Monday, October 14, 2019

Eleven titles about how impeachment works

Jeff Somers is the author of Writing Without Rules, the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Reads he tagged eleven books to help you make sense of the impeachment process, including:
Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide, by Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein is a recognized expert on the subject of impeachment—he gave expert testimony during Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings in 1998—and his book is an excellent overview of the mechanism, purpose, and results of the process. Sunstein explains that the Founders—particularly Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin—considered it vital that a democracy have a way to remove a chief executive if a good reason to do so was extant, and insisted that impeachment be part of the new government. The author goes on to review the impeachment proceedings against both Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton. Writing in an accessible and down-to-earth style, Sunstein tells you everything you need to about the process, and provides insights drawn from his own experiences with it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Ten of the best music biographies

Holly George-Warren is a two-time Grammy nominee and the award-winning author of sixteen books, including the New York Times bestseller The Road to Woodstock (with Michael Lang, 2014) and the new biography Janis: Her Life and Music (2019).

She is also the author of A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man (2014), Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry (2007), The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years (2009), Bonnaroo: What, Which, This, That, the Other (2012), Cowboy! How Hollywood Invented the Wild West (2002), Punk 365 (2007), Grateful Dead 365 (2008); and the children's books Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country & Western Music (2006), Shake, Rattle & Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll (2001), and The Cowgirl Way (2010).

One of George-Warren's ten favorite music biographies, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The One: The Life and Music of James Brown by RJ Smith

I read this fascinating account of James Brown’s turbulent life before starting a biography of Alex Chilton, and the deep background on Brown’s ancestors in Georgia inspired me to try to dig up Chilton family history in Mississippi. Smith’s writing on the Godfather of Soul’s music–including “the one,” the funk beat he invented–is sharp, while the story of his career ups and downs is mesmerizing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight crime novels featuring angry women in an angry world

Katie Lowe is a writer living in Worcester, UK. Her debut novel is The Furies.

At CrimeReads, Lowe tagged eight mysteries and thrillers that "feature female characters who aren’t necessarily good—but they’re sure as hell angry," including:
Darling, by Rachel Edwards

Darling puts a sharp, unique spin on the fraught stepmother-daughter relationship – infusing an already delicate situation with all-too-relevant racial and political tensions, both in the home and beyond.

It’s testament to Edwards’ skill as a writer that a novel described in the UK as “the first Brexit thriller,” is this much fun to read – but trust me, it is. Both Darling, and her stepdaughter Lola, have their own private angers and frustrations, though they express them in wholly different ways (and with wildly different results.) It’s by turns gripping, incisive, and even, occasionally, bittersweet – a timely, intelligent thriller.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Five books about the lives of artificial objects

Andrew Skinner now works as an archaeologist and anthropologist, and is interested in folklore, rain-making arts, and resistance.

Steel Frame is his first novel.

At, Skinner tagged "five stories about the lives of artificial objects, finding their own paths, making their own mistakes," including:
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

The artificial lives I’ve mentioned so far have had some strain of the familiar, in whole or in part. The objects we have nurtured into sentience, or brought to it by accident; things built on body-systems that could easily pass as our own. In Ninefox Gambit, we catch glimpses of lives very much unlike our own. In the background of this world, we see servitors, the social equivalent of your toaster. They are present in every part of daily life; surprisingly complex machines that spend their lives cleaning up after human beings, and doing the menial jobs that keep society running.

What we learn, as Ninefox Gambit plays out, is that servitors are a society of artificial objects; their artificial lives playing out behind bulkheads, in service tunnels, and across network frequencies. All with their own motives, and their own politics. What’s more, this society is everywhere humanity goes, and this is what makes them so potent. They are a piece of the everyday; the powerful little things that share our lives, able to change the course of history.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Yoon Ha Lee's Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series is among Jenn Lyons's five villains who see themselves as heroes, Jeff Somers's fifty greatest debut sci-fi and fantasy novels ever written and T.W. O'Brien's five recent books that explore the secret lives of robots.

My Book, The Movie: Ninefox Gambit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 11, 2019

Six top novels that reference pop music

Robert Haller holds an MFA in fiction from the New School in New York City. He lives in upstate New York. Another Life is his first novel.

At LitHub he tagged "six novels that reference pop music in interesting, effective ways," including:
Zadie Smith, Swing Time

In Swing Time Zadie Smith employs an unnamed narrator who grew up in public housing in North London in the 1970s and 80s. During her childhood she falls in love with tap dancing and meets her best friend Tracey at a dance class; the two girls spend their time together watching old musicals on VHS—Fred and Ginger, Judy Garland. Numbers from these musicals make up the soundtrack to their childhood friendship. An early pivotal scene in the novel comes when the two girls see Michael Jackson’s Thriller video on TV for the first time, and are introduced to a new way to dance. As they grow up, the two girls’ friendship is severed, and in college, the narrator substitutes dancing to show tunes to the then contemporary music of Gang Starr, Nas, and NWA. As an adult, Smith’s narrator gets a job as a personal assistant to a pop superstar named Aimee who bears some resemblance to Madonna. During the interview, Aimee asks the narrator who her favorite singers are, and the narrator lists Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. “Real singers,” she says, before stopping herself.

A novel that deals with memory, loss and the way people change, the narrator’s vast and divergent music taste can be seen as one way Smith illuminates her character’s conflicted feelings towards her past.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Ten notable titles in gothic fiction

Kate Racculia is a novelist living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She is the author of the novels This Must Be the Place and Bellweather Rhapsody, winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award.

Her new novel is Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts.

At CrimeReads, Kate Racculia tagged ten gothic fiction titles that meant something to her, including:
A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor

This collection is dark af all the way through, but the eponymous story, with its roadside family murder, is a master class in voice, character, suspense, what you can get away with—and desperately morbid comic timing. The Addams Family first crystallized my appreciation for black humor, but O’Connor taught me how to level up.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Good Man Is Hard to Find is among Melissa Albert's sixteen most indispensable books of the 1950s and Tina Jordan's top ten books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Ten top books about Europe

Laurent Gaudé is a French novelist and playwright. After being nominated for the 2002 Prix Concourt with The Death of King Tsongor, he won the award in 2004 for his novel The House of Scorta.

His new book is Our Europe: Banquet of Nations.

At the Guardian, Gaudé tagged his top ten books about Europe, including:
The Truce [US title: The Reawakening by Primo Levi

I could have chosen If This Is a Man, a sober and clinical telling of our great black hole. But The Truce sheds light on an a lesser-known, less debated aspect of the Holocaust: the return. Levi invites us to imagine what Europe was like a few months after the Allied victory: a field of ruins, full of shadows trying to return home.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

The five most badass vampires of all time

Renée Ahdieh is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Ahdieh enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.

Ahdieh's new novel is The Beautiful.

At she shared her list of "the five most badass vampires in literature and pop culture." One bloodsucker on the list:

I know, I know. B-b-but what about Lestat? Look, I have been a die-hard fangirl of Lestat de Lioncourt since I was a teenager. The thing is, there are so many famous dude vampires. I think it’s high time we give the ladies a moment to shine. Anyway I’m not worried Lestat will ever be forgotten. And if you ask me, Maharet is the quintessential badass vampire of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. She is the only vampire in Rice’s world who never succumbed to the madness prevalent in the “ancient ones”: the vampires that were there from the very beginning. Maharet has tracked her human family for over six millennia. She has been a pillar for them throughout the centuries, and she is one of the main reasons the vampires are able to overcome Akasha, the Queen of the Damned, when Akasha tries to take over the world midway through the series. Sorry, I should have done a spoiler alert.

But if you haven’t read Queen of the Damned, then you should get on that right away. It’s one of my absolute favorite vampire books in the world, mostly because it gets to the origin behind how vampires came to be, and the unglamorous side of living forever. Truly this book gave me first existential crisis at twelve years old, and I’m still jealous of people who get to read it for the first time.
Read about the other vampires on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Ten great opening paragraphs from Graham Greene

Dwyer Murphy is the managing editor of CrimeReads.

He assembled ten great opening paragraphs from the works of Graham Greene, including:
After dinner I sat and waited for Pyle in my room over the rue Catinat: he had said, ‘I’ll be with you at latest by ten,’ and when midnight had struck I couldn’t stay quiet any longer and went down into the street. A lot of old women in black trousers squatted on the landing: it was February and I suppose too hot for them in bed. One trishaw driver pedalled slowly by towards the river front and I could see lamps burning where they had disembarked the new American planes. There was no sign of Pyle anywhere in the long street.

The Quiet American (1955)
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Quiet American is among Pete Buttigieg’s ten favorite books, Cat Barton's five top titles on Southeast Asian travel literature, 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

Monday, October 7, 2019

Five sci-fi stories featuring futuristic technology

Veronica Roth is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Divergent Series and the Carve the Mark series. Her short stories and essays have appeared in the anthologies Summer Days and Summer Nights, Shards and Ashes, and Three Sides of a Heart. The Divergent Series was developed into three major motion pictures.

Roth grew up outside of Chicago and graduated from Northwestern University. She now lives in Chicago proper with her husband and dog and writes full-time.

Her new book is The End and Other Beginnings: Stories from the Future.

At Roth tagged "five stories that explore a piece of futuristic technology—for better, worse, or a mix of both," including:
Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross is a worldwide sensation, an alternate reality capture-the-flag game with famous players, specialized positions, and international championships—a little like an exaggerated version of pro Overwatch. I pitch this book to friends and family as being FUN AS HELL and I stand by that assessment. It’s an immensely satisfying Cinderella-ish story of Emika Chen, a bounty hunter just barely scraping by, who pulls a stunt that gets her recruited to play for one of the world’s best Warcross teams. And along the way, she discovers a much darker side of the game (and, of course, society itself). As someone who has played Beat Saber on an Oculus more than once, this technology felt close enough to grasp, but dreamlike enough to long for—we’re a ways off from a completely immersive, worldwide augmented reality system that could bring us a game like this. And this isn’t a story that preaches at you to stop playing games and go outside—it’s written with an obvious love of gaming as a given, by someone who clearly understands the appeal and has no judgment for those of us who have spent days on end lost in Hyrule. (I’m on my fourth playthrough of Breath of the Wild, so I take this very personally.) I want to play Warcross the same way I want to play Quidditch. My love is pure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of Tim O'Brien's favorite works of fiction

Tim O'Brien received the 1979 National Book Award for Going After Cacciato. Among his other books are The Things They Carried, Pulitzer Finalist and a New York Times Book of the Century, and In the Lake of the Woods, winner of the James Fenimore Cooper Prize. He was awarded the Pritzker Literature Award for lifetime achievement in military writing in 2013.

O'Brien's new book is Dad's Maybe Book, a work of nonfiction which "shares wisdom from a life in letters, lessons learned in wartime, and the challenges, humor, and rewards of raising two sons."

At The Week magazine, O'Brien recommended six of his favorite books. One title on the list:
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (1961).

Among the best novels of the past 75 years, Revolutionary Road is a story of a marriage gone sour. A suburban couple dreams about heading for Paris; it never happens. This is a heartbreaking and really human story, beautifully written.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Revolutionary Road also appears on Diana Evans's list of five books for helping with loss, Jenny Eclair's six best books list, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books for Mad Men fans, Hanna McGrath's list of five fictional characters who tell it like it is, John Mullan's list of ten of the best Aprils in literature, Selma Dabbagh's top ten list of stories of reluctant revolutionaries, Laura Dave's list of books that improve on re-reading, Tad Friend's seven best fiction books about WASPs, and James P. Othmer's list of six great novels on work.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Eight books about a planet in peril

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria. His most recent novel is Gun Island.

Ghosh is also the author of The Great Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction.

At the Guardian, he tagged eight notable books about a planet in peril, including:
How do we make sense of the Earth when it seems to be turning against us in revenge for its despoliation? The very act of writing about the devastation can sometimes create a kind of coherence. Elizabeth Kolbert shows us how with The Sixth Extinction, where she focuses on a few of the million or so species that are dying out in what is now known to be one of the greatest extinction events in the history of the Earth. The closeness of the focus creates a powerful sense of empathy, not just with the vanishing creatures but also with the writer as she struggles to account for the horrors to which she is bearing witness.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Five top mysteries set in the greater Boston area

Peter Colt is currently a police officer in a small New England city where he has worked since 2007. He spent over twenty years in the Army reserve and was deployed to Kosovo in 2000, where he was attached to the Russian Army. He was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and again in 2008. He was fortunate to get to know many Vietnam vets and U.S. Army Special forces soldiers. He lived on Nantucket Island from 1973-1986.

Colt's new novel is The Off-Islander: An Andy Roark Mystery #1.

At CrimeReads Colt tagged five top mysteries set in the Boston area, including:
Dennis Lehane, Gone Baby Gone

It is an undisputed fact that Dennis Lehane owns South Boston, Southie. He owns it the way that Robert B. Parker owned Cambridge and the Boston itself and the way that Raymond Chandler owned LA. Lehane’s books are page turners but Gone Baby Gone is the one that is the most Boston to me. It is filled with heartbreak, violence and mystery all delivered against crisp dialogue, that reads as authentic. While Parker was our guide to many of the nicest Boston restaurants, Gone Baby Gone takes us to the places in Boston that aren’t on the Duck boat tour, we go to Southie, the Projects and the Quincy Quarry. The mystery grabs us, the story shocks us and the locations hold us. This is another one that I read and will reread.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone Baby Gone is among Haylen Beck's eight crime novels that focus on the bonds of parent and child.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 4, 2019

Ten haunting ghost stories

Jac Jemc is the author of the story collection False Bingo (2019) and the forthcoming novel Total Work of Art, both from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Her previous books include A Different Bed Every Time, My Only Wife, and the bone-chilling haunted house novel The Grip of It.

At Publishers Weekly, Jemc tagged ten essential books featuring hauntings, including:
In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

As a longtime lover of Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown, I find in this book the permission to enter into the complex female perspective denied us in that classic. This book is half fairy tale, half nightmare quest through colonial New England. If you’re a fan of the Robert Eggers film The Witch or deep diving on the Salem witch trials, this will do it for you.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: In the House in the Dark of the Woods.

The Page 69 Test: In the House in the Dark of the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Five notable villains who see themselves as heroes

Jenn Lyons was a graphic artist and illustrator for twenty years and has worked in video games for over a decade. She previously worked on The Saboteur and Lord of the Rings: Conquest at EA Games. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Her epic fantasy series A Chorus of Dragons includes A Chorus of Dragons and (coming soon) The Name of All Things.

At, Lyons tagged five notable villains who see themselves as heroes, including:
Cardinal Richelieu, Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers

Having been first introduced to this swashbuckling story via movies like the 1993 version starring Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, and Chris O’Donnell, I was more than a little shocked the first time I read the book. Dumas makes it bluntly clear that Richelieu’s main motivation is a strong desire to do what he thinks is best for France, not exactly the carpet-chewing ambition I’d so often seen in the movies (you know I love you, Tim Curry, but…) He doesn’t necessarily hold a grudge either (indeed, he’s the one who suggests to the king that Louis really should just go ahead and make that D’Artagnan kid a musketeer.) Unfortunately, there’s a lot of wiggle room in ‘what is best for France’ and Richelieu takes it to ruthless extremes. Sure, his feud with the Queen does stem from her unwillingness to sleep with him, but is he really wrong to point out that just maybe her having an affair with an English Duke is even more ill-advised? To my mind, he will always be the quintessential mastermind villain willing to make the ‘hard decisions’ that others can’t or won’t. (I’ll admit my own Relos Var and Senera owe more than a passing nod to Richelieu and his favorite ‘problem-solver’ Milady DeWinter.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Three Musketeers is among Becky Ferreira's top seven bromances in literature and John Mullan's ten best cardinals in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about black radicalism

Kehinde Andrews is associate professor in sociology at Birmingham City University. He is also the chair of the Black Studies Association and of the Organisation of Black Unity. He writes for the Guardian and the Independent.

Andrews's newest book is Back to Black: Black Radicalism for the 21st Century.

At the Guardian he tagged ten top books about black radicalism, including:
Garvey and Garveyism by Amy Jacques Garvey (1963)

The Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded in 1914, grew into largest and most influential black political organisation of all time. At its peak it had millions of members across the African diaspora, long before the days of social media or even widespread use of the telephone. Marcus Garvey is most credited with the rise of the organisation, but black women were the backbone of the movement, representing more than half of the membership. Amy Jacques Garvey was indispensable to the organisation and curated the memory of her husband in both the Philosophy and Opinions and in Garvey and Garveyism, which also includes her own writing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Five great island books that reimagine "The Tempest"

Johanna Stoberock's novels include City of Ghosts and the newly released Pigs. Her short stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Better: Culture & Lit, The Wilson Quarterly, Copper Nickel, Front Porch, and the 2014 Best of the Net Anthology. A 2016 runner up for the Italo Calvino Prize, 2012 Jack Straw Fellow, and 2013 Artist Trust GAP awardee, Stoberock has received residencies from the Corporation of Yaddo, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Millay Colony. She lives in Walla Walla, Washington with her husband and two children.

At LitHub Stoberock tagged "five books that rewrite Prospero and his island, rethinking the man while leaving his magic in place," including:
Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees

Part Nabokov’s Pale Fire, part nightmare all its own, this dense, intricate, dazzlingly toxic novel, published in 2013, creates a Prospero character who is dark to his very core. The novel purports to be an account of the life of Nobel Laureate, Norton Perina. Perina is famous for research he conducted on the inhabitants of an island in the South Pacific who seem to have found a way to immortality, but the novel begins with him in jail, in the act of writing his memoirs. The manuscript comes to readers via Ronald Kubodera, a fauning colleague who, through editorial omissions, exculpatory footnotes, and physical interventions, enables Perina in continuing on his noxious path. Perina emerges, ultimately, as a psychotic manipulater who throws a fragile community under the bus for the sake of his obsessions. Whatever magic Perina finds on his island is sacrificed to the wants of this invader from the outside world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Six of the best books on the refugee experience

Dina Nayeri is the author of The Ungrateful Refugee, a finalist for the 2019 Kirkus Prize. Her essay of the same name was one of the most widely shared 2017 Long Reads in The Guardian. A 2019 Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination Fellow, winner of the 2018 UNESCO City of Literature Paul Engle Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts literature grant (2015), O. Henry Prize (2015), Best American Short Stories (2018), and fellowships from the McDowell Colony, Bogliasco Foundation, and Yaddo, her stories and essays have been published by The New York Times, New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, New Yorker, Granta New Voices, Wall Street Journal, and many others. Her debut novel, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea (2013) was translated to 14 languages. Her second novel, Refuge (2017) was a New York Times editor’s choice. She holds a BA from Princeton, an MBA from Harvard, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow and Teaching Writing Fellow. She lives in Paris.

At the Guardian, Nayeri tagged six of the best books on the refugee experience, including:
For a rigorous journalistic understanding of today’s primary migrant route into Europe (through the western Balkans), I recommend BBC correspondent Nick Thorpe’s The Road Before Me Weeps. It is an intimate, heartbreaking account of daily life in transit, in this particular social and political context, and of the many ways these families are rejected and exploited along the way. I was blown away by how much this man saw – things that have taken me 30 years of reflection to be willing to talk about.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 30, 2019

Seven books that influence Stephen Chbosky's writing

Stephen Chbosky's new novel is Imaginary Friend.

At The Week magazine the author tagged seven books that influence his writing, including:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012).

R.J. Palacio's masterpiece of empathy-evoking storytelling should be required reading in every fifth-grade classroom in the world. This story of a 10-year-old boy with facial differences who is enrolling in a public school for the first time should come with its own box of tissues.
Read about another entry on his list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The books we'll be reading in 2030

Emily Temple is a senior editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, will be published by William Morrow in 2020.

Temple polled her LitHub colleagues for "ten books from the last ten years that they thought we’d still be reading—for good or ill—ten years from now, circa 2030."

The title that made the most lists:
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014)
Read about the other entries on the list.

Learn more about Citizen: An American Lyric.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Twenty books to help you navigate grief

At Read It Forward, Eliza Smith tagged twenty books to help you navigate grief, including:
The Friend
Sigrid Nunez

The unnamed narrator of Sigrid Nunez’s National Book Award-winner isn’t mourning alone. She has the company of her departed mentor’s Great Dane, distressed over the sudden disappearance of his owner. His care becomes a channel for the narrator’s grief, who begins to spend every waking (and sleeping) moment with him in this pitch-perfect novel of companionship set in the ever-changing literary world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Read more about The Friend.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 27, 2019

The twenty best campus novels

Emily Temple is a senior editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, will be published by William Morrow in 2020.

At LitHub she tagged--and ranked--the twenty best campus novels. Number one on the list:
Donna Tartt, The Secret History

Surprise, surprise. I mean, look, I know it has its detractors, but from where I’m standing, campus novels don’t get much better than this. Tartt’s debut has everything: snotty classics students, alluring and mysterious professors, convoluted social hierarchies, bad rich kids, good rich kids, murder, Bacchic rites, class warfare, allusions to the ancients, and some of the most intelligent, gorgeous writing going. You just can’t beat it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Secret History is on a top ten list of the best Twinkies in fiction, and among Ruth Ware's top six books about boarding schools.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Ten top literary thrillers

Rachel Eve Moulton earned her BA at Antioch College and her MFA in fiction from Emerson College. Her work has appeared in The Beacon Street Review, Bellowing Ark, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Bryant Literary Review, among others.

Tinfoil Butterfly is her first novel.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten "favorite literary thrillers, the ones that will wake up your brain and your heart," including:
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

In Whitehead’s story world, trains run underground connected by safe houses. We follow Cora as she flees her plantation and the slave catcher who is hunting her. Ridgeway, her pursuer, also wants to know the secrets of the railroad, and the complicated chase brings back the horrors of slavery. Cora’s strength and determination to survive keeps us next to her the entire journey.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Underground Railroad is among Nathan Englander’s ten desert island books, Greg Mitchell's top ten escapes in literature, and President Obama's summer 2016 reading list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top escapes in books

Toby Litt is best-known for writing his books – from Adventures in Capitalism to (so far) Patience – in alphabetical order (apart from the non-fiction ones); he is currently working on Q and R.

At the Guardian, Litt tagged ten favorite escapes in books, including:
Persuasion by Jane Austen

Anne Elliot is the oldest of Austen’s heroines, and the longest-suffering. In order to reach her happy ending, she endures years of confinement. She isn’t literally in solitary, but – as an unmarried not-so-young woman, dependent on her demanding father, she is as trapped as any prisoner. Worse still, she has no true companionship. She is surrounded by a grotesque gallery of the neurotic and the interfering, the boring and the presumptuous. Only the reader knows Anne’s true worth. Her victorious escape from the hell of the English country house to be together with her true love, Captain Wentworth, makes her years of anguish worthwhile – almost.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Persuasion is among Lore Segal's ten favorite books, four books that changed Sasha Wasley, Cristina Merrill's five classic romantic stories that still ring true today, Melissa Albert's top fifteen male characters in Jane Austen's novels, Yiyun Li's six favorite novels, Joanna Trollope's six best books, Paula Byrne's ten best Jane Austen characters, Marjorie Kehe's list of ten perfect books for Valentine's Day gifts, Howard Jacobson's 5 favorite literary heroines and top ten novels of sexual jealousy, Elizabeth Buchan's top ten books guaranteed to give comfort during the ending of a relationship, and appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best concerts in literature.

The Page 99 Test: Persuasion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Seven of Maine's best thrillers

New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen earned international acclaim for her first novel of suspense, Harvest. She introduced Detective Jane Rizzoli in The Surgeon (2001) and Dr. Maura Isles in The Apprentice (2002) and has gone on to write numerous other titles in the celebrated Rizzoli & Isles series.

Her new novel is The Shape of Night.

At CrimeReads, Gerritsen tagged seven favorite Maine thrillers, including:
Also focusing on the dark side of Maine is author James Hayman, whose hero Mike McCabe is a homicide detective in Portland, Maine. In The Cutting (first in the series), McCabe and his partner Maggie Savage search for a killer who surgically excises the hearts of beautiful women. Real-life Portland is a vibrant city known for its lively arts and its foodie culture, but in the nightmarish world created by Hayman, a killer seems to be lurking behind every red-brick corner.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Cutting.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Five books about surprisingly supernatural teens

Leah Schnelbach is a staff writer for the pop culture website, a fiction editor for the literary journal No Tokens, a sci-fi & fantasy columnist for Lithub’s Book Marks site and a former associate prose editor for Fairy Tale Review. Her fiction appears in Joyland, Volume 1 Brooklyn, Madcap Review, The Boiler, Anamesa, and Lumina. Her criticism has appeared in Tin House Online, Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, Speculative Fiction 2015, The Crooked Timber Symposium and Electric Literature.

At she tagged five favorite books about surprisingly supernatural teens, including:
Emily of New Moon and Emily’s Quest by L.M. Montgomery

This is another not-quite-as-famous series by a beloved author. L.M. Montgomery is primarily know as the author of the resolutely realistic Anne of Green Gables series, which follows a young redheaded orphan (who kinda wants to be a writer) through romantic trials and triumphs in Edwardian Canada. Emily of New Moon, my preferred Montgomery work, follow a black-haired orphan (who really, really wants to be a writer) through romantic trials and triumphs in Edwardian Canada. The difference between the two series is that Emily actually dedicates herself to her writing and sees some success despite the misogyny of the time, and also she’s fucking psychic. Two separate times over the course of the series she has several three-dimensional, full color, totally immersive visions. One concerns her best friend, Ilse Burnley. Ilse is practically feral, having been abandoned by her father, Dr. Burnley, who believes that Ilse’s mother left him for another man. It’s all very tragic and convoluted (especially as filtered through the points of view of two prepubescent Edwardian children—thanks, Lucy Maude) but it leads to a lot of misery. UNTIL. Emily contracts measles, nearly dies, and has a vision of a young woman running through a field and falling into a well. She recites the vision in a terrifying voice, the well is investigated, and voila! There are the bones of Ilse’s mother, who didn’t run away at all (yayyy!) but fell into a well and died (um, yay?). This has the happy (???) outcome of Dr. Burnley actually caring for his daughter. The second incident is much creepier. When Emily’s on-again-off-again artist boyfriend, Teddy, is about to leave for Europe, she falls into a fit. Hundreds of miles away Teddy sees her across a crowded dock, and follows her until he loses sight of her. This causes him to miss boarding his ship—which then sinks, killing everyone aboard. This isn’t even just telepathy or a psychic vision of some type, this is full-on bi-location! Teddy lives, tells Emily about it weeks later when he sees her again, and everyone in the book just goes about life as though they don’t have a superhero in their midst.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books for understanding the American drug crisis

Ben Westhoff is an award-winning investigative journalist who writes about culture, drugs, and poverty. His books are taught around the country and have been translated into languages all over the world.

His new book is Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic.

At LitHub Westhoff tagged six books for understanding the American drug crisis, including:
Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

No matter where you come from or how old you are, you’ve likely been given misinformation about drugs for most of your life. Chasing the Scream is one of those “everything you know is wrong” texts that uses first-hand reporting from around the globe to show how we’ve gotten in wrong, and how we can right the ship. Hari travels from Arizona—where prison camps try to humiliate users into going straight—to Portugal, where decriminalization has actually helped solve drug problems. Most astonishing is his reporting on heroin abuse. Counter to the traditional narrative that once an opiate or opioid get its “chemical hooks” into users it’s nearly impossible for them to break free, Hari shows the situation to often be less chemical than psychological. If users can get their personal lives in order, they can frequently get clean.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 23, 2019

Six books that explain death in America

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, activist, and funeral industry rabble-rouser. In 2011 she founded the death acceptance collective The Order of the Good Death, which has spawned the death positive movement. Her books Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity were both New York Times bestsellers.

Doghty's newest book is Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death.

At The Week magazine she tagged six books that explain death in America, including:
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander (2015).

Alexander, who read her poem "Praise Song for the Day" at Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, wrote this memoir on grief after the sudden death of her young husband three years later. You find yourself truly rooting for this intelligent, funny couple, and when he is taken, you feel the deep pain alongside her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Three top novels depicting therapists and therapy

Bijal Shah is a poet, book therapist, and author of The Happiness Mindset.

At the Guardian she tagged three of the best depictions of therapists and therapy in fiction, including:
Fiction offers thoughtful insight into the conscientious work of therapists. Using the full breadth and depth of the creative licence, client cases are examined in blistering detail. The book that jumps to mind is Irvin D Yalom’s When Nietzsche Wept. A perennial literary guide for both therapists and therapists-in-training, it marries philosophy and psychoanalysis. Modern psychoanalysis founder, Joseph Breuer, attempts to treat the influential philosopher, Nietzsche, who is on the brink of suicide. Breuer, himself, is recovering from a broken heart. They form a therapeutic alliance, each attempting to heal the other’s depression. Yalom’s other notable novels with protagonist therapists, also of interest, include Love’s Executioner & Other Tales of Psychotherapy and The Schopenhauer Cure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue