Saturday, January 31, 2015

Five top fantasy novels about deeply-flawed, despicable people

Myke Cole is the author of the Shadow Ops series.

One of his "top five fantasy novels with deeply-flawed, nasty, rotten, mean, horrid, and downright fascinating protagonists," as shared at the Tor blog:
The Warden, from Low Town by Daniel Polansky

The Warden is a mid-level criminal boss, running drugs, prostitution and theft rackets in the worst neighborhoods of his city. He’s a thief, a murderer, a pusher and a lowlife of the worst kind. But he also runs a bar with his best friend, reluctantly fosters a runaway, and still finds time to save the world.

The Warden dreams of being something more than just a thug, while still embracing the tools of his dark trade. The conflict between ends and means make the character and the book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Low Town.

Writers Read: Daniel Polansky (September 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 30, 2015

Nine action-packed books more entertaining than any movie

One title from Kirkus's list of nine action-packed books more entertaining than any movie:
by Katie Dale

Sometimes lying is the only way to get to the truth for one teen in this British thriller.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Little White Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The top 10 books about returning from war

Phil Klay is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. In 2014 his short story collection Redeployment was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize and won the National Book Award for Fiction.

One of his top ten books about returning from war, as shared at the Guardian:
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

This savagely funny book satirises the empty rituals and political theatre that determine so much of our response to returned veterans. The main character, brought from Iraq with his squad to take part in a football halftime show, looks around him and thinks, “There’s something harsh in his fellow Americans, avid, ecstatic, a burning that comes of the deepest need. That’s his sense of it, they all need something from him, this pack of half-rich lawyers, dentists, soccer moms, and corporate VPs, they’re all gnashing for a piece of a barely grown grunt making $14,800 a year.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fourteen novels about Muslim life that open up worlds for their audiences

At BuzzFeed, Ahmed Ali Akbar tagged 14 novels about Muslim life that open up worlds for their audiences, including:
Secret Son by Laila Lalami — Morocco

What it’s all about: A young man dreams of a missing father and escape from the slums of Casablanca.

Why you should read it: It gives you perspective on the appeal and role of religious parties among the poor.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Secret Son.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ten top books for reluctant and dyslexic readers

Tom Palmer is a UK-based writer of fiction for children.

At the Guardian he tagged ten top books for reluctant and dyslexic readers, including:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

I think the Wimpy Kid books have had a huge impact on engaging children to read. They are written in a chunked-up diary style. Lots illustrations that aren’t that far off what we could draw ourselves. Funny. Modern. Almost comic book style. These books tear down many of the barriers that put children off reading. And ultra-confident readers love them just as much as struggling readers. Ask a hall full of 120 kids who has read Wimpy Kid and 110 hands will go up. With smiling faces on the end of them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is among Rebecca Westcott's top ten diary books, Jeremy Strong's top ten funniest fictional families, and Adam Lancaster's top ten "library" books.

Also see Sally Gardner's top ten books for children with dyslexia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 26, 2015

Six top books about literal and metaphorical monsters

Seth Grahame-Smith is the author of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and, more recently, The Last American Vampire.

For The Week magazine he tagged his six favorite books about literal and metaphorical monsters, including:
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

No book frightened me more as a boy, because it told a chilling truth: Our parents can't protect us from the evils of the world. A haunting, beautiful tale everyone should read while they're young and then reread when they're withered, old, and full of regret.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of Adrian Scarborough's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ten must-reads for Liane Moriarty fans

Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of six internationally best-selling novels, including Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist's Love Story and the number 1 New York Times bestsellers, The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies.

At B & N Reads Rebecca Jane Stokes tagged ten books for readers who read and loved Moriarty's books, including:
The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud

This novel is almost like the aughts’ answer to [Mary] McCarthy’s [The Group]. It follows three friends who are turning thirty and how they’re making it (or not) while trying to forge lives for themselves in New York City. Messud’s writing is beautiful and cutting.
Learn about the other books on the list.

