We Need Diverse Books

An added bonus today. My latest and likely last post for the work blog. Long time readers might recognize this as I posted a version of it here a while back.


The book cover depicts three people in silhouette seated on a bridge, overlooking the water, with bright sunshine in the center behind a partially cloudy sky.

By Alan S.

I know that is a groundbreaking title there. Anyway, this post is a personal illustration of connecting with book characters because they are like me. Before anyone else can point it out – yes, I am a white guy. Yes, I am a white, heterosexual male. Yes, there are many books about people like me. This post is not about me wanting more books about me. I’ve always agreed that we need more diverse books. I can’t imagine why anyone would disagree with this. Kids need to be able to read a book about a person who reflects their personal experience. Intellectually, I always knew this. My last two books have been a good illustration of how a connection to the characters improves the reader’s experience.

I read The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (also available in ebook and eaudiobook from OverDrive/Libby). It takes place in rural…

View original post 387 more words

For Halloween Let These Zombie Books Eat Your Brains

Just in time for Halloween – my post for work on my favorite zombie books. Feel free to add yours in the comments. I’m always looking for good xombie books to read.


Black and white photo of an overpass with the Empire State Building int the background and dark clouds overhead.

by Alan S.

The haunting times are almost here – get in a spooky mood with some of my favorite zombie books.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead (also available in ebook) – If you like your monsters a little more literary, you should start here. Mark Spitz is an uninfected worker assigned to clear Zone One (in Manhattan) of the infected. The book spans three days of work and includes flashbacks of how Mark survived the zombie apocalypse and the reason for his nickname.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – I have always said that zombies were my favorite monster because you could in no way make them romantic. Marion proves me wrong with Warm Bodies. He tells the story of R, a zombie living in an abandoned airport who falls in love with a human girl name Julie after eating the brain of her boyfriend. I thought…

View original post 475 more words

Some of My Favorite Authors

I recently tried the “ask me anything” thing again here and once again got only one question. It was about my favorite authors. So, here is a small list of some of my favorite authors. And yes, I realize they are mostly white men. I have diversified my reading, but the ones below remain my favorites.

Stephen King – I’ve been reading King since I was a kid. The librarians at the small library at home were disturbed by my reading choices and tried to get me to go back to the childrens section. King is one of two authors who’s books I still buy. To make Christmas easier for my family, I get any new Stephen King book as a gift. It means I have to wait to read them. but it is worth it.

Christopher Moore – A long time ago I read Practical Demonkeeping and then forgot it. I saw it while shelving at the library and started reading it again. I realized it sounded familiar and then figured out I had already read it. I then read Bloodsucking Fiends and was hooked. His books are funny and he does a ton of research to get things right. He’s also a very nice guy. You can read more about my stalking of Chris here.

Robert McCammon- My favorite book ever is Swan Song. It is very similar to King’s The Stand, but I think a lot better. I was very happy when it made it to the list of top 100 books recently. I also loved Gone South, Mine, Boy’s Life and The Border.

Lisa Scottoline – I like her books, but I think she makes the list more for being such a nice person. Her books are generally about an all-woman law firm in Philadelphia with some stand alones as well. I love all of the main characters from the firm and am happy when another adventure arrives. Here is my story of meeting her.

Andrew Smith – My favorite YA author. He writes a mix of realistic fiction like Winger and books about giant praying mantises like Grasshopper Jungle with a mix of humor and humanity.

John Sanford – He writes two of my favorite characters: Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers. Even when the story is not as good as I hope, I love the characters enough to speed through them.

Michael Connelly – Another of my favorite characters: Harry Bosch. I love that Connelly let Harry age to the point that he is now retired and works cold cases with a younger detective. The series has not lost any quality as he ages and new people are added.

I’m sure I could add more, but how many favorites can I realistically claim?

Click here to buy me a coffee or support my blog.

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 9/25/20

Note – writing this on my iPad because my wife scheduled people to come work on carpet repairs so I’m hiding behind closed doors with the dog and my laptop is in another room. I’m sure this will mean there will be multiple typos.

We finally have a week with a few new TV shows and we have dates for the return of some shows that have resumed filming. This makes me happy, especially since the stream of new movies on DVD from the library is dry right now.

Movies – We watched a couple of movies on Netflix this week. The first was The Take. It stars Idris Elba and Richard Madden. Elba is CIA, Madden is a pickpocket. Madden’s character steals a backpack that contains a bomb and is caught on camera after he discards it and it explodes. They team up to track down the real terrorist. I enjoyed it, but there were multiple times people we speaking French when there were no subtitles. I don’t think I missed much, but it was annoying. The other movie was my choice and was Mr Deeds. It is one of the few Adam Sandler movies I had not watched. I liked it. I like Sandler and this one was less goofy than normal. I would recommend both.

TV – I’m still watching at least one episode of Hart of Dixie most days. I still watch an episode of The Goldbergs when I eat lunch. The Masked Singer returned this week so I watched it. It’s dumb, but I like it. We watched the new episodes of Transplant and Coroner. The nice thing about Coroner is that it already has two seasons, so even though this week was the finale the new season starts on October 7. We also watched the first episode of LA’s Finest. This is another show that has already had two seasons, so we should have plenty to watch. This is the spinoff of the Bad Boys movies with Gabrielle Union reprising her role from the second movie. Union and Jessica Alba are partners. Alba is married to the acting DA and has a stepdaughter. Union is single and not interested in settling down. Each has some sort of secret connection to a cartel. It’s pretty standard buddy cop stuff, but Alba and Union are very good and have great chemistry as partners. I will watch more.

Books – I finished one book this week – A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight. Amanda, a rich woman in Park Slope, is murdered. Her husband is the suspect. He calls a law school friend for help. The law school friend is working at a prestigious law firm because her husband is an alcoholic who crashed his car into a business so she had to quit the DA’s office to make more money. The story alternates between present day Lizzie investigating the murder and Amanda in the days leading to her death. There may be someone stalking her as time countdowns to a party where couples tend to swap. It was an intriguing story with one twist I didn’t see coming, but the reveal of the murderer was underwhelming. Still a good read, though.

On Deck- My wife is a big fan of the movie The Cutting Edge. I discovered they made more Cutting Edge movies and recorded one of them. We will likely watch that tonight. Kentucky football is on tomorrow and Ravens football Monday night. We will watch the next episode of LA’s Finest and will eventually try the new show Filthy Rich. I will probably watch the new edition of Weakest Link because I like trivia game shows. I’m reading Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.

Support the Common Tater

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 9/18/20

The “new normal” means that I am not getting many new movies from the library. There’s no new network TV season. I don’t have as many books checked out because my days in the library don’t lend themselves to browsing the shelves. I don’t like to have to think to find my entertainment.

Movies – It took me a minute to remember if I watched a movie. every day I browse the guide to see if there are movies I want to record to watch after work. Most days I find nothing. Last week I did find Escape From New York. I don’t know that I had ever watched it before. I can see why it was popular when it was released, but it seemed really dated. I liked Kurt Russell but felt like the rest of the cast’s acting was stilted. It’s possible my enjoyment was hampered by me being distracted while watching.

TV – As expected, I watched a lot of sports. The Braves played the Nationals and the Orioles, so they were on TV every night. Unfortunately, they did not play their best against the O’s. I also watched NFL football and a little college football. We watched the latest episodes of Transplant and Coroner. Both very good Canadian shows filling spots while other shows are still off air. I watched more Hart of Dixie. I’m happy to see dates for return of some of my shows next month and November.

Books – I finished two books this week:

The Hollow Ones by Guilermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It starts with two FBI agents responding to a case of a man on a rampage who is heading to his house to kill his family. When they arrive, one of the agents subdues the suspect but then goes to kill the last kid, forcing his partner to shoot him. While she is on suspension, a retired FBI agent directs her to a strange man who can help her with her case. He tells her there are beings out there who inhabit a body and go on murderous rampages and he can stop them. I enjoyed it and I hope that I am correct that there will be another one.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore – I found this one while checking in books at the library. Mickey is a cop in Philadelphia. Her sister Kacey is a drug addicted prostitute who has gone missing at the same time there is a string if murders of women in their neighborhood. The story is told in then and now segments so we see Kacey and Mickey grow up and how they became who they are. Their stories are compelling. The murder mystery is well done, I would highly recommend it.

On Deck – Still no movies from the library. The Invisible Man is on HBO tomorrow nhttps://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theycallmetateright so I will record it. I recorded two shows that premiered on HBO Monday night: The Third Day and We Are Who We Are. I will attempt to try them this week so if I know if I should keep recording them. I have a copy of The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead from the library to read.

Support the Common Tater

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 9/11/20

It is 9/11, a day that no one will ever forget. I wrote about my memory of the day before so today I will still do my regular recap of what I watched and read this week. Maybe 9/11 will remind people that we can come together in times of trouble instead of what we have done in the face of a pandemic. OK, on to the post.

Movies – We watched on movie this week – 28 Days Later. We had watched it before, but something made me think of it and then I saw the DVD at the library so I checked it out. It was as good as I remembered. I guess now we should watch 28 weeks later again. I do love a good zombie movie.

TV – Nothing groundbreaking on the TV front either. We watched the latest episode of Transplant. I watched more Hart of Dixie. I still watch The Goldbergs during my lunch while working from home. We finished the episodes of The Resident we had recorded from March and April. We are working on finishing up Stumptown and FBI:Most Wanted. I like Stumptown. I could do without FBI: Most Wanted, but my wife likes it, so I watch with her. The story lines are OK. The cast is terrible. I was very happy to watch football last night. It almost felt normal.

Books – I read Rose Gold by Walter Mosley for my mystery book club at work. I had never read an Easy Rawlins book before. I enjoyed it and might go back to read an earlier book in the series. I was happy that it was a book you could read without feeling like you missed much by skipping the rest of the series. The plot was decent, but it really was a character driven book and easy is a very good character. I also need to watch the movie version of the first book with Denzel as Easy.

On Deck – Not a lot on deck. I have no movies from the library. There are no movies streaming that we will definitely watch. New TV is still a month away. I will probably watch a lot of sport. The Braves are playing the Nationals this weekend, so all of the games will be on TV. There is college football all day Saturday and NFL football all day on Sunday. No need for anything else. I am reading The Hollow Ones by Guilermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

Support the Common Tater

I Don’t Have Time to Read(and other things)

Resurrecting this post from the dead as it is something that continually bugs me. I don’t go to Starbucks as much as I did when I wrote this post, but that is a geography thing not a money thing. You have time to do what you want to do. It’s not a lack of time it’s a lack of desire.

Several times throughout the year a conversation will turn to the number of books I read(around 100 a year) and the other person will respond with a form of “I don’t have time to read.” Or a conversation will be about a television show and someone will say “I don’t have time to watch TV.” or the more popular “I don’t own a TV.” Most of the time, the implication is that I am obviously wasting time while they are spending all of their time on less trivial pursuits.  There is currently a conversation online about how they don’t understand why so much attention is being paid to a “stupid, violent game” like football. Someone actually said, “Imagine how much better the world would be if we spent this much time talking about poverty, etc.” I’ve even had it happen with my Starbucks visits. Someone felt the need to point out that they thought it was a waste of money and didn’t understand why I felt the need to waste money on stupid stuff like that.

Of course, the “I don’t have time” people never tell me what they are doing to take up all of this time. Are you curing cancer? Solving world peace? Feeding the hungry? Not likely. Likely, you are spending time on something others would consider trivial because they don’t do it.  Same for the anti-football people. Are you spending a lot of time talking about how to end poverty? How to solve world peace? The cure for cancer? Likely not. You are probably talking about things that interest you that others might find trivial. Anti-Starbucks people? I guarantee I can find something you spend money on that I would consider a waste.

Why does this happen? Are we so concerned about believing we are better than others that we feel the need to belittle their interests? Why can’t we just accept that we all have different interests and shut up about it? Don’t like to read? Don’t read. Don’t like football? Don’t watch. Don’t like Starbucks? Don’t drink it. Just leave others alone and let them enjoy it.

My Last Two Weeks in Books, Movies, and TV 7/31/20

I don’t have a lot of note to report in regards to TV and movies. I spent a lot of time outside over the past two weeks. I did actually finish two books since my last post.

Movies – I’ve been trying to remember if I watched any movies over the past two weeks. I’m sure I watched at least part of some random old movie at some point. I don’t think I have actively watched a movie since the last post. I could be wrong. I just don’t remember. We did watch Hamilton again. It’s still very good. I have an old Frankie Avalon movie, Ski Party, playing in the background as I type this. I’m trying to turn the news off once I get the highlights in the morning. I usually have The Today Show on in the background, but these days I need less news in my life.

TV – We have been watching two new shows recently – United We Fall and Tough as Nails. United We Fall is a dumb sitcom with an annoying laugh track. It is a standard family sitcom. Nothing special, but my daughter kind of likes it so it is a good change of pace from our regular shows. Tough as Nails is a reality show hosted by Phil from Amazing Race. It has a group of blue-collar workers competing in challenges. There are individual and team challenges. The overall winner gets a big prize, but each week the winning team gets money as well. When you are eliminated from the individual competition you stay and work with your team in the team challenges so you still have a chance of winning some money. We like it more than we expected to like it.

