Sunday, June 30, 2019

Siri Hustvedt’s ten desert island books

Siri Hustvedt is a critic, poet, and author. Her latest book is Memories of the Future.

One of the author's ten favorite books, as shared at
Either/Or by Soren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard’s ironies have driven me crazy for many years, but I crave them anyway. Every time I read it, this novel as philosophy or philosophy as novel never stops producing new meanings.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Five notable morality-driven thrillers

Lori Roy is the author of Bent Road, winner of the Edgar Award for Best First Novel; Until She Comes Home, finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel; Let Me Die in His Footsteps, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel; and The Disappearing.

Roy's new novel is Gone Too Long.

At CrimeReads the author tagged five "books that deliver smartly drawn plots, but that also mine the greater moral issues that make us all part of the story," including:
The Long Goodbye (1953) by Raymond Chandler

When my second novel was close to coming out, a friend emailed me a link to an article about a research study. In the study, three people, via a computer game, threw a digital ball back and forth. At a certain point, one person was excluded for no apparent reason. Upon studying the physical response of the excluded person, researches found that the need to belong is so strong in human beings that when excluded, they experience a physical pain such that it can be treated with Tylenol. Raymond Chandler, who became a writer after losing his job during the Great Depression, is widely credited with being the founder of the hardboiled crime novel. But I include him here today for his examination of this desperate need to belong, a need most certainly tied to our very survival. Specifically, the need for acceptance and the crushing loneliness when we are denied it is at the heart of The Long Goodbye, the sixth of his seven novels.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Long Goodbye is among Joseph Knox's four top books for crime lovers, 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

Friday, June 28, 2019

Five top SFF books set in contemporary Africa

Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of stories featuring African gods, starships, monsters, detectives and everything in-between. His godpunk novel, David Mogo, Godhunter, is out from Abaddon in July 2019. His internationally published fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Podcastle, The Dark, Mothership Zeta, Omenana, Ozy, Brick Moon Fiction and other periodicals and anthologies. He is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, where he teaches writing, and has worked in editorial at Podcastle and Sonora Review.

At he tagged five SFF books set in contemporary African locales, including:
Lagos, Nigeria: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon, it may be argued, is the prime Lagos SFF novel. An alien ambassador named Ayodele lands in Lagos’s Bar Beach of the early 2000’s, drawing three diverse protagonists with special abilities into a whirlwind journey. The city quickly devolves into chaos then, but Lagos is no stranger to madness, responding with almost extraterrestrial alacrity. This science-fantasy tale of first contact carries Lagos with it, allowing the city’s characteristic dank infrastructure, colourful motley of inhabitants and bustling energy shine, while paying homage to its history and folklore.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Five books with complex and credible child narrators

Michelle Sacks is the author of the story collection, Stone Baby, and the novels, You Were Made for This and All The Lost Things.

At LitHub she tagged five books with complex and credible child narrators, including:
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones

Set in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, the luminous and lyrical Salvage the Bones is narrated by fourteen-year-old Esch. Poor, motherless and pregnant, Esch lives with her father and her three brothers in the backwoods of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, where life is often harsh and violent, nature brutal and unpredictable. The hurricane looms, but it is only one threat among many. Esch and her family are almost always hungry, rationing food, stealing supplies. Her father drinks; her older brother Skeetah breeds pitbulls to sell.

Esch, a lover of Greek mythology, is wise beyond her years, a child without a childhood. But the story she’s telling isn’t one of victimhood. Though she doesn’t shy away from the ruthlessness that surrounds her, Esch manages to find its opposite: tenderness and wonder, and the unbreakable bonds of family love.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Salvage the Bones is among Amy Brady's seven books that provocatively tackle climate change, Jodi Picoult's six recommended books, Peggy Frew's ten top books about "bad" mothers, and Jenny Shanks's five least supervised children in literature

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about the River Thames

Caroline Crampton is a writer and editor who contributes regularly to the Guardian, the Mail on Sunday and the New Humanist. She has appeared as a broadcaster on Newsnight, Sky News and BBC Radio 4.

The Way to the Sea: The Forgotten Histories of the Thames Estuary is her first book.

One of Crampton's top ten books about the River Thames, as shared at the Guardian:
Thames: Sacred River by Peter Ackroyd

The nearest thing there is to a comprehensive modern biography of the river, packed with fascinating titbits about its literary, artistic and religious connections down the ages. It’s particularly good on the upper reaches of the Thames before it gets to London, where medieval monasteries used to stand at every bend and pilgrims would pass by on their way to the great shrine at Canterbury.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Six terrifying doctor-villains in fiction

Caroline Louise Walker grew up in Rock Island, Illinois. For her fiction and nonfiction, she has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The Kerouac Project, Jentel Arts and Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences. She holds an MA from NYU.

Man of the Year is Walker's first novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged six medical men with terrible designs, including:
DR. HENRY JEKYLL from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Lewis Stevenson

Maybe we ask too much of our doctors: to be skilled and brilliant, with gentle bedside manner, and also to be upstanding citizens, strong of heart, guided by an infallible moral compass. No one is perfect. Dr. Jekyll hosts darkness, as do we all, but he is unable to hold his darkness alongside the light.. He divides his identity into all good or all bad, a splitting (as with Borderline Personality Disorder) turned inward. His desire to suppress his shadow side is so colossal, so consuming, that it all but ensures Hyde’s vitality.

For Jekyll, Hyde is the embodiment of Poe’s “Imp of the Perverse”—the backlash of an all-consuming desire to snuff out our ugliest impulses, thoughts, or desires. There is no intermediary between id and superego, no integration of his shadow side. He terrifies himself. And yet, as Settembrini tells rest-cure devotee Hans Castorp, in and on The Magic Mountain: “Fear and euphoria aren’t mutually exclusive.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also appears on Robert Masello's list of six classic stories with supernatural crimes at their center, J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison's list of eleven top vile villains in fiction, Chris Howard's top five list of addictive books featuring sci-fi drugs, Steve Toutonghi's list of six top books that expand our mental horizons, Irvine Welsh's list of six favorite books that explore human duality, the Huffington Post's list of classic works that are all under 200 pages, Koren Zailckas's top 11 list of favorite evil characters, Stuart Evers's list of the top ten homes in literature, H.M. Castor's top ten list of dark and haunted heroes and heroines and John Mullan's list of ten of the best butlers in literature, and among Yann Martel's six favorite books. It is one of Ali Shaw's top ten transformation stories and Nicholas Frankel's five best pieces of decadent writing from the nineteenth century.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Eight of the best books set over 24-hours

Alex Clark writes for the Guardian and the Observer. One of her best books set over twenty-hours:
For those who feel that a day is simply too long a time-span for a piece of fiction, there is always Nicholson Baker’s novella The Mezzanine, set during a mere lunch-hour and garlanded with footnotes upon footnotes. It’s a dazzling feat of both compression and expansion that – despite its workaday office setting and diminutive canvas – is on more than nodding terms with the modernist adventures of Woolf and Joyce.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 24, 2019

Herman Koch's recommended books that spotlight political incorrectness

Herman Koch is the best-selling author of The Dinner. His new novel is The Ditch. Booklist on The Ditch: “A compelling exploration by a master stylist of what jealousy and distrust can do even to a solid relationship.”

At The Week magazine he tagged six books that spotlight political incorrectness, including:
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez (2018).

In Nunez's award-winning novel, the girlfriend of a deceased famous author puts most of her criticisms of her late lover aside to survive as an individual while contending with Wives One, Two, and Three. Which of the four women is most entitled to be the author's true heir? The one who has inspired his best work, or the one who gets stuck with his Great Dane?
Read about the other entries on the list.

The author Thomas Perry called The Friend "wise, funny, tragic, and moving. It’s also a deep meditation on death, grieving, and the bond between humans and animals."

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top crime novels set in the art world

Lisa Levy is a columnist and contributing editor at LitHub and CrimeReads.

At CrimeReads she tagged eight notable crime novels set in the art world, including:
Rebecca Scherm, Unbecoming (Penguin)

This Edgar-nominated first novel reveals its true core to the reader slowly and skillfully. When we first meet Grace she’s working for a less than upstanding dealer in high-value tchotchkes. Grace is very good at her job, but she doesn’t care about it. We know she’s running from something or someone, since she’s calling herself Julie and keeping everyone at an almost rude distance. Scenes from her current life are woven into her past as an all-American small-town girl who did an unforgivable thing that sent two men to jail. One of them has just been paroled and he’s looking for her, causing upheaval in her carefully ordered fake life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Writers Read: Rebecca Scherm (February 2015).

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ten essential books about contemporary artists

Barbara Bourland is the author of the critically acclaimed I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, a Refinery29 Best Book of 2017 and an Irish Independent Book of the Year, and the newly released Fake Like Me.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten essential books about contemporary artists, including:
Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton

In Seven Days in the Art World, an investigation-slash-ethnography of art world spaces—an auction house, a studio, an art fair, the Turner Prize, an art-school critique, and the Venice Biennale—Thorton thoughtfully transcribes what she first sees in the (highly elite) spaces of world that, as she writes, is “so diverse, opaque, and downright secretive, it is impossible to be truly comprehensive.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Twenty “perfect summer books"

Emily Temple is a senior editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, will be published by William Morrow in 2020. At LitHub she tagged twenty “perfect summer books," including:
James Collins, Beginner’s Greek

According to Jon Michaud in The New Yorker:
I’m just finishing James Collins’s Beginner’s Greek, an elegant, page-turning début novel of thwarted desire that reads like one of Jane Austen’s books retold by Mark Helprin. In the first chapter, the affable but chronically passive hero, Peter Russell, finds himself seated next to the woman of his dreams on a transcontinental flight. They talk; he gets her number; he promptly loses it. Years later, they meet again, but by then, she has become involved with Peter’s best friend. Collins’s light, observant style carries the reader over the numerous implausiblities and coincidences required by his romantic plot. It’s a perfect summer read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Beginner's Greek.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 21, 2019

Six top novels featuring bad neighbors

Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and worked as an illustrated books editor and copywriter before writing fiction. Her novels include the thriller Our House, winner of the British Book Awards 2019 Crime & Thriller Book of the Year, and the new book, Those People.

One of six novels favorite novels featuring bad neighbors Candlish tagged at CrimeReads:
Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen

Not crime fiction, but rather a masterly portrait of a group of residents on the Upper West Side, whose relationships are considerably less solid than they’ve been tempted to believe. On the surface, the ultimate goal of Nora and Charlie is an assigned parking space—so far so white-middle-class New York—but just as this is achieved far more profound aspects of life are found to be disintegrating.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ten top books about cults

Claire McGlasson is a journalist who works for ITV News and enjoys the variety of life on the road with a TV camera. She lives in Cambridgeshire. The Rapture is her debut novel.

At the Guardian McGlasson tagged ten favorite books about cults, including:
Underground by Haruki Murakami

I knew nothing of the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack that left 12 people dead and I had never heard of Aum, the doomsday cult responsible. In his 1997 book, Murakami first records the testimony of victims, then speaks to those on the other side of the story: encouraging cult members to question their motivations. Some left Aum, some have remained devoted, many are still in denial about their guru’s involvement. The result is a series of separate interviews that allow the reader to consider multiple perspectives.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Twelve recent mystery novels that will get your blood racing

Trish Bendix is a writer and editor in Los Angeles, California.

At O: The Oprah Magazine Scharer tagged twelve of the best recent mystery novels. One title on the list:
A Study in Honor: A Novel (The Janet Watson Chronicles)

This futuristic feminist spin on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest creation follows Dr. Janet Watson's not-so-triumphant return to Washington D.C. after being shot caring for wounded soldiers in America's New Civil War. Now, with a prosthetic arm and without a purpose or a place to stay, she falls into depression. That all changes when she meets government agent Sara Holmes.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: A Study in Honor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten novels about class-conscious narrators

Barbara Bourland is the author of the critically acclaimed I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, a Refinery29 Best Book of 2017 and an Irish Independent Book of the Year, and the newly released Fake Like Me.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten favorite novels about class-conscious narrators, including:
The Outsider, Richard Wright

This is the book Wright wrote this after he left the communist party and became a nihilist, and this book is steeped in expositions of race, class, and political relations like no other work of twentieth-century fiction. His protagonist, Cross Damon, is alienated, angry, and does not change. Damon doesn’t believe that money will change his life, but he knows that power would, and his rage at being made so powerless by a society that hates and devalues anyone who with skin that is not white metastasizes until he kills four people, and then later dies. People didn’t like this book at the time it was published because it has extremely long passages about existential despair, but that is exactly why I love it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Four top books based on myths

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele D'Annunzio, which won all three of the UK's most prestigious prizes for non-fiction - the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award - and the Political Book Awards Biography of the Year. Her other non-fiction books are the acclaimed cultural histories Heroes and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. In 2017 she published her first novel Peculiar Ground, which was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize.

Hughes-Hallett's new book is Fabulous, a collection of short stories.

At the Guardian she tagged some of the best books based on myths, including:
Another free spirit, but a happier one, is Dougal Douglas (or perhaps Douglas Dougal – nothing about him, including his name, is pin-downable) the curly haired charmer who makes his disruptive appearance in a suburban small business in Muriel Spark’s scintillating comic take on the Faust legend, The Ballad of Peckham Rye. On Dougal’s forehead there are two bumps – traces, he explains, of his sawn-off horns. Is he teasing? Impossible to tell. Certainly Spark is. She hints that Dougal is the devil, but what he brings is not damnation, but ridicule. Sleazy office romances, venal crime, and all the absurd trivia of working life are raked over in this modern fable. Spark’s wit is acidic, but her story sets the dreary lives of secretaries and salesmen glittering, touched by the uncanny charisma of an early 60s Pan.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Douglas Dougal from The Ballad of Peckham Rye is among John Mullan's ten best devils in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 17, 2019

Nine top seaside thrillers

Janna King is a screenwriter, playwright, and director. She has written TV movies and series for Lifetime and The Hallmark Channel, King World and more. Her two short films, “Mourning Glory” and “The Break Up,” which she wrote, directed and produced, were official selections at several film festivals.

King's debut novel is The Seasonaires; her new novel is the sequel, Malibu Bluff.

One of her nine best seaside thrillers, as shared at CrimeReads:
Until the Day I Die, by Emily Carpenter

This novel also tackles the subject of grief and its devastating effect. When Erin’s husband dies suddenly, she is determined to keep her college-bound daughter Shorie and the family’s thriving tech business on track. But all those around her worry that she’s falling apart, and they stage an intervention that sends her to a luxury rehab retreat on a remote Caribbean island. Alternating points of view from Erin and Shorie offer insight into the two women’s states of mind and their undeniable love for each other, despite mother-daughter thorniness. From the start, Carpenter sets the stage for conspiracies that raise their ugly heads as the pages turn. Shorie investigates those she believes are out to sabotage her mother and the business while Erin ultimately fights for her life at a tropical jungle “wellness sanctuary” that’s hair-raising instead of healing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Top ten books about fathers

Sam Miller was born and brought up in London, but has spent much of his adult life in India. His books include Fathers, an account of his own father, the editor, writer, critic and academic Karl Miller.

One of Miller's ten top books about fathers, as shared at the Guardian:
Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo

Fathers are largely absent from Izzo’s brilliant and shamefully neglected Marseille Trilogy, but there’s a fine cameo in the first of the series, Total Chaos. Mouloud is a migrant from Algeria to France, and nervously watched his three motherless children grow up in Marseille. But the eldest, a postgraduate student called Laila, has gone missing and is subsequently found murdered. Mouloud’s desperation is unbearable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top father figures in literature

Allison Pataki is the New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor's Wife, The Accidental Empress, Sisi: Empress on Her Own, Where the Light Falls, Beauty in the Broken Places, and Nelly Takes New York.

At HuffPost she tagged ten top reads about great father figures in literature, including:
The Book Thief: The relationship between young Liesel and her adopted father, Hans Hubermann, is in many ways the heartbeat that makes this entire book pulse. While Mama addresses Liesel only as saumensch (roughly translated to the highly flattering moniker of “pig-man”), and is quick to offer a slap across the face, Hans, or Papa, adores Liesel, playing his accordion for her and teaching her to read in a series of secret, late-night sessions. Hans Hubermann’s soft and understated brand of strength shines throughout Markus Zusak’s novel as a positive force in the otherwise harrowing and tragic setting of Nazi Germany.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Book Thief also appears among Ryan Graudin's five favorite historical fiction YAs, Sarah Skilton's six most unusual YA narrators, Tracy-Ann Oberman's six best books, Kathryn Williams's top eleven Young Adult books for readers of all ages, Nicole Hill's top seven books with Death as a character, Lenore Appelhans's top ten teen books featuring flashbacks, and Kathryn Erskine's top 10 first person narratives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Four "bad dad" memoirs

Andrew G. S. Thurman is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh's MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. He is working on a book about his father. At LitHub he tagged four good Bad Dad memoirs, including:
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

In her opening chapter, Alison Bechdel describes her father as “an alchemist of appearance, a savant of surface, a Daedalus of decor” (potentially an alliterative reference to Geoffrey Wolff’s 1979 The Duke of Deception, itself a fantastic Bad Dad memoir). These titles refer to her father’s knack for home restoration, but also to his ability to maintain a double life: despite his marriage and three children, he was a gay man who had a particular interest in teenage boys.

Given these circumstances and her abundant skill, telling a linear, narratively boilerplate story would have made for a great book on its own. Instead, however, Bechdel opts for a delightfully complex structure—one that is self-consciously literary and deeply self-referential, with each narrative recursion adding more metaphorical and emotional nuance. Anyone who came of age in a library will see themselves in Bechdel to some extent, and those who did so due to family circumstances won’t be able to put her down.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 14, 2019

Eight novels dealing with refugees

Michael Niemann's latest Valentin Vermeulen thriller is No Right Way.

At CrimeReads the author tagged eight "novels of displacement, diaspora, and the traumas of exile," including:
The Foreign Correspondent, Alan Furst

Refugees aren’t just a recent global phenomenon. Historically, every war has generated streams of refugees. It’s not an accident that the original Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was adopted in 1951, to address the complicated refugee situation left by World War II. Alan Furst has made a career of writing spy novels that all take place at the threshold of World War II. But the seeds for all his novels were sown with World War I and the failure to settle the question of global hegemony in 1919. The twenty years of crisis that followed produced its own refugee crisis, and Furst captures the essence of it in 1938 Paris. This novel revolves around Italian refugees who fled the Mussolini regime to Paris and are publishing an underground newspaper that’s smuggled into Italy to give Italians the real news. Carlo Weisz, the new editor, after the Italian secret police agents assassinate the previous one, finds himself the target of pretty much every intelligence agency that’s active in Paris. The refugees in this novel have a professional background, lawyers, journalists, businessmen. They find themselves reduced to working menial jobs to make ends meet. Only Weisz is lucky enough to work in his chosen profession. The secret police agents after them, but the French authorities aren’t yet interested in protecting the refugees because Italy hasn’t officially thrown in its lot with Germany. In a way, this novel represents the flip side of Havana Libre. There’s the same desire to put undermine a regime from the relative safety of exile, although the existence of the Italian refugees in pre-war France seems more precarious than that of the Cuban emigres in Miami. But the story of having one’s life disrupted, of having to take jobs well below one’s qualifications are similar. A quote that stuck with me was “…spies and journalists were fated to go through life together, and it was sometimes hard to tell one from the other. Their jobs weren’t all that different: they talked to politicians, developed sources in government bureaux, and dug around for secrets.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: The Foreign Correspondent.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Top ten houseguests in fiction

Jessica Francis Kane is the author of This Close, The Report, and Bending Heaven. This Close was longlisted for The Story Prize and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, and The Report was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection and a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction. Her stories and essays have appeared in a number of publications, including Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s, The Missouri Review, The Yale Review, A Public Space, and Granta.

Kane's new novel is Rules for Visiting.

At the Guardian she tagged ten notable houseguests in fiction, including:
According to Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge

In this brilliant novel, Bainbridge imagines the year 1764, when Samuel Johnson met the Thrale family and became a regular houseguest at their home in then-rural Southwark. In the novel, Hester Thrale gives him his own room, which he often doesn’t leave. The scenes of the household functioning around the resident irascible genius are priceless.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ten of the best books about Paris

Whitney Scharer holds a BA in English Literature from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous journals including New Flash Fiction Review, Cimarron Review, and Bellevue Literary Review. Her first novel, The Age of Light, based on the life of pioneering photographer Lee Miller, was published by Little, Brown (US) and Picador (UK) in February, 2019, and is forthcoming from over a dozen other countries. She lives with her husband and daughter in Arlington, MA.

At O; The Oprah Magazine Scharer tagged ten of the best books about Paris. One title on the list:
Paris to the Moon

Read Janet Flanner [Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939], and then read Adam Gopnik, her modern-day heir. Gopnik moved to Paris with his wife and infant son, and documented their adventures in the New Yorker with humor and tenderness. The book reads like a love letter to the city, and will leave you yearning to become an ex-pat yourself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Nine top classic & contemporary spy novels

When Timothy Jay Smith quit an intriguing international career to become a full-time writer, he had a host of real life characters, places and events to inspire his stories. His first novel, Cooper’s Promise, in some ways is still the most autobiographical of his novels, though he was never an American deserter adrift in Africa. But he was in The Mining Pan bar and he did meet Lulay and he did stowaway on a barge that landed him in an African jail.

Now, in his third novel, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland in 1992, Smith looks back at the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, as witnessed through the eyes of an FBI Special Agent on assignment to stop a nuclear smuggling operation out of Russia. Smith’s newest book continues his style of page-turning thrillers steeped with colorful characters.

At CrimeReads he tagged nine notable spy thrillers, including:
Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon

During World War II, Istanbul was a center of international espionage. In Istanbul Passage, Joseph Kanon sets the story in the immediate aftermath of the war when the espionage community is beginning to pack up. An American businessman, Leon Bauer, has been drawn into their shadowy world by doing odd jobs to support the Allied effort. He’s asked to make one last exchange, which goes fatally awry. An American diplomat cum spy is killed, and Leon ends up hiding a possible war criminal wanted by both the Americans and Russians. Confronted with shifting loyalties and moral uncertainty, it’s the story of a man swept up in the dawn of the Cold War.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books on leadership

Eliane Glaser is a writer, a senior lecturer at Bath Spa University, an associate research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and a BBC radio producer. Her books include Get Real: How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies of Modern Life and, most recently, Anti-Politics: On the Demonization of Ideology, Authority and the State.

At the Guardian Glaser tagged six top books on leadership, including:
Our discomfort with the notion that a chosen few hold sway makes it easier to find depictions of bad leadership than positive exemplars. Novels, from Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 to Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick to Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote portray leaders as capricious, deranged and, well, quixotic. Likewise, in The Mirror for Magistrates, a Tudor collection of poems, the ghosts of eminent statesmen recount their misdeeds and comeuppances while gazing ruefully at their own reflections. The poems were intended as cautionary tales for others keen to don the mantle of power.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 10, 2019

Lisa Ling's ten desert island books

Lisa Ling is Executive Producer and Host of This Is Life on CNN.

One of her ten favorite books, as shared at
The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong

As a journalist, I was so impressed by how extensively Denise Chong researched this work of nonfiction. This is the story of the young girl who was photographed running naked in horror after her village was napalmed during the war, and who came to symbolize for the world its utter disaster and devastating toll. It is a moving story of love, perseverance, and belief.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books that inspired Kristen Arnett's new novel

Kristen Arnett is a queer fiction and essay writer. She was awarded Ninth Letter's 2015 Literary Award in Fiction, was runner-up for the 2016 Robert Watson Literary Prize at The Greensboro Review, and was a finalist for Indiana Review's 2016 Fiction Prize. She's a columnist for Literary Hub and her work has appeared or is upcoming at North American Review, The Normal School, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, Guernica, Electric Literature, McSweeneys, PBS Newshour, Literary Hub, Volume 1 Brooklyn, OSU's The Journal, Catapult, Bennington Review, Portland Review, Tin House Flash Fridays/The Guardian, Salon, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her debut story collection, Felt in the Jaw, was published by Split Lip Press and was awarded the 2017 Coil Book Award.

Arnett's new novel is Mostly Dead Things.

At The Week magazine she tagged six books that inspired her first novel, including:
My Body Is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta (2014).

This is a deep dive into the body and mind of a singular author who manipulates text on the page to almost tactile effect. She writes powerfully about memory, yes, but she also reminds readers what it's like to inhabit a body. The essays in the book are interspersed with historical material about the Cascade tribe, one of two indigenous tribes in Washuta's heritage.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sixteen dog books for anyone who's pet-obsessed

At The Oprah Magazine McKenzie Jean-Philippe tagged sixteen of the best books for dog-lovers. One title on the list:
Merle's Door by Ted Kerasote

Kerasote tells the story of his fateful camping trip which resulted in him meeting a Lab who was living free in the wild. A bond is formed, but after taking the dog—named Merle—home, Kerasote discovers he must give his new pet the best of both worlds.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Ted Kerasote's Merle's Door.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Five strong women in crime fiction

Shalini Boland is a USA Today bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Girl from the Sea, The Best Friend, The Millionaire's Wife, and The Child Next Door. She lives in Dorset, England with her husband, two children, and their cheeky terrier mix.

Boland's The Secret Mother is now out in the US.

At CrimeReads she tagged five of today's savviest, toughest female protagonists in crime fiction, including:
The Detective Kim Stone Series, by Angela Marsons

Book 1 in the series, Silent Scream, is a crime mystery that draws you in straight away. This is in part due to the unconventional and abrasive main character, DI Kim Stone, whose own story is emotionally tangled up with her latest case. With an abrupt manner that often borders on downright rude, I really shouldn’t have liked Stone, but I found that I absolutely loved her, rooting for her every step of the way, my heart in my mouth as the body count rose. The plot is intricate, and fast-moving, the writing deft and smooth. I also laughed out loud on more than one occasion which balanced out the darker and more grisly aspects.

Stone is a complex woman, who has virtually no filter and isn’t afraid to says it like it is. She’s suffered trauma in her past, but instead of holding her back, it spurs her on. Stone’s character arc deepens through the series and far from sliding into predictability, author Angela Marsons builds on the foundation of book 1 to create a character—along with an outstanding supporting cast—that readers will truly care about.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 7, 2019

Elif Şafak's ten favorite books

Elif Shafak / Elif Şafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love, and Three Daughters of Eve. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who would make the world better.

Shafak is also a political scientist and an academic. She holds a degree in International Relations, a masters’ degree in Gender and Women’s Studies and a PhD in Political Science and Political Philosophy. She has taught at various universities in Turkey, the UK and the USA, including St Anne's College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow.

At she tagged her ten desert island books. One title on the list:
An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Set in post-second World War Japan, this is a masterfully written novel by the British-Japanese author about ageing, solitude, art, memory, and the endless tricks it plays on our minds … Ishiguro is the kind of writer who each time asks the reader to trust him, come along for a walk in an unknown territory, and if need be, change perspective. But he does all this with an unwavering modesty and quiet intelligence that only further contributes to his literary strength.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten deeply unsettling novels

Brian Evenson is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes and has been a finalist for the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the World Fantasy Award. He is also the winner of the International Horror Guild Award and the American Library Association’s award for Best Horror Novel, and his work has been named in Time Out New York’s top books.

His newest book is Song for the Unraveling of the World.

One of Evenson's favorite scary novels, as told to Publishers Weekly:
Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Chaon is one of those authors who never disappoints. Dustin, a psychologist, has an off-kilter patient trying to convince him that a series of drownings are the work of a serial killer. As he reluctantly embarks on an amateur investigation, his ability to distinguish the truth becomes more and more vexed. Add to that Rusty, his adopted brother who was imprisoned for years for killing Dustin’s parents and who is just getting out, and Ill Will becomes a complex and beautifully chilling story about damage caused by the stories we tell ourselves so as not to see how things really are.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue