Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Eleven heartwarming books for dog-lovers

At Bustle, Sadie L. Trombetta tagged 11 heartwarming books for dog-lovers, including:
Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved My Life by Julie Barton

Our pets have saved us all in the metaphorical way, but in author Julie Barton's case, her dog literally saved her life. Dog Medicine tells the story of how one dog had the power to help Barton survive her own depression, and teaches us all that the power of love and companionship knows no bounds.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Julie Barton & Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty sci-fi & fantasy books with a message of social justice

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged "20 novels that incorporate themes of social justice into stories that still deliver the goods—compelling plots, characters you’ll fall in love with, ideas that will expand your mind." One title on the list:
Iron Council, by China Miéville

Miéville is a member of the International Socialist Organization and wrote his doctoral thesis on Marxism, so it’s no surprise that his sci-fi and fantasy novels, in addition to being deeply weird and incredibly imaginative, tackle questions of economic and social inequality and speaking truth to power. This is most evident is his celebrated Bas Lag trilogy, particularly Iron Council, about a group of revolutionaries who seek to overthrow the corrupt powers that control and oppress the citizens of the twisted city of New Crobuzon. Though his work has been lambasted by some for being too overtly political, its narrative drive and potent imagery make it as unforgettable as literature as it is provoking as argument.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 16, 2017

Four books that changed Rosalie Ham

Rosalie Ham's books include the bestselling novel The Dressmaker, which became a 2015 film starring Kate Winslet, and Summer at Mount Hope.

One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald

Sebald conveys the Kindertransport by linking buildings, photos and past images with Austerlitz's thoughts, his human experience, thus making events vivid. Rather than witness horror, we see how ideas are shaped, how memory is formed, and we learn the truth. There are no chapters, and the narrator's "ramblings" are a trope, therefore connected to other events in the story, and thus the style distracts from what happened and we aren't repelled from the story. Fiction makes events real.
Read about the other books on the list.

Austerlitz is among Charles Fernyhough's top ten books on memory, Susheila Nasta's top ten cultural journeys, and the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Six top 1980s (and 80s-inspired) novels

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged "awesome fantasy/mystery novels from—or almost from, or inspired by, or spiritually connected to—the [19]80s," including:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

It’s theoretically possible that 80s fantasy movies get more classic than this one, but in reality…nah. Basically, you love this movie, and you’ll love the novel, too. It’s a little darker, and of course it has more time to flesh out some of those characters and relationships (like the Fezzik–Inigo Montoya bromance). Where the movie uses Columbo and the kid from The Wonder Years as a framing device to the fairy tale, the book has Goldman annotating and commenting on an older novel he’s supposedly discovered. But both have that magical love story that gets us all. So add a few extra marshmallows to your ho-cho and dive in.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Princess Bride is among Nicole Hill's five best novels written as genre parodies that stand on their own and eight notable royal figures in fiction, Jeff Somers's five best grandfathers in literary history, Sebastien de Castell's five duelists you should never challenge, the Guardian's five worst book covers ever, Rosie Perez's six favorite books, Stephanie Perkins' top ten most romantic books, Matthew Berry's six favorite books, and Jamie Thomson's top seven funny books.

--Marshal Zeringue

David Haig's six best books

David Haig is an English actor perhaps best known to US audiences for Two Weeks Notice (2002), My Boy Jack (2007), and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
A SUITABLE BOY by Vikram Seth

A family, political, religious and class saga set during the conflict between India and Pakistan.

As a hippy in my teens, I always wanted to go to India and I love Indian literature. I enjoyed the analysis of family dynamics and the flawed characters in this.

To live with them was extraordinary.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Seven novels with chronologies that will break you

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged seven "books that mess with the fundamentals of time and space so thoroughly...[that it] can be an exhilarating experience." One title on the list:
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas is structured as nested stories sharing reincarnated characters, either repeating the fate of their previous selves or rebelling against them. The characters’ souls undergo various transformations as the timeline advances—but that advancement is difficult to follow, as each story is interrupted at a key moment, at which point, the next story begins—until we get to the sixth, central story. From that point on, each of the first five stories is continued, finishing each narrative. The connections between the stories go far beyond the characters, making this one of the densest and most complicated narratives of all time, a structure the movie version couldn’t even begin to replicate.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Cloud Atlas is among Christopher Priest’s top five science-fiction books that make use of music, Patrick Hemstreet's five top books for the psychonaut and the six books that changed Maile Meloy's idea of what’s possible in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five essential books on media and government

Derek B. Miller's new novel is The Girl in Green. One of his five recommended books on media and government, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Just the Facts: How "Objectivity" Came to Define American Journalism by David T.Z. Mindich (Revised edition, 2000)

This is a very approachable but authoritative biography of "objectivity" that explains how and why we value that notion and, by extension, why we feel so betrayed when objectivity is lost. Knowing this helps us see the arch and return to the topics that really matter, while fending off false claims we hear every day. Not bad for one book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Derek B. Miller's ten top books about the Iraq War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about surviving surveillance

At Tor.com, Stephen W. Potts tagged five useful books about surviving surveillance, including:
Shockwave Rider by John Brunner (1975)

Brunner anticipates cyberpunk in his portrayal of a character who can weave his way through an increasingly computerized society. Trained as a genius to serve the technocracy, the protagonist hides from, and indeed within, the system by periodically changing identities through his reprogramming of the database. Brunner mingles utopian possibilities with dystopian ones, showing how committed individuals­­ can use the power of technology to thwart abuses of same.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Seven books that weigh the pros and cons of immortality

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. One of seven books that weigh the pros and cons of immortality that he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Ashlan Ley’s Curse, Viscera by Gabriel Squailia

Whatever happened to Ashlan Ley before the events of Viscera, it wasn’t pretty. By the novel start, she has been alive for centuries, unable to age or be killed, eking out a living as an apothecary using her alchemist training. She’s unsure why she’s been alive this long, or indeed what it is that makes her completely unkillable, but it’s so dire that when the first dubious offer to make it stop comes along, she jumps at it. Still, being completely immortal is a benefit at least some of the time, right?

Pros: When we say “completely immortal” what we mean is “more immortal than anyone else on this list.” Ley grows back organs, is able to keep going when impaled, and takes damage throughout the book that begins at mortal wounds and disembowelment. While she might not be able to get up right away, she will get up eventually. Plus, she never ages, which is something that’s always a boon when it comes to immortality. You can’t really get a much better combination than that.
Cons: Again, imagine having to be awake while your lungs reform. Or feeling your guts grow back. Also, being able to shake off any traumatic injury doesn’t mean you don’t still feel the pain from those traumatic injuries, so while swan-diving off of Niagara Falls may seem like a fun thing to do with your unkillable body, it’ll still be incredibly painful. Complicating matters, there is a reason Ley is unkillable, and while the resolution of her story arc (no spoilers) is a relief, the cost really isn’t worth the perks.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Top ten books about wild women

Danielle Dutton is the author of the novel, Margaret the First. One of her ten top books about wild women, as shared at the Guardian:
The Letters of Mina Harker by Dodie Bellamy

In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mina is the perfect, passive Victorian wife. Here she’s horny and undead in 1980s San Francisco, having possessed Bellamy’s body. Epistolary, like Stoker’s original, the novel follows Mina/Dodie’s adventures through a city ravaged by Aids. It’s all wildly alive, full of gossip and sex. As Eileen Myles put it: “If there’s anything better than literature this is it.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven great morally complex YA novels

One title on Melissa Albert's list of seven top morally complex YA novels, as shared at the BN Teen blog:
The Lost Girl, by Sangu Mandanna

To a point this YA novel echoes the central premise of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, about a subclass of clones built for the purpose of providing fresh parts for their originals. But Mandanna focuses her lens on a single clone, Eva, created not as an organ donor but as a full-on replacement in the case of her original’s death. She’s only a teen when her original, Amarra, dies in a car crash, and her attempt to take over the dead girl’s life is choppy and disorienting for both her and her new family. Despite her training, Eva had no choice but to live life as her own person, developing memories and preferences and affections she couldn’t share with Amarra. In a world that believes her life to be less than, Eva must summon the courage to strike out on her own.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Five dystopian societies that might actually function

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged five dystopian societies that might actually function. One title on the list:
The World State (Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley)

Huxley is one of the few creators of a dystopia to have addressed the wide-ranging difficulties faced in running a large-scale society predicated on complete control. Whereas many dystopias amount to a single concept that supposedly rules everyone’s lives, back in 1932 Huxley figured out that it would take constant effort to reshape the way people think and behave. His society uses medical, pharmaceutical, and educational techniques to ensure compliance, and the detailed examination is convincing in its thoroughness—possibly because even eight decades later you can still see the seeds of that society in our own.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Brave New World is among Annalee Newitz's seven utopias that changed the future and Matt Haig's top ten novels influenced by Shakespeare.

--Marshal Zeringue