Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The five best Middle East political science books of 2014

Marc Lynch is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and the Project on Middle East Political Science. At the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog he tagged his five best Middle East political science books of 2014...and one novel:
[T]he novel of the year for political scientists has to be “The Golden Hour” by former State Department official Todd Moss. Moss’s hero is an academic political scientist brought in to the State Department on the basis of his path breaking quantitative modeling of the dynamics of military coups. Then he has to deal with a coup in Mali, and all sorts of political science hijinks ensue. Without giving any plot twists away (at least until the movie version comes out), let me just say that there’s an essay waiting to be written about the interaction between quantitative political science and area studies in “The Golden Hour!”
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Golden Hour.

My Book, The Movie: The Golden Hour.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five great under-the-radar reads of 2014

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well.

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Somers tagged five great under-the-radar reads of 2014, including:
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, by Laird Barron

Laird Barron writes beautiful, sophisticated prose that pulls you in with gorgeous imagery and easy verisimilitude, then scares the pants off of you. His characters and settings are a break from the usual urban sophisticates of literature and the typical suburban mediocrities of most horror, and the writing is so strong you often forget you’re reading horror at all—at least right up until you read something that makes you put this collection of short stories in your freezer and build a blanket tent so you can sit up all night hiding in it with a flashlight, telling yourself you didn’t hear anything.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The five most important books of 2014

Esquire writers and editors selected "the five books published this year that, if you were to read them all, would give you a much fuller picture of what humans were dealing with in 2014." One title on the list:
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is not the kind of book you can give your heart to. It's mean. Its main character is not likable even to himself. Very little happens. Nathaniel P. dates women, awkwardly, and talks his way into a six-figure book deal. That's pretty much it. "Nathaniel Piven was a product of postfeminist, 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education. He had learned all about male privilege. Moreover, he was in possession of a functional and frankly rather clamorous conscience," Adelle Waldman writes. He treats women rudely, if not badly. And he has no goals outside of mere social victories. He's a negligible, bland person. And yet there's no question that this book has stayed with me more than any other this year. Nathaniel P. is unforgettable as a literary creation, but the thing is that I keep running into him in real life. Over and over again. I cannot escape him. Granted, he is not named Nathaniel P. Sometimes he's called Alexander M. or Marcus S. or Winston M. or Ben L., but they are all the same guy—clever, educated, amoral, and totally obsessed with the absolute minutiae of their own lives. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is 2014. Its shock of recognition is only muted by the discomfort it brings with it. —Stephen Marche
Read about the other books on the list.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. also appears among Radhika Sanghani's top ten books to make sure you've read before graduating college.

The Page 69 Test: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P..

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 29, 2014

The 10 best debut Young Adult novels of 2014

Caitlin White rounded up her top ten debut young adult novels of 2014 for Bustle. One title on the list:
Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo (Random House Books For Young Readers)

Jennifer Longo’s YA debut Six Feet Over It is unlike anything you’ve ever read before. It’s a beautiful family, female friendship, and quirky story all rolled up into one. Leigh’s eccentric father moves the whole family into a cemetery, aka memorial park, and Leigh is stuck selling gravestones to grieving families after school. You’ll laugh out loud and then clasp your hand over your mouth because you can’t believe you just LOL-ed at a death in someone’s family. That’s some seriously well executed dark comedy. But just when you think it’s all crazy fun, that’s when the waterworks hit.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Six Feet Over It.

My Book, The Movie: Six Feet Over It.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top five Texas authors of 2014

MysteryPeople tagged its top five Texas authors of 2014, including:
Nine Days by Minerva Koenig

This highly entertaining debut introduces us to Julia Kalas, whose marriage to her murdered gun-dealing husband has lead her to a small Texas town under Witness Protection. When the new man she’s seeing becomes the main suspect in a murder, she cuts across the state, using her criminal contacts to clear him in this fresh, hard-boiled gem.
Read about the other authors on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Nine Days.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ten top overlooked memoirs of 2014

At Biographile Joanna Scutts tagged ten top overlooked memoirs of 2014, including:
Poet and soldier Brian Turner is best known for his unforgettable 2005 collection Here, Bullet, one of the enduring literary responses to the Iraq War. His memoir My Life as a Foreign Country infuses autobiography with Turner’s distinctive lyricism and biting sense of the absurd. Connecting the story of his own war with family histories of military service in World War II and Vietnam, he tries to understand the ways that his identity as a soldier and civilian both compete and coexist.
Learn about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top New Orleans authors of 2014

Chris Waddington tagged five top New Orleans authors of 2014 for The Times-Picayune, including:
Michael Pitre

Michael Pitre, a New Orleans writer and Iraq War veteran earned a glowing review in the New York Times for his fiction debut, "Fives and Twenty-Fives". Reviewer Michiko Kakutani described Pitre's book as "an unblinking, razor-edged portrait of the war."

In 2002, Pitre joined the Marines, deploying twice to Iraq and attaining the rank of captain before leaving the service in 2010.

Pitre described his motivation for writing the book in an Aug. 19 profile published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"When you come away from military service you want to be able to reenter the civilian world and just be part of it," Pitre said. "You want to come home. But you can't come home when no one knows what you did. And it becomes a secret. And when it is a secret, it's a burden."
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Six great books about Cuba

Julia Cooke is the author of The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba. One of her six favorite books about Cuba, as shared at The Daily Beast:
Joan Didion

Contemporary Cuba can’t be fully understood without examining Miami. In Miami, the grandmaster of immersive, observational, intellectual reporting pulls the city and its Cuban-American population, their hopes, fears, and passions, into delicious, lyrical, Didion-esque focus.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 26, 2014

Top ten boxing books

Markus Zusak's books include I Am the Messenger, a Printz Honor Book and Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist, and the international bestseller, The Book Thief. In 2010 he tagged his ten top boxing books for the Guardian. One title to make the list:
The Sweet Science by AJ Liebling

Like FX Toole, Liebling gives the reader an insight into the entire world of boxing, not just what happens in the ring. The title alone seems almost like a challenge to those who hate boxing (and who can blame them?) but this book depicts a time as much as a sport. You seem to be sitting in those dusty, men-filled rooms of America in the 1950s.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Ten of the best books & stories set on Christmas Day

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged ten of the best books and stories set on Christmas Day, including:
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie

Nothing says Christmas like a good old-fashioned parlor room murder. Detective Hercule Poirot must figure out who killed Simeon Lee, a multimillionaire who invites his family over for Christmas and then winds up dead. I guess someone must have been on the naughty list that year…
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ten top books for kids who can’t sleep on Christmas Eve

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Dell Villa tagged ten top books for kids who can’t sleep on Christmas Eve, including:
The Last Christmas Tree, by Stephen Krensky

One diminutive, nondescript fir sits in a lot, nestled among the grander balsams and frasers. As Christmas Eve approaches, the robust trees are picked one by one, and soon the scraggly tree is all alone. He never gives up hope that he will be selected, however, and finally, a jolly man in a red hat picks the plucky tree up, takes him home, and decorates him with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. This touching story is a wonderful way to end your Christmas Eve celebration, and will fill you with hope for the coming morn’.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best Christmases in literature

At the Guardian Kate Kellaway tagged the ten best Christmases in literature, including:
War and Peace
Leo Tolstoy, 1869

Nikolai and Sonya are getting ready to put on a pantomime of sorts at Christmas time, and are so delighted with their costumes that they decide to visit the Melyukovs who live some distance away. They set out into a night of stars, frost and silence. Nikolai breathes in an “elixir of eternal youth and joy” – and falls in love with Sonya. He’s in woman’s attire, with tousled hair. Sonya is dressed as a man. But this is no deterrent. The moment could not be more charming. He “kissed her on the lips which wore a moustache and smelt of burnt cork”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

War and Peace appears among the Telegraph's ten best historical novels, Simon Sebag Montefiore's five top books about Moscow, Oliver Ford Davies's six best books, Stella Tillyard's four favorite historical novels, Ann Shevchenko's top ten novels set in Moscow, Karl Marlantes' top ten war stories, Niall Ferguson's five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best battles in literature, ten of the best floggings in fiction, and ten of the best literary explosions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Eight top fictional female detectives

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged eight fictional female detectives featured in new releases, including:
Bones Never Lie, by Kathy Reichs

If you love dark psychological thrillers, you must read Reichs’ first-rate series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. In Tempe’s most harrowing case yet, serial child murderer Anique Pomerleau resurfaces in the United States after killing a string of children in Canada and eluding capture. Then another child is snatched, and the nightmare resumes…
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

23 amazing--and short--classic books

One title on the Huffington Post's list of classic works that are all under 200 pages:
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

This book is about two opposing personalities (one good, one evil) battling inside one man (but it's really about man's dual nature--something that was particularly intriguing during the Victorian period).
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also appears on Koren Zailckas's top 11 list of favorite evil characters, Stuart Evers's list of the top ten homes in literature, H.M. Castor's top ten list of dark and haunted heroes and heroines and 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 and Nicholas Frankel's five best pieces of decadent writing from the nineteenth century.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ten top fictional feasts in children's books

Christopher William’s Hill’s latest book is The Lily-Livered Prince, book three in his Tales From Schwartzgarten series. At the Guardian he tagged ten top fictional feasts in children's books, including:
Alice Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,

“To talk of many things:

Of shoes - and ships - and sealing-wax -

Of cabbages - and kings -

And why the sea is boiling hot -

And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,

“Before we have our chat;

For some of us are out of breath,

And all of us are fat!”

“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.

They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,

“Is what we chiefly need:

Pepper and vinegar besides

Are very good indeed -

Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,

We can begin to feed.”

I might happily feast on baked hake or star-gazy pie – but oysters? Oysters are a different matter entirely. I’ve always felt sympathy for these poor, unfortunate shellfish ever since I first read the strange and sorry tale of the Walrus and the Carpenter in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. You’d need a heart of stone not to be moved by the fat and trusting oysters as they amble along to their peppery and vinegary deaths. In the Sir John Tenniel illustration the oysters have little legs and shoes and somehow this makes their sorry fate all the more tragic. My hard-and-fast rule here? If a creature wears shoes, don’t eat it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ismail Kadare's six favorite books

Ismail Kadare was born in Albania in 1936. His first novel, The General of the Dead Army, established him as a major international voice in literature. His work has since been translated into forty languages, and in 2005 he became the first winner of the Man Booker International Prize, for "a body of work written by an author who has had a truly global impact." He is the recipient of the highly prestigious Principe de Asturias de las Letras in Spain.

One of Kadare's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Böll

Böll's 1974 tale about a young woman who's hunted down and vilified by a tabloid reporter after she's spent the night with a fugitive makes a payment on the debt that men owe for their suppression of women. It should be said that this repayment of the debt is still insufficient and that we, the people of the Balkan Peninsula, may feel this debt more than other Europeans.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 20, 2014

J. Kingston Pierce's top five crime novels of 2014

J. Kingston Pierce is the overworked editor of both The Rap Sheet and Killer Covers, the senior editor of January Magazine, and the lead crime-fiction blogger for Kirkus Reviews. One of his five favorite crime novels of 2014:
Darkness, Darkness, by John Harvey (Pegasus)

Introduced in Harvey’s 1989 novel, Lonely Hearts, Charlie Resnick--a Polish-descended, jazz-loving, and stalwart police detective in Nottingham, England--has since seen fictitious service in a dozen sequels as well as one collection of short stories (Now’s the Time, 1999). The redundantly titled Darkness, Darkness supposedly marks Resnick’s last appearance, though we’ve heard such claims before. In these pages we see Harvey’s man retired but still working for the Nottingham force as a civilian advisor. When young Kenyan-born Inspector Catherine Njoroge is served up the case of a woman, Jenny Hardwick, who disappeared during the bitter UK coal miners’ strike of the mid-1980s (and whose skeleton has only just resurfaced), she turns to Resnick for assistance. He, after all, had a hand in police surveillance during that work stoppage and might shed some light on the deceased’s fate. With skills acquired after many years of penning police procedurals, Harvey weaves together Hardwick’s experiences, the story of the long-ago strike--which created fissures between friends and divided whole families--and a secondary plot line about Njoroge’s souring association with an abusive ex-lover to produce a novel that, if it does offer Resnick’s final bow, tops off that series most pleasingly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Darkness, Darkness is one of Ellen Wehle's top five cop books.

--Marshal Zeringue

The 8 grinchiest characters in literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ginni Chen tagged the eight grinchiest characters in literature, including:
Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis)

This list just got a little bit grim with the inclusion of the ultimate hater, Patrick Bateman. At once schmoozy, pompous, and uncouth, Bateman is the worst Christmas party guest ever. He forces his girlfriend to ditch her own party before the hired “elves” sing carols, drags her to club called Chernobyl to indulge in some “expensive Christmas frost,” and gets into a drug-addled altercation in the restroom stall. Oh, right, and he’s also a sadistic serial killer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

American Psycho appears on Whitney Collins's top sixteen list of totally awesome books that every Gen Xer needs, Chrissie Gruebel's top six list of fictional fashion icons, Jonathan Lee's list of the ten best office dramas in print and on screen, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best bankers in literature and ten of the best zoos in literature, Richard Gwyn's list of ten books in which things end badly, Nick Brooks' top ten list of literary murderers and Chris Power's list of his six top books on the 1980s. It is a book that Nick Cross "Finished Reading but Wanted My Time Back Afterwards."

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 19, 2014

Maureen Corrigan's 12 favorite books of 2014

One of Maureen Corrigan's twelve favorite books of 2014:
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr's magical adventure novel All The Light We Cannot See takes place in France and Germany in the years leading up to and during World War II. A blind French girl and her father become the hapless custodians of "The Sea of Flames," a rare (and accursed) diamond that Hitler desires for his personal treasure-trove. Meanwhile, a German orphan boy proves himself to be so ingenious at mastering higher-level mechanics that he is selected for an elite Nazi training program. Toward the end of the war, these two tempest-tossed adolescents are thrown together in a climactic twist of fate that no reader could possibly anticipate. Doerr refers to the work of Jules Verne and Alexandre Dumas, and his own sweeping plot and sumptuous language place Doerr in the same category as those master storytellers.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The top 10 novels about 9/11

Porochista Khakpour is the author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion; both are 9/11 novels.

One of her top ten novels about 9/11, as shared at the Guardian:
The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud

Messud has been a great supporter of my work, so it may look biased to choose this; but many agree The Emperor’s Children is the best 9/11 novel. Messud captures the struggles of a still-very-much-alive Manhattan privileged intellectual class through the portrait of three friends, just as well as she evokes those months leading up to the attacks.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Emperor’s Children is on Jimmy So's list of five novels that deal with 9/11 in significant if oblique ways, Rachel Syme's list of the ten most attractive men in literature, the (London) Times' list of the 100 best books of the last decade, and the New York Times' list of the 10 best books of 2006.

Also see: David Ulin's five essential 9/11 books, five best works of literature on 9/11, five of the best new 9/11 books and eight worthy 9/11 books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The top 25 young adult novels of 2014

Caitlin White rounded up her top 25 young adult novels of 2014 for Bustle. One title on the list:
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (HarperTeen)

Too often novels about people with disabilities or disease become novels about those conditions and not about people. Cammie McGovern doesn’t fall into this trap in Say What You Will. In her story about a 17-year-old woman with cerebral palsy and a teenage boy with crippling OCD, she manages to be honest and not condescending. This way, instead of becoming about the “other,” this disease, her story becomes about the resilience of human character and the heartrending ache of first love amid obstacles of any kind.
Read about the other books on the list.

Writers Read: Cammie McGovern (July 2014).

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Seven books for readers who love Haruki Murakami

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Monique Alice tagged seven books for readers who love Haruki Murakami, including:
The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

Some books change the world forever, and The Satanic Verses is one of them. Horned demon men falling from the sky, a battle between good and evil, and a heavy dose of playful irreverence are just some of the features of this monumental work. After its publication, author Salman Rushdie was forced to live in fear of attack from those who found his work blasphemous. Like Murakami, he defies the status quo in his writing by playing with the laws of reality and thumbing his nose at cultural convention.
Read about the other entries on the list.

See--Ten of the best Haruki Murakami books.

The Satanic Verses is among Felicity Capon and Catherine Scott's twenty top famously banned books, Seth Satterlee's top six famously banned books, Diarmaid MacCulloch's five best books about blasphemy, Atul Gawande's favorite books, and Karl O. Knausgaard's top ten angel books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 15, 2014

Billy Collins's six favorite books

One of Billy Collins's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes

This is one of the best titles to drop when asked what you're currently reading, and also a revealing, radical study of our divided brains. According to Jaynes, people who hear voices (be they mystics or schizophrenics) may just be listening to one side of the brain talking to the other on a delayed loop. Something to think about next time you find yourself thinking out loud, or just thinking period.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Eleven of the spookiest true crime stories

At Bustle Jordan Foster tagged eleven of the spookiest true crime stories, including:
My Dark Places by James Ellroy

Best known for his L.A. Quartet novels — The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz — Ellroy’s own life is darker than any of his fiction. In 1958, the battered body of Jean Ellroy was found in a sleazy corner of Los Angeles; her son James was 10. For the next nearly four decades, James Ellroy tried to exorcise his mother’s ghost through writing fiction but her unsolved murder continued to haunt him. In 1994, he stopped running from the past and confronted it head on, hiring a retired LAPD detective to help him solve the biggest crime of his career. Reading this raw, searing memoir will only deepen the experience of Ellroy’s fictional oeuvre, giving readers an unflinching look at his life-long, and often unhealthy, obsession with sex crimes and police work. You should really call your mom after reading this and tell her that you love her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Dark Places is among Errol Morris's five top tales of true crime and Peter Collier's five best books about writers' lives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ten books to read before you go to New York City

Jessica Colley is a freelance travel and food writer. For Fodor's, she tagged ten books to read before you go to New York City, including:
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Irish author and New York resident Column McCann delivers a meticulous portrayal of life in New York City in this award-winning novel. Real events—like a tightrope walker strolling between the Twin Towers in 1974—are juxtaposed with the fictional lives of a variety of intriguing characters. This engrossing story brings together the tales of characters from all points in the social spectrum, all sharing the same city.
Read about the other books on the list.

Let the Great World Spin is one of Mickey Sumner's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Washington Post's ten best books of 2014

One title on the Washington Post's list of the ten best books of 2014:
Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)

In this genre-blurring dystopian novel, set in the near future, the Georgia Flu becomes airborne the night an actor named Arthur Leander dies during his performance as King Lear. Within months, most of the world’s population has been wiped out. The story presents Arthur’s life in flashbacks and describes how the pandemic affects his friends and ex-wives after his death. Among the survivors is Kirsten, a former child actor with no memory of her first year after the flu. Now in her 20s, she performs Shakespeare with a makeshift family of musicians and actors. Their band is threatened when they accidentally wander into territory controlled by a messianic tyrant. A gorgeous retelling of “King Lear” unfolds through the story of Arthur’s life and Kirsten’s attempt to stay alive in this surprisingly beautiful tale of human relationships amid almost total devastation. — Nancy Hightower
Read about the other books on the list.

See--Six books that most influenced Emily St. John Mandel as a writer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten neo-Victorian novels

Charles Palliser's books include The Quincunx, The Unburied, and Rustication. One of his top ten neo-Victorian novels--books that "don’t merely use the 19th-century setting but exploit readers’ knowledge of the fiction of that period"--as shared at the Guardian:
Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin

This takes the form of a journal kept by a young servant-girl working for a kindly doctor in late 19th-century London. The girl is naive and trusting and only gradually does the reader start to work out who the doctor is, and what is really going on. Without giving too much away, I can say that this is a sly and thoughtful “revisiting” of a classic text of the period that succeeds in generating new insights into a story that has become iconic. It brings a fresh psychoanalytical perspective to a text which has inspired many post-Freudian narratives in literature and film.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The ten best adventure novels from 1965

At Boing Boing, Joshua Glenn tagged the ten best adventure novels from 1965, including:
Sol Yurick’s hunted-man adventure The Warriors.

After an assembly of New York gangs devolves into chaos, the Coney Island Dominators, a black/Hispanic gang of murderers and rapists, must trek home from the Bronx — all the while defending their thuggish sense of manhood — through gang turfs. It’s loosely based on Xenophon’s Anabasis (c. 370 BC), which recounts the travails of Greek mercenaries betrayed and stranded deep within enemy territory. The Warriors was adapted into a cult 1979 movie of that title.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Seven great books for people who love "Modern Family"

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Chrissie Gruebel tagged seven great books for people who love Modern Family, including:
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple

Families are chaos! Families are crazy! But no matter what, families forgive each other—at least in books and movies and TV shows designed to make us feel good about our lives. Right now, you might be thinking to yourself: “How do I know this novel is funny? How can I be SURE? Because if I’m giving this book to someone, I’m staking my reputation on its ability to inspire laughter and good feels.” Well, Maria Semple wrote for Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Saturday Night Live, so you can feel confident she’s got the funny thing covered.
Read about the other books on the list.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is among Charlotte Runcie's ten best bad mothers in literature, Joel Cunningham's seven notable epistolary novels and Chrissie Gruebel's five top books for readers inspired by Nora Ephron.

--Marshal Zeringue

The Washington Post's five best science fiction/fantasy books of 2014

Nancy Hightower tagged the Washington Post's five best science fiction/fantasy books of 2014, including:
by James L. Cambias (Tor)

You’ve probably never rooted for giant lobsters before, but when science fiction meets ethnography in “A Darkling Sea,” you will. This witty, erudite novel chronicles the expedition of a scientific team studying lobsterlike inhabitants in the icy seas of the planet Ilmatar. The scientists have won permission for this study from the Sholen, six-limbed, extraterrestrial creatures who forbid any human interaction with the Ilmatarans. But then a self-serving media big-shot with the diving team gets too close while observing his subject. An epic battle results in heavy casualties, but the novel ends with the deep, hopeful yearning we have to explore the mysteries of all creatures and worlds around us.
Read about the other books on the list.

My Book, The Movie: A Darkling Sea.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top ten coming of age stories

John Corey Whaley is the author of Where Things Come Back and Noggin. At the Guardian he tagged ten "absolutely genius, life-changing coming of age books for teens," including:
The Giver by Lois Lowry

The ultimate story of individuality in the face of conformity – I think everyone reads this book in school for a very good reason. And, despite the dystopian setting and futuristic sway, I think Lowry paints a simple, but elegant portrait of teenage angst in this book, exploring that early adolescent confusion about the real world that some coming of age stories skip over.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Giver made Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of thirteen top, occasionally-banned YA novels, Guy Lodge's list of ten of the best dystopias in fiction, film, art, and television, Joel Cunningham's list of six great young adult book series for fans of The Hunger Games, and Lauren Davis's top ten list of science fiction’s most depressing futuristic retirement scenarios.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Lois Lowry & Alfie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 8, 2014

Six top books about wounded masculinity

Laura Kipnis's new book is Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation. One of her six favorite books about wounded masculinity, as shared at The Week magazine:
A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley

On the verge of a divorce, Exley surveyed the wreckage of his life in funny, coruscating, painfully lyrical sentences. He presented it all as a "fictional memoir" by a drunken, self-destructive, impotent failure — in his own eyes, anyway.
Read about the other books on the list.

A Fan's Notes is one of Dan Barden's six top stories of addiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Five one-hit wonder novelists

One of five authors who became famous after publishing a single novel and never published another one, as tagged by John Bardinelli at The Barnes & Noble Book Blog:
The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa

The Sicilian-born Lampedusa was a man who preferred solitude over the company of others. His sister died of diphtheria at a young age, leaving him an only child with a cold and detached father. He joined the army when he was older and ended up fighting in World War I, eventually landing in a POW camp. After his escape he returned to Sicily to study foreign literature, get married, travel with his mother, and become an otherwise ordinary human being.

It wasn’t until he was in his late 50s that Lampedusa finished writing The Leopard, a novel that chronicled the changes in Sicilian life during Italian unification. He submitted it to two publishers but was rejected both times. A year later he was diagnosed with lung cancer, a disease that took his life in the summer of 1957. The Leopard finally saw the light of day almost a year after Lampedusa’s death. It quickly became the best-selling novel in Italian history and is still considered one of the most important works of modern literature, but its posthumous publication means we’ll never know if Lampedusa could have written anything half as good again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Leopard is one of Peter Mayle's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Kate DiCamillo's three favorite books of 2014

At Omnivoracious Kate DiCamillo tagged three favorite books she read this year, including:
Mr. Tall by Tony Earley

Funny, humane, deeply moving, wistful. These stories of Mr. Earley's remind me why I want and need to tell stories--why we all need stories.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the most prolific authors

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog John Bardinelli tagged six of the most prolific authors, including:
Isaac Asimov

One of the “Big Three” hard science fiction writers of his era, Asimov is credited with over 500 published works covering almost the entire Dewey Decimal System. He’s best known for sci-fi classics like I, Robot and the Foundation series, but he also wrote history books, screenplays, mystery short stories, and “explainer” columns in magazines to introduce complex scientific concepts to the masses. Basically, you name it, Asimov probably wrote it.
Read about the other authors on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ten of the most important science fiction books about superintelligence

"The idea that humans might one day become superintelligent — or invent a superintelligent computer — is a staple of science fiction," writes Annalee Newitz at io9. "It's also taken seriously by scientists and engineers as a plausible outcome of today's technologies." One of ten key books Newitz says we should read to understand brains of the future:
Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge

Vinge is the computer scientist and author who first coined the term "Singularity" to mean the rise of superintelligence. In his most celebrated novel, he explores civilizations that are headed toward such Singularities, though they haven't quite made it yet. Still, they've set up quite a successful galactic democracy, full of aliens, AIs, and various combinations of both. Everything is zooming along at lightspeed, when they're menaced by a post-Singular consciousness/creature/disease that turns all matter into molecular sludge and wants to take over all available minds. This is a must-read.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The top five James Bond titles

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Joel Cunningham tagged the top five James Bond titles, including:
Live and Let Die, by Ian Fleming

Another recipe for a great Bond title: take an established idiom, and just stick something spy-appropriate in there. It doesn’t matter a whit that “live and let die” makes absolutely no sense.
Read about the other titles on the list.

James Bond is among Maddie Crum's top ten appealing fictional characters who just might be psychopaths.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top new books about ancient history

One of five top new books about ancient history, as shared at History of the Ancient World:
Augustus: From Revolutionary to Emperor
by Adrian Goldsworthy

In the year 44 BC, when Julius Caesar was killed, Augustus was a mere teenager who had been adopted into Caesar’s household. His reaction to Caesar’s death was to step forward and proclaim himself Caesar’s rightful successor. The Senate did not take him seriously, but over the following months he raised his own army and, after defeating Mark Antony in battle, became one of the three most powerful men in Rome. He was not yet 20 years old. Over the next ten years he consolidated his power in Rome, and finally overthrew the last of his rivals in 31 BC. From that moment on Rome became an empire, and Augustus its first emperor. This is the story of how one man rose to become the most powerful man in the world, and stabilised an empire that had been racked by decades of civil war. Augustus’s achievements, and his legacy, are almost unparalleled. Like Julius Caesar, he presided over a huge expansion in wealth and territory. Like Caesar he was honoured by having a month of the year named after him. But unlike Caesar he was able to keep hold of power for over 40 years, and bequeath the empire, whole, to his successors.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Eight great books told by child narrators

The Off the Shelf Staff tagged eight great books told by child narrators, including:
The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV–cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love. Whip-smart, unsentimental, funny, charming and compelling you will fall in love with Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. Just trust us on this. Okay? Okay.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Fault in Our Stars is among Luke Kelly's five top YA novels and Sophie McKenzie's five favorite Young Adult books that appeal to teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Top ten YA literature retellings – beyond the fairy tales

At BuzzFeed, the good folks at St. Martin's Press tagged ten top YA literature retellings – beyond the fairy tales, including:
Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

Retelling of: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

A ghost haunts the slaughterhouse where Wen assists her father in his medical clinic, or so the rumors go. When Wen is humiliated by a worker, she makes an impulsive wish, one that’s brutally granted by the Ghost. Horrified, but curious, Wen is lured in by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her for a very long time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Of Metal and Wishes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 1, 2014

Six of the best fictional mustaches

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ginni Chen tagged six of the greatest fictional mustaches, including:
Hercule Poirot (Murder On the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie)

The protagonist of 33 Agatha Christie novels and countless short stories, Hercule Poirot’s fame as the master of mysteries is rivaled only by that of his mustache. The Belgian detective’s lip parka is “very stiff and military. Even if everything on his face was covered, the tips of moustache and the pink-tipped nose would be visible.” One can’t think of this fastidious little Belgian without imagining his meticulously groomed facial hair first.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Murder On the Orient Express is one of the Telegraph's 110 best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top works of Southern fiction

Ron Rash is the New York Times bestselling award-winning author of Serena and The Cove. His latest book is Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories.

One of the author's six favorite Southern fiction books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Suttree by Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy is my favorite living novelist, and over the years I've vacillated between Blood Meridian and Suttree when trying to name my favorite of his novels. Recently I've come to prefer this story of a loner who floats down the Tennessee River in a houseboat, in part because of its mixture of humor and sadness; most of all for its humanity.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The five PD James novels you should read

Anita Singh, arts and entertainment editor at the Telegraph, tagged the five P.D. James novels you should read. One title on the list:
Cover Her Face (1962)

James’s debut novel introduced readers to Detective Chief Inspector Adam Dalgleish, the poetry-writing policeman. His first investigation is the violent death of a young parlourmaid at an Essex manor house. “Adam Dalgleish is not drawn from any person I know but does, I suppose, represent the qualities I most admire in a man, ie sensitivity, courage and intelligence,” James said.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ten of the most memorable crime novels of 2014

At Kirkus J. Kingston Pierce tagged ten of the most memorable crime novels of 2014, including:
Sweet Sunday, by John Lawton

Texas-born Turner Raines has found his place in late-1960s New York City as a private investigator, one who tracks down draft dodgers—not to haul them home from Canada, but to give them messages from their parents. What crime-solving skills Raines has, though, will be tested after his best friend, Village Voice journalist Mel Kissing, is murdered with an ice pick in the PI’s office. The clues suggest Kissing was croaked for what he’d learned about covered-up atrocities during the Vietnam War, but there may be more to the story than that. At the same time as he’s trying to determine the provocation of his buddy’s demise, Raines relives a personal past that found him mixed up in some of the decade’s best-remembered events and led him to ditch his oil-rich relatives back in the Lone Star State. A surprisingly satisfying combination of gumshoe yarn and study of ’60s societal upheaval.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Sweet Sunday.

My Book, The Movie: Sweet Sunday.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 28, 2014

Five top novels of the supernatural

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Ella Cosmo tagged five top supernatural books that promise to keep you up late at night, including:
Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk

What if you could kill someone just by singing a lullaby? Carl Streator is a reporter who has discovered the dark secret hidden inside seemingly innocuous children’s book Poems and Rhymes. In a desperate effort to stop the lullaby’s dark magic from spreading any further, Streator heads a motley group of characters, including witches and an ecoterrorist, on a road trip to destroy all existing copies of the book before it kills anyone else. Written by the author of Fight Club and Choke, this horror story initially has an almost lighthearted feel to it. But as the story progresses, the fun quickly becomes darkly frightening.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gayle Forman's three favorite reads of 2014

At Omnivoracious Gayle Forman tagged three favorite books she read this year, including:
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Woodson’s memoir in verse spans some revolutionary history—the Civil Rights movement, witnessed from Greenville, South Carolina—but equally compelling is the revolution within, when Woodson discovers the power of words and story. Maybe most telling, when I finished reading it, my 10-year-old picked it up, and devoured it.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best bad witches in literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged seven of the best bad witches in literature, including:
Circe (The Odyssey by Homer)

The original bad witch. She seduces men and turns them into pigs for…fun? It’s never entirely clear why Circe likes to turn men into swine, so I’m going to assume she just does it because she can. Which isn’t a bad reason, especially if you just want to show off how incredibly powerful you are. Sure, she gets bested by Odysseus, but let’s cut the girl some slack; he basically won the Trojan War. Men beware, no one is immune to her charms.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Odyssey is among Ellen Cooney's ten top canine-human literary duos, Nicole Hill's ten best names in literature to give your dog, Alexandra Silverman's biggest fictional literary crushes, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello's top ten journeys across the Mediterranean and Caspian seas, Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten fictional female friends who would make good real-life friends, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello's top ten journeys across the Mediterranean and Caspian Sea, Tony Bradman's top 10 list of father and son stories, John Mullan's lists ten of the best shipwrecks in literature, ten of the best monsters in literature, ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, and ten of the best caves in literature, as well as Madeline Miller's top ten list of classical books, Justin Somper's top ten list of pirate books, and Carsten Jensen's list of the top ten seafaring tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ten fictional families you would love to visit this holiday season

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Rebecca Jane Stokes tagged ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, including:
The Bennet Family

You know what? I’d like to have my holidays with the Bennets because I think poor, homely Mary gets a raw deal! I’d go hang out with them, wear a dress that makes me look pregnant and a severe center-parted hairstyle, and listen attentively while she played the piano for hours and hours and hours. I’d also wisely impart to Kitty and Lydia the virtues of the single life, all the while being thankful for the opportunity to ogle Mr. Darcy to my heart’s delight.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on 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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Five long books that deserve their own movie series

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog John Bardinelli tagged five long books that deserve their own movie series, including:
Dune, by Frank Herbert

The sci-fi book to end all sci-fi books. That it hasn’t been turned into a series of movies is something of a miracle/curse, depending how you look at it. David Lynch tried to condense Dune’s 500 pages into a movie back in 1984, but as those haunting memories of Sting in metal underpants constantly remind me, it didn’t go so well. The Sci-Fi Channel (SyFy now) did a miniseries in the early 2000s that covered much of Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune, but it was small budget and didn’t quite capture the philosophical appeal of Herbert’s writing. Then there’s the ill-fated Jodorowsky movie, which, despite its groundbreaking concepts, planned on ditching most of Dune’s events in favor of an interpreted storyline.

Dune is so perfect for the big screen it hurts. It’s got everything a blockbuster should have, including gigantic otherwordly creatures, family vs. family conflicts, a larger than life villain, a protagonist you can totally identify with, and some great messages about humanity. It’s also got everything a good movie should have, such as complex characters and an incredibly rich mythology to explore. The problem is both length and converting Herbert’s cerebral writing style into something the modern moviegoer can appreciate. Dune movies would be an enormous project requiring a custom-engineered director ghola born from an axlotl tank on Tleilax.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Dune is among Mohsin Hamid's five great aliens in literature, Annalee Newitz and Emily Stamm's top ten stories where technology is indistinguishable from magic, Robin Sloan's five science fiction books that matter, Mohsin Hamid's six favorite books, io9's best and worst childbirth scenes in sci-fi & fantasy and top ten science fiction novels you pretend to have read, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best vendettas in literature and ten of the best deserts in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dick Cavett's six favorite books

Dick Cavett contributes regularly to the New York Times's online opinion section. His new book is Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks.

One of the legendary talk-show host's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Act One by Moss Hart

Hart rose from grinding poverty in Brooklyn to the heights of Broadway success in writing and directing. Act One is easily the best show — business autobiography — a riveting story that risks promoting the foolish idea that if you chase your dream and never give in, you will succeed. Bull. A few will. Hart did.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue