COVID-19 is something that was unexpected and came right out of the blue. The virus has done damage to so many lives, and yet so many people have managed to recover and come out through the other side. Obviously, we are all in quarantine for our own safety. Although quarantine can get pretty bleak and uneventful at times, it has given some of us more free time that we might’ve not gotten otherwise. During my extra free time, I’ve been watching some interesting programs, and reading some wonderful works of literature.

I’ve written a brief summary of each book/documentary below, and if you’re interested, check them out!

Becoming – The Netflix documentary – In 2018, after Michelle Obama left the White House, she wrote a book called Becoming, and Netflix made a documentary of the book tour. Before watching the documentary, Initially, I thought that the documentary would be about the book itself, but after I watched it, I realized it was about Michelle Obama’s book tour. This didn’t change my opinion of the documentary at all, and in fact made me want to read the book. Michelle Obama met many African-Americans on her book tour, and they had some pretty meaningful conversations. One of the students said that her father was ill and unable to work. Since that student had 3 little brothers, she had to work after-school jobs to help pay the bills. Another asked the former first lady for advice on how to not feel ignored and to feel seen. This documentary helped me realize how lucky I was, to never feel ignored, and that my family is healthy.  I hope that this makes other kids like me feel grateful for all that they have in life. More importantly, to those who are struggling with their race, poverty, and any other issues, I hope that this documentary gives them hope and strength to fight their problems.

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The Rule of Five: Making Climate Change History at the Supreme Court – The author of this book, Richard Lazarus, is a Harvard professor, and I actually found an article about this book in Harvard’s newspaper. As soon as I read that article, I told my parents I wanted that book. They were happy to see my eagerness to read such a book, and were ready to buy it for me. This book describes a supreme court case, Massachusetts vs. EPA.  A group of environmental lawyers got together, and wrote a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking them to regulate greenhouse gases for motor vehicles. Part of the EPA’s job was to regulate air pollutants, so the environmental lawyers felt that this was a part of that job. The EPA ignored it for many years, and eventually, a District Court has to get involved. Unfortunately, Massachusetts lost the case, but then took it up with the supreme court. The supreme court ruled in favor of Massachusetts, and it was a big day for climate change activists all around. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read, mostly because climate change is an important issue to me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the supreme court, or climate change.

He Named Me Malala – Documentary – I think it’s safe to say the title speaks for itself, when it comes to what this documentary is all about. It tells the story of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person in the world to win a nobel peace prize. It shows footage of her interviews, and her family life, as well as an insight to her college life. In my opinion, it reminds people that every teen activist is still a normal teenager at heart. People would think college would be a piece of cake for someone like Malala, who went through way worse. However, Malala claims to be struggling at Oxford, being so much different than the other girls.    Malala started blogging for the BBC, under a pseudonym, when she was 11. She said that she was worried that the Taliban might kill her father, but felt confident that they would never go for a child. Alas, she was wrong. When she was coming home from school in the bus, the Taliban shot her and two of her friends. The remarkable thing wasn’t that she just survived the bullet, but that she still keeps fighting for girls education.

The Supreme Court: Landmark Decisions: 20 Cases That Changed America – Yes, it’s the Supreme Court again. This book described some pretty interesting cases, such as Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage across the United States. It also mentioned a case called Korematsu vs. United States. After Pearl Harbor, the United States government relocated all of the Japanese United States residents. The government feared that they were fighting on Japan’s side. However, the supreme court ruled that unconstitutional, as they have no proof that all Japanese residents in America are spying for Japan. I am not going to list all 20 supreme court cases here, but I highly recommend reading this book to get a glimpse of life-changing cases.

The Book Thief – While this book is fiction, it is as impactful as all the other books and documentaries listed above. Death itself narrates the story of young Lisel Meminger, a girl whose parents were taken away by Hitler. During WWII, she moves into a foster home, makes a couple friends, and learns how to read. She takes any and every willing reader with her on her adventures.

These documentaries and books have so much meaning filled within those hours, or those pages. If you’re looking to get inspired, to kill time, or to gain knowledge, I strongly  recommend these books and documentaries.

Shreya N is a resident of Scotch Plains.