Friday, May 31, 2024

Five top escapist books

Francesca Segal is an award-winning writer and journalist. She is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Innocents (2012) and The Awkward Age (2017), and a memoir of NICU motherhood, Mother Ship (2019). Her writing has won the 2012 Costa First Novel Award, a Betty Trask Award, and been longlisted for the Women's Prize.

Her new novel is Welcome to Glorious Tuga.

At the Guardian Segal tagged five favorite escapist books, include:
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Oddly, another novel in which celebrities collide with civilians. Pasquale runs the hotel Adequate View in a tiny Italian village, to which tourists mostly come by accident, thinking it somewhere else. It is “about” this earnest, gentlemanly hotelier and his modest dreams of a cliffside tennis court, but it is also about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, failure and comebacks, writing, success, fatherhood, and second chances.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beautiful Ruins is among Taylor Jenkins Reid's five top novels about fame.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Six mysteries set in luxurious destinations

Jaclyn Goldis is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and NYU School of Law. She practiced estate planning law at a large Chicago firm for seven years before leaving her job to travel the world and write novels. After culling her possessions into only what would fit in a backpack, she traveled for over a year until settling in Tel Aviv, where she can often be found writing from cafés near the beach.

Goldis is the author of The Chateau and The Main Character.

At CrimeReads the author tagged six favorite mysteries set in luxurious destinations, including:
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This clever thriller takes place at a luxe lodge in the rugged Scottish Highlands. With a classic setup of a group of school friends reuniting for a destination trip, things quickly start to go off the rails. The property in the remote wilderness boasts small cabins, scenic mountain views, lush heather heaths, and a loch—how much more atmospheric can murder get? Add in a snowstorm whipping through the weekend to amp up the isolation and menace, and you have one tense, enjoyable read. I stand by this: Lucy Foley makes murder fun!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Fifteen top books about jazz

Ed Simon is a staff writer for Lit Hub, the editor of Belt Magazine, and the author of numerous books, including most recently Heaven, Hell and Paradise Lost, Elysium: A Visual History of Angelology, and Relic, part of the Object Lessons series.

In the summer of 2024 Melville House will release his Devil's Contract: The History of the Faustian Bargain, the first comprehensive, popular account of that subject.

At Lit Hub Simon tagged fifteen "literary works with jazz at their center which have given 'special overtones' to words." One title on the list:
Esi Edugyan, Half-Blood Blues

Drawing from the historical “Rhineland Bastards,” mixed race children the result of Black Allied troops stationed in Germany following the Great War, the Ghanese-Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues invents the story of Hieronymus “Hiero” Falk, a brilliant musician who performs swing in Weimar Germany, all of his music being lost when the Nazis come to power. With shades of the great Romani guitarist Django Reinhardt or of the so-called “Swing Kids” who protested fascism through jazz, Edugyan’s novel expresses an inviolate truth about this music.

That truth is that in its cacophony and beauty, its elegance and its joyfulness, jazz is the music of democracy, of liberation, of freedom.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Seven titles featuring ghost children

Joel H. Morris is the author of All Our Yesterdays, his debut novel. He has worked most recently as an English teacher and, for the past twenty years, has taught language and literature. Prior to earning a doctorate in comparative literature, he spent several years as a bookseller before joining a small maritime expedition company as a sailor.

At Electric Lit Morris tagged "seven novels involving literal and metaphorical ghost children." One title on the list:
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The child ghost in Ward’s haunting generational novel is Richie, sent to Parchman prison farm for stealing for his family when he was twelve. While 13-year-old Jojo and his mother, Leonie, drive the narrative, it is Richie who haunts the family through its patriarch, Pop. As a youth, Pop was responsible for killing Richie—a mercy to spare the boy a brutal beating and death. Richie has haunted Parchman for decades, an embodiment of injustice and racist cruelty. When he hitches a ride with Jojo and Leonie to find Pop again, Jojo can see him, speak to him. He becomes a haunting figure of generational trauma, the past made present. In his transition to the afterlife, “home,” he joins a multitude of tormented souls, singers of the history of brutality.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sing, Unburied, Sing is among Sarah Bernstein's top ten grudge holders in fiction, James Yorkston's top ten road novels, Stacey Swann's seven novels about very dysfunctional families, Una Mannion’s top ten books about children fending for themselves, Sahar Mustafah's seven novels about grieving a family member and LitHub's ten books we'll be reading in ten years.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 27, 2024

Six notable books featuring families

Paul Murray was born in 1975 in Dublin. His novels include An Evening of Long Goodbyes, short-listed for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award; Skippy Dies, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Mark and the Void, joint winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and one of Time’s Top 10 Fiction Books of the year; and The Bee Sting, one of The New York Times Top 10 Books of the Year.

At the Waterstones blog Murray tagged six favorite books featuring families. One title on the list:
The Fraud by Zadie Smith

Smith’s ingenious historical box of tricks refuses to be categorised, but one way to read it is as the story of two families. Set in Victorian England and flipping back and forth between the 1830s and 1870s, it’s mostly seen through the eyes of Eliza Touchet, who lives with her cousin William Ainsworth. Ainsworth in the 1830s is a famous novelist who outsells his good friend Charles Dickens; by the 1870s, though, he’s fallen very much out of fashion. Eliza and Ainsworth have a romance of sorts, but then he marries his maid, much to the dismay of his three grown-up daughters, who see their inheritance disappearing. Smith sets the conventional stuff of the nineteenth-century novel – marriage, servants, finagling over property – against a much darker, less familiar story. Andrew Bogle is an enslaved man born and raised in a sugar plantation in Jamaica. His family life exists – or not – at the whim of his masters. After the death of his wife, he throws in his lot with a fraudster (or is he?) claiming to be an aristocrat long thought drowned. That well-meaning Eliza is herself the beneficiary of a slave plantation is just one of the multiple ironies abounding in this novel, as Smith gleefully upends the Victorian image of family as inherently virtuous, showing it instead as a mechanism for laundering the profits of Empire while whitewashing its horrors.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Eight dead characters with something to say

Michael Bennett (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Whakaue) is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and author whose films have been selections at major festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, and New York. He is the author of the crime novel Better the Blood and the nonfiction book In Dark Places, both of which won Ngaio Marsh awards, making him the first writer to win the award for both fiction and nonfiction. He is also the author of the young adult graphic novel Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas which, along with Better the Blood, was a finalist for the New Zealand Book Award.

At CrimeReads Bennett tagged eight "favourite dead characters from crime fiction, film and television, who come back through the misty veil, and who have something to say (usually, quite a lot)." One book on the list:
THE TREES (novel) by Percival Everett

This book reads like the most maddening, unsolvable of locked-room crime novels, for a long time. Until it doesn’t. There is a breathtaking moment when we realise, at the heart of this fiction is a very real character: 14-year-old Emmett Till who was lynched in Money, Mississippi in 1955, after he was falsely accused by a young white woman of making salacious comments towards her. The murders happening today are vengeance, the lynched dead rising up and returning to put right the things that history failed to, by killing the descendants of the original lynch mobs who literally got away with murder. As one character says: “Less than 1 percent of lynchers were ever convicted of a crime. Only a fraction of those ever served a sentence.” In this comic-horror metaphor for the historic and ongoing brutality of the African-American experience, the Dead are coming back to say: “Time to pay up”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Six books featuring superstitions

Jessie Rosen got her start with the award-winning blog 20-Nothings and has sold original television projects to ABC, CBS, Warner Bros., and Netflix. Her live storytelling show Sunday Night Sex Talks was featured on The Bachelorette. She lives in Los Angeles.

Rosen's new novel is The Heirloom.

At Lit Hub she tagged six books that explore superstitions "from every angle. In some an omen defines the character’s struggle, in others its used as a thematic point, and in one the belief runs so deep it’s presented as fact." One title on the list:
Toni Morrison, Sula

Omens abound for Sula in Toni Morrison’s rich, fictional world, but interestingly only after she returns to her home after a decade away. Here it is as if Sula herself is the manifestation of a superstition about what happens when you break free from the rules of your upbringing to chart a life of your own. Sula is plagued by birds, a harbinger of evil and develops a birthmark that many believe looks like a snake.

