I am the sort of people who likes the books better than the movie or tv adaptations of them. In fact, I can drive people crazy explaining why specific books are better than whatever movie or tv show we are watching. During the show, even. (There are people who refuse to go to movies with me.)
There are exceptions. Game of Thrones, for instance. I like the show better than the books. Phryne Fisher, also. Let me see if I can think of more….hmmm…well, later, maybe.
I like mysteries, some mysteries, I am very picky about which. I like good strong characterizations, and plots that aren’t stupid, and I feel like I’m wasting my time when I discovered I’ve been suckered into a bad one. I tend to read favorite books over and over again. It’s a safer bet, after all, to read one you already know is good, rather than gambling on a new title. But, academically, hey, you have to study an author’s style and method so you can learn what works. First time through, you read for enjoyment. Second time, it’s to pay attention to how the author got you from here to there. After that, you’re picking up nuances.
I like to have new books recommended to me by people whose taste I trust. I am very cautious dipping into new authors.
When I moved to Mexico 9 years ago, I was moving away from life as I knew it. You really don’t know what a barrier a language is till you move to a country where everyone speaks a different one. I was used to reading multiple newspapers every morning. I liked reading magazines. Television in Mexico is like a huge wasteland, at least in Merida, where I was. Is it better anywhere else? I don’t know. Hell, I even missed commercials. And books, of course. I felt so out of touch.
Gradually, I began reading online newspapers, The New York Times for starters, till they started charging for an online subscription. Then the LA Times, and the Washington Post (same story). And finally I landed on the Guardian, which is kind of weird, living in Mexico, a former Ohioan, reading a London newspaper. Pretty soon I was all up on UK news and tv and theater and actors. Other expats showed me how to stream shows I actually wanted to see or find them on youtube, and life has never been the same. I got used to the fact that I couldn’t discuss tv with anyone. No one I knew was watching Borgen but me. Or The Bridge. Or even Broadchurch. But man, good tv. Actual good tv! Wow. Oh yeah. And the Great British Bake Off. Would I Lie To You? QI. Fun tv.
And so, a few years back, I started watching Endeavour. Which, for those of you who were as clueless as me, is a prequel to the Inspector Morse mysteries, which I’d never watched, even though I could have seen them on PBS while I was still living in the states. I just never did. Endeavour was a good show (er, is a good show). A lovely show.
When I moved back to Ohio, I needed a million billion things and decided that, since I would no doubt be doing lots of Amazon ordering, I should probably get a Prime membership. I was thinking of it for the price of shipping alone, but now that I have it, I’ve discovered that insomnia + a kindle + Prime go together well. Middle of the night, can’t sleep, reach over and get the kindle and watch something. Without even wrinkling the pillows. Excellent.
Enter Inspector Lewis, of which all 7 seasons are available on Prime. Inspector Lewis was Morse’s sidekick and after the Morse mysteries ended, they spun off a series with him as the main dude. He has a sidekick named Hathaway. Who wears the most fantastic tie in series 4. Oh man, it’s the most beautiful fabric, I even googled Sgt Hathaway’s tie just to see if I could find out who made it – I really don’t want the tie, I more fantasize about yards and yards of the silk (I’m sure it’s silk!) and what I could do with it! Alas! Alack! however, the mystery of Sgt Hathaway’s tie remains unsolved. And if I tracked down the fabric, I couldn’t afford it anyways.
Both Endeavour and Lewis take place in Oxford, you know, where the University is (being from Ohio, and not being academic, I really don’t know much about it except that there’s this college everyone always talks about like it’s something special), you get way more feel for the town/university in Lewis than in Endeavour. It’s very Oxford-y. Like Oxford is one of the characters. (Though the way its professors keep getting knocked off, I’d think one would have to really seriously pause before accepting a position there.)
About the time I fell in love with Hathaway’s tie, it occurred to me that perhaps I should look into Inspector Morse. I wikipediaed Morse and made a list of titles and tracked some down. (They’re actual books, you know. Those things I like best!) So simultaneous with watching this year’s crop of new Endeavours and season 5 of Lewis, I started reading Last Bus to Woodstock, the first Morse book. Talk about disorienting! And yet, I’m having trouble getting into Morse (the character). The writing is good. There’s some interesting characters. Can’t really tell how the plot is going to go, since I’m bogged down in the middle.
I’m not normally like this, though. I’m not one of those people who skip the books and do the film and call it done. I am going to finish this book, by gumbo, and then I’m going to read the next one. Figure out where all this Morse stuff came from. (Yeah, and then I guess there’s another tv series to track down.)
I’m having real problems matching up the Morse I like so much in Endeavour with the one in the book…plus there’s an overall feeling that I’m getting into the whole universe backwards. People seem to like the books, though, I get that feeling everywhere. So, obviously, the problem must be me. I can’t wipe all memories of previous Morses out of my brain and start fresh (oh wait, there’s hypnosis, isn’t there?). This is so frustrating!
But I am going to read these books, damn it, and that’s all there is to it. I will. I will. I will.