Books – As I mentioned above, I finished two books since the last post:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – This is a prequel to the Hunger Games series with a young President Snow as the main character. It takes place when he is a student and acts as a mentor during the 10th Hunger Games. I thought it was an interesting look at the early games and how they evolved to what they were in the original book. She did a good job of getting me invested in the characters, even while I knew the main character would become a villain. I think we need more of the story to really understand how this version of Snow became the villain he was in the original book.

The Poppy War by RF Kuang – This is the story of Rin, a war orphan in the poor Rooster Province, who aces the test to go to school and is sent to the most prestigious military academy in Nikan. The first part of the book is her experience at the school. The second half of the book is her experience during the next war. I really enjoyed the school portion of the story. How she goes from the poor kid who looks different than the rest to the star of the class. Her work with eccentric lore master Jiang. The first part of the war story was decent. By the end of the book, I felt like I was reading just to finish. I likely won’t read the next book in the series.

On Deck – I have 1917 and the new Jumanji movie from the library to watch. My family wants to watch the new Disney Channel movie Upside Down Magic, so I am recording that. The newest season of Shameless is now on Netflix, so I have something to watch when I am the only person awake in the house. I am reading Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

I Am An E-book Convert | CHAPTER CHATS

Taking a break in my break to share another blog post I wrote for work. Yes, I am that concerned with getting people to read everything I write…

By Alan S. I am a recent convert to the pleasures of an e-book. I appropriately played the T-Rex who needed help in a recent Facebook video. I have always preferred physical books over eBooks, enjoying the feel of holding a book in my hand more than the feel of a tablet or phone. I…
— Read on chapterchats.org/2020/07/22/i-am-an-e-book-convert/

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 7/3/20

Here we are at the end of another week. This time it is the first day of my three day weekend. I can spend the day reading and watching TV so I will have new stuff to post about next week. Here is my recap of the last week:

Movies – We watched two new streaming movies this week. Netflix released Will Ferrell’s new movie Eurovision: Story of Fire Saga. Ferrell plays a man from Iceland who has been obsessed with competing in Eurovision since he saw Abba perform on it when he was a kid. Rachel Macadams plays his friend and singing partner. Circumstances give them the chance to actually go to Scotland to compete in the competition even though their audition was not very good. All three of us enjoyed it. My wife says she would have liked it more had it been anyone but Ferrell. She does not like him at all. We also watched My Spy on Prime. It stars Dave Bautista as a CIA agent who is demoted after an incident and is assigned to surveil a single mom and her daughter because they are related by her late husband to the bad guy they are tracking. The daughter discovers the cameras and blackmails Bautista into getting involved in their lives. It was a cute family movie. We all really enjoyed it. I also watched Doctor Sleep while I was off on Wednesday. I don’t really remember the book enough to say if it was a good adaptation, but I did enjoy the movie.

TV – We watched all of our regular shows: Stargirl, Snowpiercer, Yellowstone, Perry Mason. We finally finished Community. We watched come of The Floor is Lava when we didn’t want to get involved in a scripted show. We finished the Rob and Amber season of Amazing Race. I started rewatching Skins after struggling to find a show to watch alone. I only watched the first three seasons the first time, so I thought I would start again and watch the entire thing. My daughter finished rewatching Zach and Cody on Disney and has started a rewatch of Wizards of Waverly Place.

Books – I finally finished reading Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh. I have had this ARC for a couple of years. I finally looked through my collection of ARCs and decided to read it. It is about a young woman who is dealing with the grief of both of her parents committing suicide who then gets a card implying they it was not suicide. She goes to the police and a retired detective who is working as a civilian front desk person decides to investigate. It was not a terrible book. There were some interesting twists and I did finish. I am still in the mode of not knowing if the issue is the book or my state of mind. It might have been a little of both.

On Deck – The big thing on tap is watching the Hamilton movie. We were lucky enough to see the show on Broadway, but I’m excited to see the original cast perform. Also, we like it enough we will probably watch it multiple times. I’m not getting DVDs from the library again. I have Richard Jewell and Queen and Slim. We might watch one of them. Midway is on HBO tomorrow so that is an option. TV will likely be watching the new episodes of the shows listed above. I am reading Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells.

Support the Common Tater