Top Picks: 'Petty: The Biography,' NBC's 'The Wiz Live!,' and more

Novelist William Boyd develops intriguing fictional snapshots with his tale of a British female photographer in 'Sweet Caress,' PBS's 'Off the Menu: Asian America' is an intriguing look at how community, identity, and food are intertwined, and more top picks.

NBC

The cost of fame

For those of you who find yourself playing air guitar and slipping into Walter Mitty dreams of life as a rock star ... you might want to hold your horses, or at least read this book. Petty: The Biography, by Warren Zanes, will both fuel those dreams and make your own ordinary life look pretty darn good. Tom Petty is truly a man who suffers for his art (often inflicting collateral damage), and the story of Petty leading the Heartbreakers for four decades both thrills and chills.

Suitable for framing

Novelist William Boyd develops intriguing fictional snapshots with his tale of a British female photographer. In Sweet Caress, Amory Clay’s journal entries span the 20th century to her retirement on a remote Scottish island. She goes from photographing for the society page to documenting risky battlefield forays in World War II and Vietnam, among other adventures. Boyd uses anonymous vintage photos – from decades of his own collecting – throughout. A pitch-perfect, bittersweet finale leaves the reader pondering long after turning the last page.

Live musical event

Looking for an activity for the whole family as the holiday season continues? NBC’s live musicals have recently become a fun part of the end of the year, and its newest production, The Wiz Live!, arrives Dec. 3. If you know “The Wizard of Oz,” you will no doubt find the show to be a fun twist, and you just may see a star being born with TV newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy. “The Wiz Live!” airs at 8 p.m.

Word by word

A new film adaptation of Macbeth comes to the big screen on Dec. 4, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Haven’t thought about Shakespeare’s play since high school? Let legendary Shakespearean actor Ian McKellen educate you. In this video of a 1979 actor’s workshop, McKellen meticulously walks through Macbeth’s famous “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” soliloquy, noting what actors and audience members alike should pay attention to. Check out the clip at bit.ly/mckellenmacbeth.

Cultural identity

Cuisine is a definitive part of any culture. In the film Off the Menu: Asian America, director Grace Lee explores community and identity through food, from conversations with a Chinese-American chef who’s inspired by the dishes of his youth to a sushi company that adds unusual, Texas-inspired flavors. It airs on PBS on Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.