MyPictureIt’s been a year since we decided to cut television out of our lives. We signed up for Netflix and thanks to Sarah Olson, I discovered Hulu early on. I also bought a little notebook to track my reading. It’s a focusing tool. I read more when I know I’m keeping track. It’s like being good for that gold star on the forehead. Gold stars still work for me.

With Netflix I don’t miss out on Masterpiece Theater and Mystery. Cranford was my favorite this year. I also discovered a charming British series called The Last Detective and was terribly sad when it ended.

On Hulu, I watch weekly: House, Bones, (which had a really bewildering season finale). The Office, 30 Rock, Fringe, Lie to Me, CSI:NY and SNL segments. Sometimes, I go back to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which is still one of my all-time favorites.

I read the old fashioned way, but I also listen to books, which I’ve never done before this year. Our public library has a good selection. I listen when I’m cleaning or cooking, or when I’m driving my car.

I read classics I’ve missed: A House for Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (the ending was a bit thin), Hard Times by Charles Dickens and Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope.

Contemporary fiction: The Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller. I never miss Sue Miller. She always has one defining scene, a scene that every action in the novel moves toward. She takes my breath away. My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates. She never disappoints either. Still Alice, Lisa Genova, a first novel and a knock-out. Border Crossing by Pat Barker (British). March, by E.L. Doctorow. Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy, my idea of a great summer read. She writes feel-good novels but has a wonderful sense of irony and so it’s never, never embarrassing.

Non-fiction: American Promethius (Pulitzer Prize winner) by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, about the physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Manhattan Project. An excellent read. He tried to kill his tutor at Oxford with a poisoned apple. Got to love that man.

Terry Eagleton’s Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate. He argues against Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. He’s a Marxist and doesn’t really believe in God; he just likes the argument.

And finally, right now, I’m reading Rapt by Winnifred Gallagher about paying attention and learning to focus. It’s going to get me back into some better habits. This is a partial list since January. It doesn’t include YA novels, children’s books and one Harlequin Romance written by a friend’s sister. Three sisters marry three Italian counts. I laughed my head off.

What do YOU watch? What do YOU read?

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