Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Eight fictional characters who'd make the best travel companions

At B & N Reads, Jenny Kawecki tagged eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, including:
Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)

This may not seem like an obvious choice at first—grumpy, silent Darcy on a road trip? No, thank you—but think about it. If Darcy liked you well enough to go on a trip with you, you know you could count on him to have your back at every turn, and to make hilarious snarky comments about the tour guide that only you can hear. And since he’s such a gentleman, he probably wouldn’t even consider snoring in the hotel room (way too unseemly). Extra bonus: he’s absolutely loaded, so you know you can count on him to pick up the tab on any emergency travel expenses that happen to come up.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Peter James's top ten list ofe works of fiction set in or around Brighton, 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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Five books with plot twists that flip your perception

Along with writing novels, C. A. Higgins spent most of her time in college doing problem sets, translating vulgar Latin poetry, and fending off sleep deprivation. It was while sitting in one of her physics classes contemplating the inevitable heat death of the universe that she had the idea that would eventually become her first novel, Lightless.

At Higgins tagged five books with plot twists that flip your perception, including:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The sweet and beautiful Amy has gone missing and all signs point to a murder. As the evidence begins to build, it becomes more and more obvious that it was her husband, Nick, who did it… but of course, there’s more to the story than there seems. Gone Girl is a thrilling novel with more than one “change everything” twist and two very deceptive and unreliable narrators at war with each other.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone Girl made Ruth Ware's top ten list of psychological thrillers, Jane Alexander's top ten list of treasure hunts in fiction, Fanny Blake's list of five top books about revenge, Monique Alice's list of six great fictional evil geniuses, Jeff Somers's lists of six books that’ll make you glad you’re single and five books with an outstanding standalone scene that can be read on its own, Lucie Whitehouse's ten top list of psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart and Kathryn Williams's list of eight of fiction’s craziest unreliable narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jay Winik's six favorite books

Jay Winik's new book is 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson

The finest single-volume work on the Civil War out there. Written with verve and panache, it's filled with rich character portraits and fresh interpretations of the key political, social, and military events. I loved this book when I wrote April 1865, and love it still.
Read about the other books on the list.

Battle Cry of Freedom is among Ric Burns' six favorite books and Malcolm Jones's eleven best books on the Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 28, 2015

Twenty top scary stories for teens

One title on Melissa Albert's list of twenty scary stories for teens, as shared on the B&N Teen Blog:
We’ll Never Be Apart, by Emiko Jean

The complicated relationship between twins Cellie and Alice Monroe is at the heart of this psychological thriller, which opens with both girls locked up in a mental hospital. But narrator Alice moves freely through the ward, while Cellie languishes in the D ward. Orphans and former foster kids, the girls were institutionalized following a fatal fire Cellie started, and both girls were blamed for. In a story that weaves together past and present, Alice knows she can’t trust her sister, and might be willing to go to desperate lengths to ensure she won’t hurt anyone again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Top ten books about Thatcherism

Kwasi Kwarteng is Conservative MP for Spelthorne, Surrey, UK, and the author of Thatcher’s Trial: Six months that defined a leader.

One of his top ten books about Thatcherism, as shared at the Guardian:
Not for Turning, and Everything She Wants by Charles Moore (2013, 2015)

This two-volume account is the definitive biography which is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon. Well written and objective, this is a comprehensive account of Thatcher’s life and career. As a biography, it is written very much on a Victorian scale but it is human, readable and sensitive.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Six top portrayals of marriage in literature

Lauren Groff is the acclaimed author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia. Her new novel is Fates and Furies. One of her six favorite portrayals of marriage in literature, as shared at The Week magazine:
I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro

Now for a newer voice in fiction. Quatro's prose is musical and her spirit is passionate. In these gorgeous short stories, she wrestles mightily with sex and God and the South and desire and hunger and, yes, marriage. I'd recommend this collection to absolutely anyone, whether or not they believe that they like short stories.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: The Monsters of Templeton.

The Page 69 Test: Arcadia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ten cross-cultural novels that illuminate the world we live in

At Off the Shelf Tolani Osan tagged ten top books that "illuminate how disparate cultures can reveal the mystery and beauty in each other and make us aware of the hardships, dreams, and hidden scars of those we share space with," including:
On Beauty
by Zadie Smith

This beautifully crafted work from literary luminary Zadie Smith explores the story of an interracial family whose misadventures in the culture wars on both sides of the Atlantic skewer everything from family life to political correctness to the combustive collision between the personal and the political.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Twenty gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read

At Cosmopolitan Meave Gallagher tagged twenty gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, including:
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)

The 1999 Anthony Minghella film has nothing on Patricia Highsmith's crime classic The Talented Mr. Ripley, in which sociopath Tom Ripley meets his dream man and steals his life. Though Highsmith wrote openly about same-sex relationships in the very excellent 1952 The Price of Salt, here she only hints at the many ways in which Ripley is drawn to Dickie Greenleaf, as envy and desire curdle into jealousy and violence. Highsmith's atmospheric prose makes you feel the warm Italian sun, the coldness of Ripley's unwavering stare, and the glee of a criminal getting away with his crime — but for how long?
Read about the other books on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Five top books about girls disguised as boys

Rae Carson's latest book is Walk on Earth a Stranger. At she tagged five books about girls disguised as boys, including:
Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce

Alanna longs to be a knight, even though women aren’t allowed to be warriors in the world of Tortall. No problem—she’s got some trousers, and she’s not afraid to use them. This is a classic of young adult literature, the kind of book that is read and reread by children until the pages are ripped and the spine is in tatters.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Ten of the best literary men dressed as women.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Seven books for those who think they hate speculative fiction

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. One of Somers's top seven speculative works for those who think they hate speculative fiction, as shared at the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

This dreamy, bleakly fascinating story takes a long time to bring its sci-fi concepts to the fore, and until it does, it’s a beautifully, character-based story about young friends developing relationships and jealousies and exploring the larger world. Even after it’s revealed that they are (spolier alert!) actually clones being raised solely to “donate” organs to their genetic originals, it remains laser-focused on the three young leads as they struggle with the challenges of growing up, facing their mortality, and understanding their own feelings. If you revised the book to exclude the dystopian elements, you’d still have a gorgeous, universally affecting story about doomed relationships and a longing for the past.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Never Let Me Go is on Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of nine great science fiction books for people who don't like science fiction, Sabrina Rojas Weiss's list of ten favorite boarding school novels, Allegra Frazier's top four list of great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, James Browning's top ten list of boarding school books, Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi's top ten list of tragic love stories, Allegra Frazier's list of seven characters whose jobs are worse than yours, Shani Boianjiu's list of five top novels about coming of age, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 21, 2015

Five great books about Jane Austen

Joanna Trollope's bestselling novels include The Choir, A Village Affair and The Rector's Wife.

One entry on her list of five great books about Jane Austen, as shared at the Telegraph:
You really need Claire Tomalin for the life story. Jane Austen: A Life (1999) manages to give a fresh and convincing account of someone whose own voice and opinions survive more in her books than anywhere else.
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see: The ten best Jane Austen characters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Five books about magical families

Christopher Barzak's latest novel is Wonders of the Invisible World. One of five books about magical families he tagged at
House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende

This highly acclaimed novel by the niece (or more specifically, second cousin) of Salvador Allende, former President of Chile (1970-1973), chronicles the lives of several generations of the Trueba and del Valle families. Starting with the forefather and foremother who originate a family that rise from meager beginnings (on one side) into political power decades later, Allende traces the course of Chilean history itself through the movements of her characters, illustrating the destruction of colonial communities in a rapidly changing and conflicted socioeconomic sphere. The del Valle family has a touch of magic in their blood, which is most apparent in the character of Clara del Valle, who is clairvoyant and in touch with a variety of entities in the spirit world. Her presence, humane and connected to others through the human spirit, stands in opposition to her husband, whose harsh political beliefs nearly destroy his own family in the same way that those political beliefs nearly destroy their country.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The House of the Spirits is among Elif Shafak's five favorite literary mothers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tracy-Ann Oberman's six best books

Tracy-Ann Oberman is an English actor best known for playing Chrissie Watts in EastEnders and for performances in Doctor Who and other television shows, films, and plays.

One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

This has never left me. Set in Nazi Germany it’s narrated by Death when he is very busy.

It’s about a young girl in a foster family and a young Jewish man who hides in their cellar.

It’s one of the greatest books about the Holocaust but without referring to it directly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Book Thief also appears among Kathryn Williams's top eleven Young Adult books for readers of all ages, Nicole Hill's top seven books with Death as a character, Lenore Appelhans's top ten teen books featuring flashbacks, and Kathryn Erskine's top 10 first person narratives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Nine thrilling YA stories sparked by ecological disasters

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of nine thrilling YA stories sparked by ecological disasters that he tagged at the B&N Teen blog:
The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow.

In Bow’s third novel, war and shifts in the planet’s climate have decimated the world’s resources, and society transforms to adapt. Under the bloody rule of the all-powerful artificial intelligence that keeps order under threat of death, new countries and ruling regions are formed, and it’s from these new powerful states that the “Children of Peace” come. In Bow’s world, the way these new countries maintain their tenuous peace is by keeping the children of the world’s leaders hostage at a Precepture, part work camp, part prison, part school. If their parents declare or accept a declaration of war, their children are executed.

It’s in the Precepture that protagonist Greta, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, learns about history, culture, politics…and the grit required to die with grace, knowing full well that if her superpower country declares war, the A.I. that maintains the weapons of the world will kill her. The goal is to save humanity from itself, as mankind teeters on the edge of chaos over the most important natural resource: water. With its fun blend of dystopia, sci-fi, and political intrigue, The Scorpion Rules is an exciting novel full of high stakes and big questions about war and humanity. I’m eagerly awaiting the companion novel.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 18, 2015

Six books that explore Stockholm Syndrome

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 six books that explore Stockholm Syndrome--wherein the victims of a kidnapping identify with, and even come to have affection for their captors--including:
Captive, by A.J. Grainger

Robyn, the daughter of the prime minister, is kidnapped by a terrorist group that threaten to kill her unless one of their compatriots is released from prison, and try to use her captivity as leverage to expose alleged corruption. Her three captors range from more or less kind and sensible (a young man called Talon) to extremely frightening and unpredictable, but what backs up her shift from terrified victim to enamored sympathizer is her disappointment and confusion when her father refuses to “negotiate with terrorists,” apparently leaving her to her fate. That sort of bitter pill might wreak havoc on anyone’s psyche, giving the story all the gravitas it needs.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ten top literary biographies

Jay Parini, author of Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me Dies: The Life of Gore Vidal, tagged his top ten literary biographies for the Guardian. One title on the list:
Tolstoy by A N Wilson (1989)

Wilson writes so well, and he brings a blazing critical intelligence to bear as well as novelistic skills in assembling a great life of a great writer. I love this book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Six top characters that benefit from the passage of fictional time

In ongoing book series, Jeff Somers notes, "characters often seem to exist in a strange universe where nothing changes and no one ages." Yet some authors choose "the route of unexplained immortality and age their characters over the course of a series." One such character:
Jack Reacher

Lee Child deliberately made Jack Reacher 36 years old when he started writing about him, saying that Reacher, “had to be fully formed; couldn’t be Jack Reacher, boy detective”. Then he started aging the character a year for each book—which would now put him in his 50s, but then Child slowed down the process by shrinking the intervals between books. Instead of setting them a year apart, he now only gives Reacher a few weeks off between novels. Over the years, Reacher has grown to be a more thoughtful and more deliberate action hero, much to the series’ benefit.
Read about the other characters Somers tagged at B & N Reads.

The Jack Reacher books are among Casey Lee's ten favorite book series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top ten islands in children's fiction

Gillian Philip’s latest book is Mysteries of Ravenstorm Island: The Lost Children. One of her ten top islands in children's fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The island where the boys’ plane crashes is a character all by itself: the shore “fledged with palm trees”, the haze of heat, the clear water that’s warmer than blood. The boys who are so out of place as the story opens turn gradually into something else: something that’s part of the island, something savage and primeval and unforgiving. When adults do appear, it’s shocking: as if aliens have landed in the story. To go full circle, I suppose it’s the ultimate case of Losing The Parents – and just this once, it’s not all fun and games.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lord of the Flies is on Janet Davey’s top ten list of schoolchildren in fiction, Frank Rich's ten top books list, Non Pratt's top ten list of toxic friendships in literature, Francesca Haig's top ten list of the greatest twins in children’s books, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick list of thirteen favorite, occasionally-banned, YA novels, Matt Kraus's list of six famous books with extremely faithful film adaptations, Michael Hogan's list of the ten best fictional evil children, Danny Wallace's six best books list, Gemma Malley's top ten list of dystopian novels for teenagers, AbeBooks' list of 20 books of shattered childhoods and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best pigs in literature, ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature, and ten of the best horrid children in literature, Katharine Quarmby's top ten list of disability stories, and William Skidelsky's list of ten of the best accounts of being marooned in literature. It is a book that made a difference to Isla Fisher and is one of Suzi Quatro's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 14, 2015

Salman Rushdie's six favorite surrealist books

Salman Rushdie's latest novel is Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.

One of the author's six favorite surrealist books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Nonexistent Knight by Italo Calvino

This is a fable, set in the time of Charlemagne, about an empty suit of armor that believes itself to be a knight and keeps itself going by willpower and strict adherence to the rules of chivalry. The other fables in Calvino's Our Ancestors trilogy are just as good.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Six creepy YA stories that take place in the woods

At B & N Teen Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged six YA stories that take place in the woods, including:
The Devil’s Footsteps, by E.E. Richardson

When Bryan was a kid, his brother Avery disappeared without a trace. Years later, he finds out Avery wasn’t the only kid to go missing. The adults in town may not believe them, but the kids know there’s something waiting for them in the woods. Now Bryan, with the help of others who’ve crossed paths with the fabled Dark Man, must solve the mystery of what’s taking kids before it’s too late.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Daniel Herborn

Daniel Herborn is a writer and lawyer who lives in Sydney, Australia. His first novel for young adults is You're the Kind of Girl I Write Songs About.

One of four books that changed Herborn, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Melina Marchetta

Along with Nick Earls' After January and Laura Buzo's Good Oil this got me interested in writing something for young adults, something that would hopefully feel approachable, real and relatable like this, as though the action in the book could be happening down the street from you. I found the local setting and the fact it named specific places – Glebe, Parramatta Road, really exciting and it inspired me to have that specificity and sense of place in my own book.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ten top fictional teachers

At the Guardian Stuart Husband tagged his top ten fictional teachers. One of the literary educators:
Mr Squeers from Nicholas Nickleby

“Let any boy speak without leave, and I’ll take the skin off his back.” Yes, Wackford Squeers (the clue is in the name) is all tough love without the love, the exemplar of the sadistic classroom tyrant whose modern descendants range from Jimmy Edwards in Whack-O! to Mr Fletcher, the chair-hurling jazz instructor in Whiplash. Dickens paints the master of Dotheboys Hall in panto-villain colours - “He had but one eye... and the blank side of his face was much wrinkled and puckered up, which gave him a very sinister appearance” – and his establishment as a kind of Dantean abyss where the “pale, haggard, lank, bony” boys are served bowls of brimstone and treacle and subject to cruel and capricious punishments. Not likely to trouble the Ofsted Outstanding Providers list any time soon.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Nicholas Nickleby is on Andy Mulligan's top ten school stories list and John Mullan's list of ten of the best wicked uncles in literature, and is one of Paulette Jiles's 12 favorite books.

Also see Melissa Albert's six most notorious teachers in literature and John Mullan's ten best teachers in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 11, 2015

Five of the best 9/11 books

David L. Ulin is the author of The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith and book critic at the Los Angeles Times.

One of five essential 9/11 books he tagged for the Los Angeles Times in 2011:
In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman (2004)

A longtime resident of Lower Manhattan, Spiegelman felt the attack on the World Trade Center viscerally: His daughter had started high school across the street from the twin towers just days before. "In the Shadow of No Towers" refracts his anxiety, his belief that the world, in some fundamental sense, has ended, through the filter of 10 full-color broadside comics that originally appeared in the German paper Die Zeit and LA Weekly because they were too incendiary for the mainstream American press. The strips here literally jangle with chaos, with the edginess of waiting for the other shoe to drop. "On 9/11/01 time stopped," Spiegelman writes. "By 9/12/01 clocks began to tick again … but everyone knew it was the ticking of a giant time bomb."
Read about the other books on Ulin's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten novels about 9/11

Porochista Khakpour is the author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion; both are 9/11 novels.

One of her top ten novels about 9/11, as shared at the Guardian in 2014:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Hamid is one of my favourite writers and this book is pretty mind-blowing. For one thing, its narrative structure is fascinating: the whole thing is a dramatic monologue. We’re in a cafe in Lahore and a Pakistani is telling his life story to an American. The Pakistani happens to be a former American – a successful Princeton graduate, who at one time had a great job and an American girlfriend. After 9/11, he retreats from it all, but the real question is: how much of a choice did he have?
Read about the other books on the list.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is among Jimmy So's five best 9/11 novels and Ahmede Hussain's five top books in recent South Asian literature.

The Page 69 Test: The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Top ten schoolchildren in fiction

Janet Davey’s latest novel is Another Mother’s Children. One of her top ten schoolchildren in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
James Steerforth in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

I have always fancied Steerforth, who is in control and outward looking. The character is in the name, but not wholly: ennui hangs about this charmer. The boys of Salem House worship him and cane-happy Mr Creakle dares not lay a hand on him. He has insomnia. His mind is not as quiet as it might be for a star pupil. This adds to the interest. One wet Saturday, the boys go berserk: hapless Mr Mells is demolished by Steerforth – and dismissed. The episode leaves a vile taste. DC joins in three cheers as Mr Creakle warmly shakes Steerforth’s hand. If Dickens reappeared in the 21st century, he would have an instant understanding of approval ratings.
Read about the other entries on the list.

David Copperfield is among Frank Rich's top ten books, John Boyne's top ten child narrators, Lynn Shepherd's top ten fictional drownings and Elizabeth Gilbert's six favorite books. It appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best seductions in literature, ten of the best trips to Canterbury in literature and ten of the best valets in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Five recent books that use cultural anthropology to brilliant effect

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 recent books that use cultural anthropology to brilliant effect, including:
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple

On the surface, Where’d You Go, Bernadette isn’t anthropological at all—it’s a straight-up novel about a brilliant woman who retreats into home and family life to escape a damaging past, only to run away when things reach a breaking point. Dig deeper, though, and you find a scathing examination of modern Seattle, and the monied-yet-progressive families that send their kids to the Galer School, where Bernadette’s daughter Bee is a student. With a main character transplanted from Los Angeles, the novel serves as a dissection of a particular subculture in a specific city, arguably at a specific period in time, and it is equal parts hilarious and insightful.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is among Jeff Somers's top five novels featuring runaway parents, Chrissie Gruebel's seven great books for people who love Modern Family, Charlotte Runcie's ten best bad mothers in literature, Joel Cunningham's seven notable epistolary novels and Chrissie Gruebel's five top books for readers inspired by Nora Ephron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Five stories with an audacious premise

David Walton is the Philip K. Dick Award-winning author of the 2015 quantum physics thrillers Superposition and Supersymmetry, and other books. At he tagged five "books [that] take their audacious premises seriously, and bit by bit, explore the consequences to the characters and to humanity at large," including:
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu)

Since this book just won the Hugo Award, nobody needs me to tell them about it! It has lots of ideas, but the one audacious one that caught my attention: A character begins to see a countdown in every photograph he takes (but not in the photos his wife takes with the same camera). A countdown to what? That’s the question.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 7, 2015

Six top books that deal with death

Erica Jong's new novel is Fear of Dying.

For The Week magazine she tagged six of her favorite books that deal with death, including:
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

My favorite short novel by Tolstoy certainly informed my writing about the heroine's dying parents in Fear of Dying. We fail to understand dying people, talk to them dumbly, and cannot help them die. When you read Tolstoy, you want to turn in your quill.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich is one of Jerome Groopman's five best books about doctors and patients.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The ten most unfilmable books

At io9 Esther Inglis-Arkell tagged ten "books that we think can’t be put on film, but we’re hoping that someone will prove us wrong," including:
The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan

This one is a personal favorite, and it got me back into the broadsword-swinging, mage-battling, riding-through-mystical-realms-on-a-mighty-steed genre after a long, sour absence. The book balances the brutality of this kind of fantasy book with an unsentimental sadness, and has a fantastic speech at the end that I still mutter to myself when I want to psych myself up. It’s not the fact that the hero, Ringil Eskiath, is gay that makes it unfilmable. It’s not the fact that he’s cast out of his homeland for his sexuality, and it’s not the love scenes. The reason I doubt this book will ever be filmed is the reason I love it. This book is just one long exquisitely satisfying break-up story. It’s both too personal and too epic to fit any one mode of being.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Steel Remains is among Annalee Newitz's top ten "stories that seem like fantasy at first, but the science fiction creeps up on you."

The Page 69 Test: The Steel Remains.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books featuring heroic hackers

E(ugene). C. Myers is the author of the Andre Norton Award–winning young adult science fiction novels Fair Coin and Quantum Coin, and The Silence of Six, a young adult cyber thriller. At he tagged five books featuring heroic hackers, including:
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick

This memoir reads like fiction, but it’s all the more incredible because everything in it really happened. Mitnick is my go-to source for information on social engineering: the art of hacking people to get into places and systems you don’t belong. Starting out as a “phone phreak” like many of his generation of hackers, he pulled off some legendary exploits in person and from behind his computer screen. His storytelling style is compelling and breezy, every bit as exciting as a contemporary thriller, somewhat reminiscent of Frank W. Abagnale and Stan Redding’s Catch Me If You Can.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Five top novels that subvert clichés

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 "cleverly explore long-running tropes, mining them to create a new reading experience," including:
Cliché: YA Tragic Romance. Book: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews

Tragic romance is at the center of many young adult novels. What Andrews does in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is to give the reader every reason to assume a tragic romance is coming—and then substitute a tragic friendship instead, which is no less devastating, and no less compelling. Andrews captures the thrilling confusion of the teen years and develops deep characters whose emotions float to the surface of every page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 4, 2015

Five top books where nature is the antagonist

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 with Mother Nature as antagonist, including:
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

The recent film adaptation has brought Cheryl Strayed’s terrific memoir into the spotlight again, and it remains a powerful reading experience. At the age of 26, after the death of her mother and heroin use had destabilized her life in almost every way, Strayed embarked on a hike along the Pacific Coast Trail, eventually walking more than 1,100 miles on a journey of self-discovery no less powerful than Thoreau’s for being born out of dysfunction and tragedy. Strayed writes with a surprisingly assured and confident style, with an economy of words that allows the experiences she’s describing to stand on their own. If you’ve seen the movie, read the book for a more personal experience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Five book series conclusions that will rip your heart out

Stephanie Diaz's latest novel is Evolution, the conclusion to her young adult sci-fi series that began with Extraction. For she tagged five "series conclusions that will leave you devastated by the final chapter," including:
Champion, Marie Lu (Legend Series)

The Legend series is a Les Miserables story set in a futuristic Los Angeles. (Sounds awesome already, right?) June, a fifteen-year-old military prodigy, and Day, the country’s most wanted criminal, begin the series as enemies, but soon become allies against the Republic ruling their world. The series will hook you from page one with action, mystery, and romance. Champion brings June and Day’s story to an action-packed, heart-wrenching close. Let’s just say I’m still not over it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Top ten cricket scenes in fiction

Richard Tomlinson is the author of Amazing Grace: The Man Who Was WG, a biography of W.G. Grace, widely considered one of cricket's greatest-ever players. At the Guardian Tomlinson tagged ten top cricket scenes in fiction, including:
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1836-37)

Dickens’s match between Muggleton and Dingley Dell remains one of the best satires on how cricket appears to the uninitiated. After Mr Tupman is accidentally shot in the arm, Mr Pickwick declares he is keen to watch a game “in which the impotent effects of unskilful people do not endanger human life” – precisely the danger faced by early 19th-century batsmen on unprepared pitches. Nobody gets killed during Muggleton v Dingley Dell, but the game is so tedious you could easily die of boredom. In the end, Dingley Dell simply give up when they recognise Muggleton’s “superior prowess”. It is all rather pointless, which is probably Dickens’s point.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Shehan Karunatilaka's top ten books on cricket.

The Pickwick Papers also appears on John Mullan's lists of the ten best elections in literature and ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty perfectly creepy YA books to keep you up all night

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

At the B & N Teen Blog she tagged twenty "perfectly creepy YAs to keep you up all night," including:
No Safety in Numbers (No Safety in Numbers Series #1), by Dayna Lorentz

When a biological bomb is discovered at a suburban mall, life turns super real super quick for the people trapped inside. The mall is locked down, people start getting sick, and everyone fights for their own survival. Told from the alternating perspectives of four teens, it shows how society can break down, Lord of the Flies-style, in times of panic. Each teen must navigate this new and desperate situation in their own way, all the while coming to terms with how they’ve changed since entering the mall. This book may just turn your local mall into your worst nightmare, if it isn’t already.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Dayna Lorentz & Peter and Kerry.

My Book, The Movie: No Safety in Numbers (No Safety in Numbers Series #2).

The Page 69 Test: No Easy Way Out.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Six powerful books about characters in impossible situations

Adam Johnson is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Orphan Master's Son and the newly released story story collection Fortune Smiles.

One of his six top books about characters in impossible situations, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami

Lalami's novel revisits a doomed 16th-century Spanish expedition to America from the perspective of an African slave. The result is an alternative history that discovers what the real expedition did not: the humanity of all the victims of such a greedy endeavor.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue