Monday, July 28, 2014

Germaine Greer's six favorite books

Germaine Greer is an Australian academic and journalist, and a major feminist voice of the mid-twentieth century. She earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1967. Greer's ideas have created controversy ever since The Female Eunuch became an international bestseller in 1970. She is the author of many other books including Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility (1984); The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause (1991); Shakespeare's Wife (2007); and The Whole Woman (1999).

Greer's new memoir, White Beech, is an account of the decade she spent converting land that was once a dairy farm back to its primeval state.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Wild Trees by Richard Preston

In 2008, I was lucky enough to come across The Wild Trees in an airport bookstall. This is the ripping tale of the coastal redwoods of California and the people who climb them. It is as true as a book can be.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Wild Trees is among the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books on trees and Michelle Nijhuis's 15 green books to take to the beach.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Top ten animal villains

Piers Torday was born in Northumberland, which is possibly the one part of England where more animals live than people. After working as a producer and writer in theatre, live comedy and TV, he now lives in London where there are more animals than you might think. His book The Last Wild was released in the US in March and is followed by the sequel, The Dark Wild.

One of Torday's top ten animal villains, as shared at the Guardian:
Napoleon from Animal Farm by George Orwell

Not technically a children’s book, as some thought at the time, but one I enjoyed as a child – although I feared the tyrannical pig Napoleon, “the rather fierce looking Berkshire boar, with a reputation for getting his own way” who promises equality for all beasts but ends up living like a human in the farmhouse, at their expense.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Animal Farm is one of Robson Green's six best books, Heather Brooke's five books on holding power to account, Chuck Klosterman's most important books; it appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pigs in literature and Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of well-known and beloved science fiction and fantasy novels that were rejected over and over.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that changed Dav Pilkey

Dav Pilkey has written and illustrated numerous popular, award-winning books for children, including the Captain Underpants and Dumb Bunnies series.

One of five books that changed him, as shared with the Sydney Morning Herald:
Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak

This was the first book to have a huge effect on me. My mother wouldn't let me read it because she thought the scary-looking creatures would give me nightmares. My church library had a copy, though, and I'd sneak it every chance I got. There was something wonderfully forbidden about this experience. I had to hide behind a desk to read it, and the thrill of getting caught made the book seem even more exciting. As an adult, I appreciate this book even more. The illustrations seem just as groundbreaking today as they were when the book came out more than 50 years ago.
Read about the other books on the list.

Where the Wild Things Are is among Molly Schoemann-McCann's five favorite fictional creatures, Michael Rosen's six best books, Jessica Ahlberg's top ten family-themed picture books, Edward Carey's top ten writer/illustrators, Sara Maitland's top ten books of the forest, and Anthony Browne's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ten favorite fictional feminists

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ester Bloom tagged ten favorite fictional feminists, including:
Dr. Maud Bailey (Possession, by A. S. Byatt)

Overlook, if you would, the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow played her in the movie version, and Maud becomes much easier to identify with. A passionate scholar and keen literary detective, Maud finds love without letting that goal displace her desire to be successful and taken seriously.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Possession also appears on Niall Williams's list of ten of the best books that manage to make heroes out of readers, Kyle Minor's list of fifteen of the hottest affairs in literature, Emily Temple's list of the fifty greatest campus novels ever written, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best fossils in literature, ten of the most memorable libraries in literature, ten of the best fictional poets, ten of the best locks of hair in fiction, ten of the best graveyard scenes in fiction, and ten of the best lawyers in literature, and on Rachel Syme's list of the ten most attractive men in literature, Christina Koning's critic's chart of six top romances, and Elizabeth Kostova's top ten list of books for winter nights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five top books on cycling

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on cycling:
The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance by David Herlihy

Writes Paul Di Filippo of David Herlihy's history of Franz Lenz: "One of the posers -- they are all amateur bicycle fanatics from the Victorian era -- shows a mild resemblance to the young Paul Newman. He is Frank Lenz, twenty-four years old, and he has conceived of the grand and bold notion of cycling alone entirely around the globe. He will never succeed, meeting a mysterious death in Turkey: a death that will induce further heroics from one of his peers." When Lenz, inspired by a fellow cyclist's 1887 bike trek around the world, sets off on a transcontinental jaunt of his own, an international incident and incredible story of mystery, tragedy, and touching camaraderie-in-memoriam begins.
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see John Mullan's list of ten of the best bicycles in literature, Marjorie Kehe's list of ten great books about cycling, Matt Seaton's top 10 books about cycling, and William Fotherham's top ten cycling novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten injustices inflicted on fictional characters

Jonathan Meres is based in Edinburgh. A former stand-up comedian, he has won a Time Out award for comedy and was nominated for The Perrier Award. Having left behind his stand-up days, Meres now classifies himself as a writer and an actor, strictly in that order.

For the Guardian he shared his top ten books that are so unfair, including:
Matilda by Roald Dahl

When it comes to being treated unfairly, Matilda Wormwood has been there, done that and got the proverbial t-shirt. Well, she would have got the t-shirt, except Miss Trunchbull - a headmistress who makes Mr. Sir from [Louis Sachar's] Holes look like Alan Bennet – and who wreaks revenge on her pupils for the mildest of misdemeanours - would have probably confiscated it. Just as well then for the fragrant Miss Honey. And for Matilda's special powers of course. They always come in handy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Matilda appears among Sara Jonsson's seven worst fictional kids to babysit, Nicole Hill's ten top fictional tricksters, Chrissie Gruebel's top ten actually insane children’s book characters, Jeremy Strong's ten funniest fictional families, James Dawson's top ten books to get you through high school, and Christopher Timothy's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Top ten holidays in fiction

Emma Straub is the author of the novels The Vacationers and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, and the short story collection Other People We Married. One of her top ten holidays in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

For some, vacations are all about sex – that is certainly the case for Salter's couple, an American man and a French woman, on the go. They cavort (clothed, unclothed, in this position and that) and drink and talk, clearly loth to return to their daily lives. This book makes the 1960s in provincial France look like the place to go.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Sport and a Pastime is among Thomas H. Cook's five must reads on the writing life, Adam Ross's favorite books under 200 pages, Lorin Stein's six Paris Review book picks, and Jeff Gordinier's list of five books that will make you question the wisdom of ever falling in love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top ten unlikely heroes

SF Said is an award-winning author. He was born in Lebanon in 1967, but has lived in London since he was 2 years old. His novels include Varjak Paw (2003), the sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw (2005), and PHOENIX (2013), an epic space adventure for readers of 9 and up.

For the Guardian, Said tagged his ten favorite "underdogs who come good and save the day," including:
Katniss in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I'm in the early stages of writing my next book now – and yes, it features an unlikely hero! So it's good to read stories which remind me how exciting that can be. I love Katniss as a character. She's always up against enormous odds. She prevails partly because Suzanne Collins had the genius idea of making her deadly with the bow and arrow; but more, because of her amazing resilience. Whatever life throws at Katniss Everdeen, she keeps going, and never gives up. I find that very inspiring, because that's exactly what you need if you want to write books.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on Rebecca Jane Stokes's top eight list of books perfect for reality TV fiends, Chrissie Gruebel's list of favorite fictional fashion icons, Lucy Christopher's top ten list of literary woods, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best books with teenage narrators, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seven books that are not beach reading

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Rebecca Jane Stokes tagged seven books not to bring to the beach, including:
On The Beach, by Nevil Shute

Ain’t nobody handles the apocalyptic genre like an Australian, and Nevil Shute is no exception. This book takes place on the beach…where a bunch of survivors are quietly waiting to be killed by nuclear radiation. There isn’t enough sunscreen in the world to make this lighthearted reading.
Read about the other entries on the list.

On the Beach is among Ben H. Winters's three books to read before the end of the world, Sloane Crosley's five depressing beach reads, and Michael Evans's top six books on nuclear war.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dean Koontz's five favorite books

Dean Koontz's new novel is The City.

One of his five favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Both cities in this classic are portrayed with Dickens's talent for detail. His Paris in revolution is chilling. Madame Defarge is one of the great monsters of literature. The last scene and final sentence are deeply moving, as is the author's insistence that totalitarian politics doesn't have the power to eradicate love from the world.
Read about the other books on the list.

A Tale of Two Cities also appears on Maya Angelou's six favorite books list, Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on revolutions, Paulette Jiles's list of her 12 favorite books, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best doppelgängers in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sixteen of the funniest books

Some staff members at Publishers Weekly their favorite funny books. The entry tagged by Judith Rosen, New England correspondent:
Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov

If I were to be honest with myself, the funniest book I ever read is a Mad Libs, which I encountered decades ago at summer camp. Later, I discovered a different kind of humor, not so much laugh out loud, but with lines that make you nudge the person next to you until they stop what they’re doing. Then you insist that you just want to read them one line, and the next thing you know you’re doing it again. Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov, which I read in college in what was then a “new" translation by Ann Dunningan was such a book. In fact I still have the yellowing 95¢ Signet Classic edition. The very idea of a healthy 30-something-year-old man who spent the better part of his life in bed wearing his “authentic oriental robe” struck me then and now as hilarious. And he didn’t even have Angry Birds to while away his time. I’m sure I missed many of the layers of meaning about Russian society, but the idea of a person incapable of exerting himself to cut the pages of a book he wants to read, to figure out what to do about his impending eviction, or to decide whether to get up spoke to my teenage sensibility directly, and still does.
Read about the other books on the list.

Oblomov is among John Sutherland's top ten overlooked novels, Alexandra Silverman's eight top examples of sloth in literature, Francine du Plessix Gray's five favorite fictional portraits of idleness and lassitude and Emrys Westacott's five best books on bad habits.

The Page 69 Test: Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Top ten books of the Midlands

Sathnam Sanghera is a British journalist and author of Marriage Material: A Novel and The Boy With The Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton. He claims "there is certain way of thinking and writing when you are neither from the north or the south, when you live in an English urban, multicultural setting which is not London," and tagged ten top books that capture that mindset, including:
Nice Work by David Lodge

If there is one thing that runs through Midlands literature – and this list, as it happens – it is humour. I suspect this is a consequence of geography: Midlanders are never not aware that they live in an aesthetically-challenged part of the country. And no one harnesses this self-deprecation better than David Lodge. A great comic novel, from one of our best comic novelists.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue