Reading Week: Read-watching TV

Fall TV is here! And that means I now spend approximately 50% of my time reading episode recaps. Mostly on The AV Club. (I used to be really into the recaps on Vulture, but they are not as quick to post and The AV Club really reeled me in with its grading system.) Of course, I watch all of the shows that I read about. But I watch a lot of shows so I end up reading a lot of recaps. What was I read-watching (watch-reading? I dunno) this week?

Adventure Time: I caught up on a few recent episodes (“Earth & Water” and “Time Sandwich”, for those of you who are fans) this week. I thought the review of “Earth & Water” was particularly thoughtful.

Breaking Bad: Duh. I’ve never been as big of a fan of this show as my friends/everyone on the internet seems to be. But…I have been the opposite of bored by this season and find that I look forward to reading the recaps on Sunday evenings after the show airs to see if I missed anything.

Boardwalk Empire: I vowed to stop watching this show after Season 2 ended because I thought it would hurt too much to not see Michael Pitt’s beautiful face every week. Also, it’s just not a great show. It’s fine. But I like period pieces and Steve Buscemi, so.

Broadchurch: This show has been on BBC America for six weeks now. I don’t get BBC America on Verizon FiOS, which is currently the greatest tragedy in my life, so I watch this on Amazon. Anyway, if you’re not watching it, you should be.

New Girl: Perhaps the greatest surprise of my life –  thus far –  was that I started watching and liking New Girl last year. (I would recommend everyone start with Season 2 and then go back and watch Season 1, like I did. Season 2 is just so much better.) I watched the Season 3 premiere late last night and literally thought about reading the review – which I accurately predicted would be a B+ – when I woke up this morning, which is a sad and very revealing fact about me.

So, what else? I am still reading Last Call because it’s really impossible for me to read non-fiction quickly, unless it’s like David Grann or Geoff Dyer or John Jeremiah Sullivan. (OMG, note to self: I should write about how much I love John Jeremiah Sullivan soon.)

Also, I am getting really excited to see Anna Nicole the Opera next week. The review in the New York Times was great. Reading it made me revisit one of my favorite magazine pieces of the recent past, a New York Magazine feature on Anna Nicole published shortly after the original production of the opera opened in London in 2011. I actually ripped this story out of the magazine and still have it in my “inspiration files” because it really is such “a peculiarly American story”.
One last thing: I don’t read advice columns very often, but this one on The Awl today caught my eye. Probably because the headline is “Am I Really Just A Booty Call?”. And, you know, maybe that is a question I have encountered in some fashion before. Anyway, I thought there was some pretty great advice in there for young, intelligent women who are in possession of smartphones. (I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but I guess I wouldn’t stop anyone from trying some of the things she suggests.)

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Reading Week: Skirting the Law

Welcome back to Reading Week! I had to take last week off due to life “getting in the way”, I guess. (So much for that promise that this would be a weekly thing.) Actually, it’s probably better that I took a week off. I read The Secret History so slowly that I didn’t pick up a new book until earlier this week. And I ended up doing a lot of magazine reading (well, really, just back issues of The New Yorker) during this time as well, especially while I was away over Labor Day weekend, so I have plenty to share in that regard.

last call

I loved The Secret History, but I’ll wait to give you my full review. (It will be included in my quarterly review post next month). I had a hard time picking out my next book because I wanted to buy something new but feel that I’ve spent way too much money on books recently. So, I decided to find something that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while, unread. Originally, I thought I’d take a crack at Dombey and Son – the only unread, not-torn-to-bits Dickens book on my shelf – but I didn’t feel like spending weeks on another novel. Instead, I picked up Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, which has been sitting in my little non-fiction bookcase for at least a year. (It has been on my list forever and I’m embarrassed to say that I saw the Prohibition exhibit curated by the author, Daniel Okrent, earlier this year at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, before I ever opened the book.) I am only a few chapters in. And so far, so good! It’s super readable and full of enough witty asides that I’d tell even a non-history nerd to pick it up. (There’s still A LOT of history, obviously, but…you get what I’m saying.)

I read or finished reading two longer pieces on breakdowns in law enforcement and plain old horribleness happening in America right now. I had started Sarah Stillman’s piece about civil forfeiture in The New Yorker over Labor Day weekend, got sidetracked by drunkenness and finished it on Monday while sweating through my pants on a recumbent bike at the YMCA. Basically, it’s about how local governments are able to take money and property (cars, homes, etc.) from people who haven’t been convicted of a crime. The stories of the victims made me feel enraged and powerless – like, what would I do if this ever happened to me? – but also guilty, because I know that as a well-off, young, white woman, it probably won’t happen to me. So. Sigh. Also, this article namechecked a civil forfeiture case called “United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins” and that made me laugh.

I also spent the last few days reading Reuters’ investigation of “private re-homing”, in which “American parents use the Internet to find new families for children they regret adopting”. Many of the children are adopted abroad and the lack of concern for their well-being on all sides (from the adoptive parents to law enforcement officials who discover cases of illegal transfer of custody) is shocking.

I also read some other things and not all of them are serious, but I’m really not kidding when I tell you that most of them are from old issues of The New Yorker. Here’s a brief rundown:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: I reread about half of this book for my book club meeting. It was very strange, as an adult, reading a book I read probably five-ish times as a child. But it was totally worth it to read it and see things I hadn’t before.

“O.K., Glass” by Gary Shteyngart (The New Yorker, August 5, 2013): Gary Shteyngart’s experience as a Google Glass Explorer is great.

“Trial by Twitter” by Ariel Levy (The New Yorker, August 5, 2013): An examination of social media’s role in Steubenville.

“Margaret Thatcher’s Revolution” by John Lanchester (The New Yorker, August 5, 2013)

“Poisoned Land” by Elif Bautmann (The New Yorker, August 12, 2013): A fatal kidney disease in the Balkans baffles the medical community.