Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Top ten novels of solitude

Teju Cole was raised in Nigeria and came to the United States in 1992. He is a writer, photographer, and professional historian of early Netherlandish art. Open City is his first novel. He lives in New York City.

For the Guardian, he named his top ten novels of solitude, including:
Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household

This slim volume is the daddy of English spy novels. A big-game hunter decides, on a lark, to get the president of a central European country in his gun sights. He does, but he's caught, stripped, tortured, and left for dead, and he must slip out of the country unnoticed. We are with him all the hair-raising way. It is genre, certainly, but it is far better-written than most "literary" fictions.
Read about the other books on the list.

Rogue Male is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best chases in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Five standout new 9/11 books

At Salon, Emma Mustich tagged five of the best new books about 9/11 and its aftermath.

One book on her list:
Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses, by Charles B. Strozier

"The tenth anniversary moves personal loss into historical memory," wrote psychotherapist and professor Charles B. Strozier (who directs the Center of Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice) on his blog earlier this summer, in a general discussion of the process of dealing with the loss of a loved one. Strozier then compared this personal process to the wider, "collective experience" of remembering 9/11: "After the tenth anniversary, the sense is that we will think differently about 9/11, reflect on it as part of ongoing history, study it more than relive it, a process, needless to say, that is not always welcome by survivors." Strozier's own upcoming work, "Until the Fires Stopped Burning," examines New Yorkers' diverse experiences of 9/11, exploring the geography of the city's grief through interviews and original analysis.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 29, 2011

Five books on Islamic militancy

Jason Burke is a British journalist and the author of several non-fiction books. Lee Konstantinou called Burke’s Al-Qaeda" a really eye-opening look at how the terrorist organization was born and how it really operates."

At The Browser, he discussed five books on Islamic militancy with Daisy Banks, including:
The Secret Agent
by Joseph Conrad

I’m intrigued by your next choice,
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, which is actually set in London and is about a spy.

Basically, anything you want to know about how terrorism works you can find in this book. It is not necessarily about who is behind terrorism because in this book it is a shadowy foreign state that wants an agent provocateur in London to explode Greenwich Observatory to make a point.

But the broad picture that Conrad paints of how ideologies work, of how people get drawn into violence and how amateurish it can so often be, is true of much of terrorism worldwide. It goes wrong in The Secret Agent, by the way, and the wrong person ends up getting killed.

And thankfully, militants are often very amateurish as well. So this book strikes me as a deeply useful reminder of what this kind of religious or political activism is about. I would just like to mention a brilliant line in the book when Conrad is talking about violence and he says, “the way of even the most justifiable revolutions is prepared by personal impulses disguised into creeds”.
Read about Burke's other picks at The Browser.

The Secret Agent also appears among Iain Sinclair's five novels on the spirit and history of London, Dan Vyleta's top ten books in second languages, Jessica Stern's five best books on who terrorists are, Adam Thorpe's top ten satires, and on John Mullan's list of ten of the best professors in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nine literary works on earthquakes

David L. Ulin is the author of The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith.

Earlier this year he came up with a list of "ways of looking at earthquakes through literature." One title to make his list:
After the Quake by Haruki Murakami.

This 2000 collection of stories was written in reaction to the Kobe earthquake, which killed more than 6,000 people on Jan. 17, 1995. Although in many of the pieces here the disaster plays only a peripheral part, it reverberates throughout the book like an aftershock. "Five straight days she spent in front of the television," Murakami writes in "UFO in Kushiro," "staring at crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways. She never said a word. Sunk deep in the cushions of the sofa, her mouth clamped shut, she wouldn’t answer when Komura spoke to her. She wouldn’t shake her head or nod. Komuracould not be sure the sound of his voice was even getting through to her."
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ten great books about hurricanes

The writers at The Daily Beast came up with a list of "good book[s] about people enduring hurricanes and other aquatic misadventures," including:
Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe

Crusoe’s adventures kick off with a hurricane that shipwrecks him somewhere off the coast of South America. It’s a memorable storm, created by an author who probably never saw one (he never saw the plague attack London either but that didn’t slow him down a whit when it came to writing about it). But as storm aftermaths go, this one pretty well retires the prize.
Read about the other entries on the list.

See: The Page 99 Test: Robinson Crusoe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 26, 2011

Five books about aliens

For the Independent, Alice-Azania Jarvis came up with a reading list on aliens.

Her selection under the "classic" category:
War of the Worlds by H G Wells

Variously interpreted as a commentary on evolutionary theory, British imperialism and Victorian fears and prejudices, War of the Worlds tells the nail-biting tale of one man's struggle to track down his wife during an alien invasion. Included are some of the most vivid scenes of London in literature.
Read about the other books on the reading list.

The War of the Worlds also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best aliens in science fiction; the movie version starring Tom Cruise is one of the Independent's five turkey adaptations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The ten best fictional holidays

At the Guardian, Kate Kellaway named the ten best fictional holidays.

One book on the list:
The Beach
Alex Garland

“Beaucoup bad shit” is the catchphrase in this 1996 novel – and it’s something of an understatement. Richard hears of “the beach” when he’s given a map by a Scot on Khaosan Road, Bangkok. What follows is a grown-up, backpacking, Thai version of Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a story about what happens when people make their own rules on a “paradise” island. Their diet includes poisonous squid, fermented coconut juice, a rice supply infected by fungus – and that’s just the food. Ironically, Garland’s novel (also a 2000 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio) is a popular holiday read
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Beach also appears on the Guardian editors' list of the 50 best summer reads ever, John Mullan's list of ten of the best swimming scenes in literature, and Sloane Crosley's list of five depressing beach reads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Top five teen fantasy series

At the Christian Science Monitor, Megan Wasson compiles a list of "five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too."

One title on the list:
The "Hunger Games" trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

In this wildly successful fantasy trilogy, an organization called "The Capitol" controls a post-apocalyptic North America, now called Panem. As punishment for a past rebellion, each year two teens from each of the 12 districts ruled by The Capitol must compete in a televised contest. The 24 "tributes" are released in a large arena and forced to kill each other until one is left standing. Katniss, a girl from District 12, steps in to compete in place of her younger sister, sparking a chain of events that will shape the future of Panem.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ten of the best books set in Berlin

Malcolm Burgess is the publisher of Oxygen Books' City-Lit series, featuring writing on cities including Berlin, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Venice and Dublin.

For the Guardian, he named ten of the best books set in Berlin, including:
Philip Kerr, March Violets, 1989

Freelance detective Bernie Gunther works on the mean streets of 1930s Berlin, where Nazi excesses are never far from the surface.

"This morning at the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Jägerstrasse, I saw two men, SA men, unscrewing a red Der Stürmer showcase from the wall of a building. Der Stürmer is the anti-Semitic journal that's run by the Reich's leading Jew-hater, Julius Streicher."
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 22, 2011

Five best nature books

Brad Leithauser was born in Detroit and graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He is a poet and novelist. Among his many awards and honors are a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and, in 2005, the induction by the president of Iceland into the Order of the Falcon for his writings about Nordic literature. He is a professor in the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of dispatches from the natural world, including:
by Henry David Thoreau (1854)

Henry David Thoreau was a mere 27 when, in 1845, he undertook to build a cabin near Concord, Mass., and reside in semi-seclusion on Walden Pond. His account of the experience, first published as "Walden; or, Life in the Woods," may be the world's best-loved nature book. Its success is all the more noteworthy given that "Walden" is in effect a sermon, delivered in the church of the great outdoors. Thoreau delivers his text standing not behind a pulpit but a fallen log, gesticulating at his animated surroundings: the wandering clouds, the drilling insects, the probing streams. Although he can be as stern as any stony-faced Puritan preacher, especially on the topic of greed, he regards our planet—the site of all our mortal trials and travails—as an irrepressibly joyous place, everywhere open to human betterment. His elation and enthusiasm are infectious. "All change is a miracle to contemplate," he tells us. And adds: "But it is a miracle which is taking place every instant."
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Will Howarth's list of books for lovers of Thoreau's Walden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Five best books on exploration

Laurence Bergreen's books include Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu and Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. In 2007 he named a five best list of books on exploration for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on the list:
White Gold
by Giles Milton

Every so often, it is tonic to read an honest-to-Pete, can-you-believe-this historical account of nightmarish events. "White Gold" is such a book. The prolific English travel writer and historian Giles Milton describes with riveting immediacy the ordeal of Thomas Pellow, who, along with his English shipmates, was taken prisoner by Barbary Coast slave traders at war with Christendom in the early years of the 18th century. Pellow wound up in the service of Moulay Ismail, the sadistic sultan of Morocco, for 23 years -- making for more than two decades of grisly adventures and near-death experiences. "White Gold" offers a topsy-turvy view of a decadent Islamic empire in which orthodoxy fights a losing battle with the temptations of the flesh.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tony Hadley's six best books

Tony Hadley is best known as the lead vocalist with the Eighties New Romantic band Spandau Ballet.

One of his six favorite books, as told to the Scottish Sunday Express:
by James Herbert

I didn't go for horror books until I discovered James Herbert. He wrote some very scary stuff. The Rats was the first one I read and I was hooked. I read it in bed and would just go cold it was so scary. Until that point I hadn't realised you could be frightened by a book.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Rats also appears on Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on rats.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 19, 2011

The 10 best classic political novels

At the Christian Science Monitor Megan Wasson came up with a list of the ten best classic political novels.

One title on the list:
Wag the Dog, by Larry Beinhart

Originally published as "American Hero," Wag the Dog is a satire and conspiracy novel about Operation Desert Storm, positing that the whole thing was engineered to get George Bush reelected. At first ludicrous and then startling, this novel paints the Gulf War as a made-for-TV piece of Americana propaganda in an attempt to call attention to the power of the media.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Wag the Dog also made Michael Kempner's list of the five best books on public relations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ten of the best books about Big Money

At the Independent, Samuel Muston complied a list of ten of "the finest - and most readable - books about Big Money," including:

From the man who wrote Liar's Poker comes the tale of the misfit investors who bet against the grain, shorting the Noughties sub-prime bubble and making vast fortunes from the financial crisis to boot.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Big Short is also on Ruth Sunderland's list of the ten best credit crunch books.

Also see Duff McDonald's five best list of books on finance during times of trouble and Martin Mayer's five best list of book on financial meltdowns.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ten stories about "uplifted" animals with human intelligence

This summer's blockbuster movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the "story of a lab ape named Caesar, uplifted' to human intelligence by scientists, who leads a revolution against humanity," writes Annalee Newitz at io9. "But he's hardly the first brain-augmented creature to question human values." Another noteworthy story about "uplifted" animals with human intelligence:
The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells

Made into several movies during the twentieth century, including one with Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando, this is perhaps the first scientific animal uplift tale — previous tales of talking or humanoid animals generally involved magic or sorcery of some kind. Here the titular mad scientist has created an entire race of human-animal hybrids on a remote island, subjecting them to cruel mistreatment. Eventually the experiment is discovered by a shipwrecked sailor, who lives among Moreau's beast-folk but is terrified to discover that without authoritarian rule they all return to their bestial ways.
Read about the other entries on Newitz's list.

The Island of Doctor Moreau is one of Sjón's top ten island stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Five books on Texas

Attica Locke is a writer who has worked in both film and television. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has written movie scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, and Jerry Bruckheimer films, as well as television pilots for HBO, Dreamworks, and Silver Pictures. Her acclaimed debut novel is Black Water Rising.

She discussed five books on her home state of Texas with Eve Gerber at The Browser, including:
by Nic Pizzolatto

Finally, Galveston is a noir novel about a road trip along the Gulf Coast of Texas by Nic Pizzolatto. What makes it worth reading?

It’s just a great piece of fiction, lean and literary. The book starts out in New Orleans and ends up in Galveston. Those cities, to me, share the same soul. A lot of people don’t realise how French Galveston is – Galveston’s town centre looks very much like the French Quarter in New Orleans and there are a lot of Creole folk there. There’s symmetry between the two cities.

The story starts in New Orleans with this guy Roy, who works for people connected to the underworld. He finds out he may not have that long to live, he gets into trouble, there’s a big shoot-out within the first couple of chapters and he ends up on the run with this barely legal girl. They hide out in Galveston. A lot of the action takes place on the eve of Hurricane Ike. Ike devastated Galveston in 2008. So many of the places Pizzolatto wrote about aren’t there any more. It’s particularly poignant to read it while realising what the city is about to go through. Hurricanes are part of the way of life along the Gulf. I’ve spent a lot of time in Galveston because I’m a Gulf girl. Pizzolatto really captures coastal Texas to a T.

Your selection demonstrates the diversity within your home state, which is bigger than Spain or France.

As you say, Texas is big. It is geographically, ethnically and culturally diverse. I’m from Houston, which is part of East Texas. East Texas borders Louisiana. Parts of it are more like New Orleans than Arizona. East Texas is lumber country – they call it “the big thicket”. It couldn’t look more different than tumbleweed territory. It seems more southern than Waco, which is in West Texas and it’s much less western than El Paso or San Antonio, the town of the Alamo. Texas is not typically Southern or entirely Western in feel. Texas is its own thing.
Read about the other Texas books Locke tagged.

See The Page 69 Test: Attica Locke's Black Water Rising.

Also see Writers Read: Nic Pizzolatto, The Page 69 Test: Galveston, and My Book, The Movie: Galveston.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 15, 2011

Top ten space books for kids of all ages

Steve Cole is the slightly crazy, highly frantic, millions-selling, non-stop author of Astrosaurs, Cows In Action, Astrosaurs Academy, The Slime Squad, Z. Rex and many other books (including several original Doctor Who stories).

For the Guardian, he named his top ten space books for open minds of all ages.

One title on the list:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A year before Doctor Who first aired on our screens this lively and satisfying fantasy gave us Mrs Who, the original mysterious alien to travel the universe with unlikely companions. She's one of three immortal entities (together with Mrs Which and Mrs Whatsit) embroiled in a long struggle against the evil Black Thing, a cosmic cloud of darkness. Three human children are recruited to join the battle, traversing the universe via wrinkles in space-time. Evoking awe and wonder throughout, A Wrinkle in Time is a compelling modern classic.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Five best: decadent writing of the 19th century

Nicholas Frankel is the editor of The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition (Harvard University Press, 2011). He is an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of decadent writing from the nineteenth century.

One title on his list:
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

In Victorian England, supposedly uniform in its prim rectitude, Robert Louis Stevenson produced a remarkably sympathetic account of a man's descent into mindless gratification and depravity. A respected medic by day, Jekyll becomes at night the slave of a drug that unleashes "a being inherently malign and villainous, his every act and thought centered on self, drinking pleasure with bestial avidity." As the psychopathic Mr. Hyde, he beats a man to death, mauling the unresisting body and "tasting delight from every blow." The story itself exhibits a split personality. The opening chapters, told from the point of view of lawyers and men of science, describe with a professional's objectivity Jekyll's disintegration. But the "full statement" with which the story concludes—delivered from the mouth of Jekyll himself as he struggles both to deny and to justify the spawning of his criminal alter-ego—is a masterpiece of obfuscation attempting to defend his "profound duplicity of life." Hyde is no monster from the void: He is the animal that lurks within the most respectable of us.
Read about the other works on the list.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best butlers in literature and among Yann Martel's six favorite books. It is one of Ali Shaw's top ten transformation stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Penelope Lively's six favorite books

Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize; once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger.

Her novels include Passing On, shortlisted for the 1989 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award, City of the Mind, Cleopatra's Sister and Heat Wave, and Family Album.

One of Lively's six favorite books, as told to The Week magazine:
What Maisie Knew by Henry James

James’s 1897 novel shows adult duplicity through the eyes of a child who does not understand what she is seeing—but you, the reader, do, because you are looking over her shoulder. You feel complicit, and even guilty.
Read about the other books on the list.

See Penelope Lively's five best list of books that evoke time & place.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 12, 2011

Five books on progressivism

John Kerry is United States Senator for Massachusetts, and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the Democratic presidential nominee in the 2004 election, running against the incumbent George W Bush. Senator Kerry is a decorated Vietnam veteran, and the author of three books.

He discussed five books on progressivism with Neera Tanden at The Browser, including:
The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck

Your second book is The Grapes of Wrath.

If you wanted to pick a fictional work that really had a profound impact on people’s attitudes to the union movement, and about rights, unfairness and the social contract in America, it would be The Grapes of Wrath.

Progressivism is sort of built on the notion of addressing injustice. And that obviously animates the book.

It does indeed – very, very much so. It puts it in a context that people can really understand. While there is a story that takes place between characters, the hardship and unfairness is a central element of the book. It shows how fiction can create progressive change as well. I think it had a profound impact at any rate in shaping opinions. I think we need a new Grapes of Wrath today, a modern times version. Who knows, since not enough people read that much any more?
Read about the other books Kerry tagged.

The Grapes of Wrath also appears on Stephen King's five best list of books on globalization, John Mullan's list of ten of the best pieces of fruit in literature, and among Honor Blackman's six best books. It is one of Frederic Raphael's top ten talkative novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Top 10 funny teen boy books

Don Calame's first YA novel is Swim the Fly.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fifteen-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Coop and Sean, always set themselves a summertime goal. This year's? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time -- quite a challenge, given that none of the guys has the nerve to even ask a girl out on a date. But catching a girl in the buff starts to look easy compared to Matt's other summertime aspiration: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) as a way to impress Kelly West, the sizzling new star of the swim team.
For the Guardian, Calame named his top 10 funny teen boy books, including:
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

I'm not sure what else there is to say that hasn't already been said about this book (and its sequels). I read somewhere that Douglas Adams was told that a sci-fi comedy wouldn't work. Oops. There's a lesson there, folks. The book is bizarre, and insane, and shoot-soda-out-of-your-nose funny. Simple as that. You know a novel is good when you can read it again and again and still find yourself laughing just as hard as you did the first time around.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best instances of invisibility in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Five books about dogs

At the Independent Alice-Azania Jarvis compiled a brief reading list on dogs.

The title on the list under "classic:"
'The Call of the Wild' by Jack London

Jack London's 1903 classic is a moving tale of a canine hero. Buck is born into a luxurious lifestyle, but finds his animal instincts returning when he is sold as a sledge dog in the Klondike Gold Rush.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Call of the Wild is one of Charlie English's top ten snow books and one of Thomas Bloor's top ten tales of metamorphosis. It appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best wolves in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Five novels that explore the dark side in New York City

At the Christian Science Monitor, Megan Wasson identified five classic novels that beautifully explore the dark side of life in New York City, including:
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

A milestone in American literature for its portrayal of racial divides, Invisible Man is also a biting insight into the New York culture of the 1940's. Ellison's unnamed protagonist travels from college in the deep South to menial jobs in the city, on to become spokesperson for various political parties in Harlem and, finally, to retreat from society altogether. Passionately written and filled with layers and layers of nuances and subtleties about New York culture, "Invisible Man" is a book you won't be able to put down.
Read about the other books on the list.

Invisible Man comes in second on the list of the 100 best last lines from novels; it appears among Peter Forbes's top ten books on color, Joyce Hackett's top ten musical novels, Sam Munson's six best stoner novels, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best nameless protagonists in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lisa Genova's six favorite books about science & literature

Neuroscientist Lisa Genova is the author of the best-selling novels Still Alice and Left Neglected.

One of her six favorite books about science and literature, as told to The Week magazine:
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

A collection of case studies describing patients with extraordinary neurological impairments, told with compassion and an infectious curiosity about how the mind works. Sacks’s book ignited my passion for neuroscience.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Five best books on being a spy

Robert Baer is a former CIA officer assigned to the Middle East. He the author of two New York Times bestsellers: Sleeping with the Devil, about the Saudi royal family and its relationship with the United States, and See No Evil, which recounts Baer's years as a top CIA operative.

From his dialogue with Daisy Banks at The Browser about books on being a spy:
Let’s finish with John le Carré’s classic spy novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

This is beautifully written. But more than that, it is really about counter intelligence taking pieces of information which send you off on a hunt. It is no different than the hunt for Bin Laden, where they took isolated fragments of information and tracked him down. And this is what you see in Smiley. He takes bits of information to find the mole. Anyone who has been on a mole hunt, or watched one from the outside, will say this is the way it goes. And le Carré has the ability to add drama and colour. The Cambridge Five were such a fascinating group. The handler went back to Russia and was executed, but that is another story. For classic espionage in a little town in Germany, you can’t do better than le Carré.
Read about the other books Baer tagged.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature and among Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels; Peter Millar includes it among John le Carré's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A reading list on unemployment

At the Independent Alice-Azania Jarvis compiled a brief reading list about unemployment.

The title on the list under "classic:"
'Down and Out in Paris and London' by George Orwell

Orwell's first full-length work recounts his experience of living on the margins. In Paris, he embraces a kind of bohemian poverty, living day-to-day, spending his last money on cigarettes and working restaurant kitchens. In London, things become far grimmer: homeless and unemployed, he experiences the squalor of hostels and life on the street.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Down and Out in Paris and London is one of Carmela Ciuraru's six favorite pseudonymous books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 5, 2011

The ten best music memoirs

At the Independent, Samuel Muston complied a list of the ten best music memoirs.

One book on the list:

You could fill a couple more volumes with what's missing in this memoir, but its straight-talking eloquence and sharp portraits of the New York demimonde make it hard not to fall for.
Read about the other books on the list.

Chronicles also appears among Kitty Empire's best rock autobiographies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Top ten books to read aloud

Mal Peet is an author of young adult fiction. His second novel, Tamar, won the Carnegie medal, and his fourth, Exposure, won the Guardian children's fiction prize. His latest novel, Life: An Exploded Diagram, is now available in the UK.

For the Guardian, Peet named a top ten list of books that his children liked to have read to them and he liked reading.

One title on the list:
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

We used the Gollancz edition with the beautiful illustrations – paintings, actually – by NC Wyeth. On the first reading I overdid the "Oooh-arr me hearties" piratical voice, on the grounds that if you can't camp things up reading to your children at bedtime there's no point going on. Then I realised that Long John was much more sinister, or sinisterly sympathetic, if you tone him down; if you make him almost kindly. This is another classic that has become overfamiliar in other media; the original is rather rich in moral ambiguities, and sometimes discussions of these took us dangerously close to the Ten O'Clock News.
Read about the other books on the list.

Treasure Island also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pirates in fiction and among Philip Pullman's six best books and Eoin Colfer's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Top ten fictional families

Simon Mason's books for children include: The Quigleys, The Quigleys at Large, The Quigleys Not for Sale and The Quigleys in a Spin. He has also written three adult novels and The Rough Guide to Classic Novels. His latest book is Moon Pie.

At the Guardian, he named his top ten fictional families, including:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Read one way, it's a classic love story; read another, it's the story of an exploding family: a fabulous spectacle of tears and laughter. As Mrs Bennet dreams of her daughters' marriages, and Mr Bennet hides in his library, the Bennet sisters fly out of control. Fantastic rudeness, love at first sight, hair-pulling jealousy, sullen moping and the world's least successful elopement ensue.
Read about the other families on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Catghy Cassidy top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of 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: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Josh Ritter's six favorite books that invoke the supernatural

Josh Ritter is a singer-songwriter whose first novel, Bright's Passage, tells the story of a man who converses with an angel.

One of his six favorite books that invoke the supernatural, as told to The Week magazine:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Though down-at-the-heels and long in the tooth, old gods can still rob banks, seduce cash-register girls, hold (or lose) their liquor, and connive with gleeful, rollicking abandon. And all of it happens in the vastness of America, from its roadside attractions to its casinos and empty highways.
Read about the other books on Ritter's list.

American Gods is on John T. Ottinger's list of 12 science fiction and fantasy novels and stories that are uniquely American.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 1, 2011

Five best psychos in fiction

Mary Horlock is an authority on contemporary art who has worked at the Tate Britain and Tate Liverpool, and curated the Turner Prize for contemporary art. She spent her childhood in Guernsey, and lives in London.

Her novel The Book of Lies is now out from Harper Perennial.

For the Wall Street Journal, Horlock came up with a five best list of novels with psychos, obsessives and other loons.

One title on the list:
Casino Royale
by Ian Fleming (1953)

In 'Casino Royale,' the first novel in the now famous 007 franchise, Ian Fleming gave us a James Bond who is a far cry from the lovable rogue who has long graced cinema screens. Fleming's Bond is much more brutal, he chain-smokes, he is deeply ambivalent about his "00" status and he is shockingly misogynistic—"These blithering women.... Why the hell couldn't they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men's work to men?" In spite of himself, Bond falls for his partner, Vesper Lynd, speculating how his eventual seduction of her would carry "the sweet tang of rape." Charming! And once the seduction is complete, things get even darker.
Read about the other psychos on the list.

Casino Royale also made John Mullan's list of ten of the best floggings in fiction, Meg Rosoff's top 10 adult books for teenagers list, and Peter Millar's critic's chart of top spy books.

--Marshal Zeringue