COVID-19 Quarantine Culture Club

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.

This week:

Book: How to Lose A Country – Ece Temelkuran

Perhaps this isn’t the best book to read if you want to surround yourself with warm and fuzzy vibes and pretend there’s nothing wrong with the world. But if you want a clear-eyed assessment of the mechanisms populists exploit to gain power, then look no further.

Using her native Turkey as an example, journalist Ece Temelkuran explores how populists expose and exploit rifts within society then begin to reshape it while their opponents fight along themselves. The titular ‘Seven Steps’ will be eerily familiar to anyone who is well versed in contemporary politics or dystopian literature, and form a powerful argument for action and awareness in a world where inaction is all to easy.

Music: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (Original Soundtrack) – Jessica Curry

Appropriately titled for a time when streets in the world’s busiest cities are eerily quiet – almost as if everyone’s been pulled to another state of being – this BAFTA winning soundtrack to the 2016 video game of the same name is perfect listening for apocalyptic times.

Incorporating pastoral melodies reminiscent of Vaughn-Williams and church music, Curry evokes images of the English country side which only exist in poetry or misty-eyed newspaper columns about how much ‘better things were in the old days’. Still, with the world in chaos, sometime’s it’s tempting to retreat into a world where everything is in its right place.

If this apocalypse sounds as sweet as Elin Manahan Thomas’s voice, perhaps it won’t be so bad after all.

Television: Russian Doll (Netflix)

We’re lucky to be locked down in an age where there are so many violently funny female-led comedies. Russian Doll invites comparisons to Fleabag with its brittle, angry heroine and acerbic sense of humour, but it is far less straightforward than Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterpiece.

Nadia Vulvokov has a problem: she keeps dying and reliving the same night over and over again, stuck in a time loo which leaves her questioning her own sanity. It’s an intriguing premise, with as many themes as timelines, like a fascinating onion which is primed for picking apart in your mind during the long days indoors until this all blows over.

Film: The Big Short (2015 Paramount Pictures)

With global markets in a new state of peril and governments either scrambling to deal with a crisis or downplaying its existence, why not cast your mind back to the 2008 financial crisis?

The Big Short manages the seemingly impossible task of making a film about finance enjoyable and easy to follow, not being afraid to break the fourth wall to define unfamiliar financial jargon. However, despite the appeal of the film’s tongue-in-cheek tone, there is an undercurrent of dread.

It’s a film which makes you angry. Why didn’t somebody do something? How can people be allowed to gamble with the wellbeing and lives of vulnerable people for their personal enrichment? Have we learned our lesson? The societal change caused by major upheavals such as pandemics or financial crises can provide an opportunity for positive changes. Let’s make sure that we learn our lessons from COVID-19.

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.

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