy Center YouTube page at 1 p.m. daily. “Let’s find a way to be isolated and together at the same time,” he says. You can find Tuesday’s segment here.
Movies and TV
What TV Should I Stream?
We have several lists of the best things to stream that are updated every month with the newest titles. Make these your first stop. And subscribe to our Watching newsletter, to get TV and movie recommendations straight to your inbox several times a week.
I’ve been meaning to start one of those shows that everyone was talking about last year? Remind me what they were.
The one that’s like “Groundhog Day” but set in the East Village and starring the incredibly-voiced Natasha Lyonne? That would be “Russian Doll,” on Netflix. It’s a short, one-season binge.
The one that’s full of mostly hateable rich people insulting one another in settings that are both envy-worthy and also somehow bland? You’re thinking of HBO’s “Succession.” There are two seasons, each with 10 hourlong episodes.
The one that’s punchy and witty and emotional and sexy, but with British accents and an attractive priest? “Fleabag.” It’s on Amazon Prime, and there are two seasons of six half-hour episodes. (The one with the priest is Season 2.)
The one with the dragons is “Game of Thrones.” Everyone was talking about it, but not necessarily for good reasons.
(For more recommendations on what movies and TV shows to stream while at home, subscribe to our Watching newsletter, which will hit your inbox three times a week.)
OK, those are incredibly specific. Too specific, actually.
Sorry, sorry. Let’s go broader. Here are some ideas organized by category or mood.
Can you give me something that will make me feel good? I just need a laugh or something mindless.
Something feel-good? Spend some time in the fictional world of “Schitt’s Creek.” Yes, the Rose family lost all their money, but now they’re learning how to function like regular people, and there’s something comforting about their struggles.
A laugh in dark times? The stakes are high in “The Good Place” — the fate of humanity hangs in the balance — and yet the ragtag team fighting to save us all are gloriously, painfully human (even though some of them aren’t, technically). This show strikes a great lowbrow/highbrow balance.
Oh, something mindless? The latest reality dating show sweeping the internet is Netflix’s “Love Is Blind,” in which strangers form relationships from one-person pods, and see each other only after they’re engaged. Beware, though: Despite the silly set up, you may find yourself emotionally invested.
What about movies?
Some of last year’s Oscar-nominated movies are now available to stream, rent or purchase, including:
“The Irishman” (what better time to watch this three-hour-plus film) and “Marriage Story,” on Netflix.
“Parasite,” “Knives Out,” “Uncut Gems,” “Ford v Ferrari,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” are available for rent on iTunes, Amazon and other digital video platforms
“Little Women” and “1917” are available for purchase at iTunes and Amazon Prime.
If you’ve always wanted to learn about world cinema but haven’t had the time before, subscribe to the Criterion Channel and watch the works of Fellini, Kiarostami, Truffaut, Bergman, Tati, Denis, Varda, Renoir …
What should I listen to?
It’s understandable if you don’t want to look at a screen right now — maybe you’re working from home and your eyes are burned out from staring at your laptop; perhaps you’ve been watching cable news for too many hours and just can’t with your TV anymore.
Luckily, there’s a world of audio-only content we can recommend. For example, if you want to hear something that might make you feel better, you can listen to someone read our profile from last fall: “This Tom Hanks Story Will Make You Feel Less Bad.”
If you want deeper dives, here are some podcasts, broken down by category.
What should I read?
What books offer you comfort? We asked more than 20 authors about what they read to soothe their own anxieties.
Fantasies probably sound appealing right about now. Celeste Ng, the author of “Little Fires Everywhere,” recommends “The Princess Bride.” You might already know and love the movie, but Ng says the novel it’s based on is just as worth your time, calling it “a fairy tale that acknowledges that life isn’t fair” that “still manages to make you feel that the good guys might win.”
What about poetry? For that, Luis Alberto Urrea goes to “Winter Morning Walks,” a collection of poems Ted Kooser wrote while recovering from cancer that “will bring you grace abundant,” Urrea writes.
And for those who find themselves drawn to non-fiction even in these times, J. Courtney Sullivan suggests trying Mira Ptacin’s “The In-Betweens” — it’s the true story of Camp Etna, a 150-year-old community of spiritualists and mediums, hidden deep in the woods of Maine.
But what if my attention span these days can’t handle a full-length novel?
You might have the time but not the mental bandwidth for “Anna Karenina” right now, and that’s OK. In fact, it’s completely normal (even editors at the Book Review are having trouble concentrating). Maybe you want to save the thick books for a less unsettling time. If that’s the case, here are a few short, quick options that can help take your mind off the real world.
Is your family getting a little too close for comfort? Seek validation in “Dept. of Speculation,” by Jenny Offill. Or if you’d like to be distracted by a different crisis altogether, consider Offill’s new book, “Weather.” You can guess what that one’s about.
You don’t have to be a writer to find peace in Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life,” where she reflects on nature, creativity, friendship and inspiration.
Sometimes you need to temper your anxiety with humor — or sex. In “Mrs. Caliban,” by Rachel Ingalls, Dorothy is struggling. Her son has died (and so has her dog); her husband has become dour and uncommunicative. But things begin looking up when she acquires a lover — a strapping amphibian named Larry.
What new songs should I stream?
OK, so you can’t go to any concerts right now. But millions — yes, many millions — of songs are at your fingertips.
Want to start with the best new music you should have on your radar? Listen to our latest Playlist, which features new releases from Lil Yachty (featuring Drake and DaBaby), Ava Max, Tones and I (the Australian songwriter behind the world-conquering hit “Dance Monkey” and more. We’ll have a new playlist for you every Friday, as always.
Our classical music critics chose their favorite recordings of works they were supposed to see live before everything was canceled. Here’s Mahler’s Sixth Symphony.
What should I cook?
Even in the most stressful moments, we need to eat good food. The New York Times Cooking site has thousands of recipes to help you weather these next few weeks. (You do need a subscription to access a lot of them, though.)
For example, since we know many of you will be working from home for the foreseeable future, here are 30 recipes for lunch at home. It doesn’t have to be grilled cheese every day! (True, there is a grilled cheese recipe here, but it has some zhush.)
And since some of you have bought beans and beans and beans for the long hibernation, here’s Melissa Clark’s guide for how best to cook them, as well as many delicious recipes like one for tomato, white bean and kale soup.
Sign up for the Cooking newsletter, for recipes, food writing and culinary inspiration. Like all our newsletters, it’s free.
What should I play?
Wirecutter, a New York Times company that focuses on product recommendations, has some great suggestions for the best board games to play with people who are interested in advanced board games — we’re talking more than just Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.
Interested in console, mobile, or PC games? The Guardian has just published a list with 25 suggestions, including “Pokemon Go,” which is making changes to allow for more monsters to be found closer to home.
What should I do with my kids?
Look, let’s be honest. It’s almost inevitable that many children are going to have more screen time over the coming weeks. It’s fine, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent, as our Parenting editor, Jessica Grose, recently explained in her newsletter, which you can sign up for here.
Here’s a long list of podcasts for kids ages 2-6, from story-focused ones to educational fare to music one.
Do you need some help figuring out what books to get and read to your children? The New York Times’s children’s book editor, Maria Russo, has a recurring advice column called Story Times. She has already written up lists like eight great (and short) books for brand new-readers and seven great shorter stories for the elementary school years. Check out the rest at Story Times.