We’re doing things a bit differently this week. With so many events canceled due to fears over the coronavirus, our staff picks this week are dedicated to things we’re reading or doing on our own as we work to “flatten the curve” and participate in social distancing. Enjoy. And don’t get too close. — Dave

“Love in the Time of Cholera,” by Gabriel García Márquez

Originally published in 1985, the novel is a tale of enduring love, passion, and their many pitfalls over the course of a lifetime. Meet Florentino Ariza, first introduced in his youth, penning love letters to Fermina Daza, a “beautiful adolescent with … almond-shaped eyes,” and at first, a secret love affair ensues. When Daza’s father finds out, they move to a different town — in an unnamed Caribbean country — and, eventually, she is courted by the aristocratic Dr. Juvenal Urbino, who she later weds. Urbino, dedicated to the eradication of the deadly disease cholera, represents the antithesis of the lovesick Ariza — poised, scientific, and dispassionate. The novel, taking place throughout the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, chronicles this love triangle, and throughout, Márquez draws parallels between cholera and love as a malady of the heart. — Luis Fieldman

Play the board game “Pandemic”

I’m a fan of board games, but after I got married — and my main playing partner became my wife — I wanted to find more that were cooperative rather than competitive. These games let you be on the same team and contribute much less to marital strife. One of the best such games we’ve found is called… “Pandemic.” You play as a team of world health experts to stem the spread of disease across the globe. You win by developing vaccines before too many outbreaks consume the world’s population. Playing it can feel cathartic, and like you’re actually doing something to help global leaders combat the coronavirus. And in a way, by staying inside and keeping yourself sane and occupied, you actually are. If you can find a copy before all the toy stores close, then snap it up! If you can’t, there are platforms where you can play online.  — Dave Eisenstadter

“Wilmington’s Lie” by David Zucchino

This history of a harrowing and mostly forgotten racial attack in the city of Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898 does not make for easy reading. But it’s an important and stark reminder of the manner in which some whites have never accepted African Americans and have viewed black success as a threat to them. As Zucchino relates, in 1898 Wilmington was a thriving seaport with a mixed race community that included successful African American businesses and a good number of black people in government positions. But white supremacists had vowed to take control of both the state legislature and Wilmington that year “by the ballot or the bullet or both,” and they used inflamed newspaper editorials, intimidation and violence to suppress the black vote; then a 2,000-man militia torched black businesses, shot 60 black men dead and drove scores of others out of town. A leader of this movement became North Carolina’s governor two years later, and the killers were never punished. — Steve Pfarrer

Stellaris on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC

Besides enjoying music and the arts, one of my not-so-secret hobbies is video games. The game that’s taken my attention as of late has been a grand strategy game called Stellaris by Paradox Interactive, in which you take control of a fledgling space-faring civilization, explore strange new worlds, and find planets for your civilization (whether that’s humans, mammals, arachnids, or even fungi people) to create new homes. The galaxy is your playground with ancient mysteries, a galactic crisis, and wars with evil empires, all while managing your resources and researching new technologies as well as interacting with all the other galactic peoples. It takes all the best science fiction tropes and ideas, from ringworlds to AI uprisings, and boils it down to a game that’s a lot like a one person digital board game. — Chris Goudreau