Thursday, October 31, 2019

Nine mind-bending books about parallel universes

At Electric Lit, intern McKayla Coyle tagged nine mind-bending novels about parallel universes, including:
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

The Light Brigade is the nickname for shell-shocked soldiers of the war with Mars. But what’s actually happening to these soldiers? When Dietz joins the war and begins to experience lapses in reality—memories that don’t line up with the platoon’s, orders that lead to nothing—the new recruit is forced to wonder what this war is really about.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

The 10 best memoirs of the decade

Emily Temple is a senior editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, will be published by William Morrow in 2020.

Temple and the Literary Hub staff picked the ten best memoirs of the decade. One title on the list:
Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House (2019)

Before I picked it up, Sarah Broom’s The Yellow House was intriguing to me precisely because it blends memoir with so many other forms. In her review of the books, Angela Flournoy describes it as “part oral history, part urban history, part celebration of a bygone way of life.”

The oral history component is drawn from Broom’s interviews with her mother and her 12 siblings about their lives in New Orleans East, an area of the city once vaunted as “a ‘new frontier,’ ripe for development,” which by the time Broom was coming of age there had been largely abandoned by the city. Her brothers and mother tell their stories of Katrina, “the Water,” which Broom experienced from New York, in one of the most wrenching sections of the book. The hurricane destroys the titular Yellow House and scatters the Broom family across the country. Broom herself lives for some months in Burundi before returning to New Orleans to work as a speechwriter for the mayor, then back to New York, then to New Orleans once more.

Broom is a master of sentences, but she also knows precisely when to hand over the floor. The result is a gorgeous pastiche of histories that is at once deeply personal and incredibly wide-ranging. Home—both the physical and the intangible sorts—are at the center of the story. The question of who gets to have a home in America, in the face of vast income inequality, institutional racism, and climate change, is ever-present. In his review, Dwight Garner predicts that The Yellow House “will come to be considered among the essential memoirs of this vexing decade.” I couldn’t agree more. –Jessie Gaynor, Social Media Editor
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Ten top books about graveyards

David Barnett writes about books and comics for the Guardian. The graveyard, he writes,
is the main setting for [his] novel Things Can Only Get Better. It’s set in 1996, when Arthur, who is in his 70s, is so grief-stricken by the death of his wife Molly that he refuses to leave her graveside, eventually moving into and fixing up a derelict chapel and becoming a sort of unofficial caretaker.
At the Guardian, Barnett tagged his ten favorite books about graveyards, including:
Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Graveyards are fertile ground for horror, usually through their desecration or disrespectful treatment. King’s 1983 take on the undead genre sees a family buying a remote house with its own pet burial ground that does a nicely creepy line in bringing family pets – and people – back to life, but horribly changed. Which, presumably, they never mentioned at Purple Bricks.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pet Sematary is among C. J. Tudor's six thrillers featuring terrifying changelings, Jeff Somers's top 25 cats in sci-fi & fantasy, Jessica Ferri's five top books on American small towns, and Sandra Greaves's top ten ghost stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

The 13 fiercest feminist witches in modern literature

Pam Grossman is a writer, curator, and teacher of magical practice and history. She is the host of The Witch Wave podcast (“the Terry Gross of Witches” - Vulture) and the author of Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power and What Is A Witch.

At Electric Lit Grossman tagged thirteen stories about strong women with magical powers, including:
Marie Laveau in Voodoo Dreams by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity thanks to Angela Bassett’s depiction of her in the FX series American Horror Story: Coven. But Rhodes’ version of Laveau’s story is a far richer and more nuanced imagining of the infamous New Orleanian’s life. In her novel, Laveau is a free, young black woman in early 19th-century Louisiana who is taken in by a seductive and violent charlatan named John. He grooms her to pretend to be a voodoo priestess so he can gain power and money from unwitting followers, but drama ensues when it becomes clear that Marie has true spiritual gifts and real miracles start to occur. Themes of lineage, religion, responsibility, and autonomy undulate beautifully throughout Rhode’s lush prose, as does the majestic snake deity that Marie comes to worship and embody.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Five books that delve into love’s complexity

Daniel Jones has edited the "Modern Love" column in the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times since its inception in October 2004. His books include two essay anthologies, Modern Love and The Bastard on the Couch, and a novel, After Lucy, which was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award.

At LitHub Jones tagged five books that taught him about love, including:
Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha

I think about Sex at Dawn nearly every time a man behaves badly (or criminally) in the sexual arena, which is basically (let’s face it) just about every minute of every day. And that’s partly the point of the book: We are wired through evolution to be deeply sexual creatures, but engaging in constant sexual activity isn’t workable, obviously, in society as it now exists. It’s a fascinating thesis, compellingly explained.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 28, 2019

Six classic thrillers featuring the most human of monsters

Steven L. Kent and Nicholas Kaufmann are the authors of the bestselling horror novel 100 Fathoms Below.

At CrimeReads they tagged six favorite literary human monsters, including:
Amy Dunne: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

We all know a “perfect couple,” two people who go together so well that you can’t imagine them with anyone else. They’re both attractive, they both lead interesting lives that never leave them at a loss for fascinating stories to tell over dinner, and their love and devotion to each other is evident in everything they say and do.

Or maybe that’s just what they want you to think. After all, Amy and Nick Dunne appear to be the perfect couple from the outside, but on the inside Amy is hatching a twisted, manipulative plot against him. She hates that Nick forced her to move from her beloved New York City to North Carthage, Missouri so he can be near his sick mother, and to punish him she fakes her disappearance and leaves clues framing Nick for her murder. It only gets more tangled from there, encompassing everything from a fictitious diary to a faked pregnancy to outright murder.

The perfect couple? Not exactly, but by the time we learn just how selfish and manipulative Nick is as well, we realize these two definitely deserve each other.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone Girl made Elizabeth Macneal's list of five sympathetic fictional psychopaths, Jo Jakeman's top ten list of revenge novels, Amanda Craig's list of favorite books about modern married life, Sarah Pinborough's top ten list of unreliable narrators, C.A. Higgins's top five list of books with plot twists that flip your perception, Ruth Ware's top ten list of psychological thrillers, Jane Alexander's top ten list of treasure hunts in fiction, Fanny Blake's list of five top books about revenge, Monique Alice's list of six great fictional evil geniuses, Jeff Somers's lists of the top five best worst couples in literature, six books that’ll make you glad you’re single and five books with an outstanding standalone scene that can be read on its own, Lucie Whitehouse's ten top list of psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart and Kathryn Williams's list of eight of fiction’s craziest unreliable narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books on family roots and grief

Saeed Jones is the author of Prelude to Bruise, winner of the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award. The poetry collection was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as awards from Lambda Literary and the Publishing Triangle in 2015.

Jones's new memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives, describes how owning his homosexuality required distancing himself from his mother's love, and was recently named winner of the nonfiction Kirkus Prize.

At The Week magazine he shared six favorite books on family roots and grief, including:
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilker­son (2010).

Without a doubt, this is the book I have recommended the most in the past decade. Drawing on incredible research and countless interviews, Wilkerson follows three black Southerners who — like millions of others in the 20th century — moved north to escape Jim Crow's caste system. Few other books have better helped me locate my family and personal history in the broader context of American history.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Warmth of Other Suns is among Ibram X. Kendi's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Twelve novels about historical women to inspire a better future

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre, Touch, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, and the handbook Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book, forthcoming from Catapult. Her writing has been widely published in such outlets as BuzzFeed; the New York Times; O, the Oprah Magazine; and Poets & Writers.

At Electric Lit she tagged twelve novels about historical women to inspire a better future, including:
The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill

It’s Nantucket as you’ve never seen it. Inspired by the work of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in American history, this is the story of two intelligent dreamers, both beguiled by astronomy, whose stars aren’t meant to align.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Movement of Stars.

My Book, The Movie: The Movement of Stars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine standout English village mysteries

Deborah Crombie is a New York Times bestselling author and a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She now lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, two cats, and two German shepherds.

Crombie's newest novel, A Bitter Feast, is her 18th Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged nine standout English village mysteries published from the Eighties onwards, including:
In a Dry Season, by Peter Robinson

Moving on a decade to 1999, Peter Robinson’s 10th novel featuring Yorkshire detective Alan Banks takes Banks to the once-drowned village of Hobb’s End and the unidentified bones of murdered young woman. This is a complex, multi-dimensional novel, one of Robinson’s best. It weaves a gritty investigation with the pastoral vision of Yorkshire, trying in haunting threads from the past.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Five books where criminals save the day

Alexandra Christo decided to write books when she was four and her teacher told her she couldn’t be a fairy. When she’s not busy making up stories, she can be found organizing food crawls over London and binge-watching Korean dramas. Christo has a BA in Creative Writing and currently lives in England with an abundance of cacti (because they’re the only plants she can keep alive). She is the author of To Kill a Kingdom and Into the Crooked Place.

At Christo tagged five books where criminals save the day, including:
Legend by Marie Lu
“Brave thoughts, but am I ready to follow through on them?”
This book is a legend (HAH) of dystopia. Set in a world where the US is now the Republic and pretty much always at war, it follows: June (a wealthy military prodigy) and Day (a kid from the slums who just so happens to be the most wanted criminal in the country).

They’re not destined to meet and they’re certainly not destined to change the world together. Until June’s brother is killed and suddenly the fingers all point to Day, who just wants to find a cure for the plague and his family. But now the perfect soldier is out for blood, until she realises that she’s hunting the wrong prey and there are terrible secrets that the Republic she was groomed to serve may be hiding.

June and Day are both deadly, snarky and motivated by their families (either to save or avenge them!). While June is at the top of her class, Day has managed to give the government the slip forever, so when these two finally come together and military tactics are combined with street smarts, the corrupt forces around them better watch out!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 25, 2019

Six revenge thrillers featuring female protagonists

As a child Kate Kessler seemed to have a knack for finding trouble, and for it finding her. A former delinquent, Kessler now prefers to write about trouble rather than cause it, and spends her days writing about why people do the things they do. She lives in New England with her husband.

Kessler's latest thriller is Seven Crows.

At CrimeReads, she tagged six favorite revenge thrillers featuring female protagonists, including:
Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Jane’s a fabulous sociopath with one thing on her mind—avenge the death of the only true friend she’s ever had. That means taking down the man Jane holds responsible for her friend’s suicide. Jane’s intent isn’t to simply end the SOB—that’s too quick and easy. No, Jane’s going to ruin him and make him suffer. This book hits all the high notes and builds to a truly satisfying conclusion. I absolutely adored Jane. I rooted for her and wished her well on the last page. There’s a sequel coming out soon and I simply can’t wait.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Twenty great espionage novels

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged "twenty great titles are suffused with shadowy, smoke-filled subterfuge and high stakes games of national security," including:
William Boyd

A dazzling literary thriller and insightful character study from the author of Any Human Heart, Restless explores both the wartime adventures and peacetime intrigues of Russian émigré Eva Delectorskaya. Written with typical subtlety and nuance by Boyd, this is a spellbinding meditation on buried secrets and identities, and a top notch spy story to boot.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Restless is among Henry Hemming's ten top books about fake news and Samuel Muston's ten best spy novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six great amateur sleuth series for readers over twenty

Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, including The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street.

At CrimeReads, White tagged six series for "fans of [Nancy Drew] who might want to read books with a similar vein without raiding their tween’s bookshelves." One entry on the list:
Penn Cage, created by Greg Isles

We move across the Atlantic to the southern United States (Mississippi) for my next recommendation. There’s something about the Deep South that lends itself well to a book about murder in a gothic setting. Maybe it’s the sultry heat that keeps tempers and old resentments hopping, or perhaps the layers of history that continue to intrude into the present. Regardless, Isles does a remarkable job of plopping his readers right into the middle of uncomfortable situations, making them sweat alongside his characters.

Although Iles introduces prosecutor/novelist/Natchez mayor Penn Cage in previous books, the trilogy starting with Natchez Burning is the first where he plays the main protagonist. The story centers around his beloved physician father who has been harboring a dangerous secret—a secret worth killing for. Penn must wrestle between revealing the unearthed truths, and duty to his father.

These are big books, with luscious writing, intricate plot lines, and richly drawn characters. These aren’t for casual, quick reading—but for those times readers are lucky enough to find extended periods of time to devote to an immersive read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Top ten books about the dark

Tiffany Francis-Baker is a writer, artist and environmentalist from the South Downs in Hampshire. With a mixed background in the arts, rural heritage and conservation, her work is fuelled by a love for the natural world and a passion for protecting it. She writes and illustrates for national publications and has appeared on BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4.

Francis-Baker's new book is Dark Skies: A Journey into the Wild Night.

At the Guardian, she tagged ten favorite books about the dark, including:
Acquainted with the Night: Excursions Through the World After Dark by Christopher Dewdney

The Canadian author takes his reader on a beautifully woven journey through our relationship with the night, from science and art to storytelling and anthropology, examining our love for sunsets, fireworks, astronomy, nightclubs, sleep and bedtime stories. His writing is engaging and poetic, speckled with comedic anecdotes and rich in detail. Part fact, part philosophy, this is the perfect read for sleepless nights.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven contemporary monster books written by women

Mallory O’Meara is the author of The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick.

O’Meara hosts the literary podcast Reading Glasses alongside filmmaker and actress Brea Grant.

At she tagged "seven fantastically creepy monster books written by (or edited by) women to frighten up your season," including:
Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

If you want your horror hard-boiled, Cassandra Khaw’s British Fantasy and Locus award nominated novella will give you all the monsters and noir you crave. A private investigator is hired by a ten year old to kill his horrible and abusive step-father. Only the investigator isn’t quite human. He soon realizes that this investigation will be more complicated than he thought. See, the step-father isn’t quite human either. This short book dives into what exactly makes a monster. It’s gory, weird and absolutely incredible.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Nine glamorous women in crime fiction

Erica Wright's new novel is Famous in Cedarville.

At CrimeReads she tagged some of her "favorite mysteries [that] combine a bit of glitz with their murders, showing us how bright lights can cast the darkest shadows," including:
The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye’s meticulously researched historical novel creates not one but two riveting, dark timelines. In the first (mostly unglamorous) one, we find our chameleon-like protagonist Alice getting caught up in gruesome early twentieth century, Harlem mobster business. After being shot, she flees by train to Portland, Oregon where she lands at the Paragon Hotel modeled after the real Golden West Hotel. The Paragon caters to an African-American clientele, offering an elegant sanctuary from a violently segregated city. Alice befriends a Josephine Baker-type performer, and many scenes are downright Gatsbyesque in their luxuries. The glitter only emphasizes the tenuous, dangerous circumstances of the Paragon guests, though.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven top works of science fiction & fantasy by black authors

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged eleven top works of science fiction & fantasy by black authors, including:
Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Marlon James

Already tipped for prize lists in 2019, Marlon James’s follow-up to his Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fever-pitched combination of magic, myth and history pitched as ‘an African Game of Thrones’ by the Guardian. The first in a trilogy, set in an alternate world founded on brutal power struggles, it’s a thrilling ride.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is among Ross Johnson's six SFF novels inspired by the worlds of Africa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 21, 2019

Five books where gods walk the Earth

L. Penelope's books include the Earthsinger Chronicles: Song of Blood & Stone, Whispers of Shadow & Flame, and the forthcoming Cry of Metal & Bone.

At she tagged five novels where gods walk the Earth, including:
The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

This standalone urban fantasy/sci-fi novel is wildly original and fresh, with a large cast of characters and a story you haven’t seen before. When Sydney, an ancient demigoddess who’s fallen on hard times, discovers that a new drug on the streets unlocks the true inner selves of humans, she figures out a way to use this to get her powers back. It’s up to a ten-year-old girl (also a demigoddess), a teenage boy, a sentient robot, a pop star, and a politician to save their land from this growing evil. The god figure who creates humanity is by turns nefarious predator and gentle old man. Throw in some mind control and a robot uprising, and you have the recipe for a story that is hard to forget.

The idea that both belief and fear are powerful fuel for the gods is explored in the different ways the two goddesses gain power. Early on, as young Nomvula is taught about her powers, she learns that gods, “achieve immortality through their followers, through belief. Likewise, they can draw intense power through fear, though the effects are short-lived.”

Throughout the story, each character experiences an extensive transformation—often internal and external—and by the final battle it’s evident that the difference between gods and men is flimsier than we’d like to think.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Daniel Mendelsohn's 6 all-time favorite books

Daniel Mendelsohn teaches at Bard and is Editor-at-Large at The New York Review of Books. His books include An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic (2017); The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (2006); How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken: Essays (2008), and Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture (2012). His latest book is Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones.

At The Week magazine he tagged six all-time favorite books, including:
Emma by Jane Austen (1815).

For me, the Box Hill picnic — the scene where Emma humiliates Miss Bates — is a key moment in English literature: a masterful example of how perfect command of a narrative can lead to almost unbearable emotion. It never fails to make me actually wince.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Emma is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best wines in literature, and among Lucy Worsley's six best books, Sophie Kinsella's six best books, Tanya Byron's six best books, Judith Martin's five favorite novels, and Monica Ali's ten favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Nine crime novels set amid disasters

At CrimeReads, crime fiction maven J. Kingston Pierce tagged nine books that "have combined bona fide historical tragedies with invented misdeeds and mysteries, the disasters often complicating the detection," including:
The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor (2017)

Over five days in early September 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed England’s capital, gutting its medieval core and pushing tens of thousands of people out onto the streets. Amazingly, only a handful of residents were recorded as having been killed during that conflagration. In Taylor’s tale, one of the men watching flames consume St. Paul’s Cathedral is James Marwood, a beleaguered junior government clerk and the son of a republican who lost everything when Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth crumbled and Charles II restored the monarchy in 1660. Spotting a boy too close to the blaze, Marwood tries to pull him away—realizing only too late that “he” is in fact a quick-tempered teenage girl, who bites him on the hand for his trouble and then filches his cloak. It turns out, that hellion is Catherine “Cat” Lovett, the daughter of a once-powerful religious extremist, who dreams of becoming an architect and escaping an arranged marriage. What links these two protagonists is not simply their families’ inimical relationships with the English throne, but the discovery, in the rubble of St. Paul’s, of a dead man—stabbed and left with his thumbs laced together. Marwood is presently dragooned into investigating this homicide, as well as later atrocities, while political turmoil threatens to devastate the city as surely as any inferno. Taylor shows an assiduous researcher’s touch in re-creating ruined London, though his skill at making us care about two lead players damaged and adrift among forces beyond their control may be yet more estimable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The five best books to decode the language of politics

Jess Phillips is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley since 2015. She is the author of Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on B.S.

At the Guardian, Phillips tagged five of the best books about parliament and the life of working politicians, including:
[T]here is no work of literature that reflects better the political language I grew with than The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾. This wild and extended family talked of politics in the way my family did in the Thatcher era. Political books are so often written from the perspective of the politicians, not from the point of view of the people. Sue Townsend’s books are overtly political and represent the language of my constituents better than any lofty diary ever could. As Adrian says: “Mrs Thatcher has got eyes like a psychotic killer, but a voice like a gentle person. It is a bit confusing.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top books for scary-story season

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged eight suspenseful stories to tide you over until Halloween, including:
The Chestnut Man, by Soren Sveistrup

Scandinavian thriller fans, meet: the Chestnut Man. In Copenhagen, he is killing seemingly at whim, leaving behind tokens of his villainy in the form of dolls made of matchsticks and chestnuts. When fingerprints are found on one of the dolls, a team of detectives with an axe to grind must team up and find the killer. What you think is a straight procedural murder mystery is full of layers and depth—with a female detective at the helm, and an ending that will almost shock the life out of you.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 18, 2019

Ten crime books with supernatural elements and fun

Max Booth III is the author of several novels, including Carnivorous Lunar Activities.

At CrimeReads he tagged "ten crime books that a) feature supernatural elements and b) are a shitload of fun." One title on the list:
Duane Swierczynski, Secret Dead Men (2005)

On top of having a very intimidating surname, Duane Swierczynski has also managed to pen some of the best crime novels of the last decade (I’m looking at you, Revolver). Comic book fans will no doubt recognize his byline among various titles like Birds of Prey, Moon Knight, Cable, and so forth. His debut novel, Secret Dead Men, came out nearly fifteen years ago. As of this writing, it’s no longer in print, and it’s a goddamn shame. This is a story about Del Farmer, a dead man disguised as an FBI agent. He also collects souls and stores them in his Brain Hotel, where there’s plenty of booze and even a bartender. This guy, Del, he can drive a soul just as well as you can drive a Datsun. It’s impressive, the strength of Swierczynski’s writing even back in his first book. There’s a reason he’s considered one of the best in the game today. He can take a premise as silly as Secret Dead Men and make it work. Nothing here reads as farfetched. It all feels genuine—and awesome. If you come across a used copy, scoop it up while you can.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Twenty-one titles for fans of HBO’s "Succession"

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged twenty-one books for fans of HBO’s Succession, including:
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

A teenage girl falling in love is a simple story. A girl in 1900’s Japan falling for a married man, and then getting pregnant…isn’t simple at all. The saga in Pachinko is tragic and hopeful; Sunja decides to marry a traveling minister, turning away from what her family believes is honorable and the powerful influence of her son’s father. Her choice has an impact on generations to come, turning a not-so-simple story into a beloved, award-winning epic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pachinko is among six books Jia Tolentino recommends.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ten top lighthouses in fiction

Nicholas Royle is the author of seven novels, two novellas and three volumes of short fiction​. He has edited twenty anthologies of short stories. Reader in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and head judge of the Manchester Fiction Prize, he also runs Nightjar Press, publishing original short stories as signed, limited-edition chapbooks.

At the Guardian, Royle tagged his top ten lighthouses in fiction. One title on the list:
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

To the Lighthouse with guns. All the action Woolf left out ended up in this first part of VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, published in 2014. Four female scientists are transported into an abandoned landscape, Area X, where they face treachery and constant danger. A distant lighthouse represents the possibility of escape. Essentially the record of a really, really bad trip, this is much, much better than the film.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five titles about the horror of girlhood

Damien Angelica Walters is the author of The Dead Girls Club, forthcoming in December 2019, Cry Your Way Home, Paper Tigers, and Sing Me Your Scars, winner of This is Horror’s Short Story Collection of the Year.

At she tagged five "books that delve into the secrets and darkness of girlhood," including:
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

In horror, evil children are as much a staple as a final girl, but Zoje Stage breathes new life into the trope with her debut novel.

From the outside, the Jensen family looks perfect. Alex, the father, owns his own architectural firm and Suzette is a stay-at-home mother who home-schools their daughter. Hanna, at seven, is mute, but medical tests reveal no underlying reason for her silence.

But from the time she’s a toddler, there’s something obviously wrong about Hanna. One of her favorite games is called “Scare Mommy,” and we find out that she wants her mother dead so she can live happily ever after with her father. Hanna torments her mother in small and large ways, from writing bad words instead of her spelling assignments, to stealing Suzette’s favorite earrings, to tampering with the medication she takes for her Crohn’s disease. But when Hanna’s father gets home from work, she’s all smiles for him.

The chapters from Suzette’s point of view are filled with frustration, sorrow, and rage as she tries to mother her unlovable child. Those from Hanna’s side of the fence are chilling. She wants her father all to herself and is willing to do anything to achieve that goal.

A healthy relationship between mother and child is one of comfort and guidance, but of her mother Hanna thinks “She was a good opponent.” I found myself horrified at how manipulative and cruel this young girl could be and at the same time, horrified at how callous Suzette could be in turn, yet I couldn’t entirely blame her.

I think the true horror is that there’s no possible way the story will have a happy ending for everyone. Both girlhood and motherhood are irrevocably twisted out of shape. And Hanna, in her youth, doesn’t seem to understand that, although she can manipulate the people around her as much as she can, that’s the only tool she really has. Since she’s a child, the decisions that will shape the course of her life are ultimately not hers to make. I was filled with loathing and pity both for her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Baby Teeth is among Sally Hepworth's eight messed up fictional families.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Five of the best books on the power of banks

Grace Blakeley is a Research Fellow at IPPR’s Centre for Economic Justice. She specializes in macroeconomic policy, with a particular focus on finance.

Blakeley's new book is Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation.

At the Guardian she tagged the five best books on the power of banks, including:
Capitalism is ... not simply an economic system, but a social and political one, too. As Astra Taylor observes in Democracy May Not Exist But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, the principles of democracy – solidarity, interdependence and community – have been corrupted by the logic of financial capitalism: greed, exploitation and ruthless competition. As the elite uses its power to tilt the rules of the game to its advantage, Taylor calls for a radical rethink not just of capitalism, but of democracy. The only way to solve the crisis in capitalism is for the interests of those who live from work to trump those of people who live off wealth.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 14, 2019

Six of Randall Munroe's favorite books

Randall Munroe is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers What If? and Thing Explainer, the science question-and-answer blog What If, and the popular webcomic xkcd. A former NASA roboticist, he left the agency in 2006 to draw comics on the internet full-time.

Munroe's new book is How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems.

One of six favorite books the author recommended at The Week magazine:
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (2016).

I picked up this book one afternoon and ended up reading it in a single sitting, which I haven't done in a long time. It gave me perspective I didn't know I was missing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Evicted is among Maris Kreizman and Angela Ledgerwood's 25 best books of 2016.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven titles about how impeachment works

Jeff Somers is the author of Writing Without Rules, the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Reads he tagged eleven books to help you make sense of the impeachment process, including:
Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide, by Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein is a recognized expert on the subject of impeachment—he gave expert testimony during Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings in 1998—and his book is an excellent overview of the mechanism, purpose, and results of the process. Sunstein explains that the Founders—particularly Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin—considered it vital that a democracy have a way to remove a chief executive if a good reason to do so was extant, and insisted that impeachment be part of the new government. The author goes on to review the impeachment proceedings against both Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton. Writing in an accessible and down-to-earth style, Sunstein tells you everything you need to about the process, and provides insights drawn from his own experiences with it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Ten of the best music biographies

Holly George-Warren is a two-time Grammy nominee and the award-winning author of sixteen books, including the New York Times bestseller The Road to Woodstock (with Michael Lang, 2014) and the new biography Janis: Her Life and Music (2019).

She is also the author of A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man (2014), Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry (2007), The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years (2009), Bonnaroo: What, Which, This, That, the Other (2012), Cowboy! How Hollywood Invented the Wild West (2002), Punk 365 (2007), Grateful Dead 365 (2008); and the children's books Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country & Western Music (2006), Shake, Rattle & Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll (2001), and The Cowgirl Way (2010).

One of George-Warren's ten favorite music biographies, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The One: The Life and Music of James Brown by RJ Smith

I read this fascinating account of James Brown’s turbulent life before starting a biography of Alex Chilton, and the deep background on Brown’s ancestors in Georgia inspired me to try to dig up Chilton family history in Mississippi. Smith’s writing on the Godfather of Soul’s music–including “the one,” the funk beat he invented–is sharp, while the story of his career ups and downs is mesmerizing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue