Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Five top books about the collapse of New York City

Corey J. White is a writer of science-fiction, horror, magical realism, and other, harder to define stories. He studied writing at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, and is now based in Melbourne, Australia. His first book, Killing Gravity, is due out in May 2017. One of the author's five top books about the collapse of New York City, as shared at Tor.com:
Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is an author of literary fiction, and in Zone One he brings his considerable talents to bear on one of the most over-used science-fiction subgenres of the past few years—the zombie apocalypse. Zone One, though, is about more than zombies and survival, or gritty anti-heroes and gory headshots; it’s about New York City, family, lost lives and halted careers, it’s about unlikely survivors, and finding a balance between survival and civility in a society that is slowly coming back from the brink of extinction.

The book follows Mark Spitz, part of a three-person team sweeping a bullet-riddled and barricaded New York City for stragglers—zombies left behind after the marines performed their massive cull of the Manhattan hordes. But Zone One spends little time in the tense and dangerous present—instead giving precedence to carefully rendered memories of times past. Literary fiction often concerns itself with meditations on the mundane, or on misplaced nostalgia, but in Zone One these wistful remembrances are made important by their distance from the harrowing reality of the apocalypse. They’re also, perhaps, one of the few ways the survivors can maintain their humanity in times of horror, death, and decay.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 27, 2017

Seven YA books for informed fighters of the good fight

At the BN Teen blog Sarah Hannah Gómez tagged seven "books [that] will help keep you informed, knowledgeable, and invested in the things that matter most in today’s fast-paced, vitriolic, newsy world—and help keep the negativity to a minimum by doing so," including:
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen

This collection of essays, playlists, Q&As, and drawings invites people of all genders and sexes to join the feminist cause. Whether you’re already an avowed feminist or you’re just getting your feet wet, this book has chapters on bodies, sex, love, activism, and more.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books for understanding global politics

Richard Haass's newest book is A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order. One of his six top books for understanding global politics, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Quiet American by Graham Greene

First published in 1955, just after the fall of colonial rule in Southeast Asia, this novel was prescient in suggesting why and how the United States would fail in Vietnam. Through reading it, I learned that good fiction has as much to teach as nonfiction.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Quiet American is among Sara Jonsson's seven best literary treatments of envy, Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones's top ten classic spy novels, Tom Rachman's top ten journalist's tales, John Mullan's ten best journalists in literature, Charles Glass's five best books on Americans abroad, Robert McCrum's books to inspire busy public figures, Malcolm Pryce's top ten expatriate tales, Catherine Sampson's top ten Asian crime fiction, and Pauline Melville's top 10 revolutionary tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jenny Colgan's six best books

Jenny Colgan is the author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger

A wonderful story, beautifully told, where a woman falls in love with a man who can’t hold himself down in time. Niffenegger takes a clever idea and pushes it as far as it can go. It is moving and romantic.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Six top Shakespearean sci-fi & fantasy retellings

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Kelly Anderson tagged six top Shakespearean sci-fi & fantasy retellings, including:
Neil Gaiman’s Dream Country (Sandman #17-20)

Only one of the four independent stories that make up Dream Country is fully Shakespeare-inspired, but man, it is a doozy: the winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction, and a riff on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In it, Shakespeare puts on what is supposedly the premiere performance of his famous play for an audience from faerie, including Titania and Puck. The characters watching interact with the show and trade places with representations of themselves throughout the course of the performance. It’s as dreamlike, surreal, and beautiful as you’d want from a series whose main character is Morpheus. Often cited as the best part of the series, it is a great way to rediscover one of Shakespeare’s most enchanting tales.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about trolls

Chris Sharp's first novel, The Elementalists, introduced a dark YA series and was called one of the “Overlooked Books of 2014”, by Slate. His new novel is Cold Counsel.

One of Sharp's five top books about trolls, as shared at Tor.com:

My friends and I turned this one into a comedic movie for a ninth grade school project. Making it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had—we all got A’s. Though it’s a topic of much debate among those who debate such things, Grendel, Grendel’s Mother, and even the dragon can be viewed as trolls. Grendel coming to Heorot to destroy the hall because of the din made there is akin to the Scandinavian belief that early church construction and bell ringing was often met by troll attack. Grendel is the consummate troll in appearance and action, but his mother is just as iconic in her representation as a powerful shape-shifting trollhag capable of birthing monsters—just as Angrboda birthed Jormungand, Fenris Wolf, and Hel in Norse myths. (These vengeful and powerful beings laid further foundation for the trolls I sought to emulate.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beowulf is among four books that changed David Vann and Thomas Asbridge's top ten knights in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 24, 2017

Ten seemingly unrelated books that complement each other perfectly

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged "five pairs of books that have nothing to do with each other—and yet have everything to do with each other," [spoilers] including:
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley & Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The complementary nature of these two novels is all to do with the nightmarish inversion they represent for each other. Victor Frankenstein raids charnel houses and slaughterhouses for the parts he needs to create his creature, and in Ishiguro’s story human clones are raised from childhood in order to provide spare parts for their originals, a horrifying reversal. Interestingly, the precise nature of Frankenstein’s process is unclear—there is no evidence he literally stole arms and legs and hearts and lungs from graveyards; in fact, his process is more alchemical, even supernatural. Still, it’s easy to imagine him taking organs from corpses to build the better man, while in Ishiguro’s story organs are taken from perfectly healthy, living beings so their older genetic twins might live a bit longer, be a bit healthier. After reading these two books, ask yourself who the monster really is.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Frankenstein is among Olivia Laing's top ten books about loneliness, Helen Humphreys's top ten books on grieving, John Mullan's ten best honeymoons in literature, Adam Roberts's five top science fiction classics and Andrew Crumey's top ten novels that predicted the future.

Never Let Me Go is on Jeff Somers's list of eight tales of technology run amok and top seven list of speculative works for those who think they hate speculative fiction, a list of five books that shaped Jason Gurley's Eleanor, Anne Charnock's list of five favorite books with fictitious works of art, 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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Top ten Hollywood novels

Tim Walker is a freelance journalist and author based in London. From 2012 to 2016 he was the Los Angeles correspondent for The Independent.

His first novel, Completion, was published in 2014 and longlisted for the Impac Dublin Literary Award. His new novel is Smoke Over Malibu.

One of Walker's ten top Hollywood novels, as shared at the Guardian:
Force Majeure by Bruce Wagner (1991)

Struggling screenwriter Bud Wiggins, Wagner’s semi-autobiographical antihero, is a direct spiritual descendant of [F. Scott Fitzgerald's] Pat Hobby. Driving a limo to pay the bills, dining out on the sole screenplay he almost got made, Wiggins endures repeated and abject humiliations, from knocking himself out cold on the Oscars red carpet to performing sexual favours for a senior film exec. A bleakly funny insider’s perspective on the motion picture business.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Five books to inspire you to build a better future

At the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Kameron Hurley tagged five books to inspire you to make tomorrow better, including:
Dark Orbit, by Caroline Ives Gilman

This rather recent science fiction novel coasted under a lot of people’s radar, which is a shame, because it delivers so much that is wonderful about science fiction. It’s got competent, intrepid explorers, science!, space anomalies, incredible new worlds, and the optimism in humanity’s future to insist that we could tackle some of the universe’s strangest phenomena without destroying ourselves. This is an exploratory team that lands on a planet teeming with dark matter. I mean, how much more science fiction can you get? But what really impresses about this novel is its turn inward into an exploration of how our expectations about the unknown may make it more difficult for us to understand it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The six most deceptive marriages in fiction

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged six of the most deceptive marriages in fiction, including:
The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena

Lapena’s debut set a standard in deceptive marriages with Anne and Marco Conti. On the surface, they are the perfect young couple: successful, loving, blessed with an adorable baby daughter. The first hint that they’re not that perfect is their decision to leave baby Cora alone for the evening when the babysitter cancels on the night of a party. Arriving home late and inebriated, they discover the front door open and the baby kidnapped. The investigation slowly picks apart their perfect image, revealing rot and lies, building towards a series of revelations that make it clear just how much of a deception the marriage really was.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 20, 2017

Top ten books about the immigrant experience

Abeer Y. Hoque is a writer, photographer, and editor. Her new book is Olive Witch: A Memoir.

One of the author's ten essential books about the immigrant experience, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

Forget that Island of a Thousand Mirrors is Nayomi Munaweera’s first book. You won’t be reminded of it for a second. Not with that assured plot, the omniscient and precise characterization, the beautiful language, and the telling of tragic war torn history through the eyes of children and ordinary people. The story follows three children growing up in Colombo through civil war, the Tamil resistance movement, and a new life in America. It’s all seamlessly done, Munaweera taking charge of the storytelling like the fables of old. This book is a fast ferocious education in Sri Lankan history, a wrenching treatise on the horrors of war, and a deeply moving story of families, childhood friendships, and adult relationships. “This is what it means, then, to be spoiled. It means to be broken. It means forever.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ten top alternate Londons in fantasy

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged ten favorite alternate Londons in fantasy. One title on the list:
The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman

The London visited by Library Spy Irene in the first book of Cogman’s popular series is definitely “alternate,” in the sense that it’s fairly squirming with vampires, faeries, and werewolves. The mysterious book the magical librarians have been sent there to retrieve there has already been stolen when they arrive, and Cogman has a lot of fun playing with Alternate London’s Alternate Criminal Elements, which begin a complex game of violent maneuvers to take control, giving us a deep-dive into her vision of a grim, magical city.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ten amazing novels that begin “Dear Diary"

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged ten amazing novels that begin “Dear Diary," including:
Random Acts of Senseless Violence, by Jack Womack

Womack’s 1993 novel should have made a big splash, considering his award-winning work up to that point, but it was largely ignored (some blame the garish cover). The diary of 12-year old Lola, who goes from a sheltered girl attending a tony private school in Manhattan to a streetwise gangster as a near-future American society falls apart around her spins a frighteningly plausible story of decline—one that resonates even more sharply today.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 17, 2017

Five books to read if you loved "Hidden Figures"

Swapna Krishna is a freelance writer, editor, and giant space and sci-fi geek. At Tor.com she tagged five books to read if you loved Hidden Figures, including:
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

You may not realize that employing women as human computers goes back long before NASA and the age of spaceflight. In the mid-1800s, Harvard University began using the wives, sisters, and daughters of their resident (male) astronomers as calculators, but later began employing women in their own right. In an age when photography was transforming the astronomy, it was women who were tasked with studying the photographic glass plates of the sky each day. Women made some of the biggest discoveries in astronomy in this era, heralding the beginning of the discipline of astrophysics, yet their contributions have largely been forgotten to history. Sobel’s book begins in the 1880s and continues all the way through the 1950s, celebrating the different women who worked over the years to advance our understanding of the universe.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Top ten books about the Vikings

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough is the author of Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Saga. One of her ten top books about the Vikings, as shared at the Guardian:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Continuing the theme of Norse myths reimagined for the modern era, American Gods is a classic in the genre. Immigrants to America have brought their gods and guardian spirits with them, but as beliefs fade, so does the power of the old gods. New deities have risen to take their place, and the scene is set for a modern-day Ragnarok – the final battle in Norse mythology, where the gods must fall.
Read about the other entries on the list.

American Gods is among Jeff Somers's ten sci-fi & fantasy books that take on norse mythology and ten top SFF stories lousy with giant spiders, Josh Ritter's six favorite books that invoke the supernatural, and John T. Ottinger's top 12 science fiction and fantasy novels and stories that are uniquely American.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Five unexpectedly romantic novels

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged five unexpectedly romantic novels, including:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

Westley is but a farm boy, but he loves the beautiful Princess Buttercup, and she too loves him, but it is not to be, because they come from different stations in life. Nevertheless, Westley leaves his beloved to find his fortunes, learns the skills necessary to become worthy of her, reunites with her, and then gets himself horrifically tortured and killed because the Princess is betrothed to the evil Prince Humperdinck. Mere temporary setbacks for Westley. With a little help from Miracle Max, Westley fights off death because he simply has to be with Princess Buttercup. The book simply must have a happy ending. As you wish.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Princess Bride is among Darren Croucher's top six 1980s (and 80s-inspired) novels, Nicole Hill's five best novels written as genre parodies that stand on their own and eight notable royal figures in fiction, Jeff Somers's five best grandfathers in literary history, Sebastien de Castell's five duelists you should never challenge, the Guardian's five worst book covers ever, Rosie Perez's six favorite books, Stephanie Perkins' top ten most romantic books, Matthew Berry's six favorite books, and Jamie Thomson's top seven funny books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Twelve top books about the Syrian experience

At Signature, Keith Rice tagged twelve of the best books to understand the Syrian experience, including:
A Word for Love by Emily Robbins

Emily Robbins’s debut novel, A Word for Love, introduces us to Bea, an American exchange student living in Syria. In writing this novel, Robbins tapped into the knowledge and experience she gained during her own time in the Middle East as a Fulbright Fellow in Syria from 2007 to 2008. During that time, just before the Syrian War, she studied religion and language with a women’s mosque movement and lived with the family of a leading intellectual.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: A Word for Love.

The Page 69 Test: A Word for Love.

Writers Read: Emily Robbins (January 2017).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 13, 2017

Lydia Peelle's six favorite books

Lydia Peelle is an accomplished writer of short fiction. Her first novel is The Midnight Cool. One of the author's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Multispecies Salon, edited by Eben Kirksey

What's more revolutionary than contemplating the rights and interconnectedness of plants, animals, fungi, even microbes — and then aspiring to a more expansive post-humanist society? This collection's contributors include such radical thinkers as Karen Barad and Donna Haraway. Reading it, my heart enlarges and my mind breaks free of its ruts.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Five literary crushes for Valentine's Day

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged five literary crushes from books he's read, including:
Scarlett O’Hara (Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell)

Now here is a woman who is self-reliant, can get things done, and doesn’t need a man. That’s the whole point of Gone With the Wind. She journeys from being a “silly” Southern belle who’s so spoiled that she can’t and won’t do anything for herself, and then the War of Northern Aggression breaks out, and before you know it, Scarlett is fighting off troops, defending her home and family, making awesome dresses out of what’s literally hanging in the window, and rising above it all to never go hungry again. You don’t want her, Rhett Butler? Well she doesn’t even need you.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone With the Wind is among Tara Sonin's six literary antiheroines you’ll love to hate (and maybe love, too), four books that changed Jodi Picoult, five books that changed Kimberley Freeman, Becky Ferreira's seven best comeuppances in literature, Emily Temple's ten greatest kisses in literature and Suzi Quatro's six best books, and was a book that made a difference to Pat Conroy. It is on the Christian Science Monitor's list of the ten best novels of the U.S. Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Five of the best climate-change novels

Three Guardian editors came up with five of the best climate change novels, including:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

There’s a brief reference to what could be nuclear attack or a comet strike – “a sudden shear of light and then a series of low concussions” – but the slow process of climate change isn’t mentioned in this terrifying 2006 novel about a man and his young son struggling to survive after the fall of civilisation. Make no mistake, though, this is a book about environmental apocalypse: what would happen to humans, and our humanity, if the natural world was no longer a self-replenishing, bountiful support system for the higher apes who scratch at its surface but just another dead rock in space.

In the first years after the catastrophe, the roads were crowded with refugees, foraging remaining food stocks. Survivors descended into “bloodcults”, savagery and cannibalism. Nine years on, if the man and boy meet other humans, they will almost certainly be raped and eaten. The father keeps a pistol by him, to kill his son and then himself when the time comes; the mother committed suicide years before. This is a hard book to read but also, as Andrew O’Hagan put it, “the first great masterpiece of the globally warmed generation”.

McCarthy writes in an unrelenting, declamatory prose somewhere between the Bible and late Beckett, stripped for the most part of the adornment of apostrophes and speech marks and the breathing space provided by commas. He grapples not only with human suffering and savagery on a baroque, almost unimaginable scale; with faith, love and the blunt urge to survive; but with the existential horror of the possible end of the human race. The fragility of human endeavour and the terrifying consequences of our choices are the message to take from this devastating book.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Road appears on Claire Fuller's top five list of extreme survival stories, Justin Cronin's top ten list of world-ending novels, Rose Tremain's six best books list, Ian McGuire's ten top list of adventure novels, Alastair Bruce's top ten list of books about forgetting, Jeff Somers's lists of five science fiction novels that really should be considered literary classics and 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

Friday, February 10, 2017

Six timeless & timely must-reads for Black History Month

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 B & N Reads she tagged "six timeless and timely must-reads" for Black History Month, including:
Between the World And Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Atlantic correspondent Coates earned the National Book Award—along with countless other accolades—for this slim but profound book, a riveting and incredibly timely cultural critique and personal narrative delivered in the form of letters to his young son. Touching on moments both significant and small, Coates addresses race, politics, class, violence, and other cultural ideas while asking and exploring questions that may not quite have answers yet. Evocative and thought-provoking, Coates’ modern-day exploration of what it means to be black will have you rethinking the world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Between the World And Me is among Ted Koppel's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top alt history YA novels

At the BN Teen blog Nicole Hill tagged seven top alt history YA novels, including:
Dodger, by Terry Pratchett

It wasn’t often that the late Pratchett dallied from his long-running Discworld series, but when he did, he knocked it out of the park. Here, he hangs all his comedy chops on Dodger, a 17-year-old urchin in Victorian London. With one Good Samaritan act, Dodger’s world gets turned upside down, as he climbs the social ladder to rescue a young girl. Along the way, he has run-ins with real-life heavyweights including Charles Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli, and colorful fictional characters like Sweeney Todd. You just never know who’ll turn up.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ten top books about the apocalypse

Michelle Tea is the author of five memoirs: The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America, Valencia (now a film), The Chelsea Whistle, Rent Girl (illustrated) and How to Grow Up, currently in development with Amazon Studios. Her novels include Mermaid in Chelsea Creek and Girl at the Bottom of the Sea, part of a Young Adult fantasy trilogy published by McSweeneys, and Rose of No Man’s Land. Black Wave is a dystopic memoir-fiction hybrid. One of her top ten books about the apocalypse, as shared at the Guardian:
The Stand by Stephen King

My apocalyptic first love. An epic tale about the ultimate battle of good and evil in an America devastated by weaponised influenza. Told through multiple perspectives, we watch the continued breakdown of both humanity and the planet. I remain haunted by the image of Trashcan Man, radiation-poisoned, dragging a nuclear warhead through the desert.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Five of the best YA books about crime families

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

At the B & N Teen Blog she tagged five top YA books about crime families, including:
Heist Society, by Ally Carter

Heist Society is a fast-paced adventure that isn’t afraid to address larger themes of family, friendship, and loyalty—basically, it’s everything you want in a crime family caper. Katarina’s doesn’t want any part in the family business, aka art thievery, so she scams her way into a prestigious school, only to get kicked out thanks to her friend Hale. Hale is intent on getting Kat back in the Family Business because her super-crafty thieving skills are needed to save her father, basically the only suspect in the theft of a mobster’s art collection. With the help of a motley crew of teenage art thieves, Kat must travel the globe investigating the sordid history of stolen artwork.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ten top contemporary novels by and about Muslims

At LitHub Emily Temple tagged ten top contemporary novels by and about Muslims, including:
Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

This bestselling novel takes the form of a long monologue, as Changez, a young Pakistani man, tells his story to an American in a cafe. Since Changez had been living, by some standards at least, the American Dream before 9/11, his reaction to the disaster is strange: “I stared as one—and then the other—of the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center collapsed. And then I smiled. Yes, despicable as it may sound, my initial reaction was to be remarkably pleased.” But this reaction confuses him, and soon everything begins to change.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is among Laila Lalami's eight top books about Muslim life for a nation that knows little about Islam, Porochista Khakpour's top ten novels about 9/11, 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

Monday, February 6, 2017

John Cleese's six favorite books

John Cleese is an actor, producer, writer, one of the co-founders of Monty Python, and the author of a memoir, So Anyway. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

It's been many years since I read this one, but I can still remember certain sequences: men riding horseback into battle, and the way they try to distract themselves from the fact that they could be dead or wounded terribly in an hour's time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

War and Peace appears among Kate Kellaway's ten best Christmases in literature, the Telegraph's ten best historical novels, Simon Sebag Montefiore's five top books about Moscow, Oliver Ford Davies's six best books, Stella Tillyard's four favorite historical novels, Ann Shevchenko's top ten novels set in Moscow, Karl Marlantes' top ten war stories, Niall Ferguson's five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best battles in literature, ten of the best floggings in fiction, and ten of the best literary explosions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ten sci-fi & fantasy books that take on Norse mythology

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged ten sci-fi & fantasy books that take on norse mythology. One title on the list:
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman’s classic novel is coming to television this year, and color us excited. The Norse gods are only part of the story in Gaiman’s brilliantly imagined universe, in which belief manifests the gods and then imbues them with power that dissipates when the world moves on to new gods—leaving the Norse gods waning and weak, while new American deities like The Technical Boy rise. It all makes for a thrilling conflict between tradition and modernity that drives a compelling fantasy narrative that hums along with its own ancient power.
Read about the other entries on the list.

American Gods is among Jeff Somers's ten top SFF stories lousy with giant spiders, Josh Ritter's six favorite books that invoke the supernatural, and John T. Ottinger's top 12 science fiction and fantasy novels and stories that are uniquely American.

--Marshal Zeringue

Bettany Hughes's six best books

Bettany Hughes is a historian and broadcaster. Her latest book is Istanbul: A Tale Of Three Cities. One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE SPARTANS by Paul Cartledge

The Spartans are one of the reasons that I became a historian. They were brutal but they were trying to make the exceptional happen and I admire their spirit. The women were unusual in the ancient world in that they had political rights.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Twelve sci-fi & fantasy updates of 19th century classics

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ceridwen Christensen tagged twelve sci-fi & fantasy updates of 19th century classics. One title on the list:
Ironskin, by Tina Connolly

Connolly’s Nebula-nominated debut recasts Jane Eyre in a world where the humans and the fae have been locked in a Great War for about as long as anyone can remember. Jane Eliot (which was Jane Eyre’s pseudonym, with a slightly different spelling, when she ran away from the bigamist Rochester in the original) has a leaking fae curse that must be hidden behind a mask, lest her anger manifest in truly destructive ways. She’s governess for an enigmatic man, whose ward is fae-touched, but somehow not cursed like Anne. While the novel is not set in World War I, the characters nonetheless have the sort of fatalism and jittery superficiality I associate with the literature of the time. The exploration of repressed anger, expressed in the curse and its masks, is the coolest part of this SFFnal shift.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ironskin is among Sylvia Spruck Wrigley's five top modern books with bad-ass fairies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 3, 2017

Martin Sixsmith's six best books

Martin Sixsmith is a former BBC foreign correspondent. His book The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee was made into the award winning film Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. Sixsmith's latest book is Ayesha's Gift: A Daughter's Search for the Truth About Her Father. One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
FATHERS AND SONS by Ivan Turgenev

I’ve been writing recently about the relationship between parents and children and Turgenev is very perceptive about that. His main character is quite unpleasant, a nihilist who insults his father and treats women badly. The big punch is the grief of his parents when he dies. It’s unbearably poignant.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fathers and Sons is on Jamie Fewery's list of the ten best fictional fathers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six great novels you can read in one day

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged six great novels you can read in one day. One title on the list:
For Historical Inspiration: Flashman, by George Macdonald Fraser

Time to Read: Four hours.

Historical fiction is often lengthy by nature because of the detail required to set the scene. That’s what makes Flashman the ideal four-hour read. Macdonald never once takes his subject too seriously while displaying a sharp eye for accuracy and a real feel for his 19th century setting. If you think “historical fiction” sounds stuffy, you’ll be surprised how quickly those hours fly by.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Flashman is among John Mullan's ten best trips to Canterbury in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Top ten authentic romances

Born in 1969 in the Aveyron region of southern France, Emmanuelle Pagano studied fine art and the aesthetics of cinema. She has written more than a dozen works of fiction, and in France is primarily published by P.O.L. She has won the EU Prize for Literature and her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She regularly collaborates with artists working in other disciplines such as dance, cinema, photography, illustration, fine art and music. Her latest book is Trysting.

One of Pagano's top ten stories that give a genuine sense of how passion is lived and often lost in the real world, as shared at the Guardian:
Be Mine by Laura Kasischke

Sherry, married and in her 40s, receives an anonymous Valentine’s Day card with the message “Be Mine”. Kasischke gives us a minute portrayal of an American reality in which everything, including desire, seems perfectly ordered. She pushes her characters, ordinary people, to the point where their destiny is overturned. We watch as the superficial order is stripped away and they lose control of their lives.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ten great western novels you may have never read

Andrew Hilleman was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1982. He earned his B.A. and M.A. in English at Creighton University, in Omaha, and his M.F.A. in fiction from Northern Michigan University. He has been published by The Fiddlehead and was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award.

Hilleman's new novel is World, Chase Me Down.

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten great western novels you've probably never read, including:
Welcome to Hard Times by E. L. Doctorow

Another debut by a literary heavyweight. Many have at least heard of Ragtime and Billy Bathgate. But, even among those folks, very few would think the man got his start with cowboys. The only reason this one isn’t ranked higher on my list is that it relies on boilerplate formula too often. The “Bad Man from Bodie” is a formulaic creation as far as outlaws go, but the prose with which Doctorow constructs him and his dark humor keep the character and the story fresh despite its familiar conventions. Read the first two pages and you’ll see the sure-fire signs of how Doctorow became a master stylist.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue