The Atlantic Daily: Ideas for a Weekend in Quarantine

Make no mistake: This outbreak is worth your attention. But a body can only contain so much worry for so long. When you do come up for air, and find yourself needing distraction from the doom, turn to this list.

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.

Mark Metcalfe / Getty

Read a book.

Read something surrealist. Something to feel better. Start that novel you meant to read last year—revisit our list of the best books of 2019. If your attention span is too frayed by the news, turn to poetry to ease back into reading.

Put on some tunes.

Our critics picked 13 songs to get you through social distancing and its accompanying moods, like the post–Zoom-call blues. The accompanying Spotify playlist can be found here.

We also asked readers to tell us what songs they’re cueing up in this moment. Several of you had a recommendation that’s a little on the nose: R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine).” Find that and more on this Atlantic reader-curated Spotify playlist.

Or a podcast.

Last month, we launched our first narrative podcast: Floodlines, hosted by Vann R. Newkirk II, is the story of an unnatural disaster. For additional inspiration, turn to our roundup of the 50 best podcasts of 2019.

Follow the Barefoot Contessa.

Literally, not metaphorically—smash that button on Instagram. Where other celebrities have failed to soothe, Ina Garten maintains “an uncanny empathy for how people are doing, and how the emotional resonance of food might be able to help.”

Let Hollywood take you somewhere else.

Our culture team recommended eight different shows and movies to stream right now. Indulge your longing for wide-open spaces by putting on a classic Western.

Try old-fashioned crafting.

Our assistant editor Rosa Inocencio Smith writes beautifully about turning to crochet for comfort: “In the long chain of actions and accidents that can lead to a stranger’s life or death, I don’t know where I fit or whether I’m doing the right thing. But I know how to do this; I know how to link one loop of thread into another.”

Take on a cooking project.

Choose something particularly tedious to lull you into a state of peace. Our resident newsroom chefs offer some tips for cooking sustainably—and creatively—amid an outbreak.

Tour America from your couch.

Let your eyes wander the country when the rest of you can’t. Our “Fifty” project, from photo editor Alan Taylor, highlights extraordinary photography of each U.S. state. (I may be a bit biased here, but isn’t Maryland lovely?)

Revisit an extraordinary piece of journalism.

Keep scrolling: Our editors and writers selected five reads for you below.

Remember we’re all in this together.

This is, perhaps, most important of all. From my little desk in San Francisco, I send you and your loved ones all the best during these turbulent times.

Editor’s Picks

Denise Wills
Deputy editor, magazine

“The Digital Ruins of a Forgotten Future” (2017)

As we retreat ever more from in-person interaction, I keep thinking about this fascinating essay by Leslie Jamison, which tells the stories of people who (still!) spend much of their time on the all-but-forgotten online platform Second Life. Jamison explores how digital life offers connection, escape, reinvention—all so appealing right now—as well as how it falls short of the real deal.

Best read: After a long day on the internet

Yoni Appelbaum
Senior editor and former lecturer on history and literature at Harvard University

“High Adventure (Part I)” (1916)

In 1916, The Atlantic sent a young James Norman Hall across the Atlantic, to report on the volunteers taking to the air to defend France. Swept up in the romance of it all, Hall went rogue—enlisting in the Lafayette Escadrille himself, and becoming a highly decorated aviator, instead of filing the story he’d promised to write. The account he ultimately delivered, serialized in six parts in The Atlantic as “High Adventure,” mixes vainglory and bravado with a creeping awareness of the realities of war. (Hall and a fellow pilot moved to Tahiti after the war, where they wrote the The Bounty Trilogy together.)

Best read: With a wheel of brie, and a grain of salt

Shan Wang
Senior editor

“The Dad-Joke Doctrine” (2018)

As a childless Millennial, I love nothing more than a healthy volley of truly eye-rolling dad jokes. My colleague Ashley Fetters dove deep into “one of America’s great familial oral traditions” for this 2018 masterpiece. You’ll get to hear from everyone from linguists to actual dads (and granddads).

Best read: Before a shower (Puns are great shower thoughts; let that sink in.)

Adam Harris
Staff writer, politics

“A Fleeting Moment in the Solar System” (2020)

Our moon had a partner, small and young, that joined it on the orbit around Earth; but it was a short relationship. Marina Koren writes about that loss, and the hope of partners to come.

Best read: While looking up at the sky

Annika Neklason
Archives editor

“The Devil Baby at Hull House” (1916)

In 1889, Jane Addams founded a settlement house in Chicago that provided childcare, education, and health services for the poor—and, some claimed, a home for a cursed “Devil Baby.” Investigating this urban legend for The Atlantic in 1916, Addams confronted the very real pain of the women the house served and offered an intimate account of how scary stories can take hold.

Best read: When the shadows on the wall start to grow long

Sign yourself up for The Daily here.