What's Been Getting Me Through the Pandemic? | Books, Culture, Lifestyle

What’s Been Getting Me Through the Pandemic? | Books, Culture, Lifestyle

I don’t want to be that person who says ‘it’s been a tough year for us all’, because we’ve heard it over and over and over. So I’ll just say ‘bloody hell, it’s been shit, hasn’t it?’ For me, there have been pockets of joy (I started my Masters, got engaged, and my blog started picking up traction), but I am tired of living through life changing events. If you ask a millennial ‘so, what world event defines your generation?’, I can guarantee they’ll start staring into space, and it won’t be long before the eye twitches. Can we just have a few decades of quiet? That would be nice.

To get through this year, as well as using humour as a defence mechanism, I’ve thrown myself into what I call ‘comfort culture’. To me, comfort culture is based around books, films, TV shows, videos, games that make you feel good, that bring you joy! It can be because they bring you back to your childhood, remind you of happy times, serve as a distraction, or are just right up your alley. Goodness knows we’ve needed some of that over the past few months. 

As we still have a way to go in these ~unprecedented~ times, I thought I’d compile a list of the ultimate comfort culture that got me through 2020 (and is keeping me going in 2021). Have a read, have a think of what your ultimate comfort culture moments are, and let me know!

Films

l-r; characters of Buttercup and Westley from The Prince Bride; Elle Woods from Legally Blonde; Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation

Starting with perhaps the greatest film ever made (and I am not joking when I say this) – Legally Blonde. For years this has been my ‘I’ve had a bad – no, the worst – NO, the most awful-est day ever’ film. There’s not a lot flopping on the sofa with a bottle of rosé, a kebab, and Legally Blonde can’t fix. It’s the perfect balance of kitsch, funny, and serious – a trio that not a lot of films can do well. Plus, there’s something about it that makes me want to get changed out of my leggings, slap on a red lip, and take the world by storm. Currently from a laptop, of course…

If I fancy some existentialism and concern over what I am doing with my life, then Lost in Translation is the one. I have to say, it’s one of the most exquisitely shot films I have ever seen. Plus, the soundtrack is a piece of art in itself. It isn’t typically a comforting film; depending on how you look at it, it is particularly melancholy. However, it’s one of my all-time favourite films. I know it inside-out. I know the characters, the story, the themes, the dialogue, the delivery etcetera etcetera etcetera. The familiarity I have with this film feels like a warm blanket getting wrapped around my shoulders. It’s safe and warm and predictable. And we need that sometimes. 

Traveling back to the world of the kitsch, we have the most quotable film of all time (or at least of the 1980s). Of course, I am talking about The Princess Bride. As soon as the rolling hills of the opening credits begin, I am swallowed up into a world of make believe and princesses, sword fighters and swash-buckling pirates, evil villains and friendly giants. It is silly, whistleful, and purely fun. When the world is turning as a illness-ridden boiling pot of fear, you simply need to watch a beautiful woman and a handsome farm boy fall in love, one of the best sword fights in history, and wrap yourself in the eighties-ness of it all. 

Books

A white and black cover of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. Rosie is holding it with her left hand.

When I tell people that this book is a comforting read for me, I get quite a few raised eyebrows and/or concerned looks. I’m talking about The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Whilst the book itself deals with the darkness of mental illness and does not shy away from brutal moments, it is actually a book full of hope. I first read this book as a teen on the verge of adulthood, just diagnosed with depression, and unsure what it meant or why I was feeling this way. The book guided me through. Even though that time period has thankfully passed, every time I pick up this book I can find something that speaks to me. The Bell Jar is a comforting reminder that things do get better. 

My next comfort book is Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Ooh we love reading a dystopian novel in a worldwide lockdown and pandemic! As November 2020 started creeping in, along with the winter chill and prospect of a different Christmas, I found myself reaching for this book. Why? Because of the memories I associate with it. I first read this book on a sunlounger by a pool whilst visiting my fiance’s home in Dubai. Not only did I reach for the book, but the smell of the sunscreen, the waves of summer heat, and the feel of the sand under my feet. 

YouTube?!

l-r; Jenn Im wearing all white and looking away to the right; Tim and Jenn from The TimTracker smiling into the camera; Helen Anderson staring directly in to the camera

Let’s get a little non-traditional here. I know online media isn’t typically seen as a form of ~culture~, but it’s the content and culture that I consume the most! Especially YouTube; there are so many creators out there, all with different specialities and interests. Whilst my feed is full to the brim daily with my subscriptions, there are three content creators who bring me comfort and joy, no matter what the video. 

First up, we have fashionista-beauty-guru-foodie-bundle-of-joy Jenn Im. Jenn is a Korean American YouTuber, whose monthly vlogs and videos are always so aesthetically pleasing. Whether she is talking about her clothing line, her favourite meals, meditation, or vlogging a trip to Big Sur, her personality just radiates warmth. Whilst I’m not interested in living the LA life myself, I feel I can live vicariously through Jenn’s eyes.

Then we have the incomparable Helen Anderson; my all-time favourite content creator. Whilst I originally found her on a search for more style based creators, as opposed to just fashion, she’s now become my favourite all-rounder. Personally, my favourite videos of hers are her vlogs, her everyday living – she’s brutally honest, belly-laughing funny, and it almost feels like you are watching a friend walking about her life. 

My final favourite channel on YouTube is a little bit more niche. I first came across TheTimTracker when my partner and I were planning our November 2019 trip to Florida. Tim and his wife Jenn make videos on their life in Florida, exploring theme parks, and generally living a dream lifestyle. They post every single day and every video they post either fills me with happy memories of my holiday, or fills me with excitement for when we go on our honeymoon in 2022!


So those have been the films, books, and online content that have been keeping me grounded and bringing me joy in this pandemic; my comfort culture. I do believe that this last year has proven how important the arts, in whatever form, are to the world. It can lift us up, make us think, serve as a distraction, educate – I might be biased as a creative person myself, but the world would not be worth living in without the arts. 

Let me know what comfort culture you’ve been indulging in this past year. What’s been keeping you grounded or making you happy? I’m all for recommendations!

Rosie x

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17 thoughts on “What’s Been Getting Me Through the Pandemic? | Books, Culture, Lifestyle

  1. Reading books and spending time outdoors is what kept me sane during the pandemic crisis. I mostly stick to travel/adventure genre, but are looking to widen my horizons as I have a few new crime novels waiting to be read 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m definitely with you on that front! I’m lucky enough to have a garden, so I’ve been out there in all weathers, just feeling the air on my skin. Plus, there’s some lovely walks around my city and I’ve been exploring them all!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Other than you, of course, your whole being brings me such a sense of calm and though I can only reach you through a screen at present, I never feel like you are far away 🙂 But, other than that, I have found myself embracing the long walks, appreciating the places that surround you but in the past have just been taken for granted. I take my camera and seek out beauty, which actually, as it turns out, isn’t that hard to spot.
    Otherwise it is the old classic, fire, hot chocolate, book/film 🙂 xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Rosie,
    Loving your Blogs! and as you asked…. Here are a few of my favourite films that you don’t already know about!.
    This Happy Breed (1944)
    (David Lean and Noel Coward)
    The story of an ‘ordinary’ family who move to the London suburbs after WW1.
    All very ‘Knees up Mother Brown’ Cockney’s, but Typically, Coward mixes comedic banter with heart breaking realism. Most of the conversations are peppered by the sayings that Victoria Wood carried into her Cockneys sketches, (‘I’m in error, and no mistake!)
    There is a scene with Celia Johnson (Also starred in Brief Encounter) Where she doesn’t speak a word, and yet it’s the most powerful piece of acting I have seen)
    I find it almost hypnotic!.

    In Which We Serve (1942)
    (David Lean and Noel Coward)
    The story of a Ship, HMS Torrin, in WW2. For me, the film moves between the different social classes of the time seamlessly. I am slightly biased with this one. Two of my friends died in the Falklands war, and there are a couple of scenes that get to me every time, as when the young men who returned after the Falklands (and they were desperately young) and recounted their experiences, they had changed, and life was never the same for them. The end scene has me bawling every single time.
    I hope one day you’ll get to watch them; This Happy Breed particularly is a classic!
    Love you Rosie Posie.
    AJ xxx

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been getting back into watching Helen Anderson’s videos, as she was someone I used to watch a lot and then grew out of… but now I love that I’ve been drawn back to her content! I think bloggers like yourself are also a comfort for me because when I’m scrolling through my reader and see a new post I just think… this is just what I needed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yessss, another Helen fan! ✨ Ohh Janet, thank you so much! I know exactly what you mean. Each morning, I make myself a cup of tea and scroll through WordPress and Bloglovin; it’s such a blissful start to the day ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this post✨

    You are right creativity has been a lifesaver this pandemic. Whether it’s the tiktok videos or the brilliants films/books/YouTube content we consumed —it was a much needed distraction.

    My comfort culture would include sports (ah I love sports —currently, devoting all my energy to six nations) books and good company. Everything that makes life a little bit easier xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great guide! Entertainment really pulled me through the year! I don’t know how you have the courage of picking up Bell Jar. I have a feeling if i do, I’ll go down the rabbit hole and stay there for a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this post! Reading has really gotten me through this current lockdown. Me and my friends have recently started a book club where we set a book every month and then have a zoom call to discuss our thoughts at the end. I feel like it’s a really nice way to have a catch-up with my friends whilst also discovering new books together ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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