Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reign-inspired reading, Catching Fire thoughts, and colder weather

It's so nice to be Salon-ing two weekends in a row. I'm planning to hunker down at home today, as even my cold-weather-loving self finds single-digit temperatures when the sun is out quite cold. While I should run a few errands, when facing a two-day work week, it's easy to find reasons to just stay home and read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, one of my favorite authors. I've read some of its essays before, but I'm still enjoying them again. Look for my review on December 10th.

On Catching Fire
Yesterday, Mr. Nomadreader and I had a rare day off together. Even more rare: it was a Saturday. We celebrated by having a delicious brunch at Le Jardin, a recently resurrected Des Moines restaurant. In typical Des Moines fashion, we ran into friends and acquaintances while we were there. Then we headed to the mall (the horror!) and enjoyed a few martinis before settling in for an afternoon showing of Catching Fire. I adored the book when I read it four (!) years ago (my review), and it remains my overwhelming favorite in the series. I don't have enough to say about the film to write a full review (at least not yet), but I will say it was visually stunning and well-acted. The violence bothered me, but I think being in a theater filled with middle school children impacted my enjoyment. After hearing Philomena had to appeal its R-rating (based on two uses of the f-word) down to a PG-13, it was sobering to watch a violent film cruise through with an undeserved, in my opinion, PG-13 rating. I shouldn't fault Catching Fire for its rating, but it is a reminder of the vastly different impact a story can have in print and in film. I was enchanted for most of the film's two and a half hours, but when it was over I debated how many stars I would give it. In the end, I give it 4 out of 5.

On Reign
Reign, the new Mary Queen of Scots teen drama on the CW, has been saved in my Hulu queue since its late (by fall network tv standards) premiere. This week Mr. Nomadreader worked an unusually high number of nights, and I was in the mood for some extra television time. I finally sat down to watch the premiere and was surprised how much I like it. It's my favorite new show of the year. I managed to limit myself to one episode a day and am now completely caught up.

My world history knowledge is admittedly awful. I switched schools between 9th and 10th grade. At my old school, world history was a 10th grade class. At my new school, it was a 9th grade class, so I never took it in high school. In college I majored in art history (and women's studies and journalism), so I satisfied most history requirements with art courses. I know a lot about world history as it relates to particular art movements, but that leaves a lot of holes. I ended up taking one world history course as a summer class and remember nothing except the riveting research for the term paper I wrote on British suffragists Pankhurst sisters. Most of what I know about world history I've learned from art, fiction and film. Aside from Catherine de Medici (played my childhood favorite Megan Follows!), I know no one in Reign. Admittedly, the show is not necessarily the most accurate history lesson, but I long to know more about this time period. I know Philippa Gregory is a favorite author of many, and Jennifer from Literate Housewife has this fabulous list of the order of her books in terms of chronological setting. I picked up The Lady of the Rivers at the library Friday and hope to dig into it soon.

Now tell me: what Mary Queen of Scots-era (or before or after) historical titles are must-reads? What Philippa Gregory titles should I avoid? Should I finally bite the bullet and read Wolf Hall?

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  1. My errands are technically done for the week but after making a quick trip to the mall yesterday, and seeing all the decorations up, I am in holiday mode and trying to restrain myself. I feel the need to go out and do stuff but I am forcing myself to stick to my spot on the couch at least until it's time to forage for food. LOL.

  2. We are planning to watch Catching Fire this coming weekend, so I'm really excited about it. I wonder if it is also shot in the same shaky camera style as the first one was.

  3. I've heard great things about the Catching Fire. (Athira, there's a new director for this one, so there's reportedly minimal shaky cam footage.) I'm a little scared of Philippa Gregory, but if you find a good "gateway" novel of hers, do let me know!


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