Saturday, September 23, 2017

Alastair Campbell's six best books

Alastair Campbell was born in Keighley, Yorkshire in 1957, the son of a vet. Having graduated from Cambridge University in modern languages, he went into journalism, principally with the Mirror Group. When Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party, Campbell worked for him first as press secretary, then as official spokesman and director of communications and strategy from 1994 to 2003. He continued to act as an advisor to Blair and the Labour Party, including during the 2005 and subsequent election campaigns. He is now engaged mainly in writing, public speaking and consultancy and is an ambassador for a number of mental health charities. His new book is Diaries Volume 6: From Blair to Brown, 2005 - 2007.

One of Campbell's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
TEAM OF RIVALS by Doris Kearns Goodwin

One of the best books written about politics. It brilliantly tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s remarkable rise and how he built his administration around his rivals for the Republican nomination. It is a horrible thought that Donald Trump could now sleep in the Lincoln bed and the book’s a great reminder of a very different presidential character.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 22, 2017

Six memoirs by funny, awkward women

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 funny, awkward memoirs by funny, awkward women, including:
You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein

As a tomboy who, despite the title, has never actually “grown out of it,” Klein’s highly relatable memoir analyzes the modern trappings of femininity, from the cult of bathing to the difficulty in finding women-friendly porn to the pressure placed on pregnant women to endure “natural births.” Her discovery of standup comedy as a refuge, passion, and calling takes her far in life. From SNL to Inside Amy Schumer (for which she won an Emmy as Head Writer), Klein never loses sight of what it means to be a woman today, whether you’re a poodle or a wolf.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Top ten books about consciousness

Adrian Owen is the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at The Brain and Mind Institute, Western University, Canada, and author of Into the Grey Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death. One of his ten top books about consciousness, as shared at the Guardian:
Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett

Probably the best introduction to the central ideas and concepts that have preoccupied all great consciousness thinkers throughout history. It may be a little challenging for a general audience, but Dennett masterfully combines ancient philosophical concepts with more familiar modern analogies (such as “the brain as a computer”) in a book that continues to influence contemporary thought on the human condition more than a quarter of a century after its publication.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Five books about magic

Brad Abraham's new novel is Magicians Impossible.

One of his five top books about magic, as shared at Tor.com:
The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff

Superstition. Paranoia. Bloodlust. The horrible crimes of Salem Massachusetts in 1692 cast a long shadow over an America that seems to fall victim to false accusations and baseless superstition with alarming reiteration. Stacy Schiff’s densely plotted non-fiction look at the witch trials, and the hysteria surrounding them may not seem like a story one wants to know more about. After all, you can read The Crucible anytime you want. But the devil’s in the details; despite the tales of black magic and witches’ covens, and pacts with Satan the workmanlike way the Puritan community set out to accuse, try, and execute nineteen people is a much more chilling potion than any fiction could concoct. The Salem Witch trials echo through the entirety of the three hundred years that followed it, in every culture, in every country as well-meaning but easily led people give in to their baser instincts because they fear what lurks in the dark, and what may be on the other side of that door.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fifty novels that changed novels

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged fifty novels that changed novels, including:
The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

How It Changed Novels: Sociopaths have been in stories since stories were first told, and there had even been sociopathic protagonists in novels before. But Highsmith made Ripley the hero of her story despite his chillingly manipulative nature and his many crimes. Ripley opened a dark gate and many of the best novels of the last few decades owe his charmingly evil presence a debt.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Olivia Sudjic's list of eight favorite books about love and obsession, Roz Chast's six favorite books list, Nicholas Searle's top five list of favorite deceivers in fiction, Chris Ewan's list of the ten top chases in literature, Meave Gallagher's top twenty list of gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, 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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Six top books about food

Christopher Kimball is the author of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street: The New Home Cooking. One of his six favorite books about food, as shared at The Week magazine:
Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Memorable for both its gentle sweetness and the writer's portrait of her Egyptian-Jewish grandparents' household in 1930s Cairo. Ahmet the cook prepares a wedding feast with sambusak (small pastries filled with feta), stuffed quail, zalabia (deep-fried dough soaked in honey and orange blossoms), and pistachio-stuffed kunafa (cheese pastry).
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Eight contemporary YAs set amid high-stakes competition

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged eight "contemporary YAs [that] lay it all on the line with intense competitions, life-changing prizes, and vicious rivalries," including:
No Good Deed, by Goldy Moldavsky

In a far more lighthearted version of the high-stakes competition setting, Moldavsky’s sophomore follows wannabe do-gooder Gregor to Camp Save the World, a summer camp for teen activists. There, each camper picks a cause to champion. Naturally, Gregor wants to feed the world’s hungry children; how could anyone pick a cause more worthy than that? While the others range from obviously deserving to utterly strange, competition heightens all around when they learn there’s a major internship at stake. Outgooding each other becomes the name of the game in a satire that gently balances support for and mockery of social justice advocacy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ten creepy psychological thrillers

Jane Robins is the author of White Bodies: An Addictive Psychological Thriller.

One of her ten favorite creepy psychological thrillers, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Queen of Crime excelled in concocting complex mysteries–but this, one of the best-selling books of all time–is a superlative read not just because of Christie’s intricate plotting, but also because of the profound sense of menace on every page. Eight people are invited to a house on a remote island off the Devon coast, and two servants are already present. In each bed room an old rhyme is hanging–Ten Little Indians, or in later editions, Ten Little Soldiers. The rhyme describes ten deaths. Then–one by one–the characters are murdered. Given that there are no hiding places on the island, the murderer is evidently one of the ten characters. A masterpiece.
Read about the other entries on the list.

And Then There Were None is among Molly Schoemann-McCann's nine great books for people who love Downton Abbey, Sjón's top ten island stories, and Pascal Bruckner's five best books on guilt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 15, 2017

Seven YA books to beat your back to school blues

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged seven YA books to beat your back to school blues, including:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

Frankie is tired of being underestimated by the men in her life, from her father, who still calls her bunny rabbit, to her boyfriend, who won’t let her in on their boarding school’s secret society. So she takes matters into her own hands, faking her way to the top of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Unbeknownst to its all-male members (including her now-ex boyfriend), Frankie sends the society on a series of pranks, hoping they’ll eventually recognize her genius. I will never get tired of recommending this book; its hilarious hijinks and insistent girl-power make it a feminist must-read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is among Jenny Kawecki's five kickass feminist YA books, Kayla Whaley's five best opening scenes in YA lit, Sona Charaipotra's five top YA books to read when you're burnt out on love, and Sabrina Rojas Weiss's ten favorite boarding school novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Top ten contemporary short stories

At the Guardian Jon McGregor tagged his ten favorite contemporary short stories, including:
"Pee on Water" by Rachel B Glaser

This was my personal standout in the already very strong New American Stories, edited by Ben Marcus. I’m increasingly drawn to any story that has a more expansive sense of a story’s possibility than the “snapshot of life” model insisted upon by the Carver/Hemingway school. This story begins at the dawn of time and ends round about now, which is expansive enough for anyone, I feel. It also has beautiful sentences, and there are not enough of those in the world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The 20 best memoirs written by musicians

At Paste magazine Dan Holmes tagged the twenty best memoirs written by musicians, including:
Just Kids by Patti Smith

Lyrical and moving, Just Kids is the account of Smith’s formative friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989. Smith maintains a narrow focus that strengthens her narrative, giving us an indelible portrait of two young artists working to divine their futures while surviving in 1970s Manhattan. Lush with a romanticism tempered slightly by time and grief, Smith’s memoir makes a fervent tribute to her old friend and to an iteration of New York that’s fading ever-faster into myth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The ten best books about Bond, James Bond

Matthew Parker's non-fiction books include Monte Cassino: The Hardest-Fought Battle of World War II; the Los Angeles Times bestseller Panama Fever, which was one of the Washington Post’s Best Books of the Year; The Sugar Barons, which was an Economist Book of the Year; and Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born: Ian Fleming in Jamaica.

One of his ten best books about James Bond, as shared at The Daily Beast:
In Churchill’s Shadow: Confronting the Past in Modern Britain, by David Cannadine. (2002)

Professor Sir David Cannadine is one of Britain’s foremost public intellectuals and writers on modern history, particularly empire. This collection of essays includes a brilliant analysis of Fleming’s awkward personality, the result of an upbringing “by turns upstart and establishment, puritan and unrespectable, privileged and deprived.” These contradictions carry over to the portrayal of Britain in the Bond novels, whose decline Fleming—in the person of imperial hero James Bond—treats with a fascinating mixture of regret and denial. There is also a superb essay on Fleming’s fellow arch-imperialist and Jamaican neighbour Noël Coward.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born.

Coffee with a Canine: Matthew Parker & Danny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 11, 2017

Nine dystopian novels for people who think they’re over dystopian novels

At the BN Teen Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged nine YA dystopian novels with fresh twists, including:
Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi

Disastrous environmental conditions have led to an American society that’s barely surviving, where children are forced to strip oil tankers for resources. When one of those children, Nailer, rescues a wealthy girl stranded on one of the ships, he has to face the wrath of his abusive father. In a world in which we’re seeing the advancing effects of global warming, this series hits close to home. Be good to the planet, people!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ship Breaker is among Helen Grant's ten best books with settings that are strikingly brought to life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ten epic page-turning novels

Brendan Mathews's debut novel is The World of Tomorrow. At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten of his favorite epic page-turners, including:
The World According to Garp by John Irving

The first really big novel that I ever read, Garp taught me in high school that a novel was limited only by the author’s audacity and imagination. This one pulls together wrestling, writing, “gradual” students, parenthood, marriage, infidelity, Ellen Jamesians, trans football players, memoir-writing mothers, and more into a novel with a heart that’s even bigger than its 650 pages. It’s Irving at his most Dickensian.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The World According to Garp is among four books that changed Charlie Lovett, 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

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Six tech-infused YA thrillers set in dark futures

At the BN Teen blog Samantha Randolph tagged six YA titles that "combine the complexities of science and technology with killer (often literally) mysteries." One entry on the list:
Want, by Cindy Pon

In a futuristic Taipei, people survive the broken atmosphere by wearing special suits that protect them from illness and pollution. Unfortunately, only the elite can afford them, leaving much of the population to early deaths. Jason Zhou wants to change this, and his best chance is to infiltrate Jin Corp, the company behind the inaccessible safety suits. But the more Jason delves into this privileged world, the more complicated everything becomes, till he finds the fate of the city is in his hands.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 8, 2017

Seven very good books about very bad real-life ladies

At the BookBub blog Greer Macallister tagged seven great books about badly behaved women, including:
The Wardrobe Mistress by Meghan Masterson

Dangerous woman: Marie Antoinette

The glamorous and doomed Marie Antoinette was known for her oblivious excess, including her extensive, expensive wardrobe. Masterson smartly brings us into her court at Versailles through the eyes of 16-year-old Giselle, hired as an “undertirewoman,” or wardrobe assistant, to the notorious queen. As the revolution approaches, Giselle finds her loyalties torn between her employer, her family, and a handsome revolutionary — and conflict boils over into bloodshed.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Six YA retellings of literary classics

At the BN Teen Blog Elodie tagged six top YA retellings of classic tales, including:
Seeking Mansfield, by Kate Watson

This fresh and funny take on Mansfield Park brings Jane Austen’s telltale witty banter (and penchant for complicated love triangles) into the twenty-first century. Like Fanny Price, sixteen-year-old Finley Price is a quiet girl with a strong moral compass. Unlike her nineteenth-century counterpart, however, Finley wants to join the prestigious world of theatre—with the help and encouragement of her best friend and secret crush, Oliver. But when movie star siblings Harlan and Emma Crawford move in across the street, they cause quite a stir. Particularly when Emma begins to pursue Oliver (who isn’t exactly NOT interested), and Harlan finds himself increasingly attracted to Finley.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Top ten books about teaching

At the Guardian, the author of The Secret Teacher: Dispatches from the Classroom tagged ten top books about teaching, including:
To Sir With Love by ER Braithwaite

A touching and inspiring autobiographical novel about a classically educated West Indian (played with characteristic dignity by Sidney Poitier in the 1967 film) who comes to the East End of London to become a teacher of a class full of unruly, unmotivated “peasants”. Like Dennison, Braithwaite’s radical approach involves treating the kids as human beings and leading them out into the world. The kids overcome the “hateful virus” of their racism and learn to treat their teacher with respect. “Sir” encapsulates how teachers often feel: “O God, forgive me for the hateful thoughts, because I love them, these brutal, disarming bastards, I love them.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

To Sir With Love is among Hanif Kureishi's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top SFF confessional novels

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged five of the best SFF confessional novels, including:
I, Lucifer, by Glen Duncan

Upon suspecting Lucifer might be gearing up for a second assault on Heaven, God offers him an unexpected choice: live as a mortal for a month, as sin-free as possible, and enter Heaven again, letting bygones be bygones. Or, when God finally defeats the forces of Hell, be cast into an endless void for all eternity. Lucifer readily accepts, but because he needs a “holiday,” instead choosing to live it up in a hedonistic manner and write an autobiography to set things straight. The resulting book is told in a cheerful, rambling stream-of-consciousness style by someone who clearly has a lot to say and wants someone to hear all of it. Duncan casts Lucifer not as misunderstood, but in fact proud of his place in myth, allowing him to become a delightfully unapologetic villain in a way that matches his equally unapologetic (and kind of cynical) world view. It’s a fresh take on the original antihero.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Ten of the best historical novels

Alix Christie is the author of the novel Gutenberg's Apprentice. One of her favorite historical novels, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Enigma by Robert Harris

This prolific British historical novelist has covered everything from Pompeii to Nazi Germany to the Dreyfus Affair. His books are swiftly moving, well-plotted scenarios set into rigorously researched and believable worlds. Enigma tells a ripping story of spycraft in the intense secrecy of the British codebreaking operation during World War II. Set at Bletchley Park, the manor transformed into a number-crunching hive, the novel conveys the period's high anxiety and pressure, even if the mathematically challenged still struggle to grasp the workings of the famous "bombes" that cracked the Nazi "Enigma" code.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Enigma is among Charlie Jane Anders's top eighteen fictional versions of Alan Turing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Eight top girl power books for kids

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and semi-professional nerd.

At the BN Kids Blog she tagged eight kids’ books filled with girl power to inspire the young women in your life, including:
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger

This beautiful watercolor picture book from Chelsea Clinton herself details thirteen diverse women who helped change America through their tenacity and drive. The title is a play on the words used to silence Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor, and the book is meant to celebrate those women who found their voices and spoke up, even when others wanted them to stop. The book features stories of women who persisted in doing what was right despite overwhelming odds, including Harriet Tubman, Sonia Sotomayor, Maria Tallchief, and Sally Ride.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top fantasy novels with awe-inspiring settings

Matthew Kressel is a multiple Nebula Award-nominated writer and World Fantasy Award-nominated editor. One of his five favorite "fantasy novels with fantastic, awe-inspiring settings," as shared at Tor.com:
The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola

If you haven’t encountered Amos Tutuola’s 1952 novel, go to your local bookstore or library and request it now. It is not like anything you’ve ever read. Growing up in Nigeria, Tutuola was raised by Christian cocoa farmers and went to school for only six years, because he needed support his family financially after his father died. Heavily influenced by the Nigerian Yoruba folktales, The Palm-Wine Drinkard was the first African novel published in English outside Africa. It recounts the story of a man who is addicted to palm wine. When his brewer dies, he becomes desperate for more wine and sets off for the “Dead’s Town” in order to bring the brewer back. He crosses frightening landscapes and meets terrifying supernatural beings along the way—all to get more wine! Some may be put off by the modified Yoruba English that gives his prose a raw quality, but others have said this connects the reader more closely to the Yoruba folktales on which the novel is based. Either way, you’ll never read a book quite like this.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Palm-Wine Drinkard is among Alain Mabanckou's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Five top books about women labeled “difficult”

E. Lockhart's new novel is Genuine Fraud.

At the BN Teen blog she tagged five of her favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” including:
Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie shows a woman furiously inventing herself as an unconventional role model for her students. She exists on a border between self-actualization and lunacy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is among Adam Ehrlich Sachs's top ten funny books, Sebastian Faulks's six favorite books, Stuart Husband's top ten fictional teachers, Rachel Cooke's top ten spinsters, Karin Altenberg's top ten books about betrayal, Megan Abbott's five most dangerous mentors in fiction, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on teaching and learning and Ian Rankin's six best books. Miss Jean Brodie is one of John Mullan's ten best teachers in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 1, 2017

Five top fantasy novels set in the Pacific Northwest

Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. Her newest novel is Call of Fire.

Cato is a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

One of the author's top five fantasy novels set in the Pacific Northwest, as shared at Tor.com:
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Bear mashed together 19th century versions of San Francisco, Vancouver, and (most prominently) Seattle in her setting of Rapid City, home to Karen Memery, a “seamstress” of a high class bordello.

Rapid City is a vivid place, a town enduring growing pains as the Alaskan gold rush spurs change and pushes through transients–via naval vessels and airships–on their way to the far north. This is Weird West steampunk embodied with Pacific Northwestern mustiness and mud. Karen’s distinct voice tells a tale of action, intrigue, and extraordinary inventions.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue