Friday, October 31, 2014

The ten best ghost stories

Lauren Oliver's latest novel is Rooms.

One of the author's ten favorite ghost stories, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Stephen King himself is a great fan of this layered horror novel, which uses ghost stories as a central device. A group of friends gather to tell each other terrifying tales…but one of them happens to be all too true. Bonus for its use of a lesser known and especially terrifying kind of spirit.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Sandra Greaqves's top ten ghost stories, Rebecca Armstrong's ten best ghost stories, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books of ghost stories, Kate Mosse's top 10 ghost stories, Peter Washington's top ten ghost stories, and Brad Leithauser's five best ghost stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten vampire books

Lauren Owen studied English Literature at St. Hilda's College, Oxford, before completing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where she received the 2009 Curtis Brown prize for the best fiction dissertation. The Quick is her first novel.

One of her top ten vampire books, as shared at the Guardian:
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (2005)

Vampire books often deal with the pleasures of reading and research – and from the 20th century onwards, one of the works most frequently referenced is Dracula. There is an element of competitiveness which often creeps into some post-Dracula Draculas – undue emphasis spent on claiming a new insight into the vampire and mythos – but Kostova pays homage to Dracula, while providing a fresh interpretation of the myth. What she achieves is an intriguing, intelligent consideration of both Stoker’s story and the historical Dracula.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see the ten best vampire novels ever, the top ten vampires in fiction and popular culture, ten vampire stories more romantic than "Twilight", Kevin Jackson's top 10 vampire novels, and Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of top vampire books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Top ten imaginary friends in fiction

A.F. Harrold is an English poet. He writes and performs for adults and children, in cabaret and in schools, in bars and in basements, in fields and indoors. His books include Fizzlebert Stump and the Bearded Boy. One of the author's top ten imaginary friends in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Bunbury, from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest

Imaginary friends are there to take the heat for us. They can be blamed for the accidents we have. ‘I didn’t break the vase, Mum, it was Rudger,’ for example. Algernon Moncrieff’s non-existent invalid friend Bunbury serves the same function, allowing him to get out of dull social affairs. Invalid friends in the country do this. We should all have one.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five great southern gothic YA novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged five great southern gothic Young Adult novels, including:
Sweet Unrest, by Lisa Maxwell

New Orleans. Voodoo. History. Romance. Murder. Maxwell’s debut has all those southern Gothic elements, wrapped up in the absorbing, compelling story of a girl who dreams of her past life and the guy who’s still living in it. With narration in both the antebellum past and the present, Sweet Unrest beautifully contrasts culture and race relations against the backdrop of one of the favorite cities of the south, for a read I didn’t want to put down until I’d finished every last word.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Twelve high-quality horror books for sleepless nights

At KQED Rick Kleffel tagged twelve high-quality horror books for sleepless nights, including:
We Are Here
by Michael Marshall
Mulholland Books

Who are all those strangers on the street? How can they be here with us and yet not be known to us? We’re surrounded by the human race, and in theory, that should mean we always have company and comfort. Michael Marshall begs to differ, and We Are Here has at its core a vision of humans separated from themselves, each of us torn asunder and unable to know it. But Marshall tells his story with a skill that creates an almost unbearable amount of philosophical tension, in essence, an existential stalker myth.

We first meet David, a writer whose novel is about to be published and who is somehow at loose ends. On his way home from a meeting, a man steps up to him and whispers, “Remember me.” Kristina and John are trying to help a friend of Kristina’s who believes herself to be the victim of a stalker, if only it were that simple. Marshall is a master at crafting the surreal into suspense. He also manages to come up with an original idea, almost unthinkable in a sea of vampire sequels. One of his previous novels, The Intruders, has been made into a TV series for BBC America. Watch at your own risk.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ten chilling children’s books to read on Halloween

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Dell Villa tagged ten new chilling children’s books to read on Halloween, including:
Little Boo, by Stephen Wunderll and Tim Zeltner (Illustrator)

The leaves are falling, the wind is blowing, and one little pumpkin seed wants to change right along with the season: he wants to be scary! With evocative prose matched by captivating illustrations, Little Boo features an impatient little pumpkin seed who’s in a hurry to grow up. Not only is this seed an engaging character for readers of all ages, but his heartwarming tale reminds us how hard it can be to wait: an important lesson for all seasons.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten new thought-provoking nonfiction books

At TimeOut New York Tiffany Gibert tagged ten new thought-provoking nonfiction books, including:
On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss

From the myth of Achilles and the scourge of malaria to Dracula and DDT, Biss brilliantly expands a straightforward question—to vaccinate or not to vaccinate—into a multilayered investigation of fear and perception. You’ll never think of a simple shot the same way again.
Read about the other books on the list.

Learn more about On Immunity: An Inoculation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 27, 2014

Top ten songs in teen novels

At the Guardian, Ema O'Connor tagged ten "of the most rockin’ songs mentioned in the most rockin’ books," including:
“Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick and Nora may have different views on life, love, and the best way to get around New York City, but they have equally awesome taste in music. Told from alternating points of view, this quirky romance keeps readers amused and excited. Though every song in the book is worth a listen, this one is the perfect soundtrack to Nick and Nora’s wild adventures around downtown Manhattan.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is among Jeff Somers's five must-reads aimed at kids that people of all ages will enjoy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gillian Anderson's six favorite books

Gillian Anderson is an award-winning film, television, and theatre actress whose credits include the roles of Special Agent Dana Scully in FOX Television's long-running and critically-acclaimed drama series, The X-Files, ill-fated socialite Lily Bart in Terence Davies' masterpiece The House of Mirth (2000), and Lady Dedlock in the very successful BBC production of Charles Dickens' Bleak House.

Her first novel, with Jeff Rovin, is the science fiction thriller A Vision of Fire.

One of Anderson's six favorite books, as shared with The Week magazine:
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

This is a novel about the interconnected lives of many people, but Sasha, a record executive's passionate and sticky-fingered personal assistant, always struck me as the main character. She views the objects she steals as collectively expressing "the raw, warped core of her life," and it's heartbreaking. No wonder this novel won a Pulitzer.
Read about the other books on the list.

A Visit From the Goon Squad is one of Julie Christie's seven favorite books.

Learn about the books that made a difference to Gillian Anderson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four urban fantasy series you should be reading

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Ella Cosmo tagged four urban fantasy series you should be reading, including:
Downside Ghosts series, by Stacia Kane

An urban fantasy with a dystopian edge, the Downside Ghosts series chronicles the misadventures of Chess Putnam, a tattooed ghost debunker for the Church of Real Truth, a vast government-like entity that presides over a world where the dead have come back to life. The Church has sworn to protect the living from the risen dead and provides monetary reimbursement to any person truly haunted by a spirit. As a debunker for the Church, Chess investigates whether someone is truly being bothered by things that go bump in the night or just trying to get some of that sweet, sweet Church money. In addition to struggling to survive her job and a world populated by tortured spirits and hardbitten city inhabitants, Chess battles with a drug addiction that she just barely manages to control and a tendency to fall for completely unsuitable men. This series is dark, like really really dark. But the series, and Chess, are worth it. Kane is a nuanced writer who gives even the most morally ambivalent characters real depth and emotion, and Chess has a biting sense of humor that provides levity at truly unexpected moments.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bob Odenkirk's six favorite books

Actor, director, and comedy sketch writer Bob Odenkirk was a prominent co-star on AMC's Breaking Bad. His new book of comic essays is A Load of Hooey.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Swing Hammer Swing! by Jeff Torrington

After reading an energetic, positive review buried deep within The New York Times one day, I bought this Glasgow-set first novel and was thrilled by the writing: Swing Hammer Swing! is funny, clever, and bleak as hell. I wrote Torrington a fan letter, the only one I've ever written. Never received a reply. No hard feelings.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 24, 2014

Eight scary stories for the Halloween season

At Time Out New York Tiffany Gibert tagged eight scary stories for the Halloween season, including:
Horrorstör: A Novel by Grady Hendrix

While Hendrix’s book at first seems like a spoof, when three Orsk (coughIKEAcough) store employees work a dusk-till-dawn shift to investigate some strange happenings, the novel digs up deeper psychological issues of trust and the desperation to survive.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six new memorable and thought-provoking novels

Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and author. At Psychology Today she tagged six new memorable and thought-provoking novels, including:
The Festival of Earthly Delights, by Matt Dojny, is a very funny coming-of-age story set in a fictional Southeast Asian country, where our hero Boyd has recently moved with his unfaithful girlfriend to try to repair their relationship. In a series of letters he describes his experiences, many of them hilarious, some surprisingly moving. I’m a sucker for a fresh dark comedy, and this debut novel of Dojny’s is written with great flair. A random example, after Boyd has accidentally killed a turtle, a curse-worthy offense:
"Oh! There are many different curse.” Mr. Horse began to count them on his fingers. “One curse is call ‘Great-Pretender.’ This is when you see and hear things that no others can see and hear—baby insects made from metal, or the bird with no face. One curse is ‘Brown-Eye-Girl,’ that is, a need to use toilet when no toilet is near. ‘Splish-Splash’ is the curse that is to have a small vomit come up into your mouth. For the turtle-killer-man, ‘Ninety-Six-Tears’ is a curse to have lack when being with any woman, not have enough excitement. The ‘Taste-of-Honey’ is when man is fast to have over-much excitement with the woman—if you understand. And one of the most feared curse is: ‘Final-Countdown.’ When the turtle-killer plays a lottery, he will get all number perfect, but for final number is wrong. Every time.” Mr. Horse widened his eyes. “It will make you to be crazy.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Top ten civil war novels

Prize-winning author Robert Wilton worked in a number of British Government Departments, including a stint as Private Secretary to three successive UK Secretaries of State for Defence.

At the Guardian he named ten top civil war novels, including:
Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

“You are hereby invited to watch me face the firing squad,” Pasternak is supposed to have said when he handed over his manuscript to be smuggled out of Russia. The author’s, and the protagonist’s, concern for the needs of the individual was vulnerable against the novel’s tumultuous events and the Soviet censor. But it overcame the latter, at least. Zhivago was published in Italian, then English and French, before a Russian version appeared – allegedly with CIA help. Pasternak was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1958, though under threat of arrest or exile he could not collect it. Written over and covering more than 40 years, Dr Zhivago is about much more than the Russian civil war that began in 1917 – but that internal conflict is at its heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Six YA books that take place in one day

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged six Young Adult books which all take place over the course of twenty-four hours, including:
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith

On a day everything seems to be going wrong for Hadley, something goes very, very right when she meets funny, quirky, adorable Oliver in the airport on the way to her father’s wedding in London. The two hit it off immediately, only to lose each other again on the other side of the Atlantic. But no matter how new a flame, some sparks just can’t be fizzled by distance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top ten characters with a disability

Kim Hood is Young Adult author of Finding a Voice.

At the Guardian, she tagged her top ten interesting characters who just happen to have a disability, including:
“Chief” Bromden, in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

It is never clear whether Bromden is actually deaf and mute (the now non-politically correct terms used in the book), or simply a victim of institutionalisation. Whichever the case, I have always rooted for the quiet survivor. Although it may seem a pretty unlikely story today, not so long ago many thousands of people with disabilities lived their entire lives in hospitals like this.
Read about the other entries on the list.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is on Rebecca Jane Stokes's list of seven books for fans of Orange Is The New Black, Gavin Extence's list of ten of the best underdogs in literature, Melvin Burgess's list of five notable books on drugs, and Darren Shan's top ten list of books about outsiders for teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ten Russian novels to read before you die

At Off the Shelf, Andrew Kaufman tagged ten Russian novels to read before you die, including:
The Funeral Party
by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

This English-language debut of one of contemporary Russia’s most important novelists describes the bizarre and touching interactions among a colorful cast of Russian émigrés living in New York who attend the deathbed of Alik, a failed, but well-liked painter. At once quirky and trenchant, The Funeral Party explores two of the biggest “accursed questions” of Russian literature—How to live? How to die?—as they play out in a tiny, muggy Manhattan apartment in the early 1990’s.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ten of the best detectives in books

Lucy Worsley is the author of The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock.

She tagged a ten best list of fictional detectives for Publishers Weekly, including:
Ida Arnold (Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, 1938)

It’s hardly doing justice to Brighton Rock to describe it as genre fiction, but a killing and a murderer are the heart of this book about faith and God.

The good-hearted but blowsy heroine Ida Arnold, our detective figure, goes after a killer with a truly modern mind. Pinkie, the young anti-hero, lacks motive apart from a nihilistic passion for violence and death. With its seamy, seaside-resort setting, its lonely and hopeless characters and its bleak outlook on life, Brighton Rock has much in common with the hard-edged noir fiction soon to come.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Brighton Rock is among Alex Barclay's top ten psychological thrillers and Linda Grant's five best books with novel approaches to kindness.

--Marshal Zeringue

The top ten modernizers in literature

John Grindrod is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain.

At the Guardian he tagged ten books--half are novels, half biographies--that "give a flavour of what the modern movement in architecture and planning was up to, particularly in postwar Britain." One entry on the list:
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A Caro (1974)

Robert Moses planned much of New York from the 1920s to the 60s. His epic J Edgar Hoover-like tenure was chronicled – and shredded – in this suitably colossal book. Tales of racism and dirty dealing are entwined with an enormous legacy of expressways and housing. From the era of All The President’s Men, Caro’s investigative storytelling is gripping throughout – and at over 1,000 pages, it needs to be.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The top forty Chicago novels

For Chicago Magazine Geoffrey Johnson rounded up the top forty Chicago novels, including:
The Man with the Golden Arm
Nelson Algren (1949)

A wounded vet and backsliding junkie, the card-dealing Frankie Machine inhabits Chicago’s seamy underside in this winner of the first National Book Award.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The author Pete Anderson applied the Page 69 Test to The Man with the Golden Arm.

There is a strong case for Nelson Algren as The Great Illinois Novelist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 17, 2014

The fifty greatest debut novels since 1950

At Flavorwire, Emily Temple tagged the fifty greatest debut novels since 1950.  One title on the list:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)

Half comedy, half tragedy, all delicious, complex storytelling and a titular character that’s hard to forget.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao also appears among Niall Williams's top ten bookworms' tales, Chrissie Gruebel's nine best last lines in literature, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, Jami Attenberg's top six books with overweight protagonists, Brooke Hauser's six top books about immigrants, Sara Gruen's six favorite books, Paste magazine's list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009), and The Millions' best books of fiction of the millenium. The novel is one of Matthew Kaminski's five favorite novels about immigrants in America and is a book that made a difference to Zoë Saldana.

The Page 99 Test: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Five novels about finding love in the darkness

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Dell Villa tagged five "contemporary novels abound with bittersweet tales of romance found under the bleakest of circumstances," including:
Lovers at the Chameleon Club Paris, 1932, by Francine Prose

Bohemian Paris in the 1930s was a haven for artists of all ilk. Painters, musicians, writers, and photographers flocked to the thriving, throbbing city for inspiration, and many of their paths converged at The Chameleon Club, a dazzling nightclub whose owner not only challenges gender roles on her main stage, but also harbors desperate runaways with desires that fall outside of traditional social norms. First on the eve of war, and then during German Occupation, love in Prose’s richly imagined Paris is always desperate, and never without ulterior motives, but while some of the liaisons are hopeless and tragic, one relationship alone is resilient and sustained.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Six YA authors fans of "The Hunger Games" will love

At the Telegraph Siân Ranscombe tagged six YA authors fans of The Hunger Games will love, including:
Veronica Roth, Divergent

The film adaptation of Divergent opened in March and has so far grossed over $250 million. Similar to The Hunger Games, the novel is set in a Chicago divided into five different factions, based on human virtues: Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity and Candor. When 16-year-old Beatrice Prior undergoes a compulsory test to decide into which faction she would best fit, she discovers she has the attributes of more than one faction and is therefore Divergent. She must keep this a secret, as the government cannot control the thinking of Divergents and are therefore considered a threat to society. Impressively/depressingly, author Roth is just 25 years old.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Divergent series is on Chrissie Gruebel's list of eleven books that will make you glad you're single and Joel Cunningham's list six great young adult book series for fans of The Hunger Games. Divergent is on Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten science fiction novels that pack more action than most summer movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Eight top fictional biographies of writers, artists & dancers

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Heidi Fiedler tagged eight great fictional biographies of writers, artists & dancers, including:
The Agony and the Ecstasy, by Irving Stone

This story of Michelangelo is one of the earliest books in the genre, but it’s as juicy as any of today’s tell-alls. There are all the flourishes of the Renaissance. The infamous Medicis. Unpopular popes. Art made of gold, for goodness’ sake. You will be transported.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ten top marriage thrillers

At The Huffington Post, Lucie Whitehouse tagged ten top psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart, including:
Broken Harbor by Tana French

The fourth novel in French's Dublin Murder Squad sequence, Broken Harbor is a literary detective story, a portrait of post-crash Ireland and a gripping, tragic story of a marriage of two people who tried to do everything right and paid the ultimate price.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Ten books you must read if you loved "Gone Girl" and Six domestic chillers for "Gone Girl" fans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ten top canine-human literary duos

Ellen Cooney is a fiction writer who lives in midcoast Maine. She is the author of nine novels; her stories have appeared in The New Yorker and many literary journals.

Cooney's new novel is The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances.

One of the author's top ten canine-human literary duos, as shared at the Huffington Post:
Argos and Odysseus

Well, Homer. Why doesn't Aeneas have a dog with him when he leaves Troy? Why doesn't Dido have a dog to comfort and maybe save her? What was the matter with Virgil to not put dog companions in The Aeneid? You'd think he was helping the whole thing of Greek epics being superior to Roman ones. But then, there's Homer on the faithful, heroic, patient, suffering, noble canine: "The doom of dark death now closed over the dog, Argos, when, after nineteen years had gone by, he had seen Odysseus."
Read about the other entries on the list.

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

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

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Ellen Cooney & Andy, Skip, and Maxine.

My Book, The Movie: The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances.

The Page 69 Test: The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Top ten fairytales

Marina Warner's award-winning studies of mythology and fairy tales include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, Stranger Magic: Charmed States & the Arabian Nights, From the Beast to the Blonde - on Fairy Tales and their Tellers, Monuments & Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form, and No Go the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock. Her Clarendon Lectures Fantastic Metamorphoses; Other Worlds were published in 2001; her essays on literature and culture were collected in Signs & Wonders, and Phantasmagoria, a study of spirits and technology.

Her new book is Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale.

At The Guardian, Warner tagged her ten top fairytales, including:
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

A fabulous comic quest story starring a child hero, this novella was written in hiding after the fatwa. Like many fairytales over their long tradition, its works as a happy adventure story and as a pointed political allegory about the silencing of dissent, the horrors of despotism and the joylessness that follows them. It epitomises the capacity of fairytales to “cross over”, and speaks to the times more vividly and more necessarily than ever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a book that made a difference to Josh Brolin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 10, 2014

Top ten fictional badgers

John Dougherty is a children’s author, poet, and songwriter. In his Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face books, the badgers are the bad guys ... as disruptive as actual badgers.

One of Dougherty's top ten fictional badgers, as shared at the Guardian:
The lendri (from Watership Down by Richard Adams)

Early on in the story, the rabbits encounter a creature with grinning jaws, eyes “full of savage cunning”, and blood on its lips. It was slightly shocking, as a child reading this for the first time, to encounter a fictional badger that wasn’t wise and kind. Its “fierce, terrible stare” introduced me to a whole new way of looking at badgers, which is why a creature that only gets a couple of paragraphs in the whole book deserves almost as much here. Besides which, I’ll take any excuse to sneak Watership Down into my top 10 list of anything.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Watership Down is on Piers Torday's top ten list of animal villains; it is a book Junot Díaz hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Four top YA books set in the country-music world

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged four top Young Adult books set in the country-music world, including:
Somebody Everybody Listens To, by Suzanne Supplee

Retta Lee Jones is a country star in the making, and everybody in her small town of Starling, Tennessee, knows it. All she has to do is get herself to Nashville and make her dreams come true. But it isn’t easy when she’s got no money, her parents’ marriage is falling apart, she hits mishap after mishap, and an unexpected critic makes her question whether her talent of mimicking the greats is really a talent at all. Filled with country flavor and fun facts about stars who hit it big, this is definitely a pick for seasoned fans, and great for younger YA readers.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lawrence Wright's six favorite books

Lawrence Wright is an author, screenwriter, playwright, and a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.

His books include The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, and most recently, Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Levels of the Game by John McPhee

No journalist of my generation can ignore the influence of McPhee, the great structuralist. He famously profiled Atlantic City using the Monopoly board as his template. In this book, he writes about tennis legends Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner as they play a semifinal match at the 1968 U.S. Open, but he manages to make it about two Americas, one white and one black.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ten books you must read if you loved "Gone Girl"

At Cosmopolitan, Megan Reynolds tagged ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, including:
Dare Me, by Megan Abbott

Abbott lights up the murky, nefarious inner workings of cheerleader best friends Addy and Beth, who compete for the attention of their cheerleading coach, a woman who expertly plays the girls' insecurities against each other, letting one into her adult world while keeping the other out. When a suspicious suicide brings attention to the coach and her team, the mystery-solving fun begins.

In the Woods, by Tana French

Prior to the murder that opens the novel, a little boy and his friends went into the woods and never came back. After a search, one of the little boys, Adam, was found clinging to a tree with blood on his shoes, unable to explain what happened to his friends, who were never found. Now, 25 years later, Adam has grown up to be Detective Robert Roy, investigating the gruesome murder of a 12-year old girl found in the very same woods. If you like the satisfying "whodunit" of a solid episode of Law and Order: SVU, then this blend of police procedural and psychological thriller is your top pick.
Read about the other books on the list.

Dare Me is among Anna Fitzpatrick's four top horror stories set in the real universe of girlhood and Adam Sternbergh's six notable crime novels that double as great literature.

In the Woods is among Emma Straub's ten top books that mimic the feeling of a summer vacation, the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books from Ireland's newer voices, and Judy Berman's ten fantastic novels with disappointing endings.

The Page 69 Test: In the Woods.

Also see: Six domestic chillers for "Gone Girl" fans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 6, 2014

Six notable books that blend fiction and art history

Susan Vreeland's latest novel is Lisette's List. One of her six favorite books that blend fiction and art history, as shared at The Week magazine:
I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

Oliveira reveals the tempestuous relationship of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas in this complex tour de force. Degas' ego initially conceals his hopes and self-doubt, feelings that animate every painter.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ten top boarding school novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Sabrina Rojas Weiss tagged ten favorite boarding school novels, including:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

Unattainable is no longer a word in Frankie Landau-Banks’ vocabulary when she comes back to her elite prep school newly hot and confident. Even when she finds out her boyfriend’s secret society won’t allow girls, she finds a way not just to infiltrate it, but to direct it from behind the scenes. Lockhart was a National Book Award finalist for this fine bit of feminist fun.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: James Browning's ten best boarding school books and Robon Stevens's top ten boarding school stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that changed Andy Griffiths

Andy Griffiths is one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors. Over the last 20 years his books have been New York Times bestsellers, adapted for the stage and television and won more than 50 Australian children’s choice awards.

One of five books that changed him, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Franz Kafka

This is the first line of Metamorphosis: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." This is the first line of The Day My Bum Went Psycho: 'Zack Freeman woke out of a deep sleep to see his bum perched on the ledge of his bedroom window." Coincidence? Or clumsily bowdlerised homage? Obviously the latter, but the utterly matter-of-fact way Kafka relates the extraordinarily surreal dilemma of Gregor Samsa hit me like a freight train as a teenager and, later, gave me a big clue about how to write humour.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Metamorphosis is among Jason Diamond's fifty most essential works of Jewish fiction and Thomas Bloor's top ten tales of metamorphosis; Avi Steinberg says it is one of six books every prison should stock.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Seven top works of Western fiction

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Monique Alice tagged seven top works of Western fiction, including:
The Hot Kid, by Elmore Leonard

Happily, nothing’s more fun than reading Elmore Leonard. He introduces us to Carlos “Carl” Webster, a U.S. Marshall sworn to rid 1920s Oklahoma of such scum as “Babyface” Nelson and the notorious John Dillinger. Leonard is at his best with this work, giving us line after line of quick-witted dialogue delivered by a host of, shall we say, idiosyncratic characters. The word this novel conjures up is that defining hallmark of the West itself: wild.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 3, 2014

Five overlooked classic books from the Sunshine State

Randy Wayne White's novels featuring marine biologist Doc Ford and quirky pal, Tomlinson, have enjoyed a growing cult following since the first book appeared in 1990. At The Daily Beast, the Florida author tagged five overlooked classic books from the Sunshine State, including:
Richard Powell, I Take This Land

A 1963 novel about South Florida, written with the broad yet intricate brush of Gone With The Wind, but it was published during a newspaper strike so went unnoticed. Powell ranks with Patrick Smith in the hierarchy of Florida historical novelists and that is lofty territory, indeed. Powell also wrote a hilarious book set in a fictionalized Pine Island, Florida: Pioneer Go Home, which became the Elvis Presley movie “Follow That Dream.” (Probably Elvis’ best). Powell’s satire Don Quixote, USA also became a film, but a shamefully bad one—Bananas, by Woody Allen, whose efforts did an injustice to Powell’s humor and depth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine books Bill Gates thinks everyone should read

For Business Insider, Drake Baer went through the last four years of Bill Gates's book criticism to find "the ones that he gave glowing reviews and that changed his perspective." One title on the list:
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

In "Better Angels," Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker branches out into the history of the most contentious of subjects: violence.

Gates says it's one of the most important books he's ever read.

"Pinker presents a tremendous amount of evidence that humans have gradually become much less violent and much more humane," he says, in a trend that started thousands of years ago and continued until this day.

This isn't just ivory-tower theory. Gates says the book has affected his humanitarian work.

"As I'm someone who’s fairly optimistic in general," he says, "the book struck a chord with me and got me to thinking about some of our foundation's strategies."
Read about the other books on the list.

The Better Angels of Our Nature is one of Fareed Zakaria's six favorite books.

Learn more about Steven Pinker's top five books on the decline of violence, his most important books and five best list of books that explore human nature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The top ten rural Irish books

Paul Charles's new book is The Lonesome Heart is Angry.

One of his top ten rural Irish books, as shared at the Guardian:
The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor

This story starts off with Lucy’s father, Captain Gault, firing a warning shot at a young arsonist. Gault wounds the arsonist and, fearing repercussions, he plans to move the family to England. Lucy, still a child, decides she can’t abide leaving their wonderful house by the sea, and so the night before departure she hides in the woods. Her parents are led to believe she has drowned. Lucy’s dream comes true and she gets to stay in the house and is taken care of by the servants-cum-caretaker-farmers. William Trevor guides us compellingly through a deeply lonely, loveless and guilt-ridden life in this unforgettable book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Five can’t-miss classics of dystopian fiction

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged five can’t-miss classics of dystopian fiction, including:
This Perfect Day, by Ira Levin

If you haven’t heard of this 1970 novel (which is entirely possible, as it seems to fly under the radar), get ready to stay up all night reading. Though Levin is better known for Rosemary’s Baby, to my mind This Perfect Day is his masterpiece. Under the benevolent control of a computer called Uni, the world’s population is peaceful and happy, provided they take their monthly drugs. Initially the hero, Chip, is a conformist: when his grandfather warns him Uni has a dark side, six-year-old Chip promptly reports him to the authorities. Years later his grandfather’s words return to him, and a rebel leader is born.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue