Sunday, May 31, 2015

The six best books for introverts

Jennifer Mathieu is a Young Adult author. Her new novel is Devoted.

One of her six best books for introverts, as shared at The Huffington Post:
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

As someone who has battled mild OCD since childhood, I can tell you that in OCD Love Story, Haydu painted this disorder with real understanding and care. Haydu's novel follows Bea -- a compulsive "checker" who doesn't want to acknowledge how uncontrolled her OCD really is -- and Beck, a young man whose compulsions force himself to work out heavily and stay impeccably clean. When the two meet at a support group for teenagers with OCD, romance blooms, but how will they fall in love when they have to use so much energy to fight off their compulsions? Haydu handles the tricky topic with sensitivity and delivers a realistic yet hopeful ending.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: OCD Love Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Nine books even non-readers will love

Nicole Dieker is a freelance writer, copywriter, and blogger. At B & N Reads she tagged nine books even non-readers will love, including:
Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews

If you’re of a certain age, V.C. Andrews’ 1979 Flowers in the Attic might have been passed to you under a desk in middle school, making its way from one backpack to another so it could be taken home and read in secret. Even the cover implied secrets: the flap with the rectangle cut out so you could pull it back and see the four Dollanganger siblings with their grandmother looming overhead.

Once you gorged yourself on the melodramatic prose, you could follow it up with the even more melodramatic 1987 movie, which seemed pre-designed to be screened during slumber parties. Of course, if you read or watched Flowers in the Attic in the ’80s or ’90s, you probably gathered your friends together to have a wine-and-cheese screening of the 2014 Lifetime movie remake, and tweet about how Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka is (impossibly!) old enough to play Cathy.

And maybe you’ve kept your copy of Flowers in the Attic with the vague idea that you might give it to your own daughter someday. But maybe it’s better if she gets it surreptitiously passed to her from a friend.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books with turning points for teens

Liz Kessler is the author of the New York Times best-selling series about Emily Windsnap, as well as three adventures about Philippa Fisher and her fairy godsister. She is also the author of the middle-grade novel A Year Without Autumn and the YA novel, Read Me Like A Book.

One of Kessler's ten favorite books involving a turning point for a teen, as shared at the Guardian:
The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell

One of my favourite 2015 debuts, Sarah Benwell’s beautiful and heartbreaking book features Japanese teenager Sora who is diagnosed with ALS (known in the UK as motor neurone disease). Sora’s story is about rising above the limitations imposed by his illness and finding strength in both the ancient wisdom of the Samurai and the current support of his two best friends. When Sora realises exactly what he has to do, and takes control of his life, he makes a decision that none of us would ever want to face.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 29, 2015

Five top YA time travel novels

At B & N Teen Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged five top YA time travel novels, including:
Proof of Forever, by Lexa Hillyer

Four friends grow apart after spending months’ worth of summer camp together, but they’re about to get the chance to reconnect…whether they like it or not. All four girls are sent back in time, and they have to relive their lives to find a way back to the present. Don’t be fooled by the lighthearted setting, this novel has depth.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Top ten unlikely friendships in literature

Alex Hourston’s first novel In My House was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2013. One of her top ten unlikely friendships in literature, as shared at the Guardian:
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

“How angry am I? You don’t want to know. Nobody wants to know about that,” opens Messud’s book, introducing us to Nora, single, 42 and tired of being good. She rewinds to tell us the story of her relationships with the Shahid family, each of them beautiful, brilliant and kind. We know from the outset that the ending won’t be pretty; the novel explores the ways in which both parties use each other, before landing on an unguessable twist.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Seven books that explore what might happen when technology betrays us

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 books that explore what might happen when technology betrays us, including:
Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton

It’s a tale as old as time: Man figures out how to clone dinosaurs, dinosaurs turn around and eat man. The idea that there are things mankind was not meant to investigate is an ancient one, that has served as the basis for horror novels since time immemorial. Jurassic Park updates this concept of forbidden knowledge and the rotten fruits it yields with the slick idea of cloning dinosaurs from residual DNA traces—with predictably horrific results. If only people would stop thinking cloning is merely incredibly creepy and realize it could also knock us all down a notch on the food chain.
Read about the other books on the list.

Jurassic Park is among Damian Dibben's top ten time travel books and Becky Ferreira's eleven best books about dinosaurs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Five sci-fi books featuring homicidal artificial minds

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 B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Somers tagged five sci-fi books featuring homicidal artificial minds, including:
A.I. Apocalypse, by William Hertling

Hertling mimics Ultron’s use of the internet in this fast-paced, fun novel, but does it one better. When a talented programmer is forced to create a computer virus, he does too good of a job. It infects everything, everywhere, and the world shudders to a stop as every single computer-controlled aspect of life—which is, these days, everything—stops working. And then the virus gains sentience, and things go from bad to worse. Hertling makes the idea of a rogue A.I. using the Internet much more terrifying than the Marvel blockbuster, which basically reduces the internet to a hiding place and library for the Big Bad.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 25, 2015

Nick Offerman’s six favorite books

Actor Nick Offerman (NBC's Parks and Recreation) has a new book out: Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom With America's Gutsiest Troublemakers.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Tenth of December by George Saunders

Saunders, one of our most hilarious and incisive living writers, is another author whose entire canon I can recommend with enthusiasm. I suggest reading this masterful book of short stories twice; the interconnectedness of the themes seems even more profound on the second pass.
Read about the other entries of the list.

The Tenth of December is among Melissa Albert's four books that will make you glad you are alive now (and not in the past or the future).

Also see: Nick Offerman’s 12 favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Seven YA novels for the pop-culture obsessed

Rachel Paxton-Gillilan is a freelance writer and semi-professional nerd.

At the B & N Teen Blog she tagged seven Young Adult novels for the pop-culture obsessed, including:
The Summer I Became a Nerd, by Leah Rae Miller

Comic books and superheroes have pleasingly transitioned from nerdbait into just plain awesome for everyone. But if your comic book love is strong, this is the book for you. Madelyne keeps her nerd-self super-secret, actively lying about it to everyone including herself. During the school year, it’s all pom poms and pep rallies, but during the summer, she becomes a raging comic book fanatic. When Logan discovers her secret, the two spend a summer bonding over comic books, live-action role playing, and first-person shooter games. So basically, they have the best summer ever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Matthew Crawford's six favorite books

Matthew B. Crawford is the author of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work and The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Tacit Dimension by Michael Polanyi

Polanyi, a Hungarian philosopher, analyzed the experience of a blind man using a cane to consider how our tools shape our attention once they've become unobtrusive extensions of the human body. This has far-reaching consequences for how we understand the role of the body in cognition, and for design.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten sci-fi sagas for teens

Paul Magrs' latest novel is Lost on Mars.

At the Guardian, he tagged his top ten sci-fi sagas for teens, including:
The Tears of the Singers by Melinda Snodgrass

My guilty secret all these years has been my being a fan of Star Trek not in any of its TV or movie incarnations in particular – but rather the original novels from the 1980s. Melinda Snodgrass was one of a whole gang of women writers who wrote all the best Trek books (see also: Diane Duane, Barbara Hambly, AC Crispin, Jean Lorrah.) This one is my all-time favourite since it puts Uhura at the centre of the action. A world of singing alien seals are all that stands between the universe and utter destruction, and of course the seals are being clubbed to death one at a time by ruthless men who collect the crystals the seals shed at the point of death. It sounds sappy but it’s absolutely wonderful. Where else would you ever have Uhura falling in love with a prog rock organist, a shipful of furious klingons, Captain Kirk vanishing into a vortex and a planet full of warbling manatees?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ten of the best dark books

Amelia Gray's new story collection is Gutshot.

One of her ten best dark books, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Thinking back I imagine every scene taking place in the pitch black, figures chained or roiling in the background, human and animal figures screaming. The book’s sentences group about their paragraphs like a band of feral cats munching on corpses. They raise the hairs on your arms. The running story is a post-apocalyptic march alternating terror and gloom in pursuit of the sea for some reason. Finishing it threw me into such a delicious depression, I started reading it again right away.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Road appears on Weston Williams's top fifteen list of books with memorable dads, ShortList's roundup of the twenty greatest dystopian novels, Mary Miller's top ten list of the best road books, Joel Cunningham's list of eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror, Claire Cameron's list of five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Isabel Allende's six favorite books list, the Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Joseph D’Lacey's top ten list of horror books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Ken Jennings's list of eight top books about parents and kids, Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. In 2009 Sam Anderson of New York magazine claimed "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Top ten rural noir novels

Tom Bouman's Dry Bones in the Valley won the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller and the 2015 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

For the Guardian Bouman tagged his top ten rural noir novels, including:
The Dave Robicheaux Series (1987-2013) by James Lee Burke

In the mystery world, he has no equal. The books in this series set on the Louisiana Bayou have a dilapidated, lyrical charm, and Burke excels at physical atmosphere. But his greatest achievement, in my humble opinion, is emotional atmosphere, and the rich interior life of his lead character.
Read about the other entries on the list.

James Lee Burke is among C.J. Box's top 10 US crime novelists who "own" their territory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Seven of the best girl packs in YA fiction

At the B&N Teen Blog Natalie Zutter tagged seven of the best girl packs in YA fiction, including:
Reunited, by Hilary Weisman Graham

Alice, Summer, and Tiernan spent all of middle school united by their love for the rock band Level3. But as the band members went their separate ways, so did the girls, spending high school alternately on the honors track, at the popular table, or not even bothering to show up. But the summer before college, the girls discover Level3 is doing a one-night-only reunion concert. Of course they have to drive 2,000 miles cross country to be there for the historic event…and, along the way, figure out why they grew apart and what was actually keeping them together.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top ten (unconventional) ghosts in literature

Judith Claire Mitchell is the author of the novels The Last Day of the War and A Reunion of Ghosts. She teaches undergraduate and graduate fiction workshops at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is a professor of English and the director of the MFA program in creative writing. She has received grants and fellowships from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and Bread Loaf, among others. She lives in Madison with her husband, the artist Don Friedlich, and Josie the West Highland White Terrier.

At the Guardian Mitchell tagged ten of the best (unconventional) ghosts--"they may not necessarily scare, but they manage to haunt, long after the pages have been turned"--in literature, including:
Beloved in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

The ghost in Beloved is the most conventional ghost I’ve listed, and yet Morrison writes in a manner that makes us see ghosts and a familiar world of unfathomable suffering as if we’ve never seen them before. A fictional horror story based on a historical horror story (a desperate act of matricide caused by the more horrific institution of American slavery), the book also illustrates King’s point: Morrison’s ghosts are manifestations of her character’s past choices.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beloved also appears on Kelly Link's list of four books that changed her, a list of four books that changed Libby Gleeson, The Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Elif Shafak's top five list of fictional mothers, Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten great books you didn't know were science fiction or fantasy, Peter Dimock's top ten list of books that challenge what we think we know as "history", Stuart Evers's top ten list of homes in literature, David W. Blight's list of five outstanding novels on the Civil War era, John Mullan's list of ten of the best births in literature, Kit Whitfield's top ten list of genre-defying novels, and at the top of one list of contenders for the title of the single best work of American fiction published in the last twenty-five years.

Coffee with a Canine: Judith Claire Mitchell & Josie.

The Page 69 Test: A Reunion of Ghosts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 18, 2015

Top ten books about Brighton

Peter James, born in Brighton, is the #1 international bestselling author of the Roy Grace series, with more than 15 million copies sold all over the world. His novels have been translated into thirty-six languages; three have been filmed and three are currently in development. All of his novels reflect his deep interest in the world of the police, with whom he does in-depth research.

At the Guardian, James tagged his ten favorite works of fiction set in or around Brighton, including:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Although Brighton is not directly described in the novel, it plays a key role in the plot. Austen herself clearly had a poor view of the place, as shown in a 1799 letter to her sister Cassandra: “Here I am once more in this scene of dissipation and vice, and I begin already to find my morals corrupted.” And here, from the book: “In Lydia’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing-place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention, to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp – its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The ten best city novels

Elizabeth Day, an award-winning journalist and author, is currently a feature writer at the Observer. She has written three novels: Scissors, Paper, Stone, Home Fires and Paradise City.

At the Guardian, Day tagged her ten favorite books about cities, including:
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853)

London was a central character in many of Dickens’s novels, reflecting his own love of walking through the city. His perambulations were often conducted at night after he had dashed off a review in his job as theatre critic before striding home to Bloomsbury and, later, Marylebone. Of his works I’ve chosen Bleak House for its magnificent opening paragraph, where London is described with brilliantly damp and gloomy lyricism: “Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the Earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.”
Read about the other books on the list.

Bleak House is one of Daisy Hildyard's ten best poems, books and plays about our human inheritance, George Packer's six favorite books, Oliver Ford Davies's six best books, Ian Rankin's 5 favorite literary crime novels, Tim Pigott-Smith's six best books, James McCreet's top ten Victorian detective stories and one of Rebecca Ford's favorite five fiction books. It is on John Mortimer's list of the five best books about law and literature and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature and ten of the best men writing as women, and is among the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jeffrey Archer's six best books

Jeffrey Archer is an English author and former Member of Parliament. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

I first read this as a schoolboy. The hero is accused of a crime he didn’t do and has to reach a place to prove it and it’s about the chase. You turn the page and turn the page because you have got to find out more.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Thirty-Nine Steps is one of Sam Bourne's five favorite classic thrillers.

Also see Archer's top ten romans-fleuves.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top sci-fi books featuring strong women

At the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged seven books "which have the audacity to suggest that women be treated like the awesome badasses they are," including:
God’s War, by Kameron Hurley

Nyxnissa so Dasheem is a Bel Dame, a licensed bounty hunter who cuts off heads on behalf of her government on the ravaged, war-torn colony world Umayma. She’s a veteran of the front lines in the planet’s never-ending Holy War. Her body has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times, she’s not even sure if she’s still human. And she has not an ounce of compassion for you or anyone else. Hurley’s brutal Bel Dame trilogy is filled with brittle, fascinating, alienating characters, none more so than Nyx, who is a self-destructive madwoman who cleaves to no principals other than her own self-interest, and God help you if you make the unfortunate decision to become her ally, because it’s probably not going to turn out well. She is perhaps the fiercest female character in all of genre fiction, unapologetically vicious, shaped into a monster by a remorseless society and a heartless world. Oh, and her most dangerous opponents tend to be her fellow Bel Dames, women enhanced with strange, bug-based tech that gives them powers akin to magic. You don’t want to be a dude on Umayma. (No one wants to be on Umayma.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: God’s War and Infidel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 15, 2015

Top five books with geeky heroes

Brooke Johnson is a stay-at-home mom and tea-loving writer. As the jack-of-all-trades bard of the family, she journeys through life with her husband, daughter, and dog. She is the author of The Brass Giant, the first novel in the Chroniker City steampunk series for young adults from Harper Voyager Impulse.

One of her top five books with geeky heroes, as shared at
Leo Valdez, Inventor and Mechanic
Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series

Demigod Leo Valdez (perhaps my favorite character in the sequel series to Percy Jackson & The Olympians) is a son of Hephaestus, the Greek god of forges, blacksmiths, craftsmen, metals, and fire, which means that he has an innate talent for crafting machines and a dangerous pyrotechnic ability. He can understand and even sense machinery and has the ability to operate and repair anything mechanical. The prankster of the group of demigods, he mostly uses his skills to comedic effect, but when the need arises, he utilizes a magical tool belt to create and repair whatever machines or devices might help the heroes on their journey, repairs the broken Bronze Dragon of Camp Half-Blood, who becomes his companion throughout the series, and even builds an airship and cracks the Archimedes Sphere. Pretty brilliant for a sarcastic joker.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Seven YA novels that will make you scared of the sea

At B & N Teen Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged seven YA novels that will make you terrified of the ocean, including:
Deep Blue, by Jennifer Donnelly

Serefina is a mermaid who will some day become the ruler of her people. Sounds great, except for the dreams she’s been having, about an ancient evil returning to cause chaos. After her mother is shot with an arrow by an assassin, Serefina embarks on a quest to unite with mermaids across the mer nations, to prevent their world from falling apart. Apparently the mer world is a rougher place than The Little Mermaid led us to believe.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The 21 greatest TV adaptations

One title (#5) on the Telegraph's list of the 21 greatest television adaptations of novels:
I, Claudius (1976, BBC)

Some may see this adaptation of Robert Graves’s novels about Imperial Rome as Dynasty in togas, but that is to undervalue its clever excavation of power politics as well as its emotional intelligence, represented by the great Derek Jacobi in the role of Claudius, a failed intellectual who has greatness thrust upon him.
Read about the other entries on the list.

I, Claudius also appears on the Telegraph's list of the twenty best British and Irish novels of all time, Daisy Goodwin's list of six favorite historical fiction books, a list of the eleven best political books of all time, David Chase's six favorite books list, Andrew Miller's top ten list of historical novels, Mark Malloch-Brown's list of his six favorite novels of empire, Annabel Lyon's top ten list of books on the ancient world, Lindsey Davis' top ten list of Roman books, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best emperors in literature and ten of the best poisonings in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Five top SFF novels featuring interesting, powerful friendships

Karina Sumner-Smith is the author of the Towers Trilogy.

At she tagged her five favorite science fiction and fantasy novels that feature interesting, powerful friendships, including:
Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace

This post-apocalyptic ghost story grabbed me from the first page. The titular character agrees to travel to the underworld to help the ghost of a super-soldier find the spirit of his lost colleague and friend. The story and emotional bond between the ghost and his friend is played out in pieces of memory, and the glimpses of that relationship and their history are every bit as compelling as the surreal underworld through which Wasp and the ghost travel to find her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 11, 2015

Freeman Dyson's six favorite books by his female colleagues

Freeman Dyson’s new collection of essays is Dreams of Earth and Sky.

One of his six favorite books by his female colleagues, as shared with The Week magazine:
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Octavia's 1993 novel is classified as science fiction but is more concerned with theology. Her main character is a black woman who survives apocalyptic disasters and founds a new religion in California. I once spent a day with Octavia entertaining a crowd of Chicago inner-city schoolchildren. I answered the science questions; she answered all the others. She was the star of the show.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Five top novels about Fitzgerald & Hemingway

At USA Today Kevin Nance tagged five top novels about Fitzgerald or Hemingway, including:
West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan

Set in Hollywood in the late 1930s, this novel follows a washed-up Fitzgerald as he tries his luck as a script doctor at MGM, falling in love with gossip columnist Sheilah Graham and hanging out with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Dorothy Parker and, yes, Ernest Hemingway.
Learn more about West of Sunset.

Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best platonic boy-girl friendships in YA

One title on Melissa Albert's list of five favorite platonic boy-girl friendships in YA literature, as shared on the B & N Teen Blog:
How to Say Goodbye in Robot, by Natalie Standiford

When Bea meets Jonah, the two withdrawn kids manage to see through each other’s robotic exteriors, connecting over both the fronts they put up to survive the day—Bea’s the lonely daughter of an itinerant professor father and a depressed mother, Jonah’s grieving a tragic loss—and over their eccentric obsession with late-night call-in radio. The arc of their slow-blooming relationship is as satisfying and revelatory as any love story, a meeting of minds that occurs on a beautifully rendered fringe. When a dark discovery about his family sends Jonah into a tailspin, Bea attempts to save him—but, like Crutcher’s Eric [in Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes], discovers the power of friendship has its limits.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The three best--and the three worst--mothers in literature Culture tagged three of the best--and three of the worst--mothers in literature. One of the bad ones:
Emma Bovary, Madame Bovary

At the opposite end of the parenting spectrum, several characters drew your ire for ignoring their offspring. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Undine Spragg from Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country each received a mention for favouring adultery over nurture. Top of the self-centred matriarchs, however, is Gustave Flaubert’s Emma Bovary. The small town doctor’s wife who has a series of affairs has been dismissed as a bourgeois narcissist; yet many have come to her defence. The New Republic claimed: “If Emma Bovary were truly just a shallow woman who comes to a bad end, she could never have become the subject of what is arguably the greatest French novel of the nineteenth century, the novel that set the course for realism forever after.” Although that still doesn’t make her a good mother.
Read about the other mothers on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tanya Byron's six best books

Tanya Byron is a British psychologist, writer, and media personality. She is a frequent public speaker and has appeared on countless British radio programs. She writes a weekly column for The Times (UK) and a monthly column for Good Housekeeping (UK). She advises on international policy relating to young people, mental health, and education, and is currently working in China to develop services for children and their families. Byron's new book is The Skeleton Cupboard: The Making of a Clinical Psychologist.

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

Sacks is a neurologist describing case histories of patients. He's a brilliant author and clinician who brings people with the most bizarre behaviour alive and explains why they were behaving the way they were.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat is among Gabriel Weston's five top books about the body and Lisa Genova's six favorite books about science & literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 8, 2015

Top ten fictional hunts

Dan Smith is the author of adult thrillers and adventure/survival stories for younger readers. His YA novel Big Game is about a 13-year-old boy who finds himself, along with the president of the United States, in a race against a deadly enemy. In the movie adaptation of Big Game, Samuel L. Jackson is the president.

At the Guardian, Smith tagged ten of "the most thrilling books that put you in the shoes of the hunter...or the hunted," including:
True Grit by Charles Portis

There isn’t anything I don’t love about this book. Mattie Ross is a unique and engaging narrator despite her aloof superiority, Rooster Cogburn is a gruff and mean drunk, and LaBoeuf is ... well, he’s just LaBoeuf. So when the three of them set out across the wilderness to hunt Tom Chaney – the man who murdered Mattie’s father – you know you’re in for an absolute treat. And the language is to die for.
Read about the other books on the list.

True Grit also appears on Becky Ferreira's list of seven favorite tales of revenge in literature, Anthony Bourdain's list of ten favorite books, Andy Borowitz's list of five top comic novels, Tad Friend's five best list of novels on success, Willy Vlautin's list of five great books set in the West, and Jonathan Lethem's list of five terrific novels overshadowed by their film versions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ten top books about ancient Rome

Lindsey Davis's latest historical novel is Deadly Election.

One of the author's top ten books about ancient Rome, as shared at the Guardian:
Shopping in Ancient Rome by Claire Holleran

I was at a serious conference when I spotted this desirable purchase. A survey of the Roman retail trade, it’s scholarly but accessible – and indispensable when I need to check that you could buy olives by the meat market, and that the Argiletum was the place to go for bookshops or sex (or both).
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Six of the eeriest SFF stories inspired by true events

Sam Riedel is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn. One of the six eeriest SFF stories inspired by true events he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Gideon, by Alex Gordon

Despite Gideon's intensely supernatural plot—in which a woman becomes entangled not only in her dead father’s double life, but in the ramifications of a two-century-old witch-burning—its first scene is chillingly connected to real life. As 19th-century Midwesterners prepare to burn a malevolent spellcaster, they are suddenly engulfed in a “witchstorm” that freezes them to death in moments, along with the entire countryside. Though almost certainly not caused by arcane forces, records claim the region did experience a bizarre cold snap on December 20th, 1836, during which humans and livestock alike were frozen in their tracks.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Five top books where the girl saves the boy

Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series, from Tor Teen. Ironskin, her first fantasy novel, was a Nebula finalist.

At she tagged five top books where the girl saves the boy, including:
Hermione and her two plucky sidekicks in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

Hermione’s usually saving the boys through her brains, not through her muscles—but in the Harry Potter world, of course, your brains direct your magic, which is far more powerful than any punch to the face. When I was writing this essay up I was informed that Hermione might not count because she’s a big know-it-all, to which, in defense of other know-it-alls, I explained that one can be a big know-it-all and still save the boys-who-have-yet-again-failed-to-study from their own idiocy. In fact, being a big know-it-all is generally Hermione’s biggest asset, so there.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Harry Potter books made Ginni Chen's list of the eight grinchiest characters in literature, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of fictional workplaces more dysfunctional than yours, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of mothers in children's books, Nicole Hill's list of five of the best fictional bookstores, Sara Jonsson's list of the six most memorable pets in fiction, Melissa Albert's list of more than eight top fictional misfits, Cressida Cowell's list of ten notable mythical creatures, and Alison Flood's list of the top 10 most frequently stolen books.

Neville Longbottom is one of Ellie Irving's top ten quiet heroes and heroines.

Mr. Weasley is one of Melissa Albert's five weirdest fictional crushes.

Hedwig (Harry's owl) is among Django Wexler's top ten animal companions in children's fiction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 4, 2015

Top ten underrated or forgotten children's classics

Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator and the author of a new edition of The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature.

At the Guardian he tagged his top ten underrated or forgotten children's classics, including:
There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent

One of my favourites when I was small, and like any personal favourite I simply cannot understand why it’s not everyone else’s favourite, too! It’s the story of a small boy called Billy Bixbee, who wakes up one morning to find a very small dragon in his room – but his mother won’t believe him, saying very sensibly “There’s no such thing as a dragon”. But then, bit by bit, page by page, the dragon starts to grow… This book isn’t all that easy to find nowadays (I’ve given so many as presents I feel I may have bought most of the existing copies myself…) but it’s worth hunting down – it’s so very good. (And though, yes, it’s for relatively young children, there are bits that still make me laugh and I’m 41.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: The 11 greatest children’s books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The ten best T. S. Eliot poems

Robert Crawford is the author of Scotland’s Books and the coeditor of The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse. A fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the British Academy, he is the Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews. The Bard, his biography of Robert Burns, was awarded the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year 2009. Crawford’s six poetry collections include The Tip of My Tongue and Full Volume, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. Crawford's new book is Young Eliot: From St. Louis to "The Waste Land".

One entry on Crawford's list of the ten best T. S. Eliot poems:

“Marina” is Eliot’s most beautiful poem. Read it aloud. Its music is full of longing, and tidal in its ebbs and flows. Drawing on all the small-boat sailing Eliot had done off the New England coast in his youth, it’s wonderfully echoic, and contains daring technical devices that fascinate the ear: Eliot rhymes, for instance, not just across the breaks between verse paragraphs but also repeatedly within the lines. The breaks in the verse signal separation, the rhymes connection: the whole poem operates in the tension between connectedness and separation. It may be a religious poem, but it’s also a poem about longing for a child. The title, suggesting boats and the sea, is also the name of a lost daughter in Shakespeare’s Pericles: that particular Marina is presumed drowned, but then she’s discovered alive; the epigraph comes from a play by Seneca in which a father finds his children have been killed. Is the daughter in Eliot’s “Marina” real or only imagined? The poem was written at a difficult time when the poet was coming to terms with his own childlessness.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Listen to Eliot read "Marina."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thirty of the best books written by millennials

At Refinery29 Emily Temple tagged thirty of the best books written by millennials, including:
Gutshot by Amelia Gray

You couldn't accuse Gray's third collection of false advertising: the 38 short tales within will indeed leave you feeling gutshot — in the best of ways. Dark, fable-like, and full of viscera both emotional and physical, these stories are grotesque jewels that will haunt you, terrify you, and touch your heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The five essential Saul Bellow novels

Zachary Leader is Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University in Great Britain, and the author of The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964. One of Bellow's five must-read novels, as Leader shared at the Guardian:
Herzog (1964)

“Dear Doctor Professor, I should like to know what you mean by the expression ‘the fall into the quotidian’. When did this fall occur? Where were we standing when it happened?” This urgent appeal, addressed to Martin Heidegger, comes from Moses Herzog, in the grip of mania. Like other letters Moses writes (to Nietzsche, Spinoza, Governor Stevenson, President Eisenhower, Freud, God, his doctor, his shrink) it is never sent. Moses is an intellectual historian, author of a book entitled Romanticism and Christianity, and his letters overflow with erudite allusion and reflection. Far from limiting the novel’s appeal, the letters helped to account for its commercial success, sparked by the approving attention they received from reviewers. Herzog spent 42 weeks on the bestseller lists and sold 142,000 in hardback. That Herzog’s learning does him no good may also help to account for the novel’s appeal. When put to the test – betrayed by wife and best friend – the lessons of high culture simply don’t apply. “That’s where the comedy comes from,” Bellow writes. “What do you propose to do now your wife has taken a lover?” Herzog asks. “Pull Spinoza from the shelf and look into what he says about adultery?” Where was Spinoza when Moses married a woman who really does “eat green salad and drink human blood”? Where was he when her lover smarmed his way into Herzog’s confidence? Moses comes to terms with the reality of his situation over the course of an artfully plotted recovery, both moving and funny. In addition, there are brilliant scenes from Herzog’s Montreal childhood, as memorable and autobiographical as anything Bellow ever wrote.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Herzog also appears on Eli Gottlieb's list of the top 10 literary scenes from the battle of the sexes, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best taxis in literature and ten of the best bad lawyers in literature, and Rebecca Goldstein's list of the five best novels of ideas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed S.J. Watson

S.J. Watson is the author of Before I Go To Sleep and Second Life.

One of four books that changed him, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood

When I read this I had no expectations and knew nothing about Atwood, but when I finished it I thought "Wow" and instantly decided I needed to reconnect with my desire to be an author. In many ways this book began the process that saw me write Before I Go to Sleep.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Handmaid's Tale made Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature, Guy Lodge's list of ten of the best dystopias in fiction, art, film, and television, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Charlie Jane Anders and Kelly Faircloth's list of the best and worst childbirth scenes in science fiction and fantasy, Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of the top Arthur C. Clarke Award winners, and PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 1, 2015

Six of the best detectives from science fiction literature

Ryan Britt is the author of Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths, forthcoming in fall 2015. One entry on his list of six of the best detectives from science fiction literature, as shared at the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Simone Pierce (Depth, by Lev AC Rosen)

Out this week, the latest novel from genre-bender Lev AC Rosen takes place in a future New York City that is partially submerged thanks to the melting of the polar ice caps. Both a straightforward noir plot-twister and a art heist caper, finds Rosen’s protagonist, private detective Simone Pierce, in search of “The Blonde,” a woman who may or may not have killed her husband and set Simone up for the crime. Sharp, witty, and tough, Simone is a woman we root for not just because she’s in the mystery, but because she seems like a real person.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue