Friday, July 31, 2020

Eight books to take you back to the 1980s

Amanda Brainerd is a New York City real estate broker, wife and mother of three. She graduated from Harvard College and earned a Master of Architecture from Columbia University after being expelled from Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school in the 10th grade. Age of Consent is her first novel.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight books to take you back to the Eighties, including:
Swing Time by Zadie Smith

This is a tale of the bond between two teenage girls from the projects, and the story of how friendship can tether us to home and comfort even if we travel far away.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Swing Time is among Robert Haller's six top novels that reference pop music.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ten top books by Charles Dickens

A.N. Wilson was born in 1950 and educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is an award-winning biographer and a celebrated novelist, winning prizes for much of his work. He lives in North London.

Wilson's new book is The Mystery of Charles Dickens.

At the Guardian he tagged Dickens's top ten books, including:
David Copperfield

His own personal favourite among the novels. A book that can make me – and millions of others – weep and laugh out loud, often on the same page. A sort of autobiography, but one in which all his family have been expunged. David’s father is dead before the book begins, his mother dies when he is still very young. And unlike Dickens, David has no siblings. The awful woes and cruelties for which in real life he blamed his parents are the fault of the wicked stepfather Mr Murdstone. This book has some of Dickens’s finest characters – Mr Dick, Mr Micawber, Betsey Trotwood – and, in the storm that engulfs the Suffolk coast, one of his most powerful descriptions of nature.
Read about the other entries on the list.

David Copperfield is among Kathryn Harrison's six  best epic novels, Nigella Lawson's ten best books, ShortList's forty greatest villains in literature. Siri Hustvedt's six favorite books, Janet Davey’s top ten schoolchildren in fiction, Frank Rich's top ten books, John Boyne's top ten child narrators, Lynn Shepherd's top ten fictional drownings and Elizabeth Gilbert's six favorite books. It appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best seductions in literature, ten of the best trips to Canterbury in literature and ten of the best valets in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Eight top novels featuring odd couples and unexpected partnerships

Alice Feeney is a writer and journalist. She spent fifteen years with BBC News where she worked as a reporter, news editor, arts and entertainment producer, and One O'Clock news producer. Feeney has lived in London and Sydney and has now settled in the Surrey countryside, where she lives with her husband and dog. His & Hers is her third novel, after Sometimes I Lie and I Know Who You Are.

At CrimeReads Feeney tagged eight of her "favorite novels that have odd couples and unexpected partnerships at the heart of their stories," including:
Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough

Meet single mom Louise and Adele, the perfect housewife. Opposites definitely attract in this brilliant book. Told from both points of view, this clever and original story will keep you on your toes and keep you guessing. I find I can often predict the endings of thrillers, but not this time. This book absolutely deserved the #WTFending reputation it earned, in a good way. One of my favorite twists ever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Behind Her Eyes is among Leah Konen's seven dark thrillers about friendships gone wrong and Camilla Bruce's eight novels to make you question reality.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Ten great mysteries set in Maine

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Girl, Pretty Baby, Don't You Cry, Every Last Lie, and When the Lights Go Out.

A former high school history teacher, Kubica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature.

Her newest novel is The Other Mrs..

At The Strand Magazine, Kubica tagged ten favorite mysteries set in Maine, including:
EMMA IN THE NIGHT by Wendy Walker

Wendy Walker gives readers a terrifying, intimate look at true narcissism and a totally dysfunctional family in this twisted psychological thriller set partially on a rugged, nearly-vacant island off the coast of Maine. Two sisters disappear but when, three years later, only one comes back, a forensic psychologist must get to the bottom of this mystery and decipher the truth from the lies.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 27, 2020

Eight books about cross-generational friendships

Diane Zinna's new novel is The All-Night Sun.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight books about connections that transcend age. One title on the list:
The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle

In this 2020 debut novel, Lucy is recovering from breast cancer when she becomes friends with two older women who gather and preserve octopuses that swamp the Tasmanian coast. While saving an octopus that is pulling itself across a road dividing the ocean, Lucy is hit by a car, and her injuries force her to come to terms with her body all the more. As she heals, Lucy has a tangle of octopuses tattooed across her scarred chest, and her relationship with Flo becomes a shared respite from loneliness and loss. With emotional and rhythmic sections written from the perspective of octopuses and seals, this novel shows us all searching for connection while unknowingly being carried along by the ever-present current of it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Seven top books to inspire hope for the planet

Ann Pettifor is director of Prime: Policy Research in Macroeconomics and a fellow of the New Economics Foundation. She is the author of The Case for the Green New Deal.

At the Guardian she tagged seven books that offer hope for the future and the Green New Deal, including:
JA Baker’s 1967 memoir The Peregrine, is another vision – of the ecstatic joy brought on by a deep connectedness to nature. Baker documents his daily and increasingly close connection to the austere Essex landscape that was his home, and to what Gerard Manley Hopkins called “the brute beauty and valour” of an extraordinary bird. For greater understanding of how connected all living things are, Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Network of Nature is less intense, but startling and delightful. Each chapter is a self-contained exploration of some link in nature: “How Earthworms Control Wild Boar”; “Fairy Tales, Myths and Species Diversity”. Or try Lev Parikian’s witty Into the Tangled Bank. He starts with the wildlife found in your kitchen sink, and gradually deepens connections to nature within and outside your own four walls.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Nine books about being homesick for a place that doesn’t exist anymore

Stephanie Soileau's new collection of short stories is Last One Out Shut Off the Lights. Her work has also appeared in Glimmer Train, Oxford American, Ecotone, Tin House, New Stories from the South, and other journals and anthologies, and has been supported by fellowships from the Wallace Stegner Fellowship Program at Stanford University, the Camargo Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has taught creative writing at the Art Institute of Chicago, Stanford University, and the University of Southern Maine. Originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, Soileau now lives in Chicago and teaches at the University of Chicago.

At Electric Lit she tagged nine favorite literary expressions of homesickness "for a place that does not exist anymore—and maybe never did exist as you imagined it." One title on the list:
Inheritors by Asako Serizawa

The interwoven stories in this new collection by Asako Serizawa follow a Japanese family through 150 years of history. In a kaleidoscope of places and points of view, Serizawa explores the lives of characters whose sense of home and history is disrupted by war, imperialism and migration.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 24, 2020

Eight crime novels about the American home front during WWII

Paul D. Marks's books include the Shamus Award-Winning mystery-thriller White Heat.

His latest novel, The Blues Don’t Care, is set on the Los Angeles home front during World War II.

At CrimeReads Marks tagged eight "mysteries that explore the simmering tensions and contradictions of the war at home," including:
Miss Dimple Suspects (2013) by Mignon F. Ballard

On the cozy side of things, Mignon Ballard sets her Miss Dimple mystery series in a rural small town in Georgia during the war. Miss Dimple Kilpatrick is a first-grade school teacher at Elderberry Grammar School. And, although the books are filled with the things you’d expect in a cozy mystery: a quaint village, loveable characters, Georgia peaches, cats and Southern charm, it also deals with war-time unpleasantness such as economic hardships, rationing and anti-Japanese sentiments.

Miss Dimple Suspects is the third in the series and begins with the search for a missing child. Miss Dimple finds the child, aided by an elderly artist and her young Japanese companion. When the artist is later found dead, the town suspects the Japanese girl. And of course Miss Dimple uses her amateur sleuthing skills to find the truth.

Unlike the big cities, rural communities experienced the war in a different way. With many farm workers in Georgia either moving to the cities to work in defense factories or enlisting in the military. These rural communities struggled and many women had to take over traditionally male jobs. The American home front depicted in these books is one of courage and patriotism, but is also provincial, ignorant and fearful. However, at the same time, hopeful.

Ballard provides us with a nostalgic and heartwarming look at a place and time that was a turning point in history.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Miss Dimple Suspects.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Ten top books about adventures

Philip Marsden is the award-winning author of a number of works of travel, fiction and non-fiction, including The Bronski House, The Spirit-Wrestlers, The Levelling Sea and, most recently, The Summer Isles. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his work has been translated into fifteen languages. After years of traveling, he now lives on the tidal upper reaches of the River Fal in Cornwall with his wife, children and various boats.

At the Guardian, Marsden tagged ten top books about adventures: "a seeking out, a spirited or even reckless exposure to the unfamiliar in order to reveal something usually unstated, to say: 'I came within a whisker of life'.” One title on the list:
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

Autobiography with a surfboard. Finnegan charts with disarming candour his footloose years of travelling, reading, travelling, writing – and always searching for waves. He was the first to find many breaks in the Pacific, and he writes as he surfs – with flair, energy and courage.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Five titles in which magic comes at a price

Isabelle Steiger was born in the city and grew up in the woods. She received her first notebook when she was eight, and she’s been filling them up ever since. When not writing, she enjoys playing RPGs, getting excited over obscure facts, and never knowing enough about movies to sound cool when she talks about them. She is only fluent in one language but can speak three others terribly, and is possibly the only person who hates sand as much as Anakin Skywalker. After a childhood filled with haunted mansions, lightning-induced power outages, and insects rude enough to sabotage a perfectly honorable swordfight, she was relieved to finally return to New York, where she currently lives.

Steiger's new novel is The Rightful Queen (Paths of Lantistyne, Volume 2).

At she tagged "five books (or the first book in a series, when the whole series is applicable) in which the price of magic is particularly ingenious." One title on the list:
Manifestation of a weakness: The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

In this first book of the excellent Engelsfors trilogy, six teenage girls who previously knew nothing about magic’s existence must contend with sudden powers they can’t control. Each character’s magic develops differently—and, for most of the girls, in the direction they least would have wished for. Confident, outgoing Vanessa finds herself ignored and isolated whenever her invisibility flares up, while shy Rebecka’s flashy pyro- and telekinesis push her toward a leadership role. Mean girl Ida, who has relentlessly bullied others for anything “weird,” is appalled by the dramatic horror-movie shenanigans that are part of being a spirit medium, and Linnéa, an outcast who does her best to wall herself off from everyone around her, is literally forced to empathize with others when she can’t get their thoughts out of her head. In order not to be left at the mercy of their own powers, the girls have to navigate the kinds of situations they’ve always tried to avoid before, and question how they’d truly like to live.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Nine essential books to learn about our broken American political system

David Pepper is the author of The People’s House, The Wingman, and the newly released The Voter File, all which feature Jack Sharpe. Pepper earned his B.A. from Yale University and his J.D. from Yale Law School. He has clerked for a judge on the United States Court of Appeals, served in local elected office in Ohio, worked for major law firms, and taught election and voting rights law. Prior to law school, he worked in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Pepper serves as Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, after being elected in December 2014 and reelected to a second term in 2018.

[Q&A with David Pepper.]

At CrimeReads, Pepper tagged nine "fiction and non-fiction titles that most effectively portray the real-world drama of American politics—the good, the bad and the ugly." One book on the list:
Dark Money, Jane Mayer

A must read to understand today’s political challenges. It’s essentially the story of the Koch Brothers—the best book out there detailing the overwhelming influence of huge amounts of money on today’s politics, and the countless ways that that money seeps into every corner of our political system.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 20, 2020

Seven books in which very little happens

Aaron Robertson is an editor at Literary Hub. He has written for The New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere. His translation of Igiaba Scego's novel Beyond Babylon (Two Lines Press, 2019) was shortlisted for the PEN Translation Prize and Best Translated Book Award.

At Lit Hub he tagged seven "books in which ... very little happens." One title on the list:
The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker (1988)

Startled by an unlikely occurrence—both shoelaces breaking at the same time—a young office worker is accosted with random thoughts. He struggles to decide whether he is more adult than child as he ascends an escalator to get to work—and, um, higher knowledge of himself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Mezzanine is among Alex Clark's eight best books set over twenty-hours.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Five Young Adult SFF/H novels about women reclaiming their identities

Estelle Laure's new young adult novel is Mayhem.

At she tagged five top young adult fantasy and horror stories that are "part feminist revenge fantasy, part catharsis, [and give] the reader a chance to delineate important boundaries and cheer along with their protagonists when they firmly draw the line." One title on the list:
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Alex’s sister was murdered and now she’s the girl with the sister found in parts throughout the woods. But what Alex’s new friends don’t know is that she has turned violent herself, and that her determination to exact vengeance on anyone who might harm a girl the way her sister was harmed has made Alex the most terrifying of all. As Alex begins to explore her very first attempt at a real relationship as well as a normal teen relationship, she hopes to leave her violent side behind. Unfortunately, the world is built to tug at her compulsions. She can’t allow date rape to stand, or molestation, or even the casual jokes many girls have learned to accept as part of being female. The question becomes whether Alex has the capacity to be “normal” at all. Creepy, disturbing, and highly cathartic, this story will force you to face the violation and aggression girls are filtering daily. Through Alex’s gaze, what’s considered acceptable is magnified, judged, and punished accordingly. This story is gritty, brutal, reeks of truth, and will haunt you long after you turn the last page. It has made me a hardcore fan of everything Mindy McGinnis has to offer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Eleven novels starring essential workers

Preety Sidhu, an intern at Electric Literature, tagged eleven novels featuring essential workers, including:
The Warehouse by Rob Hart

In this dystopian thriller, the totalitarian regime controlling people’s lives is an Amazon-esque mega-corporation called Cloud, which dominates both the retail and labor markets. After a series of mass murders have shut down all other stores, everyone either works for or is a customer of Cloud. Paxton reluctantly works as a Cloud security guard after his own business was bankrupted by their monopolistic practices while Zinnia works on the warehouse floor, though she is actually a secret operative on a corporate espionage assignment. Their story is interspersed with broadcasts to employees from Cloud’s billionaire founder, who is dying of pancreatic cancer. The book is dedicated to Maria Fernandes, who accidentally suffocated on gas fumes sleeping in her car while working three part time jobs.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 17, 2020

Eight lousy dads from brilliant mysteries & riveting thrillers

A native of Seattle, Glen Erik Hamilton grew up aboard a sailboat, and spent his youth finding trouble around the marinas and commercial docks and islands of the Pacific Northwest. He now lives in Burbank, California, with his family, punctuated by frequent visits to his hometown to soak up the rain.

His latest crime thriller in the Van Shaw series is A Dangerous Breed.

At CrimeReads, Hamilton tagged "a few very bad dads indeed from brilliant mysteries, riveting thrillers, and one spooky story," including:
Dad in Fight Like a Girl by Sheena Kamal

Sometimes even when the cause is gone, the threat remains: Trish avoids her violent father whenever he gets around to visiting Toronto, escaping the house to train in a Muay Thai gym. In the ring, at least, any bruises she receives are repaid in kind. And the acceptance Trish finds as a Trinidadian-Indian young woman among other students from a wide variety of heritages is a balm. When Dad is accidentally struck and killed by a car—with Trish behind the wheel—there’s a chance for some peace for the angry young woman. But her mom soon repeats the cycle of abuse with a bullying new boyfriend. A fast-paced YA novel with a vibrant voice and a touch of magical realism.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Ten top books about recovery

Nina Renata Aron is a writer and editor living in Oakland, California.

She has two degrees in Russian & Eurasian Studies and an unfinished doctorate in Cultural Anthropology and Gender Studies. She writes mostly write about girls, books, art, and sex.

Her debut book is Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love.

At the Guardian, Aron tagged ten books about "finding a life beyond addiction, or other kinds of damaged personal life," including:
Know My Name by Chanel Miller

This should be compulsory reading in every high school. Miller was long known as Emily Doe, the anonymous victim of a sexual assault at Stanford University and the voice behind a viral victim impact statement that changed the terms of debate around consent, violence and rape. With this book she breaks her anonymity, describing the jarring moment of waking into trauma and victimhood, and the onerous emotional and legal battle that followed. Miller’s candour and her language are breathtaking. This book shows better than any I’ve read the effects of sexual assault and the possibility of forging a new freedom in its aftermath.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Eight top literary heroines from 80’s romance novels

Camilla Läckberg is the prize-winning, best-selling author of the Fjallbacka series, which has sold more than 23 million copies worldwide. Her books are sold in over 60 countries and have been translated into 43 languages. She lives in Stockholm.

Läckberg's latest novel is The Golden Cage.

At CrimeReads she tagged eight favorite literary heroines from 80’s romance novels, including:
If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon

This is a the perfect story of intrigue and revenge, a female “Count of Monte Cristo”. Tracy Whitney is young, beautiful and intelligent—and about to marry into wealth and glamour. Until, suddenly, she is betrayed, framed by a ruthless Mafia gang, abandoned by the man she loves. With intelligence and beauty as her only weapons, Tracy embarks on a series of extraordinary escapades that take her across the globe in her struggle to revenge herself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Seven dark thrillers about relationships gone wrong

Leah Konen is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied journalism and English literature. She's the author of several young adult novels, including Love and Other Train Wrecks and The Romantics. She lives in Brooklyn and Saugerties, NY, with her husband, their daughter, Eleanor, and their dog, Farley.

All the Broken People is her first thriller.

At Electric Lit, Konen tagged seven "books that center women’s complicated relationships with each other," including:
Force of Nature by Jane Harper

A corporate retreat in remote bushland goes awry when one of five women turns up missing on a days-long hike. Detective Aaron Falk is on the case, as the missing woman is a whistleblower set to help him take down her corrupt company. As this slow-burn mystery unfolds, we get a look into the complicated friendships, secrets, and duplicities that keep tensions simmering among this quintet of women.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Force of Nature is among Chandler Baker's seven top workplace thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 13, 2020

Five novels of insomnia, sleepwalking, & fear of slumber

Megan Miranda is the New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls, The Perfect Stranger, and The Last House Guest, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. She has also written several books for young adults, including Come Find Me, Fragments of the Lost, and The Safest Lies. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.

Her new adult suspense novel is The Girl from Widow Hills.

At CrimeReads, Miranda tagged five "suspenseful novels that feature sleep issues at the heart of the story, heightening the very real fear for the characters—either for themselves, or for those around them," including:
I Heard that Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark

Kay knows a lot about her husband’s past before their marriage. She knows he was suspected at one time in the disappearance of a young woman, decades earlier. And she knows his first wife drowned in their pool. But what she doesn’t learn until after their marriage is that her husband is a sleepwalker. After witnessing him sleepwalking to the scene of his first wife’s death, she’s no longer sure if she truly knows everything about him. And when the body of a missing woman is found on their property, she sets out to uncover what really happened in the past—and if she knows the person sleeping beside her as well as she believes she does.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Five top books about the power of protest

Neha Shah is an activist and researcher at the University of Oxford.

At the Guardian, she tagged five of the best books about the power of protest, including:
Since the killing of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter has evolved into a truly global struggle, as protesters emphasise the intimate connections between racism and colonialism the world over and espouse a solidarity that cares for no borders. But the fight for justice has always been internationalist. Elaine Mokhtefi’s extraordinary memoir, Algiers, Third World Capital, takes us back to the 1960s, when the city was known as the “Mecca of revolution”. Here we find the vibrant legacies of liberation struggles and a vision for remaking the world, following groups such as the Black Panthers and South African freedom fighters through Algiers and beyond.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Eight books about struggling writers

Andrew Martin's first novel Early Work was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018 and a finalist for the Cabell First Novelist Award. His stories and essays have been published in The Paris Review, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, Harper's, and T: The New York Times Style Magazine.

Martin's new book is Cool for America: Stories.

At Electric Lit he tagged eight "favorite works of literature about artists who are stymied in their attempts to fulfill their visions, both by the usual impediments—sloth, vanity, booze, love—and, sometimes, by the capricious workings of the outer world," including:
So Many Olympic Exertions by Anelise Chen

Chen’s elliptical novel is of the noble “failing to finish one’s dissertation tradition,” a situation I deeply relate to despite having never attempted to start a dissertation. A former competitive swimmer, the narrator is a sports historian fixated on stories of failure and disaster. She’s also trying to reckon with the suicide of her ex-boyfriend. Over the course of the book, the convergences between sports, life, and art become clearer and clearer. “If doing sport is to be ‘lost in focused intensity,’ as swimmer Pablo Morales said once,” she writes, “then watching sport is to be lost in the focused intensity of someone else’s focused intensity.” That sounds a lot like reading, too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 10, 2020

Eight titles that will immerse you in medicine's long, messy past

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, adult fiction and non-fiction, and poetry. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction.

Her most recent novel is Opium and Absinthe.

At CrimeReads, Kang tagged eight "books that have been shaped by medicine’s long and messy past." One title on the list:
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Medical details are woven throughout this sprawling, atmospheric story of twins (initially conjoined) born in Ethiopia to a nun and a physician in the 1950s. Verghese is a masterful storyteller and instills all the facets of humanity in the struggle for the twins, Shiva and Marion, to evolve and search for resolution in their conflict with each other. A gorgeous book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Cutting for Stone is among Pushpinder Khaneka's three top books on Ethiopia and Louisa Ermelino's five recent "rugged, kick-ass, leg breaking, can’t get them out of your head" books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Ten top books about tumultuous times

Matthew Kneale was born in 1960, the son and grandson of writers, and he grew up in suburban London. After studying modern history at Oxford he began writing in Tokyo, where he worked as an English teacher. He travelled whenever he was able, visiting more than eighty countries and seven continents, and tried his hands at learning a number of languages from Spanish and Italian to Japanese, Albanian, Romanian and Amharic Ethiopian. He has written a volume of themed short stories and five novels, including English Passengers, which was a finalist for the Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. His recent books include Rome: a History in Seven Sackings and Pilgrims.

At the Guardian, Kneale tagged ten "outstanding history books and novels exploring era-defining decisions made under pressure," including:
The Humiliation of Sinners: Public Penance in Thirteenth Century France by Mary C Mansfield

Pilgrims was partly inspired by this work by a great scholar, who died sadly young and never lived to see it published. Mansfield reveals France at this time (and England wasn’t too different) as a land of hyper morality. Married couples feared for their souls if they’d had sex on the wrong day of the week. Clerics faced down troublesome non-churchmen by forcing them to publicly confess their sins before their whole community, to pray all night in church in their underclothes – and sometimes to go on pilgrimages.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Seven books about New York City’s drastic economic divide

Lee Conell is the author of a new novel, The Party Upstairs. She’s also the author of the story collection Subcortical, which was awarded The Story Prize Spotlight Award, an Independent Publisher Book Award, and an American Fiction Award. She has received a 2020 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as writing fellowships from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Vanderbilt University, and the Yiddish Book Center.

At Electric Lit, Conell tagged seven "books that approached socioeconomic inequality in the city in a way that neither fetishized the wealthy nor seemed to exploit the suffering caused by poverty," including:
A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley

A Lucky Man contains nine stories, set mostly in Brooklyn and the Bronx, all of which do a brilliant job of creating narrative tensions around the interlinks between race, class, and masculinity. The story “I Happy Am” is an especially strong example of this: It centers around a group of boys from the Bronx who are driven out to the suburbs, expecting to spend the day at some rich white people home and to swim in their pool. The story twists and turns in a way that beautifully reveals how a kind of performance of gratitude so often plays into power relationships between white people and people of color, and between the wealthy and the working class. At the same time, moments of unexpected tenderness also occur in this story and throughout A Lucky Man, making these stories deeply human even as they tease apart the systems that try to dehumanize many of Brinkley’s characters.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Seven titles told from the perspective of domestic workers

Julia Spiro lives year-round on Martha’s Vineyard, where she enjoys fishing, clamming, scalloping, and anything on the beach. She also teaches spin classes in Edgartown and considers spinning her second passion. She previously worked in the film industry and lived in Los Angeles. She graduated from Harvard College.

Spiro's new novel is Someone Else’s Secret.

[Q&A with Julia Spiro; The Page 69 Test: Someone Else's Secret.]

At CrimeReads she tagged seven books told from the perspective of domestic workers, including:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

In pursuit of a fresh start, Jane takes a job as a governess for a sweet child at a grand manor called Thornfield. What could go wrong? Throw in a mysterious and brooding master of the house, a locked-up wife that’s gone mad, a few house fires, a secret family fortune, multiple marriage proposals, and you’ve got a sprawling story bursting with romance, deception, difficult decisions, and lots of contemplation overlooking the misty moors.
Read about another entry on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Jane Healey's list of five favorite gothic romances, Annaleese Jochems's list of the great third wheels of literature, Sara Collins's list of six of fiction's best bad women, Sophie Hannah's list of fifteen top books with a twist, E. Lockhart's list of five favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” Sophie Hannah's top ten list of twists in fiction, Gail Honeyman's list of five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, Kate Hamer's top ten list of books about adopted children, a list of four books that changed Vivian Gornick, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 6, 2020

Eight anti-capitalist sci-fi and fantasy novels

Jae-Yeon Yoo is a volunteer intern at Electric Literature.

She tagged eight novels by authors who "have found ways to critically examine capitalism—and its alternatives—in speculative fiction." One title on the list:
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

In Foundryside’s city of Tevanne, magic, or “scriving,” has become industrialized and controlled by the Merchant Houses. The Merchant Houses have used scriving to encode everyday objects; as a result, Tevanne runs like a brutal, well-oiled machine. All this may change when Sancia, a young thief with an ability to sense scriving, is sent to steal an artifact of immense power. This artifact, responsible for generating the codes for the current system, is equally capable of revolutionizing and rewriting the world of Tevanne. (Not to bring in too much Marx here, but Bennett’s “artifact” really reminds me of the famous quote in The Communist Manifesto, where Marx and Engels proclaim that the tools for overthrowing the bourgeoisie will grow from the very system of capitalism itself.) Using magic as a framework, Foundryside—the first book in Bennett’s series—doesn’t shy away from examining the ethics of capitalism and the consequences of corporatization.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Ten crime novels about returning home

Katie Tallo has been an award-winning screenwriter and director for more than two decades. In 2012, Katie was inspired to begin writing novels.

Dark August is her debut novel.

At CrimeReads, Tallo tagged ten "terrific novels featuring some dark and stormy journeys back home," including:
Faithful Place by Tana French

In this gripping thriller from Tana French, her main character, Frank Mackey, returns to Dublin and the dead end street called Faithful Place where he grew up. He left years earlier after his first love, Rosie, failed to show up for their planned elopement to London. A couple of decades later, Frank’s a detective and Rosie’s suitcase mysteriously turns up in an abandoned house on Faithful Place. Another dysfunctional family, another unresolved mystery and another reluctant hometown return by a protagonist hell-bent on finding out the truth – all of which makes this novel both heart-wrenching and nail-biting.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Eight spine-chilling titles about occult mysteries

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, adult fiction and non-fiction, and poetry. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction.

Her most recent novel is Opium and Absinthe.

At Electric Lit, Kang tagged eight favorite supernatural stories about ghosts, magic, and seances. One title on the list:
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

I’ve been a fan of the movie Practical Magic since it released in 1998, but didn’t read the book until much later. When the prequel came out, I knew I’d gobble up the back story to this family of witches. The book brings you into the charmed (and not so charmed) lives of Franny, Jet, and Vincent. The story is more of a slow unfolding of truths and revelations, rather than a true mystery. But no doubt you’ll be reading it as if secrets hide on every page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue