Friday, January 31, 2020

Ten top books about the human cost of war

Maaza Mengiste is a novelist and essayist. She is the author of a new book, The Shadow King, called “a brilliant novel … compulsively readable” by Salman Rushdie. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by The Guardian as one of the ten best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and other publications.

At the Guardian, Mengiste tagged ten titles that provided her "with a vocabulary to conceive anew what it means to be a soldier, to be a woman, to be in conflict with a force greater than oneself." One book on the list:
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

Set near the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war in 2001, Forna’s gripping novel examines its aftermath in the lives of her characters. The novel opens with a dying man telling a story about a past love, before the narrative branches into other voices counting the many ways that violence devastates a human being. Forna asks us to look at her characters and see not deadened beings but people who, in spite of their losses, insist on the possibilities of a new existence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Seven crime novels where murder is a group activity

C. J. Tudor is the author of the newly released The Other People as well as The Hiding Place and The Chalk Man, which won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel and the Strand Magazine Award for Best Debut Novel. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over artist, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. She lives in England with her partner and daughter.

At CrimeReads, Tudor tagged seven "books where murder is not a solo event but a shared experience," including [spoiler alert]:
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Millicent and her husband have it all: beautiful family, lovely home, and many happy years of marriage. But things have gotten a little stale in their relationship. So, what’s a couple to do to spice things up? Murder people together, of course.

Here is a husband so thoroughly devoted to his partner that he’s happy to indulge his wife’s darkest desires. From stalking potential victims to figuring out how to dispose of a body, Millicent’s husband will do whatever it takes to keep his beloved satisfied.

Well, almost. Even devotion has a line and when it’s crossed, husband and wife find that ‘till death do us part’ may be the only way out of their homicidal wedded bliss.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Lovely Wife is among Lisa Levy's top seven psychological thrillers with manipulative male narrators, Kaira Rouda's top seven literary couples whose relationships are deeply disturbing in the most fascinating ways possible, and Margot Hunt's top five villains who have had about enough of domestic life.

The Page 69 Test: My Lovely Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Nine titles celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

At Electric Lit Diana London tagged nine books that celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., including:
Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

The poems of Danez Smith will leave you altered. Don’t Call Us Dead leaves readers with a deeper, more dimensional understanding of what motivated Dr. King and what motivates his successors to fight for what’s right. With lines like this one (from “Summer, Somewhere”),“we asked for nothing but our names / in a mouth we’ve known / for decades,” each stanza of these poems insists that we look directly at the injustice that’s become synonymous with our nation’s name, reminds us that “our decades betrayed us.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Twenty great contemporary love stories

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged twenty great contemporary love stories, including:
Bel Canto
Ann Patchett

Utilising a hostage siege in a Latin American embassy to interrogate ideas of loyalty, belonging and love, Patchett’s Orange Prize-winning masterpiece is a triumph of nuanced characterisation and storytelling craft. With a keen eye for the vagaries of human relationships and the complexities of communication, Bel Canto is a beautifully realised modern classic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Bel Canto is among Nicole Holofcener’s ten favorite books, Jenny Shank's top five fabulous works of fiction for musicians, Jeff Somers's top five novels set in a single pressure cooker location, Tatjana Soli's six favorite books that conjure exotic locales, Kathryn Williams's six top novels set in just one place, Dell Villa's top eight books to read when you’re in the mood to cry for days, John Mullen's ten best birthday parties in literature, and Joyce Hackett's top ten musical novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven true crime titles for domestic-suspense lovers

Lisa Levy is a columnist and contributing editor at LitHub and CrimeReads. She is the former EIC of crime fiction site The Life Sentence and the former Mystery/Noir editor at the LA Review of Books.

At CrimeReads Levy tagged seven "remarkable true stories ... interrogating what we think we know about those closest to us, those who are supposed to care or watch out for us, those who are supposed to protect us." One title on the list:
The Good Nurse, by Charles Graeber

This is by far the most chilling of these books, which have at their core some sense of family or community. The, well, bad nurse of the title is Charles Cullen who has been called “America’s most prolific serial killer.” Cullen killed at least 400 people in his 16-year career as a nurse. Graeber does a scary good job of getting inside Cullen’s head. Whenever people got suspicious of him at one hospital, he’d move on, working at nine overall. He knew how to use the law, and people’s naivety, to his advantage. As Graeber was the only journalist Cullen would talk to, a kind of relationship, maybe even a friendship, forms there as well, heightening the creep factor.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 27, 2020

Five top novels set in the 18th century

Laura Shepherd-Robinson has a BSc in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. She worked in politics for nearly twenty years before re-entering normal life to complete an MA in Creative Writing at City University. She lives in London with her husband, Adrian.

Blood & Sugar, her first novel, won the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown, was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month, and a Guardian and Telegraph novel of the year. It was also shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and the Sapere Historical Dagger; and the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Best Debut Novel.

At the Waterstones blog, Shepherd-Robinson shared five of her favorite novels set in the 18th century, including:
Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos

Written in 1782, in pre-revolutionary France, this classic novel immerses the reader in the world of the French aristocracy in the years before the guillotine fell. That this book has inspired so many film and theatre adaptations (including 1999’s Cruel Intentions, which I love) is a testament to its compelling characters and timeless themes: desire, revenge, love, and deceit. Written in epistolary form, an exchange of letters between the Marquis de Merteuil and her friend, the Vicomte de Valmont, the plot centres upon the schemes and machinations of these two delightfully depraved characters. The Marquis enlists the help of Valmont to seduce the young bride of an ex-lover, whilst she assists him in seducing the famously chaste Presidente de Tourvel, a highly religious woman. The writing is a treat, knowing and witty, and the characters, especially the women, are creatures of fascinating complexity and nuanced motive.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses also appears on Heinz Helle’s top ten list of novels featuring hateful characters, Jonathan Grimwood's top ten list of French Revolution novels, Helena Frith Powell's top ten list of sexy French books, H.M. Castor's top ten list of dark and haunted heroes and heroines, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best lotharios in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Top books about blended families

At the Guardian, Brett Kahr tagged a number of books helpful for understanding blended families.

One title on the list:
The psychologist Patricia Papernow has produced a lucid tract on Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships: What Works and What Doesn’t, which offers sensible insights.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Ten books about the mysterious world of audiophiles

Luke Geddes's new novel is Heart of Junk.

At CrimeReads he tagged "ten of the many mystery and mystery-tinged books about audiophiles," including:
Do Not Sell at Any Price by Amanda Petrusich

The title of this nonfiction book refers to 78rpm records so singular in their rarity that they are literally priceless. Petrusich embeds herself with a cadre of deeply committed collectors as they follow leads and resort to Indiana Jones levels of ingenuity to track down and recover records as rare as Biblical artifacts. One memorable incident involves a scuba expedition in Grafton, Wisconsin. But the collectors’ aim is ultimately less hoardery and more altruistic; they digitize and preserve the historical recordings, many of which have survived only in quantities of one. In light of the Universal Studios fire that allegedly destroyed more than a hundred-thousand priceless master recordings from artists as diverse and important as Buddy Holly, Blackstreet, the Carter Family, Rosemary Clooney, and Lionel Essrog’s beloved Prince—among many, many others—their work feels all the more heroic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marhal Zeringue

Friday, January 24, 2020

Five hilarious books by women

Josh Gondelman is a writer and comedian who incubated in Boston before moving to New York City, where he currently lives and works as a writer and producer for Desus & Mero on Showtime. Previously, he spent five years at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, first as a web producer and then as a staff writer. He’s also the author of the essay collection Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results. In 2016, he made his late night standup debut on Conan (TBS), and he has also performed on Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC) and The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS).

At Electric Lit, Gondelman tagged five "favorite funny essay collections by women," including:
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None Of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

Scaachi writes alternatingly with hilarious scathing fury and equally hilarious aggrieved tenderness. It’s amazing to see the way she turns her laser focused prose from wrath at the world’s sexism to her intense love of her niece to her bemused frustration with her parents in quick and powerful succession. What a joy to read the work of someone in total command of her voice, you know?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Five books about murder all in the family

Tiffany Tsao's new novel is The Majesties.

At CrimeReads she tagged "five tales featuring family murdering family, or family members who end up murdering someone else." One title on the list:
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

A bleak novel about a lazy, incompetent spy. After years of living undercover as a “shopkeeper” (read: pornography seller) in London, Verloc is finally mobilized by his government—the country is never named, but it’s totally Russia—to commit a terrorist act. His mission is to blow up the Royal Observatory. But instead of placing the bomb himself, he enlists his intellectually disabled brother-in-law, Stevie, to do so. When Stevie trips en route, he sets off the bomb and is instantly killed. A police investigation follows, sending Verloc into a panic. But Verloc’s unintentional murder of Stevie isn’t the only death by loved one that occurs. Unrelentingly dark and cynical, this book leaves no illusions or ideals intact by its grim end.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Secret Agent is among Alan Burdick's ten top books about time, Heinz Helle’s top ten novels featuring hateful characters, Neel Mukherjee's top ten books about revolutionaries, Jason Burke's five books on Islamic militancy, Iain Sinclair's five novels on the spirit and history of London, Dan Vyleta's top ten books in second languages, Jessica Stern's five best books on who terrorists are, Adam Thorpe's top ten satires, and on John Mullan's list of ten of the best professors in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Top ten political travel books

Edward Platt was born in 1968 and lives in London. His first book, Leadville, won a Somerset Maugham Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He is also the author of The Great Flood which explores the way floods have shaped the physical landscape of Britain, and The City of Abraham, a journey through Hebron, the only place in the West Bank where Palestinians and Israelis lived side by side.

At the Guardian, Platt tagged ten favorite political travel books, including:
The Jaguar Smile by Salman Rushdie

Rushdie visited Nicaragua during July 1986, when the Sandinista government was battling to survive in the face of hostility from the US and the US-sponsored Contra rebels. Since he was a patron of the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign in London, he was not “a wholly neutral observer”. He was dismayed by the censorship in force, but “el escritor hindú”, as he was called, could not bring himself to condemn a government led by a poet, Daniel Ortega. Rushdie’s “postcards” from Nicaragua, as he calls this record of his trip, were once an insight into a venture that failed. But since Ortega won power again in 2011 and 2016, their historical significance has changed again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight thrillers about women in the workplace

Lisa Levy is a columnist and contributing editor at LitHub and CrimeReads. She is the former EIC of crime fiction site The Life Sentence and the former Mystery/Noir editor at the LA Review of Books.

At CrimeReads Levy tagged eight thrillers focused on women in the workplace, including:
Megan Abbott, Give Me Your Hand (Little Brown)

Abbott always dives deep into her settings: cheerleading in Dare Me; gymnastics in You Will Know Me; the less than fatale femmes of Hollywood in Die a Little; and a research lab led by a prominent doctor in Give Me Your Hand. Two former friends and classmates, Kit and Diane, are both chomping to work on the cure for a women’s disease under the eminent Dr. Severin. But Diane knows a secret about Kit that could destroy them both, and the project they are so eager to be a part of.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Give Me Your Hand is among Layne Fargo's eight top thrillers featuring ambitious women, Allison Dickson's ten thrillers featuring a dance of girlfriends and deception and Carl Vonderau's nine notable moral compromises in crime fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Six top books with unreliable narrators

Catherine Steadman is an actress and author based in North London, UK. Her debut novel, Something in the Water, has become a New York Times bestseller published in thirty countries with film rights optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine. As an actress, she has appeared in leading roles on British and American television as well as on stage in the West End, where she was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award. She grew up in New Forest, UK, and lives with a small dog and a fairly tall man.

Steadman's new novel in the U.S. is Mr. Nobody.

At The Week magazine she tagged six of her favorite books that feature unreliable narrators. One title on the list:
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).

Another confessional novel, one whose narrator tries to explain how and why he murdered a man named Clare Quilty — and in the process confesses to more devastating crimes and desires.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lolita appears on Leo Benedictus's top ten list of evil narrators, Juno Dawson's best banned books list, Jo Nesbø's six favorite books list, Emily Temple's list of ten essential road trip books that aren’t On the Road, Olivia Sudjic's list of eight favorite books about love and obsession, Jeff Somers's list of five best worst couples in literature, Brian Boyd's ten best list of Vladimir Nabokov books, Billy Collins' six favorite books list, Charlotte Runcie's list of the ten best bad mothers in literature, Kathryn Williams's list of fifteen notable works on lust, Boris Kachka's six favorite books list, Fiona Maazel's list of the ten worst fathers in books, Jennifer Gilmore's list of the ten worst mothers in books, Steven Amsterdam's list of five top books that have anxiety at their heart, John Banville's five best list of books on early love and infatuation, Kathryn Harrison's list of favorite books with parentless protagonists, Emily Temple's list of ten of the greatest kisses in literature, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lakes in literature, Dan Vyleta's top ten list of books in second languages, Rowan Somerville's top ten list of books of good sex in fiction, Henry Sutton's top ten list of unreliable narrators, Adam Leith Gollner's top ten list of fruit scenes in literature, Laura Hird's literary top ten list, Monica Ali's ten favorite books list, Laura Lippman's 5 most important books list, Mohsin Hamid's 10 favorite books list, and Dani Shapiro's 10 favorite books list. It is Lena Dunham's favorite book.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 20, 2020

Seven novels featuring the unapologetic woman in the Gothic

Kim Taylor Blakemore's new novel, The Companion, is her adult debut in historical mystery.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven books that represent the transformation of the Gothic heroine from victim to strong and dangerous, including:
The Weight of Lies, by Emily Carpenter

In Emily Carpenter’s modern-day gothic, a mother, Frances Ashley, writes a horror novel that becomes a bestseller – and may or may not be true. Her daughter Meg lives in the shadow of her mother’s fame, not able to find her own way. Meg is offered a contract to write a tell-all book about her mother and the book, Kitten. Meg sees this as a way to break off completely with her mother, and jets off to Bonny Island, a long, low, isolated island of the southern eastern seaboard with one run-down hotel, a band of wild horses, and the real-life woman Frances Ashley accused of murder in her novel. Doro Kitchens—the Kitten to the cultish readers of the book—might or might not have murdered another girl when she was young. Meg is soon entangled in the secrets and stories of the island, in the said and unsaid, in the lies and delusions of Doro Kitchens. The twists come fast and furious, and the overarching dread is as thick as the humid air.
The Weight of Lies is among Wendy Webb's eight best modern gothic mysteries.

Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Eleven of the best books under the bigtop

At Electric Lit, intern McKayla Coyle tagged eleven of the best books about the circus, including:
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

In turn-of-the-century Coney Island, young Coralie lives with her father above a museum of oddities. When Coralie’s father begins displaying her in the museum as a mermaid, she forms bonds with the other so-called freaks on display. One night, while out for a swim, Coralie happens upon a young Russian immigrant with a camera and quickly becomes embroiled in a mystery involving a missing girl and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that sets Coralie’s life into motion.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Five books to better understand the British royal family

At the Guardian, Kathryn Hughes tagged five books to understand the British royal family. including:
Before she married into the royal family, Meghan Markle had her own lifestyle website called The Tig. Those who saw it before she shut it down in 2017 will remember her “badass reading list” which included Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. The novella’s fox is the character with whom Markle identifies most and who tells the Prince: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Little Prince is among Judy Wajcman's top five books to get to a grip on the pace of life, Rosa Rankin-Gee's top ten novellas about love, Viv Groskop's ten best fictional royal babies, Christopher Clark's five top books on unusual journeys, the best literary quotes ever tattooed, Simon Callow's six best books, Sita Brahmachari's top 10 books that take you travelling, Maria Popova's seven essential books on optimism, and Dalia Sofer's most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 17, 2020

Ten novels that evoke a childhood of curiosity and sleuthing

Laura Elliot was born in Dublin, Ireland. She lives in Malahide, a picturesque, coastal town on the north side of Dublin. Writing as June Considine, she has twelve books for children and young adults. Her short stories have appeared in a number of teenage anthologies and have also been broadcast on the radio. She has also worked as a journalist and magazine editor. Elliot's novels include, most recently, The Wife Before Me and The Thorn Girl.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten novels that evoke a childhood of curiosity and sleuthing, including:
Night of the Werewolf by Franklin W. Dixon

This was my introduction to the Hardy brothers, Frank and Joe. A hair-raising mystery with horror undertones, I was hooked. The brothers made their debut in 1927 and have undergone many manifestations in the almost-century since then. Still selling strongly, the characters were originally created by the American writer Edward Stratemeyer. The series would later continue under the authorship of several ghost writers, all sharing the pen-name, Franklin W. Dixon, but Stratemeyer must have been one of the most prolific writers in the world, producing in excess of 1,300 books and selling in excess of 500 million copies.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top books with family secrets

At The Strand Magazine Jason Allen tagged his seven top novels "featuring complex characters and narratives that are masterfully crafted around lies and family secrecy for a powerful effect," including:
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr – While most people know this novel as a WWII epic, I see the storyline between six-year-old Marie-Laure, one of the two young protagonists, and her father, as a profound statement of love that evolves for the reader as the father lies and keeps secrets from his daughter. He not only trains her to see once she is completely blind—similar to how Roberto Benigni’s character does for the child in the film Life is Beautiful—he distracts Marie-Laure from the impending German invasion with sublime and intricately fabricated details of the world he wishes his daughter could continue to inhabit. Life for Marie-Laure, he knows, is hard enough without her having to sit in constant panic prior to their inevitable flight from their home. This novel is panoptic and multifaceted (it even includes fake precious gems, decoys away from the one true treasure), and is fraught with secrecy and lies that are spawned from a wide spectrum of motivations, not the least of which is love.
Read about the other entries on the list.

All the Light We Cannot See is among Whitney Scharer's top ten books about Paris, David Baldacci's six favorite books with an element of mystery, Jason Flemyng's six best books, Sandra Howard's six best books, Caitlin Kleinschmidt's twelve moving novels of the Second World War and Maureen Corrigan's 12 favorite books of 2014.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Seven books about surviving political and environmental disasters

Tochi Onyebuchi is the author of Beasts Made of Night, its sequel Crown of Thunder, War Girls, and Riot Baby, out this month from He has graduated from Yale University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia Law School, and L’institut d’études politiques with a Masters degree in Global Business Law.

At Electric Lit Onyebuchi tagged seven books about surviving political and environmental disasters. One title on the list:
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

In a place where the End of the World is quite literally a seasonal occurrence, Jemisin’s mind-bursting, heart-shattering novel begins with an unthinkable loss. Essun, a woman with the ability to manipulate earth and stone, lives in hiding with her husband and two children. But when one child is violently murdered and the other kidnapped, her world is quite literally riven. Her quest to reclaim her daughter propels this ambitious and ambitiously structured book, as well as the rest of this astounding, accomplished, much-feted trilogy. Catastrophic climate change and racial oppression co-exist here in this novel that dares to ask the question: what good is a monstrous world to those trapped in its maw? Then, more daringly, what if we burned it all down?
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Fifth Season is among Lit Hub's twenty best novels of the decade, Mark Skinner's eleven top works of science fiction & fantasy by black authors and Emily Temple's ten best road trip books. The Broken Earth series is among John Scalzi's six best examples of sci-fi worldbuilding and Joel Cunningham's eleven top sci-fi & fantasy books or series with a powerful message of social justice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four difficult female characters worth celebrating

Louisa Luna is the author of the novels Brave New Girl, Crooked, and Serious As A Heart Attack. She was born and raised in the city of San Francisco and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

Luna's new novel, The Janes, is the second to feature Alice Vega, a private investigator known for finding the missing, and her partner Cap.

At CrimeReads Luna tagged four difficult women characters worth celebrating, including:
Then we have Romy Hall from Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room—Romy is a former stripper incarcerated for killing her stalker. By the sheer act of surviving, Romy proves to be shrewdly resourceful on the inside, even as she is driven crazy with desperation for news of her son. What I remember most about her is her cold reflection on the power dynamic between men and women, and how it changed her: “Something brewed in me over the years I worked at the Mars Room, sitting on laps, deep into this flawed exchange. This thing in me brewed and foamed. And when I directed it—a decision that was never made; instead, instincts took over—that was it.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Top ten books about the troubles in Los Angeles

Steph Cha is the author of Your House Will Pay and the Juniper Song crime trilogy. She’s an editor and critic whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. A native of the San Fernando Valley, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two basset hounds.

At the Guardian, Cha tagged ten top books about the troubles of contemporary Los Angeles, including a few titles that helped her craft Your House Will Pay. One title on the list:
Southland by Nina Revoyr (2003)

When I started working on Your House Will Pay, I hoped to write something that was half as smart and affecting as Southland. Revoyr’s novel takes place in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, following two families – one black, one Japanese – over several decades. It’s a character-driven saga with the engine of a crime novel, unravelling a horrific multiple murder that took place in the chaotic days of the Watts Rebellion in 1965.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven top books about Iran

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged eleven top books on Iran, including:
City of Lies
Ramita Navai

An eye-opening account of ordinary lives lived under the shadow of a repressive regime, City of Lies documents the dangerous, desperate and frequently bizarre activities of eight men and women residents of Tehran. In collating and presenting these testimonies, Navai sheds light on a society all too often hidden from Western eyes.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Kamin Mohammadi's top ten Iranian books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Five novels with incredible child caregivers

Kiley Reid’s new novel is Such a Fun Age.

At LitHub she tagged five novels with incredible child caregivers, including:
Alissa Nutting, Tampa

Twenty-six-year-old Celeste Price is a wife, a teacher, a knockout, and pedophile. Everything she does is a careful transaction. She volunteers herself for an annoyingly far-away classroom, as it will be the least likely to be snooped upon. She marries a fumbling cop who supports her financially and only requires inconsistent yet highly performative sex in return. And she allows a 14-year-old boy one picture of her on his phone, in exchange for their constant and secret sexual encounters. Nutting doesn’t shy away from Celeste’s obsession with the carnal. Celeste’s attraction to sexual abuse, and her preferred lack of emotional connection during these abusive actions, doesn’t detract from her own emotional depth as a character. Nutting depicts a charming predator in a controlled and somehow hilarious tone. There is a haunting paragraph dedicated to the way Celeste likes to eat French fries that I think of far too often.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Tampa is among Amelia Gray's top ten dark books, Tiffany Gibert's ten erotic books hotter and better than Fifty Shades of Grey and Kristi Steffen's top five titles told from the perspective of an extremely disturbed individual you would never want to meet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven novels about Americans of color living abroad

Ruth Minah Buchwald is an intern at Electric Literature.

She tagged seven novels about Americans of color living abroad, including:
Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

Caramelo follows the Reyes’ family’s annual summer road trip from Chicago to Mexico City through the perspective of the youngest daughter and only girl, Lala. Lala’s problems range from dealing with six, rambunctious older brothers to living between borders, but those become minuscule when she discovers her misunderstanding of her grandmother’s life. Cisneros dissects storytelling, tradition, and family in her seventh book, published almost twenty years after The House on Mango Street.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 13, 2020

Seven psychological thrillers with manipulative male narrators

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

At CrimeReads she tagged seven psychological thrillers with manipulative male narrators, including:
Kaira Rouda, Best Day Ever

The narrator of Best Day Ever, Paul Strom, is one of the creepiest protagonists I encountered this year. The novel covers three days in the life of Strom and his wife, Mia, as they travel from their residence in suburban Ohio to their cottage on Lake Erie. Paul promises his wife the best day ever on this trip, but as he narrates their weekend the reader discovers that Paul is not the upright husband, father, and successful ad executive that he pretends to be. He reminisces about his courtship of his wife: “I knew I would do everything in my power to make Mia realize what a catch I was, too. Of course I would succeed, I always do. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it. I’m not bragging, really, I’m just telling you there are some things I’m really good at and this—women—is one of them.” But despite his belief that he has his wife, his sons, and his professional life under control, Paul’s entire existence is going to change over the course of his carefully planned weekend excursion.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Best Day Ever is among Vincent Zandri's top ten affairs that went terribly wrong in true noir fashion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top science books

Chip Walter is an author, journalist, National Geographic Explorer, filmmaker and former CNN bureau chief. He has an unusually broad background that spans both science and entertainment.

Walter’s new book, his fifth, is Immortality, Inc. — Renegade Science, Silicon Valley Billions and the Quest to Live Forever.

At The Week magazine he tagged six great science books, including:
The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan (1977).

Sagan won a Pulitzer Prize for this book about the evolution of human intelligence. He is the master of the "aha" moment, and his profound and refreshing explorations of the brain, sleep, genetics, and concepts like his "Cosmic Calendar" plowed the road for a generation of science writers. A must-read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Five of the best books to widen our worldview

Award-winning broadcaster, Ziya Tong anchored Daily Planet, Discovery Channel's flagship science program until its final season in 2018. Tong also hosted the CBC's Emmy-nominated series ZeD, PBS's national prime-time series, Wired Science, and worked as a correspondent for NOVA scienceNOW alongside Neil deGrasse Tyson on PBS.

She is the author of The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World.

At the Guardian, Tong tagged five of the best books to reveal your blind spots, including:
In the urban jungle, we are bound by different threads: unsleeping algorithms that trawl the internet finding “patterns that are invisible to human eyes”. In Weapons of Math Destruction, Cathy O’Neil lays bare the maths, rules and data that increasingly shape our everyday lives. “Models,” she writes, “are opinions that are embedded in mathematics.” She charts the unchecked growth of these models, and how they are coming to define school admissions, bank loans, mortgages and health insurance – even the ways our societies are policed. Learning how to read between the lines (of code) becomes crucial if we are to unlock their hidden biases.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Lupita Nyong’o’s 10 favorite books

Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan actress and producer. Her first feature film role was in the film 12 Years a Slave, for which she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as multiple accolades, including the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Critics’ Choice Award, the Independent Spirit Award, and the NAACP Award. She has since starred in Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ryan Coogler’s record-breaking box office hit Black Panther, and most recently in Jordan’s Peele’s critically acclaimed horror film Us. Nyong’o earned a Tony nomination for her Broadway debut in Danai Gurira’s play Eclipsed.

Her debut picture book is Sulwe.

One of Nyong’o’s ten favorite books, as shared at
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The book I have read the most times. I love the decadent melancholy of it. I also love the delicate relationship between Gatsby and his unrequited love, Daisy. My favorite sentence from the book is when Daisy says, “What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? And the day after that, and the next thirty years?” Now that is restlessness and privilege if I ever heard it!
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Great Gatsby appears among Christian Blauvelt's five top NYC-set novels that became NYC-set films, Kate Williams's six best books, Jeff Somers's ten best book covers...ever and seven most disastrous parties in fiction, Brian Boone's six "beloved classic novels whose authors nearly cursed with a terrible title," four books that changed C.K. Stead, four books that changed Jodi Picoult, Joseph Connolly's top ten novels about style, Nick Lake’s ten favorite fictional tricksters and tellers of untruths in books, the Independent's list of the fifteen best opening lines in literature, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of five of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books, Elizabeth Wilhide's nine illustrious houses in fiction, Suzette Field's top ten literary party hosts, Robert McCrums's ten best closing lines in literature, Molly Driscoll's ten best literary lessons about love, Jim Lehrer's six favorite 20th century novels, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best clocks in literature and ten of the best misdirected messages, Tad Friend's seven best novels about WASPs, Kate Atkinson's top ten novels, Garrett Peck's best books about Prohibition, Robert McCrum's top ten books for Obama officials, Jackie Collins' six best books, and John Krasinski's six best books, and is on the American Book Review's list of the 100 best last lines from novels. Gatsby's Jordan Baker is Josh Sorokach's biggest fictional literary crush.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 10, 2020

Six novels exploring how we process trauma

Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of several popular young adult novels including the Dark House series, the Touch series, Project 17, Shutter, and Bleed, as well as the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares series.

Her newest novel is Jane Anonymous.

At CrimeReads, Stolarz tagged six novels exploring how (and how long) we process trauma, including:
The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

Agatha is pregnant and works part-time at a grocery store, anxiously awaiting the birth of her child. During her shifts, Agatha looks forward to crossing paths with picture-perfect Meghan, who frequents the store. To Agatha, Meghan has it all: two beautiful children, a handsome husband, an idealistic marriage, a circle of fashionable friends, plus a fabulous job; Meghan writes a funny parenting blog in which she confesses about her daily struggles as a mom. It’s a blog that Agatha reads each night, unbeknownst to Meghan. When Agatha discovers that Meghan is also pregnant, she musters up the courage to initiate a conversation. Little-by-little, Agatha orchestrates her way into Meaghan’s life. But why? Where does her motivation come from? The reader sees how childhood trauma and neglect influence Agatha’s chilling (and heartbreaking) present-day action, motivation, and relationships.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Eight stories about students and teachers behaving badly

Caroline Zancan is the author of the novels Local Girls and We Wish You Luck. She is a graduate of Kenyon College and holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. A Senior Editor at Henry Holt, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their children.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight stories about what really happens on campus, including:
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Prep is the consummate campus novel—its jacket still pops up in my mind like a billboard on an abandoned highway when I consider the genre. I remember being at first puzzled and then completely thrilled upon reading it my senior year of college, that this big, serious novel everyone was talking about didn’t have some epic, winding plot or live or die stakes—it was simply about the interior life of a young girl at a prestigious east coast boarding school who sometimes struggles to make sense of her place in the world, and connect meaningfully with people around her. Yes, there was a pink belt on the jacket, but everything else about the book’s packaging—from its trim size to the Tom Perrotta blurb on the cover—made it clear that it was meant to be taken as more than a beach read or chick-lit despite its young heroine. And rightly so—the journey through this one high school career manages to say meaningful, memorable things about race and class. And I still remember being completely scandalized by that cheese or fish dichotomy! (I’ll avoid expounding not to avoid spoilers, but because as a repressed Catholic school girl I’m already blushing. Just read the book.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

Prep is among Lucy Worsley's six best books and James Browning's ten best boarding school books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top mysteries from the early 20th century

Eliza Casey is a pseudonym for a multipublished author. Her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion.

Her new novel is Lady Takes the Case.

At CrimeReads, Casey tagged ten favorite stories from the early 20th century, including:
The Lord Peter Wimsey series, Dorothy Sayers

I do love the Ian Carmichael series from the “golden age” of “Masterpiece” in the 1970s! (as well as the Sayers books). In these complicated mysteries solved by a complicated character, Lord Peter is eccentric, lighthearted, a bit foppish—but only on the surface, for he suffers from after-effects of his war service, which also helps to make him compassionate and perceptive. Complex plots and fascinating glimpses into English “village life” round it out. (There’s also a great romance later on, with Lord Peter’s university-educated, mystery novel-author love Harriet Vane, a “New Woman” like Lady Cecilia might become!)
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue