Monday, June 30, 2014

The ten best boarding school books

James Browning is a spokesman and chief strategist for Common Cause, a government watchdog group. He attended Brown University and has an M.A from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins. His new novel is The Fracking King.

One of the author's ten best boarding school books, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

The word cloud for this brilliant, subtle, and subversive novel could fool you into thinking the whole thing was a bland student handbook or the Hailsham School’s novel-length appeal for money from its alumni. Narrator Kathy H. (the possibility that “H.” may be her entire last name is an early clue to the school’s true purpose) talks lovingly of the “donations” made by her friends and, without irony, says that a student giving his life in service of the school is “completing.” One of the best books I’ve ever read, a 1984 for the bioengineering age.
Read about the other entries on the list.
Never Let Me Go is on Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi's top ten list of tragic love stories, Allegra Frazier's list of seven characters whose jobs are worse than yours, Shani Boianjiu's list of five top novels about coming of age, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

Also see Robin Stevens's top ten boarding school stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Eleven great books about soccer

At The Daily Beast Robert Birnbaum tagged 11 great books about soccer, including:
Among the Thugs
by Bill Buford.

There is a truism bandied about that more people like to read about baseball than watch it. Perhaps that’s true of soccer as well, especially as there are long stretches during matches when men in shorts are running willy-nilly around a field. In addition to [Soccer in Sun and Shadow] by Eduardo Galeano, Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs rates mention as Buford gives a smart account of the sociopathic underclass that afflicts soccer (at least in England).
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Mihir Bose's top ten soccer books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Nine notable unsung heroines

Fanny Price, the heroine of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, has been unfairly dismissed by readers and critics, says the Guardian. So to mark the novel's 200th anniversary, the paper collected nine writers' celebrations of "literary leading ladies who have been overshadowed by their showier sisters," including:
Tessa Hadley on Lucy Snowe
Villette by Charlotte Brontë

It isn't easy to like Lucy Snowe – she doesn't even want us to like her. She certainly doesn't want us to think she's attractive, describing herself as "thin, haggard, and hollow-eyed; like a sitter-up at night, like an overwrought servant, or a placeless person in debt". The young heroine of Charlotte Brontë's last novel, Villette, set mostly at a girls' school in Brussels, is more or less invisible to others: they don't notice her any more than if she were a serviceable piece of furniture in a room. Lucy only hints at whatever sad family history has left her destitute and friendless and somewhere on the social margins, neither a working-class servant nor a lady. Behind her invisibility, though, passion rages; she's a fascinating mixture of abjection with appetite. All by herself she travels to the continent, and finds work as a teacher. The novel's love stories and dramas happen mostly to the pretty, lucky people; Lucy's interest in them verges on voyeurism. Yet her sheer intensity intrudes all the time into the foreground, insisting we attend to the life of her extraordinary mind, to her visions and longings. The sensibility is so English, so self-righteously Protestant - and yet it is almost Dostoevskian, too, in its tormented obsession.

Would this clumsy, extravagant, eccentric and magnificent novel ever have been published, I wonder, if it hadn't been for the success of Jane Eyre? Jane Eyre had seemed to hold out a hope of happiness to the thousands of invisible women ground small in mid-Victorian England by gentility, poverty and exclusion; if there is one spark of hope in Villette, then it is snuffed out on the last page. Brontë was writing after the early deaths of all her siblings. Lucy is brutally realistic about her own prospects – the worst will probably happen. She's my heroine because she won't resign herself to it, or be at peace.
Read about the other entries on the list. 

Villette also appears on Mullan's lists of ten of the best cases of seasickness in literature, ten of the best teachers in literature, and ten of the best priests in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top books that show the real lives of lawyers

Alafair Burke's novels include the thriller Long Gone and the Ellie Hatcher series: 212, Angel's Tip, Dead Connection, Never Tell, and the newly released All Day and a Night. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal law and lives in Manhattan.

For Omnivoracious, Burke tagged her favorite "Lawyers are People Too" books. One title on the list:
The Firm, John Grisham

Though Grisham’s A Time To Kill is one of the best courtroom novels I’ve read, The Firm captures an altogether different world, expertly portraying the pressures placed upon a junior associate at an elite law firm.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five top Gothic novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Lauren Passell tagged five top Gothic novels, including:
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

Brontë’s classic tells the story of Jane, an orphan raised by her cruel and wealthy aunt and eventually shipped off to boarding school. Later, she becomes a governess for the ward of the rich Mr. Rochester, who she falls in love with after saving him from a fire. They part ways until another fire eats up his home, Thornfield, this time, taking Rochester’s sight and one hand. Jane returns to Rochester because…love. Just like any great gothic novel, this book features a creepy attic, and you wouldn’t believe what’s in this one even if I told you.

Creepy houses: 1
Unpleasant attics: 1
Mysterious relatives: 1
Illness/physical impairments: 1
Deaths: 0
Poisonings: 0
Orphans: 1
Falling down the stairs: 0
Destructive fires: 2
Twisty secrets: 1
Total: 8
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Top ten stories about Indian families

Losing Touch, Sandra Hunter's first novel, originated from a short story that won the 2005 Glimmer Train Short Short Fiction Award.

At the Guardian, Hunter tagged a top ten list of stories about Indian families, including:
The In Between World of Vikram Lall by MG Vassanji

This begins with escalating tensions with Lall's family, third-generation Indians living in Kenya. Bad Things Are Going To Happen in this study of what happens when the family is suspended between two mutually suspicious cultures. Vassanji is an expert at capturing the family's confusion and shifting identities during the corruption and power-crazy period of Jomo Kenyatta's post-independence presidency.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The fifteen best North American novels of all time

One title on the Telegraph's list of the fifteen best North American novels of all time:
Independence Day
Richard Ford (1995)

The second book in Ford’s trilogy about Frank Bascombe – sportswriter turned realtor. Coiner of such quirky phrases as “happy as goats” and “solitary as Siberia” Bascombe’s been described as “America’s most convincing everyman”. Ford says he’s “asleep at the switch”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Frank Bascombe made Aifric Campbell's top ten list of favorite jobs in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Five top imaginary castles in fiction

At The Daily Beast, novelist Johanna Lane tagged "several favorite moated-and-turreted locations that only ever existed in the authors’ minds," including:
Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh

I chose this because it’s the novel from which I took the epigraph for my book: Charles Ryder, the narrator of Brideshead Revisited, says “I regarded men as something much less than the buildings they made and inhabited, as mere lodgers and short-term sub-lessees of small importance in the long, fruitful life of their homes.” I love this sentiment because it articulates how ironic it is that families create these great houses to demonstrate their own importance, but their houses almost always outlive them—and their family line.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Brideshead Revisited is one of John Mullan's ten of the most memorable hunting scenes in literature, Robert Irwin's top ten quest narratives, Val McDermid's top ten Oxford novels, and Christopher Buckley's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 23, 2014

The ten worst dads in literature

One father in the Telegraph's collection of the ten worst dads in literature:
Vito Corleone in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather

Patriarch of the Corleone crime family and Mafia empire, Don Corleone ... is a family man through and through. His assertion that “a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man" is sound parenting advice. Yet his mafia affinity with organised crime and corruption places his children in danger and results in two of their deaths.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Godfather is one of Jackie Collins' six best books and five best literary guilty pleasures. It appears on Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on the Mafia and Will Dean's brief reading list on family dynasties.

Also see: the ten worst fathers in books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Roxane Gay's six favorite books

Roxane Gay's highly acclaimed debut novel is An Untamed State.

She tagged her six favorite books at The Week magazine. One title on her list:
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

The scope and intensity of Coetzee's award-winning novel leave an indelible impression. Set in post-apartheid South Africa, this breathtaking book about a professor banished for seducing a student examines the nation's legacy of inhumanity, middle-aged men behaving badly, and the unexpected intimacy that arises between a father and daughter as they seek mutual understanding.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Disgrace also appears on Adam Ross's five best list of books on cruelty in fact and fiction, Ian Holding's top ten list of books that teach us about southern Africa and among Yann Martel's five favorite books and T.C. Boyle's four favorite books to turn to for comfort; it is one of Vendela Vida's favorite books of the last ten years.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten greatest Indian novels

Sunil Seth is a journalist, author and television presenter. He named the ten greatest Indian novels for the Hindustan Times, including:
Two Indian-American writers stand out for their forays in fiction, given that writing remains their secondary vocation. Manil Suri, a maths professor, embarked on a trilogy in the 1990s, the first being The Death of Vishnu (2001) an unusually observant and controlled account of a man who lives and dies on the landing of an apartment building in Bombay, coloured by the lives of the building's inhabitants. And if the purpose of fiction is to take us deep into the lives of others, and to other places, then Cutting for Stone (2009) by the physician-author Abraham Verghese is a magic-tinted story of twin brothers set in Ethiopia and America---of estrangement, reconciliation and the redemptive power of love. In particular Verghese's narrative power derives from his description of medical practice. He achieves the astonishing feat of turning surgical operations into convincing and absorbing dramatic action.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Five top books about cocktails

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on cocktails:
by David Wondrich

Jerry Thomas was a nineteenth-century pioneer of the American bar, creating cocktails, punches, sours, and toddies that lived long after the publication of his 1862 Bartender's Guide. In this James Beard Award-winning book, the foremost historian of the American cocktail pours out Thomas's story in a lively style ballasted by deep research -- and topped off with a sparkling selection of recipes old and new. (To follow Wondrich on his further excursions into the deep past of convivial drinking, you'll want to read his equally intoxicating Punch.)
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six unlikely beach reads

Beach reads don't have to be guilty pleasures, argues Ryan Britt at The Barnes & Noble Book Blog. They can be welcoming, relatable, and fun. One recent title that fits the bill:
Mastermind, by Maria Konnikova

In this nonfiction, Gladwellian approach to Sherlock Holmes, smarty-pants Konnikova owns the conversation on how the most famous fictional detective of all time is so psychologically important. Part literary exploration, part how-to manual, this is one you’ll fly through even if you have just a passing interest in Sherlock, Elementary, or the Robert Downey, Jr., incarnations of Holmes. What Douglas Coupland did for Marshall McLuhan with You Know Nothing of My Work!, Konnikova has done for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (And though this book came out new in paperback at the end of 2013, it’s still recent enough to warrant a look!)
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Mastermind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ten of the best literary gardens

The Guardian's John Dugdale named ten of the best literary gardens, including:
Philippa Gregory, Earthly Joys (1998)

Centring on the great early 17th-century gardener John Tradescant, who had access to court via his patrons Cecil and Buckingham; in Gregory's sequel, Virgin Earth, his son becomes gardener to Charles I and emigrates to Virginia during the civil wars.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five incredible tales of Paris’s past and present

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Katherine Monasterio recommended five incredible tales of Paris’s past and present, including:
A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway

There’s a reason Shakespeare & Company keeps this book stocked. Hemingway’s experience in Paris perfectly captures that certain sense of longing that visitors feel toward the City of Light. His distinct, blunt style reads like you’re sitting with him at a brasserie, sipping a bière and sharing gossip. His complicated relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald, the wry advice from Gertrude Stein, the patient friendship of Sylvia Beach—it’s absolutely delightful to read, a piece of Paris you can take with you anywhere.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Moveable Feast made the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on Americans in Paris, Neil Pearson's six best books list, Diana Souhami's top ten list of "books about Paris and London lesbians in the early 20th century", Laura Landro's five best list of books about travel; it is a book to which Russell Banks always returns.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Top ten hospital novels

Sarah Moss' new novel is Bodies of Light.

One of the author's top ten hospital novels, as shared at the Guardian:
Regeneration by Pat Barker

Set in Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh during the first world war, Pat Barker's Booker prize winner focuses on the work of Dr William Rivers with victims of shell-shock and trauma. The hospital is a place of healing, where there is some space for attempts to redress the damage of war, but it is in the end a military institution that exacts the final loyalty of its most ambitious employees. In a novel with few female characters, the exploration of different kinds of masculinity in a time of war is deeply engaging.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Regeneration is one of Hermione Norris's six best books. The Regeneration Trilogy is on William Skidelsky's list of the 10 best historical novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Eight of the best women in military science fiction

At Kirkus Reviews, Thea James tagged eight of the best women in military science fiction, including:
Meet Devi Morris, protagonist of the Paradox trilogy [by Rachel Bach], and one of the most ambitious and stubborn heroines we Book Smugglers have had the pleasure of reading in a while. While Devi is a phenomenal lead, she isn’t the first female character to star in a military science-fiction series—in fact, she has plenty of good company. One of our favorite subgenres of science fiction is military SF, as often in these novels female characters (like Devi) are accepted as equals in combat, science and command scenarios.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Fortune's Pawn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top ten music books

Jarvis Cocker is a musician, singer-songwriter, radio presenter and editor. He may be best known as frontman for the band Pulp.

One of Cocker's top ten music books, as shared at the Guardian:
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers

I ripped this off royally for the song "Big Julie" from my first solo album. The description of Mick Kelly hearing Beethoven's Third symphony for the first time, while hiding beneath a neighbour's window and eavesdropping on their radio, is still the only piece of writing I've found that comes close to describing the effect that a great piece of music has on the human organism. The rest of the book isn't bad either…
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Greil Marcus's five top books on rock music, Nile Rodgers's top ten music books, Samuel Muston's ten best music memoirs, and Kitty Empire's ten best rock autobiographies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that walk the line between YA and adult

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Melissa Albert tagged five books that walk the line between YA and adult, including:
The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell

On a frigid morning in a Glasgow housing project, two girls bury their parents in the backyard. We don’t know how they died, but we do know the world is better off without them. The story is told in alternating chapters by the two sisters—bright, foulmouthed Marnie, and eccentric Nelly, who speaks like a child’s idea of an Evelyn Waugh character—and their lonely next-door neighbor, known as the neighborhood perv since he tried to solicit a young prostitute in a moment of weakness. As winter turns to spring, the girls’ secret is threatened by an angry drug dealer, the reappearance of their wayward grandfather, and a dog who just won’t stop digging.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Death of Bees.

My Book, The Movie: The Death of Bees.

Writers Read: Lisa O'Donnell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 16, 2014

Five of the best spy novels

Alan Judd is a novelist and biographer who has previously served in the British army and the Foreign Office. Chosen as one of the original twenty Best Young British Novelists, he subsequently won the Royal Society of Literature's Winifred Holtby Award, the Heinemann Award and the Guardian Fiction Award; he was also shortlisted for the Westminster Prize. His latest novel is Inside Enemy.

Two of Judd's five favorite spy novels, as shared at the Telegraph:
It was le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) ... that became the quintessential Cold War spy novel, arguably his most important if not quite his best. That honour, for me, goes to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974), with its echoes of Philby and the Cambridge spies.
Read about the other novels on Judd's list.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is among Rory MacLean's top ten Berliners in literature, Louise Doughty's ten best courtroom dramas, Jon Stock's top ten John le Carré novels, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on The Cold War, Charles Cumming's best books, and Keith Jeffery's five best books about Britain's Secret Service.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature and among Jon Stock's top ten John le Carré novels, Jeffrey Archer's top ten romans-fleuves, Robert Baer's five best books on being a spy and Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels; Peter Millar includes it among John le Carré's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The 23 greatest thrillers ever written

The Telegraph presented the twenty-three greatest thrillers ever written, including:
Killing Floor
Lee Child (1997)

When ex-army loner Jack Reacher gets off a bus in a one-horse town in the American South he is instantly arrested and charged with murdering his own brother. But boy have they picked the wrong man to pick on…
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten stinky characters in children's fiction

Pamela Butchart is the author of Yikes, Stinkysaurus, illustrated by Sam Lloyd.

At the Guardian she tagged ten top stinky characters in children's fiction, including:
Dr Proctor's Fart Powder by Jo Nesbø

"Oh, no," Lisa said, dismayed. "Not the fartonaut powder…"

Dr Proctor makes a super-strength fart powder that is so powerful it can propel people into outer space. Even though Dr Proctor's plan is to make an odourless fart powder, he's still a stinky character in my opinion (he MUST be, he's obsessed with parping!) A fun, fart-filled adventure!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Five top fathers and father figures in YA literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged five top fathers and father figures in Young Adult literature, including:
Sam (Then You Were Gone, by Lauren Strasnick)

Strictly speaking, Sam isn’t anyone’s dad, he’s the live-in boyfriend of main character Adrienne’s mother. That said, as a father figure, he’s one of the most present and caring I’ve seen in YA—a standout feature in its own right that’s magnified times infinity when you take into account how rarely nontraditional family structures receive a positive portrayal.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five great travel books about places you may never go

Alina Simone is the author of the novel Note to Self.

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Simone tagged five great travel books about places you may never go, including:
The Ridiculous Race, by Steve Hely and Vadi Chandrasek.

In 2008, two future 30 Rock writers made a bet: whoever could circumvent the globe first without the use of airplanes wins a rare bottle of scotch and the lifelong right to yell Booyakasha! The pair set off in opposite directions, catching rides on shipping freighters, Mongolian ponies, and (almost!) an actual jetpack in Mexico. Whereas many “stunt” books have trouble sustaining readers’ interest once the novelty wears off, Hely and Chandrasek’s willingness to forge into the unknown, the exotic, and the just plain gross proves eminently, well, engrossing. Let them drink fermented horse milk!
Read about the other books on the list.

Writers Read: Steve Hely (July 2008).

Writers Read: Vali Chandrasekaran (July 2008).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fifteen books with memorable fathers

At the Christian Science Monitor Weston Williams tagged fifteen books with memorable dads, including:
Empire Falls, by Richard Russo

Miles Roby, a manager of the Empire Grill in a small town in Maine, is the loving father of a teenage girl nicknamed "Tick." In order to get through life in Empire Falls, Miles and Tick must stick together against all odds by interacting with a cast of all sorts of colorful characters in town, including Miles' ex-wife.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top eight siblings in literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Becky Ferreira tagged the eight best siblings in literature, including:
The Brothers Karamazov (The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky)

It’s hard to think of a set of literary siblings with more sharply drawn philosophical differences. Dmitri, the eldest, is a pleasure hound just like his old man. The middle child, Ivan, is a Spock-level logician, and the youngest, Alexei, is deeply spiritual and well-liked. Though it is never confirmed, it’s implied that sociopath Pavel is the illegitimate fourth Karamazov brother. Only Dostoevsky could write a novel with such dark themes, and somehow leave us with a sliver of hope at the end.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Brothers Karamazov made Alexandra Silverman's list of four famous writers who spent time in jail, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked priests in fiction, James Runcie's top ten list of books about brothers, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer.

Also see: Gwyneth Rees's ten top books about siblings and Will Eaves's top ten siblings' stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eight books perfect for reality TV fiends

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Rebecca Jane Stokes tagged eight books perfect for reality TV fiends, including:
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

You know it, you love it, and you’ll totally agree—this one is the real life version of Survivor. Minus Jeff Probst, plus several ridiculous outfits and the murder of small children at the behest of a totalitarian government.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on Chrissie Gruebel's list of favorite fictional fashion icons, Lucy Christopher's top ten list of literary woods, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best books with teenage narrators, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Top ten feminist books

Rachel Holmes's new book, Eleanor Marx: A Life, is a biography on the daughter of Karl Marx.

One of her top ten books on the struggle against gender-based inequality, as shared at the Guardian:
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1856)

Publication in France prompted an obscenity prosecution. The novel was first translated into English by Eleanor Marx in 1886, the same year she published The Woman Question from a Socialist Point of View. Emma Bovary haunted Tussy: "She is foolish, but there is a nobleness about her too. She is never mercenary … her life is idle, useless. And this strong woman feels there must be something to do – and she dreams … In all literature there is perhaps nothing more pathetic than her hopeless effort to 'make herself in love'."
Read about the other books on the list.

Madame Bovary is on Jill Boyd's list of six memorable marriage proposals in literature, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Jennifer Gilmore's list of the ten worst mothers in books, Amy Sohn's list of six favorite books, Sue Townsend's 6 best books list, Helena Frith Powell's list of ten of the best sexy French books, the Christian Science Monitor's list of six novels about grand passions, John Mullan's lists of ten landmark coach rides in literature, ten of the best cathedrals in literature, ten of the best balls in literature, ten of the best bad lawyers in literature, ten of the best lotharios in literature, and ten of the best bad doctors in fiction, Valerie Martin's list of six novels about doomed marriages, and Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers. It tops Peter Carey's list of the top ten works of literature and was second on a top ten works of literature list selected by leading writers from Britain, America and Australia in 2007. It is one of John Bowe's six favorite books on love.

--Marshal Zeringue

The six best Hemingway novels, ranked

Nancy W. Sindelar's new biography is Influencing Hemingway: The People and Places That Shaped His Life and Work. At Publishers Weekly she ranked the six best Hemingway novels.

Number one on the list:
The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway’s first novel is at the top of my list because it reflects his reliance on his traditional Midwestern values as he encountered new experiences and values in post-World War I Europe. Using friends and acquaintances that populated the cafes along Boulevard Montparnasse in Paris, he reveals his concern about the valueless life of these Lost Generation characters and begins his personal and literary search for meaning in what appears to be a godless world. In the midst of their heavy drinking and meaningless revelry during a fiesta in Spain, Pedro Romero, the matador, becomes a hero. He conducts himself with honor and courage, and it is here we see the beginnings of what will become the Hemingway Code.

The book also tops my list because it reveals Hemingway’s courageous attempt to write in a new and different way by portraying the bad and the ugly as well as the beautiful. Though The Sun Also Rises was well received by the critics, it was not well received by Hemingway’s acquaintances who saw themselves portrayed as self-indulgent, alcoholic and sexually promiscuous in his unflattering, but honest, characterizations. Nor was it well received by his mother, who said he had produced “one of the filthiest books of the year.”
Read about the other books on the list.

The Sun Also Rises is on Chris Pavone's list of five books that changed him, Sara Jonsson's list of seven of the best literary treatments of envy, Simon Akam's top ten list of the most attractive women in literature and John Mullan's list of 10 of the best taxis in literature. It came in at #6 on the American Book Review list of the 100 best last lines from novels; it is a book that Andre Dubus III frequently returns to.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Seven funny books that funny dads of all stripes will appreciate

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Molly Schoemann-McCann tagged seven "funny books that funny dads of all stripes will appreciate," including:
For the Dad Who Has Seen Things: Dad is Fat, by Jim Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan and his wife went and had five young children in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, and somehow he lived not only to tell the tale, but to sit down and write a book about it. And what a book—Dad is Fat is a hilarious, insightful, and yes, heart-warming look at parenting from the perspective of a comedian and family man who has been in the trenches of childrearing. Best of all, Gaffigan manages to be funny while keeping it clean—and when it comes to experiences we share with parents, keeping things g-rated is always an added bonus. (Remember the time you accidentally took your folks to see Eyes Wide Shut because you thought it was a musical comedy? I rest my case.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 9, 2014

Three top books on Afghanistan

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three of the best books on Afghanistan. One title on the list:
The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi

In a bare room in a war zone, a woman nurses her comatose husband, who has a bullet lodged in his neck.

The jihadist fighter was injured in a spat about honour rather than in battle.

The nameless woman has been abandoned by her family and left to care for him and two young daughters alone.

While tending to her husband, she begins to reveal grievances and confide long-buried secrets to the unconscious man. Emboldened by his silence, her outpourings become ever more shocking as she rails against men, war, marriage and God.

The fighting taking place outside – gunfire, explosions and screams are heard – intrudes from time to time.

The wounded husband becomes her patience stone of Persian legend. The magic stone – to which "you confess everything … you don't dare tell anyone" – absorbs all your secrets, until one day it explodes and sets the confessor free from torment.

Rahimi's haunting, beautifully written and extraordinarily powerful novella lifts the veil on the harsh lives of Afghan women.

The novelist and film-maker fled Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation and sought asylum in France. For this – his fourth – novel, he chose French over his native Dari. It won the Prix Goncourt, France's top literary prize.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Five top books about the struggle for Afghanistan; Top ten books on Afghanistan; Five top books on foreigners in Afghanistan; Five books on Afghanistan; and Five best books about Afghanistan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twelve books with the most irresistible titles

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Joel Cunningham tagged twelve books with the most irresistible titles, including:
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

I didn’t really read any sci-fi before I got to high school, when one of my teachers let me choose my extra credit reading from a stack of books in her cabinet. I had no idea what this was about, but as soon as I saw the title on its spine, I was sold.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Left Hand of Darkness is among Damien Walter's top five science fiction novels for people who hate sci-fi and Ian Marchant's top 10 books of the night. Charlie Jane Anders included it on her list of ten science fiction novels that will never be movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 8, 2014

John Green's six favorite coming-of-age books

John Green's books include the best-selling novel, The Fault in Our Stars.

One of the author's six favorite coming-of-age books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Sula by Toni Morrison

Morrison won the Nobel Prize in literature the same year that I read Song of Solomon in a high school English class. I loved that novel so much I read Sula (and Beloved) for fun that summer. The friendship between Sula and Nel transformed the way I thought about love and gender.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that changed Richelle Mead

Richelle Mead is the author of the Vampire Academy series. One of five books that changed her, as shared with the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel

I think what was most extraordinary about this book was that my mother let me read it (and its increasingly graphic sequels) when I was nine years old. That might have been a bit too young for some of the sex and violence, but it was the perfect age to be reading a tale of a young girl surviving in the wilderness. All the other books of that nature I'd found had male heroes, so it was empowering to see a girl battling the elements and taming cave lions.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The ten best recordings of poets

Richard Carrington and Andrew Motion set up the Poetry Archive, a continually expanding online audio library of poets reading their own work. One of Motion's ten favorite recordings in the collection:
"Filling Station"
Elizabeth Bishop, 1965

When I started reading poems seriously in the mid-1960s, the general view of contemporary American poetry was that Robert Lowell was driving the bus, John Berryman was wandering up and down the aisle, and Elizabeth Bishop was sitting quietly at the back. But quietness can turn out to be loud – or resonant anyway, and now by common consent, Bishop is in the driving seat. Her recitation of Filling Station – self-deprecating, nearly throwaway – tells us a great deal about her late style. And for all its modesties it is absolutely mesmeric and authoritative.
Read about--and listen to--the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about the myths and realities of how to pull a heist

Matthew Quirk's new novel is The Directive.

One of the author's five recommended books about the myths and realities of how to pull a heist, as shared at The Daily Beast:
Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan

Hogan brought new life to the bank heist genre with a heavy shot of realism, both social and criminal. He writes with ease and an understated mastery of the ways of both FBI agents and blue-collar criminals: Bearcat scanners, b-packs, and morning glories. I used to live in Boston, and I’m a sucker for the local color. At the end of the opening heist, I could practically feel my feet sinking into the grimy sand of Revere Beach.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on heists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 6, 2014

Eight great YA novels involving characters who struggle with mental illness

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged eight great YA novels involving characters who struggle with mental illness, including:
Wild Awake, by Hilary T. Smith

Kiri is a music prodigy with a summer of freedom ahead of her, a huge competition to prepare for, and a potential romance with her best friend to pursue…until she gets a phone call about her dead sister that sets her on a new, uncontrollable path. Smith has masterfully crafted Kiri’s downward spiral and intensely growing obsession, and the journey back into self-awareness is a slow and painful and beautiful one to watch. Definitely a worthwhile read that’ll stick with you long after the final page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Writers Read: Hilary T. Smith.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven scary fictional diseases

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Joel Cunningham tagged fictional maladies that will keep you up at night, including:
Mass infertility (Children of Men, by P.D. James)

Imagine throwing a big party in a house set to be demolished. Anything goes, right, because it’s not like you or anyone else is going to be accountable for the cleanup? Now imagine a global party, and no one is worried about cleanup because there will never be another baby born. That is probably not a party you’d want to attend. Activities to include: mass riots, raping and pillaging, and existential angst.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Children of Men is on John Mullan's list of the ten most notable New Years in literature, Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the twelve most unfaithful movie versions of science fiction and fantasy books, Ben H. Winters' list of three books to read before the end of the world, and John Sutherland's list of the five best books about the end of England.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Six of the most faithful book-to-film adaptations

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Matt Kraus tagged six famous books with extremely faithful film adaptations, including:
No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy may be one of the most cynical writers working today, making his books an ideal fit for the Coen Brothers, creators of such films as Blood Simple, Fargo, and The Big Lebowski. Their Oscar-winning adaptation of McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men deserves every ounce of acclaim it gets, but many filmgoers likely don’t know just how much of the screenplay was lifted right from the pages of McCarthy’s novel. When asked about their writing process for the film, Joel Coen joked in a 2007 interview with The Guardian that “one of us types into the computer while the other holds the spine of the book open flat.” Some tweaking is always necessary, and the film makes one major character’s fate ambiguous where McCarthy is much more plain, but there are long stretches where the book and film feel like identical experiences. This is true right to the very end, as both conclude with retired sheriff Ed Tom Bell recounting a dream about his father.
Read about the other entries on the list.

No Country For Old Men is among Allegra Frazier's five favorite fictional gold diggers, Kimberly Turner's ten most disturbing sociopaths in literature, and Elmore Leonard's ten favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ten top books of the English moor

At the Guardian William Atkins's tagged ten top books of the English, not counting three of the more famous books in that tradition, RD Blackmore's Lorna Doone, Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles and Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. One title on the list:
Remains of Elmet by Ted Hughes

For Hughes himself, growing up in what was then the West Riding of Yorkshire, Tarka "gave shape and words to my world". In this volume of poetry he returns to the valleys and moors of his Calder Valley youth, reviving the land's myths and histories, and his own boyhood memories. In the volume's early editions his poems are accompanied by Fay Godwin's monolithic black-and-white photographs of the valley and its surmounting hills. She and Hughes shared with Emily Brontë a vision of these moors as not merely ruinous and bone-strewn, but places of transcendence – "a stage for the performance of heaven".
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top teen books adults shouldn't resist

One title from Kirkus Reviews' list of ten top teen books adults shouldn't resist:
by Martyn Bedford

An English teen can't stop blaming herself for her brother's death.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Never Ending.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The ten best books for fans of "The Twilight Zone"

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Becky Ferreira tagged the ten best books for fans of The Twilight Zone, including:
The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

Again, The Forever War is basically a Twilight Zone episode extended into a novel. It's the gritty, heart-wrenching story of an intergalactic war started on shaky grounds and drawn out over millennia. A harrowing read at times, but one you'll be glad you started.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Forever War made Emily Stamm and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten best science fiction stories where humans are the villains and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the 12 greatest science fiction war stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Bob Mould's six favorite books

Bob Mould is an American musician, singer-songwriter, producer, and DJ. An original member of the influential 1980's band Hüsker Dü, he released several albums after the band separated, including Workbook, Body of Song and Life and Times as well as Sugar's legendary album Copper Blue. His memoir is See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody. One of Mould's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

To my then 17-year-old eyes, this book was a revelation. The characters, the horrors, the comic tragedy... I couldn't put it down; I had to consume it in one sitting. Everything I thought I knew was instantly wrong after I'd seen the world through the twisted prism of William Lee.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Naked Lunch is among John Mullan's ten best drug experiences in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 2, 2014

The top fifteen male characters in Jane Austen's novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Melissa Albert ranked, "in ascending order from cads to dreamboats, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books." Number one on the list:
Captain Frederick Wentworth (Persuasion)

Hot captain alert! One must forgive Wentworth’s initial cruelty to Anne Elliott when they meet again after an eight-year parting—only a man still in love would be so unkind to the woman who jilted him. Though a thoughtless flirtation with Louisa Musgrove throws a crook in the path of his and Anne’s reunion, it’s only a matter of time before he forgives her persuadability and writes her a passionate love letter, putting his neck on the line for a second jilting. But Anne’s no fool (not twice, anyway): she claims her brave, sexy captain while the claiming’s good.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Persuasion is among Yiyun Li's six favorite novels, 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

Top ten boarding school stories

Murder Most Unladylike, the first book in Robin Stevens's Wells and Wong Mysteries series, will be out in the UK on June 5th, 2014, and in the US in spring 2015. One of the author's top ten boarding school stories, as shared at the Guardian:
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey

Josephine Tey is an unsung hero of detective fiction's Golden Age. Technically, I think she's one of the best crime writers ever to put pen to paper – her books are brilliantly plotted, intensely atmospheric and excellently written. This book is set in a sixth form college just before exams, and the hothouse atmosphere is almost unbearably claustrophobic. Everyone is terrifyingly unhappy and on edge (they have been taught, like all good boarding school girls, that failure in exams means FAILURE IN LIFE). But then someone is accused of cheating – and a body is found on the gym floor… This is my all-time favourite crime novel, a perfect portrait of the darkest side of boarding school life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mary Beard's six best books

Mary Beard is professor in classics at Cambridge and classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement. Her books include The Roman Triumph and The Fires of Vesuvius.

One of Beard's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
WHITE TEETH by Zadie Smith

It’s amazing to think that this elegant, intricate, accomplished and witty novel was Smith’s first book. It’s one of the best ever explorations of race and migrant identities in Britain – and teeth are a surprising linking theme.
Read about the other entries on the list.

White Teeth is on John Mullan's list of the ten most notable New Years in literature, Melissa Albert's list of five notable--and ambitious--debut novels and Nigel Williams's list of ten of the best books about suburbia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the worst fictional kids to babysit

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Sara Jonsson tagged seven of the worst fictional kids to babysit, including:
Eloise (Eloise, by Kay Thompson)

You need a very healthy imagination to keep up with Eloise. You also need to know the ins and outs of the Plaza Hotel, or she will run you ragged. Not only is she more self-possessed and worldly than you in many ways, she also does not care for one second what people think of her. She will use her 6-year-old’s stature to disappear into a crowd of adults, and you won’t find her again until she returns to the hotel room to put Skipperdee to bed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue