Saturday, November 17, 2018

Ellie Kemper's ten desert island books

Ellie Kemper is the Emmy-nominated star of the Netflix original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She portrayed Erin Hannon on NBC’s The Office; costarred in Bridesmaids; and has also appeared in 21 Jump Street, Identity Thief, and Somewhere. Kemper voiced Katie in The Secret Life of Pets and is the voice of Crackle on Disney’s Sofia the First. Her writing has appeared in GQ, Esquire, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and The Onion. Kemper currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and son, but is constantly trying to find a way to get back to St. Louis. My Squirrel Days is her first book.

One of Kemper's ten favorite books, as shared at
Working by Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel was a radio host in Chicago who also wrote fantastic oral histories about 20th-century America by interviewing regular people about their lives. He covered the Great Depression in Hard Times; World War II in The Good War; and, in this book, what people’s jobs mean to them. His books are invaluable time capsules of how Americans in previous generations spoke and thought about themselves.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Working is among Whitney Collins's nine indispensable books for college graduates, Roman Krznaric and John-Paul Flintoff's top ten books new graduates can turn to for practical insights about the real world, Sheila Heti's top ten books that began as speech, and Daniel H. Pink's six favorite books about work.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 16, 2018

Nine mysteries with unconventional investigators

Erica Wright's latest crime novel The Blue Kingfisher is filled with "substance, entertainment, and chills-a-plenty" according to The Seattle Review of Books. Her debut, The Red Chameleon, was one of O, The Oprah Magazine's Best Books of Summer 2014. She is also the author of the poetry collections Instructions for Killing the Jackal and All the Bayou Stories End with Drowned. She is the poetry editor and a senior editor at Guernica Magazine as well as a former editorial board member for Alice James Books.

At CrimeReads Wright tagged nine mysteries that challenge our expectations for crime fighters, including:
99 Ways to Die by Ed Lin

Lin’s Taipei Night Market series stars Jing-nan, a food stand operator who finds himself drawn—and occasionally dragged—into more dangerous work. In this third installment, Jing-nan is being blackmailed to investigate the kidnapping of a high-profile billionaire. The victim and his champion are not particularly sympathetic, and Lin never shies away from the complicated politics of Taiwan. His books are smart and richly detailed. Lin offers truly original contributions to the crime series landscape.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Top ten novels about the First World War

Daniel Mason is a physician and author of The Piano Tuner (2002), A Far Country (2007), and The Winter Soldier ​(2018). His work has been translated into 28 languages and adapted for opera and theater. A Far Country was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Northern California Book Award. His short stories and essays have appeared in Harper’s, Zoetrope: All Story and Lapham’s Quarterly; in 2014 he was a recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A Clinical Assistant Professor in the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry, his research and teaching interests include the subjective experience of mental illness and the influence of literature, history, and culture on the practice of medicine.

One of Mason's top ten novels about the First World War, as shared at the Guardian:
The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek

Hašek’s meandering, unfinished comedy tells the story of a dog thief turned soldier, who blusters, pranks and malingers his way through the early days of the war. Some of the sequences are so funny I often found myself laughing out loud, but the darkness of the humour only highlights the suffering of those caught up in the conflict. Here, the unrelenting portrayals of a cynical bureaucracy extend Švejk’s lessons beyond the first world war, and to all wars, offering a sardonic blueprint for resistance against the structures of faceless power.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Good Soldier Svejk is among Michael Honig's top ten satires and Tim Pears's top ten 20th-century political novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Five SFF books drawn from neglected histories

Ausma Zehanat Khan's books include The Bloodprint, the first book in the Khorasan Archives, and its sequel to The Black Khan. At she tagged five sci-fi & fantasy books drawn from neglected histories, including:
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

