This week's staff picks
Every week, the ASBMB staff shares what we’ve been reading, listening to, watching and doing. As we all weather the COVID-19 pandemic and our new normal of social distancing, we look for ways to cope, connect and entertain ourselves.
This app connects you with your local library’s collection of e-books and audiobooks! It’s wonderful —and free. You’re able to read summaries of books and play samples of audiobooks. I love browsing the collections. If a book I want isn’t available, I just place a hold on it and when it’s available to “check out,” the app sends me an alert. Those alerts always brighten my day.
Girl, Woman, Other (Bernardine Evaristo, Black Cat/Grove Atlantic)
I’ve had a hard time concentrating these last couple of months. Not uncommon, right? So I was surprised how quickly I made my way through this 452-page book. It won the 2019 Booker Prize jointly with Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” — which I also hope to read one day. I devoured “Girl, Woman, Other” in a little more than a week, probably because it has nothing to do with viruses and lockdowns. Also because each chapter is the story of one person, and the chapters form a wonderful web of black British women. There isn’t much plot (it revolves loosely around the opening night of a play about Amazon warrior women in Africa), but memorable stories, scenes and characters abound.
— Comfort Dorn, ASBMB Today managing editor
Swiss Army Man (Daniels, available on Netflix)
If you're in the mood for a bizarre but heartwarming movie, you should watch "Swiss Army Man" on Netflix. It stars Paul Dano as Hank, a man stranded on a deserted island, and Daniel Radcliffe as Manny, a dead guy with amazing abilities (you read that right) who helps Hank survive. The directors, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as Daniels), who have also directed a number of music videos, do a beautiful job of integrating the soundtrack with the action in the movie. It's a really, really, weird movie in all the right ways.
Portraits of New Yorkers in lockdown
I have two recommendations for readers who miss people-watching in the park or just want to reflect on the strange time we’re living through.
This New Yorker article, which ran in print as “Close Quarters,” by Michael Schulman, is an intimate account of how conflict built up among roommates in a home-share in a trendy New York neighborhood as they chafed against each other’s adherence to lockdown rules, argued over a rent strike, and tried to stay safe at work and home.
And this episode from relationship therapist Esther Perel’s podcast, “Where Should We Begin,” tells the story of a couple who were on the brink of divorce — and then forced into lockdown together. It did not go well.
Stay safe, be kind, and try not to steal all of your household’s lockdown snacks.
— Laurel Oldach, science communicator
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René Fuanta, a second-year assistant professor at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, tries to support his students through a semester of unexpected challenges.