Friday, January 13, 2012

Are Your Reading Habits Affected by Television?

I purchased the first season of Downtown Abbey, an early 1900's British melodrama, for my mom as a Christmas gift. She and I both love movies set in historical England, and I had a feeling she would enjoy this popular series.

Lyme Park
Photo by binaryape

When I came across Julie Bosman's excellent article "If You're Mad for 'Downton,' Publishers Have Reading List" on (article is linked) I nodded throughout. Publishers realize an important factor in today's media consumption. Television and movies tend to spark interest in readers, and we have a hearty appetite to learn and experience more on the same topics.

I routinely get way too excited about a subject after watching something on television. Over the holidays, we found a two-hour-long special on the History channel featuring home movies of the Kennedys. I only had a basic understanding of the famous family, but after seeing their big smiles, endless football games, and hearing the biography of the family as a whole, I wanted to learn more. Several trips to the library ensued, and that in turn, sparked interest in the style-mavericks of the 50's. I just ordered a book on Slim Keith.

Also, my husband and I are not the greatest at remembering ancient history. A fascinating television program about why ancient Egypt's civilization collapsed had us debating the when, what, who, and how of that time.

I'm already ordering books to help us figure it out.

Just as television can prompt us to read a wider variety of books, it can also help writers get a feel for what topics interest viewers. The popularity of Once Upon a Time will ensure more cheeky, suspenseful fairy tales are published. The Walking Dead continues to spur zombie fiction. And Downtown Abbey will undoubtedly pave the way for even more fabulous fiction set around WWI England.

Have any television programs spurred you to read a book you might not have picked up?

Have a fabulous weekend!


  1. I've been watching that Ancient Egypt series, too - fascinating! It's great to see that there's an audience interested in history. Maybe they will be interested in my book down the road. :)

    Have a great weekend, Jill!

  2. I tend to go the opposite way - if there's something I love reading, I will hunt around for ages to find something related on tv or dvd. I adore Downton Abbey, but I think half of my fondness for it comes from the fact that I have loved anything about the Edwardian Era and WWI for years upon years (partially thanks to LM Montgomery and the later books in the Anne series!).

    I do think in general, though, that if people overall are enjoying a particular genre on tv, there's a good chance that they will want to read more similar books.

  3. K.B.: I know I want to read your books! I love historical fiction. :) And I have four books on my floor about Egypt now. It IS a good series!

    Louise: Ooo, love your new profile pic!! One of my favorite books in the Anne series was the last one--Rilla's story. And that one still breaks my heart. It's the WWI set book. Oh, I need a tissue just thinking of it...

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. When I was sick, I watched North and South on Netflix. Oh my gosh, I had to rush out and read the book after that!!

  5. My husband and I have heard so much about the series that he tried to buy the first season the other day. Best Buys didn't have it. :(

  6. I've read lots after seeing tv shows or movies: Duchess of Duke St., Mutiny on the Bounty (and the other two books: Men at Sea, Pitcairn's Island. Read Cyborg after watching the Six Million Dollar Man.

  7. I have to admit I seem to go the other way. If I see it on TV, I'd rather not read a book on it. It's almost as fit it's to much info and I lose interest. A sprinkling of each is good for me.

  8. I was just thinking today that the popularity of Sherlock Holmes steampunk movies will ensure that genre lives on for a little while.

    My tv watching spurs me to write books. I love old tv westerns, and I love to write western romances.

  9. I'd never thought about this before, but it makes sense. :) It's interesting to see how different branches of media interact with each other.

  10. No TV shows, but definitely previews for movies. I would have never picked up the Twilight books if I didn't see the previews for Twilight first and become intrigued.

  11. I saw this blog title and thought you wrote this post just for me! LOL :)

    TV and Movies have inspired me to read - I love a good mystery, and Monk was one of my favorite TV shows back in the day; while I haven't read the books yet, I have bought a few.

    As it pertains to movies, the John Grisham movies changed my philosophy and I've stopped seeing certain films until I have read the books....Twilight, Harry Potter, etc.

    Great post!

  12. Jennifer: Ooo, North and South. I must rent it again. Was the book better?

    Stina: I ordered if from Amazon. If you don't mind waiting a few days, it's an option. :)

    CJ: I'm the same. I find something and go with it!

    Cynthia: I hear you. Sometimes a movie looks good but then too much is said and I don't watch it.

    Erica: Definitely! I get ideas from television, too. Sometimes it's just a tiny idea, but it will turn into a whole book!

    Danyelle: It is. And music too. I often buy a soundtrack after watching a movie. The Thomas Crown Affair, City of Angels, 50 First Dates...I loved the music!

    Katie: Oh yeah! I'm the same...

    Tiffany: You know I did... Ha!! I loved Monk. I missed Sherrinda (did I get the name right?) after she left, but the show was always awesome!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. No, not to read a book, but to spend hours Googling facts.

  14. This is my husband to a T. Whenever we watch a show together, the first thing he does as soon as it's over is hit Google. If there's a dolphin in the show, he's suddenly reading all about marine mammals. If there was a space ship, he'll be reading about planes. (And I'll hear all of the interesting facts he finds out about whatever he's reading about that day :) ).

  15. I love a good lead and then tracking some bit of information. Movies most often send me looking for songs on the soundtracks. Any interesting tidbit sends me searching Google or our main library. For me, the most fun is going face-to-face with a shelf of books and looking for a title that looks interesting. My rule is that I can read any number of non-fictions, but only one fiction at a time.

    Thanks, Jill. I'll be checking out Downton!

  16. I often get wrapped up in a show or movie that prompts me to delve further into the subject. You've mentioned some shows I haven't seen, so now I'm going to have to check them out:)

  17. Em: Oh, we're so alike! :)

    Marcy: I am the exact same way! I can't tell you how many subjects I've researched because I saw something on TV!

    Patti: I'm the same. I love soundtracks. It's fun to get an assortment of artists on one CD. :)

    Kara: Same here! I haven't seen a few of the shows either, but I've heard a lot of buzz about Once Upon a Time. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  18. If I were watching intelligent tv, then maybe. But watching The Bachelor probably doesn't qualify. Wait! Maybe it does! Perhaps it shows why I love a dramatic story with a bit of romance.

  19. I didn't order the book, but the mini-series, "Roots," had a profound impact on me. I also enjoyed, "The Last Civil War Widow." They both sparked my interest in that time period, and I've read quite a bit of historical fiction.

    "History Detectives" also holds a fascination, as well as, "The Antiques Road Show." I love the way they bring history to life.

  20. Hi Jill .. I've become much more interested in documentaries since I started blogging - as I always include some history into my posts - and boy have I educated myself since I started blogging and reading other blogs etc

    I didn't get hooked into Downtown Abbey - I'm sure I'll catch it sometime .. I watched The Great Barrier Reef series, The Frozen Planet, series on geography, geology and the stars .. a lot around now ... and I relax with The Antiques Road Show and University Challenge - where I might pick up a snippet that I can incorporate into a blog post I'm contemplating .. but the contemplation can take a year!! Sad really .. the flat has plenty of prompts around!

    Cheers ... Hilary


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