#AMonthofFaves 2019: My Top 5 Books, TV Shows, Movies, and Albums of 2019

All this month, I’m joining Tanya & Kimberly at Girlxoxo and Tamara at Traveling with T for their annual #AMonthofFaves blog event – a fun way to recap the year that was. They have a schedule of topics planned out for 14 days and while I don’t plan to have a post for each topic, I do plan on having a post for several of them. To see the entire list, visit #AMonthofFaves 2019 [Blog Event] Announcement. Today’s topic is the fifth for the month: On the Screen or in Your Ear – What did you watch this year that you absolutely loved and did you see any movies inspired by books you’ve read – what did you think? Or, what are some of your favorite podcasts, audiobooks or songs / albums that you listened to and have on repeat?

I already covered my top 5 books in a previous post for A Month of Faves on Popular Books Worth The Hype, but I thought I’d include them here since it made the graphic below symmetrical:

A few caveats and explanations:

  • On Sunday, I also made a list of My Top 60 Albums of the 2010s, with the four of the five albums from 2019 included in that list. The only one I didn’t, i,i by Bon Iver, is because I chose 22, A Million instead for the decade.
  • I discovered four of the five TV shows through Hulu and found The Brokenwood Mysteries through Hoopla at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
  • I have not seen Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, The Irishman or Marriage Story yet, but my wife and I both want to see all three in the near future. I have a feeling at least one, if not all three, will change this list or at least be added to the list of my top movies for this year.
  • Powder in Space is technically not an album but a DJ mixtape by the Japanese DJ Momoko Goto, who produces and performs under the name “Powder.”
  • I had all five of the albums on heavy rotation this year and I anticipate that I will have one released last month, MAGDALENE by FKA Twigs, on heavy rotation in the coming year.
  • Four of my top five albums are on the The 50 Best Albums of 2019 list from Pitchfork The Father of the Bride, No. 25; Homecoming, No, 14; i, i, No. 16; Norman F***ing Rockwell!, No. 1, and that last one rightly so at No. 1, in my and my wife’s opinion. I like several of the other albums on the list including especially the ones at No. 2, MAGDALENE; Big Thief’s U.F.O.F. at No. 3 and Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors at No. 4, but I really haven’t listened to them a lot…yet, but I anticipate I will.
  • For all you bookish folks, the one movie on my list you need to see is Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which is based on the book of the same name by Lee Israel, portrayed brilliantly here by Melissa McCarthy. I have not read the book, but loved the movie (obviously, to include it in my top 5).

What were your favorite books read, TV shows and movies and/or albums read this year even if they weren’t released this year?

Pushing Forward Back October/November 2019

October was mostly a medical month for me: a colonoscopy (my first, yay) on Oct. 14, followed by a blood test on my prostate on Oct. 15, and then on Oct. 22 an arthroscopic surgery on my left knee for a small tear of the meniscus. The short of it is this: one polyp removed, all good on the blood test, and a small mass of torn meniscus removed and cartilage smoothed during the surgery.

But the month also included two book blogging events in which I was able to participate partially as the result of recuperating since my surgery: Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon last Saturday, Oct. 26, and Nonfiction November, which started this past Monday, Oct. 28. Before the readathon, I read two books:

  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer, which I started earlier in September.
  • The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland, which I picked up while “shelf-reading” at the library.
  • A Story To Tell by my sister Lisa Howeler 
  • The Best American Poetry 2014 by series editor David Lehman and guest editor Terrance Hayes

I started the month out with a couple of ideas for the readathon, then I changed my mind later to start with a clean slate and ended up with a different list of possibilities. When I finally did the readathon last Saturday, I finished two books:

  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 
  • The Score by Richard Stark 

I also started a third that I just finished last night: Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story of Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M.M. Blume. While overall I enjoyed this one, my favorite for the month probably was the book it was about: The Sun Also Rises. I had forgotten how much I like Hemingway’s sparse prose.

As for Nonfiction November, on Monday, I looked back at my year in nonfiction and picked my favorite nonfiction book of the year. Then over the next four weeks, I’ll be posting on prompts from the event. To see more about the event, see this post from one of the hosts, Julie, from the blog Julz Reads.

Also watched

  • Mindhunter, Season 2, on Netflix
  • Schitt’s Creek, Season 5, on Netflix
  • Letterkenny, Season 7, on Hulu
  • Narcos Mexico, Season 1, on Netflix

& listened to

  • All Mirrors by Angel Olsen,
  • Ode To Joy by Wilco
  • Crush by Floating Points

But my favorite new show, to me, has to be hands down: The Brokenwood Mysteries, of which I watched Series 1 earlier this month and reviewed briefly here. I am looking forward to watching more in November via Hoopla.

November starts with more recuperation, at least for this weekend, before I head back to work at the library on Monday. Also on Monday, I continue with Nonfiction November, which I will be doing throughout the month. The middle to end of the month promises days off for Thanksgiving and possibly for our anniversary the week before (I put in for a couple days before I left, but I won’t know if I got them until I return on Monday). If she still is doing it this year, I also hope to be participating in Thankfully Reading Weekend with Jenn of Jenn’s Bookshelves over Thanksgiving.

Among possibilities of what I might read this coming month are the following:

  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Heaven, My Home (A Highway 59 Mystery Book 2) by Attica Locke
  • Orphan X (Orphan X, #1) by Gregg Hurwitz
  • Ruth Galloway Series: The First Three Novels by Elly Griffiths
  • The Lord God Made Them All (All Creatures Great and Small Book 4) by James Herriot
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1) by Robert Galbraith
  • A Morbid Taste for Bones (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Book 1) by Ellis Peters.

To watch

  • The Irishman on Netflix
  • Brittany Runs A Marathon on Amazon Prime
  • Good Omens, Season 1, on Amazon Prime

& To listen to

  • MAGDALENE by FKA twigs, due out on Nov. 8
  • Miss_Anthrop0cene by Grimes, hopefully out in November

How was your month of October? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you most looking forward to in November? Share in the comments.

The Brokenwood Mysteries, Series 1

Each Wednesday (at least every few months at this point) either my wife and/or I share what we are watching (either together or separately) in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” 

This week, I watched The Brokenwood Mysteries, Series 1 on Hoopla through the Free Library of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, I’ll have to stop there until next month as the library only allows borrowing four items per month with Hoopla. Luckily, though the first season was four episodes so I was able to watch all of the first season, with my wife joining in on some and enjoying them as well.

The show begins with Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd (Neill Rea) coming to the small town of Brokenwood in New Zealand to investigate a murder, and I was immediately hooked when he popped in a cassette of country music to the tape deck in his vintage but not-much-to-look-at car. The music for me sets the tone of the show and is brilliantly used, but beyond that, the characters not least of all including Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland) and Jarded Morehu, Shepherd’s Maori neighbor (Pana Hema Taylor) are…well…fun to hang out with for about an hour and a half each episode. For me, I was looking for a break from Midsomer Murders, which after watching 10 seasons of, I’m growing weary. This was, and is, the perfect antidote.

So how about you? Watching any good TV or movies this past week? Share in the comments.

Pushing Forward Back September/October 2019

September started well as I had four days off for the Labor Day Weekend. To start the weekend, I read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run, which continues my year of reading mostly great books. On the fourth day, Tuesday, my wife and I went on a day trip to Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, which includes three wineries and a brewery, and it was a beautiful day for it.

After tagging Three Brothers on Instagram before my birthday in June, they gave me two free tasting passports for five flights of wine, beer, and cider at each of the wineries and the brewery. The only thing we paid for was the gas to get there, our lunch at their restaurant on site and some wine that we got (but of course).

The following week, I had a follow up for my left knee after getting three gel injections at the end of July and start of August. As a result, I am having arthroscopic surgery on October 22 on my knee to check, and repair, if needed, my meniscus which was diagnosed earlier this summer as “degenerative” from osteoarthritis. This surgery is in addition to another medical procedure, a colonoscopy since I just turned 50 in June, that I am having on October 14 and a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test I am having on October 15.

The third week brought a visit from Joe, a college roommate, mid-week during which we binge-watched the first season of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, available on Hulu. I had started watched it earlier in the week but when Joe told me he had seen part of it, but never got to see all of it, I stopped watching so we could watch together. However, once we started it, he realized it was another version, just called Dirk Gently, that he had seen, not this particular one. We enjoyed it, though I had never read the book, but it was, and is, very weird. I usually don’t “go” for that kind of weird science fiction “thing,” but I went with it and surprisingly liked it.

The fourth week, my wife and I celebrated Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday on Monday by watching his New York City concert from 2001. Then on Friday, I had the day off from work before working my Saturday for the month. On Friday, I listened to Sturgill Simpson’s new album Sound and Fury, which is very unlike his previous two albums, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Sound and Fury definitely is that, full of the sound and fury of rock and roll, whereas the first two were country and, dare I say it, pop music.

Tomorrow, I plan on rounding out the month by going to a birthday party for my soon-to-be 5-year-old niece Grace. Her birthday is in the middle of the week so the party is tomorrow.

Also Read

  • The Curse of the Pharaohs, the second Amelia Peabody mystery, by Elizabeth Peters, which was good, but not as good as Born To Run.

Also Watched

  • Friday Night Dinner (3 seasons), with my wife – hilarious
  • Rocketman (movie), with my wife – very good
  • Booksmart (movie), with my wife – surprisingly good (a Superbad but with girls and funnier)

Also Listened To

  • Norman F***ing Rockwell by Lana Del Rey, out at the beginning of the month.

October is…well, I already told you about my surgery…event-filled. And while the main event, the surgery, isn’t necessarily fun, I believe it is necessary and hopefully will help alleviate the pain in my knee. The other event in the month to which I’m more looking forward to is Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, which is Saturday, Oct. 26. It also happens to occur during my two week convalescence after the surgery.

Topping the list are two books apropos for a weekend so close to Halloween:

  • The Unforeseen by Dorothy McCardle
  • The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb.

The first is a recommendation from a friend, who also recommended to me I read McCardle’s The Uninvited, her first novel, which I did and enjoyed. Now I’m going to give her second novel a go. The second is the basis for one of my wife’s favorite movies of the same name, starring Robert Mitchum…which I probably will find somewhere online and watch with my wife during my downtime.

Besides reading, and medical appointments and procedures, that covers most of my October, I think.

Also To Read

  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer, which I started earlier in the month.
  • The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland, which I picked up while “shelf-reading” at the library.

To Watch

  • Mindhunter, Season 2, on Netflix now
  • Good Omens, Season 1, on Amazon Prime now
  • Schitt’s Creek, Season 5, on Netflix Oct. 10
  • Letterkenny, Season 7, on Hulu Oct. 14

To Listen To

  • All Mirrors by Angel Olsen, due out Oct. 4
  • Ode To Joy by Wilco, also due out Oct. 4
  • Magdalene by FKA Twigs, due out Oct. 25

I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention one other book I plan on reading this coming month: A Story To Tell by my sister, Lisa Howeler. She self-published it and as of September 19, her birthday, it is available for purchase on Amazon. Oh, happy belated birthday, Lisa, if I didn’t mention it. 😉

How was your month of September? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you most looking forward to in October? Share in the comments.