Monday, February 27, 2017

Six top books for understanding global politics

Richard Haass's newest book is A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order. One of his six top books for understanding global politics, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Quiet American by Graham Greene

First published in 1955, just after the fall of colonial rule in Southeast Asia, this novel was prescient in suggesting why and how the United States would fail in Vietnam. Through reading it, I learned that good fiction has as much to teach as nonfiction.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Quiet American is among Sara Jonsson's seven best literary treatments of envy, Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones's top ten classic spy novels, Tom Rachman's top ten journalist's tales, John Mullan's ten best journalists in literature, Charles Glass's five best books on Americans abroad, Robert McCrum's books to inspire busy public figures, Malcolm Pryce's top ten expatriate tales, Catherine Sampson's top ten Asian crime fiction, and Pauline Melville's top 10 revolutionary tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jenny Colgan's six best books

Jenny Colgan is the author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake CafĂ©, all international bestsellers. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger

A wonderful story, beautifully told, where a woman falls in love with a man who can’t hold himself down in time. Niffenegger takes a clever idea and pushes it as far as it can go. It is moving and romantic.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Six top Shakespearean sci-fi & fantasy retellings

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Kelly Anderson tagged six top Shakespearean sci-fi & fantasy retellings, including:
Neil Gaiman’s Dream Country (Sandman #17-20)

Only one of the four independent stories that make up Dream Country is fully Shakespeare-inspired, but man, it is a doozy: the winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction, and a riff on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In it, Shakespeare puts on what is supposedly the premiere performance of his famous play for an audience from faerie, including Titania and Puck. The characters watching interact with the show and trade places with representations of themselves throughout the course of the performance. It’s as dreamlike, surreal, and beautiful as you’d want from a series whose main character is Morpheus. Often cited as the best part of the series, it is a great way to rediscover one of Shakespeare’s most enchanting tales.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about trolls

Chris Sharp's first novel, The Elementalists, introduced a dark YA series and was called one of the “Overlooked Books of 2014”, by Slate. His new novel is Cold Counsel.

One of Sharp's five top books about trolls, as shared at

My friends and I turned this one into a comedic movie for a ninth grade school project. Making it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had—we all got A’s. Though it’s a topic of much debate among those who debate such things, Grendel, Grendel’s Mother, and even the dragon can be viewed as trolls. Grendel coming to Heorot to destroy the hall because of the din made there is akin to the Scandinavian belief that early church construction and bell ringing was often met by troll attack. Grendel is the consummate troll in appearance and action, but his mother is just as iconic in her representation as a powerful shape-shifting trollhag capable of birthing monsters—just as Angrboda birthed Jormungand, Fenris Wolf, and Hel in Norse myths. (These vengeful and powerful beings laid further foundation for the trolls I sought to emulate.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beowulf is among four books that changed David Vann and Thomas Asbridge's top ten knights in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 24, 2017

Ten seemingly unrelated books that complement each other perfectly

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged "five pairs of books that have nothing to do with each other—and yet have everything to do with each other," [spoilers] including:
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley & Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The complementary nature of these two novels is all to do with the nightmarish inversion they represent for each other. Victor Frankenstein raids charnel houses and slaughterhouses for the parts he needs to create his creature, and in Ishiguro’s story human clones are raised from childhood in order to provide spare parts for their originals, a horrifying reversal. Interestingly, the precise nature of Frankenstein’s process is unclear—there is no evidence he literally stole arms and legs and hearts and lungs from graveyards; in fact, his process is more alchemical, even supernatural. Still, it’s easy to imagine him taking organs from corpses to build the better man, while in Ishiguro’s story organs are taken from perfectly healthy, living beings so their older genetic twins might live a bit longer, be a bit healthier. After reading these two books, ask yourself who the monster really is.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Frankenstein is among Olivia Laing's top ten books about loneliness, Helen Humphreys's top ten books on grieving, John Mullan's ten best honeymoons in literature, Adam Roberts's five top science fiction classics and Andrew Crumey's top ten novels that predicted the future.

Never Let Me Go is on Jeff Somers's list of eight tales of technology run amok and top seven list of speculative works for those who think they hate speculative fiction, a list of five books that shaped Jason Gurley's Eleanor, Anne Charnock's list of five favorite books with fictitious works of art, Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of nine great science fiction books for people who don't like science fiction, Sabrina Rojas Weiss's list of ten favorite boarding school novels, Allegra Frazier's top four list of great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, James Browning's top ten list of boarding school books, Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi's top ten list of tragic love stories, Allegra Frazier's list of seven characters whose jobs are worse than yours, Shani Boianjiu's list of five top novels about coming of age, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Top ten Hollywood novels

Tim Walker is a freelance journalist and author based in London. From 2012 to 2016 he was the Los Angeles correspondent for The Independent.

His first novel, Completion, was published in 2014 and longlisted for the Impac Dublin Literary Award. His new novel is Smoke Over Malibu.

One of Walker's ten top Hollywood novels, as shared at the Guardian:
Force Majeure by Bruce Wagner (1991)

Struggling screenwriter Bud Wiggins, Wagner’s semi-autobiographical antihero, is a direct spiritual descendant of [F. Scott Fitzgerald's] Pat Hobby. Driving a limo to pay the bills, dining out on the sole screenplay he almost got made, Wiggins endures repeated and abject humiliations, from knocking himself out cold on the Oscars red carpet to performing sexual favours for a senior film exec. A bleakly funny insider’s perspective on the motion picture business.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Five books to inspire you to build a better future

At the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Kameron Hurley tagged five books to inspire you to make tomorrow better, including:
Dark Orbit, by Caroline Ives Gilman

This rather recent science fiction novel coasted under a lot of people’s radar, which is a shame, because it delivers so much that is wonderful about science fiction. It’s got competent, intrepid explorers, science!, space anomalies, incredible new worlds, and the optimism in humanity’s future to insist that we could tackle some of the universe’s strangest phenomena without destroying ourselves. This is an exploratory team that lands on a planet teeming with dark matter. I mean, how much more science fiction can you get? But what really impresses about this novel is its turn inward into an exploration of how our expectations about the unknown may make it more difficult for us to understand it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The six most deceptive marriages in fiction

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged six of the most deceptive marriages in fiction, including:
The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena

Lapena’s debut set a standard in deceptive marriages with Anne and Marco Conti. On the surface, they are the perfect young couple: successful, loving, blessed with an adorable baby daughter. The first hint that they’re not that perfect is their decision to leave baby Cora alone for the evening when the babysitter cancels on the night of a party. Arriving home late and inebriated, they discover the front door open and the baby kidnapped. The investigation slowly picks apart their perfect image, revealing rot and lies, building towards a series of revelations that make it clear just how much of a deception the marriage really was.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 20, 2017

Top ten books about the immigrant experience

Abeer Y. Hoque is a writer, photographer, and editor. Her new book is Olive Witch: A Memoir.

One of the author's ten essential books about the immigrant experience, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

Forget that Island of a Thousand Mirrors is Nayomi Munaweera’s first book. You won’t be reminded of it for a second. Not with that assured plot, the omniscient and precise characterization, the beautiful language, and the telling of tragic war torn history through the eyes of children and ordinary people. The story follows three children growing up in Colombo through civil war, the Tamil resistance movement, and a new life in America. It’s all seamlessly done, Munaweera taking charge of the storytelling like the fables of old. This book is a fast ferocious education in Sri Lankan history, a wrenching treatise on the horrors of war, and a deeply moving story of families, childhood friendships, and adult relationships. “This is what it means, then, to be spoiled. It means to be broken. It means forever.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ten top alternate Londons in fantasy

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged ten favorite alternate Londons in fantasy. One title on the list:
The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman

The London visited by Library Spy Irene in the first book of Cogman’s popular series is definitely “alternate,” in the sense that it’s fairly squirming with vampires, faeries, and werewolves. The mysterious book the magical librarians have been sent there to retrieve there has already been stolen when they arrive, and Cogman has a lot of fun playing with Alternate London’s Alternate Criminal Elements, which begin a complex game of violent maneuvers to take control, giving us a deep-dive into her vision of a grim, magical city.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ten amazing novels that begin “Dear Diary"

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged ten amazing novels that begin “Dear Diary," including:
Random Acts of Senseless Violence, by Jack Womack

Womack’s 1993 novel should have made a big splash, considering his award-winning work up to that point, but it was largely ignored (some blame the garish cover). The diary of 12-year old Lola, who goes from a sheltered girl attending a tony private school in Manhattan to a streetwise gangster as a near-future American society falls apart around her spins a frighteningly plausible story of decline—one that resonates even more sharply today.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 17, 2017

Five books to read if you loved "Hidden Figures"

Swapna Krishna is a freelance writer, editor, and giant space and sci-fi geek. At she tagged five books to read if you loved Hidden Figures, including:
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

You may not realize that employing women as human computers goes back long before NASA and the age of spaceflight. In the mid-1800s, Harvard University began using the wives, sisters, and daughters of their resident (male) astronomers as calculators, but later began employing women in their own right. In an age when photography was transforming the astronomy, it was women who were tasked with studying the photographic glass plates of the sky each day. Women made some of the biggest discoveries in astronomy in this era, heralding the beginning of the discipline of astrophysics, yet their contributions have largely been forgotten to history. Sobel’s book begins in the 1880s and continues all the way through the 1950s, celebrating the different women who worked over the years to advance our understanding of the universe.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue