Thursday, October 8, 2015

Christian Rudder's six favorite books

Christian Rudder is a co-founder of the dating site OkCupid and the company's former president. His recent book is Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race, and Identity--What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves. For The Week magazine Rudder named his six favorite books, including:
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

I never went to grad school, and Amis' novel about an underachieving medieval history lecturer at a second-rate English university confirmed me in that decision. Jim Dixon also helped me discover the magic satisfaction of imagining pushing peas up people's noses.
Read about the other books on the list.

Lucky Jim also appears on Jess Dukes's top ten list of brain-expanding books for the college-bound teen, Andy Borowitz's list of five top comic novels, Sean O'Hagan's list of the ten best fictional hangovers, Roger Rosenblatt's list of the five best satires of academic life, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best lectures in literature, ten of the best professors in literature, and ten of the best beards in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Seven awesome YAs based on lesser-known fairytales

At the B & N Teen Blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged seven of the best YAs based on lesser-known fairytales, including:
Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl

[G]et ready for a hilarious take on the “Goose Girl” fairy tale that will totally win you over. Alexandria Aurora Fortunato is just a poor goose girl, but when a completely unhelpful mysterious old woman gifts her hair that sheds gold dust and tears that turn to diamonds, she’s suddenly the most sought-after maiden in the land. Locked up by two suitors until she chooses between them, Alexandria escapes with the help of her geese, only to find herself stranded in problem after problem. Never have twelve geese been more annoying, more beloved—or more comedic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Patrice Kindl and Dante.

My Book, The Movie: Patrice Kindl's Keeping the Castle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

M.C. Beaton's six best novels

M. C. Beaton's latest novel is Agatha Raisin: Dishing The Dirt. One of the author's six best books, as told to the Daily Express:
LIGHT OF DAY by Eric Ambler

I like anti-heroes and there’s a ghastly one in this. He’s a nasty little crook yet you desperately want him to win through. He gets caught up in a far bigger robbery than he has anticipated and ends up working for the Turkish secret police. It’s very funny.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 5, 2015

Eight great books that got slammed by critics

At LitReactor Ed Sikov tagged eight "demonstrably great books – books that have stood the tests of time and taste but weren’t exactly greeted with universal kindness when they were first published," including:
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

This tale of a grasping and unhappy wife virtually defines the word classic; it’s surely one of the world’s finest works of literature. But the critic from Le Figaro wasn’t impressed. “Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer,” the reviewer scoffed. News to me. One can only wonder what this critic would have made of Salammb├┤, with its first chapter’s colorful descriptions of flaming monkey meat dropping off of trees.
Read about the other books on the list.

Madame Bovary is on 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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jenny Eclair's six best books

Jenny Eclair is a comedian and novelist who was the first female solo winner of the Edinburgh Festival’s Perrier Comedy Award.

She named her six best books for the Daily Express. One title on her list:

This is about flawed people, marriage and suburban disappointment. I quite like alcoholics in stories, women who go off the rails, sadness and things going wrong. Reading about other people’s misfortune is safer than experiencing your own and Yates is a brilliant storyteller.
Read about the other books on Eclair's list.

Revolutionary Road also appears on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books for Mad Men fans, Hanna McGrath's list of five fictional characters who tell it like it is, John Mullan's list of ten of the best Aprils in literature, Selma Dabbagh's top ten list of stories of reluctant revolutionaries, Laura Dave's list of books that improve on re-reading, Tad Friend's seven best fiction books about WASPs, and James P. Othmer's list of six great novels on work.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about characters who turn disability into superpowers

Cammie McGovern is the author of A Step Toward Falling, Say What You Will as well as the adult novels Neighborhood Watch, Eye Contact, and The Art of Seeing. At she tagged five books about characters who turn disability into superpowers, including:
Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

Technically, Forrest’s “superabilities” are never explained beyond the idea that he’s too cognitively disabled to realize he shouldn’t be able to do any of the countless feats he stumbles into and succeeds at: long distance running, football championships, war heroism, business success. By never accepting his limitations, he seemingly has none, a reminder to us all of how crippling self-doubt really is.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ten ultra-weird science fiction novels that became required reading

At io9 MaryKate Jasper and Charlie Jane Anders tagged ten ultra-weird science fiction novels that became required reading, including:
The Four-Gated City by Doris Lessing

Why It’s Weird: Lessing’s sprawling Children of Violence series starts out as realistic quasi-memoir about growing up in Africa, only to turn weird and experimental in the final couple of volumes. There is voluntary sleep deprivation, weird sexual experiments where nobody touches each other, and more. After spending the entire series building the character of Martha Quest, Lessing kills her off on a contaminated island off the coast of Scotland during World War Three. Lessing’s World War Three takes place during the ‘60s and ‘70s, with most of Britain wiped out via bubonic plague, nerve gases, nuclear explosions, etc. by 1978. The ideas behind the novel, as elucidated on Lessing’s own website: “[It] takes on the medical profession, which she believes is destroying (recently through imprisonment, currently through the use of drugs) that part of humanity which is in fact most sensitive to evolution, those people we label as mentally sick or unbalanced: and, criticising the scientists who have created and perpetuate a climate in which “rationalism” has become a new God, she claims that everyone has “extra-sensory perception”, in varying degrees, but has been brainwashed into suppressing it, and that schizophrenia is the name of our blindest contemporary prejudice.”

Why It’s Required: Lessing won the 2007 Nobel Prize and wrote The Golden Notebook, which frequently appears on college syllabi — but the Children of Violence trilogy is the series on which she spent arguably the most time, and in many ways the cornerstone of her work. Earlier parts of the Children of Violence series appear on college syllabi pretty often.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 2, 2015

Five top books with invented languages

David J. Peterson created the Dothraki language for HBO's Game of Thrones. His latest book is The Art of Language Invention.

One of Peterson's five best books with invented languages, as shared at
Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Though Nabokov didn’t create a full language for Pale Fire, he created an interesting sketch of what we today would call an a posteriori language—a language based on real world sources. In Pale Fire, Nabokov follows the exiled former ruler of an imaginary country called Zembla, but even within the fictional context of the story, it’s not quite certain how “real” Zembla is supposed to be. One gets the same slightly unsettling sense from the Zemblan language, which at turns looks plausibly Indo-European, or completely ridiculous. Though used sparingly, the conlang material enhances the overall effect of the work, adding another level of mystery to the already curious text.
Read about the other books on the list.

Pale Fire's John Shade is among John Mullan's ten best fictional poets. The novel appears among Jane Harris's five best psychological mysteries and Edward Docx's top ten deranged characters. It is one of Tracy Kidder's six best books as well as the novel Charles Storch would save for last. It is one of "Six Memorable Books About Writers Writing" yet it disappointed Ha Jin upon rereading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Top ten books about forgetting

Alastair Bruce is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Wall of Days and Boy on the Wire. One of his top ten books about forgetting, as shared at the Guardian:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

In a post-apocalyptic setting, a father’s memories of the landscape help guide him and his son south towards warmer climes, but at the same time he has to unlearn past behaviours to keep himself and his child safe. The boy, relying on his father’s memories for survival, with no memory of pre-apocalypse times himself, turns out to be the more empathic of the two characters, the one able to “carry the flame” into the future. McCarthy’s novel is bleak, beautiful and utterly astonishing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Road appears on Jeff Somers's list of eight good, bad, and weird dad/child pairs in science fiction and fantasy, Amelia Gray's ten best dark books list, Weston Williams's top fifteen list of books with memorable dads, ShortList's roundup of the twenty greatest dystopian novels, Mary Miller's top ten list of the best road books, Joel Cunningham's list of eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror, Claire Cameron's list of five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Isabel Allende's six favorite books list, the Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Joseph D’Lacey's top ten list of horror books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Ken Jennings's list of eight top books about parents and kids, Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. In 2009 Sam Anderson of New York magazine claimed "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

Also see Sam Taylor's top 10 books about forgetting.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Eight fictional characters who'd make the best travel companions

At B & N Reads, Jenny Kawecki tagged eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, including:
Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)

This may not seem like an obvious choice at first—grumpy, silent Darcy on a road trip? No, thank you—but think about it. If Darcy liked you well enough to go on a trip with you, you know you could count on him to have your back at every turn, and to make hilarious snarky comments about the tour guide that only you can hear. And since he’s such a gentleman, he probably wouldn’t even consider snoring in the hotel room (way too unseemly). Extra bonus: he’s absolutely loaded, so you know you can count on him to pick up the tab on any emergency travel expenses that happen to come up.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Peter James's top ten list ofe works of fiction set in or around Brighton, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, 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, September 29, 2015

Five books with plot twists that flip your perception

Along with writing novels, C. A. Higgins spent most of her time in college doing problem sets, translating vulgar Latin poetry, and fending off sleep deprivation. It was while sitting in one of her physics classes contemplating the inevitable heat death of the universe that she had the idea that would eventually become her first novel, Lightless.

At Higgins tagged five books with plot twists that flip your perception, including:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The sweet and beautiful Amy has gone missing and all signs point to a murder. As the evidence begins to build, it becomes more and more obvious that it was her husband, Nick, who did it… but of course, there’s more to the story than there seems. Gone Girl is a thrilling novel with more than one “change everything” twist and two very deceptive and unreliable narrators at war with each other.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone Girl made Ruth Ware's top ten list of psychological thrillers, Jane Alexander's top ten list of treasure hunts in fiction, Fanny Blake's list of five top books about revenge, Monique Alice's list of six great fictional evil geniuses, Jeff Somers's lists of six books that’ll make you glad you’re single and five books with an outstanding standalone scene that can be read on its own, Lucie Whitehouse's ten top list of psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart and Kathryn Williams's list of eight of fiction’s craziest unreliable narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jay Winik's six favorite books

Jay Winik's new book is 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson

The finest single-volume work on the Civil War out there. Written with verve and panache, it's filled with rich character portraits and fresh interpretations of the key political, social, and military events. I loved this book when I wrote April 1865, and love it still.
Read about the other books on the list.

Battle Cry of Freedom is among Ric Burns' six favorite books and Malcolm Jones's eleven best books on the Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue