Monday, December 31, 2012

Best books of 2012 -- Houston Chronicle

One title among the Houston Chronicle's best books of 2012:
A Land More Kind Than Home, Wiley Cash:

Crime fiction melds with Southern gothic for an emotional, lyrical story about two brothers that explores the power of forgiveness, the strength of family bonds and how religion can be misused.
Read about the other books to make the grade.

Learn more about the book and author at Wiley Cash's website.

Writers Read: Wiley Cash.

My Book, The Movie: A Land More Kind Than Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Three notable books on faith in the U.S.

Ayad Akhtar is the author of the novel American Dervish. One of three books on faith in the U.S. that he tagged for NPR:
by Marilynne Robinson

Marilyn Robinson's Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2005. Not since Jonathan Edwards and Herman Melville has American prose been so deeply infused with an understanding of faith's capacity to illuminate daily life with shimmering wonder. Narrated by the Rev. John Ames of Gilead, Iowa, the book is structured as Ames' written address to his young son. Already in his 70s, Ames is afraid he doesn't have much time left to convey his heritage and his wisdom. What results is a quietly resplendent chronicle of Ames' personal and spiritual development, keen to the majesties of the earth and sky, and also of the human heart. His interpretations of the Gospels alone are filled with tenderness and wisdom — e.g. that poverty is the greatest of blessings, but perhaps not one that we are all strong enough to bear — that linger in the mind long after the last page is turned. It is rare to read so loving a book, and even rarer to read one that emboldens the reader to live more fully.
Read about the other books Akhtar tagged at NPR.

Gilead is on Michael Crummey's top ten list of literary feuds and Geraldine Brooks's five most important books list; it is a book Dalia Sofer would like to share with her children.

Visit Ayad Akhtar's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Five top books on secret agents

William Stevenson was trained in aerial espionage as a British naval fighter pilot during World War II. A distinguished journalist and war correspondent, he is the author of sixteen books, including A Man Called Intrepid, Intrepid’s Last Case, Ninety Minutes at Entebbe, and, most recently, Past to Present: A Reporter's Story of War, Spies, People, and Politics.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about secret agents, including:
Between Silk and Cyanide
by Leo Marks (1998)

World War II spymasters have traditionally been tight-lipped, rarely exposing personal reflections about their work or who they worked with. Not the author of this memoir. Marks, who revolutionized Allied codemaking, provides an insider's view of the planning and organization of some of the war's most secret operations. As head of communications for Britain's Special Operations Executive, he insisted on knowing his agents personally: It allowed him to devise better codes for them and figure out when the codes fell into enemy hands. Perhaps the most poignant moment in the book is when he describes meeting his friend Tommy, the legendary spy "White Rabbit," after the war: "They were hanging from his eyes," he writes, referring to fellow agents who had been hung from hooks and slowly strangled. He goes on, "I waited until [Tommy was gone] and was then violently sick on behalf of mankind."
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Five top books about road trips

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on road trips:
by Larry McMurtry

Growing up in a landlocked Texas town, the highway was Larry McMurtry's river, offering mystery, adventure, endless possibility. In this wide-ranging work of nonfiction, the author of novels including The Last Picture Show and the celebrated Lonesome Dove series crisscrosses the country in search of a national character and the key to his own identity. From South Florida to North Dakota, from Long Island to Oregon, McMurtry contemplates the American obsession with travel and the pioneering spirit.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 28, 2012

Publishers Weekly's 12 best mystery/thrillers, 2012

Publishers Weekly named its twelve best mystery/thrillers of 2012.

One title on the list:
Kill You Twice
Chelsea Cain (Minotaur)

Incarcerated serial killer Gretchen Lowell says she has some useful tips for Det. Archie Sheridan in the case of two Portland, Ore., murders that appear to be the work of another serial killer. But can Archie take Gretchen at her word? Four previous books featuring these two damaged souls suggest not.
Read about the other books on the list.

Learn about Chelsea Cain's 6 favorite detective stories.

The Page 99 Test: Sweetheart.

The Page 69 Test: Evil at Heart.

The Page 69 Test: Kill You Twice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten slipstream books

From Wikipedia:
Slipstream is a kind of fantastic or non-realistic fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, and mainstream literary fiction.

The term slipstream was coined by cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling in an article originally published in SF Eye #5, in July 1989. He wrote: "...this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility." Slipstream fiction has consequently been referred to as "the fiction of strangeness," which is as clear a definition as any of the others in wide use.
In 2003 Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author Christopher Priest named his top 10 slipstream books for the Guardian.  One title on the list:
The Knife Thrower and Other Stories by Steven Millhauser

Millhauser is interestingly concerned with unlikely things: department stores, roller-coasters, underground theme parks, board games, magic acts. His prose is steady, exact and attentive, almost devoid of dialogue, a reasonable-sounding discourse on unreasonable subjects. Others by Millhauser worth trying are Edwin Mullhouse (a novel, which defies description in such a small space) and another wonderful collection, The Barnum Museum.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Five top crime fiction debuts, 2012

At the Miami Herald, Oline H. Cogdill named her picks of the best of 2012’s crime fiction debuts.

One title on the list:
The Three-Day Affair, Michael Kardos:

Four friends from Princeton become kidnappers and robbers at their ninth annual reunion when one of their group goes off the deep end.
Read about the other titles to make the grade.

Learn more about the book and author at Michael Kardos's website.

Writers Read: Michael Kardos.

The Page 69 Test: The Three Day Affair.

My Book, The Movie: The Three-Day Affair.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best dog books of 2012

Dorri Olds is a New York-based writer and web designer, ably assisted by her purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Buddy James.

At, she named ten of the best dog books of 2012, including:
A Fistful of Collars: A Chet and Bernie Mystery by Spencer Quinn

This is the fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Quinn series that stars the detective team of canine character, Chet, and his humanoid partner, private investigator Bernie Little. The books are all narrated by Chet and are surprisingly well-written mysteries full of suspense and humor. This time, Chet and Bernie are hired to “babysit” a handsome and horribly overbearing Hollywood movie star, Thad Perry. The team says yes because the pay is good. Thad has some serious secrets and what makes things worse is he is a cat lover whose little Brando can’t stand Chet. It’s a mad-cap, fast-paced adventure that will not disappoint. Stephen King had this to say about the author, “Spencer Quinn speaks two languages, suspense and dog, very fluently.”
Read about the other books on the list.

Visit Chet the Dog's blog and Facebook page, and Peter Abrahams's website.

The Page 69 Test: Spencer Quinn's The Dog Who Knew Too Much.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Peter Abrahams and Audrey and Coffee with a Canine: Peter Abrahams and Pearl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Publishers Weekly's top nonfiction books of 2012

One of Publishers Weekly's top nonfiction books of 2012:
On Extinction: How We Became Estranged from Nature
Melanie Challenger (Counterpoint)

Analyzing our "estrangement from nature" in the 20th century, Challenger's moving and lyrical first nonfiction book meditates on big picture questions as she travels from a writer's solitary cabin on England's Ding Dong Moor to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey, back to the North Yorkshire town of Whitby and on to the tundra of the Arctic.
Read about the other books on the list.

Learn more about On Extinction at the Counterpoint website.

The Page 99 Test: On Extinction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Beth Raymer's six favorite books

Beth Raymer is the author of the gambling memoir Lay the Favorite.

One of her six favorite books, as told to The Week magazine:
Fat City by Leonard Gardner

The most realistic account of boxing I've ever read. There is no televised bout or belt to be won, no such thing as the "one big fight." There is only a poster nailed to a whitewashed wall and a trainer so burned out on domestic life that, "when his children ran across the street without looking, he said nothing." To me, Fat City is a story about unending loss: what happens when the little things — splintered bones, damaged noses, swollen brows — add up.
Read about the other books on the list.

Fat City is one of Markus Zusak's top ten boxing books.

Gerald Haslam nominated Fat City as the Great California Novel.

Raymer's Lay the Favorite is one of Matthew O'Brien's five notable books on Las Vegas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The best fiction of 2012 -- Reluctant Habits

One title from Edward Champion's list of the best fiction of 2012:
Liz Moore, Heft:

Last year, a research team at the University of Buffalo conducted a study with 140 undergraduates which suggested that fiction causes readers to feel more empathy towards others. Empathy seems to be getting a bad rap in fiction these days, especially among some enfants terribles who seem to believe that novels are more about slick heartless style rather than human existence. On the flip side, you have the gushing New Sincerity movement, in which people are interested in mashing irony and sincerity into a roseate sandwich. These strange tonal prohibitions on what one should or should not do in a novel drive me up the wall. If you’re spending so much of your time second-guessing how you should write, then how can ever achieve any original viewpoint? So it was with great joy and relief to discover Liz Moore’s wonderfully endearing novel early in the year about Arthur Opp, a 550 pound man who has not left his Greenwood Heights home in more than a decade and a teenager from a troubled upbringing. Heft proves, first and foremost, that caring about people has little to do with falling along an irony/sincerity axis. Moore told Jennifer Weiner that writing about Arthur let her “write sentences I would have felt self-conscious about writing.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Learn more about the book and author at Liz Moore's website.

The Page 69 Test: Heft.

--Marshal Zeringue

Adrian Scarborough's six favorite books

The English actor Adrian Scarborough has appeared on film in The King’s Speech, Gosford Park, and this year's Les Misérables.

One of his six best books, as told to the Daily Express:
by David Sedaris

New York born Sedaris is a humorist and essayist.

He’s irreverent and sidesplittingly funny but always moving and often profound.

He talks about growing up with pushy parents, then about getting to grips with a different culture in Normandy with his partner. Brilliant.
Read about the other books on Scarborough's list.

Me Talk Pretty One Day is one of Robert Goolrick's six favorite books about childhood and Willie Geist's six favorite humor books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 24, 2012

The best of 2012’s crime fiction -- Miami Herald

At the Miami Herald, Oline H. Cogdill named her picks of the best of 2012’s crime fiction.

One title on the list:
Available Dark, Elizabeth Hand

This stunning look at a woman forever teetering on the edge follows a burned-out asocial photographer from Helsinki to Iceland.
Read about the other books on the list.

Learn more about the book and author at Elizabeth Hand's website.

Read about Elizabeth Hand's six favorite books.

My Book, The Movie: Available Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best Christmas lunches

At the Observer, Tim Lewis came up with the ten best Christmas lunches from stage, screen, and literature, including:
The Corrections (2001)

Enid, the matriarch of the Lambert family in Jonathan Franzen’s novel, does not want much: just to bring the unravelling clan together for “one last Christmas” in St Jude, the midwestern town where they grew up. “Does that sound like it might be fun to you?” she asks her daughter, Denise, now a chef in Philadelphia. From the start, it seems a doomed endeavour. The wife of Gary, the eldest son, refuses to go; Chip, the middle son, is in Lithuania and doesn’t want to attend either. And when they do reunite in St Jude, the children have no choice but to confront their father’s accelerating dementia.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Corrections is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best episodes of drunkenness in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ten best Christmas romance novels

Anne Browning Walker is the author of the contemporary romance novel, The Booby Trap.

She named her ten best Christmas romance novels for Publishers Weekly. One title on the list:
Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs

This book follows the town librarian and a troubled former child star as they work together to put on the local Christmas pageant. Ms. Wiggs paints such a vivid picture of the town at Christmas that I could imagine myself in each of her settings. Wiggs’ heroine shows frustrating insecurity at times, but this made her even more real to me.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Writers Read: Susan Wiggs (July 2010).

--Marshal Zeringue

Four overlooked literary gems of 2012

Swapna Krishna tagged four overlooked literary gems of 2012, including:
Jack 1939
Francine Mathews

Before you claim you have no desire to read yet another book about President John F. Kennedy, listen to the premise of Matthews' novel. The year is 1939 and Jack Kennedy is just 22 years old. He's about to travel across Europe on his diplomatic passport (his father is, after all, the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain) as long as his health holds up. When Jack is contacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and recruited as a spy, Jack has no idea about the depth of trouble he's about to get himself into. The book is fiction, but Matthews did her research, and it's surprisingly endearing to read about a young Jack Kennedy.
Read about the other books Krishna tagged, and visit her website.

Visit the Jack 1939 Facebook page and Francine Mathews's website.

The Page 69 Test: Jack 1939.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Five best books on life and travels in the Arctic

M. J. (Melanie) McGrath is a journalist and an author of several books of nonfiction, including The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic. She was awarded the John Llewlyn-Rhys/Mail on Sunday Award for best British author under thirty-five. She lives and works in London. The recently released The Boy in the Snow is her second novel featuring half-Caucasian, half-Inuit Edie Kiglatuk.

For the Wall Street Journal, McGrath named a five best list of books on life and travels in the Arctic. One title on the list:
Ada Blackjack
by Jennifer Niven (2004)

One of the greatest Arctic (mis)adventure stories you've never heard of and a wonderful foil to the more familiar derring-do of Robert Peary and Roald Amundsen. In 1921, in a vainglorious, frankly nutty bid to claim the territory for Canada (which didn't want it), four men and one woman—Ada Blackjack, a young, hard-drinking Inuit woman —set out for Wrangel Island in the Russian Arctic. Two years later only one returned. Jennifer Niven uses contemporary documents and Blackjack's own diary to reconstruct the often terrifying events of those two years, events that were both tightly managed and exploited afterward by the expedition's sponsor, who played up the glamour of Arctic exploration and the valor of his men while suppressing Blackjack's account of their desperate resort to cannibalism. Blackjack, who only took the job as the expedition's cook to pay for her son's tuberculosis treatment, turns out to be the most unlikely of heroines, but also one of the most admirable.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 21, 2012

Free book: "How America Eats"

Rowman & Littlefield and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture by Jennifer Jensen Wallach.

HOW TO ENTER: Visit the Campaign for the American Reader Facebook page, scroll down, and "like" the post for  How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture.

Contest closes on Monday, December 24th. Winner must have a US mailing address. Good luck!

Learn more about How America Eats at the Rowman & Littlefield website.

--Marshal Zeringue

The best literary quotes ever tattooed

At Flavorwire, Emily Temple came up with best literary quotes ever tattooed...and she's included photos of the ink.

One entry on the list:
"[I] listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am."
--from Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
Check out the other tattooed quotes.

The Bell Jar appears on Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on depression, and is #2 on one list of the top 10 most depressing books.

Esther Greenwood of The Bell Jar appears among Will Davis' top ten literary teenagers.

The Bell Jar's first sentence--“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”--is Ali Smith's favorite opening line of a novel.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best fiction debuts of 2012

Steve Donoghue named his ten best fiction debuts of 2012, including:
An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer

This wrenching roman-a-clef about a socially maladroit young student at Wellesley College has all the quirky, dysfunctional hallmarks that should have made it insufferable, even for a debut – but Percer’s huge narrative intelligence saves the day time and again.
Read about the other books to make the grade.

Learn more about the book and author at Elizabeth Percer's website.

The Page 69 Test: An Uncommon Education.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Percer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Three books to read before the end of the world

Ben H. Winters is the author of several novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and the middle-grade novel The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, an Edgar Award nominee and a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of 2011. Winters’ other books include the science-fiction Tolstoy parody Android Karenina, the Finkleman sequel The Mystery of the Missing Everything, and the supernatural thriller Bedbugs, which has been optioned for the screen by Warner Brothers. Winters also wrote the book and lyrics for three musicals for young audiences: The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, A (Tooth) Fairy Tale, and Uncle Pirate, based on the award-winning children’s book by Douglas Rees.

His latest novel is The Last Policeman.

For NPR, Winters named three books to read before the end of the world. One book to make the grade:
The Children Of Men
by P. D. James

Here the British author P.D. James imagines the world in 2021, when mankind has lost the ability to reproduce. With no new generations being born, civilization is in a long holding pattern, waiting to die off, and James examines what happens to government, to the art of medicine and to human relationships. It's one of the master detective writer's rare forays outside her genre; it's also rare how successfully the movie version adapts, and even deepens, the book's tone of simmering violence and melancholy. (It may just be the casting of Clive Owen, who radiates those two qualities).
Read about the other books on the list.

The Children of Men is on John Sutherland's list of the five best books about the end of England and John Mullan's list of ten of the most notable New Years in literature.

Visit the official Ben H. Winters website.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Policeman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten swashbuckling tales of derring-do

Charlie Fletcher is the author of the internationally acclaimed Stoneheart trilogy. He also writes for film, television and as a newspaper columnist.

He named ten favorite adventure classics for the Guardian, including:
Treasure Island and Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson

… speaking of [pirates]: Long John Silver. Stevenson (who after all wrote that great novel about split personality, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) is really good at balancing light and shade in his characters, making them three dimensional and real. Both books are rattling good adventures, full of jeopardy and betrayals. In Treasure Island, Silver is a villain who's almost a hero, and in Kidnapped, the swordsman Alan Breck Stewart is a hero who's pretty close to a villain, if not an actual murderer. And when I finished my first book, Stoneheart, I realised the character of the Gunner has a lot of Alan Breck's DNA in him …
Read about the other books on the list.

Treasure Island also appears on Robert McCrum's list of the ten best first lines in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best pirates in fiction, and among Mal Peet's top ten books to read aloud, Philip Pullman's six best books, and Eoin Colfer's six favorite books.

Kidnapped also appears among M. C. Beaton's five best cozy mysteries and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best wicked uncles in literature, ten of the best misers in literature, ten of the best shipwrecks, and ten of the best towers in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best books of 2012: The New Yorker

Some of The New Yorker's contributors volunteered their favorite books from 2012.

Malcolm Gladwell's picks:
I loved Mischa Hiller’s “Shake Off.” I picked it up entirely by accident. I’d never heard of Hiller before, and the book absolutely blew me away. The only thriller this year that even came close was Chris Pavone’s “The Expats,” but Hiller’s novel has the benefit of mining every trope of the thriller genre while being absolutely original at the same time. I will read anything by Hiller from now on.
Read about the other books New Yorker contributors tagged.

The Page 69 Test: Shake Off.

My Book, The Movie: Shake Off.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best letter collections

R. Blakeslee Gilpin is the author of John Brown Still Lives! America’s Long Reckoning with Violence, Equality, and Change, winner of the C. Vann Woodward Prize for the best dissertation in Southern history. His writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The American Scholar, and the New York Times. An assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, Gilpin specializes in the history, literature, and culture of the American South

With Rose Styron, he edited the Selected Letters of William Styron.

One of Gilpin's favorite collections of correspondences, as told to The Daily Beast:
The Correspondence of Shelby Foote & Walker Percy
Edited by Jay Tolson

As a historian of the South, it just does not get much better than this! The syrupy drawl of Foote (which was captured at its most hyperbolic in Foote essentially narrating Ken Burns’s Civil War) interfaces with great depth, friendship, and humor with his lifelong friend, the novelist Walker Percy. These guys really get into the nuts and bolts of writing (outlines, drafts, critiques of each other’s work), the economic realities of being a writer (grim, struggling, wanting more), and what it means to be from the South and write about the South (pride and prejudice).
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Frederic Raphael's five best books of notable correspondence by eminent men.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Seattle Times: 25 best books of 2012

Seattle Times reviewers chose their favorite reads of the year. One title to make the list:
“In the Kingdom of Men” by Kim Barnes (Knopf).

Barnes creates a vivid period mystery about life in a 1960s oil-company compound in Saudi Arabia, melding themes of feminism and colonialism, while weaving in sumptuous detail of luxurious poolside life among ex-pats. — Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett
Read about the other books on the list.

Learn more about the book and author at Kim Barnes's website.

The Page 69 Test: In the Kingdom of Men.

Writers Read: Kim Barnes.

My Book, The Movie: In the Kingdom of Men.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about animals, domesticated and otherwise

Janet Malcolm's most recent book is Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial.

She named five top books about animals, domesticated and otherwise, for the Wall Street Journal. One title on the list:
Animal Liberation
by Peter Singer (1975)

The premise of this powerful polemic is that if you are appalled by the suffering of animals raised on cruel factory farms—which are most of the animals offered for sale—you will not want to eat them. "Vegetarianism is a form of boycott," he writes. "Until we boycott meat we are, each one of us, contributing to the continued existence, prosperity, and growth of factory farming and all the other cruel practices used in rearing animals for food. . . . Here we have an opportunity to do something, instead of merely talking." Many of the book's original readers took the opportunity and became vegetarians or partial vegetarians (I was one of them). But the boycott obviously hasn't worked. People who adore their pets continue to close their eyes to the sufferings of the cows, pigs, chickens and lambs they eat at almost every evening meal. The "organic" and "cruelty-free" meats offered for sale today are a step in the right direction, but only the 1% can afford them.
Read about the other books on Malcolm's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 17, 2012

The ten best books with teenage narrators

At the Observer, Robert McCrum came up with the ten best books with teenage narrators, including:
The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins

This complex cult novel, published in 2008 and championed by Stephen King, is written in the voice of ballsy 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the post-revolutionary society of Panem, one of the 12 districts controlled by the Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis. The games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12-18 from each of the districts are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death. The games are supposed to be a warning against teenage rebellion, but Katniss’s triumph is a victory for youth everywhere.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ten top books for Twentysomethings

Robin Marantz Henig wrote an article that went viral in 2010, "What Is It About 20-Somethings?" for The New York Times Magazine, where she is a contributing writer. It was so popular she was asked to write a book on the topic. She wrote the book, Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?, with her younger daughter Samantha Henig, a twenty-something herself, who is now a web editor for... that very same publication, The New York Times Magazine.

For Publishers Weekly they named ten top books for Twentysomethings, including:
Alice in Bed by Cathleen Schine

Alice is a college student whose body fails her, landing her in a hospital for a year as doctors, nurses, and a bizarrely distracted mother swirl around her. Her feelings of helplessness and confusion, combined with some weird hallucinations and paranoid fantasies, are like youth writ large; Alice is literally paralyzed, a stand-in for young people who feel metaphorically so. And she gets through it the way so many people do -- by improvising.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Robin Marantz Henig & Samantha Henig's Twentysomething.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Cathleen Schine & Hector.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Five best literary counterblasts against misogyny

Belinda Jack is Tutorial Fellow in French, Christ Church, University of Oxford. She is the author of George Sand: A Woman's Life Writ Large and Beatrice's Spell.

Her latest book is The Woman Reader.

One of Jack's five best literary counterblasts against misogyny, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
The Second Sex
by Simone de Beauvoir (1949)

'The Second Sex' opens with an epigraph from the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras: "There is a good principle which created order, light and man and a bad principle that created chaos, darkness and woman." Simone de Beauvoir sought to demonstrate that to be born a woman meant to be destined to a lifetime countering the forces of misogyny. She makes the crucial distinction between sex—the body one is born with—and gender, namely what we become (thanks to societal pressure) as a result of our sex. This is the essence of her famous declaration, "One is not born woman, one becomes woman." For all the academic and philosophical complexities of her lengthy treatise, which make it hard going, modern feminism is inconceivable without it.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Second Sex is one of Lisa Appignanesi's top 10 books by & about Simone de Beauvoir.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 14, 2012

Five top books on lists, charts, and compendia of facts

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on lists, charts, and compendia of facts:
Hello Goodbye Hello
by Craig Brown

A loop of chance encounters between celebrities, politicians, artists, and authors delivers both play and profundity in this endlessly entertaining game of a book. Whether marveling at Mark Twain's gracious reception of a 23-year-old Rudyard Kipling or casting an incredulous eye on the praise H. G. Wells heaps on Stalin, you'll be astonished by the moments of serendipity uncovered by Craig Brown's ingenious daisy chain -- and garner some ice-breaking anecdotes for future meetings of your own.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Maureen Corrigan's top 10 books of 2012

For National Public Radio, Maureen Corrigan named her top ten books of 2012.

One title on the list:
Tupelo Hassman's girlchild

The ragged but resilient young narrator of Girlchild, a striking debut novel by Tupelo Hassman, also tells readers a thing or two about what it's like to grow up without safety nets. Rory Dawn Hendrix lives in a Reno, Nev., trailer park where you'd have a better chance of sighting a UFO than a helicopter parent.
Read about the other books on the list.

Learn more about the book and author at Tupelo Hassman's website.

The Page 69 Test: girlchild.

My Book, The Movie: girlchild.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten literary party hosts

Suzette Field is The Tribune of The Last Tuesday Society. One of her earliest memories is sitting on Michael Jackson's lap in his studio while he was recording Thriller. She is the author of A Curious Invitation: The 40 Greatest Parties in Literature, which is naturally on the subject of parties, as seen through the eyes of literary luminaries.

One of her top ten literary party hosts, as told to the Guardian:
Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

The hero of The Great Gatsby and the enigmatic host of a series of house parties in Long Island in the summer of 1922, at the height of the prohibition era. Despite his habit of sporting a pink suit, Gatsby manages to keep a low profile at his own parties and the majority of his guests are unaware of his identity. Conversation is devoted to speculating on the source of his wealth, with theories abounding as to whether he is a German spy, a bootlegger or even second cousin to the devil. But there is a secret agenda behind Gatsby's social munificence – he hopes one day to find among his guests Daisy Fay, the girl he loved and lost before the great war. Once the parties come to an end Gatsby's guests prove to be fickle, with only two of them bothering to show up to his funeral.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Great Gatsby appears among Robert McCrums's ten best closing lines in literature, Molly Driscoll's ten best literary lessons about love, Jim Lehrer's six favorite 20th century novels, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best clocks in literature and ten of the best misdirected messages, Tad Friend's seven best novels about WASPs, Kate Atkinson's top ten novels, Garrett Peck's best books about Prohibition, Robert McCrum's top ten books for Obama officials, Jackie Collins' six best books, and John Krasinski's six best books, and is on the American Book Review's list of the 100 best last lines from novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The 25 best book jackets of 2012

Cat, an Assistant Editor at The Book Case, organized a collection of the 25 best book jackets of 2012.

One entry to make the grade:
Threats by Amelia Gray
Check out the other striking covers in the collection.

Learn more about the book and author at Amelia Gray's website.

The Page 69 Test: Threats.

--Marshal Zeringue

Free book: "Why Jazz Happened"

The University of California Press and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of Why Jazz Happened by Marc Myers.

HOW TO ENTER: Visit the Campaign for the American Reader Facebook page, scroll down, and "like" the post for Why Jazz Happened. Contest closes on Monday, December 24th. Winner must have a US mailing address. Good luck!

Learn more about Why Jazz Happened at the University of California Press website and Marc Myers's JazzWax website.

--Marshal Zeringue

CSM's ten best books of 2012 – fiction

One of the Christian Science Monitor's ten best books of 2012 – fiction:
Arcadia, by Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff’s excellent follow-up to her terrific debut novel, “The Monsters of Templeton,” tells the story of a 1970s commune located in upstate New York and the lives of its members as they – and the commune – face the passage of time.
Read about the other books on the list.

Learn more about the book and author at Lauren Groff's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Monsters of Templeton.

The Page 69 Test: Arcadia.

Writers Read: Lauren Groff.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Six best historical novels of 2012

Mary Sharratt lives in Lancashire, England. Her historical novels include Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen.

She named six of the best historical novels of the year for NPR, including:
The Twelve Rooms Of The Nile
by Enid Shomer

Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert both toured Egypt in 1850. Although there is no historical record of their meeting, they become unlikely soul mates in Enid Shomer's tender and marvelously imagined debut novel. As the book opens, both Nightingale and Flaubert are in their late 20s and consider themselves failures. Flaubert's friends have advised him to burn his most recent attempt at a novel. Nightingale longs to serve the world but doesn't know how and fears disgracing her family. Flaubert is debauched, a connoisseur of prostitutes, while Nightingale is sexually ignorant. Yet their ambition and their resolute singlehood draw them together. Flaubert sees a deep melancholy in Nightingale that he longs to comfort. The titular 12 rooms of the Nile refer to the epic underworld journey of the sun god Ra, who dies at dusk and must travel down an infernal river divided into 12 rooms, one for each hour of the night, before he rises again at dawn. Flaubert is Nightingale's guide as she braves her own searing passage through the darkness of her confusion and despair. Her old self dies and a new self rises, one that will triumph as the future "Lady with the Lamp" and founder of modern nursing.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Twelve Rooms of the Nile.

Writers Read: Enid Shomer.

My Book, The Movie: The Twelve Rooms of the Nile.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 10, 2012

Free book: "The Cove" by Ron Rash

Ecco and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a paperback copy of The Cove by Ron Rash.

Among the praise for the novel:
“Set during World War One, The Cove is a novel that speaks intimately to today’s politics. Beautifully written, tough, raw, uncompromising, entirely new. Ron Rash is a writer’s writer who writes for others.”
—Colum McCann

“Ron Rash is a writer of both the darkly beautiful and the sadly true; The Cove solidifies his reputation as one of our very finest novelists.”
—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
HOW TO ENTER: Visit the Campaign for the American Reader Facebook page, scroll down, and "like" the post for The Cove.

Contest closes on Monday, December 31st. Winner must have a US mailing address. Good luck!

Learn more about The Cove at the HarperCollins website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top books about parents and kids

Ken Jennings broke game show records in 2004 with his unprecedented seventy-four game, $2.52 million victory streak on Jeopardy!. Jennings’s book Brainiac, about his Jeopardy! adventures, was a critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, as was his follow-up, Maphead. He is also the author of Ken Jennings’s Trivia Almanac.

Jennings’s new book is Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids.

One of Jennings’s favorite books about parents and children, as told to Publishers Weekly:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

How do you write like the magician Cormac McCarthy? Please, someone, tell me, I want to know. I will do whatever it takes. I will grind up fiery eighteenth-century Congregationalist church sermons into a fine paste and inject it into my veins. I will abandon my home and live for ten years with a family of coyotes in the hills of West Texas. This book says every single important thing about being a father, the love but mostly the fear.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Road appears on Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. Sam Anderson of New York magazine claims "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

--Marshal Zeringue