Staying indoors all day continues to be the new normal, and people are embracing their inner introvert. While many have discovered newfound joys in cooking, art, and board games, winding down on the couch with a good book or a fun movie can also be a welcome distraction. It’s a great time to revisit old movies you used to love, or read that book you’ve never had time for. 

The endless selections on streaming services and beyond may be daunting, so Fordham News asked faculty members for a few of their favorite film and book suggestions to help narrow it down and avoid a night of infinite scroll. Hopefully, you’ll find an interesting new piece of media or rediscover an old favorite in the recommendations below.


Mark Street, Associate Professor of Visual Arts

La Jetee (1963), directed by Chris Marker
This “cine novel,” which exists in book form too, is the movie upon which Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys is based. The time travel story is told entirely in stills, except for one shot which is moving. In the absence of movement, we can let our imagination roam and contemplate the conceptual richness and audacity of the conceit.
Available on Kanopy

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), directed by Maya Deren
This brilliant filmmaker pierces the masculinist world of the American avant-garde. This film is about dreams within reveries within dreams; we’re not sure what’s happening, what’s dreamed, what’s imagined. Its fracturing of time reminds me a bit of our current state, where things have slowed down, and we are looking at time in a new way.
Available on Kanopy

Amy (2015), directed by Asif Kapadia
A wrenching examination of Amy Winehouse’s life, including home movie footage and interviews with friends and family. She’s a product of her time in that she was a mediated image from the beginning of her life (as a sonogram of her in her mother’s womb), right up until her death. This very imaging of her led to her struggles with eating disorders and alcoholism.
Available on Kanopy

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015), directed by Liz Garbus
A good bonus double feature to pair with Amy. Also a product of her time, we see an uncompromising artist from a classically trained prodigy in North Carolina to explosive artist, to righteous, uncompromising activist. She battled mental health issues, racism, and domestic abuse along the way, and her voice is as current and powerful as it ever was.
Available on Netflix

James Jennewein, Senior Lecturer of Communication and Media Studies

The King’s Speech (2010), directed by Tom Hooper
Based on the true story of King George, who was crowned King of England after his older brother abdicated, The King’s Speech is a very moving and inspiring tale of his fight to overcome a serious speech impediment so as to become a more effective king to his people. But deep down it is also the story of one man’s battle with his own inner demons and how his friendship with his speech therapist helps him ultimately to grow as a man.
Available on Netflix

Tootsie (1982), directed by Sydney Pollack
A classic comedy about a driven New York City actor who becomes a soap opera star, dressed as a woman. A brilliant tale of how a sexist learns how to be a better man as he lives out the trials and tribulations of being a woman in society.
Available on Netflix

Television Shows

Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies

The Strain
I recently discovered that The Strain, an FX series that originally aired from 2014 to 2017 is steaming, and even though I had watched it in its entirety as it came out, I decided to binge it a second time, something I almost never do. I highly recommend it, if and only if you are fine with the horror genre. Created by acclaimed film director Guillermo del Toro together with Chuck Hogan, the series is set almost entirely in New York City, and makes full use of neighborhood locations in all five boroughs, which makes it a real treat for New Yorkers. The story is an original take on the vampire genre, mixed together with a good amount of the contagion genre, and even a touch of the zombie motif included. At a time when we are experiencing a form of true horror in the real world, you might think it best to stay far away from that sort of storyline, but I found retreat into this fantasy version diverting and in some ways inoculating, and the plot is absolutely gripping.
Available on Hulu

Star Trek: Picard
As someone who often turns to science fiction, I find no shortage of series available on streaming services these days, but one that stands out that recently completed its first season is Star Trek: Picard. As someone who prefers the original Star Trek series to the Next Generation, I reserved judgment on this new series that debuted only a couple of months ago and just wrapped up its first season. I was very impressed with the first new Star Trek series on CBS All Access, Star Trek: Discovery, a prequel to the original series that has been exceptional in its first two seasons, and Star Trek: Picard rival Discovery in regard to overall quality and entertainment value. Star Trek: Picard is a welcome continuation of the Star Trek story, and with Patrick Stewart in the lead, how can you go wrong? Top that off with several new and interesting regular characters and guest appearances from a few old ones, and an intriguing plot line, and Picard stands out easily as my favorite new series of this strange new year. And on the topic of Star Trek, I strongly recommend Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the best of the earlier series, with marvelous characters and a dramatic, continuing story that emerged after the first couple of seasons.
Available on CBS All Access

The Plot Against America
I am currently enjoying The Plot Against America miniseries on HBO, based on the novel by Phillip Roth. Set circa 1940-1941, the story is an alternate history in which Charles Lindbergh, as a Nazi sympathizer running on an antiwar platform, defeats FDR and becomes president. While fascinating for its historical detail regarding life in Newark in this era, and thought provoking as a what-if scenario, the series resonates in many ways with contemporary American society and politics, making it all the more relevant.
Available on HBO


Mary Bly, Professor of English

Mary Bly, professor and English department chair, Shakespeare scholar, and author of popular romance novels under the pen name Eloisa James, offered this list of 20 books from her to-be-read-during-quarantine pile, which has something for everyone:

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl
Meg and Jo by Virginia Kantra
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Magpie Murders by Antony Horowitz
There There by Tommy Orange
The Best American Sci Fi & Fantasy 2019 edited by John Joseph Adams and Carmen Maria Machado
An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
American Duchess by Karen Harper
Thicker Than Mud by Jason Morris
New Dramaturgies by Mark Bly
The Pier Falls: And Other Stories by Mark Haddon
The New Life of Hugo Gardner by Louis Begley
Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson
All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned In Loehmann’s Dressing Room by Erma Bombeck
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
The Lighthouse by P.D. James

Shonni Enelow, Associate Professor of English

Theodor Adorno
I’m actually reading a lot of philosophy (in the 15 minutes when my kid is occupied with something or napping), particularly Theodor Adorno. I’m finding it oddly soothing. 

Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life by Tavia Nyong’o
I’m also reading Tavia Nyong’o’s new book Afro-Fabulations, which is fantastic. 

Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life by Maurice Sendak
And a lot of Maurice Sendak with my kid. We were just given his not-really-a-kid’s-book Higglety Pigglety Pop, which is like Lewis Carroll by way of Samuel Beckett.

Laura Childs, Emerging Technologies Librarian

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
First, a warning: these books will consume your life! I love this series because you get completely lost in it—you feel like you’re in the story alongside the characters. You’ll be reading for hours and look up, having no idea where (or when) you are. Great for readers who love historical fiction. It’s also been made into a fantastic show that you can binge watch on Netflix!

11/22/63 by Stephen King
This is probably my favorite Stephen King novel, but it’s not a typical horror story. If you like to get emotionally attached to a book, this is for you. It is thrilling and will also break your heart. Another book you will not be able to stop reading (but it’s over 1,000 pages, so you’ll be occupied for a long time).

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Any book by this author is an excellent choice if you enjoy drama, mystery, and some humor mixed in. This particular book is a lot of fun because you get to experience the story through the eyes of different characters, each with their own unique voice. This is a fast, entertaining read.

Additional Resources

Mary Bly, Professor of English

The English Department launched a Mighty Networks site when this happened. It’s a one-stop place for all our spring events, for student-run workshops, etc. Last week, for example, we had a creative writing/cooking demonstration by Sarah Gambito (head of Creative Writing), a yoga class, and a lecture by a disability activist.

Shonni Enelow, Associate Professor of English

The visionary downtown theater director Richard Maxwell and his company New York City Players have put up Vimeos of all their shows.

The Wooster Group is posting a new video every week of their shows, which transfer exceptionally well to video.

The playwright Jeremy O. Harris is doing a master class on Monday through New York Theatre Workshop.

Laura Childs, Emerging Technologies Librarian

As for library resources, I’d like to add that there are thousands of e-books available in our collection that students/faculty can access anywhere. They can be found by searching the catalog on our website. We also offer streaming video and movie platforms that students can watch from anywhere, including many new and popular films. Lastly, even though we’re not in the library, we are still here to help with research questions and can be contacted via email, text, and the 24/7 chat service!