Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ten essential African novels

Publishers Weekly asked five novelists, each from a different African country and with a new novel out this spring, to select two of their favorite African novels. One of Odafe Atogun's picks:
Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Season of Crimson Blossoms is a beautiful-sad story told with great artistry. Against a backdrop of tragic family histories brought about by ruthless politicking and religious extremism, Binta, a devout middle-aged Muslim widow, and Reza, a young weed-smoking gangster, begin an illicit affair.

Haunted by the painful memory of loss in a hypocritical society which uses religion to promote hatred and violence, Binta experiences a primal desire to save her lover from a life of crime. But is it love or the quest for redemption that emboldens her to listen to her heart for once? A combination of both, maybe?

Whatever, it is an affair that foretells grave danger, for Binta especially. But already held a prisoner by the hopeless yearnings of her own heart, she finds it impossible to apply the brakes. And as the affair festers and consumes her and her lover, Binta realizes that she is living in a society that will never allow her to find love, even if she chooses to steal it. As for Reza, he is confined by society never to find fulfillment, not even redemption.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about what was happening behind the scenes of famous novels

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged "five absorbing investigations into what was happening behind the scenes of five famous novels," including:
Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, by Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, Jr.

More than 75 years after its publication, it can be difficult for modern readers to understand the phenomenon that was Gone With the Wind when it was first published in 1936. It won the Pulitzer Prize and was an instant bestseller, and was quickly adapted into the epic film many of us know better than the book. Brown and Wiley don’t waste time retreading the life of Mitchell, but rather focus on the mechanics of how a debut novel from an unknown writer became an instant pop culture smash that has maintained its grip on public consciousness ever since.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Four books that changed Mardi McConnochie

Mardi McConnochie is an Australian author and playwright. One of four books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
​Ursula K. Le Guin

This series exemplifies all the things I like about the best fantasy fiction for younger readers. Le Guin's prose is pared back but amazingly deep and supple, expressing very complex ideas and emotions in simple language. Her work is psychologically rich and satisfying, with characters caught in dilemmas that are profound and urgent. Earthsea is a diverse world that feels both deep and broad, vividly imagined, with a conception of magic at its centre that is utterly convincing and never generic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Wizard of Earthsea is among Maria Turtschaninoff's ten favorite feminist heroes in fiction, Culture’s best children’s books ever published in English, five books that changed Gary Corby, and Lev Grossman's top five fantasy novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top standalone urban fantasy novels

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball tagged ten of the best standalone urban fantasy novels, including:
War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull

This Locus Award-winning novel is a beautiful example of how powerful and wonderful urban fantasy can be, building a whole magical world beneath our own in just one book. Written in 1987, before the avalanche of fearie paranormal romance, it still feels fresh and special. Eddi McCandry is a musician who has just lost her band and her boyfriend. As if her luck couldn’t get worse, she’s shanghaied into a supernatural war involving the courts of Seelie and Unseelie, a war with personal stakes for Eddi, who must learn to navigate this new world, and fast. Emma Bull’s debut is infused with music and wonder, and should be considered a cornerstone of the genre.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 28, 2017

Robert Newman's six best books

Robert Newman is a British comedian, political activist, and author. His new book on brain science is Neuropolis. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy

I’ve read this four times. As a student I got impatient and threw it into the neighbour’s garden. But I climbed over the fence and started it again. You feel totally immersed.
Read about the other books on the list.

War and Peace appears among John Cleese's six favorite books, 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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Top ten terrible houses in fiction

Xan Brooks is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster. He spent his rude youth as part of the founding editorial team of the Big Issue magazine and his respectable middle period as an associate editor at the Guardian, specializing in film. The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times is his first novel.

One of Brooks's ten top terrible houses in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca is the name of the first Mrs de Winter, dead in a boating accident but still haunting the wings of lavish Manderley, on the Cornish coast. The house remains much as she left it. Her housekeeper Mrs Danvers remains stubbornly in situ, like an emissary from the spirit world. The second Mrs de Winter knows she can never measure up. It is all she can do to totter out in one piece.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Rebecca appears on Tom Easton's top ten list of fictional "houses which themselves seem to have a personality which affects the story," Martine Bailey's list of six of the best marriage plots in novels, Stella Gonet's six best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best conflagrations in literature, Tess Gerritsen's list of five favorite thrillers, Mary Horlock's list of the five best psychos in literature, and Derwent May's critic's chart of top country house books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Six books that will ruin your childhood memories

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged "six books turn comforting, innocent entertainments into something subversive and disturbing," including:
The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, by Anne Rice

The fact that Anne Rice, whose work isn’t exactly shy and blushing, chose to publish the four novels in the Sleeping Beauty Quartet pseudonymously should tell you just how warped they are. If you ever once enjoyed the innocence of Disney version of Sleeping Beauty (though to be fair, “princess enchanted into sleep and woken by a kiss from a prince” has all kinds of implications to unpack even with the cute cartoon birds in tow), then you will be completely, totally, 100 percent squicked-out by what Rice does to the princess in this reimagining, set in a universe where minor royals are turned into sex slaves and playthings, brutally beaten, raped, and mentally broken. Beauty resists, despite the clear evidence of what that will earn her. By the time you’re done with the first book, the old fairy tale will forever be one of your triggers. Unless you’re into that, which is perfectly ok.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ten top war memoirs

One of Andrew Sharples' top ten war memoirs, as shared at the Guardian:
My War Gone By, I Miss It So by Anthony Loyd

For a certain kind of person war is a drug and nowhere is that more apparent than in Anthony Loyd’s account of his time as a correspondent in Bosnia. While immersed in the conflict, Loyd is high on adrenaline, but on returning home, the only way he can achieve that rush is through heroin, and he slips into addiction. The beauty of the prose urged me forward but every few pages the description of a fresh horror stopped me dead in my tracks.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 24, 2017

Twenty top books for the new fantasy reader

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged twenty top fantasies to introduce beginners to the genre, including:
The Magicians, by Lev Grossman

There’s a subversive side to magic, all those schools full of future witches and wizards, always on the lookout for some mysterious, powerful foe. That’s where Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy comes in. Quentin Coldwater has never believed magic is real, until he passes the Brakebills entrance exam. The experience isn’t quite Hogwarts, and Quentin discovers magic alone might not be able to fill the emptiness inside of him.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Magicians is among Soman Chainani's five top SFF novels with perfect opening lines, Christian McKay Heidicker's six top read-aloud books for grown-ups, Diana Biller's five creepiest rabbits in fiction, Jenny Kawecki's seven fictional schools that couldn't pass a safety inspection, Entertainment Weekly's top ten wickedly great books about witches, Jason Diamond's top fifty books that define the past five years in literature, and Joel Cunningham's eight great books for fans of Donna Tartt's The Secret History.

The Page 69 Test: The Magicians.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books for understanding how cities work

Richard Florida is one of the world’s leading urbanists. His latest book is The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It. One of the author's six favorite books on urban capitalism, innovation, and inequality, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Coming of Post-Industrial Society by Daniel Bell

In 1973, Bell detailed the rise of a society no longer driven mainly by agriculture or manufacturing, but by technology, information, and knowledge. He also highlighted the growing importance of the new technocratic class of scientists, engineers, and knowledge workers in that society.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Five kickass feminist YA books

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged "five feminist reads that’ll have you raising hell while you wait" for the release of Jennifer Mathieu’s upcoming novel, Moxie, including:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

Former good girl Frankie is no longer the quiet “bunny rabbit” she used to be. Tired of being thought of as her popular boyfriend’s arm candy, Frankie slowly decides it’s time to prove what she’s capable of—especially once she finds out said boyfriend is part of an all-male secret society. Infiltrating the society isn’t enough. Soon, Frankie has become the mastermind, orchestrating complicated pranks through her secret identity. But what will happen when the boys find out who’s behind their hijinks? Frankie, for one, might not care.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is among Kayla Whaley's five best opening scenes in YA lit, Sona Charaipotra's five top YA books to read when you're burnt out on love, and Sabrina Rojas Weiss's ten favorite boarding school novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ian Ogilvy's six best books

Ian Ogilvy played Simon Templar in the 1970s TV series Return Of The Saint and has appeared in Upstairs, Downstairs and Murder, She Wrote. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh

I love his wry sense of humour. He doesn’t push the jokes at you. The main character writes a country column and is then given a journalistic assignment to a war-torn country. It’s very silly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Scoop is among Hallie Ephron's top ten books to keep you laughing and Tom Rachman's top 10 journalist's tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Seven books to celebrate Earth Day

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged seven top books to celebrate Earth Day, including:
Botanicum, by Kathy Willis and Katie Scott

Humans don’t exist in a vacuum. We live in a sometimes contentious partnership with other animals—and plants. This visually stunning book offers a deep dive into the secret world of plant life, combining incredibly detailed illustrations with incisive commentary, the end result being a world-class introduction to the science of botany. Detailed cutaways demonstrate how various plants work, and the broad scope of the work (beginning with “first plants”) is awe-inspiring enough to encourage any budding botanist to consider making plants part of their lives going forward. Instilling respect for our environment begins with understanding it, and Botanicum is a fun, beautiful way for kids to begin that process.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Eight inspiring picture books for Earth Day.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flaubert's best works, ranked

Peter Brooks is the author of Flaubert in the Ruins of Paris: The Story of a Friendship, a Novel, and a Terrible Year.

Number one on the list of Brooks's favorite Flaubert's works:
Madame Bovary

This remains as fresh and pertinent today as it was at publication—and it is still a shocker. We have seen plenty of adultery in the novel, but Emma Bovary’s experience of love and sex both marital and extra-marital is captured with extraordinary vividness and immediacy. The material world and the world of sensations are given to us in stunning detail. You might say this is the first truly “realist” novel in its detailing of the sights, smells, touches of everyday life. It is also the story of a longing that we all share to break out of the everyday, to experience the rare and significant. Emma Bovary may be deluded in her search for rapturous happiness, but it makes her a creative spirit, like the man who created her. “Madame Bovary is me,” Flaubert is supposed to have exclaimed. Yes, in that he has so well imagined an imprisoned spirit seeking adventure and release. There are two good translations of Madame Bovary available: by Geoffrey Wall (Penguin), and (even better, I think) by Lydia Davis (Viking).
Read about the other entries on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top picture books for Earth Day

At the BN Kids blog Charlotte Taylor tagged eight inspiring picture books for Earth Day, including:
The Lonely Giant, by Sophie Ambrose

A giant living in a forest spends his days pulling up trees and smashing mountains, just because that’s what he’s used to doing—he’s thoughtless, not greedy or deliberately destructive. But because of his actions, the creatures that live in the forest disappear as their home is destroyed, and the giant finds himself all alone. When he finds one last yellow bird, he captures her to be a friend, but in her cage she grows too sad to sing. The giant is moved by her sadness, and lets her go…and he realizes that if he wants birds to stay with him and sing, he must repair the damage he’s done, and he sets to work. Although the point is not subtle, it’s a sweetly effective story that hopeful rather than depressing.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Top ten books about trees

Fiona Stafford is professor of English language and literature, University of Oxford. Her latest book is The Long, Long Life of Trees.

One of Stafford's ten top books about trees, as shared at the Guardian:
Howards End by EM Forster

I learned from reading this book at school that novels can work through recurrent phrases and enigmatic images. Here, on the very first page, is the wych elm. I had no idea then what a wych elm might be, but I knew that this strange tree, with the pig’s teeth embedded in its trunk, somehow possessed qualities that were beyond the reach of the car-owning colonialists who thought they owned it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Howards End is among John Mullan's ten best concerts in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Seven YA books about twins

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged seven favorite YA books about twins, including:
Gemini, by Sonya Mukherjee

The key to life for Clara and Hailey’s family has been to stay in their small town forever, surrounding themselves with people who’ve long ceased to be surprised by the presence of conjoined twins. But when talk of the future comes calling and a new guy comes to town, Clara and Hailey are forced to acknowledge they have very different visions of what they want from the rest of their lives. They’ll have to figure out what they want as individuals and how they can both have the future they want and deserve, unless they want to tear themselves apart for good.
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see Francesca Haig's top ten list of the greatest twins in children’s books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five elegant and moody fantasies

Sofia Samatar is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning novel A Stranger in Olondria and its sequel, The Winged Histories. One of her five favorite "intensely strange, beautifully written, and transportive fantasies," as shared at
Tainaron: Mail from Another City by Leena Krohn, translated by Hildi Hawkins
“How could I forget the spring when we walked in the University’s botanical gardens; for there is such a park here in Tainaron, too, large and carefully tended. If you saw it you would be astonished, for it contains many plants that no one at home knows; even a species that flowers underground.”
I first read Leena Krohn’s bright, melancholy novella in the anthology The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer. It’s also available as part of the landmark collection of Krohn’s work published by Cheeky Frawg. It feels strange to describe a work as both “bright” and “melancholy,” but this is the mood produced by Krohn’s fantasy, in which an unnamed human narrator writes letters from a country of giant insects. These insects are sophisticated, sensitive, and rapacious; they ride trams, dine in cafés, feed their children on the corpses of their ancestors, and rub themselves against flowers in broad daylight. Krohn’s is a colorful, anarchic landscape: fresh as spring, sad as autumn, and unified by the lonely voice of the letter-writer, a flâneur of the anthills.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Five of the best coming-of-age graphic novels

At the B&N Reads blog Saskia Lacey tagged five fantastic coming-of-age graphic novels, including:
American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

A National Book Award finalist, Yang’s graphic novel follows Jin Wang, a student who longs to fit in with his peers. But, as the only Chinese-American in his class, Jin has no such luck. His misadventures, one of which includes an ill-advised perm, are mirrored by two other interweaving tales. Yang’s work speaks to anyone who has been on the outside.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 17, 2017

Lidia Yuknavitch's six favorite books

Lidia Yuknavitch's new novel is The Book of Joan.

One of the author's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Empire of the Senseless by Kathy Acker

Acker's 1988 dystopian novel left me shredded. Narrators Abhor, who's "part robot, part black," and Thivai, a diagnosed paranoid, describe a world in which Algerian immigrants have taken over Paris, violence is omnipresent, Western cities are filled with zombies, and the CIA has mutated into a multinational behemoth. Acker depicts a kind of pornographic war zone, the logical extension of late capitalism and consumerism.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Five YA books for "American Gods" fans

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the BN Teen blog he tagged five YA books for fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, including:
Bull, by David Elliott

The just-published Bull is a feisty, fresh, and inventive retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur…in verse! It reads like a mythological Hamilton. Elliott gives us a fired up and modernized set of hard-hitting rhymes in adapting the story for the present day, going deep into the heart and soul of his title character—the Minotaur—and showing who he is beyond his god-cursed status. Elliott also brings to vivid life the Minotaur’s family, as well as wannabe monster-slayer Theseus. He humanizes all of them, brings the poignancy hard, and still manages to make the language fizz with humor and power. If you’re looking for a thrilling retelling of a classic tale of gods and monsters, you need this./
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine new books for "Downton Abbey" fans

At the BookBub Blog Shayna Murphy tagged nine new books for Downton Abbey fans, including:
The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

Travel through the lush English countryside and explore the magnificent estates of the British aristocracy in this next spellbinding love story in The Seven Sisters series by #1 internationally bestselling author Lucinda Riley.

Star D’Aplise is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father — the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District — just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter — when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life…

As Star learns more of Flora’s incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.

The Shadow Sister is the third in the sweeping Seven Sisters series, “soaked in glamour and romance” (Daily Mail) and perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and the novels of Kate Morton.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Storm Sister.

My Book, The Movie: The Storm Sister.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Eight books for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball tagged eight books or series for Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, including:
The True Blood series, by Charlaine Harris

[I[f more emphasis on vampire romance is what you want, revisit Bon Temps, Louisiana, stomping grounds of Sookie Stackhouse. The TV series and book series are both complete, which is a good thing, because in both incarnations,the series begs out to be binged. While Sookie isn’t quite as stab-happy as Buffy, this books still completely deliver vis-à-vis attractive vampires and the problems of the preternatural set. If you only watched the show, the books are a must. The only question is: Team Angel or Team Bill? (Trick question, the answer is Team Spike.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

Dead Until Dark is among Sarah Fine's top five books in which special powers have unfortunate side effects and Rebecca Jane Stokes's top ten books about women in peril…who fought back.

Eric Northman of The Southern Vampire Mysteries is among Will Hill's top ten vampires in fiction and popular culture.

The Stackhouse family is one of Jennifer Lynn Barnes's top 10 supernatural families.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 14, 2017

Dave Davies's six best books

Dave Davies was a founder member and lead guitarist of The Kinks.

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

Wilson had a very interesting take on the way the world functions. His ideas were a breath of fresh air. Everybody’s vision of reality is different. He talks of understanding the differences and how we should be compassionate about what others think.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best settings in YA fantasy

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged five of the coolest settings in YA fantasy, including:
The Kingdom of Brooklyn (Vassa in the Night, by Sarah Porter)

If you prefer fantasy worlds of the creepy, surreal variety, Vassa in the Night is the story for you. In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, magic can help or hurt. In Vassa’s working-class corner of Brooklyn, it mostly hurts. So when Vassa is sent out to Babs Yaggs’ bodega—the location of many a late-night shoplifter’s beheading—she knows things could get messy. And, of course, they do. Trapped in indentured servitude at the bodega, Vassa quickly realizes there are much stranger things afoot than a store that dances on chicken legs. (And even that’s pretty weird in this dark, otherworldly version of Brooklyn.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Five top books about achieving immortality

Neal Asher's latest book is Infinity Engine.

One of his top five books about achieving immortality, as shared at
Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer

In Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld we are resurrected to eternal life in new bodies on a world covered with a giant river valley. We awake on the banks of this river in perfect 25-year-old bodies, which can regenerate from just about any injury, and remain at that age forever. No severed limbs, no wheelchairs, sight restored if lost, no tooth decay. Provision is even made for those who died young. They are resurrected at the age they died, grow to 25-year-olds and so remain. This is a direct translation of religion into an sfnal setting, and its source is hinted at all through. The resurrected get their sustenance from “Grails,” while one wonders why all the men are reborn without foreskins. The heavenly host, the alien Wathans, created the place for “moral contemplation” where humans can lose their barbarity in preparation for moving on. But still, that contemplation involves numerous adventures with historical figures—the explorer Sir Richard Burton is a main character—and the books are an enjoyable ride.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Top ten books about the Russian Revolution

One of Tariq Ali's ten top books about the Russian Revolution, as shared at the Guardian:
Roots of Revolution: A History of the Populist and Socialist Movements in 19th-century Russia by Franco Venturi

Permitted access to sealed archives in Moscow that contained the documents of, and regarding, anarcho-terrorism, Venturi made good use of them. While saddened that his Soviet colleagues were barred, he produced what is a historical masterpiece on the predecessors of the Bolsheviks.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

33 books to read with your mother

At the B&N Reads blog, Heidi Fiedler tagged thirty-three books to read with your mother, including:
Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith

If your relationship with your mom is less a meeting of the minds and more a battle against misunderstanding, contemplating the vast differences between humans and animals may help put it all in perspective. Written by a philosopher, this book examines how cephalopods think. Discussing animals that are highly intelligent but as alien as can be here on Earth, this book shines a light on the consciousness we share with other creatures—including our own mothers.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rebecca Skloot's 6 favorite books

Rebecca Skloot is the author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts

And the Band Played On is up there with Silent Spring as one of the most influential pieces of science writing. Published in 1987, it changed the way AIDS was understood and treated in the U.S., and did so by combining powerful investigative journalism with beautiful storytelling. The first piece I read by Shilts was a follow-up essay to the book. I finished it and said to myself, "I want to write like that guy."
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 10, 2017

Six YA murder mysteries for "Big Little Lies" fans

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the BN Teen blog he tagged six YA murder mysteries for fans of Big Little Lies, including:
The Girl I Used to Be, by April Henry

Murder mystery? Check. Police procedural? Check. Edge-of-your-seat thriller? Triple check. This is Olivia’s story. When she was three, her mom was murdered, and Olivia was adopted. The official story was that her father murdered her mom, and then ran away. But when the cops knock at her door 14 years later, they have a different story: Her father was murdered the same day as her mother. He wasn’t the killer—which means the killer is still out there. Olivia returns to her hometown to uncover the truth, in a book that kicks off with Olivia on the run from the killer, before diving into the flashbacks that led her to that point. Page-turning quality: maximum.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Eight top books about love and obsession

Olivia Sudjic's debut novel is Sympathy. One of her eight favorite books about love and obsession, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

I first read Lolita at 13, in the same way I listened to Nirvana’s Nevermind, or wore clip-on ear studs at that age: self-consciously. This meant I missed the humor in it, the sadness, and much else besides. I reread it more recently and this time laughed aloud at Humbert’s machinations, the elaborate dance he orchestrates in order to claim his prize. I didn’t skip the less sexy parts, in the epilogue Nabokov talks of the genesis of Lolita as a “throb.” A throb committed first to a short story, which he then destroyed, a throb which persisted until it grew into a novel, one which he also considered destroying many times, but “stopped by the thought that the ghost of the destroyed book would haunt my files for the rest of my life.” He could, of course, be describing Humbert’s infatuation. The book, and Nabokov’s nymphet, which scandalized so many on publication, is now a part of our culture, even if many have never read it.
Read about the other books on the list.

Lolita appears on Jeff Somers's list of five best worst couples in literature, Brian Boyd's ten best list of Vladimir Nabokov books, Billy Collins' six favorite books list, Charlotte Runcie's list of the ten best bad mothers in literature, Kathryn Williams's list of fifteen notable works on lust, Boris Kachka's six favorite books list, Fiona Maazel's list of the ten worst fathers in books, Jennifer Gilmore's list of the ten worst mothers in books, Steven Amsterdam's list of five top books that have anxiety at their heart, John Banville's five best list of books on early love and infatuation, Kathryn Harrison's list of favorite books with parentless protagonists, Emily Temple's list of ten of the greatest kisses in literature, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lakes in literature, Dan Vyleta's top ten list of books in second languages, Rowan Somerville's top ten list of books of good sex in fiction, Henry Sutton's top ten list of unreliable narrators, Adam Leith Gollner's top ten list of fruit scenes in literature, Laura Hird's literary top ten list, Monica Ali's ten favorite books list, Laura Lippman's 5 most important books list, Mohsin Hamid's 10 favorite books list, and Dani Shapiro's 10 favorite books list. It is Lena Dunham's favorite book.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Louise Doughty's six best books

Louise Doughty is the author of eight novels, one work of non-fiction and five plays for radio. Her latest book, Black Water, the follow-up to Apple Tree Yard, is out now from Faber & Faber UK and Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar Straus & Giroux in the US. It was nominated as one of the New York Times Book Review Notable Books of 2016.

One of Doughty's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
ONE OF US by Asne Seierstad

An amazing piece of journalism about the Anders Breivik killings in Norway. It’s a biography of Breivik then running parallel are the stories of two of his victims.

By the time you get to the massacre you know what’s at stake.

It should be required reading for every counter-terrorism officer as there were opportunities to stop him.
Read about the other books on the list.

Louise Doughty's top ten courtroom dramas.

Louise Doughty's five favorite tales of vengeful women.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about Manchester

Adam O'Riordan's first collection of poems In the Flesh won a Somerset Maugham Award. His new collection A Herring Famine will be published in 2017 along with his debut book of stories, The Burning Ground. O’Riordan was born in Manchester in 1982 and read English at Oxford University. He is Lecturer in Poetry Writing at the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

One of the author's ten top books about Manchester, as shared at the Guardian:
Little Wilson and Big God by Anthony Burgess

In this first volume of his autobiography, Burgess turns his attention to the city of his youth – from his infancy in Moss Side to his time at Xaverian College and Manchester University. His father’s visit to London is described as an exercise in condescension, with that city then (as perhaps now still) “a day behind Manchester in the arts, in commercial cunning and in economic philosophy”. Moreover, Burgess observes, when foreigners came to Manchester “they came to learn, not to feed ravens and snap Beefeaters”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 7, 2017

Six YA books starring deliciously evil queens

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. At B&N Reads she tagged six YA books starring deliciously evil queens, including:
Dorothy Must Die, by Danielle Paige

Paige’s clever and confounding Oz upending, which just completed its run with The End of Oz, turns the whole darling Dorothy thing on its head, casting her instead as the devious and dastardly new ruler of the land of the yellow brick road, now full of decay and man-eating cornstalks, downtrodden Munchkins, and misunderstood wicked witches who are behind a new rebellion. Dorothy’s gone a bit power mad, you see, and the result could very well mean the end of Oz—but not if Kansas kid Amy Gumm has anything to say about it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best second novels of all time

At the Guardian James Reith tagged five of the greatest second novels ever written, including:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

The don of magical realism (otherwise known as “fantasy, but not too much fantasy”), Márquez challenges the idea of the first-novel wonder. His debut, Leaf Storm, is good. Very good. But Márquez builds upon it, both in terms of setting (they both take place in the same village) and style.

One Hundred Years of Solitude beats its predecessor by being even more Leaf Storm than Leaf Storm was. It’s a wonderful example of how a second novel can grow, organically, out of an author’s first.
Read about the other entries on the list.

One Hundred Years of Solitude made Amor Towles's six favorite books list, Samantha Mabry's list of five books that carry curses, 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

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Five great immigrant narratives in YA

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged five great immigrant stories in YA, including:
The Secret Side of Empty, by Maria Andreu

M.T.’s done just fine in school and in life as an undocumented immigrant from Argentina, but now that she’s a senior and all talk has turned to the future, it’s impossible for her to ignore the fact that her plans don’t look anything like her friends’. In fact, she doesn’t really have any plans at all—how can she when everything seems dependent on having pieces of paper she can’t get? While M.T. slowly recedes from her social and academic lives in order to avoid explaining why she can’t go on an international trip, get her license, or apply to college, she’s also dealing with the fact that her abusive father wants the family to return to Argentina, a future M.T. can picture even less. Without support from those around her, she’ll have to rely on herself to find a way forward, and that may mean putting a whole lot of trust in people, including herself, to make the seemingly impossible happen. This raw and touching first novel draws heavily on the author’s own experiences.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Five top transnational novels

Mohsin Hamid's novels include Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (shortlisted for The Booker Prize), How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and Exit West. One of his five best books that look beyond national boundaries, as shared at Waterstone's blog:
No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe

I read No Longer at Ease when I was going to school in Pakistan. It was the first novel by an African writer that I had ever read. In some sense it felt familiar. The main character leaves Nigeria, goes to study in Britain and is, as the title suggests, no longer at ease. It’s a novel that stayed with me, in part because it broadened my sense of who could write literature and what literature was supposed to be about.

No Longer at Ease explores not just moving to a country but leaving a country and returning. The dynamic of somebody who moves in two directions—abroad and back again, was of real interest of me, as someone who had done that myself. I’ve bounced to and from Pakistan and America, and other places as well. The sense that we’re changed by migration—that home is no longer the same because we are no longer the same—was very powerful in that book and that’s part of why it sticks with me.
Read about the other books Hamid tagged.

Visit Mohsin Hamid's website and Facebook page.

Mohsin Hamid's most influential book.

Mohsin Hamid's ten favorite books.

The Page 69 Test: The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ten top baseball books

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged ten great baseball books, including:
The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life, by Rick Ankiel and Tim Brown

Any baseball fan has heard of—and perhaps experienced—a phenomenon known as the Yips. More accurately diagnosed as an anxiety disorder, it’s most obvious symptom in a pitcher is a sudden inability to throw a strike despite prior accuracy. Rick Ankiel is probably the modern poster boy for the affliction, and in this memoir he details his awful childhood, his sudden wealth and fame as a teenage pitching prodigy, and his terrifying experience with the Yips during a high-pressure playoff game when he was just 21. That Ankiel fought his way back to the game despite his problems makes his story all the more fascinating.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sarah Dunant's six favorite books

Sarah Dunant's latest novel is In the Name of the Family.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

In this brilliant historical whodunit, a Sherlock Holmes of a 14th-century monk investigates a set of gruesome murders in an isolated monastery. His search takes us deep inside a labyrinthine library and the medieval mind, and the scholastic chutzpah of his answer takes your breath away.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Name of the Rose is on D.D. Everest's list of the ten top secret libraries of all time, Carolyne Larrington's top ten list of modern medieval tales, Jeff Somers's list of ten books you should finally have read in 2015, S. J. Parris's list of five favorite historical murder mysteries, Ian Rankin's list of five perfect mysteries, John Mullan's top ten list of the most memorable libraries in literature, Andy McSmith's top 10 list books of the 1980s, and Vanora Bennett's list of five favorite historical novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Five YA novels for the fandom-obsessed

At the BN Teen Blog Gabriella Abbate tagged five YA novels that "celebrate what it means to be a fan, to belong to a group of people who adore the same thing, and will do absolutely anything to honor it," including:
Geekerella, by Ashley Poston

When Elle finds out her favorite fandom is hosting a cosplay contest in honor of the new movie adaption, she has to enter. But her feelings quickly become complicated when the teen heartthrob chosen for the lead is #NotHerPrinceCarmindor. Right around the time her blog blows up following the running of a critical Prince Carmindor post, she starts texting with a mysterious fellow Starfield fan.

Meanwhile, the new Carmindor, actor Darien Freeman, has one rule—he does not do cons. But with pressure from his agent and unhappy fans protesting his casting (even though he’s secretly one of Starfield‘s diehard fans), he’s forced into appearing. With the help of the mysterious fangirl he’s texting, he just might become the Prince Carmindor he has always wanted to be. Part Cinderella retelling, part Comic-Con/fangirl geek-out session, Geekerella is a cute ode to all of us who have ever immersed ourselves in the con life, and those of us who haven’t quite worked up the nerve to cosplay.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Five books that tell the monster’s story

Ruthanna Emrys's new novel is Winter Tide. One of her five favorite books that tell the monster’s story, as shared at
Fledgling, by Octavia Butler

I’m a hard sell on vampires, and an almost impossible sell on amnesia stories. But I adore beyond words Butler’s final novel, the tale of a young woman who wakes up with no memory—and turns out not to be as young as she looks. Like most of Butler’s work, it dives deep into questions of power and consent. Shori has to drink blood to live, and can’t help forming an intimate and unequal bond with those she feeds from. In between trying to learn who stole her memory and why, she has to figure out how to have an ethical relationship with people inherently weaker than her—and whether it’s even possible.

There were supposed to be more of these, damn it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fledgling is among Nisi Shawl's five stories about loving everybody.

--Marshal Zeringue