Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top ten walks in books

Duncan Minshull is the editor of While Wandering: A Walking Companion.

One of his top ten walks in books, as shared at the Guardian:
Spandau: The Secret Diaries by Albert Speer

While incarcerated, Hitler’s architect described how he succeeded in walking around much of the world, from Europe to Asia, though not by way of China. China, a communist state, had to be avoided. How did he do this? Well, he left his cell for a small prison garden and imagined that every step he took there stood for so many hundreds of miles. It was an exercise of will and an antidote against “endless boredom”. You could say that writing about it made Speer an early psychogeographer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 29, 2014

Top ten books about losing one's virginity

At the Daily Express, Radhika Sanghani recommended ten top books about losing one's virginity, including:

This novel tells the story of a young couple. You hear their love story (think Oxford village romance) and go along to their wedding.

The plot really peaks on their wedding night when Edward tries to consummate their marriage.

He fails.

A combination of nerves and over-enthusiasm on his part with her lack of understanding and fear lead to a disaster.

Florence thinks it's his fault. He thinks it's hers.

The sexual awkwardness is so bad that this couple- who were so much in love- split up.

It's agonising to read - and feels all too real.
Read about the other entries on the list.

On Chesil Beach also appears among Ella Berthoud's five top books on love, Eli Gottlieb's top 10 scenes from the battle of the sexes, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best honeymoons in literature, ten of the best beaches in literature, ten best marital arguments in literature, and ten of the best failed couplings in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Six domestic chillers for "Gone Girl" fans

At the Telegraph Siân Ranscombe tagged six domestic chillers for fans of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, including:
You Should Have Known, Jean Hanff Korelitz

You Should Have Known follows the story of Grace Reinhart Sachs, an Upper East Side therapist on the verge of releasing a book called You Should Have Known. The premise of Grace’s book is that women will construct elaborate excuses justifying the reasons behind a man’s shortcomings. We must stop doing this, is the very much married therapist’s message. Easy for her to say, with her doctor husband and her nice apartment. Then the mother of a schoolmate of her son is murdered and Grace’s doctor husband is suddenly unreachable. Yes, she should have known and readers will probably have seen it coming but it’s still definitely worth a read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

You Should Have Known is among Ellen Wehle's top seven reads for the seven deadly sins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jay Rayner's six best books

Jay Rayner is a British journalist, writer, broadcaster and food critic.

One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

I read this late, in my early 20s, which is rather strange for a Jewish boy.

It's an exceptionally modern book for when it was written in the 1960s. The guy is chewing over who he is and it's invigorating, hilarious and filthy.
Read about the other books on the list.

Portnoy's Complaint is among Oren Smilansky's very funny books, David Denby's six favorite books, and Matthew Pearl's top ten books inspired by Edgar Allan Poe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Five undeservedly forgotten sci-fi novels

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

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog he tagged five forgotten sci-fi novels that deserve to be rediscovered, including:
Dying Inside, by Robert Silverberg

Perfectly titled, this tale of a telepath who has lived a lazy life relying on his mental powers suddenly starting to lose his ability—as we all may one day lose our sight or hearing—is subtly powerful. At first blush it seems a bit dull, and finding sympathy for the protagonist, who has wasted an incredible ability, is difficult. But his humanity gives the story its power, as he finally accepts his loss and learns to live without his gift. The final line is haunting: “Until I die again…hello, hello, hello, hello.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Peter Thiel's top six books that predict the future

Facebook investor Peter Thiel is the author of the new book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. One of his six favorite books that predict the future, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Sovereign Individual by Lord William Rees-Mogg and James Dale Davidson

This book breaks the taboo on prophecy: We're not supposed to talk about a future that doesn't include the powerful states that rule over us today. Rees-Mogg and Davidson argue that national governments could soon become as antiquated as 19th-century empires.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 26, 2014

Top ten books for young danger lovers

Ross Montgomery, author of The Tornado Chasers, notes that "children’s books can demonstrate a somewhat lax approach to disaster and death." One of his favorite books for danger lovers, as shared at the Guardian:
Half Bad by Sally Green

The witches in Green’s recent YA thriller are able to quickly heal themselves, which means our protagonist Nathan can withstand some truly eye-popping levels of sadistic violence. Top of these is a bracelet he’s forced to wear which, when he tries to escape from prison, covers his hand in acid. He spends the rest of the book with melted fingers, which thankfully doesn’t stop him from pummeling everyone in sight into a bloody paste.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Top twenty famously banned books

At the Telegraph Felicity Capon and Catherine Scott tagged twenty top famously banned books, including:
All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque

Written by a veteran of the First World War, this unflinching portrayal of the brutality of the conflict was banned by the Nazi government in 1933 for its apparently unfavourable portrayal of German military forces. It remains one of the most respected and renowned works of fiction on World War I.
Read about the other books on the list.

All Quiet on the Western Front is among Justin Go's ten favorite works about The First World War and Molly Schoemann-McCann's top ten books about World War I.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thirteen notable, often-banned, YA novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged thirteen favorite, occasionally-banned, YA novels, including:
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

A high school in North Carolina voted to ban the book in the 1980s because it was “demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal.” Well…kind of. At least they got the point of it. Complaints about racism, violence, obscene language, and defamatory statements toward God and women (among other things) have also kept this book off of library shelves.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lord of the Flies is on Matt Kraus's list of six famous books with extremely faithful film adaptations, Michael Hogan's list of the ten best fictional evil children, Danny Wallace's six best books list, Gemma Malley's top ten list of dystopian novels for teenagers, AbeBooks' list of 20 books of shattered childhoods and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best pigs in literature, ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature, and ten of the best horrid children in literature, Katharine Quarmby's top ten list of disability stories, and William Skidelsky's list of ten of the best accounts of being marooned in literature. It is a book that made a difference to Isla Fisher and is one of Suzi Quatro's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Four recent books to honor National Dog Day

Back on National Dog Day (August 26, 2014) at The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Ellen Wehle tagged four recent books for the occasion, including:
From Baghdad, with Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava, by Jay Kopelman and Melinda Roth

In November 2004, Lt. Colonel Jay Kopelman was a Marine taking part in the assault on Fallujah. Lava was a five-week-old puppy abandoned in a bombed-out house. Defying regulations, Kopelman’s squad adopted the puppy, going to extraordinary lengths to keep him safe and fed (and hidden from superior officers) while in the middle of a war zone. I love this book’s mix of dark and light emotions. Kopelman writes with raw honesty about how war affects even the steeliest of soldiers, and his first meeting with Lava says a ton: “I liked that he forgave me for scaring him, I liked not caring about getting home or staying alive or feeling warped as a human being—just him wiggling around in my hands.” That kind of authenticity makes From Baghdad, with Love a truly powerful memoir.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 22, 2014

Eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature, including:
Dewey Dell, As I Lay Dying

It’s not easy being seventeen and pregnant, especially when you’re a main character in a Faulkner novel. But Dewey Dell doesn’t just sit around and accept her bad luck, instead attempting to take ownership of her body and her destiny. The fact that she’s beaten down by male interference only shows how tough she is to be fighting against a patriarchy much stronger than she is.
Read about the other entries on the list.

As I Lay Dying is on Nicole Hill's lists of nine of the biggest martyrs in fiction and five books that, like country and western songs, tell "stories of agony and ecstasy, soaring highs and mighty powerful lows, heartache and hard living," Laura Frost's list of the ten best modernist books (in English), Helen Humphreys's top ten list of books on grieving, John Mullan's list of ten of the best teeth in literature, Jon McGregor's list of the top ten dead bodies in literature, Roy Blount Jr.'s list of five favorite books of Southern humor, and James Franco's six best books list.

The “My mother is a fish.” chapter in As I Lay Dying is among the ten most notorious parts of famous books according to Gabe Habash.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jason Segel's six favorite books

Actor Jason Segel's screenplays include Forgetting Sarah Marshall and 2011's The Muppets.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

I read Siddhartha in high school, and I carry a copy with me whenever I travel. I responded to the twists and turns of the Buddha's journey, of trying out a million different ways to live, and the very human story of an enlightened figure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Siddhartha is among Linus Roache's six best books and Robert Irwin's top ten quest narratives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Top ten adaptations

One of ten top adaptations tagged by Guardian and Observer critics:
The Fallen Idol

Graham Greene went to his grave justifiably disappointed in the many movie adaptations derived from his novels. The Comedians, The Honorary Consul, The Human Factor, the first adaptations of The Quiet American and The End of the Affair: all of these fell short, or actively betrayed their source-novels. One of the fascinating conundrums of Greene's career is that this highly perceptive former film critic, fitfully brilliant screenwriter and author of so many novels dubbed "cinematic" should have suffered so badly at the hands of filmmakers, particularly in Hollywood.

The few successful films of his work tended to be adapted by Greene himself and/or made in Britain: John Boulting's Brighton Rock, Alberto Cavalcanti's Went the Day Well? and the long-unseen The Fallen Idol, which Greene and director Carol Reed made in 1948, a couple of years before they embarked on the worldwide hit that was The Third Man. Freely adapted from Greene's 1935 story The Basement Room, The Fallen Idol follows Philippe (Bobby Henrey), the 7-year-old son of the French ambassador in London, who stumbles onto the adulterous affair between his father's valet Baines (Ralph Richardson) — the eponymous object of his worship — and Julie, an embassy secretary (Michele Morgan).

As pregnant with secrets and lies as any of Greene's spy stories, The Fallen Idol is also one of the great movies about childhood innocence accidentally violated by adults, harking back to Greene's literary idol Henry James' What Maisie Knew, and forward to LP Hartley's The Go-Between (whose 1970 adaptation by Joseph Losey is one of the great movies of its period). Reed, an often inconsistent film-maker, handles the brutal mechanics of the plot superbly, with the marbled interiors of the embassy contrasting sharply with his almost neo-realist outdoor shots of postwar London.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

Read a 2007 review of The Fallen Idol.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Five YA-lit lovable misfits

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged five lovable misfits from Young Adult literature, including:
Anika Dragomir (Anatomy of a Misfit, by Andrea Portes)

As you can tell from the moment you meet her, third-most-popular-girl-in-school Anika Dragomir is straight-up hysterical. She’s irreverent, she’s insightful, she’s half-Romanian, and she does pretty much everything with a mind on keeping her safe spot in the school’s lineup. That includes keeping her relationship with far-more-misfit-esque Logan on the down low. Even as she’s falling for him. Even as she’s learning about the terror of his home life. Even as he remains on her mind while she’s wooed by the hottest guy in town. This book is both heartbreaking and hilarious, and will affirm that it’s never too early to stand up for what you believe and who you love.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books for old-fashioned adventure in the 19th century

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

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog he tagged five books and series for old-fashioned adventure in the 19th century, including:
The Aubrey/Maturin Series, by Patrick O’Brian

Ideal For: Anyone who thinks they can eat a meal of salted beef and ersatz coffee and then swing onto an enemy ship and shoot someone in the face with aplomb.

If you’ve ever wondered what every single line of rope on a 19th-century warship was called and what it did, simply read these 20 novels and you’ll be able to make obscure seafaring jokes with the best of them. Interspersed with this detailed examination of life on the sea during wartime are sea battles, boardings, raids, romance, intrigue, and perhaps the worst weevil-based joke ever committed to paper. O’Brian packed in more adventure on the high seas and all over the world than most people will experience in their entire lives.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Aubrey/Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian also appears on the Telegraph's list of the ten best historical novels, Bella Bathurst's top ten list of books on the sea. Master & Commander is one of Peter Mayle's six best books. Dr Stephen Maturin is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best good doctors in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 19, 2014

Top twelve authors' beards

One entry on the Telegraph's top twelve list of authors' beards:
The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy had a beard as long as War and Peace. Apparently in the winter it froze and small icicles had to be lovingly removed by his wife.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

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

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

Anna Karenina is on Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Hannah Jane Parkinson's list of the ten worst couples in literature, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epigraphs, Amelia Schonbek's list of three classic novels that pass the Bechdel test, Rachel Thompson's top ten list of the greatest deaths in fiction, Melissa Albert's recommended reading list for eight villains, Alison MacLeod's top ten list of stories about infidelity, David Denby's six favorite books list, Howard Jacobson's list of his five favorite literary heroines, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, Chika Unigwe's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Kostova's list of favorite books, James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best erotic dreams in literature, ten of the best coups de foudre in literature, ten of the best births in literature, ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature, and ten of the best balls in literature.

Master and Man and Other Stories is one of Rosamund Bartlett's five top books on Russian short stories, and Tolstoy's Tales of Army Life is one of John Gittings's five top books on peace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top ten stories of mothers and daughters

Meike Ziervogel is the author of the novellas Magda and Clara's Daughter.

One of her top ten stories of mother-daughter relationships, as shared at the Guardian:
On Matricide: Myth, Psychoanalysis and the Law of the Mother by Amber Jacobs

The goddess Athena sprang forth fully armed from the head of her father, Zeus. The part of the legend far less well-known is that Zeus had swallowed the pregnant Metis, and it was she who gave birth to Athena inside Zeus. Jacobs here offers a brilliant reinterpretation of the Oresteia myth, and in doing so shows us how we can change our thinking. It’s a must-read (and you don’t have to have read the Oresteia first).
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Seven of the sharpest modern satires

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Joel Cunningham tagged seven of the sharpest modern satires, including:
...Sweetness #9, by Stephan Eirik Clark, an up-to-the-minute satire of the high-stakes world of the flavor industry—the chemical tinkering that goes into creating real flavors for entirely fake processed foods. David Leveraux thinks he’s won the chemist lottery when he lands his dream job as a “flavorist” for a secretive corporation, never mind that he has to start off in the animal testing department, determining whether the delicious additives the labs are cooking up have any unwelcome side effects. Side effects like, say, anxiety, obesity, and general malaise, which he discovers in animals given an experimental artificial sweetener called Sweetness #9.

David considers blowing the whistle but keeps quiet for the sake of his career, setting off a ripped-from-the-email-subject-lines debacle. Within a few years, Sweetness #9 is everywhere, and consequently everyone is eating a lot of it, and a lot of people are feeling anxious, and fat, and generally unhappy with their lives. But lots of us feel that way anyway, so is fake food really to blame? Is there something more damningly artificial at the core of our culture than simply the chemical bonds that make Twinkies taste good? Should we stop eating junk that makes us feel bad and take care of ourselves instead? Eh, that sounds like a lot of work.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Sweetness #9.

The Page 69 Test: Sweetness #9.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ten books to read before you go to Paris

For Fodor's, Jessica Colley tagged ten books to read before you go to Paris, including:
The Flaneur by Edmund White

The best city portraits grant access to daily life that tourists don't encounter during a typical visit. The Flaneur accomplishes just this, leading the reader on a stroll through Paris without any particular goal, but to observe the everyday theater of the city streets. This very French concept of strolling and loitering without any particular place to go comes to life in White's pages. After living in Paris for almost two decades, he accurately captures Paris in all of its intricacies.
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see: Lisa Appignanesi's top ten books about Paris.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 15, 2014

Top ten literary canines

Mikita Brottman, PhD, is an Oxford-educated scholar, critic, and psychoanalyst. Her new book is The Great Grisby: Two Thousand Years of Literary, Royal, Philosophical, and Artistic Dog Lovers and Their Exceptional Animals.

One of Brottman's top ten literary canines, as shared at the Guardian:
Argos is the loyal hound who belonged to Odysseus, who recognises his disguised master after an absence of 20 years. In joyful anticipation, Homer tells us that "he dropped his ears and wagged his tail". But Argos, understanding that his master is in disguise, can't approach him and Odysseus can't acknowledge the dog without giving himself away. Odysseus sheds a secret tear, and Argos, after waiting so long to see his master again, dies after a single glimpse of him.
Read about the other dogs on the list.

"Argos" is one of Nicole Hill's ten best names in literature to give your dog.

Learn about two dogs named Argos by their writer-humans: Ceiridwen Terrill & Argos and Jehanne Dubrow & Argos.

Also see Cliff McNish's top ten dogs in children's books; Becky Ferreira's 11 best books about dogs; and Ben Frederick's eleven essential books for dog lovers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ten of the best books set in Amsterdam

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

For the Guardian, in 2011 he named ten of the best books set in Amsterdam, including:
Dubravka Ugresic, The Ministry of Pain, 2005

Amsterdam has always been a haven for refugees and Dubravka Ugresic shows us with great insight the lives of eastern European immigrants in a poorer district of the city.

"I would take the Zeedijk, in the direction of the Nieuwmarkt … Sipping my morning coffee, I would observe the people stopping at stalls displaying herring, vegetables, wheels of Dutch cheese and mounds of freshly baked pastries. It was the part of town with the greatest concentration of eccentrics … "
• The Oudezijds Kolk/Zeedijk area
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top beguiling if unlikely travel books

Sean Wilsey is the author of a memoir, Oh the Glory of It All, and the co-editor with Matt Weiland of two collections of original writing: State By State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, and The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup. His essay collection, More Curious, is published by McSweeney’s.

One of five beguiling if unlikely travel books Wilsey tagged for The Daily Beast:
History of My Life, by Giacomo Casanova is only not considered road literature because it is seen as pornography; but, in fact, much of it is about the importance of transportation. Casanova, a Venetian, crisscrossed Europe in the mid-1700s, buying and repairing dozens of chariots, phaetons, covered carriages, picking up hitchhikers, and fighting off highway robbers. He chronicles it all in 12 volumes, and every page is worth reading. A random early passage, set in Poland, describes the aftermath of a duel with an aristocrat:
“‘You have killed me. You must escape, or you will lose your head. You are in the jurisdiction of the starostie, and I am grand officer of the crown, and grand cordon of the White Eagle. Lose no time; if you have not enough money, take my purse.’

His heavy purse fell on the floor. I picked it up. and put it back into his pocket, telling him it was useless to me, for if I was guilty I should lose my head, and I meant to go and lay it on the steps of the throne.

“‘I hope,’ said I, ‘that your wound is not mortal. I am sorry you forced me to inflict it on you.’ With these words I kissed him on the forehead and left the inn. I could see neither carriage, nor horses, nor servants. They had all scattered in search of doctor, surgeon, priest, relations and friends. I was alone in a desolate country covered with snow. After wandering at haphazard some little way I met a peasant in a sleigh. ‘Warsaw,’ I cried, showing him a ducat.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stephen L. Carter's six favorite books about the Cold War

Stephen L. Carter is a novelist and Yale law professor. His latest thriller is Back Channel.

One of Carter's six favorite books about the Cold War, as shared with The Week magazine:
Arms and Influence by Thomas Schelling

If you want to understand both the cleverness and the chilly pragmatism of America's Cold War strategy, read Nobel laureate Schelling's at once accessible and compelling 1966 book. You'll likely look at today's conflicts through very different eyes.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Influential books: Thomas C. Schelling.

Writers Read: Thomas C. Schelling (August 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue

Five kids’ and YA books that transcend the age label

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

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog he tagged five must-reads aimed at kids that people of all ages will enjoy, including:
The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton

The ultimate tale of dangerously unsupervised children who curse, smoke, drink, and stab each other, this book was actually written when Hinton was a teenager herself, which explains the melodramatic nature of much of her debut. The tale of Ponyboy and rival gangs in Tulsa in the 1960s, it remains an explosive (and often banned) book to this day.

Why Adults Will Enjoy It: Many books capture the sense of being a teenager, but few can convey that sense back to adults the way The Outsiders can. Once you get past some of the outdated slang and period detail, you’re once again fifteen and simultaneously angry, sad, exultant, and confused. While the events of the story go far beyond what most people experience as kids, the emotional sense of the book is 100% accurate.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Outsiders is among Phil Earle's top ten zeros-to-heros in stories for children and young adults and on one list of nine of the best literary groups of friends.

My Book, The Movie: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: Chum.

Writers Read: Jeff Somers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 12, 2014

Top ten circus books

Emma Carroll is the author of Frost Hollow Hall and The Girl Who Walked on Air.

One title on her Guardian list of ten great books where writers use the circus for their own story needs:
Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones

Covered in hair from head to toe, Wild Boy is a "savage spectacle," performing every miserable night in a freak show. One evening, he witnesses a murder and gets framed for it. Assisted by acrobat Clarissa, he sets out to clear his name. This is a delicious romp of a story where circus life is described in all its seedy, Victorian glory.
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about mothers

Dea Brøvig’s debut novel is The Last Boat Home. One of her top ten books about mothers, as shared at the Daily Express:

Eva Khatchadourian must surely be one of the most unfortunate mothers in fiction.

I’ll never forget the burgeoning horror that came with reading this book as, in letters to her husband, Eva brings us closer to the moment we know is coming: when her son, Kevin, murders his schoolmates in a Columbine-style massacre.

In recalling the freedom of life-before-kids and the challenges (to put it mildly) that she experienced while raising Kevin, Eva provides plenty of fuel for both Nature and Nurture camps.

Along the way, we’re treated to a chilling, glorious read.
Read about the other books on the list.

We Need to Talk about Kevin is on Michael Hogan's list of the ten best fictional evil children, Fiona Maazel's list of the ten worst fathers in books, John Mullan's list of ten of the best sentences as book titles, and Shirley Henderson's six best books list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Top ten books about Nigeria

Barnaby Phillips is a senior correspondent for Al Jazeera English, which he joined at the time of its launch in 2006. His documentary Burma Boy won the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award. His new book is Another Man's War: The Story of a Burma Boy in Britain's Forgotten Army.

One of the author's top ten books about Nigeria, as shared at the Guardian:
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

As a young man Achebe read the canon of western literature, but could not find his own people's story there. So he set about writing a tragic tale: of how a vulnerable society, and a flawed man, could not cope with the military superiority and crushing arrogance of the white invaders. Millions of readers around the world have since identified with Things Fall Apart as the definitive account of what happened to their own societies when the Europeans arrived. Invariably the colonial legacy was destructive and destabilising, and one that "Nigeria", a British invention, has never quite recovered from.
Read about the other books on the list.

Things Fall Apart is among Pushpinder Khaneka's three best books on Nigeria, Hallie Ephron's ten best books for a good cry, Helon Habila's three books to help understand Nigeria, and Martin Meredith's ten books to read on Africa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ten top literary chillers

At LitReactor Christopher Shultz tagged ten literary chillers where literary fiction and horror converge, including:
Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin

Widely considered a classic not only of horror but of literature in general, Ira Levin's 1968 novel is less about secret satanic cults and conspiracy as it is about free will and religious guilt. It's even less about the titular demonic tyke than it is the woman who co-spawned it. I talk at length about the author's thematic intentions behind the horror in my Book Vs. Film column from a few months back, but as space is limited here, I will say that Rosemary's Baby is all about mankind's psychological need for organized spirituality, and the lengths a person will go to in order to fill this need. But it's also about the trappings of a patriarchal society, the plight of women in said society, the falsity of a "biological clock," the vanity of status, and the slippery nature of morality—all of it vetted through the sweet-natured, sometimes naive but no less willful and astute mind of our protagonist. If you've only ever seen the Roman Polanski film, you don't really know Rosemary.
Read about the other titles on the list.

Rosemary's Baby is among Kat Rosenfield's top seven scary autumnal stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four epic, heartfelt family sagas

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged four sweeping family sagas, including:
Some Luck, by Jane Smiley

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jane Smiley returns to the fictional town of Denby, Iowa, to follow the lives of the Langdon family. The first book of a projected trilogy that will span 100 years, Some Luck opens in 1920, as Walter and Rosanna Langdon give birth to their first child and battle to keep their farm going through the Great Depression. Though life is hard, they’re bolstered by their commitment to the land and a time-honored set of values. As their five children—Frank, Joe, Lillian, Henry, and Claire—grow up and for the most part reject farm life, scattering across the country, we see the large-scale changes sweeping across America itself. Whether it’s the nitty-gritty details of plowing a field or the finer points of family relationships, Smiley writes with great empathy and wisdom.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Six Texas books that aren't about cowboys

René Steinke’s most recent novel is Friendswood (Riverhead). She is the author of Holy Skirts (a National Book Award Finalist) and The Fires. She is the Director of the MFA Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Editor-at-Large at The Literary Review. She lives in Brooklyn.

One of Steinke’s top six Texas books that aren't about cowboys, as shared at The Huffington Post:
Katherine Anne Porter, Noon Wine

Small South Texas Farm, 1896-1905. Beware of Swede strangers looking for work. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, farm owners barely scraping by, take in Mr. Helton, who plays the same song again and again on his harmonica, but seems nice enough and he's an excellent worker, even if he's quiet and a little rude. The family comes to like the harmonica playing, or not even hear it anymore they hear it so often, and because of Mr. Helton's hard work, they prosper enough to buy an icebox. Only when an unpleasant stranger, fat and leering, comes looking for Mr. Helton, is there trouble. One of Porter's great, short novels, Noon Wine investigates the psychology of rural Texas tribalism.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 8, 2014

Four books that changed Justine Larbalestier

Justine Larbalestier is an Australian-American writer. Her novels include Razorhurst, Liar, How to Ditch Your Fairy, and the Magic or Madness trilogy.

One of four books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories
Angela Carter

When I was little I made up my own fairy tales, and the ghostly echo of "Once upon a time" shapes all the fiction I've ever written. But it wasn't until I read this explosion of a collection that I realised how much could be done to fairy tales, and how much they could do to me. Carter taught me the anatomy of the fairy tale and how to make use of the viscera.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Bloody Chamber is among Stephanie Feldman's ten creepiest books and Jonathan Stroud's favorite fantasy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top underwater science fiction books

One of the ten top underwater science fiction books, at The Best Sci Fi Books:
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne – 1870

Highly acclaimed when released and even now, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is regarded as one of the premiere adventure novels in literature and one of Verne’s greatest works, along with Around the World in Eighty Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Verne himself has been the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, between the English-language writers Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare.

While most classics can be something of a pain to slog through, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea holds up quite well.
Read about the other books on the list.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is one of Sharon Gosling's top ten children's steampunk books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Four top novels featuring bad teacher-student behavior

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged four top novels "in which teachers and students run just a little bit off the rails," including:
Election, by Tom Perrotta

Long before his book The Leftovers became a hit on TV, Tom Perrotta was writing quirky stories about small-town America, and Election is one of his best. The battle between student overachiever Tracy Flick and history teacher Mr. M is part slapstick, part duel to the death. Mr. M blames Tracy for disgracing his fellow teacher Dave, who was fired after sleeping with her. What bothers Mr. M most, though, is Tracy herself. Perky and ambitious, she’s the kind of kid who’s sure to succeed in life, and knowing that drives him absolutely bonkers. His efforts to sabotage Tracy’s election as class president will have you laughing, cringing, and flying through the pages all at once.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Election is one of Don Calame's top ten funny teen boy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ten top watery tales for young readers

Berlie Doherty is the author of over 60 books for children, teenagers and adults.

One of ten top watery tales for young readers Goherty tagged for the Guardian:
Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson

A much loved classic novel about the life of an otter and other creatures along the Tay and the Torridge, it is full of detailed and poetic observations about wildlife.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Tarka the Otter is among Miriam Darlington's top ten literary otters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books you should read before graduating college

At Publishers Weekly, Radhika Sanghani tagged ten books to make sure you've read before graduating college, including:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This book taught me to grow up. It has a pretty addictive plot, but more than that, it’s the story of Jane’s journey from childhood to adolescence and adulthood. She learns to let go, to adapt and finally, that there are some things you need to just accept. I can’t think of any better time to read this book than when you’re learning to do the same.
Read about the other books on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, 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

Friday, September 5, 2014

Top ten bars and pubs in literature

For The Spirits Business, Amy Hopkins tagged ten top bars and pubs in literature, including:
Cervecería Alemana – The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

First opened in 1904, Madrid’s Cervecería Alemana was another real-life bar frequented by notorious drinker Ernest Hemingway, who is as famous for his wayward lifestyle as his literary genius. Having spent a considerable amount of time in Madrid, which he referred to as “the most Spanish of all cities”, Hemingway found that one of his favourite haunts was beer hall Cervecería Alemana, which made an appearance at the end of his novel The Sun Also Rises, which charts the journey of a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to Spain’s Festival of San Fermín. The bar remains popular to this day.
Read about the other entries on the list. 

The Sun Also Rises is on Nancy W. Sindelar's list of the six best Hemingway novels (in 1st place), 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.

Also see: Michael Gibney's top ten restaurants and bars in modern literature and Esther Inglis-Arkell's ten best bars in science fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Top ten books about trains

Andrew Martin is the author of numerous articles, and books of both fiction and non-fiction, including Underground, Overground: a Passenger's History of the Tube and Belles & Whistles: Five Journeys Through Time on Britain's Trains. One of his top ten books about trains, as shared at the Guardian:
Mugby Junction by Charles Dickens (1866)

Dickens never liked trains. He preferred stagecoaches, which are romanticised in Pickwick Papers. On 9 June 1865, his negative opinion was confirmed when he was involved in a railway crash at Staplehurst, Kent, in which 10 people died. Dickens did use trains afterwards, but always gripping the arm of the seat and feeling the carriage was "down on the right hand side". For the Christmas 1866 edition of Household Words magazine, he wrote three loosely-connected stories entitled Mugby Junction, which have often been collected as a single volume. The opening story, Barbox Brothers, includes brilliant descriptions of the vast, eponymous junction by night: "Mysterious goods trains, covered with palls and gliding on like vast weird funerals … " There is then a satire on railway refreshment rooms, Dickens having been slighted a few months beforehand by the staff of the refreshment room at Rugby. (Hence "Mugby".) The third piece is The Signal-Man, a ghost story about a train crash in a tunnel. It is often cited as the best ghost story ever written.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Five fictional workplaces more dysfunctional than yours

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Molly Schoemann-McCann tagged five fictional workplaces more dysfunctional than yours, including:
Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl)

Yes, we’d all like a workplace with a chocolate waterfall in it (I’ve heard they have one at Google; just saying)—but at what cost? If you worked for Willy Wonka, sure you’d be able to go around licking the wallpaper, and you’d probably get an Everlasting Gobstopper with your welcome packet from HR, but remember—all of your coworkers would be from Loompaland, which would leave you feeling like an outsider, especially if you weren’t into impromptu yet perfectly executed song and dance numbers. Plus, no dental plan in the world is going to be comprehensive enough for this job, trust me.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory appears on Philip Ardagh's top ten list of children's books by Roald Dahl and Meghan Cox Gurdon's five best list of children's books that are especially enthralling when read aloud.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Six top YA novels set in college

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged six top YA novels set in college, including:
Love Story, by Jennifer Echols

Erin and Hunter are new freshmen with an old shared past—one that unfolds throughout the book as their writing assignments turn into passive-aggressive jabs at each other and the secrets they keep. Echols is nothing if not a master of YA swoon (you may as well add Going Too Far to your cart; you won’t be sorry), and the romance is among her steamy best, but, for this creative writing minor, it’s the painfully accurate depiction of the critique circles that make this one of my college-set faves.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 1, 2014

Six top biographies of underappreciated historical figures

A. Scott Berg has written five biographies including Lindbergh, a 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner, and Wilson, a portrait of the 28th U.S. president. One of his six favorite biographies of underappreciated historical figures, as shared at The Week magazine:
A Country of Vast Designs by Robert Merry

Dwarfed by other political personalities in his time, James K. Polk stands tall in Merry's illuminating biography. The 11th U.S. president proves to be a commanding figure, acquiring the western third of continental America…and a conquistador mentality with it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Country of Vast Designs is one of John Steele Gordon's five best books about one term presidents.

--Marshal Zeringue