Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Five top books where the girl saves the boy

Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series, from Tor Teen. Ironskin, her first fantasy novel, was a Nebula finalist.

At Tor.com she tagged five top books where the girl saves the boy, including:
Hermione and her two plucky sidekicks in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

Hermione’s usually saving the boys through her brains, not through her muscles—but in the Harry Potter world, of course, your brains direct your magic, which is far more powerful than any punch to the face. When I was writing this essay up I was informed that Hermione might not count because she’s a big know-it-all, to which, in defense of other know-it-alls, I explained that one can be a big know-it-all and still save the boys-who-have-yet-again-failed-to-study from their own idiocy. In fact, being a big know-it-all is generally Hermione’s biggest asset, so there.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Harry Potter books made Ginni Chen's list of the eight grinchiest characters in literature, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of fictional workplaces more dysfunctional than yours, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of mothers in children's books, Nicole Hill's list of five of the best fictional bookstores, Sara Jonsson's list of the six most memorable pets in fiction, Melissa Albert's list of more than eight top fictional misfits, Cressida Cowell's list of ten notable mythical creatures, and Alison Flood's list of the top 10 most frequently stolen books.

Neville Longbottom is one of Ellie Irving's top ten quiet heroes and heroines.

Mr. Weasley is one of Melissa Albert's five weirdest fictional crushes.

Hedwig (Harry's owl) is among Django Wexler's top ten animal companions in children's fiction.

Butterbeer is among Leah Hyslop's six best fictional drinks.

Albus Dumbledore is one of Rachel Thompson's ten greatest deaths in fiction.

Hermione Granger is among Nicole Hill's nine best witches in literature and Melissa Albert's top six distractible book lovers in pop culture.

Dolores Umbridge is among Melissa Albert's six more notorious teachers in fiction, Emerald Fennell's top ten villainesses in literature, and Derek Landy's top 10 villains in children's books. The Burrow is one of Elizabeth Wilhide's nine most memorable manors in literature.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban appears on Amanda Yesilbas and Katharine Trendacosta's list ot twenty great insults from science fiction & fantasy and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest prison breaks in science fiction and fantasy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone also appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best owls in literature, ten of the best scars in fiction and ten of the best motorbikes in literature, and Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, Charlie Higson's top 10 list of fantasy books for children, Justin Scroggie's top ten list of books with secret signs as well as Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of well-known and beloved science fiction and fantasy novels that publishers didn't want to touch. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire made Chrissie Gruebel's list of six top fictional holiday parties and John Mullan's list of ten best graveyard scenes in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 4, 2015

Top ten underrated or forgotten children's classics

Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator and the author of a new edition of The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature.

At the Guardian he tagged his top ten underrated or forgotten children's classics, including:
There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent

One of my favourites when I was small, and like any personal favourite I simply cannot understand why it’s not everyone else’s favourite, too! It’s the story of a small boy called Billy Bixbee, who wakes up one morning to find a very small dragon in his room – but his mother won’t believe him, saying very sensibly “There’s no such thing as a dragon”. But then, bit by bit, page by page, the dragon starts to grow… This book isn’t all that easy to find nowadays (I’ve given so many as presents I feel I may have bought most of the existing copies myself…) but it’s worth hunting down – it’s so very good. (And though, yes, it’s for relatively young children, there are bits that still make me laugh and I’m 41.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: The 11 greatest children’s books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The ten best T. S. Eliot poems

Robert Crawford is the author of Scotland’s Books and the coeditor of The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse. A fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the British Academy, he is the Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews. The Bard, his biography of Robert Burns, was awarded the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year 2009. Crawford’s six poetry collections include The Tip of My Tongue and Full Volume, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. Crawford's new book is Young Eliot: From St. Louis to "The Waste Land".

One entry on Crawford's list of the ten best T. S. Eliot poems:
“Marina”

“Marina” is Eliot’s most beautiful poem. Read it aloud. Its music is full of longing, and tidal in its ebbs and flows. Drawing on all the small-boat sailing Eliot had done off the New England coast in his youth, it’s wonderfully echoic, and contains daring technical devices that fascinate the ear: Eliot rhymes, for instance, not just across the breaks between verse paragraphs but also repeatedly within the lines. The breaks in the verse signal separation, the rhymes connection: the whole poem operates in the tension between connectedness and separation. It may be a religious poem, but it’s also a poem about longing for a child. The title, suggesting boats and the sea, is also the name of a lost daughter in Shakespeare’s Pericles: that particular Marina is presumed drowned, but then she’s discovered alive; the epigraph comes from a play by Seneca in which a father finds his children have been killed. Is the daughter in Eliot’s “Marina” real or only imagined? The poem was written at a difficult time when the poet was coming to terms with his own childlessness.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Listen to Eliot read "Marina."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thirty of the best books written by millennials

At Refinery29 Emily Temple tagged thirty of the best books written by millennials, including:
Gutshot by Amelia Gray

You couldn't accuse Gray's third collection of false advertising: the 38 short tales within will indeed leave you feeling gutshot — in the best of ways. Dark, fable-like, and full of viscera both emotional and physical, these stories are grotesque jewels that will haunt you, terrify you, and touch your heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The five essential Saul Bellow novels

Zachary Leader is Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University in Great Britain, and the author of The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964. One of Bellow's five must-read novels, as Leader shared at the Guardian:
Herzog (1964)

“Dear Doctor Professor, I should like to know what you mean by the expression ‘the fall into the quotidian’. When did this fall occur? Where were we standing when it happened?” This urgent appeal, addressed to Martin Heidegger, comes from Moses Herzog, in the grip of mania. Like other letters Moses writes (to Nietzsche, Spinoza, Governor Stevenson, President Eisenhower, Freud, God, his doctor, his shrink) it is never sent. Moses is an intellectual historian, author of a book entitled Romanticism and Christianity, and his letters overflow with erudite allusion and reflection. Far from limiting the novel’s appeal, the letters helped to account for its commercial success, sparked by the approving attention they received from reviewers. Herzog spent 42 weeks on the bestseller lists and sold 142,000 in hardback. That Herzog’s learning does him no good may also help to account for the novel’s appeal. When put to the test – betrayed by wife and best friend – the lessons of high culture simply don’t apply. “That’s where the comedy comes from,” Bellow writes. “What do you propose to do now your wife has taken a lover?” Herzog asks. “Pull Spinoza from the shelf and look into what he says about adultery?” Where was Spinoza when Moses married a woman who really does “eat green salad and drink human blood”? Where was he when her lover smarmed his way into Herzog’s confidence? Moses comes to terms with the reality of his situation over the course of an artfully plotted recovery, both moving and funny. In addition, there are brilliant scenes from Herzog’s Montreal childhood, as memorable and autobiographical as anything Bellow ever wrote.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Herzog also appears on Eli Gottlieb's list of the top 10 literary scenes from the battle of the sexes, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best taxis in literature and ten of the best bad lawyers in literature, and Rebecca Goldstein's list of the five best novels of ideas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed S.J. Watson

S.J. Watson is the author of Before I Go To Sleep and Second Life.

One of four books that changed him, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood

When I read this I had no expectations and knew nothing about Atwood, but when I finished it I thought "Wow" and instantly decided I needed to reconnect with my desire to be an author. In many ways this book began the process that saw me write Before I Go to Sleep.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Handmaid's Tale made Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature, Guy Lodge's list of ten of the best dystopias in fiction, art, film, and television, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Charlie Jane Anders and Kelly Faircloth's list of the best and worst childbirth scenes in science fiction and fantasy, Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of the top Arthur C. Clarke Award winners, and PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 1, 2015

Six of the best detectives from science fiction literature

Ryan Britt is the author of Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths, forthcoming in fall 2015. One entry on his list of six of the best detectives from science fiction literature, as shared at the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Simone Pierce (Depth, by Lev AC Rosen)

Out this week, the latest novel from genre-bender Lev AC Rosen takes place in a future New York City that is partially submerged thanks to the melting of the polar ice caps. Both a straightforward noir plot-twister and a art heist caper, finds Rosen’s protagonist, private detective Simone Pierce, in search of “The Blonde,” a woman who may or may not have killed her husband and set Simone up for the crime. Sharp, witty, and tough, Simone is a woman we root for not just because she’s in the mystery, but because she seems like a real person.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Top ten books about working life

Joanna Biggs is a writer and editor at the London Review of Books. Her new book is All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain At Work.

One of her top ten books about working life, as shared at the Guardian:
A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark

Nancy Hawkins is the editor-in-chief at Ullswater Press in 1954. The office clock is “unreliable”, the authors ring to complain about not being paid, sandwiches are sent out for and eaten with office-made coffee when it rains, Ivy the typist never lets up, a raincoated man from the (unpaid) printer stares up from the street all week, manuscripts pile up on Mrs Hawkins’s desk and sherry is poured out at 5.30pm. I, needless to say, long to walk into the office of Ullswater Press.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Aman Sethi's five best books on work and working.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Top ten climate change fiction books for young readers

At the Guardian, Sarah Holding, author of the SeaBEAN eco-thriller trilogy, tagged her top ten "cli-fi novels that make you think deeply about the human consequences of climate change," including:
Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Also a debut novel, I loved the bleak, troubled voice of Saba in this story, as she chases across a desolate landscape after the people who took her twin brother Lugh. Buckle up for an epic dystopian road novel with strong characters, spiced with romance and a convincing sense of danger throughout.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ten of the best fictional elections

At the Guardian, John Dugdale tagged ten of the best fictional elections (UK edition), including:
To Play the King by Michael Dobbs (1992)

Dobbs’s better-known House of Cards is about what happens after an election, as is Chris Mullins’s A Very British Coup; whereas here Francis Urquhart, as Tory PM, campaigns in an election where his real opponent is King Charles III, who sees Urquhart’s policies as divisive and lacking in compassion and aligns himself with the opposition.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 27, 2015

Six top books about weddings and marriage

Ellen McCarthy is an award-winning feature writer for the Style section of The Washington Post. She joined the Post in 2000 and wrote about business, technology, arts, and entertainment before launching the paper’s On Love section in 2009. She has interviewed hundreds of couples and written extensively about weddings and relationships. Her first book, The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook, is the culmination of that work.

One of McCarthy's six favorite books about weddings and marriage, as shared at The Week magazine:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The book that taught me that wit and intellect are every bit as attractive as physical beauty. We spend most of Jane Austen's classic watching Elizabeth Bennet spar with Mr. Darcy, even as she unwillingly falls in love with him.
Read about the other books on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Four notable books that changed Kelly Link

Kelly Link is the author of the story collections Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, The Wrong Grave, Pretty Monsters and most recently Get In Trouble.

One of four books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Carmen Dog
Carol Emshwiller

A battle of the sexes novel in which animals begin to turn into women, and women turn into animals. A wife becomes a wolverine. A dog yearns to sing opera at the Metropolitan. Mad scientists! A book I was so crazy about that I eventually republished it through the small press that I run with my husband.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue