What I’ve Been Reading and Watching Lately

I’ve been reading slowly for the last six weeks because I’ve spent most of my reading time since Labor Day weekend watching Friday Night Lights. I don’t often finish TV series that I see so many raves about. I gave up on The Sopranos and Lost but finished Breaking Bad, but I’ve never really gone through a set of five seasons so quickly. I’m a sucker for teen angst, I loved a whole bunch of the characters, and the football obsession is a little removed from my daily existence. I am so fond of that show.

What I have managed to read in the last month is a lot of Canadian crime fiction as well as Exile, the second book in the Garnethill trilogy by Denise Mina. Exile grated on me when the main character Maureen kept getting herself into needlessly dangerous situations, but fortunately as I dipped into a couple early Joanne Kilbourn novels by Gail Bowen, the amateur detective didn’t risk her life needlessly so much. Both Murder at the Mendel and The Wandering Soul Murders were published in the early 1990’s, so I knew I could probably avoid the unreliable narrator thing I keep on coming across in recently published crime novels.   What was striking about the books was just how dark they turned in the second half of each novel as Joanne found out that things were not as they seemed. Finally, I also finished Louise Penny’s Bury Your Dead, which wraps up a lot of plot threads from the previous installment in the Inspector Gamache series, The Brutal Telling. It’s the only police procedural I’ve read recently, and it’s the rare book that I loved for its ending. The story involves the murder of an obsessive amateur archaelogist trying to find the remains of Champlain in Quebec, and the backwards-moving storyline involves Gamache involved in an awful police shooting that isn’t completely revealed until the last section of the book.

After this stretch of reading books in series I like, I think it’s time to try something new to me. It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and I have a little time to dig around on my shelves and my Kindle, whose contents I frequently forget. Have a good weekend.

10 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading and Watching Lately

  1. So glad, Rebecca, to hear that you enjoyed both the Bowens and the Penny. You’re talking about two of my top series, so it’s good to know you liked them so well. As for TV series… I’ve done that, too: stopped watching a series if it disappointed me.

  2. Lots of interesting stuff here. We don’t really binge watch anything but we have been watching two old science fiction series for a second time (Stargate Atlantis and Stargate SG-1). Also streaming newer stuff like The Americans and Blacklist.

    I have read some books in both of the Canadian series you talk about here. i should try reading them close together for comparison. In some ways I like Louise Penny’s series better because I like a policeman protagonist. But there are elements of the Bowen series I prefer… maybe more realistic? not sure.

    Really interesting was your comment on unreliable narrators. My big problem with that is that, unless you read the book the minute it comes out… which I would never do, you end up knowing ahead of time that the narrator is unreliable and that lessens the whole effect. I have enjoyed a book or two with an unreliable narrator but only when I had no idea in advance.

    • It’s so hard to get into a book without knowing anything about it, and to really enjoy the twist or whatever else stands out about it, it helps going in blind.

      And on the topic of binge watching, I think the sheer number of episodes keeps me from finishing shows. How masmasny seasons are you working on?

      • Number of episodes and seasons is an issue but for some reason we really enjoy these two sci fi series. SG-1 has 10 seasons, and Atlantis has 5 and each season has at least 20 episodes. We just go through them a bit at a time, between watching other shows.

  3. I couldn’t believe it when I got sucked in to Friday Night Lights. I’m not even interested in Australian football let alone the incomprehensible (to me) American version and high schooler’s angst doesn’t normally do much for me. But I watched all 5 seasons on Netflix last year over the space of about 3 months and would happily have watched more if it had been available.

  4. Rebecca: As I know Gail and love her books I was glad to hear you enjoyed them. There are many fine books in the series.

    While I have reservations about a few of the Armand Gamache books I have found it a brilliant series. Bury Your Dead is among the best. I recently read the newest book, A Great Reckoning, and consider it exceptional.

  5. I always forget what I’ve bought on Kindle. I need a bookshelf just to remind myself. Will check out Friday Night Lights. I’ve been meaning to for the longest.

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