THE PHRASE: Dolce Far Niente

Leave it to the Italians to think up a phrase for the simple joys of pleasant idleness. “Il dolce far niente” literally translates as “the sweetness of doing nothing” – and it’s just that. Without guilt, without worry, and definitely without phones. It’s sitting on a terrace letting the world go by or spending a rainy afternoon hanging out with friends. It’s not about being lazy or unproductive, quite the contrary: we should all stare out of the window more often, leave the dishes in the sink sometimes, or enjoy a leisurely evening stroll without labelling it ‘exercise’.

Perfect If: You feel like you’ve become a slave to your to-do list. This summer, learn how to not plan every single detail in your life, and discover what happens.

THE ALBUM: The Killers: Pressure Machine

Long gone are the days of blasting “Mr. Brightside” at house parties – but oh, do we miss them. Lucky for us (and you!), The Killers are back with a brand new studio album. Their latest release, Pressure Machine, is the band’s seventh and can be best described as a “quieter, character-study-driven” type of LP, inspired by Brandon Flowers’ upbringing in a small town in Utah. To be released 13 August, the album was recorded at home during the pandemic. We can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with!

Perfect If: You’re a long-standing Killers fan, a lover of all things music, or are just tired of hearing the same top 40 songs.

THE BOOK: Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So

“An electric debut”; “Luminous”; “Funny without being satirical”; “One of the most exciting contributions to Asian-American literature in recent years”. The rave reviews go on and on for Afterparties, the debut work of the late Anthony Veasna So, who had just been hailed as a remarkable literary talent, a fresh new voice, when he unexpectedly died last year at age 28. Afterparties will be published posthumously on 3 August, and is already considered mandatory summer reading for bookworms this year – a stand-out for its darkly comedic stories about Cambodian-Americans dealing with issues of race, sexuality, friendship, family and the impact of the Khmer Rouge genocide.

Perfect If: You want to discover what the buzz is all about, while enjoying a funny yet eye-opening summer read.

THE FILM: Annette

Adam Driver (Marriage Story, BlacKkKlansman) and Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose, Inception) star in Leos Carax’s eccentric musical Annette. The film, which will stream on Amazon Prime from 20 August, received a fervent five-minute standing ovation on its premiere at Cannes, and it is set to become one of this year’s most highly acclaimed movies – and perhaps one of its strangest. The off-the-walls story follows a stand-up comedian and his world-famous soprano wife as they fall in love and subsequently navigate the dramatic life changes brought on by the birth of their remarkable daughter.

Perfect If: You’re tired of reality and itching to experience something surreal. 

THE STORY: Musical Tales

A stuffy museum probably isn’t the best place to start introducing five-year-olds to the world of art. Or maybe it is. On 3 August, London’s National Gallery is hosting a free sing-along storytelling for the whole family, but especially for kids ages five and under. Musician Paul Rubinstein will tell the story of Paolo Uccello’s The Battle of San Romano through music, inviting kids to sing along and participate in other fun activities while learning about this epic work of art.

Perfect If: You know summer days will be long if you run out of ideas to entertain your little ones.

THE TV SHOW: Nine Perfect Strangers

What happens when you mix nine complete strangers and put them all in a swanky yet slightly strange wellness retreat? The answer may surprise you. Based on Liane Moriarty’s (Big Little Lies, What Alice Forgot) bestselling novel of the same title, Nine Perfect Strangers is a drama miniseries starring Nicole Kidman which is set to premiere on Hulu on 18 August. Highly anticipated after the success of Big Little Lies (also starring Kidman), the show promises mystery and thrills. 

Perfect If: You’re in need of that final element for the ultimate self care night: Popcorn, avocado face mask, bingeable TV show.

THE TREAT: Caramel S’Mores

Whether you’re disappointed that your kids can’t go to camp this year, or simply nostalgic for your own childhood summer nights, this tasty twist on a classic fireside treat will get the whole family into summer camp mood. Follow this 4-ingredient recipe for caramel s’mores to make over the barbecue, around your backyard fire pit, or just in the microwave (for a quicker, easier alternative). Either way, warm up your singing voice, have some games ready, and gather the family for a memorable camp-at-home experience. 

Perfect If: Instead of counting the calories, you prefer to count the memories of your best summer camp nights.

THE EVENT: Edinburgh Fringe

After The Year That Was, we could all use a hefty dose of fun and inspiration. The Edinburgh Fringe, back after a 2020 hiatus, is ready to deliver. Running from 6-30 August, the world’s largest arts and culture festival promises “an explosion of creative energy from around the globe” in the form of thousands of performances spanning every imaginable genre from comedy to cabaret, theatre to dance, circus to opera, music to spoken word. Hundreds of stages pop up around the city for an array of free and ticketed events, but would-be visitors who can’t make it to the Scottish capital this year can still enjoy an array of shows streaming live online.

Perfect If: You’re feeling like less “dolce far niente” and more “‘80s drag queen Margaret Thatcher cabaret extravaganza” right now.

THE CAUSE: World Humanitarian Day

On 19 August, celebrate World Humanitarian Day and give back to the planet by taking a step forward – or 10,000 steps for that matter. The UN has teamed up with exercise app Strava to host a global race challenge with the goal of raising environmental awareness and conveying the urgency of the climate crisis leaders around the world. Participants can choose to run, walk, cycle, swim or kick a ball around – they’re simply asked to share their Strava workout on social media using #TheHumanRace. Whether you’re breaking your personal record or taking a 15-minute bike ride to pick up groceries, every mile counts – especially when you know it’ll have a positive impact on the environment. If you’d like to go the extra mile, you can make a donation to help the UN Foundation with their healthy climate projects.

Perfect If: You’re up for doing something good for yourself and the planet.

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