Ultimately bad luck follows, as Sula continues to live her life in an uncompromising manner, paving her own way through the consequences.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sula is among Nikita Lalwani's top ten platonic friendships in fiction, Lucy Jago's five best female friendships, and John Green's six favorite coming-of-age books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 24, 2024

Five top books about west African cities

At the Guardian Eromo Egbejule tagged five of the best books about west African cities, including:
Nearly All the Men in Lagos are Mad by Damilare Kuku

Damilare Kuku’s collection of short stories reads like a flick from Nollywood, the film industry where she has worked as an actor and producer. The book is a hilarious compilation of sappy sex scandals as women in contemporary Lagos end up being shortchanged in matters of love by their romantic interests. Kuku’s second book, Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow – a novel about how family secrets and a woman’s decision to get a Brazilian butt lift upends her life – is out in July.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Seven titles about Black people who pass as white

Kuchenga Shenjé is a writer, journalist, and speaker with work on media platforms including Stylist, British Vogue, and Netflix. She has contributed short stories and essays to several anthologies, most notably It's Not OK to Feel Blue (And Other Lies), Who's Loving You, and Loud Black Girls. Owing to a lifelong obsession with books and the written word, Kuchenga studied Creative Writing at The Open University. Her work is focused on the perils of loving, being loved, and women living out loud throughout the ages. Her debut The Library Thief, is the ultimate marriage of her passions for history, mystery, and rebels. Kuchenga lives in Manchester, where she is determined to continue living a life worth writing about.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven "stories that delve into race and identity in the U.S. and U.K." One title on the list:
We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Things will only get better? Will a skin lightening procedure that’s less dermatologically dangerous than our current skin bleaching practices cause more or less harm? Penning provocative satirical prose in one of the boldest debuts of recent years, Ruffin’s warning of a potential future is nowhere near as ridiculous as one wants it to be. How should one deal with discomfort, desperation and longing? Is a father’s desire to help his biracial son escape the racial reality his own bourgeois accomplishments prove is doggedly inescapable, an act of love or madness? Some readers will feel more lanced than others but unfortunately it’s a story that implicates us all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We Cast A Shadow is among J.R. Ramakrishnan's seven books set in New Orleans that go beyond Mardi Gras.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Eight novels about destructive women

Alana B. Lytle is a screenwriter whose recent credits include Netflix’s Brand New Cherry and Peacock’s A Friend of the Family. Her short fiction has been published in Guernica. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and sausage-shaped dog. Man’s Best Friend is her debut novel.

At CrimeReads Lytle tagged eight "excellent novels about destructive women," including:
I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel

In the immortal words of David Fincher, “I like characters who don’t change, who don’t learn from their mistakes.” In her debut, Patel’s first person (unnamed) narrator shares one damning insight after another about the age of social media, white privilege and sexual power dynamics, but while she confesses her personal missteps in full, all her powers of insight don’t save her, in the end, from the kind of delusional thinking that got her into trouble in the first place. Many readers have been and will continue to be hooked by the premise of I’m A Fan—a young woman, infatuated with a married man, online stalks his more prized mistress—but the book is so much more than a pulpy premise. For me, Patel achieves the thing all storytellers aim for, creating the universal within the specific, mirroring back to her reader the prison we create for ourselves when, as creatures of capitalism, we harm ourselves and others in pursuit of a life that only looks Good and Right.
Read about the other entries on the list.

I’m a Fan is among Christine Ma-Kellams's seven titles about unconventional situationships.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Five books with small-town settings

Carolyn Kuebler was a co-founder of the literary magazine Rain Taxi and for the past ten years she has been the editor of the New England Review. Her stories and essays have been published in The Common and Colorado Review, among others, and “Wildflower Season,” published in The Massachusetts Review, won the 2022 John Burroughs Award for Nature Essay.

Kuebler’s debut novel is Liquid, Fragile, Perishable.

