Watch this read that

After Making a Murderer

makingamurdererWhen it comes to true crime, I am a sensitive viewer.  As a general rule, I stay away from media portrayals of real life violence as much as I can.  So it came as a complete surprise when I — like many many other people — got hooked on the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer.  In less than a week I’ve watched seven episodes of the ten episode series (a working mom’s version of binge watching) and already know I’ll be resistant to pull back from that constant state of wondering, “Is Steven Avery guilty?

What follows is kind of an exploration for me about what I’ll read and watch in the weeks to come that will be provoking and uncomfortable (and yet compulsively watchable or readable) in the way that Making a Murder has proven to be.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

innocentkillerAbout Steven Avery’s Case

My first stop will be Michael Griesbach’s book The Innocent KillerThe documentary left me with the feeling that this case (like all cases) is more complex than can be shown in 10 hours.  And there’s no denying the prosecution didn’t give the filmmakers the same access as the the defense.  Griesbach is a prosecuting attorney Manitowoc County, so I’m keen to hear his take on the case.

Wrongful Convictionscentralpark

Whatever your opinion about Avery’s guilt with regards to the Halbach murder, it’s difficult to get over the fact that Avery lost years of his life because of a wrongful conviction — years that likely cost him a relationship with his children.  I can see myself watching The Central Park Five out of a desire to understand how those who are wrongfully convicted function after society has treated them unjustly.

Police Corruption

changelingHaving already watched (and been stunned by) The Changeling, a film in which Angelina Jolie plays a mother who knows that the kidnapped boy returned to her is not her son at all, I’ll probably watch it again.  Jolie enduring the horrific effects of public slander by corrupt police shares a certain kinship with Avery.

I can also see myself picking up Jo Nesbo’s thriller, The Son, a fast-paced read about a web of corruption. 

Conspiracy Theoriesvoodoo

Voodoo Histories is a non-fiction work that examines the psychology behind what makes conspiracy theories addictive.  It does so through the lens of twelve real life cases including JFK’s assassination, the first moon landing, and 9/11.  Also, awesome cover.

frozenRural Wisconsin

In many ways, I think it is the landscape of Making a Murderer that will stay with me.  All those lingering shots of Avery Auto Salvage through the changing seasons seem somehow haunted and foreboding.  I’ve put a hold on Frozen, the first book in Kate Watterson’s Detective Ellie MacIntosh series, which takes place partly in the rural backwoods of Wisconsin.

Something Bleakmercy

I have to say I find Making a Murderer depressing as hell.  There’s every possibility that I’ll want stay in that pocket of bleakness after the show is done.  In that case, I’ll reach for Canadian author David Richard Adam’s Mercy Among The Children a novel that dwells in rural poverty and relentless tragedy.

How to you cope with the end of Making a Murderer?  What did you watch or read next?


RIP Mad Men Reading and Viewing List


Is anyone else devastated by the end of Mad Men? Last Sunday’s series’ finale was, for the most part, a solid finish for my favourite show on television ever. But how to fill the gaping hole in our hearts now that it’s gone?

Try these:

Watch The Sopranos, where Mad Men showrunner, Matthew Weiner, cut his teeth as a staff writer.

Read this trio of mid-century male authors: John Cheever, John Updike, and Richard Yates. Or for a more female version of the 1960s, try The Group, by Mary McCarthy, published in 1963. It follows the lives of eight Vassar graduates, known simply to their classmates as “the group”.

If you’re more interested in Nonfiction, read Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the 60s and Beyond, by Jane Maas or The Long Winded Lady, by Maeve Brennan.

For something truly authentic, check out the New York Public Library’s comprehensive list of all the books that have appeared on Mad Men, by season and episode. Or try another list of books seen on the show organized by character.

You might also want to peruse The Millions’ 10 Books to Read When Man Men is Over.

Whatever you do, know that I am with you in grief over this colossal cultural loss. I, for one, am just going to start watching it again, starting with season one.


Watch This, Read That: The 2014 Emmy Awards Edition

Did you watch the Emmy Awards last night? It may have been the dullest, most unsurprising awards show ever, but it still is a remarkable time for good television. Could it have something to do with the fact that four of the biggest winners have book connections?

SherlockSherlock: Benedict Cumberbatch (actor, miniseries or movie), Martin Freeman (supporting actor, miniseries or movie) and Stephen Moffat (writing, miniseries, movie or dramatic special





AllisonJanneyMasters of Sex, based on Thomas Maier’s book Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love: Allison Janney (outstanding guest actress in a drama series).


UzoAdubaOrange Is the New Black, based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison: Uzo Aduba (outstanding guest actress in a comedy series)





NormalHeartThe Normal Heart, adapted by Larry Kramer from his Tony award-winning play: Best television movie.




What comes after True Detective?

haymitchI was late to the True Detective party.  I couldn’t see how Haymitch and Abs could hold together a TV drama.  Boy, was I wrong.  In fact, since the last episode aired nearly three months ago, there has been a real dearth of grisly murder in my nighttime viewing.  Actually, it wasn’t the murder at all: it was the pulpy noir atmosphere and the uneasy tension between Hart and Cohle.  It made me forget all about The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (well… almost) and remember how watchable McConaughey was in A Time To Kill.  It was divine.  And then it ended.

If you are like me and still wondering what to follow it up with, here are some suggestions:

hannibalWatch this:  Hannibal

If you liked the cultish atmosphere about True Detective and don’t mind a different (but equally grisly) crime each episode, this show about the pre-Silence days of Hannibal Lector might be for you.

Read this: In the Woods by Tana Frenchwoods

Looking for a police procedural that doubles as a thriller?  Prefer your detectives to have a tragic past? French’s debut novel may be just the book for you.

(Re)Watch this: Twin Peaks

I had forgotten quite how engrossing Twin Peaks is.  Like True Detective is centers around a brutal crime in a small town.  Both feature two detectives who alternately come together beautifully and grate on each others’ nerves.

cypressRead this: Cypress Grove by James Sallis

Kirkus Reviews asserts “Sallis shines again in this offbeat tale of a dropout detective.”  Turner is attempting to run away from his past, when he’s sucked into  a ritualistic murder case that has taken place in the small Tennessee town of Cypress Grove.

Have another title to add to this list?  Let us know in the comments below.



Related Articles:




TFIOS: It’s only a month away

faultLet the countdown begin! One month from today, Hazel and Gus’ heartbreakingly perfect romance, The Fault in our Stars will finally hit the big screen. (That’s 31 sleeps because May is a longer month, but still…) Here’s what you can do to pass the time until the big day:

Share your favourite TFIOS quotes.  Here are some of ours:  “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”  and “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”  (I’d type more, but I’m tearing up already… Share your favourites below.)

Read John Green‘s other books.  There is much to love about a John Green novel — they’re quirky, they’re honest, they’re abundancebeautifully quotable.  An Abundance of Katherines is a great place to start.

Watch Divergent.  Same two stars, but this time they’re brother and sister.  (Okay, you might want to wait until after you’ve seen them fall in love for this one.)

Obsessively watch the trailer

Become a NerdfighterJohn Green (and his brother, Hank) are also known for their hilarious yet informative YouTube videos.

Borrow and e-reader and read TFIOS.  Why wait for a print copy when you could read the book today?  You can borrow kindles and kobos at the Welcome Desk.  Both come preloaded with over 50 great titles including The Fault in our Stars.

Whatever you do to pass the time until the big day.  Please, don’t forget to be awesome!


Watch This Read That: The #Marshmallow Edition

VeronicaMarsBack in the early 2000s,  Veronica Mars — a modern day take on the Nancy Drew franchise — was one of my favourite TV shows. Played by a plucky Kristen Bell, Veronica had hutzpah. She was a wickedly smart, unrepentant feminist teenage sleuth. At that point in my life, I’d never seen a high school girl portrayed with such strength and wit on TV.

Ten years later, the cult TV show has been made into a movie and is in theaters now. Funded by Kickstarter, the film takes place 10 years after the third and final TV season. While I wouldn’t give this movie more than a B+, it was still delightful to reunite with Veronica and gang.

VeronicaAnd for those extra rabid fans, did you know that the show’s creator, Rob Thomas, is following up the movie with a series of books? They take place following the events of the movie. The first installment — The Thousand Dollar Tan Line — will be published next month, and believe you me, I’ve got this one on hold.

Will the movie or the books win any awards? Probably not. Will they get me through a busy Spring event season? You bet.


Read This, Watch That: #Oscars2014 Edition

Now that I’ve fully recovered from my Sunday Oscar party, I’d like to point your attention to some Best Picture readalikes, provided by our fantastic auxiliary librarian, Shannon:

Many of this year’s best picture nominations were based off of non-fiction titles, including American Hustle (The Sting Man), Captain Phillips (A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea) and 12 Years a Slave. Yet another reminder that for every great movie, you don’t have to look far for a great book!

In this edition of Read This, Watch That, we’ve put together some materials inspired by a few of this year’s best picture nominations. Enjoy!

CaptainPhillipsIf you liked Captain Phillips, try…



GravityIf you liked Gravity, try:


 DallasBuyersClubIf you liked Dallas Buyers Club, try…



HerIf you liked Her, try…



12YearsIf you liked 12 Years a Slave, try…



Thanks to Shannon for this awesome list!