Reading, Watching, Listening

What I’m Reading (Books)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. (Scholastic, September.) No spoilers here; I’m not going to say a damn thing about what happens in the book. Instead, I’ll merely say that books like this are the reason I fell in love with reading. I stayed up until 5:30am reading it; it was thrilling; it was heartrending; it was wickedly funny; it was important. I care about these characters with all my heart. And, Ms. Collins? I bet you’re already getting pressure from readers for the third book. From me, you get no pressure. From me, you get this instead: Take a break to celebrate what you’ve accomplished. And take as much time as the next book needs. I know it’ll be worth waiting for.

What I’m Reading (Blogs)
I mentioned recently that there are only a few blogs I follow. Well, Laura’s recent post at Pinot and Prose sums up why her blog is one of them. Laura is a librarian and amateur chef in Queens who blogs about children’s literature, food and food ethics, wine, local, sustainable agriculture, and other yummy things. Her posts calm me down and remind me of what’s important. ♥

And here’s a post from the blog of Sarah Prineas, author of the wonderful The Magic Thief and the just-released The Magic Thief: Lost, in which Sarah talks honestly about the ups and downs of “living the dream” of being a writer. Representative of why her blog is on my reader. ♥

What I’m Watching
Ballykissangel. Do you know this show, created by BBC Northern Ireland? An English priest is transferred to a small Irish town and quiet, funny, sad drama ensues. I’m partway through Season 3 and am enjoying it muchly, despite occasional fury. (After 8 years of Catholic primary school and, more particularly, 4 years of Jesuit high school… well, I’ll say this: Ballykissangel is a world I recognize. Which makes it comforting sometimes, and at other times, exceedingly uncomfortable.)

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 5. Now, let me be clear, there are things not to like about SYTYCD. Nigel’s homophobic comments (thanks, Amanda, for the link). Mia’s woman-hating and general unguarded meanness. But, the dancing in many styles! And, the dancers of many specialties! Poppers forced to dance ballroom! Ballerinas forced to dance hip hop! Oh goodness me, it’s so fun. And the host (Cat Deeley) is so much more sincere and lovable than other hosts (*ahem* Ryan Seacrest), and these kids are talented, and the choreographers are so great and…. well, it’s just a ton of fun, this show. And if, like me, you don’t know a lot about dance, it’s a learning experience, too.

What I’m Listening To
I’m in the middle of a Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat fixation. What could be better than a musical in which Joseph (interpreter of dreams) has occasion to say to Pharaoh (who sounds suspiciously like Elvis), “All these things you saw in your pajamas / are a long-range forecast for your farmers”? Plus, this show is a good way to brush up on the twelve tribes of Israel. Ready? Reuben, Simeon, Naphtali, Dan, Asher, Issachar, Levi, Zebulun, Gad, Judah, Benjamin, Joseph!

I’m also listening to a lot of Imogen Heap (the link takes you to a favorite song); and Brahms’ Requiem has sneaked its way back into my repertoire. I have to be careful not to listen to it while I’m writing, because then I become convinced that I’m writing beautiful, dramatic, emotional scenes, when really it’s just that Brahms’ Requiem playing in the background makes anything sound good. Seriously, try it. Click on the link and then go off to read your email. You’ll find yourself weeping over a spam letter about how she will no longer need a microscope to see your specimen. Or something.

*coughs discreetly*

Also, I always have at least one audiobook in my iPod for when I’m on airplanes, preferably one that’s easy to pick up and put down; right now it’s Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father, narrated by the author himself. Yeeks, it is wonderful to have an articulate president who’s also a fine writer.

Okay, just for fun, I’ll end with a favorite clip from Season 4 of SYTYCD — hip hop, starring Chelsie (a ballroom dancer) and Mark (a contemporary dancer), choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon.

What are you reading, watching, listening to these days?