Monday, February 29, 2016

Joyce Maynard's six favorite books

Joyce Maynard's novels include To Die For, Labor Day, and Under the Influence. One of her six best books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan

Always a master of psychological ambiguities in relationships — and a perennial favorite of mine — McEwan here depicts a friendship gone horribly wrong. When we meet vacationing lovers Colin and Mary, their relationship has turned stagnant. The heat and passion return when they meet another couple — until their new friends take them to a chilling and violent place.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Comfort of Strangers is among Jean Hanff Korelitz's six best books about failed marriages, five books that changed Evie Wyld, Kate Kellaway's top ten fictional holidays, and John Mullan's ten best visits to Venice in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Twenty-five books about women in war

At Bustle Kristian Wilson tagged twenty-five top books about women in war, including:
Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm

The Nazi regime imprisoned women at many of its concentration camps, but Ravensbrück was the only prison designed to house women exclusively. A very small percentage of its prisoners were Jewish; most were political enemies of the Third Reich, lesbians, former experiment victims, and prostitutes. Sara Helm's Ravensbrück is the story of the camp and the women it held.
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see: Caitlin White's list of eleven books that tell the stories of women in the U.S. armed forces.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Five YA reads that transport you to dreamland

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of five YA reads that explore dreams which he tagged at the B&N Teen blog:
Dreamstrider, by Lindsay Smith

In this exciting standalone fantasy, we meet Livia, who is, as you might guess from the title, a dreamstrider. She can enter the world of dreams, and through it, affect people who slumber. Trained by a brilliant scholar and scientist, she uses her gifts as a dreamstrider to explore the dreams of enemies, inhabit their bodies, and get information. But, she isn’t that great at it. So what happens when you’re supposed to be the hero, but you’re not the best at what you do?

There’s so much to love in this world that I’m hard pressed to figure out what to highlight. You’ve got the layers upon layers of political intrigue, built up as a result of two kingdoms on the cusp of a war that’ll ravage the physical world and the world of dreams (if you’ve read Smith’s Sekret duology, you know she loves the political intrigue). And then there are the characters, memorable and flawed, and the romances and betrayals that weave throughout. And then, of course, we have the story, which is thrilling, imaginative, and just un-put-down-able.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books that explain Russia today

Sergei Lebedev's debut novel is Oblivion. At Publishers Weekly Lebedev, who was born in Moscow in 1981, tagged ten books that explain Russia's complicated past and present, including:
The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB by Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan

When he became president, Vladimir Putin joked at a meeting of his colleagues from the FSB (the successor to the KGB): “Mission accomplished. The undercover operation was successful.” Even back then there were many who didn’t take this as a joke.

In the USSR the Central Committee reined in the KGB’s ambitions to power, using it as an instrument, “a sword of retribution.” The lone exception was Yuri Andropov, who became general secretary of the Communist Party in 1982.

The book by Borogan and Soltadov shows how, in the post-Soviet era, the situation has been diametrically reversed. Political parties and the executive and legislative branches of power have become instruments of a group of KGB’ers, agents who have become the true masters of the country.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 26, 2016

Top ten rodents in children's fiction

Ross Welford is the author of Time Traveling with a Hamster.

One of his ten favorite rodents in children's fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Stuart Little by EB White

If you’re going to do talking mice in clothes, why not go the whole hog and have one with human parents? Such is the charm of EB White’s 1945 classic that the sheer strangeness of the concept soon becomes irrelevant. The rest of the human cast take a humanised rodent in their stride as well, and Stuart Little gets to drive a car (a small one, obviously) and even has a diminutive human girlfriend. Sounds ridiculous, is ridiculous – but it’s funny, heart-warming and exciting all the same.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Kate DiCamillo's ten best rodents she has known and loved in children's books and John Mullan's list of ten of the best rats in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The top ten books of war reportage

Janine di Giovanni, the Middle East editor of Newsweek and a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, has won four major journalistic awards, including the National Magazine Award. Her new book is The Morning They Came For Us: Dispatches from Syria.

One of di Giovanni's top ten books of war reportage, as shared at the Guardian:
Hiroshima by John Hersey

And here is where compassion lies. All the brutality and horror of war down to the most base level, told by six survivors. On par with Heart of Darkness. I was 15 when I read it, and it changed my life.
Read about the other books on the list.

Hiroshima is on The American Scholar editors' list of the eleven best sentences in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

David Robb's six best books

David Robb is best known for playing Dr. Clarkson in the TV series Downton Abbey and Sir Thomas Boleyn in the TV adaptation of Wolf Hall. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson

A perfect adventure story that encourages reading in the young. I was an only child so I read a lot. It frightens you in a delicious way. There’s the tap, tap of Blind Pew’s stick and the perpetually drunk Black Dog. You just know he’s a wrong’un.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Treasure Island also appears on Gillian Philip’s top ten list of islands in children's fiction, Robert Gore-Langton's top twelve list of the greatest children's books of all time, Emily St. John Mandel's list of the six books that influenced her most as a writer, David McCallum's six best books list, Bear Grylls's top ten list of adventure stories, Eoin Colfer's top 10 list of villains in fiction, Charlie Fletcher's top ten list of swashbuckling tales of derring-do, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best first lines in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best pirates in fiction, and among Mal Peet's top ten books to read aloud, Philip Pullman's six best books, and Eoin Colfer's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Five YA books about intrepid aspiring reporters

At the BN Teen Blog Nicole Hill tagged five YA novels about intrepid aspiring reporters, including:
Fake ID, by Lamar Giles

In this tightly plotted, blisteringly paced thriller, Nick Pearson is pounding the pavement like any investigative reporter worth his salt. Though Nick’s circumstances are slightly different than most reporters: he and his family are in the witness protection program, thanks to his father’s previous occupation as bookkeeper to a mobster. But it’s hard to keep your head down when your new friend, the editor of the school newspaper, turns up dead in suspicious circumstances. Instead of lying low, Nick has to dig deep to find the truth—and it involves a lot of very close calls with danger.
Read about the other books on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Fake ID by Lamar Giles.

The Page 69 Test: Fake ID.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 22, 2016

Rachel Cusk's six favorite books

Rachel Cusk is the author of three memoirs and eight novels. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence

This is a book all women should read, to find out how we became what we are in the modern world; ditto all English people. Lawrence is the great analyst of transformation and change and self-realization, and this novel — about three generations of an English family — leaves readers with the skills to continue that analysis in their own living of life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ursula Brangwen, who features both in The Rainbow (1915) and Women in Love (1920), is among Judith Mackrell's five young fictional heroines in top coming-of-age novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Eleven stories of truly science fictional romance

At the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ceridwen Christensen tagged eleven stories of love and robots. One title on the list:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Honestly, I struggled with whether to include this one. I figured I’d get a bunch of people yelling at me if I didn’t at least acknowledge it, even though there really isn’t a central love story. Dick’s works often grapple with what it means to be human, both how we can know ourselves and what the world around us is. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? follows the (sort of) bounty hunter Rick Deckard, tasked with “retiring” rogue androids. He ends up in a tangled relationship with the very nearly human android Rachael, and, you know, could be an android himself. One of the novel’s central questions is empathy, that ability to imagine and honor the interior states of others. Maybe it’s love, maybe it isn’t—maybe you’re human, or you aren’t—but if you can’t tell the difference, what’s the difference?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? also appears on Ryan Britt's list of six of the best detectives from science fiction literature, Weston Williams's list of fifteen classic science fiction books, Allegra Frazier's list of four great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, Ryan Menezes's list of five movies that improved the book, Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the twelve most unfaithful movie versions of science fiction and fantasy books, Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, John Mullan's list of ten of the best titles in the form of questions, Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of ten classic sci-fi books that were originally considered failures and Robert Collins's top ten list of dystopian novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Six behind-the-scenes novels for the tabloid reader

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the B&N Reads blog she tagged six top behind-the-scenes novels for the tabloid reader, including:
Gonzo Girl, by Cheryl Della Pietra

In the summer of 1992, Pietra worked as an assistant to gonzo journalist/cult novelist Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). In this lightly fictionalized account, which takes place over a longer time span, readers are immersed in a juicy, sordid, bizarre, and drug-fueled roman à clef. Gonzo Girl's narrator, Alley Russo, is a recent Ivy League grad reluctant to set aside her writing dreams to help out at her family’s business, so she leaps at the chance to work for Walker Reade at his ranch in Colorado, where he’s supposed to be finishing a long-delayed manuscript. Alley’s job is to keep him focused on typing at least a page per night to fax to his publisher, but he insists she mix him drinks and keep pace with his round-the-clock ingestion of LSD and cocaine. A coming-of-age tale viewed through a haze of debauchery.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 19, 2016

Top ten female friendships in YA

Sara Barnard is the author of Beautiful Broken Things, which features friends Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne. One of her ten top female friendships in YA literature, as shared at the Guardian:
Elizabeth and Christina in Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Feeling Sorry for Celia is one of the landmark books of my teens and there’s one pretty clear reason why: it was the first teen book I’d ever read where the story was about friendship instead of romance. But it didn’t lose anything for being that – it’s funny and sweet and heart-warming. It’s hilarious and frustrating and sad. Feeling Sorry for Celia, which is set in Australia, tells the story of two girls in separate schools – Elizabeth and Christina – who are brought together by a pen pal scheme dreamed up by their enthusiastic English teachers. The friendship that develops alongside everything else that happens in the book is still one of my favourite across all of YA.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Five fantasy worlds with real world lessons

Randy Henderson is the author of the “dark and quirky” contemporary fantasy novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, and its sequel, Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free. One fictional world that had an impact on his view or understanding of the real world, as shared at
Midkemia/Kelewan (The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist)
  • Different cultures may be driven by fundamentally different histories, different views of the world, and views of what is important.
  • Caring for all of humanity is as important as loyalty to any specific nation or group.
  • A misspent youth does not doom one to a wasted life, especially when offered options.
  • Friends may go on widely different paths as they grow, but true friendship accepts change.
  • If I can’t have a fire lizard, I’ll settle for a drake.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Top ten Arctic novels

Ian McGuire's new novel is The North Water. One of the author's ten top Arctic novels, as shared at the Guardian:
Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean

An old-school 60s thriller set aboard a US nuclear submarine travelling below the Arctic ice pack. No women, no sex, very little explicit violence, but lots of details about submarine engineering, and plenty of strong, laconic men in situations of extreme peril. MacLean’s sentences are sometimes clunky and his characters (even the Americans) talk and think like Battle of Britain Spitfire pilots. But the plot is a juggernaut, and what other novel shows us the Arctic from underneath?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten re-imagined fairytales

Elli Woollard is the author of The Giant of Jum, illustrated by Benji Davies. One of her ten top re-imagined fairytales, as shared at the Guardian:
Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T Smith

Little Red is back, but this time she’s in the African jungle, and it’s not wolves she has to contend with but a big, hungry lion. A brilliant reworking of the classic tale, Alex T Smith’s story matches vibrant illustrations and a loveable cast of characters (Little Red’s pet goat is a particular favourite) to create a truly hilarious story.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ten must-read biographies of black Americans

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well. One title on Somers's list of ten of the best biographies of black Americans, as shared at B & N Reads:
Fannie Lou Hamer

Hamer was born the youngest of 20 children to a poor family in Mississippi, and was given an involuntary hysterectomy by a white doctor following a mandate by the state to reduce the black population. It’s no coincidence her activism bloomed shortly thereafter, and Hamer became one of the most prominent voices organizing for equal rights—activism for which she was nearly beaten to death by police in 1963. Her fierce life can be summed up with her quote engraved on her tombstone: “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 15, 2016

Six truly colorblind SF/F universes

"In the modern world, race influences everything—whether we’re aware of (or want to admit it) it or not," writes Jeff Somers at the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. He tagged six "stories notable for the way they address race, sometimes by not explicitly addressing it at all," including:
The Culture series, by Iain M. Banks

Banks’ classic series not only explicitly features a humanoid race that is fully racially integrated to begin with, it also gives its members near-total power over their bodies—sex, gender, and appearance—making every single physical attribute simply a matter of preference. This naturally renders any prejudice or distinctions based on those traits more or less meaningless, making the Culture perhaps the ultimate example of a colorblind civilization—at least when it comes to the humanoid characters. The artificial intelligences have their own prejudices to contend with.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Iain M. Banks' Culture novels appear on Annalee Newitz's top ten list of books we should read to understand brains of the future and Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten book series so addictive, you never want them to end. Consider Phlebas, the first story in the Culture series, is one of Peter Millar's six favorite satires on despotism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The five best worst couples in literature

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well. One title on Somers's list of five of the best worst couples in literature, as shared at B & N Reads:
The Creepiest Duo in History: Humbert and Dolores (Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov)

We all know that if someone behaved in real life the way people act in romantic comedies, bursting in on weddings and making speeches and committing all sorts of atrocities in order to prove to someone that they’re insanely obsessed, they’d be arrested. Take that sort of obsessive behavior even further and you get into the dark, icky waters of Humbert Humbert’s sick obsession with the young girl he calls Lolita. You may not have a boyfriend or girlfriend this Valentine’s Day, but at least you didn’t have some creepy old murderer chasing after you as a child, even as he erases all evidence of your actual personality from his solipsistic and horrifyingly self-forgiving memoir. It’s the little things in life that get us through each day: coffee, kitten videos, and the lack of pedophile stalkers.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lolita appears on Brian Boyd's ten best list of Vladimir Nabokov books, Billy Collins' six favorite books list, Charlotte Runcie's list of the ten best bad mothers in literature, Kathryn Williams's list of fifteen notable works on lust, Boris Kachka's six favorite books list, Fiona Maazel's list of the ten worst fathers in books, Jennifer Gilmore's list of the ten worst mothers in books, Steven Amsterdam's list of five top books that have anxiety at their heart, John Banville's five best list of books on early love and infatuation, Kathryn Harrison's list of favorite books with parentless protagonists, Emily Temple's list of ten of the greatest kisses in literature, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lakes in literature, Dan Vyleta's top ten list of books in second languages, Rowan Somerville's top ten list of books of good sex in fiction, Henry Sutton's top ten list of unreliable narrators, Adam Leith Gollner's top ten list of fruit scenes in literature, Laura Hird's literary top ten list, Monica Ali's ten favorite books list, Laura Lippman's 5 most important books list, Mohsin Hamid's 10 favorite books list, and Dani Shapiro's 10 favorite books list. It is Lena Dunham's favorite book.

Also see: The ten worst couples in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Fifteen contemporary YA books that make fabulous valentines

One title on Dahlia Adler's list of fifteen contemporary YA books that make fabulous valentines, as shared on the B & N Teen Blog:
The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions), by Amy Spalding

Jules has got her eyes on the prize this year, and that prize is the position of editor of the school newspaper. She doesn’t have her sights set on Alex, the new guy with an old past—as a boy bander, no less. She’s definitely not looking to fall for him. But most of all, when she does, she definitely doesn’t expect him to join the band of the school’s biggest betrayers, in the form of a rival campus news organization. To Jules, this is an unforgivable act of war, but when it comes down to her pride or her heart, something’s gotta give. Per usual, Spalding’s newest is laugh-out-loud funny with fabulous parents, but I think this may be my very favorite of hers.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 12, 2016

Top ten doomed romances in YA fiction

Catherine Doyle lives in the west of Ireland. She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in English from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her latest book, Inferno, is the second part of the Blood for Blood series.

For the Guardian she tagged her ten top doomed romances in YA fiction, including:
Katniss and Gale in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is a controversial choice, but you can’t root for Katniss and Peeta without also understanding the dissolution of the love (and more importantly, all the potential) she had with her best friend Gale, aka Hot Hemsworth. Perhaps Katniss and Gale would have ended up together had she not been reaped, had she not had to kill a bunch of other people and dismantle her entire problematic society from within. People change, especially teenagers. They drift apart, and the woman that Katniss became was no longer suited to the man that Gale grew into. In the end, Peeta is more than a worthy choice – kind and loyal, and true, but a part of me will always mourn Revolutionary Gale, just a little, every now and then.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on Ryan Britt's list of six of the best Scout Finches -- "headstrong, stalwart, and true" young characters -- from science fiction and fantasy, Natasha Carthew's top ten list of revenge reads, Anna Bradley ten best list of literary quotes in a crisis, Laura Jarratt's top ten list of YA thrillers with sisters, Jeff Somers's top eight list of revolutionary SF/F novels, Tina Connolly's top five list of books where the girl saves the boy, Sarah Alderson's top ten list of feminist icons in children's and teen books, Jonathan Meres's top ten list of books that are so unfair, SF Said's top ten list of unlikely heroes, Rebecca Jane Stokes's top ten list of fictional families you could probably abide during holiday season and top eight list of books perfect for reality TV fiends, Chrissie Gruebel's list of favorite fictional fashion icons, Lucy Christopher's top ten list of literary woods, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best books with teenage narrators, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Top ten books for the broken-hearted

Susie Steiner is the author of Missing, Presumed. One of her ten top books for the broken-hearted, as shared at the Guardian:
Solitude by Anthony Storr

Did Beethoven compose great works before snuggling up in happy coupledom? He did not. While the world harps on about relationships being the key to happiness, psychiatrist Storr argues in this very kindly work that we pay far too little attention to some of the other great satisfactions of life – work and creativity. This book is a rallying cry for the irascible, lonely curmudgeons. We have stuff going for us too, says Storr, with much reference to psychoanalytic theory, and the twin human instincts – outward towards attachment yes, but also inward towards self-sufficiency and the kind of contemplation that can only happen when we are alone.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ten of 2016's cleverest novels with great premises

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well. One title on Somers's list of ten of 2016's cleverest novels with great premises, as shared at B & N Reads:
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, by Sunil Yapa

Set during the 1990 Seattle WTO protests, Yapa offers seven characters from both sides of the conflict, telling seven stories and weaving them together in a tense, deeply considered story that breaks hearts and offers insights into the modern world. This is one of those books whose elevator pitch—seven people’s lives intertwine during the protests—is both thrillingly simple and wonderfully deceptive, as the story is much more than the sum of its parts.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Five YA reads for fans of the Wild West

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of five YA reads for fans of the Wild West that he tagged at the B&N Teen blog:
Under a Painted Sky, by Stacey Lee

A powerful friendship on the open trail is at the heart of Stacey Lee’s beautiful debut novel, with a diverse cast of characters on a heart-wrenching adventure. There’s Samantha, who abandons her dream and flees for her life with a runaway slave, Annamae. Disguised as boys, the two push forward, wrestling with their past as they search for a future. From the romance to the humor to the heart, there’s something for everyone in this debut, and I seriously can’t wait to read more historic YA from Lee. Outrun the Moon is due out in May, and I’d like it right now, please.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Under a Painted Sky is among Nicole Hill's five top historical YA novels about adventurous and independent-minded women, John Hansen's ten must-read YA novels you've probably never heard of, Sarah Skilton's top six YA books featuring cross-cultural friendships, and Dahlia Adler's seven top YA novels about best friendship.

My Book, The Movie: Under a Painted Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sebastian Faulks' six favorite books

Sebastian Faulks's novels include Birdsong, Human Traces, Charlotte Gray, and In Where My Heart Used To Beat. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Speaking of quirky prose...Conrad's colonial Far East is depicted in inch-thick layers of dark and luscious colors. Jim, the fallen, enigmatic hero, remains fascinating yet unknowable as moral study overlaps with high-seas adventure.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Five top books with unforgettable sisters

Lee Kelly is the author of A Criminal Magic and City of Savages. One of her five favorite books with unforgettable sisters, as shared at
Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Saba lives with her brother Lugh, her little sister Emmi, and her Pa in a post-apocalyptic, sandstorm-plagued wasteland left by the previous “Wrecker” civilization. When Saba’s brother is kidnapped, Saba vows to cross her dangerous world to save him—but she’s forced to take her sister Emmi with her. The setting and plot of this post-apocalyptic tale are Mad Max-level epic: cage fighting, girl-gang revolutionaries and a corrupt, mind-controlling society. But what made this blockbuster story accessible for me was the complicated relationship between Saba and Emmi. At the beginning of the novel, Saba holds Emmi responsible for her mother’s death. But over the course of their quest, Emmi earns Saba’s respect, and their relationship evolves, matures and deepens.
Read about the other books on the list.

Blood Red Road is among Sarah Holding's top ten "cli-fi novels that make you think deeply about the human consequences of climate change."

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Clara Bensen: four books that changed me

Clara Bensen is the author of No Baggage: A Tale of Love and Wandering.

One of four books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Rebecca Solnit​

Who knew that putting one foot in front of the other could be unpacked in so many different ways? In Wanderlust, Rebecca Solnit dissects the history of walking, guiding the reader through the politics, philosophy, and science of a movement many of us take for granted. I love when a book reveals a hidden world that's been in front of me the whole time. Wanderlust brings new meaning to even the simplest pedestrian acts.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Gina McKee's six best books

Gina McKee is an English actor and producer, known for In the Loop (2009), Notting Hill (1999) and Atonement (2007). One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
TALES OF THE CITY by Armistead Maupin

I totally devoured this entertaining series.

If my train was held up, I’d think: “Great, another few pages.”

A young woman arrives in San Francisco and you meet the people she gets to know, particularly among the gay community.

I came to London in 1982 and lived in a shared house so I recognised the pattern.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 5, 2016

Five notable books about weird spies

Max Gladstone has been thrown from a horse in Mongolia and nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award. He is the author of the Craft Sequence of books about undead gods and skeletal law wizards—Full Fathom Five, Three Parts DeadTwo Serpents Rise, and Last First Snow—and one of the authors of the new series The Witch Who Came in From the Cold at Serial Box. One of five books about weird spies that Gladstone tagged at
The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett

The past’s not just another country, it’s a whole damn other world. Dorothy Dunnett’s hero, Francis Crawford of Lymond, spends much of his titular series as a sort of freelance intelligence agent, frequently in Scotland’s service, but often in the service of Scotland’s greater interests regardless of whatever Scotland’s current government might have to say about the subject. Lymond swings between professions—fugitive, mercenary captain, nation-builder—but he’s always a bit of a spy. It’s a stretch including him on this list, but historical fiction taken this seriously has as much world building as any work of fantasy or science fiction—and once you add in the peculiarities of Lymond’s world (the separate order of geniuses to which he and a few select other characters belong, the Dame de Doubtance, etc.), we’re practically in another universe altogether.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Top ten books about cancer

Austin Duffy grew up in Ireland and studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin. He is a practicing medical oncologist at the National Cancer Institute in Washington DC. This Living and Immortal Thing is his first novel. One of the author's ten top books about cancer, as shared at the Guardian:
Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth

One of the books where the illness is confined to a devastating side role. Although you could say the themes of Roth’s book – bodily cravings, pushed to their limit – are part of the same spectrum, the other end of it maybe. I had just moved to New York to begin a hospital fellowship when I read the part where Drenka, Mickey Sabbath’s lover, lies in the final stages of ovarian cancer. I remember well the terrible stillness in which I sat for minutes, the book closed in front of me, stunned by Roth’s highly specific language, the best depiction of a cancer patient I have ever read, before getting up and crossing First Avenue to go to clinic.
Read about the other books on the list.

Sabbath's Theater is among Sam Lipsyte's five favorite humorous yet weighty novels, Ben Schrank's top six books on love, betrayal, and creative people who behave badly, Edward Docx's top ten deranged characters, and Howard Jacobson's five best novels on failure.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The ten best books set in the American West

Callan Wink's new story collection is Dog Run Moon. A fly-fishing guide on the Yellowstone River, he is the recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship and a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University.

One of Wink'ss ten best books set in the American West, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Disparaging Cormac McCarthy seems somewhat fashionable these days amongst urbane MFA and lit-crit intelligentsia but this novel still knocks me over every time I read it. In fact, I have read it at least once a year for the past ten or so and it is still as unrelentingly grim and powerful as the first time I picked it up. Comparisons to Moby-Dick are common and, I think, justified.
Read about the other books on the list.

Blood Meridian is one authority's pick for the Great Texas novel; it is among Simon Sebag Montefiore's six favorite books, Richard Kadrey's five books about awful, awful people, Jason Sizemore's top five books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair, Robert Allison's top ten novels of desert war, Alexandra Silverman's top fourteen wrathful stories, James Franco's six favorite books, Philipp Meyer's five best books that explain America, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, David Vann's six favorite books, Robert Olmstead's six favorite books, Michael Crummey's top ten literary feuds, Philip Connors's top ten wilderness books, six books that made a difference to Kazuo Ishiguro, Clive Sinclair's top 10 westerns, Maile Meloy's six best books, and David Foster Wallace's five direly underappreciated post-1960 U.S. novels. It appears on the New York Times list of the best American fiction of the last 25 years and among the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Six critical reads for Black History Month

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. For B & N Reads she tagged "six timeless and timely must-reads" for Black History Month, including:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

In her astoundingly sharp and moving debut memoir, nominated for a National Book Award in 1970, literary hero Angelou reveals the everyday beauty and brutality of growing up black in the old school South of the 1930s and ’40s—the aggressions and transgressions that shattered her young spirit, and the shelters of faith and community and literature that helped put her back together, bit by bit. Angelou’s rhythmic, nuanced storytelling feels like a throwback, but it’s still relevant today. A seminal work of American literature.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 1, 2016

Six top books about people trapped in oppressive systems

Anjan Sundaram is the author of Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship and Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo. An award-winning journalist, he has reported from Africa and the Middle East for the New York Times and the Associated Press. His writing on Africa has also appeared in Foreign Policy, Fortune, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Guardian, the International Herald Tribune, and the Huffington Post. His war correspondence from the Central African Republic won a Frontline Club Award in 2015, and his reporting on Pygmy tribes in Congo's rainforests won a Reuters prize in 2006. His work has also been shortlisted for the Prix Bayeux and the Kurt Schork award. Stringer was a Royal African Society Book of the Year in 2014.

One of Sundaram's six favorite books about people trapped in oppressive systems, as shared at The Week magazine:
Blood Kin by Ceridwen Dovey

We never meet the deposed dictator around whom Dovey's debut novel revolves. Instead, we come to know him through the stories of his chef, his portraitist, and his barber. Through them, we learn the mysterious and insidious ways in which power, and the tendency to abuse it, work within us.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Stringer.

--Marshal Zeringue