Saturday, February 29, 2020

Five nautical SFF novels to read when you’re far from shore

Vanessa Armstrong is a book lover and writer with bylines at the LA Times, SYFY WIRE, and other publications. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog Penny and her husband Jon.

At Armstrong tagged "five books [she's] read at sea that have the ocean as an integral part of their stories," including:
The Mermaid by Christina Henry

Christina Henry is best known for her dark fairy tale retellings. The Mermaid, however, is less grim than her other works and follows Amelia, a mermaid who falls in love with a Maine fisherman and then, when he is taken away from her by the sea, decides to become an attraction in P.T. Barnum’s American Museum in New York City. Amelia is a wonderfully strong character who, as a creature of the ocean, is unburdened by the societal constraints placed on women in the mid-1800s, especially the expectation that she should be quiet and demure in public. She knows who she is, and she knows who she loves, and her story is an engaging yet soothing one that also made my heart ache in the best way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 28, 2020

Seven of the best books about dysfunctional rich families

Joseph Finder is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozan suspense novels.

His latest Nick Heller novel is House on Fire.

At CrimeReads Finder tagged seven of his favorite books about screwed-up rich families. One title on the list:
Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians

An American-born Chinese woman from modest circumstances goes with her boyfriend to Singapore to meet his family—who turn out to be stratospherically rich—in a novel that’s part rom-com and part soap opera with a little Mean Girls thrown in. This is a world of private jets with yoga studios on board and Matisses hanging in the cabins. There’s a controlling mother, blood-curdling snobbery, questionable paternity, vicious gossip, hostile relatives, and lies. It was the basis for a lively 2018 movie adaptation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Ten bone-chilling books featuring fictional pandemics

At BookRiot, Anna Gooding-Call tagged ten fictional pandemics that will make you sweat, including:
The Fireman by Joe Hill

There’s a spore going around that makes people burst into flame. Every day, something new burns: a forest, a hospital, a school, and countless people. Yet there’s a contingent that isn’t burning. They’ve solved the spore’s secret and learned to survive. Of course, that depends on the uninfected leaving them alone…
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Laura Spinney's best books about pandemics and Claudia Gray's five essential books about plagues and pandemics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best books about imaginary friends

Camilla Bruce was born in central Norway and grew up in an old forest, next to an Iron Age burial mound. She holds a master's degree in comparative literature, and has co-run a small press that published dark fairytales. Bruce currently lives in Trondheim with her son and cat.

You Let Me In is her first novel.

At the Guardian, Bruce tagged ten top books about imaginary friends, including:
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Most people are familiar with Joe, his enigmatic friend Tyler Durden and their secret basement clubs, if not from Chuck Palahniuk’s book then from the 90s movie starring Brad Pitt. I may not find the novel as philosophically interesting as many others do, but I think it is a highly entertaining take on an unravelling mind. Joe is a very unreliable narrator, and I questioned absolutely everything by the end, which is just the sort of thing I like.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fight Club is among Catherine Steadman's six favorite books that feature unreliable narrators, Sarah Pinborough's top ten unreliable narrators, Richard Kadrey's top five books about awful, awful people, Chris Moss's top 19 books on how to be a man, E. Lockhart's seven favorite suspense novels, Joel Cunningham's top five books short enough to polish off in an afternoon, but deep enough to keep you thinking long into the night, Kathryn Williams's eight craziest unreliable narrators in fiction, Jessica Soffer's ten best book endings, Sebastian Beaumont's top ten books about psychological journeys, and Pauline Melville's top ten revolutionary tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Eight books that will make you never want to look at your phone again

Kathleen Barber is a former attorney, incurable wanderer, and yoga enthusiast. Originally from Galesburg, Illinois, she is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law. She now lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and son. Her first novel, Truth Be Told (2017, originally published as Are You Sleeping), has been adapted as a series for Apple TV+ by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine media company.

Barber's new novel is Follow Me.

At CrimeReads she tagged "eight books that will make you consider logging off—permanently." One title on the list:
The Hidden Things by Jamie Mason

Not all social media fame is sought-after…and some of it can be downright dangerous, as fourteen-year-old Carly learns after security camera footage of her defending herself against an attacker goes viral. Most viewers focus on Carly’s impressive self-defense moves. Yet, to some members of the criminal element, Carly is not the only thing of interest in the frame. As the video sweeps the country, these dangerous individuals begin circling Carly’s home and soon disrupt the life she knows.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Six SFF books featuring women on the high seas

Adalyn Grace's debut novel is All the Stars and Teeth.

At she tagged six sci-fi & fantasy books featuring women on the high seas, including:
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
“Never underestimate the girls of this world.”
Pitched as Mad Max: Fury Road meets the feminine power of Wonder Woman, Seafire is a feminist pirate book I fell head over heels for. Not only does the action sinks its teeth into you and refuse to let go, but the entire cast is so fresh and the novel is abundant with diversity. Caledonia and her crew are some of the fiercest pirates you’ll ever meet, but they’re also incredibly loyal to one another. It was so refreshing to read a story about a group of young women who love and support one another, and who really try to build each other up. Yes! More of that, please! The Mors Navis crew is one I can definitely get behind, and I’m looking forward to reading more about their adventures in the sequels.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five cozy mystery series set in the Pacific Northwest

Nancy Coco AKA Nancy J Parra AKA Nell Hampton is the author of over 27 published novels which include five mystery series: The Oregon Honey-comb Mystery Series (Kensington), The Candy-Coated Mysteries (Kensington), The Kensington Palace Mystery Series (Crooked Lane), The Wine Country Tours Mystery Series (Crooked Lane) The Gluten-free Baker’s Treat Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), and The Perfect Proposal Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime).

At CrimeReads, Coco tagged five cozy mystery series set in the Pacific Northwest, including:
Another favorite Pacific Northwest series of mine is Tracy Weber’s Downward Dog Mysteries (Midnight Ink), set in Seattle. Murder Likes It Hot is the sixth book in this series where amateur sleuth and Yogi Kate Davidson starts a yoga program at a local resource center for homeless youth, and a center employee is found dead. Kate must set aside her financial woes to delve into the world of teenage homelessness.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 24, 2020

Five books to leave you with hope for humanity

M.K. England is an author and YA librarian who grew up on the Space Coast of Florida and now calls the mountains of Virginia home. When she’s not writing or librarianing, England can be found drowning in fandom, rolling dice at the gaming table, climbing on things in the woods, feeding her video game addiction, or talking way too much about space and science literacy. She loves Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if you never speak of Sherlock Holmes in her presence. You’ll regret it. Her debut novel, The Disasters, is followed by the recently released Spellhacker.

At England tagged five books that leave you with hope for humanity, including:
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason
Courage is the best companion when going into the unknown.
An unusual and unique read with a majorly voicey omniscient narrator. This book gets called “The Princess Bride meets Princess Leia,” and… yeah, actually, that works. It’s a full integration of fairy tale tropes in a spacey science fiction setting. Our hero, Rory, is fiercely smart, has a magical BS meter, and can cook up a political scheme with the best of them. I will never be tired of girls breaking out of the cages they’re born into, and Rory does it with wit, humor, and mountains of courage.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Six books with strong female voices

Allison Pataki is the New York Times bestselling author of The Queen’s Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire, The Traitor’s Wife, The Accidental Empress, Sisi: Empress On Her Own, Where the Light Falls, as well as the nonfiction memoir Beauty in the Broken Places and two children’s books, Nelly Takes New York and Poppy Takes Paris.

At The Week magazine, Pataki tagged six books that feature strong female voices, including:
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (2017).

It took Lee almost 30 years to write this book, and thank goodness she followed through. The result is a stunning saga that follows four generations of a Korean family living in Japan. The writing is so poignant, I felt I could taste and smell the rich world the characters inhabit.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pachinko is among Tara Sonin's twenty-one books for fans of HBO’s Succession and six books Jia Tolentino recommends.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books to make you feel less alone

Andrew Hunter Murray is a writer and comedian. He is one of the writers and researchers behind the BBC show QI and also cohosts the spinoff podcast, No Such Thing as a Fish, which, since 2014, has released 250 episodes, been downloaded 200 million times, and toured the world. It has also spawned two bestselling books, The Book of the Year and The Book of the Year 2018, as well as a BBC Two series No Such Thing as the News. He also writes for Private Eye magazine and hosts the Eye‘s in-house podcast, Page 94, interviewing the country’s best investigative journalists about their work. In his spare time he performs in the Jane Austen–themed improv comedy group Austentatious, which plays in London’s West End and around the UK. The Last Day is his debut novel.

At the Guardian, Murray tagged five of the best books to make you feel less alone, including:
Science fiction has taken human loneliness to new, interstellar heights and depths, and Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness is one of the greatest examples. It’s set in an icy world where individuals have no fixed biological sex; all are hermaphrodites, barring a few days a month when they enter a sexual state and can reproduce. The apparently unapproachable isolation of the narrator – a visiting male human, who is made alien and freakish by his being permanently male in this world – is slowly broken down by a long journey with one of the planet’s citizens, a disgraced politician in fear of his life. Love and the essential interconnectedness between all life forms trump even the species barrier here, and produce something beautiful and strange.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Left Hand of Darkness is among Kelly Jensen's five inhospitable planets in film and fiction, Ann Leckie's ten best science fiction books, Esther Inglis-Arkell's ten most unfilmable books, Jeff Somers's top five sci-fi novels that explore gender in unexpected and challenging ways, Joel Cunningham's top twelve books with the most irresistible titles, Damien Walter's top five science fiction novels for people who hate sci-fi and Ian Marchant's top 10 books of the night. Charlie Jane Anders included it on her list of ten science fiction novels that will never be movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Eight weird literary romances

Amy Bonnaffons's new novel is The Regrets.

At Lit Hub she tagged eight novels of unlikely love, including:
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1994)

This is my favorite book of all time, for many reasons—one of which is the way it depicts love, of even the most ordinary variety, as an underworld journey requiring the stoicism of a detective and the quiet bravery of a monk. When Toru Okada’s cat disappears, followed by his wife Kumiko, he embarks on a quest to find both of them and in the process to figure out where and how things began to go wrong in his marriage.

Along the way he meets many unique characters: psychics, traumatized veterans, a mother-son team named Nutmeg and Cinnamon, a sarcastic teenage girl who leads him to an abandoned well where he’ll battle the dark psychic force of his evil brother-in-law. If this sounds confusing, it is—in the best possible way. The book has the suspense of a detective novel, the dreamlike weirdness of a David Lynch movie, and the earnest beating heart of a simple husband who simply loves his wife (for Murakami, the “simple” is the strangest of all).
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is among KT Tunstall's six best books, Matthew Carl Strecher's ten best Haruki Murakami books and Colette McIntyre's eight books every college-bound student should read.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 21, 2020

Eight contemporary romantic novels

Owen Nicholls is a screenwriter and author. His first novel, Love, Unscripted, was chosen as part of the Escalator Talent Scheme run by the National Centre for Writing.

Nicholls lives in Norfolk, England with his partner and their two sons.

At Electric Lit he tagged eight contemporary novels that will make you believe love is possible, including:
In At The Deep End by Kate Davies

Discovering Julia and her sexual awakening in London was as eye-opening to me as it was to her. And while the main relationship in Davies’s debut deals with a controlling partner, the romance comes in Julia’s discovery of what—and who—she’s looking for when it comes to love. It’s funny and filthy and features some graphic descriptions of other f-words too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six novels where those fighting injustice also happen to be parents

Heather Chavez is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley’s English literature program and has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor and contributor to mystery and television blogs. Currently, she’s employed in public affairs for a major health care organization where she writes human interest stories. She lives with her family in Santa Rosa, California.

No Bad Deed is Chavez's first book.

At CrimeReads she tagged six crime novels in which the protagonist's own family life introduces another wrinkle to the case. One title on the list:
Defending Jacob, William Landay

In this legal thriller, Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber has the respect of his colleagues and a happy domestic life with his wife, Laurie, and their teen son. Then one of Jacob’s classmates is stabbed to death, and Jacob is accused in the crime. The court scenes are realistic and riveting, but it is Andy’s unshakeable defense of his son, and the family’s slow disintegration, that are the emotional core of the story. The chapter Argentina and the climax are standouts in this regard.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Defending Jacob is among Sophie Hnnah's thirteen creepy & dysfunctional families in literature, Hallie Ephron's top ten novels that harness unreliable narrators, Charlie Donlea's top ten slow-burn thrillers, Alafair Burke's six top legal fiction / domestic suspense hybrids, Kate Moretti's eight suspense novels that explore nurture vs. nature and Nicholas Sparks' six top books about family.

The Page 69 Test: Defending Jacob.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ten top random encounters in literature

Will Harris is a writer of mixed Anglo-Indonesian heritage, born and based in London. His debut pamphlet of poems, All this is implied, published by HappenStance in 2017, was joint winner of the London Review Bookshop Pamphlet of the Year and shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award by the National Library of Scotland. Mixed-Race Superman, an essay, was published by Peninsula Press in 2018 and in an expanded edition by Melville House in the US in 2019. His first full poetry collection, RENDANG, is forthcoming from Granta in the UK in February 2020 and from Wesleyan University Press in the US later in the year.

At the Guardian, Harris tagged ten notable random encounters in literature, including:
Ulysses by James Joyce

After some 370 pages charting the “parallel courses” of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom across Dublin, they meet by chance at a maternity hospital on Holles Street. Leopold has gone to check on Mina Purefoy, who is about to give birth. Stephen and his friends are drinking. Their meeting happens in the midst of a potted history of English prose style, with their encounter rendered in the “eftsoons” style of Malory’s Morte d’Arthur – a tale that itself deals with the Grail quest among other strange encounters.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ulysses is on Alex Clark's list of eight top books set over twenty-four hours, Tom McCarthy's lit of six favorite books about nothing, Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on grammar, George Vecsey's list of six favorite books, Nina MacLaughlin's top ten list of dirty old (literary) men, John Mullan's lists of the ten of the best parodies, ten of the best Hamlets in literature, ten of the best visits to the lavatory, and ten of the best vegetables in literature. It appears on Frank Delaney's top ten list of Irish novels and five best list of books about Ireland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Five dark & intelligent thrillers with strong female leads

Jenny Quintana grew up in Essex and Berkshire, before studying English Literature in London. She has taught in London, Seville and Athens and has also written books for teaching English as a foreign language. She is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative writing course. She lives with her family in Berkshire. She is the author of The Missing Girl and Our Dark Secret.

At the Waterstones blog, Quintana tagged five of her favorite dark and intelligent thrillers with strong female leads, including:
Restless by William Boyd

What I love about Restless is William Boyd’s creation of the main, female characters. The beautiful and mysterious Eva Delectorskaya, once a Russian spy recruited by the British Secret Service, reinvents herself after the second world war as an ordinary English woman. Her curious and independent daughter has no idea of her mother’s past until she is drawn into helping her complete one more task. The plot is gripping, the setting is vivid, the characters are bold and the details about the war are compelling. Along with the touches of humour, all of this makes for an excellent and intelligent spy thriller which is difficult to put down.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Restless is among Mark Skinner's twenty great espionage novels, Henry Hemming's ten top books about fake news, and Samuel Muston's ten best spy novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Seven top books of extremely British satire

Hannah Rothschild CBE is a British writer, documentary filmmaker, businesswoman and philanthropist. Her biography, The Baroness, was published in 2012 in the UK, US and twelve other territories. Her first novel, The Improbability of Love, published in 2015 won the Bollinger Wodehouse Prize for best comic novel and was runner up for the Bailey Women's Prize for fiction in 2015.

Her much anticipated new novel is House of Trelawney.

At Lit Hub, Rothschild tagged "seven books that exemplify the long and glorious tradition of British Social Satires." One title on the list:
Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia

Hanif Kureishi also uses humor to take on the taboos of race relations and bigotry. In his 1990 novel Buddha of Suburbia, Karim, a young man of Indian descent feels trapped between the world of his Indian ancestors and his country of birth. His father, a bureaucrat by day, moonlights as a dhoti wearing swarmi by night and his mother is too depressed to leave the house. Karim leaves suburbia hoping to find freedom in the theater only to be cast as the Indian boy Mowgli in the Jungle Book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Buddha of Suburbia is among Sathnam Sanghera's best contemporary British-Asian novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 17, 2020

Ten top titles about missing persons

Kathleen Donohoe is the author the novels Ashes of Fiery Weather and the newly released Ghosts of the Missing.

Her stories and essays have appeared in Web Conjunctions, Harpur Palate, Inkwell, Washington Square, Irish America Magazine and the anthology The Writing Irish of New York.

She grew up in Brooklyn, NY and currently lives there with her husband and son.

At CrimeReads, Donohoe tagged ten "books about missing persons, fiction and nonfiction, [that] grapple with what it is like to search and mourn at once." One title on the list:
In the Woods by Tana French

Three twelve-year-olds go into the woods beside their homes in an Irish housing estate. Though they frequently played their together, on this day, one of the boys and the girl vanish. The other boy is found injured but alive, unable to recall what happened. Twenty-two years later, that boy is a detective, who, along with a partner is investigating a murder that may be connected to the still-unsolved disappearances of his best friends.
Read about the other entries on the list.

In the Woods is among Jessica Knoll's ten top thrillers, Tara Sonin's twenty-five unhappy books for Valentine’s Day, Krysten Ritter's six favorite mysteries, Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Emma Straub's ten top books that mimic the feeling of a summer vacation, the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books from Ireland's newer voices, and Judy Berman's ten fantastic novels with disappointing endings.

The Page 69 Test: In the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

6 books Erik Larson keeps returning to

Erik Larson's books include Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, The Devil in the White City, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won an Edgar Award for fact-crime writing, In the Garden of Beasts, about how America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany and his daughter experienced the rising terror of Hitler’s rule, and Isaac’s Storm, about the giant hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas in 1900.

The Splendid and the Vile, Larson's latest nonfiction thriller, offers a close-up view of Winston Churchill's first year as Great Britain's prime minister.

At The Week magazine, Larson tagged six books he keeps returning to, including:
Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser (1996).

When­ever I'm about to start a book, I turn to the first paragraph of Millhauser's novel for inspiration. He extends a sure hand, inviting the reader to enter the world of his hero, a creature of the late 19th century, when hubris bred great feats, and great tragedies.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Five books on social mobility

Hashi Mohamed is a barrister and broadcaster based in London, England.

He arrived in Britain aged nine, as an unaccompanied child refugee. He attended some of Britain’s worst schools and was raised exclusively on state benefits. Yet today he is a successful barrister, with an Oxford degree and a CV that includes numerous appearances on the BBC.

In his debut book People Like Us: What it Takes to Make it in Modern Britain, Mohamed explores what his own experience can tell us about social mobility in Britain today.

At the Waterstones blog, he tagged five notable books on social mobility, Including:
The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Appiah’s book was an important book when attempting to make sense of identity, who you are and as you grow in a society where you may not feel completely at home at first.

The problem, as the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah points out, is not that there is anything ‘wrong with cherishing your children’. But when we live in a world in which parents have access to vastly unequal resources, we must confront the fact that this instinct, however natural and understandable, cannot reign unchecked without harming others.

When the Ghanaian-British professor of philosophy Kwame Anthony Appiah found himself adjusting his accent in an American direction when telling New York taxi drivers where he wanted to go, he saw it as a natural instinct to make himself easier to understand to people who were often, like him, immigrants in America.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Seven top apocalyptic reads

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Line Between, The House of Bathory Duology (The Progeny, Firstborn), Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker.

A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. You can find Tosca hanging around the snack table or wherever bacon is served.

A Single Light, a sequel to The Line Between, is now available.

At CrimeReads, Lee tagged seven top books from the end of the world, including:
The Last Policeman

In this 2013 Edgar Award Winning first installment in The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters, the earth is just six months away from impact with asteroid 2011GV1. With no hope of survival, the world braces for extinction. Except for detective Hank Palace, who refuses to give up the investigation of a murder in the face of his own pending doom.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Last Policeman is among Sam Reader's five books that find beauty in the apocalypse, Joel Cunningham's eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, and Melissa Albert's five best recent detective fiction classics.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Policeman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 14, 2020

Seven books that blur the lines between living & dead

Jess Kidd is the award-winning author of Himself, Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, and Things in Jars. She has a PhD in creative writing from St. Mary’s University in London. She grew up as part of a large family from Ireland’s County Mayo and now lives in London with her daughter. Her first book, Himself, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.

At Lit Hub, Kidd tagged seven favorite ghost stories, including:
William Kennedy, Ironweed

Kennedy’s 1983 novel follows Francis Phelan as he returns to visit to his family in Albany, New York, after spending years on the road. Remarkable visions and brutal realities overlap, as do the worlds of the living and the dead. Francis sees again his dead infant son, his long-gone parents and the men who have died violently at his hands. It is through Francis’s exchanges with the dead that the guilt and pain associated with his past is unravelled.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Ten of the greatest love stories in literature

Ceri Radford grew up in Swansea, studied English literature and French at Cambridge and started her career with Reuters. She has since written about books, TV, culture, society, male strippers and many other things besides for publications including The Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement, and Red Magazine.

Her first novel is A Surrey State of Affairs (AKA Constance Harding’s (Rather) Startling Year).

At the Independent (UK), Radford tagged ten of the finest literary romances ever told, including:
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Love and marriage belong in two different boxes in this sprawling, epic account of the married Countess Anna Karenina’s doomed love affair with Count Vronsky. Her brother’s womanising is tolerated; Anna’s less so. Caught between fierce love, insecurity, hypocritical social pressures and the plodding presence of her husband, she finds it impossible to extricate herself. It does not end well. If you’re having relationship problems, think: “What would Anna Karenina do?” Then do the opposite.
Read about the other entries on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books to reconfigure our conception of nature for the better

Michael Christie is the author of the novel If I Fall, If I Die, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Kirkus Prize, was selected as a New York Times Editors' Choice Pick, and was on numerous best-of 2015 lists. His linked collection of stories, The Beggar's Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction, and won the Vancouver Book Award. His essays and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Globe & Mail.

Greenwood, his most recent novel, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

At the Guardian, Christie tagged ten top works of eco-fiction, including:
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

In her bold and strange novel, Watkins disassembles the mythology of the American west, paying particular attention to its brutal expansionism and unquestioned promise of personal reinvention. The story concerns a young couple trying to navigate post-apocalyptic California, where severe drought has baked the once fertile landscape into sandstorms and squalor. Peopled by wandering cults and water dowsers, Gold Fame Citrus shows us that perhaps the notions of “Shangri-La” and “Man-Made Hell on Earth” are two sides of the same ideological coin.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Eight compelling crime novels about people haunted by their pasts

Harry Dolan's latest novel is The Good Killer.

At CrimeReads he tagged eight compelling crime "stories of people who can’t escape their histories, no matter how much they may want to," including:
Tana French, Faithful Place

The narrator of Tana French’s third novel is Frank Mackey, a tough undercover cop who grew up in a large family in a poor neighborhood of Dublin. It’s the kind of place you hope to get away from, and at nineteen Frank planned to do just that: he arranged to run off with his sweetheart, Rosie Daly, and start a new life with her in London. But on the night they were meant to depart, Rosie stood him up, leaving only a note behind. Assuming she’d gone on to London alone, Frank never spoke to her again. Flash forward two decades and Frank has made his escape from his childhood home and built a career with the Dublin police. He has an ex-wife and a young daughter, and his only contact with his parents and siblings is through his sister Jackie. She’s the one who gives him the news that a suitcase has been found behind a fireplace in an abandoned house on their old street—the very place where Frank was supposed to meet Rosie all those years ago. When Frank sees the suitcase he recognizes it at once as Rosie’s, and soon after, he discovers Rosie’s body buried under the floor of the basement in the same house. Given Frank’s connection with the victim, his superiors want to keep him far away from the case, but Frank can’t let things lie. Before long he’s drawn back into old family relationships: with his disapproving mother and alcoholic father, and with the brothers and sisters who stayed behind in the old neighborhood. French illuminates these relationships with the sharp dialogue and subtle characterizations that have become her trademark, and she provides a solution to the mystery of Rosie’s death that is both satisfying and devastating.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Six books that engage with other art forms

Amina Cain is the author most recently of the short story collection Creature, and a novel, Indelicacy, which will be published this year. Her writing has appeared in Granta, n+1, The Paris Review Daily, BOMB, Full Stop, Vice, the Believer Logger, and other places.

She has also co-curated literary events, such as When Does It or You Begin?, a month long festival of writing, performance, and video at Links Hall in Chicago, Both Sides and The Center, a summer festival of readings and performances enacting various levels of proximity, intimacy, and distance at the MAK Center/Schindler House in West Hollywood, and the Errata Salon, a talk/lecture series at Betalevel in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.

At The Week magazine, Cain tagged six books that engage with other art forms, including:
Being Here Is Everything by Marie Darrieus­secq, translated by Penny Hueston (2017).

The life of German expressionist painter Paula ­Modersohn-­Becker is the subject of this deeply absorbing book. While reading, I was aware of one artist meeting another, as Darrie­ussecq is no ordinary biographer, but a kindred spirit to Modersohn-Becker.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 10, 2020

Seven notable thrillers with flawed characters

Christina McDonald is a USA Today bestselling author. The Night Olivia Fell (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books) has been optioned for television by a major Hollywood studio and her second book, Behind Every Lie, is available now.

At CrimeReads, McDonald tagged a few of her favorite thrillers with flawed characters. One title on the list:
The Other Mrs by Mary Kubica

This creepy and cinematic thriller follows Sadie Foust and her family, who’ve moved to an isolated island off the coast of Maine. Sadie is a complicated protagonist. She loves her family but she’s distant with her kids, suspicious and jealous of other women around her husband, and is completely unpredictable. And then there are all the bizarre half-memories she keeps having. This is one seriously messed up lady. But then one of their neighbors is murdered and Sadie becomes a suspect. You thought she was flawed before, just wait until the explosive twist at the end!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue