Quarantine Inspirations: Books, TV Series, Movies, & Podcasts to Get You Through Isolation

What books to read

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: with a narration switching between preparing for the 1893 Chicago World Fair and one of the most famous serial killers of all time, H.H. Holmes, this was equal parts fascinating and thrilling.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: Laura Hillenbrand puts so much into her books, and this one will inspire you and absolutely blow you away with the capabilities of the human spirit.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: taking place in WWII Germany, this book is one of my favorite books of all times – a must-read, just have some tissues just in case!

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton, and Joshua Foer: if you want to discover some truly crazy and incredible places, look no further!

Boys in the Boat by by Daniel James Brown, Mark Bramhall, et al.: I had zero interest in rowing before I read this book, but I enjoyed every single page of this inspiring read. It’s based on a true story and an interesting look into a slice of American history.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson: Bill Bryson has written many travel books, but this has been one of my favorites. He will keep you laughing for a long time in these!

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: if you want to live your best creative life free from societal expectations, this is a must-read!

Influence by Robert Cialdini: I never got to take a psychology class but I have always been fascinated by it, and now my mind is blown by how many aspects of persuasion and compliance are present and influencing us in our daily lives.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann: if you want the vibes of searching for El Dorado in the Amazon plus science, history, and adventure, this is the book for you.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: I have a love for anything set in Europe, maybe it’s childhood nostalgia from being born over there, but even if I didn’t I would LOVE this book – it is just so beautifully written with compelling characters and lots of intrigue.

Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder: I read this a while back but I still remember being so inspired by Dr. Farmer and it was such an educational dive into medical and poverty issues in third world countries.

1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Shultz: okay maybe not the best pick for being on lockdown but in case I already didn’t have a wanderlust list a thousand pages long, it is now.

King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild: this may be an uncomfortable read for some but it is such an important book for learning about the dark history of colonial expansion in Africa.

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb: as a runner myself, I always love books about incredible athletes, but this book will appeal to anyone who wants to be inspired by human achievement, plus it takes place in three different countries.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: taking a break from the fiction and nonfiction on this list, here is a fantasy suggestion that is well worth a mention. It is a long book series – i.e. perfect for long stretches at home – and honestly it’s one of the greatest series I’ve ever read. Amazing character development, witty dialog, fun action, and a whole lot more.

Rejection-Proof by Jia Jiang: I’m not usually one for self-help books but this book blew me away with its positivity and actionable steps to help deal with rejection. As someone who reaches out to potential clients and faces rejection on a daily basis, this book was a fantastic resource.

Anything by James Herriot: his animal stories were my childhood favorites and I still read them for some feel-good vibes.

Anything by Michael Crichton: I can’t pick a favorite, they’re all so good. Fiction meets science in a way that will have you believing entirely in the reality Crichton paints, and every single book is so fast-paced you can’t put it down.

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What TV Series to binge

Netflix

  • Sense 8: talk about one of the most underrated shows of all time! 8 individuals in 8 countries in one of the most meaningful looks at human connection I’ve ever seen.
  • Altered Carbon: so far only one season in (season two just hit Netflix!) but it was quite a captivating thriller.
  • Lost in Space: right from the get-go this TV series will have you on the edge of your seat. So far, 2 seasons, both fantastic.
  • Chef’s Table: one of the most beautifully put together shows I have ever seen – the music, the cinematography – discover the lives of fascinating top chefs from around the world.
  • Tales by Light: every photographer MUST watch this series, it is absolutely beautiful and wonderful and will inspire you so much.
  • Sherlock: this is kind of a throw-back pick but man it is just SO GOOD so watch it again!
  • Queer Eye: I would have never thought about watching this show but my brother-in-law insisted and I’m so glad he did. It is such a touching show, I seriously cry about every episode yet always feel so uplifted.

Hulu

  • Killing Eve: I watched this one on a whim and did not expect it to be so. Dang. Good.
  • Dollface: if you want fun uplifting vibes about the importance of female friendships, plus poking fun at the world that is a female’s life, this underrated show is definitely for you.

HBO

  • Westworld: get swept up in the wild wild west in season 1 and then head to new lands in seasons 2 and 3 – also the original screenplay that the show is based on was written by Michael Crichton so of course it’s good!
  • His Dark Materials: whether or not you read this book series as a kid, you have to watch this show. It’s just on season 1 but I am eagerly awaiting the rest of the incredible adventures in a world that is both like and unlike our own.
  • Last Week Tonight: even if you don’t have HBO, watch this on YouTube. There’s a new episode every week that is timely, informational, hilarious, and just all around a must-watch.

Amazon Prime

  • Carnival Row: this fantasy series did not get enough recognition, I definitely binged this so quickly and I’m dying for more.
  • The Boys: this one gets violent and shocking in a hurry, so if you’re not into that stay clear. But if you want a dark superhero story, this is fantastic.
  • Good Omens: if you want a light-hearted show that also has David Tennant, this is a fun one.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: basically if you liked Gilmore Girls, you’ll like this show too. I laughed, cringed, and all-around had a good time watching this one.

What Movies to Watch

  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: this has got to be one of my all-time favorite movies about stepping out of your daydreams and into an adventure, and many scenes were filmed in Iceland (!) – in case it wasn’t wonderful enough.
  • Moana: I’m a sucker for Disney films and this was one of the best female leads of all time, plus just an all around fun adventure across the Pacific Ocean.
  • Paddington: I thought this was honestly such a cute movie, and it gives me all the feels from back when I lived in the U.K.
  • Life of Pi: the cinematography ALONE made me enjoy this movie even better than the book – and I never say that! An all around meaningful and epic film.
  • Up: If you haven’t watched this yet, DO IT and for everyone else, just rewatch it. It’s always a good pick for when you crave an adventure but also need some feel-good vibes (post-cry of course).
  • Midnight in Paris: time travel, eccentric artists, beautiful European streets, this was unexpectedly good.
  • Tracks: I loved this one for my time spent living in Australia, and it is based on a true story of one bada—female adventurer. Also a good book!
  • Coco: delve into the incredibly colorful land of the dead – promise you’ll be singing these songs for a long time!
  • The Road to El Dorado: SO underrated, and such a fun adventure!
  • Kontiki: another ocean adventure, but based on an incredible true story about crossing the Pacific on a wood raft.
  • The Italian Job: I’m not usually into action movies, but this one is the perfect mix of heist and thrill with some incredible European backdrops.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: this one played heavily on my child excitement about the lost city of Atlantis, and I still love it.
  • The Road to El Dorado: SO underrated, and such a fun adventure!
  • The Big Year: my partner is a birder so we got this as a joke but it ended up being so fun and now I’m ready to do a Big Year!
  • Into the Wild: so inspiring with incredible shots of Alaskan landscapes.

What Podcasts to Listen To

  • F-Stop Collaborate & Listen: the host Matt Payne interviews a different insanely talented landscape/travel photographer each week, which has made this one of my go-to’s for a long time, plus Matt is just a great interviewer.
  • Her Life by Design: my recent favorite – a resource heavy podcast by Christina Galbato with amazing girl-boss vibes. It’s the best resource for social media influencers / digital nomads / online professionals I’ve found so far.
  • Roam with Us: a funny and extremely valuable resource for commercial and freelance photographers looking to learn more about the industry. I laugh so hard every episode and always learn essential tips.
  • The Stokecast: profiles incredible athletes and creatives, and is sure to get you motivated!
  • Art of Visuals: another great one to look into the minds of your favorite creators and learn a bunch.
  • How I Built This: flawlessly produced and interesting to see how big companies got their start.
  • Hidden Brain: a fascinating dive into various subjects.
  • Serial (season one) and S-Town: I think these have been hyped enough but if you still haven’t given them a listen, do it ASAP.

Hopefully this helps get you through some of those long isolation days and cuts down decision making time about what to do in quarantine! I’ll definitely be making more book lists in the future so if you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments.

Mar 30, 2020 | Inspiration

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RoamFreeRebecca content creator photographer

Hey I’m Rebecca!

I’m a freelance travel & outdoors photographer and blogger living in the US but you can find me adventuring around the globe! On this blog I share tips to help you improve your photography, inspiration to explore the outdoors, destination guides, and travel tips, and more to plan your own adventures!

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