In Tasha Suri’s remarkable debut, the writing is richly evocative, the world delicately drawn—a place of legends and hard devotional truths, told from the perspective of Mehr, a noblewoman, who exists simultaneously as a person of high status and no status at all. As the illegitimate daughter of the governor of Jah Irinah, Mehr is used to luxury, sheltered from the eyes of men, allowed to make her own choice in marriage. But she is also the descendant of an Amrithi mother, a tribe of outcasts whose only value to the empire lies in the magic of their blood, and in the rites they dance. Once her gifts at controlling the dreamfire become known to the Maha, a powerful mystic, she is coerced into marriage with a fellow Amrithi dancer. Mehr is as resolved and determined in who she is at her father’s court, as she becomes among the mystics—her act of claiming her sacred rites for herself is a means of defiance against those who seek to control her. All the more compelling in the midst of this, is that Mehr develops a relationship of equals with her Amrithi husband; Amun is compassionate and tender despite the mystics’ efforts to turn him into a monster. As the author says of the tales of the Mughal Empire that inspired her: “It was all opulence and colour and sword fights and romance. I wanted to capture a bit of that fantasy, that spinning of history into something compelling but not entirely real: too bright, too rich, too lush. I wanted to take that magic and actually write about magic.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Four books that changed A.S. Patrić

Australian writer AS Patrić is the author of the novels Black Rock White City, for which he won the Miles Franklin award in 2016, and Atlantic Black. His latest book is The Butcherbird Stories. One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky was my Brando. "I am a sick man … I am a wicked man." I heard the opening lines from Notes From Underground in the Apocalypse Now whisper of General Kurtz. Brando didn't seem to be merely playing a half-mad genius; and neither did Dostoevsky. I'd found an author purely driven by truth and reality, no matter the character or story. The Russian master's voice emerged from the pages, raw and manifest – absolutely authentic.
Read about the other books Patrić tagged.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that reveal how Russia influences the world

Luke Harding is the author of Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. At the Guardian he tagged five books that reveal how Russia influences the world, including:
The election of Donald Trump in 2016 inspired a slew of books on Russian interference. One of the best is The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder – a brisk, conceptually convincing account of democracy’s retreat in the early years of the 21st century, and authoritarianism’s giddy rise.

Putin, according to Snyder, is the world’s leading exporter of the “politics of eternity”. Russia (or America) is an eternal victim. All politicians lie, the idea of progress an illusion, and truth unimportant. Trump, in this reading, is Putin’s willing pupil: an exponent of mythical, grudge-based politics and emotive nationalism.
Read about the other books Harding tagged.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 12, 2018

Jeff Tweedy's six favorite books

As the founding member and leader of the American rock band Wilco, and before that the cofounder of the alt-country band Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy is one of contemporary American music’s most accomplished songwriters, musicians, and performers.

His new book is Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc.

One of Tweedy's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders (2005)

I have no idea how my friend George Saunders gets language to do the things he gets it to do, mixing internal and external dialogue while achieving a depth and accuracy I've never encountered in anyone else's writing. He makes even jargon sound soulful. Like the Robert Coover book below [The Public Burning], this novella has an uncomfortably timely resonance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Nine mysteries set in the immediate aftermath of WWI

J. Kingston Pierce edits The Rap Sheet, a blog focused on crime fiction, writes the book design-oriented blog Killer Covers, and is a columnist for Down & Out: The Magazine. At CrimeReads he tagged nine "crime and espionage stories whose action occurs within the first half-decade of the war’s finish," including:
The Second Rider by Alex Beer, translated by Tim Mohr (2018)

Like the city he serves—Vienna, former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—Inspector August Emmerich has been brought low by the Great War. He has a wounded leg that’s left him ingesting pain meds such as heroin, and that he fears will curtail his dream of joining an elite major-crimes unit. His lover has just learned her husband didn’t die in battle after all, and she’s decided to return to his side. And Emmerich has been saddled with a naïve partner, Ferdinand Winter, who he fears will spoil his opportunities for recognition as a crime solver. Actually, the inspector’s inclination toward disobedience and obstinacy might be equal handicaps in that regard. He and Winter are tasked with crushing a smuggling ring that operates partly out of the city’s sewers and is run by one of Emmerich’s boyhood pals, Veit Kolja…but the inspector is more interested in pursuing a seemingly unconnected sequence of deaths, which have been passed off as suicides or the consequence of mishaps. He’s sure those men were murdered, but can’t ascertain how they knew each other, or why their mouths were stained yellow. Emmerich’s resolve to prove his conclusions will result in his becoming a wanted man, and ultimately his turning for assistance to Winter and Kolja. Beer’s character development and portrayal of postwar Vienna’s economic divisions may push her English-language debut onto many best-of-the-year book lists.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fifty of the greatest debut SFF novels ever written

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged fifty of the greatest debut sci-fi and fantasy novels ever written, including:
Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee (2016)

Like many of the authors on this list, Lee was initially known for his shifting, strange short fiction (much of it collected in Conservation of Shadows), which raised expectations for his novel-length debut. When it arrived, it did not disappoint: Ninefox Gambit is a remarkably assured debut, one of those books that is difficult to summarize, or even to grasp upon that first, confounding read. The book is set in a universe with a “consensus reality” shaped by the shared, very rigid beliefs of its inhabitants, and controlled by numbers, equations, and other mathematical processes. Reality itself is therefore governed by an accepted application of formula—but the story pivots on the question: what happens if there’s a rebellion of thought? The answer is revealed in a book unlike any other. All three books in the Machineries of Empire trilogy were Hugo nominated, with good reason.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Ninefox Gambit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 9, 2018

Five books where we're unsure which side we’re supposed to be rooting for

Marissa Meyer lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and their three cats. Her new novel is Archenemies, book two in the Renegades trilogy.

At she tagged five "books that test our loyalties at every turn," including:
Legend by Marie Lu

In a futuristic version of the United States called The Republic, Day is the country’s most wanted criminal, while June is an elite military prodigy. When June’s older brother is killed and Day becomes the prime suspect, June makes it her mission to hunt him down. What follows is a battle of wits as Day and June attempt to stay one step ahead of each other… until they begin to uncover a series of lies and secrets that could suggest their goals aren’t so different after all. Legend is a thrilling page turner, but what sets it apart in the world of dystopians is the amount of heart and humanity Marie Lu brings to all her characters, and the ways in which Day and June are ultimately able to bridge the gap between distrust and empathy, despite the mounting struggles between them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Nine novels that tell the story of heroin and opioid abuse in America

CrimeReads senior editor Dwyer Murphy tagged nine novels that tell the story of heroin and opioid abuse in America. One title on the list:
John Burdett, The Godfather of Kathmandu

Burdett’s long-running Bangkok series is a truly uncanny outlier in the current landscape of global crime fiction. His stories, which straddle cultures, languages, and religions, are vivid hallucinations of daily life in Bangkok, where vice reigns and the locals are fiercely independent thinkers, beholden to no western codes of conduct or morality. In The Godfather of Kathmandu, Burdett’s part-Thai, part-American detective, Sonchai Jitpleecheep is caught up in a heroin smuggling ring that brings together Thai police, Tibetan exiles, Chinese loyalists, Americans on the prowl, and hustlers both local and international. The drugs touch all strata of society, and the long history of opium smuggling out of southeast Asia flashes through with a cruel, quick power.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Godfather of Kathmandu.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Ten of the best modern Victorian novels

Paraic O’Donnell is a writer of fiction, poetry and criticism.

His essays and reviews have appeared in the Guardian, The Spectator, the Irish Times and elsewhere. His first novel, The Maker of Swans, was named the Amazon Rising Stars Debut of the Month for February 2016, and was shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards in the Newcomer of the Year category. O’Donnell's latest novel is The House on Vesper Sands.

One of the author's ten top modern Victorian novels, as shared at the Guardian:
Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge (1998)

Shortlisted for the Booker prize five times, it was not until after her death in 2010 that Bainbridge was finally honoured with a specially created award. Although it was chosen from among her novels by a popular vote, Master Georgie is one of Bainbridge’s most challenging and austere works. Indeed, she herself remarked that most people needed to read it three times before they understood it. She may have been right. With its carefully modulated perspectives and slyly observed details, this refracted Bildungsroman follows a young surgeon’s almost helpless progress towards the muck and depravity of the Crimean war, and it reveals new and brilliant facets no matter how often you come back to it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Master Georgie was Erica Wagner's bad Booker beat.

--Marshal Zeringue