Monday, March 31, 2014

Top ten books about intelligent animals

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections.

One of her top ten books about intelligent animals, as shared at the Guardian:
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

A loose retelling of Hamlet, but set on a dog breeding farm in Wisconsin in the 70s. The role of Ophelia is taken on very touchingly by the gifted canine and occasional point of view character, Almondine. A review in the Chicago Tribune identified Wroblewski's book as "easily the best work of fiction ever written about dogs". A bold claim, but also a defensible one.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on dogs and among ten of the best Twinkies in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ten top books for "House of Cards" fans

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ester Bloom recommended ten books for fans of the television series House of Cards, including:
All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren

A calculating and charming Southern politician rises to prominence in this political classic about ego, ambition, and the American dream.
Read about the other entries on the list.

All the King's Men appears on a list of the eleven best political books of all time, Gabe Habash's list of ten of the biggest book adaptation flops, David Blight's list of five outstanding novels about the Civil War era, Heather Brooke's top five list of books on holding power to account, Melanie Kirkpatrick's list of her five favorite novels of political intrigue, and H.W. Brands's five best list of books on truth or just in print; Robert McCrum called it a book to inspire busy public figures.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten mothers in children's books

Sophie McKenzie is the bestselling author of more than fifteen novels for children and teens in the UK, including the award winning Girl, Missing and Blood Ties. She has won numerous awards, was one of the first Richard and Judy children’s book club winners, and has twice been longlisted for the prestigious Carnegie Medal.

One of her top ten mothers in children's books, as shared at the Guardian:
Mrs Weasley in the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Harry himself is, famously, an orphan and it might be fairer to argue that the people who "parent" Harry the most through the series are Dumbledore and Hagrid. However, Mrs Weasley is the most motherly of mums, a loving and reliable figure who is at the very heart of her own large family and who offers Harry the sort of home life during the holidays that he can only dream of at the Dursleys.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Harry Potter books made Nicole Hill's list of five of the best fictional bookstores, Sara Jonsson's list of the six most memorable pets in fiction, Melissa Albert's list of more than eight top fictional misfits, Cressida Cowell's list of ten notable mythical creatures, and Alison Flood's list of the top 10 most frequently stolen books.

Butterbeer is among Leah Hyslop's six best fictional drinks.

Albus Dumbledore is one of Rachel Thompson's ten greatest deaths in fiction.

Hermione Granger is among Nicole Hill's nine best witches in literature and Melissa Albert's top six distractible book lovers in pop culture.

Dolores Umbridge is among Melissa Albert's six more notorious teachers in fiction, Emerald Fennell's top ten villainesses in literature, and Derek Landy's top 10 villains in children's books. The Burrow is one of Elizabeth Wilhide's nine most memorable manors in literature.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban appears on Amanda Yesilbas and Katharine Trendacosta's list ot twenty great insults from science fiction & fantasy and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest prison breaks in science fiction and fantasy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone also appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best owls in literature, ten of the best scars in fiction and ten of the best motorbikes in literature, and Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, Charlie Higson's top 10 list of fantasy books for children, Justin Scroggie's top ten list of books with secret signs as well as Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of well-known and beloved science fiction and fantasy novels that publishers didn't want to touch. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire made Chrissie Gruebel's list of six top fictional holiday parties and John Mullan's list of ten best graveyard scenes in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Five dysfunctional literary households

Emma Donoghue's latest novel is Frog Music.

The author tagged five favorite unconventional fictional families for the Telegraph, including:
[L]et’s start with the indescribable Mister Sandman (1995) by Canadian visionary Barbara Gowdy: if this story of skeletons (and little people, and parents) in the closet doesn’t put you off, then you are a true aficionado of domestic life at its most weird and wonderful.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best names in literature to give your dog

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Nicole Hill tagged the best names in literature to give your dog, including:
Captain Ahab (Moby Dick, by Herman Melville)

For the dog who won’t rest until he has pried the family hamster from its rubber ball.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Moby-Dick also appears among Horatio Clare's five favorite maritime novels, the Telegraph's ten great meals in literature, Brenda Wineapple's six favorite books, Scott Greenstone's top seven allegorical novels, Paul Wilson's top ten books about disability, Lynn Shepherd's ten top fictional drownings, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, Penn Jillette's six favorite books, Peter F. Stevens's top ten nautical books, Katharine Quarmby's top ten disability stories, Jonathan Evison's six favorite books, Bella Bathurst's top 10 books on the sea, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best nightmares in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, Susan Cheever's five best books about obsession, Christopher Buckley's best books, Jane Yolen's five most important books, Chris Dodd's best books, Augusten Burroughs' five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, David Wroblewski's five most important books, Russell Banks' five most important books, and Philip Hoare's top ten books about whales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 28, 2014

Six of the best books about failed marriages

Jean Hanff Korelitz's new novel is You Should Have Known.

One of her favorite books about failed marriages, as shared at The Daily Beast:
The Comfort of Strangers
by Ian McEwan

For sheer perversion it doesn't get any better than Robert and Caroline, a married couple in Ian McEwan's 1981 novel, The Comfort of Strangers. These highly disagreeable people are perfectly matched and thoroughly lethal; they set upon another couple, the divorced Mary and her lover, Colin, who are vacationing in Venice, and gradually destroy them, first psychically and then murderously. It's excruciating to witness, but (thanks to McEwan's incredible gift) you just can't look away. When it's over you think: That could never happen to me. Then you realize: That could totally happen to me. It’s not a very pleasant feeling.
Read about the other entries on the list. 

The Comfort of Strangers is on a list of five books that changed Evie Wyld, Kate Kellaway's top ten list of fictional holidays, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best visits to Venice in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Five top books on March Madness

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on March Madness:
A Season on the Brink
by John Feinstein

Feinstein, granted unprecedented access to the practices, locker rooms, and private lives of the University of Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball team during the '85-'86 season, captures the intensity, rage, and devotion of controversial coach Bobby Knight. Hate him or love him, his passion for the game is unquestionable and, at the time, reflected growing fervor among American fans of college basketball. Though Feinstein has written several books about the college game -- Last Dance, A March to Madness, and A Season Inside, among others -- this volume remains the yardstick used to measure all such insider accounts. It created a a sportswriting fad (following a single team over the course of a single season) and though the Hoosiers were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 1986, their program has since become synonomous with determination.
Read about the other books on the list.

A Season on the Brink is one of Majorie Kehe's ten best books about college basketball.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Molly Antopol's six favorite books

Molly Antopol's debut story collection is The UnAmericans.

One of the author's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

It's hard to choose just one Munro collection because every one of her books has been hugely influential to me. I love Munro for her brilliant psychological acuity, her emotional generosity, and her deceptively simple sentences: They're gorgeous but never showy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is one of Robin Marantz Henig & Samantha Henig's top ten books for Twentysomethings.

--Marshal Zeringue

The six best dragons in literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Becky Ferreira tagged the six best dragons in literature, including:
Sir Isaac Newton (Between Planets, by Robert A. Heinlein)

Few things are more satisfying than going on a Heinlein novel binge read, and Between Planets is a great book to start with. Aimed at young adults, the novel follows an Earthling teenager as he goes on an interplanetary adventure with Sir Isaac Newton, a space dragon from Venus. Just read it: it’s nutballs.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see John Mullan's list of ten of the best dragons in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Yiyun Li's six favorite novels

Yiyun Li's new novel is Kinder Than Solitude.

One of her six favorite books, as shared with The Week magazine:
Persuasion by Jane Austen

Anne Elliot lets a friend convince her to dissolve an engagement with her beloved. Eight years later, when he reappears, she grieves yet does not let her grief overwhelm her judgment. Persuasion was Austen’s last and most mature novel, one that, uniquely, relies on things unsaid and feelings left unexpressed.
Read about the other books on the list. 

Persuasion is among Joanna Trollope's six best books, Paula Byrne's ten best Jane Austen characters, Marjorie Kehe's list of ten perfect books for Valentine's Day gifts, Howard Jacobson's 5 favorite literary heroines and top ten novels of sexual jealousy, Elizabeth Buchan's top ten books guaranteed to give comfort during the ending of a relationship, and appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best concerts in literature.

The Page 99 Test: Persuasion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable fashion icons in fiction

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Chrissie Gruebel tagged some of her favorite fictional fashion icons, including:
Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, by Brett Easton Ellis)

Ok, he’s a murderer, and a psychopath, and a sadist, and all the most horrible things a human being can be—and we use the term “human being” loosely because he’s basically just a nightmare with fancy business cards. But dude’s got some serious swag. Serious, serious (and probably blood-stained so don’t shine a blacklight on it, k?) swag. The suits. The watches. The cuff links. The fine leather goods. Vuitton. Ferragamo. All the big guns. Also, Patrick Bateman has a gun. Several. Let’s leave him alone now.
Read about the other entries on the list.

American Psycho appears on 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."

Also see: Kate Finnigan's list of ten literary characters who have been her style inspiration.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 24, 2014

Top ten teens in trouble

After graduating from Trinity College Cambridge, Non Pratt became a nonfiction editor at Usborne, working on the bestselling Sticker Dolly Dressing and the Things to Make and Do series before moving across to fiction. She ran the list at Catnip Publishing from 2009 to 2013. She lives in Enfield with her husband and small(ish) child. Trouble is her first novel.

Pratt tagged her top ten teens in trouble for the Guardian, including:
Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

Looking for JJ sees its 10th anniversary this year and tells the story of Alice Tully, embarking on a new life, just as an old news story about Jennifer Jones, the young girl who killed her classmate, hits the headlines once more. The interplay between past and present provide the heart of the story: are there things for which you can - and should - never be forgiven? My answer to this changed between starting the book and finishing it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ten top readers of fiction in fiction

Hannah Jane Parkinson is a writer on pop culture, lifestyle and the arts, and performs poetry around Oxford, on evenings when Coronation Street isn't on. She likes reading, sauvignon blanc, laughing and Liverpool FC.

At the Guardian she tagged ten top readers of fiction in fiction, including:
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – read by Joan Holloway, Mad Men

In just the one hurried conversation about DH Lawrence’s controversial novel, we get a miniature sketch of the key women at advertising firm Sterling Cooper. “I can see why it got banned”, says Joan archly, before adding: “It’s just another testimony to how most people think marriage is a joke.”

Peggy, in her first-season wide-eyed innocence, asks to borrow it. Don Draper is also seen in one episode reading Frank O’Hara’s collection, Meditations in an Emergency. There are more Mad Men literary references here.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is on Joni Rendon and Shannon McKenna Schmidt's list of nine works inspired by writers’ love lives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best poems about spring

At the Observer, Kate Kellaway named the ten best poems about spring, including:
Billy Collins

Collins’s poem is a single sentence, like a sigh of pleasure. It begins: “If ever there were a spring day so perfect…” He imagines taking “a hammer to the glass paperweight / on the living-room end table / releasing the inhabitants / from their snow-covered cottage.” There is a delightful playfulness here – a sense of being, in spring, a mini-God within the kingdom of one’s own front room. Captive figures from the snow dome now venture out: “holding hands and squinting / into this larger dome of blue and white” as this witty, carefree poem completes what it started.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Top ten books about Cambodia

Peter Fröberg Idling, born in 1972, is a writer and journalist. His first book, Pol Pot's Smile (2006) was a critically acclaimed work of literary nonfiction published in eight languages. He trained as a lawyer, and was working as legal advisor to an aid organization in Cambodia when the idea for his first book came about. His new novel, Song for an Approaching Storm, is also set in Cambodia.

One of his top ten books about Cambodia, as shared at the Guardian:
The Lost Executioner by Nic Dunlop

The head of S-21, Kang Kek Iew, AKA Comrade Duch, is central in this remarkable book. In 1997, the photographer and journalist Nic Dunlop more or less stumbled upon Duch, who had been hiding since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Duch is a paradoxal figure: with a poor peasant background, he graduated as the second best student in the country. He got drawn into the Khmer Rouge and rose through the ranks. After the fall of the regime, he became a born again Christian. Dunlop's book is empathic, intelligent and a real page-turner. The monster becomes a man.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifteen books everyone should read before becoming parents

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ester Bloom tagged fifteen books everyone should read before having kids, including:
Behind the Scenes at the Museum, by Kate Atkinson

A caustic, hilarious, sprawling take on several generations of a British family in the postwar years. Winner of the prestigious Whitbread Book of the Year award, this novel jumpstarted Atkinson’s wide-ranging literary career.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 21, 2014

Joanna Trollope's six best books

Joanna Trollope is the author of 17 bestselling novels, including The Choir, A Village Affair and The Rector's Wife. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
PERSUASION by Jane Austen

Austen's last novel gives an indication of how she was on the cusp of bestsellerdom when she died.

She understood that money, class and romantic love were the three great themes of a novel. It's also about emotional suffering and stoicism and has a lot of psychological depth.
Read about the other books on the list.

Persuasion is among Paula Byrne's ten best Jane Austen characters, Marjorie Kehe's list of ten perfect books for Valentine's Day gifts, Howard Jacobson's 5 favorite literary heroines and top ten novels of sexual jealousy, Elizabeth Buchan's top ten books guaranteed to give comfort during the ending of a relationship, and appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best concerts in literature.

The Page 99 Test: Persuasion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight of the best crime & thriller stories set in the former USSR

J. Kingston Pierce is both the editor of The Rap Sheet and the senior editor of January Magazine. One of eight top former Soviet Union-set crime and thriller novels he tagged at Kirkus Reviews:
Wolves Eat Dogs, by Martin Cruz Smith (2004)

Smith can justly claim at least some responsibility for stimulating growth in the number of Russian cop novels produced by Americans over the last 30 years, thanks to the celebrity of his 1981 book, Gorky Park, which introduced Moscow inspector Arkady Renko. In Wolves Eat Dogs, Renko looks into the passing of Pasha Ivanov, a billionaire businessman whose body was found 10 stories below his stylish apartment. Why would Ivanov, who’s made out like a bandit, literally, in the “New Russia” of cutthroat capitalism, take his own life? More curious yet, why would he leap from his window with a salt shaker in hand? Police higher-ups are upset that Renko won’t just declare this a suicide and move on, so they’re pleased to hear that Ivanov’s senior vice-president has been found in the Ukraine with his throat slit. It gives them an excuse to send Renko on an apparent wild goose chase, off into the “radioactive wasteland” surrounding Chernobyl, the site of a notorious 1986 nuclear disaster. Yet in that bizarre place Renko finds not only scavenging opportunists and despondent scientists, but also a sexy, damaged physician and clues to these killings held by defiant villagers.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seven of the most disturbing short stories

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Nicole Hill tagged seven short stories that haunt her, including:
“A Rose for Emily,” by William Faulkner

Faulkner can be a divisive reading experience. But he is the man I love, all because of that sinister sense of humor and a love for the macabre. “Emily,” with its cantankerous Southern spinster and her house of lies and secrets, has it all and some heebie-jeebies to spare. Never before has a single strand of silver hair been so gosh darn barf-inducing. It does make for a wonderful Zombies song, though.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine notable talking animals in fiction

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Joel Cunningham tagged several favorite talking animals in fiction, including:
Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White)

Wilbur may be “some pig,” but considering how the deck has been stacked against her (specifically, she is a spider, and spiders…shudder), the real MVP of E.B. White’s children’s classic is undeniably Charlotte, whose calming presence and quick thinking saves Wilbur from a horrible fate. She even manages to make us tear up at her passing, and rejoice when hundreds of her babies hatch and float away on the breeze. Which, I guarantee you, if I encounter floating spider babies anywhere outside of this book, I will not be smiling.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Charlotte's Web is among Scott Greenstone's top twenty books with fewer than 200 pages, Mohsin Hamid's six favorite books and Sarah Lean's top ten animal stories; it is a book Kate DiCamillo hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Seven notable epistolary novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Joel Cunningham tagged seven notable epistolary novels, including:
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple

To answer the titular question this lively, hilarious novel poses, you’ll have to piece together a string of student report cards, business invoices, press releases, essays, magazine articles, emails, blog posts, newsletters, and even a TED talk. Despite the narrative trickery, it’s one of the most heartwarming, laugh-out-loud funny books about mothers and daughters and the impossibility of parenting that you’ll ever read.
Read about the other books on the list.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is among Chrissie Gruebel's five top books for readers inspired by Nora Ephron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top ten impostors in fiction

Stephen May is a novelist, playwright and TV writer. His latest novel is Wake Up Happy Every Day. One of May's top ten impostors in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The first of a series of novels collectively known by admirers as The Ripliad, the books follow Tom Ripley a young man who murders a rich acquaintance, Dickie Greenleaf, and then assumes his identity. Unusually, the killer goes unpunished – rewarded even. This story ends with Ripley happily rich, having reverted to his own identity as the beneficiary of Dickie's will. There is a suggestion that he will be haunted by paranoia for the rest of his life, wondering if he "was going to see policemen on every pier". But you suspect he might be able to live with that.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 17, 2014

Seven of the best books set in Los Angeles

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Becky Ferreira tagged seven of the best books set in Los Angeles, including:
The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

Chandler is Los Angeles’ unofficial biographer. No novelist has become so intertwined with the legacy of the iconic city. The Big Sleep kicked off his wildly popular Philip Marlowe series, and cemented Los Angeles as the world capital of noir fiction (just think how many great mysteries—real and fictional—call L.A. home). The novel is packed with Chandler’s terse observations, such as “dead men are heavier than broken hearts,” or “it seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.” His wit was truly drier than the Mojave Desert.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Big Sleep also appears on Ian Rankin's list of five perfect mysteries, Kathryn Williams's reading list on greed, Gigi Levangie Grazer's list of six favorite books that became movies, Megan Wasson's list of five top books on Los Angeles, Greil Marcus's six recommended books list, Barry Forshaw's critic's chart of six American noir masters, David Nicholls' list of favorite film adaptations, and the Guardian's list of ten of the best smokes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Five of the best historical murder mysteries

S. J. Parris is the pseudonym of author and journalist Stephanie Merritt. Her latest novel is Treachery.

One of the author's five favorite historical murder mysteries, as shared with the Telegraph:
The poets Longfellow, Lowell and Holmes turn detective in Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club (2003), in which a serial killer in 19th-century Boston dispatches his victims in the manner of Dante’s infernal punishments. It’s the ideal combination of erudite and gruesome.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Five books on the life, work and legacy of Raymond Chandler

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on the life, work and legacy of Raymond Chandler:
Raymond Chandler: A Biography
by Tom Hiney

Tom Hiney offers a definitive portrait of the writer in this fascinating biography, culled from previously unreleased papers and anecdotes from those close to him. Frankly exploring Chandler’s lifelong struggle with alcoholism and a one-of-a-kind marriage to a woman 17 years his senior, Hiney profiles Chandler as author, screenwriter, addict, and lover with equitable diligence. For more on Chandler’s personal life, Judith Freeman’s Long Embrace takes a closer look at the writer’s 30-year-long relationship with Cissy, who was an enormous influence on his craft and development.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven utopias that changed the future

"Though 'Utopia' means 'nowhere,' many real-life societies have been strongly influenced by various concepts of a perfect realm where humans live in harmony with each other," writes Annalee Newitz at io9. "[S]ome of the most influential Utopian visions — and how they changed our distinctly non-Utopian world," include:
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

Published in the early 1930s, Huxley's novel is one of the first truly ironic and satirical Utopian books. Though More's Utopia definitely has satirical parts, and de Toqueville's Democracy in America explores the dark side of democracy, none took their criticisms as far as Huxley. His Brave New World is about a society based on early-twentieth century Utopian ideals that has gone horribly wrong.

Huxley imagines a future where all humans are genetically engineered and given behavioral conditioning so that they all enjoy their stations in life. They live in an extreme version of capitalism, worshipping "Fordism" (yes, as in the cars), where life is all about consuming leisure products. To keep everyone happily consuming sporting goods, food, and cars, the state makes a drug called Soma available that sounds a lot like a version of opium or heroin. Basically, the future of Brave New World is an anti-democratic and anti-communist nightmare, where everybody is born into a rigidly-defined social class — but instead of rebelling, they are conditioned to love it.

Brave New World has influenced countless criticisms of Utopian thinking, and can also be viewed as the first stirrings of anti-consumerist groups like Adbusters. The novel's ideas are also a touchstone for the Occupy movement, which is in part a rebellion against capitalist societies that try to distract people with happy consumerism, instead of addressing problems with the disparity between rich and poor.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Brave New World is on Matt Haig's top ten list of novels influenced by Shakespeare.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 14, 2014

The seven coolest fairies in literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Becky Ferreira tagged the top seven coolest fairies in literature, including:
Nuala (Sandman series, by Neil Gaiman)

Instead of the familiar arc of an ugly duckling becoming a swan, Gaiman has Nuala transformed from a swan to an ugly duckling in his expansive graphic novel series. Forced to rely more on her brains and character than on physical appeal, Nuala is both empowered and entranced by her master (and super-crush) Morpheus. Just another example of Gaiman setting up and subverting fantasy tropes like some kind of word wizard.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Sandman is among Nicole Hill's five top graphic novels for readers unfamiliar with the genre yet willing to give it a try.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books to read now you've finished "The Hunger Games"

At the Guardian Sian Cain tagged ten top books to read now you've finished The Hunger Games, including:
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

In an alternate Japan, 42 children are sent to a deserted island to fight to the death as part of The Program, a military project to control the population with fear. There are no rules, except one person must die every 24 hours or everyone will be killed.

As a caution: this is a lot more gorey than The Hunger Games and we only recommend it to discerning readers with strong stomachs. For graphic novel fans, Battle Royale is also a manga series (which manages to be both pretty and exceptionally bloody – again, only for older young adults).
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Six top series for fans of The Hunger Games.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Five favorite fictional creatures

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Molly Schoemann-McCann tagged five favorite fictional creatures, including:
Tock (The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster)

Tock the watchdog has a lot going for him. For one thing, he’s a dog, but he’s also a clock: two in one! Also, once you get past his gruff exterior, he’s loyal, loving, and punctual—and he makes sure that you never waste a single moment of the day. I tend to like my dogs lazy, with a side of cuddly—but I think Tock and I would still hit it off. Bonus: you’ll always know when it’s time to feed him (although…dogs without clocks in their bodies always seem to know when it’s dinnertime, too).
Read about the other entries on the list. 

The Phantom Tollbooth is one of Rebecca Stead's favorite classic American novels for children that may be overlooked outside of the US and is a book Cristina García hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top (but often overlooked) stories about medieval crime

Eric Jager is an award-winning professor at UCLA. His books include the widely acclaimed The Last Duel, The Book of the Heart, The Tempter's Voice, and the newly released Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris by Eric Jager.

One of his five top little-known but history-changing medieval crime stories, as shared at The Daily Beast:
Who Murdered Geoffrey Chaucer?
by Terry Jones

An investigation by the Oxford-educated Terry Jones (also of Monty Python fame) into the mysterious death (ca. 1400) of England’s premier medieval poet. Was Chaucer murdered? And, if so, was it because his writings contained heresy? Or because he supported the deposed King Richard II rather than the usurper Henry Bolingbroke? Chaucer’s murder, if true, did not so much change history as warn people that England had changed course with the new Lancastrian regime.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ten top appealing, possibly psychopathic, fictional characters

For The Huffington Post, Maddie Crum tagged ten fictional characters who just might be psychopaths, and imagined why we're drawn to them. One character on the list:
Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair

Like [Jay] Gatsby, Becky Sharp shows us that not all certifiable psychopathy takes the form of serial killing. Becky is a social climber, and is ruthless about fighting her way to the top. She even uses her more emotional friend Amelia as a vehicle for social success. Becky seems to care about little else aside from marrying someone wealthy, and is willing to exploit the attachments of others in her quest to do so. But, as readers, we're not inclined to view Becky as evil. She's a misfit among the upper echelons of society, and therefore exposes the absurdity of the elite.

Quote: “Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Vanity Fair also appears on Allegra Frazier's list of five of her favorite fictional gold diggers, John Mullan's list of ten of the most memorable governesses in literature, Stella Tillyard's list of favorite historical novels, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best fat men in literature and ten of the best pianos in literature, and Thomas Mallon's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten insane children’s book characters

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Chrissie Gruebel tagged ten actually insane children’s book characters, including:
Miss Trunchbull (Matilda, by Roald Dahl)

Straight up, this lady is trying to kill kids. She picked up a girl by her braids, whipped her around in the air a few times, and then launched her into a nearby field. Launched. Her. Into. A. Nearby. Field. How is local law enforcement not involved here?! How is The Chokey even a thing?! Why not just waterboard the children instead?! Oh wait, she kind of did that, only instead of water, it was chocolate cake. Trunchbull is bringing everyone a whole world of pain and the only thing that can stop her is a haunting.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Matilda appears among Jeremy Strong's ten funniest fictional families, James Dawson's top ten books to get you through high school, and Christopher Timothy's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The five best books on the business of television

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up deep in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, then escaped to New York to live in a succession of very small apartments and write about pop culture. In the process, she became a feminist, a Buddhist, and the singer/guitarist in an amateur rock band. She also spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly, cofounded, and now writes for several publications, including Women’s Health, O, Writer’s Digest, Fast Company, and New York‘s Vulture. Her collaboration with Heather Wood Rudulph, Sexy Feminism, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March 2013.

Armstrong's latest book is Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic.

One of her five best books on the business of television, as shared at 250 Words:
Bossypants by Tina Fey

Yes, it’s just a damn funny collection of essays, and, yes, some of them don’t directly address television. But Fey’s pieces that do chronicle her time in TV—and there’s plenty of it, from Saturday Night Live to 30 Rock—give you an intimate sense of what it’s like to work in the medium. Particularly what it’s like to be a woman working in TV comedy: You will never forget the bit about male staffers peeing in cups because they’re too lazy to leave their offices. Never.
Read about the other books on the list.

Bossypants is among Matt Kraus's seven great autobiographies by entertainers. Deborah Netburn recommended Bossypants and four other books to Natalie Portman when the Oscar-winning actor became a new mother in 2011. It is one of Randi Zuckerberg's six favorite books.

Visit Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

The Page 99 Test: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books for "Veronica Mars" fans

One title on Dahlia Adler's list of five books for Veronica Mars fans, as shared on The Barnes & Noble Book Blog:
The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz

Before I knew that we’d someday find out exactly who Veronica would become in adulthood, I imagined her being a whole lot like Izzy Spellman—still a PI, still working with her quirky and hilarious family, still a little rocky on the relationship front, and definitely a scotch drinker. This series is the closest I’ve read to the Grown-up(ish) Version of VM…at least until the first of the new novelizations, Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, comes out at the end of the month.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: The Spellman Files.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 10, 2014

Top ten books set on the ocean

Janis MacKay won the Scottish children's book award's younger readers' prize with her novel The Accidental Time Traveller. She named her top ten books set on the ocean for the Guardian, including:
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

I love this book and the wonderfully depicted characters. There are sea adventures galore here. I have many strong images from this book; a young boy in ragged sailor's clothes who turns up at the front door and – though half starved – dances a sailor's hornpipe for the bemused David Balfour, is one.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Kidnapped also appears among Joshua Glenn's top 32 adventure novels of the 19th century, Charlie Fletcher's top ten swashbuckling tales of derring-do, 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

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Five novels that might become TV series

"Big-screen book-to-movie adaptations only have about two hours to bring every plot detail and quote from a beloved book series to life, and while sometimes that works out really, really well, there are certain complex stories that just need more time—the kind of time quality television adaptations could give them," writes Sabrina Rojas Weiss at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. One of five novels she thinks should become TV series:
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

20th Century Fox currently owns the film rights to the YA series, with Tim Burton reportedly slated to direct the tale of strangely gifted children hiding from hideous monsters in a time loop in 1940s Wales. Sure, Burton is good at lovably creepy material, but we could see this as an American Horror Story–style limited series, which wouldn’t reduce contemporary protagonist Jacob and his new friends to time-pressed sketches.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best fictional drinks

Leah Hyslop is the Telegraph's Digital Lifestyle Editor, covering food and drink, property and gardening. One entry from her list of six of the best beverages in books:

In Louis Sachar’s young adult novel Holes, a troubled child runaway called Zero survives in the desert by living off jars of an unpleasant-looking liquid that he calls “sploosh". Little does he know that the jars are full of fermented preserved peaches, made over 100 years ago by the outlaw Katherine "Kissin Kate" Barlow.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Telegraph.

Holes is among Sarah Moore Fitzgerald's top ten books featuring grandparents.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Twelve books that end mid-sentence

Gabe Habash named twelve books that end mid-sentence for PWxyz, the news blog of Publishers Weekly, including:
The Castle by Franz Kafka (1926)

The Ending:
She held out her trembling hand to K. and had him sit down beside her, she spoke with great difficulty, it was difficult to understand her, but what she said
Why: Kafka died. There’s some debate about whether he would’ve even finished The Castle had he not died of tuberculosis–in a 1922 letter to his friend and executor Max Brod, he stated he was giving up on it. But Kafka also told Brod on multiple occasions that the ending would involve K. living and eventually dying in the village, culminating on K.’s death bed as he receives a notice from the castle that his “legal claim to live in the village was not valid, yet, taking certain auxiliary circumstances into account, he was permitted to live and work there.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven books in which the main character dies

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Nicole Hill tagged eleven books in which the main character dies, including:
Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Robbie and Cecilia lived happily ever after. The end…as long as you don’t read to the end of the book. Because if you read to the end, Atonement becomes Briony: The Story of How Many Lives One Confused, Suspicious Child Can Ruin, and Why Reading Other People’s Mail Is a Felony.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Atonement also appears on Isla Blair's six best books list, Jessica Soffer's top ten list of book endings, Jane Ciabattari's list of five masterpieces of fiction that also worked as films, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best birthday parties in literature, ten of the best misdirected messages in literature, ten of the best scenes on London Underground, ten of the best breakages in literature, ten of the best weddings in literature, and ten of the best identical twins in fiction. It is one of Stephanie Beacham's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 7, 2014

Five approachable must-read classics

At the Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Amelia Schonbek came up with five approachable must-read classics, including:
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights is one of the wildest novels in the English canon. It was written in Victorian England, but its characters constantly push the boundaries of what was then considered proper behavior (some of them are even brash by today’s standards!). Brontë played with gendered power dynamics and social acceptability throughout the book, which is an often raw, at times violent, and entirely obsessive love story.
Read about the other books on the list.

Wuthering Heights appears on Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the worst wingmen in literature, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Jimmy So's list of fifteen notable film adaptations of literary classics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature, ten of the worst nightmares in literature and ten of the best foundlings in literature, Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations. It is one of John Inverdale's six best books and Sheila Hancock's six best books.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books on New Orleans

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on New Orleans:
The Accidental City
by Lawrence N. Powell

How did an infested and overgrown swamp become the vibrant metropolis that we know and love today? Lawrence N. Powell holds the answer in his endlessly fascinating The Accidental City, which covers such pivotal historical markers as the founding of Louisiana in 1812 and the notorious antebellum slave auctions. For more Crescent City history, Ned Sublette's The World That Made New Orleans provides another riveting exploration of the town's fruitful, turbulent first century.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Top ten books about Alaska

Brian Payton's latest novel is The Wind Is Not a River.

One of his top ten books about Alaska, as shared at the Guardian:
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

A bestselling book and critically acclaimed movie, Into the Wild tells the tale of one young man's search for meaning in wilderness that ends in an abandoned bus in Alaska. The book is about so much more than the state itself. It's also about what people bring to Alaska – disaffection, idealism, the search for reinvention and redemption – that ends up being swallowed by one of the wildest places in North America.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fifteen of the hottest affairs in literature

Kyle Minor is the author of two collections of stories: In the Devil’s Territory (2008) and Praying Drunk (2014).

One entry on his list of fifteen of the hottest affairs in literature, as shared at The Huffington Post:
Possession by A.S. Byatt: A mystery about a secret love affair between poets not unlike Robert Browning and Christina Rosetti, a historical love story chased by fierce British scholars, and offered in a tantalizing stew of diaries, letters, fairy tales, myths, and, most of all, Victorian romance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Possession also appears on Emily Temple's list of the fifty greatest campus novels ever written, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best fossils in literature, ten of the most memorable libraries in literature, ten of the best fictional poets, ten of the best locks of hair in fiction, ten of the best graveyard scenes in fiction, and ten of the best lawyers in literature, and on Rachel Syme's list of the ten most attractive men in literature, Christina Koning's critic's chart of six top romances, and Elizabeth Kostova's top ten list of books for winter nights.

Visit Kyle Minor's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Kyle Minor.

My Book, The Movie: Praying Drunk.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Five top books about Moscow

As a historian, Simon Sebag Montefiore's works include Jerusalem: The Biography, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, and Young Stalin, which was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Costa Biography Prize (UK), and Le Grand Prix de Biographie Politique (France). His novels include the critically acclaimed Sashenka and the newly released One Night in Winter.

One title on the author's list of five top books about Moscow:
I love all Andreï Makine’s novels. But Requiem for the East (2001) is the best. Mysterious, tragic and doomed, his characters are KGB spies moving between Moscow and Africa and the Middle East, destroyed by their secrets and their tragic loves.
Read about the other books on the list at the Telegraph.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books for "Divergent" fans

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Melissa Albert tagged eight books for Divergent fans, including:
Not a Drop to Drink, by Mindy McGinnis

Postapocalyptic scenarios aren’t all televised fights to the death and sexy jumpsuits. In this more realistic take on a dark future, the earth’s water supply has been compromised, and access to your own store is the difference between life and death. Lynn and her mother live in isolation by a pond that they protect by any means necessary—but when Lynn suffers a sudden change in circumstance, she’s forced to open her life to outsiders, without losing her grip on what keeps her alive. Not a Drop to Drink is less about heroics than the high-stakes business of survival, but in her quiet way, Lynn is every bit as brave and resourceful as Tris.
Read about the other books on the list.

Visit Mindy McGinnis's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Not a Drop to Drink.

--Marshal Zeringue