Welcome. This weekend, in the hours under your control, when you’re not tending to the too-numerous things that need tending to, I challenge you to go screen-free. And when I challenge you, I mean it as a dare to myself, to all of us, to stop streaming and scrolling, to muster our attention and devote it, singularly, to a book. To “Song of Solomon” or “Sula,” both featured in Veronica Chambers’ “The Essential Toni Morrison.” To a memoir: Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” or Charlie Gilmour’s “Featherhood,” subtitled, alluringly, “A Memoir of Two Fathers and a Magpie.” Find a good spot, shut the door if you can, take the time.
If you’re one of the people who’s found quarantine conducive to reading, you don’t need this exhortation. If you’re like me and have found the completion of books challenging, your attention inconstant, then join me. Last night I stayed up late with “Detransition, Baby,” a new novel about gender and parenthood by Torrey Peters. I was relieved to be rapt, to have chosen the Kindle over the iPad for once. (OK, a Kindle is a screen, the only admissible kind in this otherwise analog pursuit! Keep the internet on your e-reader turned off!) This profile of Peters in New York Magazine is what got me excited about her book.
Chores might intrude, in which case, audiobooks are the answer. Carpooling or commuting, shoveling snow or making lunch, you can still be reading. I recently listened to “Such a Fun Age,” by Kiley Reid, and “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl,” by Carrie Brownstein, while running errands, while showering. Whatever works.
Of course you’ll also want to take a look at the latest At Home production, “How We Respond to Art,” which features readers’ powerful emotional reactions to theater, music and, yes, books. Bobby Doherty took some spectacular photos to accompany them. Thanks to everyone who sent in their memories of catharsis.
Celebrate Carnival with stories, photographs, music and forays into augmented reality. Or get lost in the satellite images and space-shuttle recordings of Nadya Suvorova’s puzzle game, Oko. Dream about the grove on Corsica where 900 varieties of citrus grow. All glorious ways to travel without traveling.
The pandemic has given rise to some creative solutions: People are buying homes online, sight unseen. Those who bought pandemic puppies now need pandemic puppy trainers. Our food editors and reporters revealed what they make when they’re too tired to cook — lots of good ideas to help when you just can’t, or even if you can.
And if you just need some quiet, please avail yourself of the ASMR clickety-clack of LEGO White Noise.
A reader recommends
Jim Cook Jr., 33, from Laurel, Md., has this memory of reading in his younger days, and a smell he can’t shake:
I spent five years in the United States Army, and my unit (Third Battlefield Coordination Detachment-Korea) would periodically assemble at a shooting range to qualify on the assigned weapons. The cold, indoor pistol range contained the strong scent of gunpowder and gun smoke, which brought me back to my teenage years deer hunting with Dad. As a young gay boy from New Jersey, this was not my scene, but bless his heart, Dad tried to bring me into his world. I’d spend the hours reading books instead of hunting. Among the dew and leaves and dirt, the scent of Dad’s fired weapon, the gun smoke and black powder, would whirl over to the displaced, daydreaming teen reader, and the two were wedded forever.
Have a recommendation for a book that’s so absorbing that even the most scattered, internet-addicted among us won’t be able to resist? Tell us: email@example.com. We’re At Home. We’ll read ever letter sent. More ideas for diversion appear below. Stay safe and I’ll see you next week.