Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TV Made Me Do It - why I read Our Town

I just finished reading Our Town by Thornton Wilder (a book that has been on my shelf for I know over 8 years). A lot of people may have read this book in high school, but I didn't have to. I don't think it was ever on my class syllabus or summer reading list. And I didn't pick it because it is a Pulitzer Prize Winning classics (however I did take a class on just that -Pulitzer Prize Winning Plays). No, I wanted to read it because it was on My So-Called Life. You know the episode where Rayanne tries out for the school play (Our Town), mimics Angela in her audition to get the part and later betrays Angela in the worst way possible. (I tried not to be spoilery there, could you tell?).  Reading Our Town, I kind of knew what to expect have already watched the show, but some scenes read differently from how I expected having watched MSCL. I can still hear Rayanne's voice as Emily.

Our Town isn't the only book I've picked up because it was referenced in other media. I also started reading Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins after seeing Drew Barrymore's character Lucy reading it in 50 First Dates. I'm going to be honest and say I don't think I made it through the first chapter. I put it down when I couldn't get into it. I have it and may revisit it some day. I'm still trying to figure out why I bought it? Was it because I was going through a Drew Barrymore phase? Yes, I had one. Or was it because I wanted to know why the character Lucy, someone who loses her memory and must live the same day over and over again, would be reading that particular book? Maybe it was simply because there was a character in a movie reading a book that I had never read before. It was probably a combination of all of these things.

It's just funny to think about where my reading inspiration comes from or why I would even consider buying a certain book. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has drawn inspiration from television or movies. Or even from what characters in books are reading. I thought about reading some Albert Camus after reading the characters read quotes from his works aloud in Hannah Moskowitz's Invincible Summer. I'll hold off for now, but it did make me want to.

So am I the only one? Does anyone else choose to read books because they saw a character read it in a movie or television show? Or if a character in a book you are reading is reading a book that you had never read before, would that encourage you to check it out? I'd really like to know.


  1. Yes, I've felt this way. Especially when it's a book like Catcher in the Rye, when you see Holden Caulfield referred to over and over. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird is another. I think the Harry Potter characters have become like this too. Sometimes you just feel like you don't get the entire story if you don't understand the references...

  2. So funny you mention this topic. I was just finishing up Guys Read Thriller last night, short stories, and in the last story the boy isn't a reader, but in order to avoid a bully he tells his mom he's reading and she won't let the bully disturb him (bully is a charmer to parents). So mom buys him Harry Potter. And the boy is looking for something hidden that he can't find. So he throws HP in frustration and finds the hidden thing as says, "What d'ya know, that Harry Potter kid is magic after all!" So book put to use.

    But yes, I've been motivated to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Don't remember who was reading it in the book or movie, but I still haven't gotten through it. What gets me are the quotes at the beginning of some chapters. It makes me want to read the whole book. I just can't let myself or I'd never get through my TBR pile. Great topic!


  3. You crack me up! I didn't even remember that it was in My So Called Life when you told me you were reading that book!

  4. I will read a book in a series, then buy the second one. The problem is I tend to forget what happened in the first book. I think that happens after children.

  5. Annette - literary references can throw you off. I didn't read To Kill a Mockingbird until after college so I'm sure several things just went over my head. Let's be honest they still do.

    Heather - I love this reference to Harry Potter. I'm sure we will see a lot more reference to this series in the years to come. And I've noticed several references to Zen - in movies at least.

    And just last night I was watching this week's episode of Parenthood and I was trying my hardest to see what book the grandmother was reading. I never could make it out.

    Holly - I'm here to make you laugh! And read my books!

    Jen - If I forget what I've read, I'll usually skim though the previous book again and reread the last few chapters.


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