Katie’s Corner: Notes From Argentina

sunset vista in argentina

El Calafate, Argentina, Friday morning at 6:20 a.m.

From gripping novels to trending true crime.

Hi friends! While you’re reading this, we’re winding our way back to NYC after an incredible 10 days in Argentina! I can’t wait to tell you all about it, which I’ll do soon via social media and Wake-Up Call. (Is this the modern equivalent of asking someone to come to their house to see the slides from their vacation with a Kodak Carousel projector?) Even though Molner and I both caught colds (he gave it to me but I still love him), it was an exquisite trip.

There was a lot of travel and a little downtime, so to start, I’m sharing the books and shows we enjoyed along the way.

Katie’s picks

I read a wonderful book by Roger Rosenblatt called Kayak Morning — it seemed appropriate since one morning we went kayaking — which I highly recommend.  It’s a meditation on life (including love, grief, and small boats, as the subtitle specifies). Roger is a beautiful writer and such a learned man. This book reads like poetry. It’s anchored by the death of his daughter Amy. He wrote another book on grief called Making Toast, which I’m anxious to read when I get home. He’s written for myriad publications including TIME magazine, and he once called me “America’s grief counselor” because I so often interviewed people who had faced tragedy when I anchored The TODAY Show.  I think he appreciated my empathy in those situations. 

I wanted to recommend two documentaries we watched on Netflix while we were traveling. One was called The Greatest Night in Pop, all about the iconic recording of “We Are the World” back in 1984. It was amazing to get behind the scenes to witness so many iconic artists gathering to collaborate on this extraordinary effort that raised more than $60 million in humanitarian aid for Africa. It was also a reminder of how many great ones we’ve lost recently: Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Tina Turner, and Harry Belafonte, to name a few. What a wonderful trip down memory lane and what now seems like a simpler, more compassionate time when people of all backgrounds could come together to focus on an important issue.

We also watched American Nightmare, a documentary that unravels a maddening miscarriage of justice involving an awful but bizarre crime that led law enforcement officials, the media, and society at large to rush to judgment from the get-go all because the crime resembled a popular novel turned movie that had come out around that time. Nothing happened to the cops who so mishandled the case. Perhaps their actions will be revisited now…I hope so.

Another short film that’s worth your time comes from the doyenne of documentaries, Sheila Nevins. Sheila has produced over 500 documentaries, but her new short film, The ABCs of Book Banning, is her directorial debut — and it’s nominated for an Oscar. In 2022, the United States saw the highest number of attempted book bans since the American Library Association started keeping records more than 20 years ago, and many of the titles are beloved coming-of-age stories you may recognize. The documentary is available on Amazon Prime if you want a half-hour primer on this critically important topic.

On deck is Bill Bradley: Rolling Along on MAX. I’ve always deeply admired Bill Bradley, a two-time NBA champion, Olympic gold medalist, former U.S. senator, and a Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 2000. MAX just released a documentary about his life and I can’t wait to watch it when I get home. 

Molner also caught up on some reading. So, I will turn it over to him now…Molner?

John’s picks

Thanks, Katie! Nice handoff. I had a few books with me for our trip, including one about Argentina, and a bestselling biography on Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Arman Katayan. But in between hikes, kayaking, meals, and sightseeing, I ripped through Harlan Coben’s thriller I Will Find You.

John reading a Harlan Cohen book in Argentina

Harlan is a master storyteller —  and this is a really fun read. Many of you have likely already read this book or others by Harlan — after all, he’s written over 30 of them. Or you might have seen one of the Netflix series based on his bestsellers. This one tells the story of a young father who’s convicted of brutally murdering his 3-year-old son. From the opening pages, we know he’s not a baby killer — but amid overwhelming grief (and some cooked-up bull-sh*t evidence), he accepts his fate. That is…until five years later when a visitor shares a photo that includes a blurry current image of what appears to be his son. This sets the stage for him to find his kid. 

It’s a fun, wild ride and a real page-turner.

Thanks Molner! We had a fantastic time but it’s always good to come home. Have a great weekend everyone! I’ll be spending it recovering from our vacation!