Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Six books that will ruin your childhood memories

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged "six books turn comforting, innocent entertainments into something subversive and disturbing," including:
The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, by Anne Rice

The fact that Anne Rice, whose work isn’t exactly shy and blushing, chose to publish the four novels in the Sleeping Beauty Quartet pseudonymously should tell you just how warped they are. If you ever once enjoyed the innocence of Disney version of Sleeping Beauty (though to be fair, “princess enchanted into sleep and woken by a kiss from a prince” has all kinds of implications to unpack even with the cute cartoon birds in tow), then you will be completely, totally, 100 percent squicked-out by what Rice does to the princess in this reimagining, set in a universe where minor royals are turned into sex slaves and playthings, brutally beaten, raped, and mentally broken. Beauty resists, despite the clear evidence of what that will earn her. By the time you’re done with the first book, the old fairy tale will forever be one of your triggers. Unless you’re into that, which is perfectly ok.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ten top war memoirs

One of Andrew Sharples' top ten war memoirs, as shared at the Guardian:
My War Gone By, I Miss It So by Anthony Loyd

For a certain kind of person war is a drug and nowhere is that more apparent than in Anthony Loyd’s account of his time as a correspondent in Bosnia. While immersed in the conflict, Loyd is high on adrenaline, but on returning home, the only way he can achieve that rush is through heroin, and he slips into addiction. The beauty of the prose urged me forward but every few pages the description of a fresh horror stopped me dead in my tracks.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 24, 2017

Twenty top books for the new fantasy reader

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged twenty top fantasies to introduce beginners to the genre, including:
The Magicians, by Lev Grossman

There’s a subversive side to magic, all those schools full of future witches and wizards, always on the lookout for some mysterious, powerful foe. That’s where Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy comes in. Quentin Coldwater has never believed magic is real, until he passes the Brakebills entrance exam. The experience isn’t quite Hogwarts, and Quentin discovers magic alone might not be able to fill the emptiness inside of him.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Magicians is among Soman Chainani's five top SFF novels with perfect opening lines, Christian McKay Heidicker's six top read-aloud books for grown-ups, Diana Biller's five creepiest rabbits in fiction, Jenny Kawecki's seven fictional schools that couldn't pass a safety inspection, Entertainment Weekly's top ten wickedly great books about witches, Jason Diamond's top fifty books that define the past five years in literature, and Joel Cunningham's eight great books for fans of Donna Tartt's The Secret History.

The Page 69 Test: The Magicians.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books for understanding how cities work

Richard Florida is one of the world’s leading urbanists. His latest book is The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It. One of the author's six favorite books on urban capitalism, innovation, and inequality, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Coming of Post-Industrial Society by Daniel Bell

In 1973, Bell detailed the rise of a society no longer driven mainly by agriculture or manufacturing, but by technology, information, and knowledge. He also highlighted the growing importance of the new technocratic class of scientists, engineers, and knowledge workers in that society.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Five kickass feminist YA books

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged "five feminist reads that’ll have you raising hell while you wait" for the release of Jennifer Mathieu’s upcoming novel, Moxie, including:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

Former good girl Frankie is no longer the quiet “bunny rabbit” she used to be. Tired of being thought of as her popular boyfriend’s arm candy, Frankie slowly decides it’s time to prove what she’s capable of—especially once she finds out said boyfriend is part of an all-male secret society. Infiltrating the society isn’t enough. Soon, Frankie has become the mastermind, orchestrating complicated pranks through her secret identity. But what will happen when the boys find out who’s behind their hijinks? Frankie, for one, might not care.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is among Kayla Whaley's five best opening scenes in YA lit, Sona Charaipotra's five top YA books to read when you're burnt out on love, and Sabrina Rojas Weiss's ten favorite boarding school novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ian Ogilvy's six best books

Ian Ogilvy played Simon Templar in the 1970s TV series Return Of The Saint and has appeared in Upstairs, Downstairs and Murder, She Wrote. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh

I love his wry sense of humour. He doesn’t push the jokes at you. The main character writes a country column and is then given a journalistic assignment to a war-torn country. It’s very silly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Scoop is among Hallie Ephron's top ten books to keep you laughing and Tom Rachman's top 10 journalist's tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Seven books to celebrate Earth Day

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged seven top books to celebrate Earth Day, including:
Botanicum, by Kathy Willis and Katie Scott

Humans don’t exist in a vacuum. We live in a sometimes contentious partnership with other animals—and plants. This visually stunning book offers a deep dive into the secret world of plant life, combining incredibly detailed illustrations with incisive commentary, the end result being a world-class introduction to the science of botany. Detailed cutaways demonstrate how various plants work, and the broad scope of the work (beginning with “first plants”) is awe-inspiring enough to encourage any budding botanist to consider making plants part of their lives going forward. Instilling respect for our environment begins with understanding it, and Botanicum is a fun, beautiful way for kids to begin that process.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Eight inspiring picture books for Earth Day.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flaubert's best works, ranked

Peter Brooks is the author of Flaubert in the Ruins of Paris: The Story of a Friendship, a Novel, and a Terrible Year.

Number one on the list of Brooks's favorite Flaubert's works:
Madame Bovary

This remains as fresh and pertinent today as it was at publication—and it is still a shocker. We have seen plenty of adultery in the novel, but Emma Bovary’s experience of love and sex both marital and extra-marital is captured with extraordinary vividness and immediacy. The material world and the world of sensations are given to us in stunning detail. You might say this is the first truly “realist” novel in its detailing of the sights, smells, touches of everyday life. It is also the story of a longing that we all share to break out of the everyday, to experience the rare and significant. Emma Bovary may be deluded in her search for rapturous happiness, but it makes her a creative spirit, like the man who created her. “Madame Bovary is me,” Flaubert is supposed to have exclaimed. Yes, in that he has so well imagined an imprisoned spirit seeking adventure and release. There are two good translations of Madame Bovary available: by Geoffrey Wall (Penguin), and (even better, I think) by Lydia Davis (Viking).
Read about the other entries on the list.

Madame Bovary is on Ed Sikov's list of eight great books that got slammed by critics, Culture's list of the three of the worst mothers in literature, Alex Preston's top ten list of sex scenes from film, TV and literature, Rachel Holmes's top ten list of books on the struggle against gender-based inequality, Jill Boyd's list of six memorable marriage proposals in literature, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Jennifer Gilmore's list of the ten worst mothers in books, Amy Sohn's list of six favorite books, Sue Townsend's 6 best books list, Helena Frith Powell's list of ten of the best sexy French books, the Christian Science Monitor's list of six novels about grand passions, John Mullan's lists of ten landmark coach rides in literature, ten of the best cathedrals in literature, ten of the best balls in literature, ten of the best bad lawyers in literature, ten of the best lotharios in literature, and ten of the best bad doctors in fiction, Valerie Martin's list of six novels about doomed marriages, and Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers. It tops Peter Carey's list of the top ten works of literature and was second on a top ten works of literature list selected by leading writers from Britain, America and Australia in 2007. It is one of John Bowe's six favorite books on love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top picture books for Earth Day

At the BN Kids blog Charlotte Taylor tagged eight inspiring picture books for Earth Day, including:
The Lonely Giant, by Sophie Ambrose

A giant living in a forest spends his days pulling up trees and smashing mountains, just because that’s what he’s used to doing—he’s thoughtless, not greedy or deliberately destructive. But because of his actions, the creatures that live in the forest disappear as their home is destroyed, and the giant finds himself all alone. When he finds one last yellow bird, he captures her to be a friend, but in her cage she grows too sad to sing. The giant is moved by her sadness, and lets her go…and he realizes that if he wants birds to stay with him and sing, he must repair the damage he’s done, and he sets to work. Although the point is not subtle, it’s a sweetly effective story that hopeful rather than depressing.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Top ten books about trees

Fiona Stafford is professor of English language and literature, University of Oxford. Her latest book is The Long, Long Life of Trees.

One of Stafford's ten top books about trees, as shared at the Guardian:
Howards End by EM Forster

I learned from reading this book at school that novels can work through recurrent phrases and enigmatic images. Here, on the very first page, is the wych elm. I had no idea then what a wych elm might be, but I knew that this strange tree, with the pig’s teeth embedded in its trunk, somehow possessed qualities that were beyond the reach of the car-owning colonialists who thought they owned it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Howards End is among John Mullan's ten best concerts in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Seven YA books about twins

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged seven favorite YA books about twins, including:
Gemini, by Sonya Mukherjee

The key to life for Clara and Hailey’s family has been to stay in their small town forever, surrounding themselves with people who’ve long ceased to be surprised by the presence of conjoined twins. But when talk of the future comes calling and a new guy comes to town, Clara and Hailey are forced to acknowledge they have very different visions of what they want from the rest of their lives. They’ll have to figure out what they want as individuals and how they can both have the future they want and deserve, unless they want to tear themselves apart for good.
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see Francesca Haig's top ten list of the greatest twins in children’s books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five elegant and moody fantasies

Sofia Samatar is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning novel A Stranger in Olondria and its sequel, The Winged Histories. One of her five favorite "intensely strange, beautifully written, and transportive fantasies," as shared at
Tainaron: Mail from Another City by Leena Krohn, translated by Hildi Hawkins
“How could I forget the spring when we walked in the University’s botanical gardens; for there is such a park here in Tainaron, too, large and carefully tended. If you saw it you would be astonished, for it contains many plants that no one at home knows; even a species that flowers underground.”
I first read Leena Krohn’s bright, melancholy novella in the anthology The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer. It’s also available as part of the landmark collection of Krohn’s work published by Cheeky Frawg. It feels strange to describe a work as both “bright” and “melancholy,” but this is the mood produced by Krohn’s fantasy, in which an unnamed human narrator writes letters from a country of giant insects. These insects are sophisticated, sensitive, and rapacious; they ride trams, dine in cafés, feed their children on the corpses of their ancestors, and rub themselves against flowers in broad daylight. Krohn’s is a colorful, anarchic landscape: fresh as spring, sad as autumn, and unified by the lonely voice of the letter-writer, a flâneur of the anthills.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue