January 30th, 2013

It’s Tudor Time!

I like to be engrossed—that feeling of being lost in your reading and immune to the real world.  Lately I’ve been living in the world of Henry VIII.  I never cared much about British history and I don’t much care about Kate and the Prince, but I’ve become engrossed in Henry’s world thanks to Hillary Mantel’s books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (both available at CCPL).

These books are turning me into an anglophile.  I’m fascinated by the politics.  What will Henry do to end his marriage to his latest wife?  And how will Thomas Cromwell, who has to be the greatest “administrative assistant” in the history of the world, manage it all?  The relationships between all the characters are real and complex.  The period of history comes alive as told from the Cromwells perspective.  I’ve learned about the 15th century world with its conflicts between the established church and the royal rulers and what life at court was really like.  What would it have been like not to be able to read the Bible in English, a controversial  issue of the day?  The language and images are so resonant and beautiful that I’m listening to the works now for the second time and I’ve reserved the books for further study.

And that’s still not enough to quench my passion.  I’m watching the Showtime series, The Tudors (also available on DVD at the library) to get an even better sense of the costumes and settings.  King Henry, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, is virile and young and compares to the historical images of Henry VIII like young Elvis compares to old Elvis.  (Rhys-Myers actually played Elvis in a TV movie!)   The accent is on the romance and the drama, but it helps to add definition to the characters I’ve been introduced to in the books.

The library also has some fascinating nonfiction that lays out the family tree and puts the Tudors’ reign in a larger perspective.  A quick search in our catalog of “Henry VIII” brings up a great selection of books, CD Books and DVDs about Henry and his many wives.  So my winter’s reading and viewing is all arranged!  And I’ll be waiting for Mantel’s third book in the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, to be published.  Maybe it’s time to plan a trip to England in the spring!

What period of history do you enjoy reading about most?


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December 7th, 2011

Books That Inspired Great TV

When I read a book, I don’t really “see” much. Characters are just vague outlines in my imagination, like people seen at a distance without my glasses. Their words are spoken in my voice, making some scenarios a little awkward. Descriptions of beautiful vistas? Consider them instantly forgotten. Perish the thought of having to imagine what a fantastical creature looks like, even with a long string of adjectives to guide me.

This problem makes Fantasy an untouchable genre. Science Fiction is a considerable struggle as well. Remove the setting descriptions in Westerns and it’s just a bunch of faceless cowboys with nondescript guns and war cries that sound a lot like my “ack! a spider!” shriek.

I don’t like being confined to a few genres, particularly because I help people find their next favorite book. So I cheat a little. Watching movies and TV shows based on books helps me see the scenery, hear the characters, and experience the story more fully before I read the book. This ruins things for people with a rich visual mindscape. (You can easily pick them out of a crowd because they say things like, “I can’t believe they casted so-in-so in that movie. He doesn’t look at ALL how he’s supposed to look.”) To them, I tip my hat.

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Check out this list of TV shows based on books and make your own comparisons!

•    Bones (FOX): Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs
•    Christy (CBS): Christy by Catherine Marshall
•    Dexter (Showtime): Dexter Morgan series by Jeffry Lindsay
•    The Dresden Files (Syfy): The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher
•    Flashforward (ABC): Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer
•    Game of Thrones (HBO): A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
•    Friday Night Lights (NBC): Friday Night Lights: a Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger
•    Gossip Girl (The CW): Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar
•    The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (BBC): Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George
•    Rizzoli & Isles (TNT): Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series by Tess Gerritsen
•    Kitchen Confidential (FOX): Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain
•    Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family): Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard
•    True Blood (HBO): Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries by Charlaine Harris
•    The Vampire Diaries (The CW): Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith
•    The Walking Dead (AMC): The Walking Dead graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman

For a list of books that inspired movies, click here.

When you read, do you “see” anything? What’s your favorite book/film/TV show adaptation?


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