I’m home sick with strep today (second time this year), so hey, let’s blog! I’ve already told you about my love of the Revolutions podcast. Apparently that was a gateway drug. In the last few months, I’ve been soaking up all sorts of media through page, earbud, and desktop to explore new historical worlds. (What else is new?) A friend recently recommended Stuff You Missed in History Class, and suddenly, I am a woman obsessed.
Seriously, I don’t have words for how much I love this podcast. I’ve absorbed up hundreds of archived episodes (most are around 30 minutes) on all sorts of topics, from medieval to Victorian (though their topics are much expanded beyond my own interests, so you’re sure to find something you like). Though all the hosts are informative, the current two—Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey—are by far the best. It makes you feel like you’re listening to two friends share fun facts they’ve learned rather than something overly stuffy and academic. They’re perfect episodes for walks or a half hour on the stationery bike.
Though this one is my favorite, I’ve also dipped into episodes of others: History Extra (an accompaniment of the BBC History Magazine), The British History Podcast (this podcaster’s focus is the prehistoric era, which is interesting but not my personal fave), and The History Chicks (lighter tidbits and overviews—the hosts are not professional historians).
This is what I love about podcasts: they’re different for everyone. I clearly focus on history ones. Other friends love true crime series or episodes that unpack the mechanics behind pop music. When someone asks you, “Are you a podcast person?” And you say, “Yes,” the two of you could have entirely different ideas of what that means. I love that.
Though I am a Victorianist by nature, a lot of the things I’d been reading (and listening to) lately put me on a medieval kick. And may I say, why don’t we learn about the Plantagenets in school? They are *much* crazier than those pesky Tudors. A reference to Margaret of Anjou and Elizabeth Woodville in Simon Jenkins’ A Short History of England led me down a rabbit hole in which I eventually found the BBC/Starz miniseries “The White Queen.” Oh, man. How have I been living without this in my life. THE DRAMA. If you thought “The Tudors” was good, just wait. (You better believe I finally picked up more than one of Philippa Gregory’s novels after watching.) I mean, Henry VIII did a lot of things, but he never had his brother drowned in a cask of wine …
I fell in love with the characters so much, I followed one of the actors over to another miniseries, “War and Peace.” I had seen the black-and-white Audrey Hepburn version as a kid and was bored to tears (despite my love of Audrey). And honestly, though I love the British Victorian period, Russian lit is usually pretty heavy, even for me. But this reinterpretation was … captivating. There’s no other word for it. I think I plowed through it in (mostly) one Saturday. Lily James is ethereal as always.
To further my obsession with miniseries, I then (somehow) found “The Hollow Crown” on iTunes, which is a production that reproduced many of Shakespeare’s history plays. I mean, Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III and Tom Hiddleston as Henry V? 😍.
Whew. OK. I think that’s a pretty exhaustive list of what I’ve been reading, listening to, and watching these past few months. If you’re looking for any sort of historical recommendations, look no further!