Thursday, August 31, 2017

Five top MG books about going back to school

At the BN Kids Blog Rachel Sarah tagged "five realistic contemporary novels, both new and classic stories [that] will help both reluctant and ravenous readers face the unknown and also feel brave enough to take risks," including:
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

I’ll always feel grateful to Judy Blume for being the first author to push the boundaries and really give middle grade readers a glimpse of what it’s like when your body starts to change, or when you wish it would finally would. (“We must, we must, we must increase our busts.”)

I’ve read this classic many times since I first picked it up the summer before I started middle school. I adore Margaret Simon, who wonders out loud if she’ll ever fill out her bra or get her period. Margaret has just moved from New York City to the suburbs, and she’s anxious about starting a new life in the suburbs at a new school.

For parents of kids who are going to start middle school soon, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret might be the perfect conversation starter to open the door to talking about some big worries on their minds.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five novels where the hero doesn’t save the day

Curtis Craddock lives in Aurora, Colorado, where he teaches Computer Information Systems classes to offenders at a correctional facility. The newly released An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is his first book.

One of his five favorite books where the hero doesn’t save the day, as shared at
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

A book that features burning books as a central trope is in a pretty dark place to begin with. Guy Montag, a Fireman employed to perform this villainous task, has second thoughts about his occupation. The story deeply explores the notion of censorship and the dumbing down of media as a form of pacification, which is more relevant today than ever. It’s a dire warning about the seductiveness of the easy path. With nuclear war being a thing in this future, Montag doesn’t manage to save the day, but then who really can save a world without books?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fahrenheit 451 is among Jeff Somers's six often misunderstood SF/F novels and on Alice-Azania Jarvis' reading list on firefighting.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Top ten books on postwar France

Alex Christofi is a writer and editor living in London. His latest novel, Let Us Be True, is set in 60s Paris. One of his ten top books on postwar France, as shared at the Guardian:
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan (1954)

Sagan was only 18 when her debut novel became a sensation. In the years before the yé-yé girls and sexual liberation of the 60s, it was remarkable for presenting an emancipated young woman – albeit one who has an oddly Oedipal relationship with her father – living the high life on the Riviera. The novel is jammed awkwardly into the form of a Wildean morality tale, but the sins are related with such gusto that no one ever remembers the moral.
Bonjour Tristesse is among Helena Frith Powell's five notable books on glamour.

Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fifty of the most essential high school stories

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged fifty of the most essential high school stories, including:
Dare Me, by Megan Abbott

Here’s a book that’s sympathetic to the cheerleaders and mean girls. Dare Me both humanizes and subverts the typical way cheerleaders are written in teen stories, in which they’re almost always the villains, ruling the school with fear and bullying. That seems to have worked just fine for varsity cheerleaders Addy and Beth in the past, until a new coach divides, conquers, and unites them again, even as the police get involved in some very bad, bad things.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Dare Me is among Julie Buntin's twelve books that totally get female friendship, L.S. Hilton's top ten female-fronted thrillers, Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Anna Fitzpatrick's four top horror stories set in the real universe of girlhood and Adam Sternbergh's six notable crime novels that double as great literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Rachel Seiffert

Rachel Seiffert's most recent novel is A Boy in Winter.

One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Henry James

A father and daughter disagree over a suitor in 19th-century polite New York society. I read this out of desperation on a rainy family holiday as a 16-year-old, having taken too few books along. My mum had just finished it, and she passed it on to me to stop me complaining of boredom. "Nothing's happened yet," I kept reporting back to her every few pages. But I was hooked! It marks the point where I became a grown-up as a reader: plot isn't everything – not when you have characters with such rich interior lives to explore.
Read about the other books on the list.

Washington Square is among four books that changed Ian McGuire, five books that changed Carol Wall, and Will Eaves's top ten siblings' stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 28, 2017

Five books to help middle schoolers make and find real friends

At the BN Kids Blog Rachel Sarah tagged five "witty, honest novels about friendship with lots of humor along the way," including:
The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy Swanson is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Everyone says her friend’s death was an accident, but she can’t believe that sometimes things “just happen.” In her grief, Suzy retreats into a silent world in which she plans to prove her theory, even if it means traveling the globe solo.

I loved all the fascinating scientific facts about jellyfish in this story (and even swimmer Diana Nyad!) and Benjamin has said that she actually started writing this book as nonfiction, when something else took over, and she found herself writing about guilt, regret, middle school, and friendships.

This is such a beautiful, gut-wrenching novel that it made me cry. Bonus: The Thing About Jellyfish was recently optioned to be a movie, with a script to be written by Molly Smith Metzler from Orange Is The New Black.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Thing about Jellyfish.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable books inspired by literary classics

Kamila Shamsie's new novel is Home Fire.

One of her six favorite books inspired by literary classics, as shared at The Week magazine:
House of Names by Colm Tóibín

Tóibín is one of the finest writers at work today, well up to the challenge of making the blood-drenched story of The Oresteia his own. Anyone thinking, "But I already know this story!" will be wrenched out of that thought upon reading Tóibín's account of Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter to appease the gods, as told from the perspective of the girl's mother, Clytemnestra.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Five SFF stories in which translators are the heroes

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged five sci-fi and fantasy stories "in which a translator gets to save the day—at least in part because they’re the only ones who can figure out what’s going on." One title on the list:
Bellis Coldwine in The Scar, by China Miéville

Fleeing New Crobuzon after the events of Perdido Street Station, Bellis Coldwine is a brilliant linguist who is soon captured by pirates and forcibly made a citizen of the floating city Armada. There she is put in charge of the library and spends her time resentfully missing her home even as the Lovers, the leaders of Armada, involve her in their plot to raise the sea monster known as the Avanc. When information on an ancient book explaining how to summon the Avanc is found, Bellis destroys it and puts herself into danger in order to warn her home city—which cast her out—of impending danger, making her the best kind of hero: the unappreciated kind.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Six notable novels with a strong evocation of atmosphere

Kate Hamer is the author of The Girl in the Red Coat and The Doll Funeral. "When settings are really successful in a novel," she argues, "they mean we can experience it as a complete world." One of her six favorite stories that pull it off, as shared at LitHub:
Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

I was obsessed with the beginning of Treasure Island when I was a child. (I always abandoned the book part-way through.) It’s a classic coming of age story where adventure comes knocking for the young hero Jim Hawkins. The Admiral Benbow Inn is Jim’s family home on a remote stretch on the west coast of England. The atmosphere of the place is both sinister and wild, the sea roars up the cliffs during storms and the cove is rocky yet the bay is sheltered enough for it to be an ideal location for pirates. This, and the isolation of the Inn is the reason it’s chosen by a menacing figure, later revealed to be the pirate captain Billy Bones. The lonely untamed atmosphere of the inn and the pirate cove reaches a pitch of terrible menace when an evil vicious beggar called Blind Pew arrives, the sound of his stick echoing through the fog, to deliver to Billy Bones the black spot—a mark of imminent death among pirate crews. Stevenson escalates the atmosphere of the landscape with his brilliant use of sound, the tapping of the stick, the waves crashing, so the opening of the book is like a wrap around cinematic experience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Treasure Island also appears on David Robb's six best books list, Gillian Philip’s top ten list of islands in children's fiction, Robert Gore-Langton's top twelve list of the greatest children's books of all time, Emily St. John Mandel's list of the six books that influenced her most as a writer, David McCallum's six best books list, Bear Grylls's top ten list of adventure stories, Eoin Colfer's top 10 list of villains in fiction, Charlie Fletcher's top ten list of swashbuckling tales of derring-do, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best first lines in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best pirates in fiction, and among Mal Peet's top ten books to read aloud, Philip Pullman's six best books, and Eoin Colfer's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven YA books to read after a breakup

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 the BN Teen blog she tagged seven YA books to read after a breakup, including:
How It Ends, by Catherine Lo

Sometimes the worst breakups aren’t the romantic kind at all, because there’s nothing like the devastation of losing your best friend. That’s what happens in Lo’s debut. Shy Jessie’s always hidden in the shadows cast by her larger than life BFF, Annie. And Annie has relied on Jessie’s stability to keep her grounded. Their differences are what brought them together, but they might just be what tears them apart, too.
Learn about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 25, 2017

Five books about strange cities

Adam Christopher's newest novel is Killing Is My Business (Ray Electromatic Mysteries, Volume 2). At he tagged "five books where the setting—in this case, strange cities—is key," including:
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is famous for his 2016 novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad, but his 2000 debut The Intuitionist is a fascinating slice of noir weird. Set in not-quite-New York, in the not-quite-20th-century, Lila Mae Watson is the city’s first black female elevator inspector. More than that, she is a member of the Intuitionists, the faction within the Department of Elevator Inspectors who investigate elevator faults with, no kidding, psychic powers (in contrast—and conflict—with the scientific principles of their rivals, the Empiricists). Following a dramatic elevator accident—in an Elevator Guild election year, no less—Lia Mae’s investigation turns into a journey of self-discovery, set against the backdrop of this very strange and enigmatic world, where the elevator-obsessed society is on the quest for the mythical Second Elevation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Intuitionist is among Ardi Alspach's seven top works of Afrofuturism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ten books that cast forests as dangerous, dark, and deep

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged ten "books that cast forests in their proper light: dangerous, dark, and deep," including:
Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Taking its cues from a wide array of ’70s and ’80s horror, Little Heaven follows a trio of mercenaries on the trail of a missing person into the mountainous forest compound of a Christian cult where the people slowly lose their sense of empathy, the woods are filled with horrifying mix-and-match creatures, the undead do their best to drive their former friends and families insane with fear, and a massive obsidian pillar seems to radiate corruption over the surrounding area. While Cutter’s work is a shining tribute to the lurid gore, creatures, and excess of horror’s most prolific, twisted periods, Little Heaven concerns itself more with the three mercenaries at its center, and the Faustian bargain that ties them to the Little Heaven compound and the sinister thing presiding over the madness within.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Top ten books about tyrants

Christopher Wilson is the author of several novels, including - Gallimauf's Gospel, Baa, Blueglass, Mischief, Fou, The Wurd, The Ballad of Lee Cotton, Nookie, and The Zoo. One of his ten top books about tyrants, as shared at the Guardian:
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Written in 1920, but never published in the Soviet Union, this dystopian novel of a totalitarian future, anticipates the biological controls of Brave New World and the Big Brotherish language of 1984. Governed by the Benefactor, Reason and One State, citizens are numbers in a transparent world of glass, with every waking moment governed by the (time) Table. Freedom is an “unorganised primitive state” incompatible with happiness. Sex is licensed. But outside the containing Green Wall there’s another world – of anarchy, freedom and furry people. With his writings suppressed, Zamyatin wrote to Stalin describing himself as a writer in waiting, until “it becomes possible in our country to serve great ideas without cringing before little men”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We is among Weston Williams's fifteen classic science fiction books and Lawrence Norfolk's five most memorable dystopias in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifty irresistible beta heroes in romance

At B&N Reads Amanda Diehl tagged fifty irresistible beta heroes--"sweet and supportive, good guys who are patient with their affections"--in romance, including:
Eli Landon (Whiskey Beach, by Nora Roberts)

Whiskey Beach has become a solace for Eli Landon after a dark scandal rocked his world. Guilty in the public eye of murdering his soon-to-be ex-wife, he’s been interrogated by police and press alike. Now, all he wants is some peace and quiet to rebuild his life and maybe even write a book. Abra Walsh does anything and everything. She cleans houses, teaches yoga, and even makes jewelry. Abra becomes a friend to Eli and he’s grateful for her company, until the murder investigation finds its way to the small town of Whiskey Beach.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Five top novels that explore anarchist society, philosophy, or struggle

Margaret Killjoy's new book is The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, the first installment in the Danielle Cain series.

At she tagged five "amazing novels that explore anarchist society, philosophy, or struggle," including:
The Steel Tsar by Michael Moorcock

Not all anarchist fiction is so serious. Some of it is just downright fun. No one does classic pulp adventure with an anti-authoritarian edge like Michael Moorcock. The Steel Tsar is the last in Moorcock’s Nomad In the Time Stream trilogy, which for the record is the earliest completely-and-utterly-steampunk work I’ve ever been able to find. I could kind of ramble on about Moorcock and all of the unacknowledged influences he’s had on this world (tabletop RPGs owe Moorcock at least as much credit as they owe Tolkien, plus he invented the chaos star, plus… steampunk…), but instead I’ll just tell you that The Steel Tsar has airships, nuclear weapons, a robotic Stalin, and the Ukranian anarchist Nestor Makhno. Which is to say, in the hands of a practiced master like Moorcock, you really can’t go wrong.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 21, 2017

Six delicious high-concept YA novels

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 the BN Teen blog she tagged six "delicious 'why didn’t I think of that' high-concept stories," including:
Windfall, by Jennifer E. Smith

What would you do if you won a million bucks? That’s the question at the heart of Smith’s Windfall. Unlucky in life, love, and pretty much everything else, orphaned Alice has always found comfort in her pal Teddy, whom she’s secretly loved for years. Soon after her 18th birthday, she buys him a lottery ticket—and he wins $140 million. As they grapple with the fallout of this astonishing windfall, they’ll question everything they know about themselves, their relationship, and the world around them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ten unputdownable suspense novels, thrillers, & other creepy books

Kathleen Barber's debut novel Are You Sleeping is about "inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter."One of the author's top ten "suspense novels, thrillers, and other creepy books...when it comes to all-night reading binges," as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

I am a huge Ruth Ware fangirl—I loved In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10—and so I was excited to get my hands on her latest. The book follows a group of former boarding school classmates who, summoned by an ominous text message sent by one of their own, gather to address a terrible incident from their shared past. It’s an intense page-turner that hit all the right notes for me with its rendition of an intense, exclusive teenage friendship, its spooky setting of a decaying mill surrounded by water, and plenty of secrets and lies.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five great books to help prepare the soon-to-be-middle schooler

At the BN Kids Blog Rachel Sarah tagged five great books to help prepare the soon-to-be-middle schooler, including:
How to Survive Middle School, by Donna Gephart

I wish I’d had this book when I was starting middle school. Sixth-grader David Greenberg’s idol is comedian Jon Stewart, so he spends all his free time with his best friend recording YouTube episodes starring his pet hamster. Until school starts and David’s best friend abandons him. It’s not the first time. David’s mother abandoned him years earlier, and these moments in the story made me reach for a box of tissues. Not for long, though, as David finds comfort in Sophie Meyers, a homeschooled redhead who smells like peppermint. I couldn’t put down this story about family, friendship, betrayal, and survival. The best part? It’s really funny.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Five books on America's problem with white supremacy

At the Guardian, Nadja Sayej shared books from "[f]ive history professors, pundits and human rights organizations [who] have recommended five historical titles that shed light on the history of white supremacy in the country," including:
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

This title illustrates how white supremacy over the past 150 years has halted the progress of civil rights for Americans when it comes to access to basic human needs like healthcare, education and housing.

The award-winning book had its genesis as a Washington Post op-ed after the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, at the hands of a white police officer. While some media pundits described the unrest as “black rage”, the book’s author, a professor of African American studies at Emory University, traced it to “white rage at work”. “If you’re wondering ‘how did we get here?’ after the events in Charlottesville, this book helps answer that question,” said Amanda Chavez Barnes, deputy director of the US Human Rights Network. “Many people have remained in denial about the role of white supremacy in America,” she said, adding, “Even now they are unwilling or unable to recognize white rage until it appears as the torch-carrying, screaming face of violence and murder that we saw in Charlottesville.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ten top road trip books

At LitHub Emily Temple tagged ten "essential road trip books that aren’t On the Road," including:
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

People tend to forget that Lolita is not only the story of a pedophile’s angst, but also that of an immigrant on an Americana-infused, aimless road trip, the only destination in sight a nebulous and reprehensible one. Possibly the most beautifully-written and morally disturbing road trip novel ever written.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lolita appears on Olivia Sudjic's list of eight favorite books about love and obsession, 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

Fourteen YA novels even better than the authors' debuts

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged books by "fourteen authors whose second novels have made it clear they’re only getting better as they go," including:
How to Make a Wish, by Ashley Herring Blake

Ashley Herring Blake is rapidly becoming a master of writing stories of falling in somewhat contentious romantic love, while familial love proves to be considerably trickier and more complex to grasp. Here, that means that while Grace is falling in love with Eva, a dancer who moves to town while grieving her mother’s death, she’s struggling with the fact that her own mom, Maggie, has made a decision so utterly selfish, it’s unclear whether she realizes she even has a daughter to consider. Then Maggie takes it upon herself to finally be the mother Grace has always dreamed she would be…only it’s to Eva, and that makes everything even more complicated in this beautiful girl-girl romance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Top ten twists in fiction

Sophie Hannah's newest novel is Did You See Melody?

One of her ten top twists in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Not all superb twists need to come at the end. There’s a twist in the middle of this classic novel that takes it to another level of passion, intrigue and excitement. There are hints before the big reveal, but not even the most imaginative reader would dare to imagine the truth. Twists in the middles of stories rather than at their ends tend to say: “And what do we all think now?” rather than, “So THIS is what we’re supposed to think!” – and this one does that brilliantly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Gail Honeyman's list of five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, Kate Hamer's top ten list of books about adopted children, a list of four books that changed Vivian Gornick, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Five books with bargains you don’t want to make

Emily Lloyd-Jones's latest novel is The Hearts We Sold. At she shared her five "favorite books featuring deals you probably don’t want to make!" One title on the list:
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba

So you’re walking along. You find a notebook dropped by a death spirit. The death spirit explains that this notebook has magical powers. You can write a person’s name in it, and they’ll die instantly. Do you begin a spree of taking out the criminals that plague your nation? Or do you chalk up the experience to dehydration, put the notebook in the lost and found, and go on your merry way?

Trust me, take Option B.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fifty must-read regency romances

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged fifty of the best regency romances, including:
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Jane Austen should be incredibly satisfied that all of these regency romances evolved from the tradition her novels inspired. This classic tale of misconceptions, miscommunication, and misguided interference between a cold, stoic man and a woman who thinks she has him all figured out has endured the test of time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

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

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 14, 2017

Ruth Ware's six favorite books about boarding schools

Ruth Ware is the author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game. One of her six favorite books about boarding schools, as shared at The Week magazine:
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Set in an Oxford women's college, this is an enormously satisfying read — not just because of its happy ending, but also because of Sayers' pitch-perfect evocation of the febrile atmosphere that breaks out when a poison pen begins to work in the little community.
Read about the other books on the list.

Gaudy Night is among Kate Macdonald's top ten conservative novels and Anna Quindlen's favorite mystery novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Six of the best zombie novels

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ceridwen Christensen tagged six top zombie novels. One title on the list:
Zone One, by Colson Whitehead

In Whitehead’s novel, in addition to the usual slow, collecting mob, there exists a small number of undead called “stragglers,” who are frozen in tableau while doing everyday things—flying a kite, running a copy machine. The characters ruminate on these creatures: was this the action that defined the straggler’s life, or just a random moment caught like a photo? (This results in some mordant comedy, such as when one character blows away a straggler standing over a fast food deep fryer “on principle.”) Zone One is less a genre exercise than a eulogy to a lost New York, and the stragglers, as they stand rotting, fit beautifully into his observations and reflections. Is our memory of the past random or representative?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Zone One is among Corey J. White's five top books about the collapse of New York City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ten of the best books on South Africa

At Signature Keith Rice tagged ten of the best books on South Africa, including:
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, Trevor Noah’s birth was a crime in South Africa – his parents’ relationship was punishable by five years in prison. Born a Crime chronicles Noah’s early years, during which his mother struggled to keep his existence virtually secret for fear of government reprisal, as well as his latter years in a post-apartheid South Africa both exhilarated by his newly perceived freedom and his struggle to find an identity. And it’s all told with Noah’s remarkable insight, candor, and humor.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top female killers in fiction

At LitHub Emily Temple tagged her top ten female killers in fiction, including:
Katerina, The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Nikolai Leskov

This one’s on my mind because of the recent (and excellent) film adaptation, but also because Katerina is so deliciously unrepentant (unlike, say Lady Macbeth proper, who actually didn’t kill anyone but still drove herself mad over it). When her horrible husband leaves her alone, she picks up a lover, and then, to protect their relationship, murders her father-in-law, her husband, a small child, and ultimately, her rival (along with herself). Like the Lizzie Borden story, it’s a murderous fairy tale from which it is wildly difficult to look away.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five books set below London

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley is an American/German writer of science fiction, fantasy and aviation non-fiction. Her publications include the novella Domnall and the Borrowed Child and the novel Wail, which takes place both above and below the streets of London. One entry on her list of five favorite modern novels which focus on the world underneath the United Kingdom’s capital city, as shared at
Montmorency by Eleanor Updale

Montmorency takes us back to the Victorian era for this crime novel with the subtitle Thief, Liar, Gentleman? in its US release. This Victorian mystery follows the story of a thief who takes advantage of the sewers running through London to live a dual life: one is a life of crime hiding below London and the other is in the streets above as a gentleman, taking advantage of his newfound riches. When we meet Prisoner 493, he is undergoing radical surgery to repair his shattered bones and flesh after he fell through a skylight in a burglary gone wrong. The patient becomes the surgeon’s exhibit at scientific conferences, where he has the good fortune to witness Sir Joseph Bazalgette present the map of his newly built sewers servicing London. The potential for crime is clear to him and, when Prisoner 493 is released, he plots a rise to the upper classes through a series of daring thefts, using the sewers to disappear without a trace.

It’s unlikely, of course, that a self-made Victorian man with no education could pass as a gentleman simply by mimicking the accent but, with a bit of suspension of disbelief, this is a fun and interesting story. Having waded through the sewers myself, I can tell you that I’m convinced that Updale has been there too. She describes too perfectly the shocking warmth of the water flowing down the pipes (although I note the liquid only went up to the ankles of her main character, whereas I experienced it up to my thighs!) and the conversations of the flushers clearing the oddities stuck in the bends of the brick tunnels.

There is no speculative aspect to this Victorian crime novel, the first in a series of five, but I enjoyed experiencing the “real world” underneath London as long as I didn’t think about the history too hard.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Seven irresistible hate-to-love romances

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the BN Teen blog she tagged seven of her "favorite books in which would-be couples turn searing hate into passionate love" including:
Legend Trilogy, by Marie Lu

In this bestselling dystopian series set in a bleak, illness-plagued California, Day is the Republic’s Most Wanted criminal, a “street brat” hiding from the government, and June’s the high-achieving prodigy sent to hunt him down. Convinced that Day murdered her brother, Metias, June is determined to bring Day to justice. But as she gets to know him, she discovers “a beautiful mystery” within the handsome charmer, who can flirt like a prince when it suits him. For his part, Day struggles with his own intense feelings for June, the only girl in the history of their world to score a perfect 1500 at Trial.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about birds

Nicholas Royle's new book is Ornithology: Sixteen Short Stories.

One of his ten top books about birds, as shared at the Guardian:
Crow Country by Mark Cocker (2007)

Surely one of the best books ever written about our most intelligent birds. Cocker covers all seven of our native corvids, but his main focus is the rook. He captures what it’s like to be a writer and a birder: “I think of it as a kind of natural-historical fishing, with a hook and line going both ways – outwards into the landscape for anything that happens to come along, but also inwards into the pool of my unconscious for any striking formula of words rising to the surface in response.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ten of the hottest highbrow books for the beach

John Dugdale is the Guardian's associate media editor. One of his ten hottest highbrow books for the beach:
Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) by Thomas Pynchon

A wartime Côte d’Azur holiday for Lieutenant Tyrone Slothrop is actually a means for the creepy British scientists observing the American to make him fall on the beach for a sexy Dutch spy (a giant octopus supposedly menacing her is part of this bizarre honey-trap). This French opening to part two, which nods to Proust, transforms Pynchon’s second world war epic from a London novel to a European one - Slothrop escapes, and heads north towards Germany.
Read about the other books on the list.

Gravity’s Rainbow is a book Chuck Klosterman would have parents read to their children. Gravity’s Rainbow inspired the song “Whip It” by Devo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Twenty books that are absolute dorm room essentials

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged twenty of the "books you’ll need to best understand, appreciate, and enhance the college-going experience," including:
On Beauty, by Zadie Smith

Having a Zadie Smith book on your dorm room’s sole shelf is a great conversation starter, and it’s a clue to others about how cool you are, because you’ve read Zadie Smith. The novel itself is an enlightening look at college—it touches on sexual, identity, and class issues, as well as how professors aren’t always the sage geniuses one would assume they are. It’s also a college-level text, as On Beauty was inspired by the structure and some of the plot points of E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End.
Read about the other entries on the list.

On Beauty is among Ann Leary's top ten books set in New England and Tolani Osan's ten top books that "illuminate how disparate cultures can reveal the mystery and beauty in each other and make us aware of the hardships, dreams, and hidden scars of those we share space with."

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 7, 2017

Naomi Klein's 6 favorite books

Naomi Klein's newest book is No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Another form-defying work. Mitchell leaps across space and time to tell six seemingly disconnected stories in different styles. "Only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean," one of his characters writes. "Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?"
Read about the other entries on the list.

Cloud Atlas is among Jeff Somers's seven novels with chronologies that will break you, Christopher Priest’s top five science-fiction books that make use of music, Patrick Hemstreet's five top books for the psychonaut and the six books that changed Maile Meloy's idea of what’s possible in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Nine books for kids excited about the total solar eclipse

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

At the BN Kids Blog she tagged nine "great books to keep your kids learning and talking about space," including:
CatStronauts!: Mission Moon, by Drew Brockington

This graphic novel is perfect for beginning or reluctant readers whose interest in space has been piqued by the solar eclipse but who aren’t quite ready for a non-fiction book. Mission Moon is the first book in a series about the best space cats on the planet, who brave the depths of space in order to save Earth. And if animals traveling to space seems like something your kids would like, but you aren’t sure they’re ready for a whole graphic novel, check out Mousetronaut, a picture book by astronaut Mark Kelly. It’s a similar idea to CatStronauts—only it’s tiny mice who travel to space with real-life astronauts.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books set in the remains of a dead civilization

Daniel H. Wilson is the bestselling author of Robopocalypse, Robogenesis, and Amped, among others. His new novel is The Clockwork Dynasty.

One of Wilson's five favorite books set in the remains of a dead civilization, as shared at
Ringworld by Larry Niven

An oldie but a goodie, Niven takes a fascinating physics problem (how to build a strip of land that circles the sun, and give it night and day, etc) and sets his characters loose upon it. In a place with a land mass equal to all our planets combined, Ringworld explores a ridiculous complexity of races, species, languages, and histories. Some are living and some are dead, but the scale of it is nearly beyond imagination. Epic.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Nine science fiction novels that imagine the future of healthcare

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged nine science fiction novels that imagine the future of healthcare, including:
The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton

Crichton’s 1969 novel is a classic of realistic sci-fi still hailed as a master class in problem-solving under pressure. Every time the characters—trained, intelligent scientists—make a decision out of panic, things go haywire, but when they move deliberately, they tend to make progress. At the center of a fascinating story based on logic is the “universal antibiotic” Kalocin, one of the few truly sci-fi concepts in the book. When one of the scientists believes he’s trapped in a lab where the titular infectious agent has broken free, he demands that he be given a dose of Kalocin as his only chance to survive—but this is refused, because such an antibiotic would kill off everything in his system, rendering him lethally susceptible to an infinite number of infections—a future we might be heading towards anyway, with the overuse of antibiotics creating resistant strains every day.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Andromeda Strain is among Neil deGrasse Tyson's six favorite books and Joel Cunningham's 11 fictional maladies that will keep you up at night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 4, 2017

Four books that changed David Free

Australian David Free, a critic and novelist, is the author of Get Poor Slow.

One of four books that changed him, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Kingsley Amis

Another one from my parents' shelves. I read many unserious novels as a teenager, but Lucky Jim was the first I encountered in which the language did more than just tell the story. It was the story. Amis twisted his sentences until they embodied a wicked world view. The effect was subversive and liberating. The only catch, which I didn't detect for a while, was that no other novel in the world, by Amis or anyone else, was as funny.
Read about the other books on the list.

Lucky Jim also appears on John Cleese's six favorite books list, Christian Rudder's six favorite books list, Jess Dukes's top ten list of brain-expanding books for the college-bound teen, Andy Borowitz's list of five top comic novels, Sean O'Hagan's list of the ten best fictional hangovers, Roger Rosenblatt's list of the five best satires of academic life, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best lectures in literature, ten of the best professors in literature, and ten of the best beards in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Forty-five novels written in the 19th century that belong on the modern bookshelf

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged forty-five novels written in the 19th century that belong on the modern bookshelf, including:
Venus in Furs, by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

A fascinating novel that refutes any claim that the 19th century was prudish, this story of a man who volunteers to be a woman’s slave, encouraging her to treat him in increasingly awful ways so he can attain what he calls “suprasensuality,” is unsettling, and ends on an unexpected note. The woman is initially put off by the man’s request, and eventually meets another man she wishes to be dominated by, souring the original relationship. It’s basically Fifty Shades in 1870.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Top ten parties in fiction

Elizabeth Day's novels include Scissors, Paper, Stone, Home Fires,Paradise City, and The Party.

At the Guardian, Day tagged her ten favorite parties in fiction, including:
Some Hope by Edward St Aubyn

St Aubyn, one of the greatest prose stylists in modern literature, is merciless in his satirising of snobs. Nowhere is this more in evidence than at the birthday party of ghastly toff Sonny Gravesend. Here Princess Margaret makes an appearance, talking “about ‘the ordinary people in this country’ in whom she had ‘enormous faith’ based on a combination of complete ignorance about their lives and complete confidence in their royalist sympathies”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Some Hope is among Melissa Albert's four top novels that may drive you to drink.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Five top autobiographical books by rebellious women

Jardine Libaire is a graduate of Skidmore College and the University of Michigan MFA program. She lives in Austin, Texas.

White Fur is her second novel.

One of Libaire's five favorite autobiographical books by rebellious women, as shared at the B&N Reads blog:
Dust Tracks on a Road, by Zora Neale Hurston

I love this book for many things but largely for the joyful dissidence, the imaginative and creative rebellion. Hurston was not going to be what she was told to be, but she was also not going to be anything that had already been established as an alternative. She would be someone else, someone unprecedented.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Visit Jardine Libaire's website.

Writers Read: Jardine Libaire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tom Perrotta's 6 favorite funny books

Tom Perrotta's new comic novel is Mrs. Fletcher. One of his six favorite funny books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Straight Man by Richard Russo

This is a comic masterpiece by one of our finest writers, a book as clever as its excellent, double-edged title. Russo vividly evokes the follies of contemporary academic culture in a novel that's somehow both unsparing and affectionate.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Straight Man is among Emily Temple's fifty greatest campus novels ever written, Sam Munson's eight top college novels, and Pete Dexter's favorite works of fiction about families.

--Marshal Zeringue