Monday, June 30, 2008

Critic's chart: the best of Alan Bennett

Iain Finlayson, who reviews non-fiction for the London Times, named a critic's chart of the best of Alan Bennett.

One title on the list:
Untold Stories (2005)

Bennett outs himself as gay and deals also with his cancer in this second mammoth memoir.
Read about all six titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Five best: books: the factions & follies of psychiatry

Paul McHugh is a University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. His book Try to Remember: Psychiatry's Clash Over Meaning, Memory, and Mind will be published in October.

At the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of "books about the factions and follies of psychiatry."

One title from the list:
Remembering Trauma
by Richard J. McNally
Belknap/Harvard, 2003

Psychiatrists who follow Sigmund Freud make up the "psychodynamic faction" of psychiatry, and they explain mental disorders as the result of unconscious conflicts stemming from infantile sexuality. In the 1980s a splinter group within this faction claimed that the conflicts were driven by the actual sexual abuse of the child -- memories of which had been "repressed." These ideas about memory and trauma were mistaken, but they nonetheless spurred a witch hunt, led by psychotherapists, against parents and other guardians of children. In the remarkably dispassionate and thorough "Remembering Trauma," Harvard scientist and clinical psychologist Richard J. McNally looks closely at the issue of traumatic memory -- its history and its application in psychiatric explanations and therapy. The book systematically lays out all the claims about repressed memories and their role in mental disorders. And then McNally just as systematically demolishes every one of the claims. "The notion that the mind protects itself by repressing or dissociating memories of trauma, rendering them inaccessible to awareness," he concludes, "is a piece of psychiatric folklore devoid of convincing empirical support." This book effectively ended a disgraceful therapeutic craze.
Read about all five titles on McHugh's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Critic's chart: Spanish civil war books

Thomas Catán named a "critic's chart" of Spanish civil war books for the London Times.

The book at the top of his list:
The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge by Paul Preston

A concise and well-written account re-edited for the 70th anniversary.
Learn about the other five books on Catán's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 23, 2008

Michael Lewis' most important books

Michael Lewis' books include Liar's Poker, Moneyball, and The Blind Side. He talked to Newsweek about his five most important books.

Number One on his list:
"A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole.

It's among the funniest books ever written.
Read about all five books on Lewis' list.

The Page 69 Test: The Blind Side.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Five best books about sailing

Sir Robin Knox-Johnson is the first person to have sailed solo and nonstop around the world.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a list of his favorite books about sailing. Number One on his list:
The Last Grain Race
by Eric Newby
Houghton Mifflin, 1956

In the late 1930s, when the young Eric Newby signed on for an around-the-world voyage on a working square-rigger, war clouds were gathering all over the world as nations rearmed, and newer, faster vessels were being launched. Amid this frenzied activity, cargoes of grain were still being transported to Europe from Australia in sailing ships. Fewer than a dozen of these mighty windjammers remained, but their sailors, as men will, still competed to make the fastest voyage -- hence "The Last Grain Race." To hang over an icy spar that rolled and jerked while trying to haul in a stiff, ice-covered sail in howling winds with sleet lashing exposed flesh -- that was the truth of rounding Cape Horn. There was no romance in it, just back-breaking labor for 12 hours a day, more if the ship needed it. Newby faithfully recorded this experience and many others, conveying the feel of life on the great sailing ships.
Read about the other titles on Knox-Johnson's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ten best photography books

John Buckle came up with a "ten best" list of photography books for the Independent.

Number One on his list:
The Americans by Robert Frank

An all-time classic, The Americans is a seminal body of work and still one of our bestsellers. This 50th-anniversary edition has an introduction by Jack Kerouac - perfect since it looks like a pictorial Fifties road trip.
Read about all ten titles on Buckle's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Independent: 50 best summer reads

The Independent came up with a list of the 50 best summer reads.

One title on the list:
Sepulchre by Kate Mosse

Mosse’s previous title, Labyrinth, was a doorstop of a book, full of grail mysteries and historical detail. It sold like a charm and in Sepulchre she has returned to the French town where it was set. It features a split-narrative that flits between the 1890s and the present day, with a heroine in each. Get ready for tons of tarot cards and a healthy dose of sinister occultism.
Read about the other 49 books on the list.

Read an excerpt from Sepulchre, and learn more about the book and its author at the Sepulchre website as well as Kate Mosse's website and her blog. View the video trailer for Sepulchre.

The Page 69 Test: Sepulchre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Five best books about cities

Pete Hamill, the former editor of the New York Post and Daily News, is the author of, most recently, the novel North River.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about cities. Number One on his list:
by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace
Oxford, 1999

Every great city is a palimpsest, an old text upon which new texts are inscribed before the old text is completely erased. My native New York is one of those cities. This long volume (1,383 pages) is among the most valuable I own. The authors adhere to scholarly exactitude but never lose sight of the driving narrative that led eventually to the city in which New Yorkers now live. The authors tell us what is knowable about the Native Americans who were here before Europeans arrived. They remind us that we had the good fortune to be established by a company (the Dutch West India Co.) and not a king or a religious sect. After New Amsterdam was taken at gunpoint by the British in 1664, the Dutch left us a number of gifts, the most important of which was tolerance. Across the centuries, in spite of slavery, riots, bigotry and the genteel brutalities of class, tolerance prevailed. In our daily lives, for those who have lived in New York for generations or who arrived last week, one fact is triumphantly clear: We live peacefully in a grand, imperfect city of people who are not like us. This book helps explain why.
Read about the other four books on Hamill's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 13, 2008

Derwent May's top country house books

Derwent May, who writes on nature, the countryside and literature for the London Times, named a "critic's chart" of top country house books.

The book at the top of his list:
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The sinister country house novel with the famous first line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
Learn about the other five books on May's list.

Read the Guardian's mini-profile of Daphne du Maurier.

made Anna Quindlen's list of "Ten Mystery Novels I'd Most Like to Find in a Summer Rental."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Simon Critchley's top 10 philosophers' deaths

Simon Critchley is a Professor of Philosophy at The New School for Social Research and the author, most recently, of The Book of Dead Philosophers.

For the Guardian, he listed his top ten philosophers' deaths.

His ambition for the list:
"to show that often the philosopher's greatest work of art is the manner of their death."
The chart-topper:
Heracleitus (540-480 BC)

Heracleitus became such a hater of humanity that he wandered in the mountains and lived on a diet of grass and herbs. But malnutrition gave him dropsy and he returned to the city to seek a cure, asking to be covered in cow dung, which he believed would draw the bad humours out of his body. In the first version of the story, the cow dung is wet and the weeping philosopher drowns; in the second, it is dry and he is baked to death in the Ionian sun.
Read about all ten dead philosophers on Critchley's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Top six books on nuclear war

Michael Evans, the Defence Editor of the Times (London), named his "top six books on nuclear war" for his newspaper.

One novel on the list:
On the Beach Nevil Shute

Perhaps the bleakest, most evocative novel on the aftermath of a nuclear war.
Read about all six titles on Evans' list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 9, 2008

Most important books: Clive Barker

Clive Barker is an author, film director and visual artist. His latest book is Mister B. Gone.

He recently talked to Newsweek about his five most important books. One book on the list:
"Tales of Mystery and Imagination" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Terse, Gothic fiction that goes to the heart of American culture.
Read about all five titles on Barker's list.

Visit Clive Barker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 7, 2008

George Will's five best books on opinion journalism

George F. Will's new book is One Man's America: The Pleasures and Provocations of Our Singular Nation.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about opinion journalism.

The title that topped Will's list:
America Comes of Middle Age
by Murray Kempton
Little, Brown, 1963

In 1958, at 17, having come east for college, I plunked down a nickel for a New York Post and read a Murray Kempton column. That is why -- I am simplifying somewhat -- I am a columnist. Kempton was a man of the left, but his politics were beside the point. The reason for reading him was the pleasure of a distinctive, sometimes mordant sensibility expressed in deliciously sinewy prose, such as this 75-word sentence from a 1956 column on a visit by President Eisenhower to Florida: "In Miami, he had walked carefully by the harsher realities, speaking some 20 feet from an airport drinking fountain labeled 'Colored' and saying that the condition it represented was more amenable to solution by the hearts of men than by laws, and complimenting Florida as 'typical today of what is best in America,' a verdict which might seem to some contingent on finding out what happened to the Negro snatched from the Wildwood jail Sunday." When Washington superlawyer Edward Bennett Williams defended Jimmy Hoffa, Kempton wrote: "To watch Williams and then to watch a Department of Justice lawyer contending with him is to understand the essential superiority of free enterprise to government ownership." Such lapidary judgments, which are found in every Kempton column, made him my kind of man of the left.
Read about all five books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Critic's chart: top books on modern China

Author-journalist-editor Jonathan Fenby named his "top books on modern China" for the Times (London).

One book on the list:
Beijing Coma by Ma Jian

A brilliant multilayered novel focusing on the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.
Read about all six titles on Fenby's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Michael Cunningham's 5 most important books

Michael Cunningham's books include A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours, and Specimen Days.

He recently talked to Newsweek about his five most important books. One book on the list:
"Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf.

We see her learning how to write a great novel by writing one.
Read about all five titles on Cunningham's list.

Visit Michael Cunningham's website.

--Marshal Zeringue