26 recommends

In lockdown, I’ve refound Letters of note. Compiled by Shaun Usher, it’s 125 letters ‘deserving of a wider audience’. Letters from people like Bill Hicks, Charles Darwin, Dickens and Jack The Ripper. Some have scans of handwritten sheets, all are (mercifully!) transcribed. Fascinating just about covers it.

– Sam Crosby

Two Books! The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep. ‘A love letter to literature’ with literary characters being read in and out of being, with extraordinary consequences. A divine distraction.

Gifted by Paul Evans. The summer time story of the months that Janet Frame lived in renowned NZ author’s (Frank Sargesson) garden shed and how she played with words, and his sanity.

– Jane Berney

I recommend Front Row Late on BBC iPlayer. Series 7 Episode 1.  Mary Beard hosts from her home study.

Margaret Atwood and her sister Ruth, in isolation in Canada, perform their TableTop Puppet Production of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Red Death; actor Emma Thompson reflects on mortality, by reading a John Donne poem while in isolation in Scotland; and critic Shahidha Bari discusses Titian’s mythological masterpieces at the National Gallery.

This may all sound rather morbid.  But I found great solace in it. And it seemed very apt for our times.   

Also, on YouTube there is Shakespeare’s Globe live streaming at 7pm on Mondays. And The National Theatre live streaming at 7pm on Thursdays.

– Faye Sharpe

Unorthodox is currently the best thing going on Netflix. It’s the story of a young woman (mesmerisingly played by Shira Haasas) who tries to escape from her ultra-orthodox Jewish community in New York. Based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman, it’s beautifully written, acted (partly in Yiddish with subtitles) and filmed – an astounding insight into another world. Take a look too at the extra bit showing how it was made.

Image: Anika Molnar/Netflix

– Wendy Jones

The Dutch House by Anne Patchett, Maybe You Should talk to Someone by Lori Gottleib. I have also gotten into audible books for my long solitary out-of-the-house walks. Catch & Kill by Ronan Farrow about the Harvey Weinstein Affair, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell and Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner. For me, the narrator is everything. Both Farrow and Glenconner narrate their own books very well. And whoever narrates Vanessa is fabulous reading that dark, well-crafted novel about an abusive relationship between a teacher and his 15-year-old student.

– Elena Bowes

I’ve been catching up on Quiz, ITV’s three-parter about Charles Ingram’s notorious Who Wants to be a Millionaire *cough* win. Great cast. Highly entertaining. Just watch it. Worth it for Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant alone!

– Sophie Gordon

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