Winter Reading Program

I haven’t posted much this week because I’ve been fully engrossed in a great book. (Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J.Ryan Stradal.) Typically, I do most of my reading in the summer, but the long winter months here make it easy to snuggle up with a good book and a blanket. Between the library and my Christmas loot, I have plenty to keep me busy for the next few months.

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In case you weren’t aware, Iowa City is kind of a literary mecca. (You may have heard about a little thing called the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, courtesy of Lena Dunham on Girls.) Everyone seems to write here, in one way or another, and I liken it to living in Los Angeles and being an actor…no one bats an eye when you say what you do, because everyone’s doing it. All this literary love means we have some exceptionally awesome libraries with year-round fun programs. I was an English major, and my mom was an English teacher, so reading is obviously huge in our household, but I’ve never lived anywhere that had as good a library as here. (In fact, I’d rather forget some of the dirty, rough-looking libraries from my L.A. days.) The Iowa City Public Library is currently doing a Winter Reading Program with a cute little Bingo card, and I’m including it below in case you want to play along at home. Happy Reading!

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Thoughts on a few premieres this week…

Recovery Road: This new show about addiction feels a little too Teen Vogue to me. It’s AA in a pretty package, and I’m not buying any of it.  The mother just sits and sighs (in really pretty clothes) after she discovers, like, 52 pills in her daughter’s room, along with other assorted drug paraphernalia. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems really clean-cut, and addiction is typically not pretty. I’m sure that’s partly to do with being on Freeform…the channel that’s trying WAY too hard to drop their family image right now. (Case in point: one of the female leads on Shadowhunters is doing her best Salma Hayek From Dusk Till Dawn impression, complete with racy underwear, and yet she looks like she belongs in study hall.) I typically sing the praises of ABC Family, aka FREEFORM, but they are having a few growing pains. Pass…and I’m gonna have to give up Shadowhunters too.

Lucifer: Slick pilot, with excellent music choices and a strong lead, but looks like a procedural I’ve seen in 20 other versions.  Everything BUT the cop stuff was interesting, so it’s a shame they couldn’t find another angle for this show. Pass.

The Magicians: Freeform needs to take notes from Syfy, a channel that gets cooler by the minute. They’re drawing stronger talent and stories than they used to, and it’s working for them. I felt like I was missing parts of the story since I hadn’t read the books and it just jumps right in, but I really enjoyed the first two episodes of this show. I’m in.

Outsiders: I had seriously low expectations for this series, and I almost skipped the pilot all together, but I thought it was interesting and really well-made. Great acting from several actors I usually enjoy (David Morse, Kyle Gallner, Joe Anderson), as well as an intriguing new face for me (Thomas M. Wright). I don’t know if it’s enough to pull me in each week–it may be one you have to be in the mood for–but it was much better than I expected. I’ll record it, but it might be a binge for another day.

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