Pop Culture of My Life (thanks, EW)

I really enjoy those interviews with authors, where the interviewer asks things like “What book most influenced you?” and “What book is on your nightstand right now?” I love finding snippets of life and taste in common with my favorite authors, or finding new books or authors to read based on their recommendations.

In the July 2020 issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine (yes, I get it on paper), there was a page titled, “Pop Culture of My Life” with Max Brooks, actor and author of World War Z (who also just happens to be the child of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft).

I’ve done this before, where I take those questions and answer them myself. You know, as if I were a famous author too. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my answers, or if you’d like, you could share your answers to these questions with me.

MY FAVORITE BOOK AS A CHILD

I always struggle with this question, because what do you mean by “child”? Are you asking about picture books like Madeleine or early chapter books like Charlotte’s Web or the Little House books? Are you looking for THE BOOK that made me want to be a writer (A Wrinkle in Time)? Or books that I devoured like candy (the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series)? Or the Chronicles of Narnia, seven books not one, which I carried with me everywhere during junior high.

“Favorite” is also a challenge, because I was an obsessive re-reader when I was young. I loved to plunge back into imaginary worlds to escape from my reality. In high school alone, I must have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy ten times. Familiarity was comfort and I leaned into it hard.

THE LAST TV SHOW I BINGED

I am in the process of watching Friday Night Lights with my husband (I’ve watched it before). Eric and Tami Taylor might possibly be the most accurate portrayal of a couple I’ve ever seen on TV. The show was rooted in their relationship, with its compromises and frustrations and deep, abiding love. And Tami has to be the best mom ever.

MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE

Here we go again. If by favorite, you mean the one I turn to when I’m sick or feeling blue, I’d say the animated Beauty and the Beast or Stardust or The Princess Bride.

If you allow “movie” to mean “all the movies that covered all the bits of a single story” then I’d say the three LOTR movies — a beautiful and mostly accurate representation of the world and characters that live inside my head.

THE ONE BOOK I READ OVER AND OVER

Hahaha I just said I used to read EVERYTHING over and over. In recent years, though, I simply don’t have the time. There are too many books and so little time for pleasure reading.

However, there are two books that I love so much, I have to resist reading them more than once a year.

One is Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine. It’s a Shakespeare retelling based on Romeo and Juliet. It is dark, rich, and deep, like excellent chocolate or a delicious red wine. The characters live and breathe, making choices that seem driven from within, not just driven by the plot of the original. A sense of impending tragedy hangs over the novel, obviously, but it’s also fresh and poignant, and even provides a bit of hope.

The other is Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen of Attolia… and The King of Attolia because once I read Queen I have to read King. It simply isn’t possible to stop. I have written about the Queen’s Thief series on this blog before, so I’ll spare you the details. Just know that it is brilliant, smart, twisty, and romantic. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

As you can see, I have trouble with this “pick one thing” thing.

THE LAST BOOK I GAVE AS A GIFT

Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. What a joy of a cookbook (and her Netflix show is amazing too)!

THE FIRST RECORD I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY

OK, now I’m going to be both embarrassed AND dated, because the first record I ever bought with my own money was the 45 RPM single of “Boogie Fever” by the Sylvers (I had to look up the name of the band). The record came out in 1975.

So now you know.

THE LAST TV SHOW TO MAKE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD

I don’t watch regular television anymore; we don’t even have cable. And I am hard-pressed to think of the last time I laughed out loud in 2020 that wasn’t because I was with friends (at least six feet away and outdoors, of course).

I’m punting on this one.

THE CHARACTER I’D WANT ON MY SIDE DURING A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

I mean, Aragorn, right? Is there any question?

THE BOOK THAT BEST PREPARED ME TO SURVIVE A PANDEMIC

It wasn’t a book but bed rest during pregnancy that taught me how to get through long periods of isolation, fear, and being trapped in one place you can’t leave (much). You think this is bad, imagine not showering for six weeks and having to use a bedpan.

Fill me in, readers? What are your answers?

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1 Response to Pop Culture of My Life (thanks, EW)

  1. Pingback: Literary Mood Board (adapted from Entertainment Weekly) | A Writer's Notepad

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