Here’s our 3rd post from our celebrity guest blogger: actress Sara Canning! You may recognize Sara from TV shows like Global TV’s Remedy and The Vampire Diaries. Over the next couple months, Sara is going to share her love of reading, and posts about her favourite books here on the Savvy Reader. Read her first post here.
Now here’s Sara!
What are you currently reading? Fantasy, instructional, inspirational, textbook, memoir? For work, school, pleasure? Sometimes I find myself staring with starry-eyed envy at people reading leisurely in a park or café. When I’m doing what makes me happiest – tackling a character and spending hours and hours with other actors – I can’t seem to find time for recreational reading. Not as Sara, anyway. But I get around that. I give my character copious amounts to read.
I am a research maniac. It’s one of my favourite things about my job; being given a life to play and assembling it like a giant puzzle. Also, I’ll just find any excuse to read. I wonder how many times as a kid I told my mom that I was reading “for school” while I was eating lunch with my nose in a book.
When playing a new character, one of the first things I develop is their worldview – their opinions. I read a variety pertaining to the character’s job or circumstances to develop these opinions, and those opinions inform what motivates the character within the story.
I currently play Dr. Melissa Conner on Remedy, a medical drama on Global. I love the people I work with, the wild pace of the show, and the challenge of the character herself. She keeps me on my toes, and so do the splenectomies and pancreaticoduodenectomies. It was daunting at first, stepping into this intense and hyper-syllabled medical world. We have an amazing medic consultant and doctors who occasionally advise on our set, and I also turn to books (surprise!) to fill in the prerequisite twelve or so years of med school I’ve missed.
The first book I ordered after landing my role on Remedy was Gray’s Anatomy for Students (Second Edition.) It served as my carry-on baggage when I moved to Toronto to start filming (it weighs a ton.) I also read Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam at the beginning of the first season. It’s an intriguing glance at the mindsets and emotional journeys of med students. Along with developing a hobby of watching YouTube surgeries, this book helped me shape Mel’s sensibilities.
I read Complications by Atul Gawande during season two, and it’s been an incredible reference book for me. It focuses on the bizarre and baffling business of diagnosing patients, which our Remedy cast is often faced with. Gawande’s writing brings a real thrill to each case, and that’s our job on a dramatic series.
J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey is a significant book for Mel, but I’m going to leave this one an enigma, for now. It’s brought to light in an episode in the second season, so you’re just going to have to tune in.
I often read The New Yorker, imagining Mel eating lunch in the hospital cafeteria and devouring all the articles on medical developments around the world, as well as general current events. The respect of her peers matters immensely to her, so I think she’d want to hold her own in an intellectual conversation (or teach a thing or two, as she’s apt to do.)
The next books I’m looking forward to adding to Mel’s arsenal are The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and The House of God by Samuel Shem. I’ve no doubt that the character will continue to surprise me, so her reading list will grow and branch into new realms of illumination.
Come to think of it, I’m quite starry-eyed when I consider my ever-evolving pile of work reading.
Sara’s Pick of the Month
The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
Next month, Savvy Reader is featuring The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford. If you love psychological thrillers, this one will keep you interested. I found the most compelling element to be the bipolar protagonist. She desperately struggles to sift through the fog of her memory after a personal shock to decipher whether she was involved in her neighbour’s murder. Unmedicated, the varying degrees of her mental state and mania drive this mystery.