My Favorite Book for Each Letter of the Alphabet

A sportswriter I follow on Twitter had some time to kill while on a train so he came up with his list of favorite fiction books for each letter of the alphabet. I thought that was a fun idea, so I’m going to do it, but not limit it to fiction. I’m sure I will forget some books. I’m old. I will use Goodreads to jog my memory if I draw a blank. So this will be my favorite books I can remember on a Saturday morning list. It might not be completely accurate. Also, this is favorite, not best written, not most literary merit. You will probably disagree with some which will be weird because it’s a list of my favorites, not yours. Anyway, it’s a flawed process, but here we go.

A- An Abundance of Katherines – John Green

B – Bloodsucking Fiends – Christopher Moore

C – Chiefs – Stuart Woods

D – Dark Rivers of the Heart – Dean Koontz

E – Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

F – Fellowship of the Ring – JRR Tolkien

G – Good Omens – Neil Gaiman

H – Harry Potter(series) – JK Rowling

I – Interview With the Vampire  – Anne Rice

J – Jackdaws – Ken Follett

K – Knights of Hil Country – Tim Tharp

L – Lamb – Christopher Moore

M – The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City  – Jennifer Toth

N – Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

O – Outsiders – SE Hinton

P – Pet Sematary – Stephen King

Q – Queen of the Damned – Anne Rice

R – Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry – Mildred Taylor

S – Swan Song  – Robert McCammon

T – Talisman – Stephen King

U – An Unkindness of Magicians – Kat Howard

V – Vegan Virgin Valentine – Carolyn Mackler

W – Watchers – Dean Koontz

X – XVI – Julia Karr

Y – You Suck – Christopher Moore

Z – Zone One – Colson Whitehead

That was hard. Choosing between Good Omens and Game of Thrones? Swan Song and the Stand? It and Interview with the Vampire? Talisman vs To Kill a Mockingbird? Choosing the only book I’ve read starting with X? So, this is the list. Enjoy.

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My Week in Books, TV, and Movies 6/14/19

I was back to my normal schedule at work this week and getting used to rarely being home alone. My reading and watching habits are evening out. I’m hoping this means an increase in how much I’m reading over the summer. I should really spend more time reading on the deck before it gets too hot.

Movies – I watched three movies this week. One alone and two with my daughter. I watched Happy Death Day 2 You alone since I’m the only one who has watched the first. I liked the first one better, but this one was also very good. It was a good mix of humor, sci-fi and slasher film. I would recommend both. I watched Fighting With My Family and Always Be My Maybe with my daughter. I really liked both of them. Fighting With My Family is based on a true story about a young woman from a wrestling family in England who is chosen to go to America to try out for WWE. You don’t have to be a wrestling fan to like it. I agree with everyone else that Always Be My Maybe is very good. I’m already a fan of Randall Park and Ali Wong so I was predisposed to like it anyway.  Netflix continues to do a good job with satisfying rom-coms.

TV – I finally watched the first two episodes of Good Omens. I’m watching alone, so it’s harder for me to find time to watch it these days. I really liked the episodes. The cast is great. I’m looking forward to having time to watch more. We’ve been catching up on shows I watch with my daughter. We finished the most recent seasons of Superstore and Speechless this week. Two of our favorite comedies. This was the end of the run for Speechless and it ended well. It was a very satisfying finale. If you haven’t watched Speechless and you like family sitcoms you should try it. It is very good.

Books – I finished two books this week.

Uneducated by Tara Westover – I really liked the book. It is a fascinating look at her life in a survivalist family in Idaho and her journey toward going to college after never going to school as a child. She writes a lot about the abuse she faced at home and their refusal to send the kids to school or to see a doctor, even when there are serious injuries. The family disputes her claims. I spent some time looking them up on Facebook and found some comment threads on her mom’s Facebook where several people dispute the claims in the book. I wrote a little about memoirs here.

The Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds – It was an interesting plot. A boy meets the girl of his dreams. They fall in love. She dies. He lives that time period over and over again trying to save her without messing up the rest of his life. It fails somewhat in execution. It’s much longer than it needs to be. It never gives a good reason for why the time loop happened and also fails in giving a good reason why the last one worked. It was OK, but I wanted more.

On Deck – We will likely watch Cold Pursuit because that’s the one movie I have that I know my wife will watch. I am going to make my daughter watch When Harry Met Sally at some point. Two shows I like start back this week. The Detour on TBS and Yellowstone on Paramount. I hope to watch more Good Omens and my daughter and I will probably finish the past season of Fresh Off The Boat. I should finish listening to Sadie today and I am also reading Dead Man’s Mistress by Davi Housewright.

 

Tater Talks Memoirs

I just finished reading Uneducated by Tara Westover. It is her story of growing up in a survivalist family in Idaho. She did not go to school and says she was not homeschooled at all. At 17 she studies and takes the ACT, goes to college, and eventually gets a Ph.D. from Cambridge. It is a very good book and a very compelling story. Her family says the entire book is false.

I was curious to see what the people in the book looked like so I looked them up on Facebook. Because everyone is on Facebook now, I was able to eventually land on her mom’s Facebook page, On her page was a picture of the dad. On the picture of the dad, there were 50 comments. Many of those comments referred to a story from the book. There were comments from the mom and others on her side about how Tara’s book had many false and exaggerated stories. Based on some comments, it appears there were deleted comments from people who read the book and commented about what terrible people the parents are.

All of this made me think about memoirs in general. I have said before that I take all memoirs with a grain of salt. This is for various reasons.

Some memoirs have so many funny or weird stories it makes me wonder how exaggerated they are. A good storyteller can take an event and make it sound much more exciting and/or funny than it really was. If you are trying to sell and get people to read a book making the stories better seems like a good idea. No one would want to read about my life growing up as is. If I was a good storyteller I could make my life story seem much more compelling and readable. If I want to sell a book about my life I better make it seem like a story someone would want to read.

Memoirs also rely on memory. I sometimes think about writing about stories from my childhood. I think there is a good chance that my memories of stories from my childhood would be different than the memories of others involved. This could be for various reasons. One, I’m old and that was a long time ago. Memories fade. Memories can change. If I remember an experience negatively I will forget anything good about it. If I remember it positively, I might forget anything bad about it. Others might remember those parts and wonder why I’m lying about the experience. I could see my siblings saying I got a story wrong if I told one from our childhood.

I’m not saying I think Tara Westover lied. I’m not saying she is remembering anything wrong. Everything in the book could be completely true. I’m just saying that memoirs can be tricky and you have to be open to the idea that they could be exaggerated or that the memories could be flawed so perhaps don’t  blindly believe them and go on a stranger’s Facebook page to tell them they are a terrible person because you read it in a book.

 

My Week in Books, TV, and Movies 6/7/19

My first full week back home, but still an off week. My schedule has been odd. It’s just me and my daughter at home. We both fall asleep a lot earlier than normal. Not exactly a week conducive to movie watching. Plus, she is not exactly thrilled with the movie choices I have from the library. So, there was a lot of catching up on TV this week.

Movies – I feel like we watched a piece of an old movie on TV this week, but I can’t recall what that might have been.  Otherwise, for the reasons stated above, we did not watch a movie this week. I thought we would at least watch Always be my Maybe on Netflix, but I think she is waiting to watch that with one of her friends.

TV – This was a week of catching up on TV.  I’ve recorded and saved several shows for my daughter while she was at college. We have been catching up on those this week. This is when you find out which shows you really care about and which ones you will watch when they are the only options left. She finished the season of Survivor and caught up to me on Amazing Race(I’m still 4 episodes behind) and then we watched all of the Superstores we had recorded. Superstore is still one of the best comedies on TV and this season ended in a rather dramatic way. I can’t wait to see what happens next season. We also watched Beat Shazam(while I played along on the app) and America’s Got Talent(I missed both golden buzzers because I was asleep by the end of the show).

Books – I finished two books this week:

Dry by Neal Shusterman – After a long drought California is completely out of water. The story revolves around kids who go looking for their parents who disappeared while going to where the government was supposed to be handing out water. I really liked this one, as did my daughter. She audibly gasped at some parts of the book.

Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin Manuel Miranda – Probably not meant to be read through in one sitting like I did it. Probably good to own and pick up when you need a pep talk. It was a really quick read.

On Deck – I don’t know if we will watch a movie this week. My wife comes home on Sunday, so that will increase the chance that someone will want to watch one of the movies I have, but only slightly. I do have Happy Death Day 2 You to watch alone. I keep forgetting about that. I hope to watch the first episode of NOS4A2 soon and the second season of Big Little Lies starts on Sunday. I made the mistake of showing my wife the trailer for Good Omens thinking it would lead to her saying it looked too weird and we should watch it without her. It did not work out that way and now we have to wait for her to be ready to watch it. I’m currently reading Educated by Tara Westover and listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers.

My Recent Movies, Books and TV 5/31/19

Over 20 hours on a plane over the last week or so means I had a lot of time to watch random movies and read a book. It also means less time watching non-movie TV. The only thing we found on TV in English while away that was not a movie was The Tonight Show. Usually, our trips overseas mean we watch random TV shows at night because they are what we can find in English, Not so this time.

Movies – I watched one movie on the trip over and then slept off and on. I watched one movie on the second leg. I watched three movies on the way home.

The Upside – I watched this one on the way over and dozed a lot during it. What I saw was decent. Kevin Hart plays Kevin Hart again. If you like him you will like the movie

On the Basis of Sex – Really well done and well acted. If you enjoy movies based on historical events you will enjoy this one.

Mary Poppins Returns – I don’t really remember the original, so I can’t compare this one to it, It was pleasant and fun. I liked the music and I’m a fan of Lin Manuel Miranda, so I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I would have watched it away from a plane environment.

The Kid Who Would Be King – This one was a lot better than I expected. I should have expected it to be good since it was written and directed by Joe Cornish. It is a fun, modern, kid version of the King Arthur story. I especially liked the kid who played Young Merlin. Patrick Stewart is adult Merlin.

A Simple Favor – Another one I liked a lot more than I expected. I like Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, so I was predisposed to like this one anyway, but it was really good. I didn’t really expect the story to go the direction it did. That’s always a good thing.

TV – Nothing new to report on TV-wise, so I will use this space to complain about the cancellation of AP Bio. AP Bio is a really good, really funny show that got much better in the second season as it became more of an ensemble comedy. It was such a talented cast. Instead of giving it a chance with a more regular, non-midseason schedule NBC decided to cut it and try again with some new show that they will screw up by holding until mid-season and then having random weeks when it’s not on at all.

Books – I read two books over the past two weeks. One was a 700+ page fantasy book and the other was a YA novel about a family threatened by the cartels in Juarez.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – It took me a long time to get into this one, but that might have been because I was reading it while tired from traveling. Once I did get into it I really liked it. I liked it enough that I spent an entire three hour flight from Baku to Istanbul reading it and never even looked at my screen to see what movies were available. Lynch is like George RR Martin in that he is not afraid to kill off characters the reader might expect to be a larger part of the story. If you like epic fantasy, I would recommend this one. It also finishes the main story in the first book so you don’t necessarily need to keep reading past book one to finish the story.

Disappeared by Francisco Stork – A YA novel about siblings in Juarez, Mexico. Sara is a reporter who is investigating the disappearance of young girls, including her best friend. Her investigation makes her a target of the criminal network in the city. Her brother is dating a wealthy girl and is being lured into the criminal world by her family and their connections. I meant to just skim this one real quick to prepare to talk about it at a school on Monday, but I got sucked in fast and really read it.

On Deck – We have four movies on DVD because somehow every time I go away all of the movies I have requested from the library come all at once.  We have Fighting With My Family, The Mule, Vice and On the Basis of Sex. I have two more books I need to at least skim for my presentation on Monday. I hope to watch Good Omens on Amazon as soon as possible, but I have a lot of stuff I need to do this weekend.

My Week in Books, TV, and Movies 5/17/19

I’ve reached the point where I’m going to have to resign myself to this being one of my lowest number of books read in a year. I don’t know if it is the books I’m choosing or my state of mind, but it is taking me forever to finish a book these days. I should be reading a lot more. I have no kids at home. I have at least an hour every night home alone. I have days like today when I’m off work and my wife is actually at the office. What will I do with today? Watch the Grey’s season finale(already done), do a load of laundry, clean toilets, mow the lawn, vacuum if I still have time and then maybe read for a couple of minutes after it is all done. What do I do with my time alone every other day? Walk the dog and watch TV. I’m not making time to read and when I do read  I fall asleep or get distracted. Maybe my upcoming travels will increase my reading, but I doubt it. Now, on to the week.

Movies – I only watched one movie this week. We watched Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse while the kids were home for Mother’s Day. Well, three of us watched it. My daughter had seen it already and slept instead. I liked it a lot. My son liked it a lot. That is not a surprise. The surprise was that my wife actually liked it a lot. I did not think it was a movie she would enjoy and I was surprised when she said we could watch it and actually liked it. Thumbs up from the entire family.

TV – Nothing new on TV. This was a week of watching season finales of the shows I watch and reading about which shows are coming back and what new shows are coming. I think most of the finales I’ve watched have been satisfying. I thought about watching the series finale of Big Bang even though I don’t watch the show but opted against it.  I liked it at first but gave up on it pretty early. I know a lot of people loved it. I just didn’t have an interest in it.

Books – I finished Word by Word: The Secret Life f Dictionaries by Kory Stamper,  Stamper is a lexicographer for Merriam Webster and writes about the work of writing a dictionary.  There were some interesting chapters and interesting facts(pumpernickel means fart goblin), I was surprised that people actually write to the dictionary. It would never occur to me to do that. It was not a bad book, but not what I would typically read.

On Deck – I will watch whatever movie is available on the plane and whatever we can find on TV in Baku. I’m desperately trying to finish Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen before we leave and have some teen books downloaded to read on the trip. They are books I need to read for work before I get back. Maybe all of the time on planes and in airports will help increase my reading. I doubt it.

Tater’s TV Week Ends: The CW Fall Schedule

I’m surprised there are some new shows to talk about considering the CW renewed every show that was not already ending.  I actually watch a lot of CW because I really like the DC shows.

Monday – 8pm All American 9PM Black Lightning

I really like All American and I was happy to see t was renewed. Watch it on Netflix this summer and then watch season 2 in the fall. It’s good. We watched some Black Lightning, but when we got behind on it we realized we didn’t really care enough to go back to finish it.

Tuesday – 8pm The Flash 9pm Arrow

The two original DC shows together again as Arrow begins its final season. We stopped watching Arrow a while back. I feel like we need to catch up on Netflix over the summer so we can watch the final season. Flash is fun and even though I’m behind because I’m waiting for my daughter to watch with me, I still really like it.

Wednesday – 8pm Riverdale 9pm Nancy Drew

I really liked the first season of Riverdale, but couldn’t make it through more than a handful of episodes of season 2. I will probably give Nancy Drew a try to see what they do with it.

Thursday – 8pm Supernatural 9pm Legacies

I don’t watch either one. My daughter has been watching Legacies now that it is on Netflix, so I’m sure she will want me to record the next season for her.

Friday – 8pm Charmed 9pm Dynasty

Two remakes. I have no interest in either.

Sunday – 8pm Batwoman 9pm Supergirl

More DC shows. I still like Supergirl a lot and I will give Batwoman a try. I’m looking forward to the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover next season.

Midseason – Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, Legends of Tomorrow, Roswell, In the Dark and The 100. I will only watch Legends. Legends is the most fun of the DC shows.

I might do a look at the entire schedule tonight, but now that we all watch on streaming and DVR does it really matter what is on against what?

Tater’s TV Week #4: The CBS Fall Schedule

I think CBS is my second most watched network. I know it is the one my wife watches the most. I record a lot of CBS staff for her that I don’t watch. They didn’t cancel anything I cared about so  I guess we will be watching a lot again.

Monday – 8pm – The Neighborhood 8:30pm Bob Hearts Abishola 9pm All Rise 10PM Bull

I gambled with the new sitcoms last season and chose the canceled Happy Together over The Neighborhood as the one with the most potential. I was obviously wrong. Bob Hearts Abishola is another new sitcom with a premise(man has heart attack, falls in love with his nurse) that seems thin. I doubt I will watch. All Rise sounds a lot like For the People that ABC canceled. Maybe my daughter will like this one as much as she liked For the People. I didn’t really like Bull when we tried it.

Tuesday – 8PM NCIS 9PM FBI 10PM NCIS New Orleans

My wife watches the NCIS shows. I think she likes New Orleans more than the original now. We both watch FBI. It’s your typical procedural, but I like the cast.

Wednesday – 8pm Survivor 9pm SEAL Team 10pm SWAT

I like all of these shows. I still watch Survivor as soon as I get home from work on Wednesday. It’s not quite the same now that I watch alone, but it’s fun to watch a second time with my daughter to see her reaction. SEAL Team and SWAT are much better than I expected them to be. Of the two I think I like SWAT the best.

Thursday – 8pm Young Sheldon 8:30pm The Unicorn 9pm Mom 9:30pm Carol’s Second Act 10pm Evil

I will try both of the new sitcoms because The Unicorn stars Walton Goggins and Carol’s Second Act stars Patricia Heaton. I really like both of them. Evil sounds interesting. A skeptical female forensic psychologist works with a priest in training and a carpenter to investigate supposed miracles, demonic possessions, and unexplained phenomena. It could be really good or really bad.

Friday – 8pm Hawaii 50 9pm Magnum PI 10pm Blue Bloods

Magnum joins the night with shows that feel like a good fit. Hawaii 50 and Magnum are both in Hawaii and Blue Bloods stars the original Magnum. It makes sense. My wife still watches 50, I watch Magnum with her, but wish it was better and I still really like Blue Bloods. I still want Blue Bloods and Magnum to crossover so Selleck can meet the new Magnum,

Saturday – Series encores(repeats) and 48 hours

Sunday – 7pm 60 Minutes 8pm God Friended Me 9pm NCIS LA 10pm Madam Secretary

I only watch Madam Secretary. LA is the one NCIS my wife doesn’t watch. This is the night CBS makes people mad by constantly having shows start late because of football. They should change the schedule to account for the fact that football is never over by 7.

Midseason – Amazing Race, Big Brother, Criminal Minds, Macgyver, Man With a Plan and Undercover Boss plus an FBI spinoff and a couple of generic new shows. My wife still likes the new Macgyver and I still really like Amazing Race. Nothing else interests me here.

Tater’s TV Week #3: ABC’s Fall Schedule

ABC canceled For the People, Whiskey Cavalier, Shameless, and the Kids Are Alright. I loved all four shows, but I have to forgive them because a lot of my favorite shows are still on ABC. Here’s the fall schedule:

Monday: 8PM Dancing with the Stars 10pm The Good Doctor

Nothing for me here. I have no interest in watching B-list stars dance and I was not impressed with the episode of The Good Doctor I watched. I think my son watched some of it and liked it.

Tuesday: 8pm The Connors 8:30pm Bless this Mess 9pm Mixed-ish 9:30pm Black-ish 10pm Emergence

The Connors is much better now that Roseanne is gone. I like Dax Shepard but I had no interest in watching more than one episode of Bless This Mess. I never watched Black-ish. We did watch some of the spinoff Grown-ish and liked it. I doubt I will watch the prequel series. I don’t want to get sucked into another conspiracy show, but I really like Alison Tolman, so I might watch Emergence.

Wednesday – 8pm The Goldbergs 8:30pm Schooled 9pm Modern Family 9:30pm Single Parents 10pm Stumptown

I don’t watch the first two comedies. I hear they are pretty good. Modern Family is not as good as it once was, but I still like it and will watch the final season. I thought Single Parents was the best new comedy this season and I’m really happy it was renewed. Stumptown is based on a graphic novel series about a PI and stars Cobie Smulders. I think I will give it a shot.

Thursday – 8pm Grey’s Anatomy 9pm A Million Little Things 10pm How to Get Away With Murder

I still love Grey’s and it will be one of the shows I will watch from the beginning of the run to the end of the run, no matter how long that is. I really like A Million Little Things and I’m looking forward to what the second season brings. I lost interest in How to Get Away With Murder halfway through season one.

Friday – 8pm American Housewife 8:30pm Fresh Off the Boat 9pm 20/20

I’m not sure I like the move of American Housewife to Friday. I’m afraid it is still the first step to cancelation. We still watch Fresh Off the Boat. It’s a good hour of comedy. I don’t watch 20/20.

Saturday – Football

Sunday – 7pm AFV 8pm Kids Say the Darndest Things 9pm Shark Tank 10pm The Rookie

Nothing for me here. The one episode of The Rookie I saw when on vacation was OK, but I don’t think I will ever watch it regularly.

Midseason – Shield, Station 19, American Idol, The Bachelor and some new shows, I like the first two, never watched the second two and the new shows don’t interest me.

Tater’s TV Week #2 – The FOX Schedule

A lat post tonight because I had a work event and then went out with friends after. We left after 8. I’m a part animal. The FOX schedule was released while I was at work. They canceled one of the shows I watch and don’t have much else that interests me. Not much on the schedule for me to be excited about.

Monday – 8PM – 9-1-1 9PM Prodigal Son

I feel like 9-1-1 is a show I would like, but I had scheduling conflicts when it first aired so I never watched it.  A spin-off is coming with Rob Lowe and I like him so I might watch the spinoff.  Prodigal Son is a new show about the son of a serial killer who is a criminal psychologist who uses his skills to help solve crimes in NYC. It has a good cast(Tom Payne, Michael Sheen) so I might give it a shot.

Tuesday – 8pm The Resident 9PM Empire

I think The Resident is one of the better doctor shows on TV. I especially like Malcolm Jamal Warner’s character. I hate when they move a show. It has always been on Monday and  now has the risk of people not finding it or having other shows they already watch. I have never watched Empire.

Wednesday – 8PM – The Masked Singer 9pm – Not Just Me

The Masked Singer is strangely compelling. I hope the success of season 1 helps them get bigger celebrities for this season. Not Just Me is about a girl who finds out her dad, a fertility doctor, used his sperm to father a hundred children. Not sure I will watch that one. It stars Brittany Snow, Emily Osment and Timothy Hutton.

Thursday – Football

Friday – WWE

Saturday – College football

Sunday – 8pm – The Simpsons 8:30pm Bless the Harts 9pm -Bob’s Burgers 9:30pm Family Guy

Bless the Harts is another animated show with the voices of Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. Nothing for me here.

Last Man Standing, The Orville and a bunch of new shows are midseason shows.

So, only one show for me and a new one I might try with two more, Last Man Standing and The Orville, coming later in the season. It won’t be long until I don’t watch this network at all.