Thursday, October 23, 2014

Top ten civil war novels

Prize-winning author Robert Wilton worked in a number of British Government Departments, including a stint as Private Secretary to three successive UK Secretaries of State for Defence.

At the Guardian he named ten top civil war novels, including:
Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

“You are hereby invited to watch me face the firing squad,” Pasternak is supposed to have said when he handed over his manuscript to be smuggled out of Russia. The author’s, and the protagonist’s, concern for the needs of the individual was vulnerable against the novel’s tumultuous events and the Soviet censor. But it overcame the latter, at least. Zhivago was published in Italian, then English and French, before a Russian version appeared – allegedly with CIA help. Pasternak was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1958, though under threat of arrest or exile he could not collect it. Written over and covering more than 40 years, Dr Zhivago is about much more than the Russian civil war that began in 1917 – but that internal conflict is at its heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Six YA books that take place in one day

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged six Young Adult which all take place over the course of twenty-four hours, including:
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith

On a day everything seems to be going wrong for Hadley, something goes very, very right when she meets funny, quirky, adorable Oliver in the airport on the way to her father’s wedding in London. The two hit it off immediately, only to lose each other again on the other side of the Atlantic. But no matter how new a flame, some sparks just can’t be fizzled by distance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top ten characters with a disability

Kim Hood is Young Adult author of Finding a Voice.

At the Guardian, she tagged her top ten interesting characters who just happen to have a disability, including:
“Chief” Bromden, in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

It is never clear whether Bromden is actually deaf and mute (the now non-politically correct terms used in the book), or simply a victim of institutionalisation. Whichever the case, I have always rooted for the quiet survivor. Although it may seem a pretty unlikely story today, not so long ago many thousands of people with disabilities lived their entire lives in hospitals like this.
Read about the other entries on the list.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is on Rebecca Jane Stokes's list of seven books for fans of Orange Is The New Black, Gavin Extence's list of ten of the best underdogs in literature, Melvin Burgess's list of five notable books on drugs, and Darren Shan's top ten list of books about outsiders for teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ten Russian novels to read before you die

At Off the Shelf, Andrew Kaufman tagged ten Russian novels to read before you die, including:
The Funeral Party
by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

This English-language debut of one of contemporary Russia’s most important novelists describes the bizarre and touching interactions among a colorful cast of Russian émigrés living in New York who attend the deathbed of Alik, a failed, but well-liked painter. At once quirky and trenchant, The Funeral Party explores two of the biggest “accursed questions” of Russian literature—How to live? How to die?—as they play out in a tiny, muggy Manhattan apartment in the early 1990’s.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ten of the best detectives in books

Lucy Worsley is the author of The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock.

She tagged a ten best list of fictional detectives for Publishers Weekly, including:
Ida Arnold (Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, 1938)

It’s hardly doing justice to Brighton Rock to describe it as genre fiction, but a killing and a murderer are the heart of this book about faith and God.

The good-hearted but blowsy heroine Ida Arnold, our detective figure, goes after a killer with a truly modern mind. Pinkie, the young anti-hero, lacks motive apart from a nihilistic passion for violence and death. With its seamy, seaside-resort setting, its lonely and hopeless characters and its bleak outlook on life, Brighton Rock has much in common with the hard-edged noir fiction soon to come.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Brighton Rock is among Alex Barclay's top ten psychological thrillers and Linda Grant's five best books with novel approaches to kindness.

--Marshal Zeringue

The top ten modernizers in literature

John Grindrod is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain.

At the Guardian he tagged ten books--half are novels, half biographies--that "give a flavour of what the modern movement in architecture and planning was up to, particularly in postwar Britain." One entry on the list:
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A Caro (1974)

Robert Moses planned much of New York from the 1920s to the 60s. His epic J Edgar Hoover-like tenure was chronicled – and shredded – in this suitably colossal book. Tales of racism and dirty dealing are entwined with an enormous legacy of expressways and housing. From the era of All The President’s Men, Caro’s investigative storytelling is gripping throughout – and at over 1,000 pages, it needs to be.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The top forty Chicago novels

For Chicago Magazine Geoffrey Johnson rounded up the top forty Chicago novels, including:
The Man with the Golden Arm
Nelson Algren (1949)

A wounded vet and backsliding junkie, the card-dealing Frankie Machine inhabits Chicago’s seamy underside in this winner of the first National Book Award.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The author Pete Anderson applied the Page 69 Test to The Man with the Golden Arm.

There is a strong case for Nelson Algren as The Great Illinois Novelist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 17, 2014

The fifty greatest debut novels since 1950

At Flavorwire, Emily Temple tagged the fifty greatest debut novels since 1950.  One title on the list:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)

Half comedy, half tragedy, all delicious, complex storytelling and a titular character that’s hard to forget.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao also appears among Niall Williams's top ten bookworms' tales, Chrissie Gruebel's nine best last lines in literature, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, Jami Attenberg's top six books with overweight protagonists, Brooke Hauser's six top books about immigrants, Sara Gruen's six favorite books, Paste magazine's list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009), and The Millions' best books of fiction of the millenium. The novel is one of Matthew Kaminski's five favorite novels about immigrants in America and is a book that made a difference to Zoë Saldana.

The Page 99 Test: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Five novels about finding love in the darkness

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Dell Villa tagged five "contemporary novels abound with bittersweet tales of romance found under the bleakest of circumstances," including:
Lovers at the Chameleon Club Paris, 1932, by Francine Prose

Bohemian Paris in the 1930s was a haven for artists of all ilk. Painters, musicians, writers, and photographers flocked to the thriving, throbbing city for inspiration, and many of their paths converged at The Chameleon Club, a dazzling nightclub whose owner not only challenges gender roles on her main stage, but also harbors desperate runaways with desires that fall outside of traditional social norms. First on the eve of war, and then during German Occupation, love in Prose’s richly imagined Paris is always desperate, and never without ulterior motives, but while some of the liaisons are hopeless and tragic, one relationship alone is resilient and sustained.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Six YA authors fans of "The Hunger Games" will love

At the Telegraph Siân Ranscombe tagged six YA authors fans of The Hunger Games will love, including:
Veronica Roth, Divergent

The film adaptation of Divergent opened in March and has so far grossed over $250 million. Similar to The Hunger Games, the novel is set in a Chicago divided into five different factions, based on human virtues: Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity and Candor. When 16-year-old Beatrice Prior undergoes a compulsory test to decide into which faction she would best fit, she discovers she has the attributes of more than one faction and is therefore Divergent. She must keep this a secret, as the government cannot control the thinking of Divergents and are therefore considered a threat to society. Impressively/depressingly, author Roth is just 25 years old.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Divergent series is on Chrissie Gruebel's list of eleven books that will make you glad you're single and Joel Cunningham's list six great young adult book series for fans of The Hunger Games. Divergent is on Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten science fiction novels that pack more action than most summer movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Eight top fictional biographies of writers, artists & dancers

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Heidi Fiedler tagged eight great fictional biographies of writers, artists & dancers, including:
The Agony and the Ecstasy, by Irving Stone

This story of Michelangelo is one of the earliest books in the genre, but it’s as juicy as any of today’s tell-alls. There are all the flourishes of the Renaissance. The infamous Medicis. Unpopular popes. Art made of gold, for goodness’ sake. You will be transported.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ten top marriage thrillers

At The Huffington Post, Lucie Whitehouse tagged ten top psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart, including:
Broken Harbor by Tana French

The fourth novel in French's Dublin Murder Squad sequence, Broken Harbor is a literary detective story, a portrait of post-crash Ireland and a gripping, tragic story of a marriage of two people who tried to do everything right and paid the ultimate price.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Ten books you must read if you loved "Gone Girl" and Six domestic chillers for "Gone Girl" fans.

--Marshal Zeringue