Staff picks: What we’re watching, reading, and listening to while we’re staying at home

Staff picks: What we’re watching, reading, and listening to while we’re staying at home
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This story is proudly presented by Bojangles.

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North Carolina is under a stay at home order until at least April 30, which means we all have to find ways to entertain ourselves without leaving the house.

The Agenda staff has been working from home for a few weeks now, so we’re already in our groove when it comes to at-home entertainment.

Here’s what we’ve been watching, reading, and listening to in the midst of a global pandemic. We’ve found both comfort and distraction in these things, and we hope you can find the same.


Michael Graff, editor-in-chief

“A few days before quarantine, I was flipping through the satellite radio and heard the song And It’s Still Alright by Nathaniel Rateliff. I downloaded it that night and read the lyrics. A few lines seemed right for the times — “the glass is clear, but all this fear, starts a-leaving a mark.” We bought the album the next day. For balance, we’re watching an absurd Netflix show that my wife’s coworkers recommended called Schitt’s Creek, and it’s cracking us up. And in blank spaces I’m reading Wilmington’s Lie, a tremendous book by Pulitzer winner David Zucchino about the 1898 coup and how it shaped the South.”

Ted Williams, publisher

“I told my 2-year-old and 5-year-old that I’m the new NFL Commissioner. Most afternoons, I put them through a modified NFL Combine — measuring their broad jump, vertical jump, obstacle course run, and football toss. I try to run each morning. During the run, I’ll listen to the New York TimesThe Daily podcast and Vox Media’s Pivot podcast with journalist Kara Swisher and NYU professor Scott Galloway. At night, I’ve been catching up on Curb Your Enthusiasm season 10 and just started Ozark season 3. Oh, and I wore a tuxedo on Saturday and made my son film me performing a ball and cup magic trick.”

Emma Way, managing editor

“Wednesday has always been my favorite night for TV with Survivor — yes, it’s still on. Now my Wednesdays are even better with Little Fires Everywhere, a psychological mystery all about motherhood, which comes out with new episodes on Hulu. My girlfriends and I read the novel for book club last year, so we’re watching the series together over video chat once a week. Getting to spend an hour with friends, and watching powerhouse performances from Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, helps me get through the rest of the week.”

Jason Murtha, chief technology officer

“I’ve been watching Tangled: The Series on Disney+ with my daughters and listening to the Frozen II soundtrack on repeat.  I’m also playing Dragon Quest Builders 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch with my son.  I’m trying to be interested in what my kids like right now, while they aren’t allowed to play with the neighborhood kids.”

Lizzy Sirkin, chief revenue officer

“I’ve been passing the time with some pretty lowbrow entertainment since it’s an immediate mood lightener. More specifically, I’ve been watching way too many Tik Tok’s, and Sex Education and Tiger King (duh) on Netflix. I’ve also been blaring the playlist Middle School BANGERZ on Spotify, which is an A+ selection of early 2000s throwbacks. On a more serious note, NYT’s The Daily podcast and Need2Know’s email newsletter have kept me grounded about the world’s realities, and I’ve followed all my favorite local businesses on Instagram to keep me informed on how I can support them throughout the quarantine. Balance :)”

Lauren Corriher, senior contributor

“We’re obviously watching Tiger King at my house. You just can’t look away. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, too. A couple of books I’ve enjoyed recently include The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, as well as All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg. They’re both stories about complicated, intriguing families and I was sad when I finished them. Also, if you are/were a Jessica Simpson fan, her memoir is really good. Admittedly, I was skeptical, but it was great. Your views on John Mayer and Nick Lachey will never be the same.”

Samantha Alexander, head of production

Like the rest of the Agenda staff (and America), I’ve obviously binged all of Tiger King already. I’ve been craving some tv comfort food so I’ve been rewatching Mad Men. I also recently rented Jojo Rabbit on Amazon Prime Video and it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. Highly recommend. I’m trying to tackle my reading list while I’m stuck at home, which right now consists of The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, and The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, which was a recent snag from Park Road Books. For music, my friends and I made this Quarantunes playlist on Spotify that I’ve been listening to a lot. And if you’re looking for a good podcast to listen to, I highly recommend Dolly Parton’s America.”

Katie Peralta, senior editor

“Every morning, I listen to The Daily podcast while going for a run or brisk walk. It’s a nice 30-minute way to get fresh air and steps while also learning something. At some point in the morning, my fiancé and I have been starting to take a break to do a Headspace meditation together. That’s when we’ll talk about our workload and the day ahead. In the afternoon, we take the dog for a walk around the block. After dinner – which is either takeout or a dish we make together – we’ve been watching How to Make it in America and the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. During this time at home, I’m also balancing a couple other shows: Tiger King (insane and weird) with Dirty Money (fascinating and thought-provoking). For my book club, I’m reading The Overstory by Richard Powers.”

Brianna Crane, associate editor

“Normally I love to read, but I think I’m a little too anxious to get into it right now. Instead, I’m watching a lot of TV. I’m binging easy-to-watch shows, like Younger and The Mindy Project when I’m craving shows that are light and funny. My boyfriend and I are also watching Tiger King and Lost. Ozark is next up. (Told you, I’m really into TV right now.)”

Alivia McAtee, creative strategist

“To be honest, my biggest regret is finishing Tiger King already. Since then, I’ve been watching Little Fires Everywhere and Schitts Creek. I just started reading A Visit From the Goon Squad, but I haven’t been in the mood to read anything besides the news lately. An Instagram influencer I like, Tezza, released a Spotify playlist called Quarantine n’ Chill which is great to listen to while I work. Outside of screen time, I got a watercolor kit and have been using that to spruce up my bullet journal.” 

Jen McGivney, writer

“Before the library closed, I stocked up on books like they were TP at Teeter. Books introduce us to people we’ll never meet, places we may never go. During stay-at-home orders, new people and places sound pretty perfect. My favorites, so far:
Fleishman is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner: When Taffy writes, I read.
The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead: Essential, if heartbreaking, American lit.
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11, Garrett Graff: So engrossing I kept forgetting to breathe.
Writers and Lovers, Lily King: Gorgeous! I held it to my chest and sighed when it ended.”

Mary Gross, writer

“I’ve been living on audiobooks these past few weeks. The narrator is super important so be sure to listen to a sample first to make sure the person’s voice doesn’t annoy the sh*t out of you. My favorites right now: Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd and Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. I borrowed all of these for free from Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. My favorite short audiobooks, aka podcasts, are: My Favorite Murder, Generation Why, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness and Criminal. Hot tip: Dateline episodes are now available in podcast form if you want a constant stream of Lester Holt.”

Crystal Marie, writer

My husband and I have been catching up on family-friendly movies that we grew up with in the 90’s, such as Independence Day, Mighty Ducks, and Mrs. Doubtfire. As an adult, I am firmly on Sally Field’s side versus the fun but irresponsible Robin Williams. Late evening television includes the binge-able but very weird Tiger King on Netflix, Hunters on Amazon, and Ozark on Netflix. I recently read Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid and had three virtual book club meetings about it using the app House Party. (Spoiler alert: everyone loves this book. Such a fun read!) As we clean and keep up the family chores, we have been binging WFAE’s Southbound podcast, which helps us feel connected to Charlotte, even within the house.”


Times are crazy right now, so whether you’re craving escapist reality TV or sage words from Pulitzer laureates, take what you need.

(This content was created in partnership with Bojangles.)

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