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

See: Liane Moriarty's 3 favorite books of 2014.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Five top YA horror novels

One title on Dahlia Adler's list of five top Young Adult horror novels, as shared on The Barnes & Noble Book Blog:
The Girl From the Well, by Rin Chupeco

Japanese folklore meets literary horror in Chupeco’s chilling debut, following a ghostly girl who avenges murdered children. The central living, breathing human in this story is Tarquin, a mysteriously tattooed boy with literal demons who befriends the spectral Okiku. Rife with poetic language, beautiful Japanese imagery, plenty of cultural references, and the occasional incident of gore, this is horror with something for everyone.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five inspiring books on mental health

Sarah Rayner is the British author of five novels and one non-fiction book, Making Friends with Anxiety.

For the Picador Blog she tagged five inspiring books on mental health, including:
The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz

Distilling decades of therapeutic work into a slim volume that reads like a collection of short stories, Grosz offers an intriguing insight into contemporary psychoanalysis. A married father-of-four announces that he is thinking of coming out, aged 71, while a woman who has just celebrated her 50th birthday realises a sexy dream that bothered her was about her son. Anger, self-delusion, lying, being stuck – Grosz even shows how boredom is worth thinking about. He draws not just on his patients, but literature too – Scrooge reveals how we can't live a life without loss, a Herman Melville character illustrates how ‘we all have a cheering voice that says "let us start now, right away" and an opposing, negative voice that responds "I would prefer not to."’

But the real joy of this book is that all this is done with such a light touch. The language of psychotherapy can be off-putting to those not familiar with it – I should know, as my father, Eric Rayner, was a psychoanalyst so when I was growing up our home was full of shrinks talking shop and I couldn’t understand much of what they said. The Examined Life avoids jargon and to have made complex theories accessible to a mainstream audience is a fine achievement.
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see: Eight great YA novels involving characters who struggle with mental illness and Five best novels that focus on mental disorders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best recent books that give an honest account of war

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 B & N Reads Somers tagged seven of the best recent books that give an honest account of war, including:
Redeployment, by Phil Klay

War is a complex machine with a lot of players, from elite SEALs and snipers to everyday soldiers facing impossible emotional challenges. These men and women must deal with incredible, absurd requirements in the theater of war and then, somehow, adjust to life back at home. In this short story collection, which won the 2014 National Book Award, Klay tells the stories of solders fighting battles, managing corpses, and trying to build countries. The unifying trait is the powerful emotional impact of each story.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Top ten novels about lost friendships

Chris Killen is the author of the novels The Bird Room and In Real Life.

At the Guardian he tagged a top ten list of novels about lost friendships, including:
Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker

Poor old Paul Chowder. Over the course of The Anthologist and this, its sequel, I’ve kind of come to regard the gentle, hapless poet-narrator of these novels as a personal friend due to the sheer warmth and confessional intimacy with which he addresses me. And in this novel, Paul spends the majority of his time missing and yearning for his friend (and ex) Roz.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The 21st century’s 12 greatest novels

BBC Culture polled several dozen book critics and asked each to name the best novels published in English since 1 January 2000. The critics named 156 novels in all. One title from among the top twelve:
3. Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (2009)

Mantel’s boldly reimagined saga of 16th Century Europe, told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell (with Henry VIII as a supporting character), won the Man Booker and National Book Critics Circle awards, was adapted to the stage and has been filmed as a new BBC miniseries. “The brilliance of retelling an oft-told tale is beautifully illustrated in Mantel's flawless examination of power through the rise of Thomas Cromwell,” notes critic Karen R Long. Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times book editor and co-host of Well Read TV, writes: “I have never felt so completely catapulted into a character’s mind, not to mention a long ago and far away place.” Mantel’s sequel, Bring in the Bodies, also gathered votes.
Read about the other books on the list.

Wolf Hall made Ester Bloom's ten list of books for fans of the television series House of Cards, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Kathryn Williams's reading list on pride, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of books on baby-watching in Great Britain, Julie Buntin's top ten list of literary kids with deadbeat and/or absent dads, Hermione Norris's 6 best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best cardinals in literature, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on dangerous minds and Lev Grossman's list of the top ten fiction books of 2009, and is one of Geraldine Brooks's favorite works of historical fiction; Matt Beynon Rees called it "[s]imply the best historical novel for many, many years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Five books that are the first in their respective genres

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 B & N Reads Somers tagged five books that are arguably the first in their respective genres. The book that marks the start of the YA novel:
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

It seems strange today, but the concept of “childhood” as a separate and distinct period of life is pretty recent. Of course, the odds of surviving childhood have greatly improved only pretty recently, too, so it does make sense. While a lot of novels are floated as the first book intended for a young audience, Alcott’s Little Women (1868) is the earliest one to have all the features: A focus on youthful characters and their struggles, a story that presents an idyllic starting point that becomes complicated by adult concerns, and a realistic approach to the concerns of youth. It’s easy to see the seeds of the whole genre in this wonderful book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Women also appears among Kate Kellaway's ten best Christmases in literature, Bea Davenport's top ten books about hair, nine notable unsung literary heroines, Sophie McKenzie's top ten mothers in children's books, John Dugdale's ten notable fictional works on winter sports, Melissa Albert's five favorite YA books that might make one cry, Anjelica Huston's seven favorite coming-of-age books, Bidisha's ten top books about women, Katherine Rundell's top ten descriptions of food in fiction, Gwyneth Rees's ten top books about siblings, Maya Angelou's 6 favorite books, Tim Lewis's ten best Christmas lunches in literature, and on the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Erin Blakemore's list of five gutsy heroines to channel on an off day, Kate Saunders' critic's chart of mothers and daughters in literature, and ZoĆ« Heller's list of five memorable portraits of sisters. It is a book that disappointed Geraldine Brooks on re-reading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 19, 2015

The ten best quotable novels

Alex Clark formerly wrote for the Observer Magazine.

One entry on her list of the ten best quotable novels, as shared at the Guardian:
Animal Farm
George Orwell, 1945

“Four legs good, two legs bad”, a key tenet of Animalism, the credo by which the animal characters – or “Beasts of England” – wage their war against human governance, has lodged firmly in the language, as has the evidence of their corruption, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. Orwell’s purpose was to allegorise revolutionary and Stalinist Russia; his brilliant ear for the bombast of totalitarianism carried through to Nineteen Eighty-Four, published six months before his death in 1950, with its “Newspeak”, “doublethink”, “thoughtcrime” and, of course, “Big Brother”.
Read about the other titles on the list.

Animal Farm is one of Piers Torday's top ten books with animal villains, Robson Green's six best books, Heather Brooke's five books on holding power to account, Chuck Klosterman's most important books; it appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pigs in literature and Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of well-known and beloved science fiction and fantasy novels that were rejected over and over.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The ten greatest put-downs in literature

Reporters at the Telegraph came up with the ten greatest put-downs in literature.

One entry on the list:
"I misjudged you... You're not a moron. You're only a case of arrested development." - The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway - (Character: Harvey Stone)
Read about the other put-downs on the list.

The Sun Also Rises is on Amy Hopkins's top ten list of bars and pubs in literature, 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.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books of rural Wales

Cynan Jones's novels include The Long Dry, Everything I Found on the Beach, Bird, Blood, Snow, and The Dig.

One of his top ten books of rural Wales, as shared at the Guardian:
The Owl Service by Alan Garner

“Wherever you go you can think of that noise, and you know what you hear in your head is in the valley at the same moment. It never stops. It never has stopped since it began.”

I first read The Owl Service when I was a child. At the time it wasn’t the setting that struck me - I was used to that. I was also used to the feeling of some ancient, or more accurately “always present” otherness in that setting: something Garner pitches perfectly in this extraordinary story inspired by the Blodeuwedd myth from the Mabinogion. Garner’s physical descriptions are beautiful and accurate in their ability to unnerve or mesmerise, while the tension between the visiting English owners of the old farm and the Welsh staff who belong there highlights the tension that has long been and always will be between incomers and indigenous folk.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Julian Ovenden's six best books

Julian Ovenden is an English actor and singer most recently seen as the dashing Charles Blake in Downton Abbey.

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

For some reason this book really speaks to me. I find it very moving and affecting, sad and full of wisdom.

I have read it three times and will revisit it again I'm sure.
Read about the other books on the list.

Lee Child called The Unbearable Lightness of Being "his private pick for the 20th–century novel that will live the longest." John Mullan includes it among ten of the best visits to the lavatory in literature. It is one of Olen Steinhauer's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books to whisk us away to sunny vistas and ocean-swept sands

At B & N Reads Ellen Wehle tagged five books to whisk us away to sunny vistas and ocean-swept sands, including:
The Girls from Corona del Mar, by Rufi Thorpe

When 15-year-old Mia needs to skip a softball game, she tells her best friend, Lorrie Ann, “You’re going to have to break one of my toes,” and calmly hands her a hammer. That mix of fearlessness and bad judgment (why not just fake a stomachache?) makes Mia an unforgettable heroine, if not always a nice one. Over the years, kind, beautiful Lorrie Ann plays angel to Mia’s devil until repeated tragedies—involving Lorrie Ann’s disabled son and the death of her soldier husband—force both girls out of their tidy roles and into the messiness of life. Thorpe perfectly captures the rhythms of female friendship in this riveting debut.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Girls from Corona del Mar.

My Book, The Movie: The Girls from Corona del Mar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 16, 2015

Top ten magical worlds

Lindsay Taylor and Suzanne Smith are the authors of the Hattie B, Magical Vet series.

One of their ten favorite fantasy realms, as shared at the Guardian:
Narnia in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Lewis managed to conjure such vivid imagery of a faraway mythical land, a place where the animals can talk, where the White Witch rules and the formidable Aslan guards the land and leads battles that it is impossible to have anything less than a fantastic vision of Narnia in your mind. If we could choose to travel to any magical world we would choose Narnia every time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Narnia Chronicles pop up on Melissa Albert's list of four of the most memorable holiday gifts in fiction, Paul Goat Allen's list of the ten most badass women in fantasy literature. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is on Lev Grossman's list of the six greatest fantasy books of all time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Top ten books about revolutionaries

Neel Mukherjee’s second novel, The Lives of Others, was published in the UK in May 2014, in India in June 2014, and in the USA in October 2014. The Lives of Others was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014. It has also been shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award.

At the Guardian Mukherjee tagged his top ten books about revolutionaries, including:
The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1872)

I have given the old title – a wrong one; in modern translations, it is the more accurate Demons – simply because I read it first, in Constance Garnett’s translation, as The Possessed. I cannot decide whether Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky should be branded as the true revolutionary in this scathing denunciation of idealistic, utopian revolutions, since the obvious revolutionary, his son, Pyotr Stepanovich, who drives the nihilistic shenanigans in a provincial town in Russia, is influenced so markedly by Verkhovensky Sr’s views. This is an intensely political novel, examining, broadly, five different and opposing ideologies, but Dostoevsky reserves the brunt of his ire for the new-fangled nihilism of Pyotr Stepanovich. While the scepticism is bracing, I do not warm to Dostoevsky’s Russian Orthodox Christianity.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Selma Dabbagh's ten favorite reluctant revolutionaries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Top ten books about the suffragettes

Lucy Ribchester is a fiction and dance writer based in Edinburgh. Her first novel The Hourglass Factory debuts in the UK this month. One of her top ten books about the suffragettes, as shared at the Guardian:
Votes for Women: The Virago Book of Suffragettes, edited by Joyce Marlow (2001)

This huge collection of documents, speeches, journals, extracts from books and letters relating to the women’s movement is invaluable for history detectives. Highlights include a stiffly worded letter from a gentleman complaining to the home secretary about the lack of sanitary towels for suffragettes in Holloway (while avoiding using the phrase “sanitary towels”) and a Daily Express article about Miss Muriel Matters who took to a dirigible to drop paper bills on parliament in return for their “dropping” of the women’s suffrage bills. Also illuminating is the Women’s National Anti-Suffrage Manifesto, a reminder of how many women were against the suffrage cause.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Five books for viewers of HBO’s "Girls"

At B & N Reads Melissa Albert tagged five books to celebrate the start of the new season of HBO’s Girls, including:
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., by Adelle Waldman

Waldman’s gimlet-eyed, Brooklyn-set debut examines a callow young man’s romantic entanglements through a magnifying mirror. Nathaniel P. is a modestly successful writer with a certain scruffy, indecisive charm, who shambles through one relationship and into another, learning very little about himself on the journey. The Girls would be right at home among his artistically ambitious, emotionally shallow crew, and you know he’d end up dating at least two of them.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. also appears among Esquire's five most important books of 2014 and Radhika Sanghani's top ten books to make sure you've read before graduating college.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 12, 2015

Six top fiction books that feature real-life characters

Stewart O'Nan's newest novel is West of Sunset.

One of the author's six favorite fiction books that feature real-life characters, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Just a cameo by William Holden on a New Orleans street corner is enough to launch Binx Bolling on his search for an authentic life. Percy captures our desire to see the actual reflected in fiction (in this case, film) and thus made real.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Moviegoer is among Ron Rash's six favorite Southern fiction books, The Barnes & Noble Review's five top books on New Orleans, Jon Krakauer's five best books about mortality and existential angst, and Richard Ford's 5 most essential books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The 27 best overlooked books of 2014

Slate Book Review critics tagged 27 great books you never heard about—but should’ve, including:
Phillip Maciak recommends Envisioning Freedom: Cinema and the Building of Modern Black Life, by Cara Caddoo:

According to Cara Caddoo’s lively, readable, richly detailed new history of African-American film cultures at the turn of the 20th century, the cinema was a central motor force for the formation of racial identity and community in the era of Jim Crow. Envisioning Freedom, which packs a tremendous amount of fascinating incident into a relatively short page count, introduces us to black church leaders in the Midwest who invested heavily in film technology as a tool for their ministries, embattled black theater owners in the segregated South, and the pioneers of African-American independent cinema at home and abroad. And Caddoo’s account of the mass protest movement that arose against D.W. Griffith’s racist epic The Birth of a Nation provides a moving case study in the age of Ferguson and the New Jim Crow.
Learn about the other books on the list.

Interview: Cara Caddoo.

The Page 99 Test: Envisioning Freedom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Five top books from the real Montana

Carrie La Seur is an energy and environmental lawyer in Billings, Montana, and the author of The Home Place: A Novel.

One of her five top books from the real Montana, as shared at The Daily Beast:
Judy Blunt, Breaking Clean

Many Montana stories are about getting out. Blunt left the eastern Montana ranch country where she grew up and writes about that history in a memoir so powerful and honest that the reader is almost uncomfortable imagining the reactions of Blunt’s real-life characters. When 30-year-old John seeks 18-year-old Judy’s hand as helpmeet on the 36,000 acre family spread, Judy longs mutely for her mother’s encouragement into another sort of life. Her mother merely kneads the daily bread and says, “He’s a good man.” John only says “I love you” once in their married life but “never took it back, did I?” When her writing distracts Judy from producing lunch promptly for the haying crew, her father-in-law smashes the dearly bought typewriter with a sledgehammer. The women in her family die young from childbearing and harsh living. The men remarry, move on. A creeping sense develops that Judy fled not just a stifling culture but a genuine existential threat. A person like her could not be allowed to survive in this place. Her willingness to tell the story unvarnished, stripped of sunsets and raptures about the land, is a revelation in itself, a 20th century non sequitur that defies all expectation.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 9, 2015

Top ten books about adopted and fostered children

Keren David's latest book Salvage is about siblings Aidan and Cass who were parted as young children.

One of the author's top ten books about adopted and fostered children, as shared at the Guardian:
Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay

Saffy doesn’t even realise that she was adopted by her aunt and uncle, until one fateful day when she looks at the paint chart where all the children’s names come from and realises that hers is not there. So begins a quest to discover her past, which takes her to Italy and uncovers some big secrets. First in the wonderful Casson family series.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The top ten winters in literature

At the Guardian Richard Hirst tagged the top ten winters in literature, including:
The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)

There emerged towards the end of the 19th century a mini-industry based around polar exploration, and no voyage was complete without its heroes’ bestselling diaries and memoirs. The most enjoyable of these remains The Worst Journey in the World, a title which is no mere hyperbole. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, one of the survivors of Scott’s doomed 1910 expedition, wrote the book as a means of overcoming what would now be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. There is more than a touch of the absurd – the core of the narrative focuses on a perilous trek in search of a penguin egg – and in many ways Cherry-Garrard’s entirely needless suffering foreshadows that slouching towards Europe in the guise of the first world war. But what makes it such an engrossing read is his almost hallucinatory attention to detail: the frozen-rigid clothes limiting his movements, the blisters in his fingers turning to ice, and the maddening wide-open twilight of the Antarctic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Worst Journey in the World is on Max Jones's top ten list of books about exploration, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on navigators, Ian Marchant's top ten list of books of the night, and the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on winter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Eleven of 2014's best debut novels and story collections

Morgan Ribera rounded up eleven of 2014's best debut novels and story collections for Bustle. One title on the list:
Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce

Prepared to be wooed by the searing voice of Marie, the fiery but fragile narrator of Merritt Tierce’s first novel. Fierce, fearless, and unconventional, Tierce’s debut Love Me Back delivers a raw, startling portrait of the high-end service industry world through the eyes of one young woman on the brink of self-destruction. With lurid storytelling and seductive yet precise prose, Tierce turns a world we thought we knew into something strange, gritty, and wholly new.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten excellent books you might have missed in 2014

At The Christian Science Monitor Danny Heitman tagged ten excellent books you might have missed in 2014, including:
Blue Horses, by Mary Oliver

Oliver, a longtime New Englander now relocated to Florida, finds new territory to explore in these luminous poems about the natural world. A Transcendentalist in the Emersonian tradition, she reads her landscapes like Braille. Her poems so textured that they engage the fingertips as much as the eyes.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Top ten teen books to save your life

Jennifer Niven's new novel is All the Bright Places.

At the Guardian she tagged her "top 10 lovely, tough, honest, and ultimately life-affirming YA books," including:
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Craig Gilner always thought he was brilliant and exceptional. Until he’s accepted at Manhattan’s elite Executive Pre-Professional High School, where he finds out he’s actually pretty average. Life as he’s always known it is over – suddenly his perfectly planned future seems improbable, maybe impossible. Craig stops eating and sleeping. And he tries to kill himself. He’s so rattled by the near-death experience, he checks himself into a mental hospital, where he attempts to put the pieces of himself and his life back together. Ned Vizzini tragically died of suicide in 2013, but what he’s created on these pages is a reassuringly funny, human, and touching tale of hope.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: It's Kind of A Funny Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 5, 2015

The top ten stories of real-life peril

Emma Barrett is a Chartered Psychologist based in the United Kingdom. She is Honorary Researcher in Psychology at Lancaster University and is co-author, with Paul Martin, of Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits.

At the Guardian, Barrett and Martin tagged ten of their favorite books about and by people in extremes, including:
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (Macmillan, 2013)

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield does a fine job of applying the lessons of space to everyday life on earth. Work hard, value learning, remember that the journey is worthwhile even if the destination seems unattainable, and keep things in proportion. And try to be nice. As Hadfield points out, “no one wants to go into space with a jerk”. Sound advice, indeed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Fifteen of the spookiest books

One title on the Telegraph's list of the scariest books:
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill (2007)

Like father like son... Joe Hill proved he is capable of writing tales as unsettling as those of his father Stephen King with this poltergeist caper about an ageing rock star who collects macabre memorabilia.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Christian Science Monitor's ten top nonfiction books, 2014

One of the ten nonfiction titles that the Christian Science Monitor’s book critics admired most in 2014:
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott

Four women – two Union sympathizers and two proud Rebels – served their causes in surprising fashions during the US Civil War. Karen Abbott’s narrative gifts turn these real-life stories of espionage and remarkable derring-do into a true page turner.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ten top giraffes in children's books

Dianne Hofmeyr grew up on the tip of Southern Africa. An art teacher, she has written teenage novels and picture books, and has won the M-Net Award for fiction, as well as two IBBY Honor Books. Her books include Zeraffa Giraffa, The Faraway Island, The Star Bearer and The Magic Bojabi Tree.

At the Guardian she tagged ten top giraffes in children's books, including:
Abigail by Catherine Rayner

Abigail the giraffe, loves to count but is bedazzled by the stripes of the zebras and the splotches of the cheetah and utterly fails to count all their spots and stripes. But then she discovers there is one thing she is good at counting because of her very long neck – the stars. Beautifully illustrated across spreads that suggest the wide savannah and the large open night skies of Africa and where the size of Abigail is emphasised by having her half disappear off the page. Lovely splotchy end pages too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that changed Carol Wall

Carol Wall was the author of Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart.

One of five books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Washington Square
Henry James

What a great story—a masterpiece of storytelling. Not a single step is placed awry. I also found it amazing how much my students were drawn to the 1949 film adaptation, The Heiress, starring Olivia de Havilland. They would start off making snide remarks over being forced to watch an "old movie" in class. Invariably, they were racing to my classroom so that they could watch as much as possible during that day’s class time.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Five books set on New Year’s Eve (and Day)

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

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Somers tagged five memorable books set on New Year’s Eve (and Day), including:
Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding

Let’s not dismiss this book—it’s a modern classic of its genre, and it’s easy to forget what a phenomenon it was back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s also a book that begins on New Year’s Day and dives enthusiastically into one of the great inner monologues of modern literature, as Bridget worries, records, and contemplates the proper method of making and keeping resolutions almost from the book’s very first moment. Read it if you’re worried about breaking your New Year’s resolutions—it will remind that ultimately it probably doesn’t matter, as long as you enjoy the debacle.
Read about the other books on the list.

Bridget Jones's Diary also appears on Rebecca Jane Stokes's top eight list of books perfect for reality TV fiends, Melissa Albert list of six of the worst fictional characters to sit next to on a plane, Allegra Frazier's list of five top diary novels, Gigi Levangie Grazer's list of six favorite books that became movies, Caryn James's top five list of recent novels that channel classics, Sean O'Hagan's list of the ten best fictional hangovers in print, film and song, Christina Koning's list of the best of chick-lit, and a list of eight books for the broken-hearted.

Also see John Mullan's ten most notable New Years in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top eleven mysteries of 2014

At MysteryPeople, Scott tagged his top eleven mysteries of 2014, including:
The Hollow Girl by Reed Farrel Coleman

The final Moe Prager novel deeply involves Coleman’s recurring theme of identity in a way that forces one of the most human private detectives ever put on the page to deal with his own concept of self. A pitch perfect swan song.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Hollow Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue