Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ten fictional families you would love to visit this holiday season

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Rebecca Jane Stokes tagged ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, including:
The Bennet Family

You know what? I’d like to have my holidays with the Bennets because I think poor, homely Mary gets a raw deal! I’d go hang out with them, wear a dress that makes me look pregnant and a severe center-parted hairstyle, and listen attentively while she played the piano for hours and hours and hours. I’d also wisely impart to Kitty and Lydia the virtues of the single life, all the while being thankful for the opportunity to ogle Mr. Darcy to my heart’s delight.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on 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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Five long books that deserve their own movie series

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog John Bardinelli tagged five long books that deserve their own movie series, including:
Dune, by Frank Herbert

The sci-fi book to end all sci-fi books. That it hasn’t been turned into a series of movies is something of a miracle/curse, depending how you look at it. David Lynch tried to condense Dune’s 500 pages into a movie back in 1984, but as those haunting memories of Sting in metal underpants constantly remind me, it didn’t go so well. The Sci-Fi Channel (SyFy now) did a miniseries in the early 2000s that covered much of Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune, but it was small budget and didn’t quite capture the philosophical appeal of Herbert’s writing. Then there’s the ill-fated Jodorowsky movie, which, despite its groundbreaking concepts, planned on ditching most of Dune’s events in favor of an interpreted storyline.

Dune is so perfect for the big screen it hurts. It’s got everything a blockbuster should have, including gigantic otherwordly creatures, family vs. family conflicts, a larger than life villain, a protagonist you can totally identify with, and some great messages about humanity. It’s also got everything a good movie should have, such as complex characters and an incredibly rich mythology to explore. The problem is both length and converting Herbert’s cerebral writing style into something the modern moviegoer can appreciate. Dune movies would be an enormous project requiring a custom-engineered director ghola born from an axlotl tank on Tleilax.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Dune is among Mohsin Hamid's five great aliens in literature, Annalee Newitz and Emily Stamm's top ten stories where technology is indistinguishable from magic, Robin Sloan's five science fiction books that matter, Mohsin Hamid's six favorite books, io9's best and worst childbirth scenes in sci-fi & fantasy and top ten science fiction novels you pretend to have read, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best vendettas in literature and ten of the best deserts in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dick Cavett's six favorite books

Dick Cavett contributes regularly to the New York Times's online opinion section. His new book is Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks.

One of the legendary talk-show host's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Act One by Moss Hart

Hart rose from grinding poverty in Brooklyn to the heights of Broadway success in writing and directing. Act One is easily the best show — business autobiography — a riveting story that risks promoting the foolish idea that if you chase your dream and never give in, you will succeed. Bull. A few will. Hart did.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Five top oddball detective novels

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well.

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Somers tagged five detective novels featuring "oddballs who will satisfy your yen for mystery and your yen for surprisingly creative worlds," including:
Inherent Vice, by Thomas Pynchon

Pynchon doesn’t really “do” plots, does he—at least not plots that make any sense in the conventional way. Which makes his decision to write a story structured similarly to a classic private eye story a fascinating one, but it works perfectly. Slacker/stoner detective Doc Sportello is an incredible entry in the category of literary detectives because he’s practically his own client: suffering from memory problems, apparent narcolepsy, and a myriad of other problems staying in sync with the real world, Sportello’s an unreliable narrator, seems aware of the fact, and isn’t troubled by it. While the central mystery is just a way for Pynchon to riff brilliantly for a few hundred pages, there’s a detective story at the core of this sprawling novel—one whose solution will surprise and challenge you. The book also serves as a lament of sorts for a moment in American history when it seemed like the Freaks were winning, which slots right in with the countercultural vibe of most detectives in modern literature.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Five top cop books

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged five cop books that hit the target, including:
Lush Life, by Richard Price

Speaking of The Wire, did you know Richard Price was one of the screenwriters? Known for his sharp, jazzy dialogue and “street cred,” in Lush Life he brings a whole neighborhood to life: the deli owners, deliverymen, and hip young art students who live shoulder to shoulder with the hustlers and gangbangers of New York’s Lower East Side. It’s a volatile mix. When artist Ike Marcus gets stopped on the street one night, he’s too high on life to care. “Not tonight, my man,” he calmly tells his mugger, and a single, fatal bullet is fired. Add a cop with a score to settle and a witness who lies about calling 911, and you’ve got an unforgettable police procedural.
Read about the other books on the list.

Lush Life is one of Gavin Knight's five top books on gang crime.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five books that changed Kimberley Freeman

Kimberley Freeman was born in London and grew up in Brisbane, Australia. Her books include Ember Island, Wildflower Hill, and Lighthouse Bay.

One of five books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
GONE WITH THE WIND
Margaret Mitchell

The spirit of Scarlet O'Hara is very strong. It's a richly detailed portrait of a troubling time in 19th-century history, and it puts a woman's experience at the heart of something that was seen largely to be men's business, that is war and politics. It doesn't hurt that the frocks were also awesome.
Read about the other books on the list.

Gone With the Wind is among Becky Ferreira's seven best comeuppances in literature, Emily Temple's ten greatest kisses in literature and Suzi Quatro's six best books, and was a book that made a difference to Pat Conroy. It is on the Christian Science Monitor's list of the ten best novels of the U.S. Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best YA antiheroes

One title on Dahlia Adler's list of six top Young Adult antiheroes, as shared on The Barnes & Noble Book Blog:
Astrid Krieger (Firecracker, by David Iserson)

Astrid has money—a lot of it—so she’s never really had trouble getting exactly what she wants. Until someone squeals on her at her fancy boarding school, and she’s forced to attend public school. Suddenly, there are a lot more things Astrid wants, like getting back into her old school, discovering who ratted her out, and getting revenge. To achieve her new goals, Astrid will have to push herself to do some good deeds for the first time in her life. Her methods aren’t exactly orthodox, and her definition of “good” may not match everyone else’s, and I wouldn’t say she evolves into a sweetheart…what was I saying again? Oh, yeah, Astrid’s hilarious.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Top seven books on feeding the world

One title from the Guardian's list of the top seven books on feeding the world:
Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in a World of Plenty by Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman

Recommended by our readers, this investigative book highlights – in the words of the authors – exactly how “American, British, and European policies have conspired to keep Africa hungry and unable to feed itself”. Written by two former American journalists, this read is essential for food activists looking to get clued up on this topical humanitarian issue.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Enough is among Lucas Wittmann's 5 books that can save the world.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nine books for fans of Kate Atkinson’s "Life After Life"

At Bustle Kate Erbland tagged nine books for fans of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, including:
If you need to spend more time with women who unexpectedly participate in war, get Laird Hunt’s Neverhome

If you’ve already read [Diane Ackerman's] The Zookeeper’s Wife (or you’re like me and want to read even more war-set historical fiction), grab Hunt’s new novel Neverhome. Set during the American Civil War, the novel follows Ash Thompson, a seemingly average farmer’s wife who leaves her home (and her husband) to disguise herself as a man and fight in the war for the Union. Why does she do it? You have to read the book!
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Neverhome.

My Book, The Movie: Neverhome.

Writers Read: Laird Hunt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Five sci-fi novels that explore gender in unexpected and challenging ways

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well.

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Somers tagged five sci-fi novels that explore gender in unexpected and challenging ways, including:
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

Any discussion of gender in sci-fi generally starts with this classic 1968 novel. First-time readers in the modern day might not see the big deal, but 46 years ago LeGuin’s concept of a race of people who spend the majority of their time as sexless “potentials” and only take on sexual characteristics (either male or female) once a month for breeding purposes—and who are all referred to as “he” regardless of their nature—was kind of mind-blowing. LeGuin has stated that the book began as a thought experiment about what a society would be without gender, and it sometimes has the stiff feel of experiment. To the modern reader the book can seem much less daring—the POV character is a heterosexual male, and while he forms a deep emotional bond with one of the planet’s inhabitants, sexuality is not explored directly in the book—and LeGuin herself later expressed regret that she defaulted to the pronoun “he” instead of “she,” or some other alternative (such as Spivak pronouns).
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Left Hand of Darkness is among Joel Cunningham's top twelve books with the most irresistible titles, Damien Walter's top five science fiction novels for people who hate sci-fi and Ian Marchant's top 10 books of the night. Charlie Jane Anders included it on her list of ten science fiction novels that will never be movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 17, 2014

William Gibson's six favorite books

William Gibson's novels include Neuromancer, Pattern Recognition, and The Peripheral.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

Huge, weird, disorienting, and great fun if you don't mind not knowing exactly what's going on, Dhalgren is the closest thing science fiction has produced to a genuinely experimental novel. All the action is set in and around a Midwestern city that's vanished into a weird, lawless catastrophe that functions as a sort of black hole. Not for everyone, but if you like it, you never forget it. Dhalgren reads like the Sixties felt.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Dhalgren is a book Junot Díaz always returns to.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Liane Moriarty's three favorite books of 2014

At Omnivoracious Liane Moriarty tagged three favorite books she read this year, including:
Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers

This is an amazing story about a Boston family and the damaging effects of verbal abuse. Every character is beautifully rendered and the author’s meticulous research (I can’t tell you the subject without spoiling the story) gives it such compelling authenticity. It’s one of the most memorable stories about a marriage I’ve ever read.
Read about the other picks on Moriarty's list.

Visit Liane Moriarty's website. Her latest novel is Big Little Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue