Saturday, April 30, 2016

Nine classic YA novels ready for genderbent versions

At the B&N Teen Blog Natalie Zutter tagged nine classic Young Adult books ripe for some creative genderbending of the main characters, including:
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t. You really want to tell me a girl can’t be just as obsessed with her peers’ phoniness as a boy? Fakeness is a weapon, something women are conditioned at a young age to be repulsed by. Though the genderqueer Dela (meaning “hollow valley,” same as Holden) probably wouldn’t share Holden’s fears of being perceived as homosexual, or his belief that it’s up to him to save young children from losing their innocence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Catcher In The Rye appears on Lance Rubin's top ten list of books with a funny first-person narrator, Andy Griffiths's list of five books that changed him, Chris Pavone's list of five books that changed him, Gabe Habash's list of the 10 most notorious parts of famous books, Robert McCrum's list of the 10 best books with teenage narrators, Antoine Wilson's list of the 10 best narrators in literature, A.E. Hotchner's list of five favorite coming-of-age tales, Jay McInerney's list of five essential New York novels, Woody Allen's top five books list, Patrick Ness's top 10 list of "unsuitable" books for teenagers, David Ulin's six favorite books list, Nicholas Royle's list of the top ten writers on the telephone, TIME magazine's list of the top ten books you were forced to read in school, Tony Parsons' list of the top ten troubled males in fiction, Dan Rhodes' top ten list of short books, and Sarah Ebner's top 25 list of boarding school books; it is one of Sophie Thompson's six best books. Upon rereading, the novel disappointed Khaled Hosseini, Mary Gordon, and Laura Lippman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 29, 2016

Top ten thrilling locations in children’s books

Dark Parties, Sara Grant's first young adult novel, won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Her new series is Chasing Danger – an action-adventure series for tweens.

One of Grant's ten top thrilling locations in children’s books, as shared at the Guardian:
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

On Sophie’s first birthday, she’s found floating in a cello case in the English Channel. This beautifully written tale takes flight from the rooftops of Victorian Paris. This book offers a unique perspective on one of the top tourist destinations of all time. “Clocks below her began to strike four, and Paris was waking. Its sound was like the hum of a hundred secrets, she thought: it was the mutter of a dozen soothsaysers.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Visit Sara Grant's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ten of the best short stories on crossing boundaries

Light Box is K J Orr's first collection of short stories. One of her top ten short stories that hinge on crossing boundaries, as shared at the Guardian:
"Axolotl" by Julio Cortázar

Tracing the metamorphosis of a man into a reptile, this can be read as a love letter to literature – to the connective power of writing and reading. What is at stake here is the awareness of “the presence of a different life, of another way of seeing”. In meticulous detail, the narrator describes the shift of perception that takes him from watching axolotls through a pane of glass in to their alien experience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Top ten SF novels with serious science

Sylvain Neuvel's new novel is Sleeping Giants. One of his ten top speculative fiction novels with serious science, as shared at the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Hominids, by Robert J. Sawyer

The premise for this parallel universe story is a really good one, but the science is what got me hooked. You could probably use this book to help students pick a field of study. It has a bit of everything: physics, (paleo)anthropology, genetics, quantum computing, etc., etc. Sawyer’s research is impeccable and the science is always solid.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Frans de Waal's six favorite books

Biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal's latest book is Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Wild Life by Robert Trivers

I have long known Trivers, one of the most brilliant biologists of our time, and read his memoir with growing alarm at how often he has narrowly escaped death in his adventurous life. It's an enlightening read, especially when he uses his typical candor to describe his colleagues.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 25, 2016

Top ten guardian angels in children’s books

At the Guardian, writer Andrew Norriss tagged ten favorite characters that offer a helping hand to their heroes, including:
The Sword in the Stone by TH White

This is the first volume of the quartet written by TH White on the Arthurian legend and incomparably funnier and deeper than the amiable Disney movie. If you’re going to have a guardian angel watching over your early years and growing up, Merlin the magician is not a bad choice.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Sword in the Stone is on Jessamy Taylor's list of the ten top castles in fiction, John Dougherty's top ten list of fictional badgers, and Gill Lewis's top ten list of birds in books; it is the first part of The Once and Future King, which is among Philip Womack's best classic children's books and Lev Grossman's five top fantasy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Five YA novels that put the bully in the hot seat

One title on Dahlia Adler's list of five YA books told from the bully’s perspective, as shared on the B & N Teen Blog:
Tease, by Amanda Maciel

Everyone knows the stories in the news of girls who are bullied to death—girls like Emma. But not everyone knows the other side, where Sara sits. Sara, who has been charged, along with her friends, with driving Emma to suicide. Sara, who had more reasons to hate Emma than everyone knew. Sara, who’s steadfast in her belief that Emma deserved exactly what happened to her. Sara, who’s now the very kind of outcast she and her friends once made Emma, right up until Emma couldn’t take it anymore.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Rose Tremain's six best books

Rose Tremain was one of only five women writers to be included in Granta’s original list of 20 Best of Young British Novelists in 1983. Her novels and short stories have been published worldwide in 27 countries and have won many prizes. In 2013 was appointed Chancellor of the University of East Anglia. One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

I’m a hard-hearted reader of fiction but I couldn’t stop crying when I finished this. A father and son traverse a destroyed world and the internal landscape of the characters is captured with power and tenderness.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Road appears on Ian McGuire's ten top list of adventure novels, Alastair Bruce's top ten list of books about forgetting, Jeff Somers's list of eight good, bad, and weird dad/child pairs in science fiction and fantasy, Amelia Gray's ten best dark books list, 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

Five books that carry curses

Samantha Mabry's new novel is A Fierce and Subtle Poison. At she tagged five books that carry curses, including:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967)

Like [Junot Díaz's] Oscar Wao, this is another novel that features a generational curse, though the source of the curse can be specifically pin-pointed. Early in the story, one of the characters (Ursula’s mother) warns that a baby born from incest will have the tail of a pig. As the family enters the modern era (or, as the modern era encroaches upon the family), the family morally deteriorates until finally, the prophecy is fulfilled, leaving the pig-tailed baby to be abandoned and eventually eaten by ants. The generational curse is then broken because the family itself is broken.
Read about the other entries on the list.

One Hundred Years of Solitude made Sameer Rahim's list of five essential works by Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende's list of six favorite books, Sara Jonsson's list of five books to read when you can't go to sleep, Juan Gabriel Vásquez's five best list of novels about South America, Pushpinder Khaneka's list of three of the best books on Colombia, Michael Jacobs's list of the top ten Colombian stories, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families and Rebecca Stott's five best list of historical novels. It is one of Lynda Bellingham's six best books, Walter Mosley's five favorite books, Eric Kraft's five most important books, and James Patterson's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ten books to read before your trip to Cuba

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 Reads blog Somers tagged ten books to read before traveling to Cuba, including:
The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway

You shouldn’t need much prompting to read a novel that won the Pulitzer Prize and was instrumental in earning its author the Nobel Prize in Literature, but if you’re headed to Cuba then Papa’s classic account of an elderly Cuban fisherman who spends months attempting to catch a giant marlin off the coast of Florida is essential. Hemingway lived in Cuba off and on for two decades and was an avid fisherman, so for all its lyricism and symbolism the book is written from an expert’s point of view, and many feel it captures the spirit of the country.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Old Man and the Sea is among four books that changed Angelica Banks, Leo Benedictus's five best books for men who never read, Jung Chang's 6 favorite books, Kathryn Williams's thirteen best stories about pride, Scott Greenstone's twenty best books with fewer than 200 pages, Michael Palin's six favorite books, Robson Green's six best books, and Dave Boling's five best examples of how to structure a novel. N.M. Kelby has suggested that The Old Man and the Sea may be The Great Florida Novel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Top ten books on Vladimir Putin's Russia

Michael Honig is a former surgeon and lives in England. The Senility of Vladimir P. is his first novel. One of Honig's ten top books on Vladimir Putin's Russia, as shared at the Guardian:
Putin’s Kleptocracy by Karen Dawisha

Published in the US but not in Britain – for fear of the UK’s tyrant-friendly libel laws – American academic Karen Dawisha’s book provides a dispassionate, extensively researched account of Putin’s early criminality and the descent of the Russian government into an engine of organised crime. A must-read for anyone asking if the Putin regime is really as corrupt as people say and who wants to see the balance of evidence for themselves.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: ten books that explain Russia today and five top books on Putin and Russian history.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ten of the best female-fronted thrillers

L.S. Hilton grew up in England and has lived in Key West, New York City, Paris, and Milan. After graduating from Oxford, she studied art history in Paris and Florence. She has worked as a journalist, art critic, and broadcaster, and is presently based in London. Her new novel is Maestra. One of Hilton's top ten female-fronted thrillers, as shared at the B&N Reads blog:
Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood

Mental illness, spiritual fanatics, a notorious nineteenth-century murderess who has been misunderstood, this book has everything.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Alias Grace is among Rebecca Jane Stokes's top seven books for fans of Orange Is The New Black and Tracy Chevalier's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Six historical fiction novels that are almost fantasy

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. Somers notes that sometimes that dash of uncertainty over what’s real and what may have seemed magical to those involved can elevate historical fact into near-fantastical fiction. At the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged six historical fiction novels that are almost fantasy, including:
I, Claudius, by Robert Graves

The Romans were a superstitious lot, convinced that the gods influenced every moment of their lives and could be manipulated through offerings, sacrifices, and prayers. They often believed in magic and saw it everywhere, and even Rome’s masters weren’t immune to its influence. In telling the story of Claudius, proclaimed Emperor after his nephew Caligula was murdered, Graves offers us a perceptive, intelligent man who sincerely tries to be a good emperor—but who also sees prophecy, magic, and a hidden world of spirits everywhere he looks. Graves’ peerless writing makes the often dull business of ruling an empire seem fascinating, and the hero’s tragic life will make you feel pity for an emperor for perhaps the only time in your life, even as it transforms ancient Rome into a doomed fantasy kingdom.
Read about the other entries on the list.

I, Claudius also appears on Tracy-Ann Oberman's six best books list, the Telegraph's lists of the 21 greatest television adaptations of novels and 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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Five top YA novels about the afterlife

At the B & N Teen Blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged five top Young Adult novels about the afterlife, including:
The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall, by Katie Alender

When Delia inherits a house from her aunt, she doesn’t know the house used to be an insane asylum…or that it’s haunted. But something darker lurks in Hysteria Hall than just the ghosts of troubled girls, and when Delia gets unexpectedly trapped in the house, she’s forced to figure out what it is and how to stop it, or her family’s lives might be at stake. As if that wasn’t hard enough, all she has got to help her are some crazy, strong-willed ghosts and guarded warnings from the creeped-out locals. Will that be enough?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ten YA books that will change your life

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. For the B & N Teen Blog she tagged ten YA books that might change your life, including:
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

Okay, so I always start my Brown Girl Dreaming recs with the caveats that a) it’s middle grade, b) it’s verse, and c) it’s a memoir. But all that being said, Woodson’s Dreaming—a National Book Award winner and Coretta Scott and Newbery honoree—is a must-read. Her languorous and thoughtful ruminations on her childhood growing up in both the Jim Crow South of the ’60s and rough and tumble ’70s Brooklyn is rhythmic and mesmerizing, full of quiet spirit and insights as a young girl discovers herself as reader, a writer, and so much more.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top teen books about male friendship

Brian Conaghan was raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge but now lives and works as a teacher in Dublin. His books include When Mr Dog Bites, The Boy Who Made It Rain, and the newly released The Bombs That Brought Us Together. One of his ten favorite teen books about male friendship, as shared at the Guardian:
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

Set in the 1960s North Dublin and narrated by 10-year old Paddy Clarke, the eldest child of his family. Paddy has a glut of friends; he’s probably closest to Kevin Conway, a rather unlikeable kid, and James O’Keefe, is a good deal more - despite being, quite possibly, the biggest liar in Barrytown. The most adorable of Paddy’s friends, however, are a pair of brothers called Liam and Aidan. The boys’ mother is dead, and though their father is trying his best, he seems to be a little lost.

It’s set at a time when not only society is changing, but Paddy’s home life and friendships are dramatically changing too. There’s a certain sadness about watching Paddy grow up as the story unfolds; witnessing his trajectory from the warmth of the book’s beginning to the tragedy of the book’s denouement.
Read about the other books on the list.

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is among John Mullan's ten best child narrators in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Six top books that expand our mental horizons

A native of Seattle and Soldotna, Alaska, Steve Toutonghi studied fiction and poetry while completing a BA in Anthropology at Stanford. After pursuing a variety of interests, he began a career in technology that led him from Silicon Valley back to Seattle. Join is his first novel.

At, Toutonghi tagged six top books that expand our mental horizons, including:
Neuromancer (William Gibson, 1984)

In Neuromancer, characters enhance their mental abilities by tapping into a network. Maybe ironically, these connected characters are fighting for different kinds of personal freedom. At the end of the story, we learn that an AI may be on a path toward ultimate truth, but if it is, it will leave its human creators behind to find it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Neuromancer made Ann Leckie's top ten list of science fiction books, Madeleine Monson-Rosen's list of 15 books that take place in science fiction and fantasy versions of the most fascinating places on Earth, Becky Ferreira's list of the six most memorable robots in literature, Joel Cunningham's top five list of books that predicted the internet, Sean Beaudoin's list of ten books that changed his life before he could drive, Chris Kluwe's list of six favorite books, Inglis-Arkell's list of ten of the best bars in science fiction, PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time and Annalee Newitz's lists of ten great American dystopias and thirteen books that will change the way you look at robots.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 15, 2016

Top ten books about freedom

Scottish writer Karen Campbell is the author of six novels, most recently Rise and This is Where I Am. One of her ten top books about freedom, as shared at the Guardian:
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

An incomplete novel set in occupied France, written by a woman whose voice was extinguished by the Nazis – yet lives on in an unfinished masterpiece. There can’t be any more poignant or eloquent tribute to freedom of expression than that.
Read about the other books on the list.

Suite Française is among Sarah Stodol's ten top lost-and-found novels, Max Hastings's ten best books on war, David Lodge's five best books about social class, and Howard Bloch's five best books about France.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Eight mouthwatering quotes from the greatest literary feasts

At the Guardian Phoebe Walker tagged eight of the best feasts quotes in literature, including:
"The most prominent object was a long table with a table-cloth spread on it, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the clocks all stopped together. An épergne or centre-piece of some kind was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with cobwebs that its form was quite undistinguishable; and, as I looked along the yellow expanse out of which I remember its seeming to grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it>"
--Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, published 1861
Read about the other quotes on the list.

Great Expectations appears on Rachel Cooke's top ten list of single women, Robert Williams's top ten list of loners in fiction, Chrissie Gruebel's top ten list of books set in London, Melissa Albert's list of five interesting fictional characters who would make undesirable roommates, Janice Clark's list of seven top novels about the horrors of adolescence, Amy Wilkinson's list of five books Kate Middleton should have read while waiting to give birth, Kate Clanchy's top ten list of novels that reflect the real qualities of adolescence, Joseph Olshan's list of six favorite books, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best clocks in literature, ten of the best appropriate deaths in literature, ten of the best castles in literature, ten of the best Hamlets, ten of the best card games in literature, and ten best list of fights in fiction. It also made Tony Parsons' list of the top ten troubled males in fiction, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and numbers among Kurt Anderson's five most essential books. The novel is #1 on Melissa Katsoulis' list of "twenty-five films that made it from the book shelf to the box office with credibility intact."

Read an 1861 review of Great Expectations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ten fictional characters based on real people

Jeff Somers is the author of We Are Not Good People, the Avery Cates series, Lifers, and Chum. He has published over thirty short stories, including “Ringing the Changes,” which appeared in the Best American Mystery Stories 2006 anthology. One of his ten fictional characters based on actual people, as shared at the B&N Reads blog:
Sethe from Beloved, by Toni Morrison

Anyone who has read Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel likely had to compose themselves after the revelation of the shattering backstory of the main character, Sethe, an escaped slave who (spoiler alert!) killed her two-year-old daughter rather than see her snatched back to the plantation. The emotional response grows only more powerful when you learn Sethe was based on a slave named Margaret Garner, who fled from Kentucky to Ohio when one of the coldest winters in recorded history froze the Ohio River solid enough to serve as an escape route. When slave-catchers surrounded the house she had barricaded herself in, she did in fact kill her daughter, and when captured, was in the process of killing her other children in order to spare them a life of slavery. Margaret never stood trial; returned to her owners in Kentucky, she was moved frequently in a successful effort to hide her from the Northern authorities.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beloved also appears on Christopher Barzak's top five list of books about magical families, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's ten top list of wartime love stories, Judith Claire Mitchell's list of ten of the best (unconventional) ghosts in literature, 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.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Five books where assassins are the good guys

Jeff Wheeler's latest novel is The Queen's Poisoner. At he tagged five novels where assassins are the good guys, including:
The Druid of Shannara by Terry Brooks

This book is one of my all-time favorite novels by Brooks and the reason is because of Pe Ell. This assassin works for the bad guys and the good guys simultaneously and it’s never clear exactly which he prefers. Truly, he’s on his own side and his interests align with the good guys—most of the time. Pe Ell relishes a challenge. He takes risks. To say he’s mercurial doesn’t begin to do it justice. He has a magical blade called the Stiehl and he’s never afraid to use it. He was one of the most original characters that Brooks invented in his Shannara world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 11, 2016

Padma Lakshmi's six favorite books

Padma Lakshmi is the host of Top Chef, Bravo's long-running TV series. Her new memoir is Love, Loss, and What We Ate. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher

No other writer has inspired me more. M.F.K. Fisher has an uncanny knack for taking something mundane and rendering it sublime. She salts her writing with good common sense and peppers it with a wicked wit.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The ten worst traitors in fiction

At the B&N Reads blog Kat Rosenfield tagged ten of the worst traitors in fiction, including:
The Marquise de Merteuil, Dangerous Liaisons

This old-school epistolary dive into the sexual intrigues of the aristocracy in France’s Ancien Regime is rife with two-faced friends and lovers, but no one plays all sides like the beautiful, villainous Marquise. By the time she gets her comeuppance in the form of exile and a ruined face, she has betrayed basically every major character in the book—sometimes more than once.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses also appears among Heinz Helle’s top ten novels featuring hateful characters, Jonathan Grimwood's top ten French Revolution novels, Helena Frith Powell's top ten sexy French books, H.M. Castor's top ten dark and haunted heroes and heroines, and John Mullan's top ten best lotharios in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Freya North's six best books

Freya North is the author of many bestselling novels including The Turning Point. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
MISTER PIP by Lloyd Jones

A slim novel that’s compelling and exquisitely written. It’s about a teacher, the only white man on an idyllic island, who has only one book to teach from. It’s Great Expectations which is my favourite Dickens. Some bits are shocking, others are uproariously funny.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Vivian Gornick

Vivian Gornick's latest book is The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir. One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence

I read this book three times between the ages of 20 and 35, each time identifying with another character, until at last I saw myself as the hero. This was the first book to teach me to think about the intimate relation between life and literature. It taught me to appreciate the fact that we find the books we need to read, at every stage of our lives that we can make the best use of them.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 8, 2016

Six novels that can teach you real-life skills

Jeff Somers is the author of We Are Not Good People, the Avery Cates series, Lifers, and Chum. He has published over thirty short stories, including “Ringing the Changes,” which appeared in the Best American Mystery Stories 2006 anthology. One of his six top books that offer as much practical education as entertainment value, as shared at the B&N Reads blog:
Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk

Anyone seeking a list of books to read in order to learn how to write would do well to include Haunted. The way it calls attention to its own structure—the main story is about a group of eccentric writers who agree to be locked away from the world for a period of time in order to force themselves to write their masterpieces, with the plot interrupted regularly by short stories written by the characters—coupled with the way Palahniuk explores the link between inspiration, personality, and creativity, make it a useful work for anyone trying to translate lived experiences into fiction.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Haunted is among Jeff Somers's five books that work equally well as both novels and story collections and four huge books that will hurt your brain—but in a good way, Ginni Chen's top eight bone-chilling books to help beat the summer heat, and Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders's ten horror novels that are scarier than almost any movie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten unappreciated animal heroes

Swapna Haddow is the author of Dave Pigeon: How to Deal with Bad Cats and Keep (Most of) Your Feathers, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey. At the Guardian she tagged her ten top unappreciated animal heroes, including:
Templeton from Charlotte’s Web by EB White and Garth Williams

I’m sure many of you will be surprised that I didn’t choose Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web as my unappreciated hero. Charlotte is a kindly spider who, despite the spider typecast, saves Wilbur and her babies at the sacrifice of her own life. And don’t get me wrong, she is most definitely a hero but for this top 10, I chose Templeton as his character goes on so much more of a journey to heroism in this story. Stick with me and you’ll see.

Templeton is a grumpy rat and he is most definitely not a likeable character. He’s bad-tempered and selfish and even EB White describes him as having “no morals”. He needs so much coaxing to get on board to help save Wilbur’s life but despite that Templeton eventually proves himself a true hero when he abandons his ratty ways and helps save Charlotte’s babies.

See? What did I tell you? It’s all about Templeton’s journey.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Charlotte's Web is among Lara Williamson's top ten goodbyes in children’s literature, Culture’s critics' eleven best children’s books (for ages 10 and under) ever published in English, Holly Webb's ten top children's books on death and bereavement, Sara Brady's top six talking-animal characters she’d like to have a drink with, Joel Cunningham's favorite talking animals in fiction, Scott Greenstone's top twenty books with fewer than 200 pages, Mohsin Hamid's six favorite books and Sarah Lean's top ten animal stories; it is a book Kate DiCamillo hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Top ten depictions of British rain

Melissa Harrison is an author, freelance writer and occasional photographer who lives in South London. Her second novel, At Hawthorn Time was shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year award and longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her new non-fiction book is Rain: Four Walks in English Weather. At the Guardian, Harrison tagged her ten top depictions of British rain, including:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

The night Heathcliff disappears from the Heights, having overheard Cathy say that to marry him would “degrade” her, a violent thunderstorm adds to the novel’s already high foul-weather count. Cathy stays up all night, “bonnetless and shawlless”, calling for him in the rain. The next day she comes down with a fever that nearly kills her. The association between Heathcliff and bad weather persists – when his body is discovered, the window open, “his face and throat were washed with rain; the bed-clothes dripped, and he was perfectly still”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Wuthering Heights appears on Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Ed Sikov's list of eight top books that got slammed by critics, Amelia Schonbek's top five list of approachable must-read classics, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the worst wingmen in literature, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Jimmy So's list of fifteen notable film adaptations of literary classics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature, ten of the worst nightmares in literature and ten of the best foundlings in literature, Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations. It is one of John Inverdale's six best books and Sheila Hancock's six best books.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Five heroines who act quickly & violently

Alwyn Hamilton is the author of Rebel of the Sands. At she tagged five heroines quicker to act violently than with a level head, including:
Alanna of Trebond from the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce

Alanna’s skills as a knight come from years of hard training, working her way from an awkward young squire to the mythical figure of the Lioness Rampant. Every scrap of fighting in this red-headed heroine is learned and hard-earned. Alanna also holds a major place among my favorite heroines because she is the first heroine I remember reading about who dressed as a boy to go looking for a better destiny than the one society has given her. But, looking back, it’s also an awfully impulsive decision for a ruse that she has to spend years keeping up. When Alanna and her brother decide swap places, her twin winds up happily learning magic with no risk, while Alanna is left scrambling to figure out how to hide her true identity as puberty kicks in around a whole bunch of boys who are not quite so clueless that a few of them aren’t going to notice it happening.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Alanna: the First Adventure is among Gail Carriger's top five books where girls disguise themselves as boys.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ten top CIA novels

For The Strand Magazine, Mike Dellosso tagged ten of "the most memorable and captivating novels featuring agents of the CIA," including:
The Camel Club by David Baldacci

In this first of the Camel Club books, we meet the major players—four misfits with checkered pasts who form a watchdog organization of sorts, investigating conspiracy theories. When they witness the murder of a Secret Service agent, things begin to ramp up. Baldacci is a master of writing page-turning conspiracy thrillers. There’s a bunch of other stuff that goes on in this story that complicates the plot and adds to the twists and turns.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books for "Pride and Prejudice" fans

Curtis Sittenfeld’s new novel is Eligible, a reimagining of Pride and Prejudice. One of her ten books every Pride and Prejudice fan must read, as shared at the B & N Reads blog:
Stiltsville, by Susanna Daniel

While taking place in a completely different time and place from Pride and Prejudice (late 20th-century Miami), I’d argue Daniel picks up where Austen left off, which is after the wedding vows have been exchanged. Stiltsville follows a marriage over many decades, from start to finish, and it’s incredibly wise, compassionate, and moving.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Stiltsville.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 4, 2016

Helen Macdonald's six favorite books

Helen Macdonald is the author of the acclaimed international best-seller, H Is for Hawk. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

An indelibly powerful exposé of the terrible effects of pesticides, this 1962 book shaped the burgeoning environmental movement. Carson is a phenomenally important writer, and this book is more relevant than ever. We seem to have forgotten the lessons she taught.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Silent Spring made a list of the best books on global warming at the Guardian in 2009. It is among Tim Dee's ten best nature books, Gill Lewis's ten top birds in books, and John Kerry's five top books about progressivism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ten of the funniest Young Adult books

Jesse Andrews is the author the novels Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl and The Haters. At the B&N Teen blog he tagged ten funny YA books including:
The Year of Secret Assignments, by Jaclyn Moriarty

Three girls at a tony Australian school are forced to write letters to three boys at a somewhat more hurting Australian school. Moriarty is superb at brewing voices and terrifically deft with form—the book consists solely of things written by the characters in it, to each other or to themselves. My face hurt from grinning so much after I turned the last page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Year of Secret Assignments is among Natalie Zutter's seven best girl packs in YA fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Five fun and fearless femmes fatales from fiction

The editors at B & N Reads tagged five of their favorite fun, fearless femmes fatales in fiction, including:
Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll

The “mean girl” trope has been a staple for a long time, even after it was punctured in the titular Lindsay Lohan film. It’s become a bit of lazy shorthand: rich, plastic pretty girls are horrible and cruel. Few books explore what makes Mean Girls so mean in the first place, and even fewer bother to wonder what happens to Mean Girls after high school. Luckiest Girl Alive does both, and performs a remarkable trick by presenting a protagonist who is mean and difficult to like at first, then slowly humanizing her as her twisty and surprising story (trust us, you will think you’ve hit the twist—and then there is another twist) unfolds.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: John Mullan's ten best femmes fatales in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 1, 2016

Six YA novels for "Downton Abbey" fans

At the B & N Teen Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged six top YA novels for fans struggling to cope with the end of Downton Abbey, including:
The Luxe, by Anna Godbersen

It’s 1899, when we meet Manhattan socialite Elizabeth Holland…at her funeral, after she has drowned in the Hudson River after her carriage overturned. Sounds suspicious, doesn’t it? Flashback to before her death: Elizabeth and her sister Diana are the belles of the Manhattan social scene, and trying desperately not to let anyone know their family is broke. To save the family, Elizabeth is set to marry the handsome and rakish Henry Schoonmaker, who also happens to have stolen the heart of her best friend…but may be in love with Diana. Not that Elizabeth should mind, since she’s in love with her coachmen, Will (and so’s her maid, Lina). Things are getting confusing, and it sounds like there are plenty of people who’d like to see Elizabeth out of the way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue