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 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 Tor.com 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 Tor.com:
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 Tor.com:
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:
LUCKY JIM
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