Friday, May 31, 2019

Six of the best bad women in fiction

Sara Collins is of Jamaican descent and grew up in Grand Cayman and studied law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for seventeen years before doing a Master of Studies in Creative Writing at Cambridge University, where she was the recipient of the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize for Creative Writing. Her debut novel is The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

At LitHub Collins tagged six favorite bad women in fiction, including:
Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge is irascible, ill-tempered and at times plain abusive. She’s guilty of an emotional affair (at least) with a man whose “wariness” and “quiet anger” reminds her of herself: “We’re both cut from the same piece of bad cloth.” When she overhears her son’s new wife just after their wedding insulting her dress and hinting at her bad parenting, her “mouth begins to secrete” and she invades her daughter-in-law’s closet to scrawl on one of her sweaters with a Magic Marker. Yet no one is at more the mercy of her dark moods than Olive herself, who longs to tell that same daughter-in-law: “there is a thing inside me, and sometimes it swells up like the head of a squid and shoots blackness through me.” Her own desires are far more soft-bellied and complicated than that: “…there had been times when she’d felt a loneliness so deep that once, not so many years ago, having a cavity filled, the dentist’s gentle turning of her chin with his big soft fingers had felt to her like a tender kindness of almost excruciating depth, and she had swallowed with a groan of longing, tears springing to her eyes.” This book evokes the pain and anger of the kind of loneliness that runs that deep.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Olive Kitteridge is among Laura Barnett's ten top unconventional love stories and Sophie Ward's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Five top books to read while staring death in the face

Michael Blumlein is the author of several novels and story collections, including the award-winning The Brains of Rats. He has twice been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and twice for the Bram Stoker. His story "Fidelity: A Primer" was short-listed for the Tiptree. He has written for both stage and film, including the award-winning independent film Decodings (included in the Biennial Exhibition of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and winner of the Special Jury Award of the SF International Film Festival). Blumlein's novel X,Y was made into a feature-length movie. Until his recent retirement he taught and practiced medicine at the University of California in San Francisco.

Blumlein's new novella is Longer.

At Tor.com he tagged five books to read while staring death in the face, including:
Clay’s Ark, by Octavia Butler

Biological SF at its finest. Written 35 years ago and reads as if it were penned yesterday. Unputdownable. Chilling, unflinching, humanistic and then some. It turns out that love and tolerance do help when you’re dealing with…well, with anyone.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten teenage friendships in fiction

Kate Hamer's new novel is Crushed. "The three girls in the novel are from very different backgrounds," the author writes, "but the various alchemies of home life, coupled with their emotional trajectories, collide and explode and what could have become simply a rueful memory of youthful difficulties turns abruptly toxic and marks them forever."

At the Guardian, Hamer tagged ten top teenage friendships in fiction, including:
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The book begins with a teenager setting fire to a house in Shaker Heights – a progressive, affluent suburb where seemingly well-intentioned liberalism keeps society ticking quietly forward with safely shared values. When a white family attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby it rips this community apart. What’s fascinating is how the group of teenagers at the core of the book react to the events. Brilliant on the loves, friendships and dreams of adolescents.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Seven suspenseful literary thrillers

J.S.Monroe is the pseudonym of the British author Jon Stock. Stock is the author of six spy novels. His standalone psychological thrillers, written under the pseudonym J.S. Monroe, include Find Me, Forget My Name, and the newly released The Last Thing She Remembers.

At CrimeReads Monroe tagged seven favorite literary thrillers, including:
The Talented Mr Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel is the godfather of the modern psychological thriller, its influence stronger today than ever. The central idea of someone—Tom Ripley—assuming another’s identity is an ancient trope but Highsmith gives it a new spin. Despite Ripley’s obvious immorality, the reader roots for him, hoping that he’ll evade police capture and live the life he always wanted. It’s a phenomenal authorial achievement, particularly as Ripley’s envy leads him to murder, but there’s no happy ending. Ripley concludes the book in a state of paranoia and fear, a reminder that Highsmith’s moral compass may often be hidden but is still firmly in tact.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Simon Lelic's top ten list of false identities in fiction, Jeff Somers's list of fifty novels that changed novels, 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

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Five books with terrible monsters that tug on our human heartstrings

Kerstin Hall is a writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She completed her undergraduate studies in journalism at Rhodes University and, as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, continued with a Masters degree at the University of Cape Town.

Her debut novel, The Border Keeper, is out in July from Tor.com.

At Tor.com Hall tagged "five books featuring monsters that we might still pity as they bite off our ears," including:
The Scar by China Miéville

To be honest, this list could easily be filled with Miéville monstrosities alone. From the contents of the ‘Säcken’ in the short story of the same name, to Yagharek in Perdido Street Station, to the whole menagerie of macabre Remade in the Bas-Lag Trilogy, pitiable and grotesque monsters proliferate in his work. And in The Scar there are the Anophelii.

The Anophelii, or mosquito-people, rose to power as a dominant race during the years of the Malarial Queendom. While their reign of terror was short-lived, the devastation they wrought resulted in their entire species being banished to a small island for the next 2000 years.

Male Anophelii are mute vegetarian scholars. Female Anophelii are ferociously hungry predators with retractable, foot-long proboscises inside their mouths, capable of draining all the blood from their victims within a minute and a half. Everyone is, quite rightly, terrified of them.

And yet, although the mosquito women spend most of their lives starved and blood-crazed, they experience a brief window of lucidity after feeding. Stabbing proboscis aside, their mouths are more similar to a human’s than to males of their own species. But when they attempt to reach out to other people, to communicate, they are immediately met with fear and violence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Scar is among Fran Wilde's top five books that explore the monstrous.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 27, 2019

Five books on the most underrated of literary senses: scents

Erica Bauermeister is the bestselling author of four novels including The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, The Lost Art of Mixing, and The Scent Keeper.

At LitHub Bauermeister tagged five books on the most underrated of literary senses: scents. One title on the list:
M. J. Rose, The Book of Lost Fragrances

A missing brother, a dead body, a mysterious and powerful perfume from Cleopatra’s time, the possibility of past lives—there’s plenty to keep the reader turning the pages here. Jac L’Etoile has left the family perfume business behind, but when her brother calls her with a startling discovery—and then disappears before explaining what it is—she goes to Paris to investigate. Fragrances in the “fresh” category sometimes feel like a series of magnificent fireworks. So does this book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books that will help you understand yourself

Karen Rinaldi is a professional preacher of the gospel of suckitude. Before she found surfing, she sucked at plenty of things, among them skiing, horseback riding (which almost ended tragically), boxing (she doesn’t want to talk about it), running, rollerblading, cycling (for which she boasts the least suckiness.) Along with her side hustle of suckitude, Rinaldi has spent 20+ years in publishing and is the publisher of Harper Wave, an imprint she founded in 2012. Her first novel, The End of Men, was the basis for the 2016 feature film Maggie’s Plan, directed by Rebecca Miller and starring Julianne Moore, Greta Gerwig and Ethan Hawke. Her book, [It’s Great to] Suck at Something: The Unexpected Joy of Wiping Out and What It Can Teach Us About Patience, Resilience and the Stuff That Really Matters, is a non-fiction deep dive into the joys that sucking can bring.

At The Week magazine, Rinaldi shared her six favorite books that will help you understand yourself. One title on the list:
What if This Were Enough? by Heather ­Hav­rilesky (2018).

Havrilesky doesn't suck at being Havrilesky. An essayist who goes where many writers wouldn't dare, she has the courage to dig deep into her psyche and expose it to us — and in doing so, throws a klieg light into our own dark corners. She's working on gratitude practice as well. "That's my territory," she writes. "Gratitude and anger, anger and gratitude."
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Seven creepy (fictional) couples

Kaira Rouda's new novel is The Favorite Daughter.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven "literary couples whose relationships are deeply disturbing in the most fascinating ways possible," including:
Millicent and her husband, My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Murder isn’t my idea of a perfect date night, but it is for Millicent and her husband. That by itself is creepy, but Samantha Downing draws us even deeper into this mess of a relationship.

We only get one side of this story, because Millicent’s husband is narrating, and the tension from that unreliable narrator makes an uncomfortable situation even creepier. Listening to his justifications about what he and Millicent do in a casual, relaxed tone sends shivers down your spine, and the mystery surrounding Millicent makes everything more unsettling. This story also has a reveal so shocking that it will make you put the book down just to try to process it!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Five monumental works to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day

At the B&N Reads blog Ross Johnson tagged five monumental works to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day (June 6, 1944), including:
Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die: How the Allies Won on D-Day, by Giles Milton

There are those books that offer a wide-ranging, high-level view of World War II, and then there are those that zero in on a particular, often peculiar, aspect of the conflict. In this book, Giles Milton focuses his eye on one 24 hour period: June 6, 1944, one of the war’s most momentous days—the launch of the D-Day invasion that saw the beginning of the end of the war in Western Europe. What’s more, he allows the people who lived through the longest day to guide the telling of the events: a teenaged Allied conscript, a German gunner, a French resistance fighter, a Panzer Commander’s wife. For Milton, the ultimate significance of D-Day can be glimpsed in the raw and unvarnished stories of individuals who stared death in the face on that date.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 24, 2019

Eleven top summer romance novels

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The #1 international bestselling coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fifteen New York Times bestselling novels.

Their latest novel is The Unhoneymooners.

At Publishers Weekly the authors tagged eleven favorite summer romance novels, including:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

If you’re among the handful of people who hasn’t had this series pushed in your face, then you’re lucky because you still have the action, suspense, and ridiculously hot series to read for the very first time. We envy you. In this first book in the series, Maas re-stages Beauty and the Beast in a world of the Fae, but the series very quickly becomes something else entirely, and if you think you know what’s going to happen at each bend in the road, we promise you don’t. The romance in this is so smoking hot that it even made us blush, and the story is so addicting that, on a two-week road trip through Europe, Lauren managed to barely look up, reading the entire, enormous series in one go.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Seven complex twin sets in recent science fiction & fantasy

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog, Nicole Hill tagged seven fascinating stories of sci-fi and fantasy twins, including:
The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, by JY Yang

In the first two of Yang’s Tensorate novellas, we follow twins Mokoya and Akeha through the years spent navigating their tumultuous world, Ea. By no stretch of the imagination are they identical, growing in divergent ways, developing distinct powers, and choosing sharply different life paths. Moreover, in a world in which gender is chosen at maturity, gifted soothsayer Mokoya opts to become female, while machine-minded Akeha becomes male. Both twins attempt to influence and shape the world in their own ways, and their eventual estrangement may be bridged only by rebellion.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about angry women

Katie Lowe is a writer living in Worcester, UK, whose debut novel The Furies is set to be published by Harperfiction (UK), St Martin's Press (US) and eight other territories worldwide.

A graduate of the University of Birmingham, Lowe has a BA(Hons) in English and an MPhil in Literature & Modernity. She is set to return to Birmingham in 2019 to complete a PhD in English Literature, with her thesis on female rage in literary modernism and the #MeToo era.

At the Guardian Lowe tagged ten favorite books about angry women, including:
Carrie by Stephen King

When I was 12, I stole a tattered copy of Carrie from my parents’ bookshelves, and stayed up all night reading it. It was the first adult novel I’d read, and my first foray into horror – and I was immediately hooked. No surprise, then, that my first novel is about teenage girls and revenge – the unpopular, horribly bullied Carrie using her powers to take hers is a scene that’s stayed with me, ever since.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Carrie is on Jo Jakeman's list of the ten best revenge novels, Ania Ahlborn's list of ten of the scariest books of all time, Jeff Somers's list of the five worst mothers in literary history, Becky Ferreira's list of six of the most memorable bullies in literature, Julie Buntin's list of favorite literary kids with deadbeat and/or absent dads, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, and James Dawson's top ten list of books to get you through high school.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Fifteen books to read about the abortion debate

At The Oprah Magazine Michelle Darrisaw tagged fifteen books to read about the abortion debate. One title on the list:
A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates

In Joyce Carol Oates's novel, fiction mirrors reality. An abortionist doctor is shot by an evangelical Christian, marking a series of similar murders committed between 1993 and 2015. Oates offering orchestrates a story from the point of view of both the killer and the victim's daughter, so readers get an inside perspective from two people on opposite sides of the abortion debate.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Six new books to honor the 50th anniversary of Stonewall

At the B&N Reads blog Ross Johnson tagged six new books to honor the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, including:
The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets, by Gayle E. Pitman

For the 50th anniversary of Pride comes this new middle grade-level book about the Stonewall uprising, presenting the history of LGBTQ+ rights in the lead-up to, and in the aftermath of the riots, offering valuable background on the organizing that occurred in the wake of June 28. Pitman includes new interviews with witnesses, including a woman who was only ten at the time, but its clever format makes this unique: each chapter focuses on a particular object, from physical artifacts like a police sergeant’s bullhorn or the Stonewall Inn’s busted jukebox; to a slightly less tangible items such as a photographs, news articles, and maps. It’s a neat way to structure the story for young readers, providing an engaging view of the people and places of Stonewall.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 20, 2019

Six epic fantasy series for fans of "Game of Thrones"

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 six epic fantasy series for fans of Game of Thrones, including:
Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel’s Legacy

“The best political intrigue in fantasy,” one very knowledgable friend said to me recently of this trilogy of trilogies. “PLUS BDSM sex. What else do you want really?” What else do you want indeed!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Ross Johnson's twenty-five epic fantasies for fans of Game of Thrones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books on the Red Scare

David Maraniss is a New York Times best-selling author, fellow of the Society of American Historians, and visiting distinguished professor at Vanderbilt University. He has been affiliated with the Washington Post for more than forty years as an editor and writer, and twice won Pulitzer Prizes at the newspaper. In 1993 he received the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his coverage of Bill Clinton, and in 2007 he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer for coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting. He was also a Pulitzer finalist three other times, including for one of his books, They Marched Into Sunlight. He has won many other major writing awards, including the George Polk Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize, the Anthony Lukas Book Prize, and the Frankfurt eBook Award.

A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father is his twelfth book.

At The Week magazine Maraniss shared his six favorite books on the Red Scare, including:
Spain in Our Hearts by Adam Hochschild (2016).

Hochschild offers a vivid and heartbreaking history that evokes the idealism and violence of the Spanish Civil War through stories of American volunteers and journalists. This largely forgotten war is essential to understanding the ideological struggles that played out during World War II and the Red Scare. Read Hochschild's account in tandem with George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Seven thrillers to make you wonder if your best friend is a murderer

S. R. Masters is originally from the West Midlands in the UK. His debut novel is a coming-of-age murder mystery, The Killer You Know, about a group of childhood friends returning home for a reunion only to discover the friend that joked about being a serial killer when he grew up might actually have become one.

At CrimeReads Masters tagged seven thrillers that capture some of the darker aspects of tight-knit friendship groups. One title on the list:
It, by Stephen King

King’s “final exam on horror” finds a group of friends returning home to fight their literal and figurative childhood monsters. It’s a book I read every few years and always find new things to admire. That is partly due to the dual timeline, which give the book the uncanny knack of managing to speak to you no matter what age you read it. It is also due to one of the central characters being the town itself, which allows for lots of small but incredibly well fleshed-out subplots about the supporting cast. Plenty has been written elsewhere about this book, but two lesser known and sinister parts don’t involve a shape-shifting clown at all, and are really self-contained murder mysteries. One features the death of young Dorsey Corcoran, and the other involves Bowers Gang member Patrick Hockstetter. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this sort of detail is why the novel endures, and shows early flexing of the crime-writing muscles King would later develop in books like Joyland and The Outsider.
Read about the other entries on the list.

It is among Jeff Somers's ten top SFF stories lousy with giant spiders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Seven books that show real working-class life

Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Her first novel, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma was published in 2012 by Chatto & Windus (Penguin Random House) and was the winner of the Scottish First Book Award while also being shortlisted for the Southbank Sky Arts Literature Award, Guardian First Book Award, Green Carnation Prize, Author’s Club First Novel Prize and the Polari First Book Award. Hudson’s second novel, Thirst, was published in 2014 by Chatto & Windus and won France’s most prestigious award for foreign fiction the Prix Femina Étranger. It was also shortlisted for the European Premio Strega in Italy. Her books are also available in the US (Penguin), France (Editions Philippe Rey), Italy (Minimum Fax) and Turkey.

Huson's new book is a work of nonfiction: Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns.

At the Guardian the author tagged seven books that show real working-class life, including:
It always feels to me like a way of putting us in our place when people call working-class writing miserable, or gritty, or urban – the same accusation is rarely made when authors from other backgrounds write about heartache, hardship or conflict. Simon Kövesi examines and challenges the expectation of miserabilism in James Kelman, his study of the Scottish novelist. The “quotidian world” evoked by Kelman’s work, Kövesi argues, can instead be seen as “groundbreaking, influential and liberating”. Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown trilogy also explodes that expectation. His novels are full of rib-cracking, tar-black humour as they follow the trials and triumphs of the Rabbitte family.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Commitments is among Marjorie Kehe's ten best books about Ireland, four books that changed Maureen McCarthy, Dorian Lynskey's ten best fictional musicians, and Tiffany Murray's top ten rock'n'roll novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 17, 2019

Fifty top thrillers by women

Recently the Sunday Times (London) picked its one hundred favorite crime and spy novels published since 1945. Only titles were by women. In response, the Guardian "asked some of the UK’s best female crime writers for further suggestions, just to get us up to 50 and even the scales." One title from the list:
Little Face by Sophie Hannah

Hannah’s thriller debut is about a young mother who becomes convinced that, after spending two hours away from her baby, the infant is not hers.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Little Face.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Top ten books about Sudan

Jamal Mahjoub has been writing for longer than he cares to remember. His novels cover subjects as diverse as Sudan’s history and strife, heliocentricity, and explorations of identity. He has won the Prix de l’astrolabe in France, the NH Mario Vargas LLosa award in Spain, and the Guardian African Short Story prize.

Mahjoub was born in London and spent his formative years in Khartoum, Sudan. Since then he has settled in a number of cities, including London, Aarhus, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. His fiction and nonfiction have been critically acclaimed and widely translated. He has published six crime novels featuring private investigator Makana, using the pen name Parker Bilal.

His A Line in the River: Khartoum, City of Memory is the result of ten years writing and research. It documents the author’s return to the country where he grew up, exploring past and present in the light of Sudan’s dreams of independence, and ending with the 2011 break up of what was the largest country in Africa.

At the Guardian Mahjoub tagged ten top books about Sudan, including:
Bakhita by Veronique Olmi

This novel reimagines the remarkable true story of Josephine Bakhita. Forced into slavery as a child in the late 19th century, Bakhita was later beatified in Rome to become one of Africa’s first Catholic saints. Olmi’s novel, originally written in French, was shortlisted for a number of prizes in France, including the prestigious Goncourt.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The six most memorable bad dates in literature

Wendy Walker is the author of the national and international bestseller All is Not Forgotten and Emma In The Night. Her latest work is The Night Before. At CrimeReads she enlisted some writer friends to come up with their favorite stories of love gone wrong. Liv Constantine's pick:
Looking for Mr. Goodbar, by Judith Rossner

Lynne Constantine’s pick is the 1975 #1 New York Times Bestseller, which would later become a blockbuster film. Inspired by real events, the novel follows a young woman in New York City who is murdered by a man she picks up in a single’s bar – the dating app equivalent of the time. Theresa Dunn has been tormented by love ever since a devastating break-up with a college professor. She turns to the single’s scene to fill the void, eventually juggling two very different men. One presents a chance at a traditional, albeit mundane, relationship. The other is volatile, but exciting. In the end, she rejects both and returns to her favorite spot, Mr. Goodbar, to continue her search for “the one.” It’s there she meets the man who will kill her in her own bed. This cautionary tale examines the inherent dangers of intimacy with strangers, and how the search for love can overpower reason.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Six top books about war

Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient won the Booker Prize in 1992 and the Golden Man Booker in 2018; Anil’s Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. His latest novel is Warlight.

At The Week magazine Ondaatje tagged six favorite books about war, including:
A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr (1980)

Two men, emotionally damaged, return to a small English town after the First World War. The central character is hired to restore a church mural, and as the plot unfolds and the ancient mural becomes visible, the two men's stories become profoundly interconnected.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 13, 2019

Nine books that destroy New York City as we know it

At LitHub Emily Temple tagged nine books that destroy New York City as we know it, including:
Colson Whitehead, Zone One

You know how to really destroy a city? Mix in some zombies, naturally. In this novel, downtown Manhattan has been dubbed Zone One, and while most of the zombies have been cleaned out by the Marines, the deeply mediocre Mark Spitz is part of the cleanup crew eliminating stragglers—so that the city can be inhabited by the living again.
Read about the other books on the list.

Zone One is among Ceridwen Christensen's six top zombie novels and Corey J. White's five top books about the collapse of New York City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Five of the best books on sporting outliers

Alex Hutchinson is the author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. He writes about the science of endurance and fitness for Outside (where he's a contributing editor and author of the Sweat Science column), The Globe and Mail (where he writes the Jockology column), and Canadian Running magazine.

At the Guardian Hutchinson tagged five of the best books that explore sex, gender and the nature-nurture debate, including:
For all its flaws...sport is often in the vanguard of social struggle and change, from Jackie Robinson to Colin Kaepernick. In his award-winning novel The Illegal, Lawrence Hill follows the saga of Keita Ali, an elite marathon runner fleeing from impoverished Zantoroland to prosperous Freedom State. As so often in fiction and reality, sport becomes a metaphor for and a reflection of Ali’s struggles in life. And there’s a political subtext: how do you balance the rights of the few with the rights of the many? In the wake of all the [Caster] Semenya coverage it’s a question that should sound hauntingly familiar.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Nine books that tackle sexual assault head on

At The Oprah Magazine Michelle Darrisaw tagged nine books that send same message: victims of sexual assault are not alone. One title on the list:
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

This isn't an easy read. Hunger author Roxane Gay brilliantly weaves economic disparity with psychological trauma in a page-turning novel. The bright side: each chapter includes a story of resilience and wisdom.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top books set in isolated locations

Julia Phillips is a Fulbright fellow whose writing has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Atlantic, Slate, and The Moscow Times. She lives in Brooklyn.

Phillips's debut novel is Disappearing Earth.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged "eight novels perfectly limited by geographic barriers. The stories ... are set in places remote to most of their readers, yet the skill of their authors, the bold lines of their containers and the sharp focus on what happens within, make them compelling to us all." One title on the list:
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The island novel against which all others are measured. In this 1954 classic, a group of British schoolboys is marooned after a plane crash in the Pacific. Stranded far from the world they know, the boys establish their own miniature civilization, which soon turns toward violence. Golding’s novel shows exactly why stories in remote settings fascinate us: stripped of outside influence, kept alone together, these characters reveal themselves for the eager, cruel, conflicted creatures they—and we—really are.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lord of the Flies is on Kerri Jarema's list of fifteen classic novels with a page count mercifully below 200 pages, Brian Conaghan's list of ten favorite teen books about male friendship, Gillian Philip’s top ten list of islands in children's fiction, Janet Davey’s top ten list of schoolchildren in fiction, Frank Rich's ten top books list, Non Pratt's top ten list of toxic friendships in literature, Francesca Haig's top ten list of the greatest twins in children’s books, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick list of thirteen favorite, occasionally-banned, YA novels, Matt Kraus's list of six famous books with extremely faithful film adaptations, Michael Hogan's list of the ten best fictional evil children, Danny Wallace's six best books list, Gemma Malley's top ten list of dystopian novels for teenagers, AbeBooks' list of 20 books of shattered childhoods and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best pigs in literature, ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature, and ten of the best horrid children in literature, Katharine Quarmby's top ten list of disability stories, and William Skidelsky's list of ten of the best accounts of being marooned in literature. It is a book that made a difference to Isla Fisher and is one of Suzi Quatro's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 10, 2019

Five top books on conspiracy theories in America

Anna Merlan is the author of Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power.

At LitHub she tagged five top books on conspiracy theories in America, including:
Fortress Russia by Ilya Yablokov

When skilfully deployed by the powerful, conspiracy theories can be politically valuable. In the hands of a canny leader, they unite the public against a common enemy, they distract from internal unrest or corruption, and they create a justification for the leader to remain in power and take more and more control. Donald Trump is not that kind of leader, and his deployment of conspiracy theories—birtherism, ghoulishly accusing his opponents of inflating the number of deaths during Hurricane Maria—has been truly hamfisted. For an understanding of how conspiracy theorizing works successfully in the hands of someone in his position, read Yablokov’s gripping book. Among other things, the book adeptly charts the rise of Putin and his intersection with American leaders, and his repeated deployment of anti-Western conspiracy theories. For anyone hoping to understand global politics, the particular mess Americans find ourselves in, or the particular accusations levied by both Russian and American leaders against each other, it’s an invaluable read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Seven top stories about the darker side of small towns & suburbia

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of Only Ever Her, as well as When We Were Worthy, The Things We Wish Were True, and five previous novels.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven favorite books about the darker side of small towns and suburbia, including:
Sister by Rosamund Lupton

When her mom calls to tell her that her younger sister Tess is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered. Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life and all its secrets.

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficultly with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong. As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder—and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sister is among Alafair Burke's top ten thrillers about siblings, Laura Jarratt's top ten YA thrillers with sisters, and Sophie McKenzie's top ten teen thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Top ten end-of-the-world novels

Jim Al-Khalili OBE is an academic, author, and broadcaster. He is a leading theoretical physicist based at the University of Surrey, where he teaches and carries out research in quantum mechanics. He has written a number of popular science books, including Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science. He has presented several television and radio documentaries, including the BAFTA-nominated Chemistry: A Volatile History and The Secret Life of Chaos.

Sunfall, Al-Khalili's debut novel, draws on cutting-edge science and set in a near-future full of dazzling technologies.

At the Guardian the author tagged ten top end-of-the-world novels, including:
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

This 1969 techno-thriller established Crichton as a sci-fi bestseller. It describes a deadly extraterrestrial microbe, codenamed “Andromeda”, that is transported to Earth by a meteor and which clots human blood, causing death within two minutes. Although I never felt comfortable with some of Crichton’s views, often depicting science as a threat to humankind (think Jurassic Park and Prey) as well as his contentious line on climate change, I cannot but admire the man who gave us the movie Westworld. And like much of his sci-fi work, The Andromeda Strain is a terrific thriller.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Andromeda Strain is among Lydia Kang's nine great medical thrillers, Jeff Somer's' nine science fiction novels that imagine the future, Neil deGrasse Tyson's six favorite books, and Joel Cunningham's 11 fictional maladies that will keep you up at night.

--Marshal Zeringue

The twenty greatest ever romance novels

At The Oprah Magazine McKenzie Jean-Philippe tagged the twenty greatest ever romance novels. One title on the list:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Arguably one of the greatest romance novels of all time, Austen's Pride and Prejudice follows the opinionated heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, as she frequently finds herself at odds with her beau, the uptight Mr. Darcy. Keira Knightley earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Bennet in 2006.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Cristina Merrill's list of eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, Sarah Ward's ten top list of brothers and sisters in fiction, Tara Sonin's lists of fifty must-read regency romances and seven sweet and swoony romances for wedding season, Grant Ginder's top ten list of book characters we love to hate, Katy Guest's list of six of the best depictions of shyness in fiction, Garry Trudeau's six favorite books list, Ross Johnson's list of seven of the greatest rivalries in fiction, Helen Dunmore's six best books list, Jenny Kawecki's list of eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, Peter James's top ten list of works of fiction set in or around Brighton, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue