Channel Surfing: The greatest book in America

Charlotte Kyle
Features Editor

Believe it or not, TV is not my only source of entertainment. In fact, I used to be a reader.

As a child I would devour books. The book version of “Matilda” is why I never liked the movie, while the book version of “Harriet the Spy” is why I adored the film adaptation.

I realize, of course, many of my chosen reading materials were somehow related to TV. I have plastic drawers filled with issues of TV Guide to prove this. (To be fair, I do have multiple copies of the same issue, as five of them are “alternate covers” featuring the members of *NSYNC and two are variant “Gilmore Girls” covers.)

My favorites to pick up at the local library or the bookstore were tie-ins to my favorite television shows. I used to read the “Full House” books nearly religiously.

These weren’t just novelizations of episodes of the series. No, these were new stories. Unaired episodes, if you will, written by people who didn’t write the series. They weren’t canonical and they weren’t always good, but I loved them. They gave me more stories, which I lived for, especially since I had seen all of the actual episodes and the show was over.

I later moved onto the “Buffy” series of books – some of these were novelizations but many had the same vibe as the “Full House” books. It meant more monsters, more action and more Scooby Gang.

My favorite tie-in, however, was the “Buffy” high school yearbook. It was the weight and quality of an actual yearbook, complete with signatures, photos and references to the series. Realistically I probably loved this book more than any of my actual yearbooks, but that could be because I do not photograph well.

See, I don’t just watch TV: I live it. I want to know as much as possible about these characters and the universe they inhabit.

That’s why the new “Parks and Recreation” tie-in, “Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America,” is literally my favorite thing in the universe.

The book, which was “written, compiled, researched, typed, collated, proofread, and run through spell check” by main character Leslie Knope, was featured in last week’s episode of the series.

Knope had referenced writing her own book previously, but to coincide with her election storyline the creators of the show had her actually publish it. Then they published it.

The book contains 240 pages of photos, articles, maps and advertisements, all centering around the fictional town of Pawnee, Ind., and the people who live there.

Each section was “written” from the point of view of either Knope or one of her co-workers.

Not only does the book feature the history of the town, it also includes modern information such as places to stay (the Quiet Corn has lots of cats – you have been warned) or places to eat (J.J.’s diner has the best waffles so go with that).

Want to know who won the Miss Pageant Talent Competition in 1927? It was Margaret Swoope. She churned butter.

Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve watched this many episodes of the show without knowing that. Now if only I could put this much effort into learning important stuff.

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