Friday, April 18, 2014

Five essential works by Gabriel García Márquez

Spurred by the author's death this week, the Telegraph's Sameer Rahim tagged five essential works by Gabriel García Márquez, including:
One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; English translation 1970)

This remarkable novel catapulted García Márquez from being a well-regarded Colombian writer to an international star – especially after it was translated into English by Gregory Rabassa in 1970. (The author claimed, somewhat mischievously, that he preferred the English version to his own Spanish.) One Hundred Years of Solitude launched the vogue for South American magical realism – in which the mundane and miraculous exist side-by-side – that would later influence Salman Rushdie and Louis de Bernières among others. Set in the fictional town of Macondo, the novel follows the fortunes – or rather misfortunes – of the Buendía family. Multiple characters share the same name – there are three Aurelianos – and their lives fade into one another in a dreamlike way. In one of many famous magical events, Remedios the Beauty rises to heaven holding a white sheet. Absorbing and exhilarating, this can also be a frustrating book to read if you’re looking for linear plot development. The secret to enjoying Solitude is to forget trying to make perfect sense of it all and abandon yourself to this intoxicating world of strange gipsies, brutal soldiers and ingenious prostitutes.
Read about the other books on the list.

One Hundred Years of Solitude made Isabel Allende's list of six favorite books, Sara Jonsson's list of five books to read when you can't go to sleep, Juan Gabriel Vásquez's five best list of novels about South America, Pushpinder Khaneka's list of three of the best books on Colombia, Michael Jacobs's list of the top ten Colombian stories, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families and Rebecca Stott's five best list of historical novels. It is one of Lynda Bellingham's six best books, Walter Mosley's five favorite books, Eric Kraft's five most important books, and James Patterson's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

The top ten novels of desert war

Robert Allison has been a theatre director, a film music reviewer and a copy-editor. He lives in London. His novel The Letter Bearer is published by Granta Books.

One of Allison's top ten novels of desert war, as shared at the Guardian:
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Ondaatje's Booker-winning masterpiece is more a plaint against ownership than an enquiry into the consequences of battle. Based (very) loosely on the history of the Hungarian desert cartographer and aristocrat, László Almásy, the novel sees the badly burned patient of the title assume anonymity after a doomed attempt to steal another man's wife. "Do you understand the sadness of geography?" Ondaatje asks, his dying patient's mythic desert landscapes divided and claimed by warring powers, their wonders reduced to mere waypoints and coordinates.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The English Patient also made Joel Cunningham's list of sixteen book-to-movie adaptations that won Academy Awards, Pico Iyer's top five list of books on crossing cultures, John Mullan's list of ten of the best deserts in literature and Jane Ciabattari's list of five masterpiece stories that worked as films.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Five perfect books for men who never read

Leo Benedictus is a freelance feature writer for the Guardian. His first novel The Afterparty was published in 2011 by Jonathan Cape. At the Guardian, he tagged five perfect books for men who never read, including:
The Road By Cormac McCarthy

a) It's an incredibly exciting short novel about a father and son trying to survive a global catastrophe. b) It's a practical guide to surviving a global catastrophe, which might one day be useful. c) It does away with the need to survive global catastrophes because you'll be so depressed you won't care. If you have ever been curious about what makes people cry in books, this is pretty much the deep end.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Road appears on 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."

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books to read if you love "Orphan Black"

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction television series starring Tatiana Maslany ("Sarah Manning") as several identical women who are revealed to be clones. At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Melissa Albert tagged five books to read if you love the show, including:
The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

In episode one, Sarah Manning slips not-so-seamlessly into the life of a woman who shared her face (and, ya know, DNA). As the ultimate chameleon, Ripley would’ve done it better, and he wouldn’t have had any pesky morality issues holding him back from really digging into the part. Highsmith’s highly practical sociopath Ripley takes a rich man’s commission to convince his golden-boy son to come home from sunny Italy, but instead finds himself drawn by fascination, envy, and greed into taking over the young man’s life.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ten of the least competent time travelers

At io9, Rob Bricken came up with a list of the ten least competent time travelers, including:
Hank Morgan, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

I'm guessing Mark Twain hadn't heard of "the butterfly effect" when he wrote his classic A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, because when Hank Morgan wakes up in ancient England, he does the equivalent of murdering every goddamn butterfly he sees. He immediately uses his knowledge of a solar eclipse to convince everybody he's a wizard, and becomes the second most powerful man in the kingdom. He shoots knights with his revolver, blows up Merlin's tower with explosives, creates bicycles, gets King Arthur arrested for slavery, starts a war with the Catholic church, and basically messes with every single person and thing he finds in 528 AD. Where's a timecop when you need one?
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is on Michael Brooks's top ten list of time travel books; it's also the book Roman Simic most likes to re-read.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top works of noir

Benjamin Black, an alter ego of Irish novelist John Banville, named five favorite works of noir at Goodreads, including:
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

Cain is said to have dashed off this noir masterpiece over a long weekend. The book has been filmed so many times that everyone must know the story by now: the drifter, the bored wife, the hapless husband who ends up dead. An acrid, disenchanted masterpiece.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seven books for golfers and fairway fans

At the Christian Science Monitor, Ross Atkin collected excerpts from seven notable books for golfers and fairway fans. One entry on the list:
Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
by Bill Fields

" 'I'm not much for spending a lot of time in the office,' [Arnold] Palmer says, pausing between wedge shots about 3 p.m. on a recent Wednesday at the Bay Hill practice range, the Orlando club he bought in 1976. 'It makes me stiff and sore and usually irritable. Eleven o'clock is checkout time.'

" ''That's nice work if you can get it,' someone says.

" ' Hey, I've been working seventy-eight years to get it,' Palmer says. 'I figure I ought to be able to check out at eleven.'

"Palmer is a little grouchy at having stayed in his small upstairs office in the Bay Hill clubhouse longer than is his custom. Just before leaving for the day, a man had come in and offered to donate $5,000 a hole for one of the hospitals Palmer is involved with if Palmer would play nine with him. 'Usually my price is a little higher than that,' Palmer says, admitting that such off-the-street propositions happen more frequently than you might think. 'But that's a pretty good offer, isn't it? We usually don't turn those babies down.'"
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on golf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten grade-school classics you’ll never be too old to reread

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Melissa Albert tagged ten grade-school classics you’ll never be too old to reread, including:
A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

“It was a dark and stormy night.” Nothing could be cozier than cocoa in a warm kitchen on a storm-tossed night, or creepier and more thrilling than a sudden interruption from the outside world. After this stellar beginning in the Murry family home, Meg Murry, her brilliant little brother Charles Wallace, and her soulmate, Calvin, follow three strange old women (who are much, much more than they appear) through time and space to save the Murrys’ scientist father from, nbd, forces of pure unadulterated evil. Lucky for us readers, this was just the first in a five-book series.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Wrinkle in Time is among Cressida Cowell's list of ten top mythical creatures and Steve Cole's top ten space books for kids of all ages.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 14, 2014

Top ten books about missing persons

Laura Lippman's latest novel is After I'm Gone.

At the Guardian, she explained the allure of a particularly seductive and well-populated corner of literature in the preface to her top ten list of books about missing persons:
[T]he open-ended nature of missing person stories make them even more compelling [than murder stories]. They are real-life ghost stories, in which those who remain behind are haunted endlessly by the possible fates of those who have left them. In writing After I'm Gone, I thought a lot about how we can ever reconcile ourselves to the loss of someone vital. Even if – or especially if – it's a person that others feel we have no real claim on.
One title on Lippman's list:
The Song is You, by Megan Abbott

One of my favourite crime writers, Abbott is probably best known for her stunning novels that centre on the lives of contemporary teenage girls. But she also has written several outstanding period pieces, including this one, inspired by the 1949 disappearance of the actress Jean Spangler. The story is told from the point of view of jaded PR guy Gil "Hop" "Hopkins and, to use the parlance of its characters, it's a knock-out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The seven best fictional depictions of female friendship

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Becky Ferreira tagged seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship, including:
Clarissa Dalloway and Sally Seton in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway

Though the main action of Virginia Woolf’s ruminative novel takes place after Clarissa and Sally have grown apart, the vivid descriptions of their youthful closeness merits their rounding out this list. Infatuated by her friend’s brash rebellion and rejection of the status quo, Clarissa fell in love with Sally, and even shared a thrilling kiss with her. But with their wilder days behind them, the sexual tension eased into a comfortable friendship, revisited in Woolf’s classic book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Mrs. Dalloway also appears on Rebecca Jane Stokes's list of seven favorite fictional shopaholics, Suzette Field's top 10 list of literary party hosts, Jennie Rooney's top ten list of women travelers in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best prime ministers in fiction, and among Michael Cunningham's 5 most important books, Dani Shapiro's 10 favorite books, and Kate Walbert's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books for toddlers

In 2013 the Christian Science Monitor surveyed parents about their favorite books to read with their toddlers. One of the ten most popular titles recommended:
'Green Eggs and Ham' by Dr. Seuss

No child's library is complete without a copy of Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham." The lyrical text is as fun for grown-ups to read aloud as it is for children to hear – though be forewarned, the rapid fire rhymes can leave parents breathless. The delightful tale of Sam I Am's quest to get his friend to try green eggs and ham appeals to kids' silly side while reinforcing parents' perpetual pleas for kids to try new foods. "Green Eggs and Ham" was first published by Random House in 1960.

Don't miss these other titles by Dr. Seuss, "The Cat in the Hat," "Oh the Thinks You Can Think," "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," and "The Lorax." Many of Dr. Seuss's tales have recently been made into motion pictures, but nothing beats meeting the master wordsmith on the page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Fifteen top books for toddlers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Six great YA novels about reality TV

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged six great YA novels about reality TV, including:
Something Real, by Heather Demetrios

Don’t let the deceptively bright cover fool you—there’s something wonderfully and authentically dark about this look inside a reality TV family from the perspective of one of its own. After a four-year hiatus from having her entire life filmed, Bonnie Baker is back in the public eye, whether she likes it or not. And she definitely doesn’t. Especially not since it jeopardizes both her budding romance and her brother’s long-term, closeted one. The aforementioned relationships are only two of the exceedingly well-crafted ones in this can’t-miss debut that’ll make you wish you could hug every one of Jon and Kate’s eight.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue