Second Run Reviews: Did You Think I Wouldn’t Notice?

September 25th, 2014 Kimberly Guest Post 49 Comments

25th Sep

Second Run Reviews


Caffeinated is being taken over by other bloggers this week and today we have Terri from Second Run Reviews to discuss allusions and references. Grab a cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage,enjoy and be sure and answer Terri’s question. Second Run Reviews is a delightfully informative blog that shares reviews, quotes, movies and more. Thanks for being here today Terri…

Guest Post

Did You Think I Wouldn’t Notice?

An allusion, according to our friend Google, is “an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.”

I am an English major or was an English major…am an English major. I’ve always struggled with that. Anyway, I studied English in college. For fours years, I was up to my eyeballs in literature. Mostly dead white guys except for that independent study course I took where I got to read my all time favorite classic novel, O! Pioneers by Willa Cather. I was trained to see allusions and references as I read and watched movies because typically, during a classroom discussion those allusions and references meant something to greater purpose of the piece of work we were studying. There was a time when I would see allusions and references EVERY WHERE! I’m sure it was quite annoying to be around me when I was at my peak.

But time passed, life moved on, I graduated and got away from my rabid reading and movie and television watching habits. And then something happened. I dropped cable, became an avid reader again and now I’m seeing allusions and literary connections seemingly every where.

“For 4,000 years Lilith has wandered the earth, figuring in the mythic imaginations of writers, artists and poets. Her dark origins lie in Babylonian demonology…” from “Lilith, Seductress, or Murderer? by Janet Howe Gaines, Bible History Daily

When did I first notice my weird skill popping up again? When I started watching Supernatural. I’m a newer fan of the Winchester boys (Team Sam, baby!). When the boys first encountered Lilith, I basically stopped dead. Lilith played a central role in the Season 5 of True Blood. I had to know who this Lilith was and why both shows decided to use her as a central antagonist.

And, basically, it has been all downhill from there.

I just finished listening to Code Name Verity. And the book is loaded with literary references. Some are pretty straight forward and others are just hints. Some of my favorite references involve a classic children’s novel. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who want to read it so you can click here to see an image I found on Pinterest and read this stellar review from 2012.

I got absolutely giddy when watching an episode of The West Wing and Toby made some mention of “…all our yesterdays…” which is a quote from Shakespeare’s MacBeth. This happened right after I started listening to Cristin Terrell’s All Our Yesterdays.

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5. lines 17 through 28
Check out line 27. Anyone read Faulkner?

I quickly realized that The West Wing is littered with literary references and allusions. There are entire articles dedicated to it on the Internet.

So what does this all mean? For me, it means that I’m engaged in my reading. I’m going beyond just some words on a page and a quick escape. Once again my mind is engaged and firing on many cylinders. I’m seeing connections, realized or not, in what I’m reading and watching these days. And since I get some kind of weird kick out discovering these references, it’s made my hobbies of reading and watching movies and television a more enjoyable, active activity.

How about you? How do you know you are engaged with what you are reading or watching? What cool references or allusions have you noticed? Do you have a favorite one; one you think no one knows about? Share in comments. I look forward to reading your responses.

About Terri and Second Run Reviews

Second Run RewviewsSecond Run Reviews is home of  Scenic Sundays and Rewind Review. By day, Terri M. LeBlanc is a project manager and software specialist. By night, she’s a reading wizard. Residing in eastern Iowa, in her spare time, she spends time with Jezebel, takes pictures and watches movies with her equally nerdy husband and adorable cats. She’s still researching Lilith by watching Supernatural and True Blood. Be sure and take a moment to check out Terri’s blog Second Run Reviews. She offers a little something that will appeal to everyone, and I love her directness and humor. She is a Supernatural fan like me which makes her super cool.  Well except for the fact that she is team Sam. Really? #Team Dean


Now show Terri some “caffeinated” love and comment below by answering her questions: “How do you know you are engaged with what you are reading or watching? What cool references or allusions have you noticed? Do you have a favorite one; one you think no one knows about?”

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat...Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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49 Responses to “Second Run Reviews: Did You Think I Wouldn’t Notice?”

  1. Katherine

    I love when I catch literary references in shows! Less literary but fun for me since I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie was a Doctor Who episode where they talked almost entirely in Agatha Christie book titles.

  2. Lark

    Great post, Terri! I love spotting literary allusions, though I admit, I missed the West Wing one you mentioned. Since you love allusions too, may I suggest reading Bee Ridgway’s The River of No Return? There are a lot of them in it, and I’m pretty sure I caught less than half of them.

    • Terri M.

      Thanks for the recommendation, Lark! I doubt I would have caught that specific West Wing reference it I hadn’t just started listening to Terrell’s novel by the same name. While I was doing a bit of research for this post, I did learn that LOTS of West Wing episodes are references to different Shakespeare plays especially this Histories.

  3. Becca

    I notice literary references everywhere, as well. I love when they pop up in TV shows. I love when they pop up in other books, both directly and indirectly. I can’t think of many off the top of my head but it is funny that you mention Lilith as I was reading a bit in Becoming Un-Orthodox by Lynn Davidman the other day and Lilith was referred to and I remembered True Blood as well!

    • Terri M.

      It’s amazing how differently Supernatural and True Blood view Lilith. I’m sure an entire academic paper could be done as a reflection on the treatment of women.

      Thanks for stopping by, Becca!

  4. Laura Thomas

    ‘Illusions’ That’s what I’ve been experiencing. They are fleeting refernces in recent books that lead me to google and watch movies. It’s almost subliminal. Now I’ve discovered some other books to read because of this. I really enjoyed your post. Thanks so much:)

    • Terri M.

      That’s the huge danger, Laura! Finding the allusions that lead you to add more books to your TBR pile. Happens all the time!!

  5. Mary

    I adore when I see connections between books, shows, movies, whatever. It gives me a little insight into the author as well as whatever character happens to be making the connection. Great post!

  6. Candace

    So cool to see Terri here! I’m horrible, all those things go over my head. I struggle with books that are full of deeper meanings because I just don’t ‘get’ them. I guess that’s why YA and cozy mysteries and just anything ‘light’ works better for me usually. I will say that some of my all time favorite books EVER are those that are heavier though. So maybe I’m just lazy. Or getting stupider. lol.

    • Terri M.

      I doubt you are stupid or lazy, Candace! It okay to enjoy a book for what it is. In fact, sometimes I wish I could that more often because finding allusions sometimes leads to adding more books to my TBR pile.

  7. Tanja

    Oh such an amazing post Terri! 🙂 I’m so with you. As yeah after three years of lit classes I do see hidden meanings and some metaphors everywhere even though there aren’t any. The most common for me is that nature vs nurture thing as I see it a lot in YA books for some reason. And last semester we were doing Shakespeare so you can imagine the whole tragic flaw idea and how many times it appeared in YA books. But I do need to start watching Supernatural already. Great post, Terri 🙂

    • Terri M.

      Thanks, Tanja. I think with the current craze in dystopian/post-apocalyptic books the nature vs. nurture argument and allusions are definitely out there. I think Roth tried to touch on that a bit in the Divergent series. Unfortunately, I think the message may have gotten lost because details were kept from the reader until the middle of book 3.

      Terri M.
      Second Run Reviews

  8. Rita

    I love to find allusions and references while reading; I don’t see them as much in my movies or tv shows, though I did love West Wing back in the day, and now I should watch it over again for the pleasure of the rapid-fire, intelligent dialogue.

    I am picking up tv show/book title choices just from reading your post and all the comments, so I am thrilled! I can’t think of an allusion off the top of my head from books–wish I could– but I do like finding “easter egg” references in pc/mmo games; they make me smile. Thanks so much for making my day as I sip my coffee and absorb all of this–nice! New follower…better late than never 🙂

    • Terri M.

      Glad to have a new follower and I’m happy to hear that I made your morning. 🙂 The West Wing is an amazing show. I doubt, if I had watched it while it was on the air, I would have appreciated it. However, now that I’m older I’m amazed at how relevant the show is after all these years!

  9. Lily

    I have to admit while i love allusions i’m not as well versed as you, an english major, so i’m sure a bunch of them go over my head and I never acknowledge them. That being said, when I do I always get super giddy!

  10. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I love that passage from Macbeth! That was one I actually memorized at one point, but hadn’t thought of in a while..”Out, out brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow…” That one gives me the chills.

    Thanks for the great post!

  11. Angela Adams

    Hi, Terri, and welcome! I was an English major also and, like you, loved the show, “The West Wing.” I miss that show, and wish I could find reruns somewhere. Thanks for the post!

  12. Braine Talk Supe

    I am not as well versed as you but I do a happy dance when I notice the same things that you do esp when the author does it justice. I feel smart when it happens LOL

  13. kindlemom1

    I love this post because not only are they a Sup fan (Team Dean!) but I love when books and shows can wiggle their way into our thoughts long after we have read or watched them and we start to really “see” things about them and remember things that get our min whirling all over again.
    Signs of a job well done for sure.

    • Terri M.

      Ah, another Supernatural fan! 🙂 I love the show and am working my way through it slowly thanks to Netflix. I’m somewhere in the middle of Season 4. I did an entire post earlier this year about the music of Supernatural over on Second Run Reviews.

  14. Cora

    Fantastic article. I have to say, I didn’t even notice that in Code Name Verity – I got so lost in the gorgeous narration on the audiobook I think.

    • Terri M.

      The audiobook was AMAZING. I laughed, I cried and I yelled in frustration. I’m sure my fellow commuters thought I was nuts! I do want to read the classic children’s novel now that is mentioned several times in the book. I’ve only seen movie adaptations and I’m really curious how the story might relate to it.

  15. Kristin

    This might sound so totally lame but I’m a pop culture junkie when it comes to allusions. I admit, I’m not the literary wonder everyone else is b/c I came to reading late in my life. But oh do I know my references to everything subculture, gaming, movies, 80’s, 90’s… It does bring me closer to the author, that’s for sure!!!

    Okay, my brain hurts…. it’s too early for such deep thoughts!!!

    • Terri M.

      That is so cool! Since I started watching Doctor Who a couple years ago, I started noticing references to in lots of places. My husband is a long time gamer and loved all the references in Wreck It Ralph.

  16. Sharon

    It’s funny how things from our past are triggered once again when you least expect it. Great post Terri.

  17. Rosa

    When I was in college I loved to find literary references in books and movies. But now I think I don’t notice most of them. But I loved finding references in The DaVinci Code and The Rule of Four which are both filled up with lots of references.

  18. Melliane

    It’s fun to have allusions and references in books but I confess that I don’t notice them all and when I do, I easily forget about them later so I can’t say…

    • Terri M.

      Oh, I’m sure I miss them all the time, Melliane! However, when I do notice them it’s like I cheer in my head. The quote from MacBeth? Before The West Wing and All Our Yesterdays I had no idea that Faulkner pulled from the same quote. It all my years studying literature, I have never read MacBeth.

    • Terri M.


      Thanks for making me smile this morning, Finley Jayne. My father often wondered how I would make use of an English major after I decided not to teach.

  19. Trish

    I don’t actively look for these but when I spot one I love it. I find lots of books have references to or themes that mimic the classics or even better both! When you know the original source, it makes for a fun connection.
    One book that I love is Ready, Player One, it is full to the brim of 80s allusions.
    Great post!

  20. Michelle

    I love finding this sort of things! I don’t watch a ton of tv anymore, but Supernatural has a lot of references that I enjoy as does Doctor Who. I’m pretty compulsive when it comes to researching things I’m not familiar with like certain myths, and then if I like it I tend to read as much with that topic in it as I can.

    • Terri M.

      I’m the same way, Michelle. I’ve done a bit of reading about Lilith after seeing True Blood and Supernatural. It’s interesting how both show present her is such different lights.

  21. blodeuedd

    Those kind of things I can leave, but when it comes to historical fiction, aye, it’s my downfall, I started to study one person, that person’s children and end up studying a century of history

    • Terri M.

      I’m a sucker for Historical Fiction! I love WWII especially. I’ve done tons of research and wrote many papers in high school and college about it.

  22. Kate

    I love finding allusions in what I’m reading. I feel if I can recognize the reference then it means there’s something that I’m a fan of that the author is a fan of too. Great post. This is one of those things that I notice but have never really thought that deeply on. But I think I’ll take more notice of the different books I read and the shows I watch and see if they have any allusions in common!

    • Terri M.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kate! I agree with you about it being a connection to an author–finding a shared love. Now that my odd skill is coming back, I may have to figure out a way to include some that in my reviews without spoiling the story!