Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Eleven must-read YA dystopian novels

One of eleven top YA dystopian novels, as tagged at the Tor Teen blog:
Replica by Jenna Black

Nadia Lake is in an arranged marriage with Nathaniel Hayes, heir to the powerful company that pioneered human replication. Nate shows little interest in Nadia. But then he’s killed. Nadia and Nate (in replicant form) work together to find Nate’s killer, which is no easy feat when Nate has no memory of his death. Replica is a cross-genre novel that seamlessly blends dystopia and mystery — a very engaging read!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Fifty royal reads for royal wedding fans

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged fifty royal reads for royal wedding fans. One entry on the list:
Reign of Madness, by Lynn Cullen

Isabel and Fernando are the heart of the Spanish monarchy…and Juana, their third child, will never sit on their throne. So when she marries, she hopes it may be everything to her that being Queen never would be. That is, until Juana unexpectedly winds up on the throne, and her husband turns on her and seeks power for himself. Learn the story behind infamous Spanish monarch Juana the Mad in this captivating novel.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 29, 2018

Six books that prove truth is stranger than fiction

Will Self's new novel is Phone. One of his six favorite books that prove truth is stranger than fiction, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall

Crowhurst was the British yachtsman who faked his positions during a 1968 round-the-world yacht race and then, when discovery of his subterfuge became inevitable, threw himself into the sea. His abandoned boat was found drifting in the Atlantic, its logbook filled with monomaniacal metaphysical speculation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Nine top meet cutes in YA history

At the BN Teen Blog, Nicole Hill tagged nine favorite meet cutes in YA history, including:
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Four words: children’s cancer support group. From the moment Hazel and Augustus meet in that particular setting, it’s clear the ending to this beginning will be difficult and painful. It is, but all the days and weeks in between are some of the purest and fully lived of any two characters in YA or any other genre.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Fault in Our Stars is among Lara Williamson's ten top goodbyes in children’s literature, the Off the Shelf Staff's eight great books told by child narrators, Luke Kelly's five top YA novels, and Sophie McKenzie's five favorite Young Adult books that appeal to teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Eight top true crime reads

Thomas Harding's newest book is Blood on the Page.

One of his eight favorite true crime books, as shared at the Waterstones blog:
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

More than anything, a book about character and location. A personal journey into the gothic South, and an investigation of a community gone sour. So beautifully described, you can almost feel the humid Savannah night air rising from the pages.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is among Dell Villa's five top literary escapes to American cities.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty-five books you probably should have read already

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 Reads blog he tagged twenty-five "books you must read, no matter who you are," including:
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

One of the first African novels to be widely studied and read in the English-speaking world, Achebe’s book remains a must-read for the uniqueness of its literary vision and characters. Focused on a fictional village in Nigeria, the book’s epic scope traces how life changes from pre-colonial times to post-colonial modernity (for the time; the novel was published in 1958).
Read about the other entries on the list.

Things Fall Apart is among Barnaby Phillips' top ten books about Nigeria, Pushpinder Khaneka's three best books on Nigeria, Hallie Ephron's ten best books for a good cry, Helon Habila's three books to help understand Nigeria, and Martin Meredith's ten books to read on Africa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 26, 2018

Sara Stewart's six best books

Sara Stewart is a Scottish actor whose film credits include The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Mrs. Brown, and Batman Begins. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides

Someone gave me this and it sat on a shelf for years because I live in Middlesex and couldn't think of anything I wanted to read about less.

But it's actually a gloriously colourful, funny, touching story about a hermaphrodite and an interesting insight into what gender is.
Read about the other books on the list.

Middlesex is among Sam Mills's top ten fictional sex changes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six YA novels that take place in a single day

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged six top YA novels that take place in a single day, including:
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith

Hadley doesn’t want to go to her father’s wedding to the woman he left her mother for, and missing her flight is just the cherry on top of a crap sundae—until she meets Oliver, who’s also on his way to London. He’s just what Hadley needs on this trip, and the two form an instant connection. Then their flight lands, they lose sight of each other, and they head their separate ways. But Hadley can’t get the boy from the airport out of her mind; she’s determined to track him down, wedding or no wedding. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is a fast-paced romantic romp that’ll give you all the feels.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Top ten books about the body

Emma Glass's new novel is Peach. One of her ten top books about the body, as shared at the Guardian:
Indelible by Adelia Saunders

The body reveals much more to Magdalena than other people. Her gift allows her to read words written on others’ skins that spell out their intimate secrets. To Magdalena, her talent is torturous; what can you do with such knowledge? How does it change things? And what do you do with the guilt of foreseeing but failing to avert tragedy? Magdalena’s own skin is blank, without any words, and I wonder, does this give her more or less power over her own fate?
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Twenty top books by people who experienced something few others have

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 Reads blog he tagged twenty books by people who know what they’re talking about, including:
Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery, by Scott Kelly

Unless you’ve spent a year in space being studied, you have nothing on Scott Kelly, who holds the current American record for consecutive days in space. As a result, Kelly’s thoughts on our space program—including its necessity and utility—are worth reading, as is his description of the challenges that face anyone intending to spend a long time in space. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really to head into orbit, Kelly’s book offers the most up-to-date and informative account ever written.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Neel Mukherjee's 6 favorite books

Neel Mukherjee's new novel is A State of Freedom.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Yes, it survives — nay, reigns resplendently — despite modernism, postmodernism, avant-gardism, nouveau roman–ism, autofictionism, navel gazing–ism, smart aleck–ism, narcissism, you name it. Which other novel is so dense yet so transparent, its realism so seamless, the world it renders so tangible, credible, entire, its people so utterly real?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Anna Karenina also appears on Viv Groskop's top ten list of life lessons from Russian literature, Elizabeth Day's top ten list of parties in fiction, Grant Ginder's top ten list of the more loathsome people in literature, Louis De Berniéres's six best books list, Martin Seay's ten best long books list, Jeffrey Lent's top ten list of books about justice and redemption, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Hannah Jane Parkinson's list of the ten worst couples in literature, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epigraphs, Amelia Schonbek's list of three classic novels that pass the Bechdel test, Rachel Thompson's top ten list of the greatest deaths in fiction, Melissa Albert's recommended reading list for eight villains, Alison MacLeod's top ten list of stories about infidelity, David Denby's six favorite books list, Howard Jacobson's list of his five favorite literary heroines, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, Chika Unigwe's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Kostova's list of favorite books, James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best erotic dreams in literature, ten of the best coups de foudre in literature, ten of the best births in literature, ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature, and ten of the best balls in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 22, 2018

Five addictive & appealing Prohibition-era romances

At B&N Reads Amanda Diehl tagged five favorite Prohibition-era romances, including:
Roaring Midnight, by Colleen Gleason

Looking for an element of danger during the glamour of the Jazz Age? Macey Gardella has just learned she’s part of a family of vampire hunters, turning her rather carefree life upside down. To make matters even more complicated, Grady, a dreamy newspaper reporter, has been hanging around, asking questions about things that are better left secret. While Macey finds Grady charming, her need for self-preservation and safety often war with the attraction she feels. Plus, she has to learn the ropes of vampire hunting, while dodging her inquisitive landlord.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Four top books for crime lovers

Joseph Knox's new novel is Sirens.

One of four top books for crime lovers he tagged at the Waterstones blog:
The Long Good-bye
Raymond Chandler

Every author has their first real hero, and Chandler was mine. In the years since I’ve drifted more towards the stark, border-line nihilism of his own hero, Dashiel Hammett, more towards the psychological depth of his greatest successor, Ross MacDonald, even towards the overwhelming darkness and grandiose world-building of the big name that came after him, James Ellroy.

But Chandler, for me, was first. It would be impossible to imagine Aidan’s first person narration, cynicism and shop-soiled brand of heroism without having read and re-read the Philip Marlowe novels cover-to-cover.The Long Goodbye, with the devastating betrayal at its centre, stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Long Goodbye is among the ten top adaptations tagged by Guardian and Observer critics, Benjamin Black's five favorite works of noir, Melissa Albert's top four books that will drive all but the staunchest teetotaler to the nearest cocktail shaker, some Guardian readers' ten best writers in novels, David Nobbs's top five faked deaths in fiction, Malcolm Jones's ten favorite crime novels, David Nicholls' ten favorite film adaptations, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best fake deaths in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Graham McTavish's 6 best books

Graham McTavish is a Scottish television, and film actor best known for his roles as Dougal Mackenzie in the popular TV series Outlander, as Dwalin in the The Hobbit trilogy, and as the Saint of Killers in AMC's series Preacher. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

I've read more books about the Ripper than I should have and he nails it. The Ripper story speaks to a collective nightmare: the demon who does awful things and vanishes.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 19, 2018

Five books about kickass warrior women

One of "five books starring women who are ready to kick ass and take names," as shared at the Tor Teen blog:
Malika: Warrior Queen, Vol. 1 by Roye Okupe

This graphic novel takes place in fifteenth-century West Africa, following the exploits of Malika, queen and commander, as she struggles to unite her fractured kingdom. At the same time, traitors lurk in her inner circle, and enemies from outside have begun to close in.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty-one books for dog & cat lovers

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 Reads blog he tagged twenty-one books for dog and cat lovers, including:
I Am a Cat, by Soseki Natsume

This classic of Japanese literature is a satirical look at Japanese society in the early 20th century, when Japan was importing Western ways and attitudes, resulting in an uneasy mixture of viewpoints and style in daily life. The narrator is a self-important house cat who observes his human hosts and their friends, making pointed comments about their lives that are still hilarious today. Cat lovers know that our cats have a poor opinion of us—of our grooming, our inability to catch vermin, and our lack of appreciation for napping in sunbeams—and this book will hit that sweet spot of loving an animal you’re not sure loves you back.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Top ten conspiracy theories in fiction

James Miller's new novel is UnAmerican Activities. At the Guardian, he tagged ten novels that "explore conspiracy theories both 'real' and fictional, showing how history blends with fiction and speculation can supplement fact." One entry on the list:
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (2004)

A “strong-man” celebrity, Charles Lindbergh, becomes president of the US. Backed by shadowy foreign powers and sympathetic towards Hitler, Lindbergh begins to introduce antisemitic policies. For a moment it looks as if the country might be about to ally itself with the Nazis. However, Roth wraps up his alternative history with a neat resolution and the normal course of events is restored. Something like this could never happen in real life, could it?
Read about the other titles on the list.

The Plot Against America is on Jeff Somers's six best list of insane presidents, D.J. Taylor's top ten list of counter-factual novelsKatharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's top ten list of epic power struggles, Steven Amsterdam's list of five top books on worry, Stephen L. Carter's list of five top presidential thrillers, and David Daw's list of five American presidents in alternate history.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Five essential Japanese novels

Junko Takekawa is the Senior Arts Programme Officer at The Japan Foundation in London. One of five essential Japanese crime novels she tagged for the Waterstones blog:
Confessions - Kanae Minato

Minato is a sensational female crime writer. Without much bloodshed or many grotesque scenes, her books are true page-turners as she excels in digging up evil and guilt in our unconscious mind. Confessions is an early work that pushed her onto the main stage of the Japanese literature world in 2008. This book is about a confession by a female school teacher whose small child was killed at her school pool. Chillingly through her monologue, she reveals what she discovered about what had happened to her child and subtly accuses the murderer without pointing a finger until the end. Stories in “confession” style later became her trademark. If you do not like novels in a diary format or first person novels, it may not be for you but she is such a compelling story teller that it is guaranteed to grip your mind. Her Penance is also worth reading.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Eleven SFF books with a powerful message of social justice

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged 11 sci-fi & fantasy books or series with a powerful message of social justice, including:
An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon

The remarkable debut novel by Rivers Solomon, extrapolates our history of prejudice and division into a future context, as the last remnants of humanity flee a ruined Earth onboard the generation ship Matilda. Three hundred years out, society on the ship has come to resemble a pre-Civil Rights era America (and, more than a little, the America of 2017) as a white supremecist ruling class controls the ship on the back of slave labor by its darker-skinned passengers. Aster is a motherless child aboard the ship Matilda, on which lowdeckers like her work on vast rotating plantations under the weak light of Baby, their engineered nuclear sun, living lives of trauma and subject to the cruel vagaries of upper deck guards. We meet Aster as she fights to save a child’s life. Someone—probably the Sovereign, their god-benighted ruler—has cut the heat to the lower decks, and the child has something like trench foot, the limb frozen and rotting. Aster is apprentice to the Surgeon General Theo Smith, despite her low status, and is learned in the skills of medicine. When she is called by the Surgeon Theo for help to save the poisoned Sovereign, Aster is righteously defiant.She hates the Sovereign, as all the lowdeckers do—he is the exultant face of their oppression. As one ruler falls and the next is enshrined, the equilibrium of Aster and Theo’s lives, and the lives of all Matilda’s lower decks, are are violently upset, as the spectre of civil war appears on the artificial horizon.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 15, 2018

Freddie Fox's 6 best books

Freddie Fox is a British actor, known for The Three Musketeers (2011), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) and Victor Frankenstein (2015). One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

I knew Eric when I was a boy and this tells the story of how he met his wife when she helped him escape from a prisoner-of-war camp in Italy. He wrote about his adventures so wittily and articulately.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Seven books for talking to kids about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the BN Kids Blog Lindsay Barrett tagged seven helpful books for talking to kids about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including:
Let the Children March, by Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison

This story is told from the point of view of a young African-American girl who hears Dr. King speak at her church. Answering his call for peaceful protestors, she joins the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade. While sensitively told, parents should know that this story does include the narrator being pushed and sprayed with water by the police and even briefly going to jail. Regardless, this story presents opportunity to talk about how even children can be a powerful force in the fight for social justice.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five faerie books for people who say they hate faeries

Holly Black's latest novel is The Cruel Prince. One of her five favorite faerie books for people who say they hate faeries, as shared at
For those of you who read historicals, I’d recommend the The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, in which the People of the Hill live underground and steal away humans. Exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote household, Kate Sutton finds herself in their power. The faeries here are grim and remote, with “contempt for ordinary human comfort and delight.” The magic is subtle and strange. And Kate herself is a wonderful character, practical and honest and brave to the end.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Eleven top YA books featuring South Asian characters

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 eleven YA books about South Asian "brown girls dreaming (and scheming!)," including:
My So-Called Bollywood Life, by Nisha Sharma

Bollywood meets Hollywood in this hilarious and lovelorn sendup of classic rom-com Only You. Winnie Mehta’s family psychic—because, yup, that’s a thing—has forever told her she would meet the love of her life before she turned eighteen, that his name would start with an R, and that he would give her a bracelet. So of course Raj is the one, right? Except they broke up. Which foils everything. And when she meets fellow film geek Dev, well, he so does not fit the prophecy. Can Winnie learn to let go and take her fate into her own hands? And, more importantly, will she get her perfect Bollywood ending?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 12, 2018

Top ten books about time

Alan Burdick is the author of Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation. One of his ten favorite books about time, as shared at the Guardian:
Time Travel by James Gleick

The Time Machine [by H.G. Wells] is just the starting point for Gleick’s joyous and engrossing survey of our species’ preoccupation with the (entirely impossible) possibility of time travel. Cyberspace, time capsules, predestination; Dr. Who, Parmenides, Nabokov – Gleick is at home in every intellectual territory. Essential reading for those wanting to understand why the present is no longer enough for us.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sixteen of the best witchy reads

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged sixteen of the best witchy books. One entry on the list:
The Witch’s Daughter, by Paula Brackston

One of the most fascinating and engrossing witch tales I’ve ever read: you will not be able to look away from the tale of Elizabeth Hawksmith, a witch who has survived over three-hundred years in loneliness, only to discover a Witchfinder from her past has been stalking her through time, determined to collect on a debt. But this time, Elizabeth can’t run: she has a teenage girl under her care, and something more important than her own immortality to protect.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Paula Brackston & Bluebell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Five top novels inspired by Shakespeare’s plays

M.L. Rio’s debut novel is If We Were Villains. One of her five favorite novels inspired by Shakespeare’s plays, as shared at the Waterstones blog:
The Weird Sisters
Eleanor Brown

Brown’s family drama follows the three daughters of an English professor when they return home after their mother is diagnosed with cancer. Brown paints a poignant portrait of an estranged, struggling family which would not seem out of place in one of Shakespeare’s plays. The characters are deeply flawed, but never beyond redemption. However, what’s most compelling is Brown’s incisive examination of literature itself and the effect it has on of those who live under its influence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Five top books that blend science and fantasy

J. Patrick Black is the author of Ninth City Burning. At he tagged five "stories with a cocktail of science fiction and fantasy," including:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Published in 1963, A Wrinkle in Time is classic of young folks’ literature and a perennial hit on the ALA’s list of most challenged books (in itself a strong recommendation). It follows 13-year-old Meg Murray as she adventures across a series of far flung worlds by way of the titular wrinkle (a folding of space readers might recognize as a wormhole) in search of her missing father. Along the way, she encounters an idyllic planet of centaurish creatures, battles social conformity in a world ruled by a telepathic, disembodied brain, and faces down a creeping embodiment of evil. Not a bad way to start your teenage years!
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Wrinkle in Time is among P.C. Cast’s ten all-time favorite reads for fantasy fans, Melissa Albert's top ten grade-school classics you’ll never be too old to reread, Cressida Cowell's list of ten top mythical creatures, and Steve Cole's top ten space books for kids of all ages.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in fiction

At the B&N Reads blog, Cristina Merrill tagged eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, including:
Hareton from Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

No, we are NOT going in the Heathcliff direction! (True, he had it rough, but he was still awful.) Instead, let’s focus on Hareton. He wasn’t raised under the best of circumstances, to say the least, but throughout his harsh life he managed to show an innate sweetness. As he grew older he displayed a loyalty that would bode well for his upcoming marriage to young Catherine. A guy like that may not make the best impression on society, and he might curse in your presence upon your first meeting, but he’ll ultimately stay faithful to you and he’ll always be honest about his feelings.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Wuthering Heights appears on Kate Hamer's list of six top novels with a strong evocation of atmosphere, Siri Hustvedt's six favorite books list, Tom Easton's top ten list of fictional "houses which themselves seem to have a personality which affects the story," Melissa Harrison's list of the ten top depictions of British rain, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Ed Sikov's list of eight top books that got slammed by critics, Amelia Schonbek's top five list of approachable must-read classics, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the worst wingmen in literature, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Jimmy So's list of fifteen notable film adaptations of literary classics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature, ten of the worst nightmares in literature and ten of the best foundlings in literature, Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations. It is one of John Inverdale's six best books and Sheila Hancock's six best books.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 8, 2018

James Lee Burke's six favorite books for aspiring novelists

James Lee Burke's new novel is Robicheaux. One of the author's six favorite books for aspiring novelists, as shared at The Week magazine:
Flannery O'Connor: Collected Works

She saw beauty in social decay and used the rural South as a biblical backdrop for the struggle between good and evil. Her characters could be grotesque and yet make us laugh without laughing at them. Her spirituality and private struggle still burn like a candle inside her words.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Five top medical books

Adam Kay is a former doctor in the UK's National Health Service turned comedian, and the author of This is Going to Hurt. One of his five favorite medical reads, as shared at the Waterstones blog:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks died in 1951 of cervical cancer. During her treatment, abnormal cells were taken at a biopsy that would turn out to be the most important cell-line in scientific history. HeLa cells – grown from her original biopsy - are what’s known as immortal cells, and have since been used in millions of scientific experiments, from finding the polio vaccine to research into cancer and AIDS. But the cells were taken without Henrietta’s permission. This is an extraordinary book: a tale of ethics, race and what is means to be human, as much as about medical science.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is among Austin Duffy's top ten books about cancer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Six classic books that almost had completely different titles

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged six "beloved classic novels whose authors nearly cursed with a terrible title," including:
Something That Happened, by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is history’s second-best Great Depression novel, second only to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. As such, it’s a sad tale about desperate men doing desperate things, and Steinbeck reportedly wanted to make sure that the novel didn’t judge the characters one way or the other for the book’s violent conclusion. He tried to express that by going full objective journalism for the title, which is so nonjudgmental that it’s kind of hilarious. He changed his mind when he found some words that said the same thing, that humans are victims of fate, only more poetically. They were in a poem, in fact: Robert Burns’ “Of Mice and Men.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Of Mice and Men is among Frank Lampard's six best books, Susan Shillinglaw's thirteen best John Steinbeck books, Becky Ferreira's six most memorable bullies in literature, Paul Wilson's ten top books about disability, and Sarah Salway's top ten books about unlikely friendships.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 5, 2018

Five weird books for the jaded reader

Robert Brockway's latest novel is Kill All Angels: The Vicious Circuit (Volume 3). One of five weird books for the jaded reader he tagged at
The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest

You know what to expect from most steampunk: You’ll certainly get some steam, probably some punks. Lots of vests and corsets, brass fittings and airships, clockwork robots and muskets.

You do not know what to expect when Cherie Priest does steampunk: You’ll get all that other stuff, sure— but you also get zombies, poison gas, drugs made out of that poison gas, zombies made out of those drugs made out of that poison gas, and when all that starts to look like the new normal, that’s when the yetis come.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Eight of the best philosophy books for students

Julian Baggini's latest book is A Short History of Truth: Consolations for a Post-Truth World. One of eight of the best philosophy books for students he tagged for Waterstones blog:
Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction by Edward Craig

There are many good short introductions to philosophy but Edward Craig's stands out. No one knows more about philosophy than Craig, who spent decades of his life editing the mammoth Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. And yet he managed to retain the sense of wonder and surprise that academic study can sadly drain out of people. Craig's mind is razor sharp, bright and sparkly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten writers’ tips on writing

Travis Elborough and Helen Gordon are the anthologizers behind Being a Writer: Advice, Musings, Essays and Experiences From the World's Greatest Authors. One of their ten favorite writers' tips, as shared at the Guardian:
Leo Tolstoy and HP Lovecraft – pick the hours that work best for you

Tolstoy believed in starting first thing: “I always write in the morning. I was pleased to hear lately that Rousseau, too, after he got up in the morning, went for a short walk and sat down to work. In the morning one’s head is particularly fresh. The best thoughts most often come in the morning after waking while still in bed or during the walk.”

Or stay up late as HP Lovecraft did: “At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Five books about fighting for broken worlds

Marie Lu's latest book is Batman: Nightwalker, part of the DC Icons series written by megastar young adult authors. At, she tagged five books that "capture the fight for and the fixing of broken worlds—whether that world is a dark wonderland of roses and death, or a real place of gangs and injustice." One title on the list:
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

You don’t have to go into speculative fiction to find a story of fixing broken worlds. We live in one now, some of us far more than others. Jason Reynolds tells these stories with his searing prose. Long Way Down, written in verse, is the story of a boy who takes the elevator down his 8th-floor apartment complex to seek revenge for his brother’s shooting, only to be greeted at each floor by the ghost of someone related to the events that led up to his brother’s death. It’s a portrait of how breaking one person can break another can break another, of the real injustices faced by real people in real life, and how we go about fixing the wounds in our world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Five of the best gardens in literature

Penelope Lively’s latest book, Life in the Garden, is partly a memoir of her own life in gardens, and also a wise, engaging and far-ranging exploration of gardens in literature.

At the Waterstones blog she tagged five of her favorite gardens in literature, including:
To The Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf

For Virginia Woolf, the garden in To The Lighthouse becomes again a signifier for time passing, but in an utterly different way. The Hebridean garden of the Ramsay family - their second home, as we would call it today - is revisited by the children who holidayed there, now adults, and is made to speak for the passage of time: "Poppies sowed themselves among the dahlias; the lawn waved with long grass; giant artichokes towered among the roses; a fringed carnation flowered among the cabbages..." Neglect, the ravages of untrammelled growth, and the garden is summoned up with Woolf's eloquence - language that is emotive, evocative. Elsewhere, too, she conjures up gardens - in The Waves, in the short story "Kew Gardens," but these in that exaggerated "stream of consciousness" style that makes them too elusive, for me. Interestingly, Woolf was herself a practical, hands-on gardener, and the garden that she and Leonard Woolf created at Monks House, in Rodmell, near Lewes, survives today, owned by the National Trust.
Read about the other entries on the list.

To the Lighthouse appears among Mauro Javier Cardenas's nine notable novels with really long sentences, Rachel Cusk's six favorite books, Helen Dunmore's six best books, Annie Baker's six favorite books, Meg Wolitzer's five favorite books by women writers, Laura Frost's top 10 best modernist books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Margaret Drabble's top ten literary landscapes, the American Book Review's 100 best last lines from novels, Amity Gaige's best books, and Adam Langer's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 1, 2018

Ten books every teacher should read

Carl Hendrick is head of Learning and Research at Wellington College, an English teacher completing PhD at King’s College in English education, and the author of What Does This Look Like in the Classroom?. One title on his list of ten books every teacher should read, as shared at the Guardian:
Make It Stick by Peter C Brown, Henry L Roediger and Mark A McDaniel

Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful. Learning that’s easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow

One of the more concrete findings from cognitive science is that many of the things that engender effective learning are highly counterintuitive. For example, many students will re-read and highlight material leading up to a test, something which the authors of this book show is little more than colouring in. Far more effective are practices such as interleaving, spaced learning and retrieval practice, which are expertly outlined in this easily accessible book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue