Saturday, May 27, 2017

The forty greatest villains in literature

One title on ShortList's roundup of literature's forty greatest villains:
Uriah Heep (David Copperfield) by Charles Dickens (1850)

Another of Dickens' dastardly villains, Uriah Heep is perhaps the most cloying of all of them, being patronising and insincere whilst using manipulation to hide his true motivation: pure greed. Employing blackmail, fraud and treachery to gain control of the Wickfield Fortune, Heep's character is so ubiquitous that paragons of virtue such as Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson have been compared to him. A vile villain from the master of vile villains.
Read about the other entries on the list.

David Copperfield is among Siri Hustvedt's six favorite books, Janet Davey’s top ten schoolchildren in fiction, Frank Rich's top ten books, John Boyne's top ten child narrators, Lynn Shepherd's top ten fictional drownings and Elizabeth Gilbert's six favorite books. It appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best seductions in literature, ten of the best trips to Canterbury in literature and ten of the best valets in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 26, 2017

Lucy Worsley's 6 best books

Lucy Worsley's latest book is Jane Austen at Home: A Biography. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
EMMA by Jane Austen

My favourite Austen novel because it’s got a prickly, difficult heroine. It has elements of a detective story in it and also the nicest hero in Mr Knightley who is kind and wise. My new book is dedicated to my husband who I name as my own Mr Knightley.
Read about the other books on the list.

Emma is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best wines in literature, and among Sophie Kinsella's six best books, Tanya Byron's six best books, Judith Martin's five favorite novels, and Monica Ali's ten favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books on modern Germany history

Hester Vaizey is a lecturer in Modern European History, and a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. Her books include Surviving Hitler's War, Keep Britain Tidy and other posters from the Nanny State, and Born in the GDR: Living in the Shadow of the Wall. One of her five best books on modern Germany history, as discussed with Sophie Roell at Five Books:
Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men (1992)

It’s horrendously difficult reading because it takes you through the psychological transformation from ordinary, middle-aged men into killing machines, almost. I remember, when I studied history at university, that it was one of the books—out of all the hundreds of thousands of history books out there—that really stayed with me. It was so vividly written.

We know a lot about the Holocaust and how it happened but less about what the killers themselves felt about what they were doing. And understandably it has been quite a taboo topic. In the book, there are descriptions of these men shooting people at close quarters. They end up with brains and blood on their faces. 20% of their battalion drop out because they found it too distressing, but 80% percent carry on.

Browning talks about how they drank a lot of alcohol to keep going. There’s some comfort to be had in knowing that this behaviour didn’t come naturally in some way. Alcohol was a crutch that they needed to get through.

It’s one of those things we wonder about the Nazis and the Holocaust—are these people other from us or are they just humans too? And Christopher Browning gives them a very human face.

I had a student who was quite disengaged and wasn’t sure whether he’d made the right choice studying history. He did an essay on the Holocaust and he read this book. It was a defining moment. He wrote me a letter, at the end of his degree, to say thank you. He cited this book as the reason that he carried on doing history.
Read about the other books on Vaizey's list at the Five Books website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Five top novels in which music is a character

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged five novels in which music is a character, including:
Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami

Using an orchestral version of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” in much the same way Proust used his madeleine, Murakami’s protagonist Toru Watanabe is moved to sink into a reverie about his past. The song is repeatedly referenced throughout the text, as Toru remembers his love affair with beautiful, delicate Naoko. The song becomes a Greek chorus of regret and loss, rising up like a ghost at key moments, altering the tone of the story in unexpectedly powerful ways. You can easily imagine Murakami listening to Rubber Soul on repeat as he wrote; listening to it yourself while reading it creates an incredible sense of looping time and interconnectedness.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Norwegian Wood is among Matthew Carl Strecher's ten best Haruki Murakami books, Melissa Albert's five best books that inspire great mix tapes and Julith Jedamus' top ten Japanese novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Top ten unlikely romantic heroes in fiction

Jenny Colgan is a novelist, journalist and occasional radio pundit. One of her top ten weird romantic heroes, as shared at the Guardian:
Amit Chatterji in A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

Amit shouldn’t be an unusual love interest. He’s a handsome, well-connected lawyer/poet who writes Lata beautiful verses. Lata, on the other hand, disappointed by already losing Kabir, the real love of her life – SPOILER ALERT – unapologetically blows him off for some pushy upstart who wears two-tone shoes. Sigh.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Suitable Boy is among David Haig's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Five top books about space-faring history

Jeffrey Kluger's latest book is Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon. One of his five favorite books that make epic drama out of space-faring history, as shared at Tor.com:
A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin

The great sweep of all of the Apollo lunar missions is included in Chaikin’s landmark book. It’s not just Apollos 8, 11 and 13; it’s Apollo 15—one of history’s greatest scientific field expeditions; it’s Apollo 12, with its improbably precise landing within walking distance of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft, which had landed on the moon two and a half years earlier; it’s Apollo 17, the capstone—and the poignant end—of the Apollo lunar program. Chaikin’s book served as the basis of the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon, but even without that spectacular TV treatment, it would be a triumph of powerful history masterfully told.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Paul Theroux's six favorite books

Paul Theroux's latest novel is Mother Land. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Emma Bovary, married to a good-hearted drudge, has a healthy libido, a shopping addiction, and an unhealthy sense of romance. Flaubert's landmark work is both a romantic novel and a critique of romantic novels, and in its writing and observation it is modern and memorable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Madame Bovary is on Peter Brooks's list of favorite Flaubert's works (at #1), Ed Sikov's list of eight great books that got slammed by critics, BBC.com 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.

Learn about Theroux's five top travel books about an intense experience of a particular place.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 22, 2017

Six YA stories about life-changing summers

At the BN Teen blog Natalie Zutter tagged six YA books about life-changing summers, including:
Proof of Forever, by Lexa Hillyer

Hillyer’s debut has been called “The Sisterhood of the (Time) Traveling Pants for a new generation,” because instead of a magical pair of formfitting jeans, you’ve got a photo booth that transports four former best friends back to a summer camp session two years prior. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe must mine the past two years to discover where they went wrong, and what made Joy walk away from their friendships with no explanation. As they retrace their steps during the week they spent at Camp Okahatchee, taking care not to change the past, they stumble upon the dark secret that divided them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Five of the best books on Southeast Asian travel literature

Cat Barton is a correspondent for the Agence France Presse in Hong Kong. At Five Books she tagged five top titles on Southeast Asian travel literature, including:
The Quiet American by Graham Greene

It’s a fantastic novel, which is set in Saigon in the early 1950s and foreshadows the Vietnam War. It’s particularly nice to read when you’re in Ho Chi Minh now because Greene describes the city extraordinarily well. It’s obviously set in a very different time, but many of the buildings he writes about can still be seen today.

The plot involves an embittered British journalist, Fowler, who is living in Saigon. Fowler, an opium addict, is in love with a young, beautiful Vietnamese woman called Phuong. Fowler then meets Pyle, ‘a quiet American’, and he initially feels an almost paternal instinct towards him. Later he realises that Pyle has fallen in love with Phuong and steals her away from him. Phuong wanted to marry Fowler but he couldn’t get a divorce from his Catholic wife. When Pyle makes all sorts of promises to marry Phuong and take her to the United States, Phuong accepts – before everything then changes. Fowler gradually realises that Pyle is in Vietnam as a passionate advocate of a ‘third force’, which then stirs up a local uprising to win the war. This involves tactics such as planting bombs in public places, which kills innocent people.

Fowler’s relationship with Phuong in particular is beautifully described and it’s a very careful and insightful portrait of the nature of some relationships between Western men and young Southeast Asian women, which still has much resonance today.
Read about the other entries at Five Books.

The Quiet American is among Richard Haass's six top books for understanding global politics, 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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ten of the best true crime books

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir. One of her ten favorite true crime books, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Killings by Calvin Trillin

How many ways does murder occur? Killings—an odd, addictive little book that was recently reissued—lives up to its title with a collection of brief, strange, brilliantly written murder vignettes, all originally published in The New Yorker. Follow this one up with Reporting at Wit’s End: Tales from the New Yorker, a collection of St. Clair McKelway’s crime beat reporting for the magazine through the 1930s and 1940s, that features witty and drily delivered portraits of murderous gangsters and clever counterfeiters.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 19, 2017

Five great YA novels about dangerous games

At the BN Teen Blog Eric Smith tagged five top YA novels about dangerous games, including:
The Gauntlet, by Karuna Riazi

Though The Gauntlet is middle grade, it has major crossover appeal, as with The Night Circus. In Riazi’s debut, three friends find themselves trapped inside a board game they have to take apart, to get themselves, and everyone else who has been trapped inside, out. If this sounds a bit like Jumanji, well, you’re spot on. Because it’s very much like that, with a steampunk/Middle Eastern twist. It’s a diverse read that’s exciting and full of thrills, with wildly imaginative monsters and magic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about bad girls

Ellen Klages's books include The Green Glass Sea and White Sands, Red Menace. One of her five books about bad girls who dance where they want to, as shared at Tor.com:
Point of Honour
Madeleine E. Robins
2002

Madeleine and I roomed together at Interaction, the Glasgow WorldCon in 2005. Afterwards we rented a car (my credit card, her other-side-of-the-road driving skills), and motored down to London. It was a two-day journey that took us through Yorkshire, and the Moors, and to Whitby, places that, as far as I was concerned, were fictional, and were from books that I had not read, even in high school, when I was supposed to.

I have zero knowledge of classic English literature, and Mad has lots, and adores it. I asked questions, she told fascinating stories, and it was one of the great road trips of all time. We finally managed to give back the car at Enterprise’s tiny, hidden office in a mews near Hyde Park—we had no GPS and the petrol was down to fumes—breathed a great sigh of relief, and became gloriously pedestrian for another three days. Mad was researching her next book, set in London 200 years earlier, and we explored nooks and crannies and history—and pubs—as she pointed out the early-19th-century bits that lurked below and betwixt and between the rest of the 21st-century world.

Then she flew back home to kids and family, and I stayed on by myself for another few days. I’d known Mad for a couple of years, and had read a few of her short stories, but not her novels. So she left me with a paperback edition of Point of Honour, the first in the series of adventures of one Miss Sarah Tolerance.

I did not think it would be my cup of tea, really. I’m very much a 20th-century reader, have never read Jane Austen or any of the other Regency writers. But there I was, in London, with a book about the very long-ago London that the author had just been giving me a lovely guided tour of. Serendipity. Simply magic.

The premise of the book is, it seems to me, to deny its opening statement:
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a fallen woman of good family must, sooner or later, descend to whoredom.
Miss Tolerance is a woman of a good family who fell in love and lost her virginity outside the sanctity of marriage and is therefore disgraced. But rather than become a whore, she becomes an agent of inquiry, an 1810 private eye. She is quick-witted, quite adept with a sword (or, if the occasion demands, a pistol), and dresses as a man when the laws of propriety and society hinder any forays she might make in the guise of her own gender. She rights wrongs, solves dilemmas, and when all has been settled, retires to her cottage for a meal and a refreshing cup of tea.

I’m still not wholly converted to the glories of Regency literature, but I do look forward to the continuing adventures of Miss Tolerance with great anticipation. (There are currently three books in the series, with a fourth still a WIP.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Eight top cold-case mysteries

Fiona Barton's latest thriller is The Child. One of her eight favorite cold-case mysteries, as shared at B&N Reads:
The Dry, by Jane Harper

The secrets of small towns have fascinated writers and readers since the first psychological thriller was penned. (Wikipedia tells me that was in 11th-century Japan, and who am I to argue?) Jane Harper has set her cold-case mystery in the worst drought in Australia in a century, teasing us with the irony of temperatures. Her Federal Agent Aaron Falk goes home for the first time in decades for the funeral of a boyhood friend. The friend is said to have committed suicide after murdering his wife and young son in horrifying circumstances, but all may not be as it seems, and Falk reluctantly becomes embroiled in reinvestigating the crime. Meanwhile, a much older crime that touches the investigator intimately is exposed as a rich seam of lies and collusion that underpin the community.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten novels about Pakistan

The Pakistani writer Moni Mohsin's books include the novel The End of Innocence and a collection of her satirical columns, The Diary of a Social Butterfly. One of her ten top novels about Pakistan, as shared at the Guardian:
The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmed

The eponymous “falcon” is Tor Baz, the love child of a chieftain’s daughter and her father’s servant, who witnesses the brutal murder of his parents for daring to infringe tribal laws. Set in the region that forms the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan – today’s “Af-Pak”, in US state department speak – these interconnected stories chart the uncompromising code of honour that shape the lives of the tribes who have inhabited this harsh land for centuries. Once a civil servant, Ahmed served here for in the 1950s and his spare, unsentimental stories have the unmistakable ring of truth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Eleven books that make science easy

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged eleven books that make you smarter about science, including:
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tyson is not just one of the smartest men in the world, he’s one of the most personable and charismatic. His book is, therefore, fun. He doesn’t use a lot of scientific terms, but instead explores space, time, and the known universe in simpler ways that even folks who have never had any scientific training will find incredibly easy to understand. It’s like having a conversation with your really smart, really funny uncle.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Eleven historical fiction books about epic rivalries

At the BookBub Blog by T.A. Maclagan tagged eleven historical fiction books about epic rivalries, including:
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.

With more than one million copies in print and adapted for the big screen, The Other Boleyn Girl is a riveting historical drama. It brings to light a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe, and survived a treacherous political landscape by following her heart.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 15, 2017

32 books for "American Gods" fans

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Martin Cahill, inspired by the television adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, tagged thirty-two books in which deities take direct action, including:
Crossroads of Canopy, by Thoraiya Dyer

Another debut, this one set in the magical, massive rainforest of Canopy, where 13 gods watch over their faithful at the top of the trees, keeping them safe, and safeguarding their interests. Unar, a young orphan, comes to the temple of Audblayin, goddess of life, and pledges that one day, when Audblayin is reborn as a man, she will become their bodyguard. When Audblayin passes away, Unar’s mettle is tested, as she seeks to locate the newly reborn god in Canopy, and finds herself not only in the realm of the other gods, but soon climbing down below the treetops, where older and darker deities lurk.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Writers Read: Thoraiya Dyer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ten top books about mothers

Dea Brøvig’s debut novel is The Last Boat Home. One of her top ten books about mothers, as shared at the Daily Express:
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s autobiography may not be about mothers, but its pages are crowded with mother figures so memorable and impressive that I wanted to include it on my list.

Mother Dear is either absent or irresistible and Momma, Angelou’s paternal grandmother, raises her and her brother with her own brand of love and discipline. At the book’s end, Angelou herself gives birth while still an adolescent, ill-equipped but with her mother finally at her side.

A beautiful, blistering read, as wise about family as it is about race, injustice and much else besides.
Read about the other entries on the list.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is among Sona Charaipotra's six critical reads for Black History Month.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Five books about sleuths

Gwenda Bond and Christopher Rowe are married, and the Supernormal Sleuthing Service series is their first writing collaboration. Among their five favorite bookish sleuths, as shared at Tor.com:
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

I [Christopher] loved this book so much as a kid, I got in trouble for carrying around my own secret diary modeled on Harriet’s. To be fair, my observations of my friends and family’s activities and foibles were probably not particularly sophisticated. Or complimentary. But young me found Harriet’s prickly notes and inability to not chronicle what was going on around her—and then to pay the price for doing so—all too easy to relate to.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five romances with villains you’ll love to…love

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged five romances with villains you’ll love to love, including:
Love with the Perfect Scoundrel, by Sophia Nash

Imagine this: your two closest friends marry the men you were supposed to marry. You would give up on love too, right? That’s what Grace Sheffey, Countess of Sheffield has done. She thinks running away from her life will solve her problems, but instead, it introduces her to a new one: Michael Rainier, the son of an Earl with a ruined reputation—and he has one to match. Michael thinks his sullied past will stain Grace’s future, but she’s braver than he gives her credit for; falling for the good guys has never served her well before, after all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 12, 2017

Adrian Edmondson's 6 best books

Adrian Edmondson played Count Ilya Rostov in the BBC's 2016 adaptation of War and Peace. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE HISTORY MAN by Malcolm Bradbury

The book I’ve read most. It rings very true of tutors I had at university in the 70s. I recognise that conscious decision to be left-wing and revolutionary in a petty way. It’s done here with a remarkable sense of humour.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six thriller characters in the Dirty Harry mold

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged six fictional "cops who do things according to their own set of rules," including:
Harry Bosch

Harry Bosch isn’t the most violent rogue cop in literature, but he may be the most relentless, often demonstrating a nearly-pathological disregard for his own career when in pursuit of a suspect. Bosch is routinely at odds with his supervisors in the LAPD—he’s forced out of the Robbery Homicide Division due to an internal affairs investigation, and forced to retire altogether at one point—though he eventually comes back. His career is defined by his rigid sense of right and wrong, his laser focus on punishing criminals, and an endless opposition to his bosses and outside forces like the FBI. Bosch is surprisingly less anti-social than some others on this list; he’s usually embroiled in one romance or another, and develops deep relationships fellow officers who share his dedication to justice.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Top ten books about psychoanalysis

Philippe Van Haute and Herman Westerink wrote the introduction to a new edition of Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality by Sigmund Freud. One of their ten top books about psychoanalysis, as shared at the Guardian:
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Because of its stream-of-consciousness narration, this novel is linked to a literary era – much indebted to Freud – in which characters’ inner lives were given intense attention. Conscious thoughts appear to grow out of fantasies, ideas, memories and perceptions. Faulkner’s brilliant story centres on the dynamics between three brothers, the mentally damaged Benjy, the cynical and depressed Quentin and the sardonic Jason. Through their minds we witness the slow but inevitable dissolution – over the course of some 30 years – of the southern aristocratic Compson family.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Sound and the Fury is among Jeff Somers's five greatest, dumbest characters in literature, James Runcie's top ten books about brothers, and Mario Batali's five great American books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Six top YA novels about the joy of food

At the BN Teen Blog Eric Smith tagged six top food-filled YA novels, including:
Cake Pop Crush, by Suzanne Nelson

The first book in Nelson’s Wish series, all of which deal with food, Cake Pop Crush introduces readers to Alicia, a teen who has grown up around Say It With Flour most of her life. It’s a small bakery run by her dad, that’s very much in a You’ve Got Mail–style battle with Perk Up, a major café chain that has opened right across the street. And, of course, things get complicated when she becomes smitten with a boy at school, who happens to be the son of the café’s owner…

Also see: There are a bundle of food-related books in this series, with increasingly hilarious titles, including Macarons at Midnight, Hot Cocoa Hearts, You’re Bacon Me Crazy, and Donut Go Breaking My Heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Donut Go Breaking My Heart.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Eight new middle grade novels adults will (also) love

At the BN Kids blog Charlotte Taylor tagged "eight recent books, a mix of science fiction/fantasy and realistic fiction, that will appeal to adults as well as to their intended [8 to 12-year-old] audiences," including:
Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded, by Sage Blackwood

In a walled city, kept safe by magic, Chantel attends Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. Along with useful spells, deportment features prominently in the curriculum; Chantel excels at the former, and struggles with the later. Chantel’s disinclination to be a biddable girl comes in useful when the sorceresses who have defended the city disappear. She leads her friends in investigating the secrets and subterfuges that are taking place, and with the help of a dragon companion and a long-dead queen she sets things to rights in fine style! Chantel is a strong young woman to cheer for, and the rush of alarms and excursions that fill the story makes for entertaining and thought-provoking reading!
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded.

Writers Read: Sage Blackwood (April 2017).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 8, 2017

Fredrik Backman's six favorite books

Swedish novelist Fredrik Backman is the author of A Man Called Ove, the international best-seller that inspired an Oscar-nominated film, and the new novel Beartown. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Shogun by James Clavell

It's not life-changing; it's not the greatest piece of literature ever written; it's definitely not flawless. But it's good. Fun. Entertaining. An adventure. Sometimes that's quite enough.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Shogun is one of Jamie Lee Curtis's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Seven books that will inspire you to #Resist

At the BN Teen blog Sarah Hannah Gómez tagged seven books that will fortify you to #Resist, including:
The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, by Margarita Engle

Think of Juan Francisco Manzano as Cuba’s Phillis Wheatley. He was a man born into slavery who suffered the indignity of being ripped away from his mother and forced to call another woman Mama. Manzano became a celebrated poet against the odds. This fictionalized biography is told in verse.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Five top books featuring fleet actions

Robyn Bennis is a scientist who works in biotech but dreams of airships. Her debut novel, The Guns Above, is now available.

One of her five favorite books featuring fleet actions, as shared at Tor.com:
The Lost Fleet: Dauntless by Jack Campbell

We’ve all been in embarrassing situations. Admiral Bloch’s is that he rescued a legendary hero from a drifting cryo-pod and promptly suffered a crushing defeat under the man’s nose. Awkward. The hero in question is John “Black Jack” Geary, missing and presumed dead for a hundred years. What do you say to a man like that, when you’re a space admiral with so much egg on your face? Apparently, you say, “You’re in charge now, kthxbye.”

So, on his first day at a new job, Geary leads a fighting retreat, pursued by a large fraction of the enemy’s entire navy. Worse, with the way home cut off, the only line of withdrawal leads them deeper into enemy territory. Trapped, demoralized, and with an armada following on their heels, half of Geary’s captains want to surrender while the other half would rather charge the enemy and die in glory. He must bring them to a happy medium between capitulation and suicide, and use every trick he knows to outwit the enemy during a harrowing chase through multiple solar systems.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 5, 2017

Five fantasy novels in which magic has a price

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged "five YA novels in which every action has an equal but opposite reaction—especially magic," including:
Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst hero ever. He’s just beginning his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and he should be focused on figuring out how to get his powers to stabilize so he can finally defeat the Humdrum. Unfortunately, all he can think about is his roommate/nemesis, Baz, who hasn’t bothered to show up for school. and is probably a vampire. But in between breaking up with his girlfriend and obsessing over Baz, Simon has to stop magic from disappearing from the world—and come to terms with the fact that the problem seems to get worse every time he tries to do something about it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Ten top campus novels

Jean Hanff Korelitz's latest novel is The Devil and Webster.

One of her top ten campus novels, as shared at the Guardian:
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

I had two reasons to think I wasn’t going to like this novel. First: jealousy. (The book was the subject of a massive bidding war and insane pre-publication hype.) Second: baseball, around which the plot revolves. I couldn’t care less about baseball. But of course it isn’t really about that. It’s about love. And family. And ideas. And it’s beautifully written. I couldn’t help it: I succumbed. You probably will, too. (Especially if you like baseball.)
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see Emily Temple's list of the fifty greatest campus novels ever written.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five great novels about refugees and migrants

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five great novels about migrants and refugees, including:
Across A Hundred Mountains, by Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande’s heartrending novel tells the story of nine-year-old Reyna, whose baby sister dies in a flood in a Mexican village. When her family can’t pay the debt for the funeral, her father Miguel migrates to the U.S. to find a better paying job. Several years later, after further family tragedy, Juana heads north in a desperate attempt to find her father. She’s smuggled by coyotes on a perilous journey across the desert.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Four books that changed Charlie Lovett

Charlie Lovett is a writer, teacher, and playwright, whose plays for children have been seen in more than 3,000 productions. He is a former antiquarian bookseller and an avid book collector. He and his wife split their time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Kingham, Oxfordshire, in England.

Lovett's novels include The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession, First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, and the newly released The Lost Book of the Grail.

One of four books that changed Lovett, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP
John Irving

I read The World According to Garp as a 19-year-old, when I went backpacking around Europe. It was the first contemporary novel I had read for fun and I will forever associate it with that summer of independence. I loved Irving's characters, his frankness, and the way he wove short stories and chapters of books "written" by Garp into his narrative. It opened my eyes not only to the world of contemporary fiction, but also to new modes of storytelling.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The World According to Garp is among Kathy Reichs's six best books, ten books that changed Sean Beaudoin's life before he could drive, and John Niven's ten best writers in novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Ten top zombie apocalypse books

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged ten top "zombie apocalypse books that really give you something to, er, chew on," including:
BEST SUBVERSION: Raising Stony Mayhall, by Daryl Gregory

Zombie apocalypses have flirted with the idea of “zombies—they’re just like us!” plenty of times, but few have leaned into the idea as effectively as Gregory, who tells the story of a frozen baby who turns out to be of the undead when found—and adopted by—a local family. Raised in a living household, Stony doesn’t fit in anywhere—not with the living, not with his fellow zombies. This is probably the most tragic zombie story ever written.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 1, 2017

Elizabeth Strout's 6 favorite books

Elizabeth Strout's new novel is Anything Is Possible.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Munro brings such great authority to the page that I will follow her anywhere. And she takes me many places; I am never disappointed. In the title story, for example, she moves the point of view with such ease all around a small Canadian prairie town.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is among Molly Antopol's six favorite books and Robin Marantz Henig & Samantha Henig's top ten books for Twentysomethings.

--Marshal Zeringue