Every Story Has an End

Day 16 of the month of Tater and I’m sure based on the title you’re thinking “Oh no. Another one of his sappy ‘feelings’ posts about death or change or something”  Good news, fake reader! You’re wrong! This is about actual stories in books, TV and movies.

I watched the series finale of Vice Principals this week. It was only on for two seasons and Danny McBride says that this was always the plan. He had a story. He told the story. The story is over. I like that. Every story has an end and it is better if the creator of that story writes the end(unless your name is George RR Martin). Too many times, a story is not allowed to end naturally. It goes on way past the natural end or it is ended early due to ratings issues.

Under the Dome was a good Stephen King book that would have been a good TV mini-series. Unfortunately, the ratings meant the network kept asking for more, so the story dragged on and on way past the natural end. The Mist, on the other hand, was a TV series that I worried would suffer the same fate, but instead, was canceled after one season mid-story. I would rather a TV show have two very good seasons and then end than go on indefinitely, even after there are decent stories to tell. Unfortunately, it is a business and driven by money, not story.

The same happens at the movies. Some movie franchises end before the story is over because of poor earnings. Some franchises(I’m looking at you, Transformers) go on way too long. Sometimes, the franchise tells the story in full but does something stupid like split a book in to two movies when one would suffice(cough, Twilight) in order to wring some more money out of the fans. Again, a creative industry driven by money, not creativity.

Alas, the same happens with books. Usually, with books it is the problem of a series going on too long. I’m not sure I need another Stephanie Plum or Alex Cross adventure, though I admit I am part of the problem because I keep reading them.  If you can keep the stories fresh, a long series is fine. John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, Connelly’s Bosch series and Crais’ Elvis Cole/Joe Pike are some examples of that. The worst offenders in the “stop already” book series are the “the author keeps writing after they are dead” series. I get the desire to finish a book if the author was close to done upon their death, but that’s about it. We don’t need more Vince Flynn books if they aren’t written by Vince Flynn. Terry Pratchett had the right idea when he directed “whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be taken out along with his computers, to be put in the middle of a road and for a steamroller to steamroll over them all” to stop people from writing “Pratchett novels” after he was gone. More authors should go this route.

Every story has to end. Please let them end naturally.

 

Advertisements

My Year in Reading 2016

I really didn’t think I would make it to 100 books this year. I went through a stretch when it was difficult for me to focus on reading. I did list 10 best books and some honorable mentions, but it was harder this year. I did more audio books this year. There will be fewer of those this year since my commute is shorter and I won’t be driving alone to Kentucky.I set my goal at 100 again, but my real goal is to continue to try to diversify my reading and to read at least one classic I have not read before.

Top ten books read in no particular order

  • The Winter Family by Cifford Jackman
  • I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  • The Fireman by Joe Hill
  • I Must Say by Martin Short
  • Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
  • End of Watch by Stephen King
  • But What If We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman
  • The Whistler by John Grisham
  • Bazaar of Bad Dreans by Stephen King
  • The End by Charlie Higson

Honorable Mention

  • Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
  • Kraken by China Mieville
  • Ms Marvel vol 1 by G Willow Wilson
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  • Tell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt
  • Let the Right One In by John Lindquist

Book I would most recommend

The Fireman by Joe Hill. It is very long, but it is worth the time.

Worst book I finished

If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher

Book I Dustbunnied

None this year. I would have stopped reading the above book, but it was for book club and I always finish book club books no matter how bad they are.

Number of books read: 101

Number of pages read according to Goodreads: 31304 – This is wrong. They have one book listed as 6 pages and I know it was around 200, but this is easier than trying to add them all up.

 

Tater Takes On Burkinis, Babies and Books

Burkini Bans: The news broke today that the French court ruled that mayors could not ban burkinis on their public beaches. I was happy to see this news. It’s ridiculous that burkinis were banned in the first place, especially in France where their beaches are generally known for an anything goes attitude when it comes to swimsuits or the lack thereof. This was just another stupid “all Muslims are bad” reaction to terrorism. Somehow, we are supposed to assume a woman in a burkini wants to kill us all and not just simply enjoy the beach while wearing what makes her comfortable. We feel comfortable assuming all Muslims are bad because of terrorist acts of a radical extreme, but we would never assume every white guy with a gun wants to shoot up a movie theater or church. We can’t judge and discriminate against someone else for the actions of another. I’m glad to see the French courts agree.

Birthing Babies: Yesterday the news was posted on sports sites and twitter feeds that AJ Green would miss a game for the birth of his child. This was broken like it was big news. I don’t get why it’s such big news. I missed work when my kids were born. I think most people who have the ability to be there for the birth of their child are there for the event. I know Green makes a lot more money than me, but should that mean that he should go to work instead of being there for the birth?  This isn’t news. It’s a father doing the right thing.

Books: I am reading a book that features a deaf character in parts. I like the books, but I think it’s weird that all other dialogue is in regular print, but the dialogue in sign language is in italics.  Is this normal for books with deaf characters? Do they really think we need an indication that this dialogue is in sign language? Can’t we just assume that if the deaf character is speaking, this is likely the case? Can’t the dialogue just be in regular print like the rest? I don’t know why it annoys me so much. It just does.

I Have an Author “Type”

There is a study out there that says men like to read male authors and women prefer to read female authors. I have never analyzed my reading habits and author gender. I do know a lot of my favorite authors are male. I do, however, have quite a few female authors I read regularly. I like to joke that I sometimes have the reading habits of a teenage girl. I’m too lazy to do a count, but I could see my total skewing more toward the male authors. I don’t think this study says more than that people like to read what they know and that people feel more comfortable with the voice of someone with whom they relate. That’s why the push for more diverse titles is important, especially for kids. All kids need to be able to find books about someone like them.

I was thinking about this last night after I was working on a list of books for a class I will be leading at work. It is a list of good adult fiction for teens. I took many of the books of the Alex Awards list and added a bunch from my personal experience. As I was asking coworkers for some titles to add to the list, I mentioned that I needed to add some diversity, because although I didn’t know what most of the authors looked like I was pretty sure they were a little too similar. I googled the names of the authors and discovered that they were more alike than I realized. If I just looked at the author photos, I could assume that they were all related. Apparently, I don’t just have a thing for British and Irish authors, I I have thing for British, Irish and ginger authors. It was really weird. I can now add diversity to the list of my reading goals for 2015.

My Year in Reading 2014

Top ten books read in no particular order

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Winger by Andrew Smith
The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig
Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs
Revival by Stephen King
Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larrsen
Seven for a Secret by Lindsay Faye

Honorable Mention

Golem of Hollywood by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Trouble by Non Pratt
The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce
Parasite by Mira Grant

Worst book I finished

Someone Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon

Book I Dustbunnied

Wolf by Lorenzo Carcaterra

Number of books read: 106

Number of pages read according to Goodreads: 37067

I have to say that this was not a banner year in reading for me. Too many mediocre books. It was hard to come up with the 15 best. I need to be more selective with my reading next year.

Changing my reading and tv habits

Each year I set a reading goal. That reading goal has always been a quantity goal. Usually 100 books. I always meet that goal and this year I am ahead of my goal. I sometimes add in a page number goal. I’ve been thinking that I need to change the type of goal I set next year. I read a lot of books that I finish, but don’t love. They aren’t bad, but they are forgettable. I read a lot of authors out of habit even though they write the same book over and over again. I can read a Stuart a woods book in a day, but it’s not different than the last Stuart Woods book I read. I don’t discover new books anymore because I’m reading through my books from my reserve list instead of browsing the shelves. Many of those books are on my reserve list because they are written by authors I read regularly. Some of these authors are still consistently good their books might be in my top ten list for the year. Some of them are like the aforementioned Stuart Woods. They are consistent and boring and after I finish I wonder why I still read them. It is time for me to stop reading based on habit and start discovering new books and authors.

I do the same thing with TV. It’s really hard for me to give up on a former favorite show once it is not as good as it once was. Watch them becomes a chore. Something I’m doing out of habit not because I’m still enjoying it. I think in addition to habit, this also stems from my misguided belief that the show will return to its former level of entertainment. This never actually happens. If I can cut the cord on some of these shows, I will probably find time to read some of the new books mentioned above. I need to remember quality is better than quantity.

My 20 Favorite Books of All Time

I was asked by an inmate at the jail to put this together since I won’t be at the jail to recommend books after next week. Things to keep in mind before reading my list:

1. I put this together in a couple of minutes using reminders from my ratings on Shelfari.

2. When I say favorite I don’t necessarily mean well written, classic, etc. Just books I enjoyed and have stuck with me.

3. I cheated and put three series in a spot instead of individual books.

4. I welcome comments, but don’t really care if you didn’t like these books, They are my favorites, not yours.

So, here is my list:

Twenty Favorite Books All Time:

 

1. The Stand by Stephen KIng

2. Swan Song Robert McCammon

3. Neverwhere Neil Gaiman

4. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

5. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry Mildred Taylor

6. Practical Demonkeeping Christopher Moore

7. The Vampire Lestat Anne Rice

8. The Sicilian Mario Puzo

9. Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson

10. Green River Rising Tim Willocks

11. The Shotgun Rule Charlie Huston

12. This is Where I Leave You Jonathan Tropper

13. Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein

14. Lord of the Rings series JRR Tolkien

15. Song of Ice and Fire Series George RR Martin

16. Dark Tower series Stephen King

17. A Time to Kill John Grisham

18. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

19. The Winter of Frankie Machine Don Winlsow

20. Hooligans William Diehl