Columns > Published on February 5th, 2016

10 Things to Read (or Watch) Instead of Watching the Super Bowl

Image by frankieleon

If you enjoy American football, odds are good that you'll have a section of your busy schedule carved out this Feb. 7 to sit on a couch, scream at the television, and eat lots of dip. That's wonderful. Dip can be very therapeutic. However, if you're anything like me, you'll be looking for something else to occupy your night—perhaps something a bit more bookish? Side note: This article isn't intended to serve as a PSA against football, people who watch football, or people who have football-shaped heads. It was written by an exhausted Bostonian who doesn't particularly care what Mr. Tom Brady does with his own balls or anyone else's.   

For the most part, I curated the following titles via the highly scientific method of walking through a Barnes & Noble and picking up books that looked interesting. A startlingly high number of them have blue covers. They may or may not be connected in some way, but that's for you to decide. I took the liberty of verifying that none of these books are especially sports-related.

'Dr. Mutter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine' by Kristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

This title was released back in 2014, but it's out in trade paperback now. How can anyone resist a biography about a man once called “the P.T. Barnum of the surgery room?” A lovely non-fiction account for fans of the strange, the esoteric, or medical history.

[amazon 978-1592409259]


'Avenue of Mysteries' by John Irving

Lupe is a teenage girl who knows all of the worst things that will happen in your life. But she's not always accurate—or is she? Avenue of Mysteries takes place in the spaces where past, present, and future collide.

[amazon 978-1451664164]


'A Manual For Cleaning Women: Selected Stories' by Lucia Berlin

Berlin's short story collection follows characters who live in the cracks of American society, those who are estranged and forgotten. A Manual For Cleaning Women is the acclaimed postmortem collection of tales by a writer whom many consider to be criminally underrated.

[amazon 978-0374202392]


'Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar' by Tom Holland

Dynasty begins with the treasonous murder of Julius Caesar and works its way up to the death of Emperor Nero. For sheer entertainment value, you can't go wrong with the carnal exploits of Rome's notorious rulers. It should please anyone who likes their history on the bloody side.

[amazon 978-0385537841]


'The Explorer's Guild: Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala' by Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, and Rick Ross

Yes, it's by that Kevin Costner. A secret guild of explorers sets out on the eve of World War I in search of a lost Buddhist city. If you enjoyed Bats of the Republic [LitReactor Review], this illustrated novel might be right up your alley.  

[amazon 978-1476727394] 


'Be Frank With Me' by Julia Clairborne Johnson

M.M. “Mimi” Banning is a reclusive writer who hasn't published anything in years, but after falling victim to a ponzi scheme, her hand is forced into penning a new novel. Alice Whitley is hired to care for Mimi's precocious 9-year-old son, “a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.”

[amazon 978-0062413710]


'The Flood Girls' by Richard Fifield

Tapped for the February Indie Next List, Flood Girls captures a slice of life in small-town Minnesota. Rachel Flood has fled to her hometown of Quinn to try and restore some form of normalcy to her life. Unfortunately, Quinn might not be the best place for quiet contemplation.

[amazon 9781476797380]

In case you still want a night of TV and snacks without the sports, I dug through Netflix for a few literary options that are currently streaming as of the writing of this article:


As is evident by the title, Salinger is a documentary about the elusive author that features hundreds of interviews with his friends, family, and colleagues. A few speakers include Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Gore Vidal. 

[amazon B00EOAIK86]


'Black Books'

Black Books is bizarre and sometimes uncomfortably accurate British comedy about working in a bookshop. Taxes, regular business hours, customer service? What are those? 

[amazon B000TSTEPA]


'Death Comes To Pemberly'

This mini-series explores the lives of Jane Austen's beloved characters after the happily-ever-after conclusion of Pride and Prejudice. I've never been a huge Austen devotee, but I found this show to be surprisingly enjoyable in its details of 18th century courts and crime-solving. Based on the best-selling novel by P.D. James.
[amazon B00LLQ28LQ]

Do you partake in the annual festival of sport, or do you have other plans for the evening? Are you yourself a football, and highly offended by this article? Let us know in the comments! 

About the author

Leah Dearborn is a Boston-based writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in international relations from UMass Boston. She started writing for LitReactor in 2013 while paying her way through journalism school and hopping between bookstore jobs (R.I.P. Borders). In the years since, she’s written articles about everything from colonial poisoning plots to city council plans for using owls as pest control. If it’s a little strange, she’s probably interested.

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