News of the Week: America Picks a Book, FilmStruck Fades, and Green Bean Casserole Season Has Begun

In the news for the week ending November 2, 2018, are America’s favorite books, the word Stephen King wants you to stop using, a footballer’s needlepoint, and much more.

A young woman reading a book

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This Is the Book We Love the Most

It’s Fifty Shades of Grey! I knew it was popular, but I really had no idea how much.

Actually, it’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The Harper Lee classic was chosen by viewers of PBS’s The Great American Read as their favorite novel of all time. Other books in the top five are the Outlander series, the Harry Potter series, Pride & Prejudice, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Here’s the full list of the top 100.

Is it really fair to include whole series of books instead of just individual titles? I’m also surprised that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer made the list, but The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn didn’t (though readers apparently wanted to honor the Twilight books that feature good-looking vampires and werewolves).

While it’s great to see books like The Great GatsbyCharlotte’s Web, and Frankenstein on the list, there are dozens that didn’t make it that make me scratch my head. Too many to list here. But it’s not a bad mainstream list. It’s certainly a good starting point if you haven’t read some of the classics (1984) or even some of the beloved contemporary novels (Ready Player One).

Please note that, even though I joked about it, Fifty Shades of Grey did make the list. It’s number 86.

Keep FilmStruck Alive!

If you’re not familiar with it, FilmStruck is a streaming film service that shows classic movies, helps preserve movie history, and brings that history to a new generation of viewers. It’s a collaboration between Turner Classic Movies and The Criterion Collection, and it’s pretty fantastic that something like this exists.

Of course, like all fantastic things, it’s being taken away from us. When AT&T bought WarnerMedia, it decided to get rid of FilmStruck, leaving many fans upset and angry. The last day for the service is November 29.

But wait, you can sign a petition to save it. If the petition reaches its goal of 10,000 people, WarnerMedia will instantly see the error of their ways, apologize, and bring FilmStruck back for its many fans. Well, probably not, but there’s no harm in signing the petition, and it could help. If it doesn’t, here’s a list of alternative services.

Stephen King Wants You to Stop Using This Word

And that word is amazing.

No, I mean the word he doesn’t want you to use actually is amazing. “Amazing is very tired,” King says. “Please don’t write about your amazing party, your amazing girlfriend’s amazing dress, or your amazing vacation. Something more pungent and specific, please.”

He’s probably right. You see the word quite a bit (I blame social media), and it is a rather lazy word to use. It’s right up there with interesting, which I admit to using way too often.

RIP Willie McCovey, Dorcas Reilly, and Tony Joe White

Willie McCovey was a Hall of Fame first baseman for the San Francisco Giants. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1959, was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1969, and went on to appear in six All-Star games. He hit 521 home runs in his career, placing him at number 20 on the all-time list, tied with Ted Williams and Frank Thomas. McCovey died Wednesday at the age of 80.

Dorcas Reilly might not be a household name, but the recipe she created is. You’re probably going to make it for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year: Green Bean Casserole! Created by Reilly in 1955 when she worked for Campbell’s Soup, it was originally called the Green Bean Bake. Reilly died in October at the age of 92.

Tony Joe White was best known for his hit song “Polk Salad Annie.” He also wrote the Brook Benton classic “Rainy Night in Georgia.” White died last week at the age of 75.

Quote of the Week

On that 18-inning Red Sox/Dodgers World Series game:

This Week in History

Emily Post Born (October 30, 1872)

The etiquette expert’s advice and tips are still being dispensed by The Emily Post Institute, which is run by her family. I first heard about her via the Three Stooges.

War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast (October 30, 1938)

It’s hard to believe now that so many people were tricked by fake news reports of an alien invasion on a radio drama, but it was a different time. Here’s the entire show:

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint (Nov. 1, 1974)

Two football players in mid-tackle, done in needlepoint.
Rosie Grier’s Needlepoint

This is certainly one of the more inventive covers in Post history, created by New York Giants/Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle and needlepoint aficionado Rosey Grier.

Green Bean Casserole Recipe

You can find several variations of the recipe online (I even found one with kale — sigh), but in honor of Dorcas Reilly, you should make the classic from Campbell’s, which has cream of mushroom soup, green beans, milk, French’s Crispy Fried Onions, pepper, and soy sauce.

This is the only thing I’ll ever eat that has mushrooms associated with it. Isn’t that interesting and amazing?

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Daylight Saving Time (November 4)

Don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour before you go to bed Saturday night. Or just leave them alone and tell everyone you live in the future.

Election Day (November 6)

There are lots of important races next Tuesday, and there will be non-stop coverage on all of the major networks and cable news channels. If you need a ride to the polls, you might be able to get a free one, and if you’re throwing an Election Day party (for some reason), Martha Stewart can help.

Here’s a gallery of Post election covers over the years.

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  1. Well, it looks like the popular book choices (over all) are decent. I need to get back to reading more books. I do read a lot of articles from the Post. That should count as A-1 reading, right? I don’t get the whole ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ thing either Bob, but that’s okay; it’s for women.

    I can agree with Stephen King on ‘amazing’, but truthfully its peak of over use was in the 2000’s, and seems to be on the decline. I wish he’d rag on the word “issues” instead. I’ve stated before it’s so overused as THE denial word for PROBLEMS, that it means nothing at all. The only secondary use is to describe what month’s issue of a magazine you’re talking about. It still has use for that.

    On the ‘War of the Worlds’ 1938 debacle, it’s understandable and not at the same time; not unlike Carrie White (of Stephen King’s “Carrie”) being clueless about getting her period. The public should have been used to the radio drama airing weekly at the same time, same station, but they weren’t. When panic and hysteria take hold, common sense and reason goes out the door. People in 2018 are NOT more sophisticated than people in 1938. Many, if not most, are much dumber, lacking the most basic common sense today. Good grief!

    I like Rosie Grier’s classic precision needlepoint cover a lot. Very talented man. Like that Campbell’s Green Bean casserole recipe too. It’s really good. What’s this aversion of yours to mushrooms, Bob? You’re kidding me, right? It’s not like we’re talking about smelly Parmesan, salty anchovies, or the toadstool mushrooms that pop up on front lawns sometimes that could be poisonous. It is interesting and amazing. Thou shalt explain thyself, please.


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