The summer of 2020 will certainly be one for the history books.

As COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, continues to take the lives of New Mexico residents, Santa Fe teens are practicing social distancing and taking ample precaution at a time they would otherwise be hugging friends, gathering in groups for picnics and partying into the wee hours of these breezy July nights.

While high schoolers are still getting outside and enjoying a social life — albeit, one with masks and 6 feet of separation — they have had to find ways to fill the quieter moments in isolation. Spending this time alone has led our Generation Next writers to discover educational and entertaining podcasts, books, movies and online/video games. Whether for solace or an escape, here’s what the teenage staff is listening to, reading, watching and playing amid these unprecedented times.

Podcasts

Stuff You Should Know: This educational podcast hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant covers a variety of interesting and unusual topics not covered in school. Every time we listen, we come away learning something we didn’t know — and likely wouldn’t have been taught otherwise. Do you want to know about the practice of cave diving, how soil works, the Falklands War, the massacre at Tiananmen Square or how zippers work? Then this is the podcast for you.

Crime Junkie: This podcast — featured on Spotify and told by Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat — tells stories of true criminal cases with chilling detail. The episodes range in length from 20 minutes to one hour. Most crimes featured are solved mysteries; however, some remain unsolved and are told to bring light to often tragic incidents. Our favorite is “Missing: Margaret Ellen Fox,” which dives into the disappearance of 14-year-old Margaret Ellen Fox in 1974.

The Sustainability Agenda: In this podcast, host Fergal Byrne talks with people whose careers are centered around the environment. Guests have included atmospheric and climate scientists, CEOs of sustainable companies, social activists, economists, authors, professors and filmmakers. They are asked to identify what they are most concerned about in terms of climate change and share insight from their fields. As teens who will be most affected by any harm done to the planet, we feel these discussions are critically informative, not to mention inspiring, for listeners of all ages.

Views Podcast: Two YouTubers, David Dobrik and Jason Nash, talk about their daily life. Episode topics vary, but one thing is constant: It’s a fun and hilarious podcast to brighten your mood during these not-so-happy times. With titles like “David Gets Drunk” and “Almost Getting Kicked Out of High School,” it’s impossible to not be entertained.

1619: In the evergreen fight against systemic racism, this podcast hosted by the New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones offers indelible information on the consequences of slavery in America and the contributions by Black Americans toward a better society. Its first episode examines how the foundations of our country were inherently flawed because they perpetuated the institution of slavery and excluded so many Americans from their basic rights, and it delves into the arduous fight for Black Americans to perfect the democratic system. Now, more than ever, this is a must-listen-to podcast for all ages.

Books

East of Eden by John Steinbeck: Published in 1952 and written by a Nobel Prize-winning author, East of Eden tells the interwoven story of two families — the Hamiltons and the Trasks — as they meet up again and again throughout generations. Set primarily in California’s Salinas Valley, with flashbacks across the U.S., the book focuses on themes of pride, regret and jealousy, all mixed in with biblical allusions. Considered Steinbeck’s magnum opus, this is a novel that every American should read at least once.

Looking for Alaska by John Green: This young adult novel tells the captivating story of Miles Halter, a teen who leaves his Florida high school to attend a preparatory boarding school in Alabama. Miles meets four tight friends, one of them being a girl named Alaska. As he and his friends learn about religion and philosophy, pull epic pranks and create an entertaining adventure out of their school experience, Miles becomes increasingly fascinated by Alaska. After Alaska dies in a car crash, guilt consumes Miles and his friend Colonel as they work to unravel the mystery of what happened to their friend. This tale of teenage obsession and coming of age makes for both a fun and intricate plot that you just can’t put down.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo: Published in 2018, this book unflinchingly discusses white privilege and debunks the reasons white people feel so uncomfortable talking about race. After working as a consultant and educator who facilitated conversations on race in the workplace, DiAngelo brings her knowledge of racism and white people’s active but oftentimes unintentional role in it to the broader public. This book is an extremely pertinent read.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo: Published in 2011, this book details the KonMari Method of cleaning, which aims to simplify one’s living space and focus on accumulating items only that “spark joy.” Kondo, a professional cleaning consultant, guides readers through the process of cleaning and sorting based on categories, not locations, with an emphasis on what items bring happiness. It aims to spread the calm and positive mindset that comes with a tidy home. Amid the current pandemic, now is an opportune time to declutter your junk and make your living space more comfortable.

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez: Set in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, when dictator Héctor Trujillo was still in power, Before We Were Free follows 12-year-old Anita de la Torre and her family as they try to immigrate to the United States, just as other family members have done. But as the family is followed by “secret police” and their loyalty to the country is questioned, they find immigration is harder than they could have ever imagined. For youth who face evolving friendships and existential purpose while going through puberty, just as the main character does, this story is a reminder of interconnected humanity.

Movies

Inception: With the release date of Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s latest film, facing uncertainty during the pandemic, his 2010 film Inception has filled that blockbuster-shaped hole in our eager hearts. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this mind-bending modern classic follows a team of thieves who extract information by hijacking the target’s dreams, culminating in metaphysical ponderings and a cinematic spectacle to match. Be prepared for your mind to be blown.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: This award-winning film from 2018 recounts the story of Miles Morales, a creative 14-year-old boy living in Brooklyn, N.Y., who is given strange powers after he is bitten by a radioactive spider. Miles must learn how to use — and trust — his powers and take up the mantle of Spider-Man with the help of several Spider-People from alternate dimensions. Alongside his new friends, including Peter B. Parker and Gwen Stacy, Miles must defeat the notorious Kingpin, whose experiments threaten the stability of their dimension.

Corpse Bride: This 2005 Tim Burton fantasy film with claymation characters follows protagonist Victor as he prepares for an arranged marriage. But after unknowingly placing his wedding ring on the finger of a dead woman, the skeleton rises from her grave and brings Victor to the Land of the Dead with her. Victor desperately tries to find his way back above ground to marry the lovely, undead Victoria. Much like his classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton has created a fun, complex and entertaining world worthy of escaping to for a bit.

Legally Blonde: Legally Blonde is one of the most well-known films of the early 2000s. With its lovable heroine and lighthearted plot, this movie is perfect for long days spent on an unmade bed. The movie follows the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl with a 4.0 in fashion merchandising who applies to Harvard Law School in an attempt to be the “serious” girl that her ex-boyfriend Warner dreams of. She’s good at it, too — she gets a 179 on the Law School Admission Test, one point short of a perfect score. If you like the color pink, Chihuahuas and the judicial system, this is the perfect movie for you.

13th: This stunning documentary directed by Ava DuVernay tells the history of mass incarceration in the U.S., which continues today. DuVernay takes us back to the direct aftermath of slavery, when the first wave of mass arrests of Black Americans took place. She then follows the process of continued disenfranchisement of people of color through the 20th century, where for-profit prisons allowed mass incarceration, government policy and corporations to become intertwined. This film is a must for someone trying to research and understand the deeply flawed systems that continue to plague our country and severely harm people of color.

Games

Sims: Sims is a life-simulation game where you control your own virtual character, from their family life to their career. You can personalize the way they look, pick a life goal for them and earn points by completing tasks. Also, themed expansion packs allow you to add new experiences for your Sim, such as owning a pet or traveling the world. Warning: This game can be addicting as you become invested in your Sim. But if you like to meticulously plan your character’s future, or you’re simply looking for a fun way to pass the time during quarantine, this is the game for you!

Animal Crossing: This is a life simulator where players follow their in-game avatar throughout their very own island. The goal of the game is to design and run a village of your own, meandering through a plethora of features. From the countless “villagers,” customization options and minigames, or quests, Animal Crossing is an entertaining, explorative game that can be played seemingly forever.

Battlefield V: Battlefield V is the latest installment of the Battlefield series. This time, the game throws you into the conflicts of World War II. With infantry-focused gameplay, you can operate a variety of different historical vehicles or fly historical aircraft, such as the Ju 88 Stuka, in massive all-out battles. While the game has experienced difficulty releasing content in recent months, it’s still a blast to play like all other titles in the series, as the high-skill ceiling and different gameplay options allow for an entertaining and fun experience.

Fortnite: This war/fantasy video game can be played on multiple devices such as PC, Xbox and PlayStation. It is a player-versus-player based battle royal game, which means you fight with multiple weapons until you’re the last one standing, eliminating other opponents for the victory. It’s the perfect game to team up with friends and play together so you don’t feel so far apart during the stay-at-home order.

Detroit: Become Human: This choice-based adventure game takes place in Detroit in the year 2038, after human-like androids and automation have become a significant part of human life. The player navigates three different storylines: those of Markus, Kara and Connor. What makes this game special is its attention to detail, from the reflection of store lights on wet pavement to realistic depictions of what automated society could look like 18 years from now. It also considers the debates that inevitably come with a more automated society: Should human-like androids be considered human? Are they subject to the same laws and morals as humans? With hundreds of different paths and choices, Detroit: Become Human is an immersive, memorable experience for everyone.

Songs

1. “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae

2. “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac

3. “Velvet Light” by Jakob Ogawa

4. “Can I” by Sanjana

5. “Daydream” by Slow Magic (feat. Julianne Hope)

6. “I’m On the Run” by Bass Drum of Death

7. “Beautiful Heartbeat” by MORTEN

8. “Rich Girl” by Hall & Oates

9. “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations

10. “Glory” by John Legend and Common

11. “Break My Heart” by Dua Lipa

12. “Maniac” by Conan Gray

13. “Dear Prudence” by The Beatles

14. “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra

15. “Do It” by Chloe x Halle

16. “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart

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