At Lit Hub she tagged "five books that, with their small-town settings and multiple points of view, could be placed in the tradition of [Sherwood Anderson's] Winesburg, Ohio—and yet, like my own, are nothing like Anderson’s at all." One title on the list:
Kathryn Davis, The Thin Place

Though her uncategorizable writing is more often associated with Hans Christian than with Sherwood, Kathryn Davis brings all the elements of small-town fiction to her sixth novel, as she playfully presents the bare facts of the town’s police log, the local gripes and gossip, the sensuality of the weather and the nearby lake, and her characters’ inevitable interconnectedness. It’s a marvelously agile book, graced with an omniscient voice that just as easily moves in close to a young girl preening for a pageant as it does to a pack of dogs out for a delicious morning romp with the neighbors’ chickens.

The book also takes the long view, to the four glaciers that covered this town in a time before people, how beautiful it must have been, and how beautiful it will be after people. And as the title implies, there’s very little dividing one world from the other: the living from the dead, the human from the nonhuman.

Which is not to say that the present-day scenes of the book—in the Crockett Home for the Aged, in kitchens and the school auditorium—or the origin stories and preoccupations of her characters, are just backdrop for the book’s metaphysical leanings. Every moment is invested with meticulous noticing, fascination, even affection.

The small New England town of Varennes provides just the right setting for the author to track the movements of a mother beaver, the bacillus she harbors, the handsome young trapper sent to kill her, the shy girl whose knees weaken at his hazel-eyed glance, and the holy holy holy incantations they all share at the town’s church service.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 20, 2024

Eleven books for fans of "The Three-Body Problem"

Neil McRobert is a writer and critic with a Ph.D. in contemporary horror fiction. At Vulture he tagged eleven books for fans of Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem. One title on the list:
Jumpnauts, by Hao Jingfang

Hao Jingfang’s 2020 novel, Vagabonds, was rapturously received, marking her out as perhaps the potential inheritor of Liu Cixin’s crown. However, it’s the just-released Jumpnauts that may well consolidate her position. It’s a gorgeous book, treading similar ground to The Three-Body Problem but with a jaunty, almost cheerful outlook. In key ways, it’s a reversal of Cixin’s trilogy. Rather than humanity working together to face alien adversaries, Jumpnauts has its cast of characters navigate a terrestrial geopolitical crisis, while communicating with benevolent visitors from the afar. Jingfang melds scientific futurism with age-old mythology in the most satisfying of ways, suggesting that human history is not at all what we think and holding out the trembling hope, that maybe … just maybe … our future is one of peace.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Eight books set on fictional islands

Elizabeth O'Connor lives in Birmingham. Her short stories have appeared in The White Review and Granta, and she was the 2020 winner of the White Review Short Story Prize. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Birmingham, specialising in the modernist writer H.D. and her writing of coastal landscapes.

O'Connor's new novel is Whale Fall.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight novels that are
set on unnamed or fictional islands; making them not grounded in a specific geography of place, but in the idea of an island. These unnamed islands have a global reach across Europe, Asia, East Africa, and North America, but the islands’ conditions—of isolation, of insularity, of instability—point to similar underlying ideas of disruption, allegory, colonial legacy and environmental care, forming an archipelago of novels mapping their connections to each other.
One title on O'Connor's list:
How I Won a Nobel Prize by Julius Taranto

Taranto’s fictional island off the coast of Connecticut hosts the Rubin Institute, a millionaire-funded university staffed by the “cancellees and deplorables” of traditional academia.

It’s one of a few books on this list that uses an island setting for a fabular, allegorical narrative, the island setting allowing for a contained mini-society that reads heavy with symbolism. The novel is sharp and funny, skewering the notion of modern cancel culture with exile to a phallic building. Its explorations of academic and free speech are suitably messy and ungratifying; as on the mutable ground of the shore, you never know quite where you stand.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Eight of the best campus novels ever written

Elise Juska’s new novel, Reunion, was named one of People Magazine’s “Best Books to Read in May 2024.” Her previous novels include The Blessings, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and If We Had Known. Juska’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Missouri ReviewPloughshares, The Hudson Review, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize from Ploughshares, and her short fiction has been cited by The Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies. She teaches creative writing at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

[The Page 69 Test: Reunion; My Book, The Movie: Reunion]

At CrimeReads Juska tagged eight novels "that interrogate the modern college experience or reflect on the past with a knowing eye." One title on the list:
Rebecca Makkai, I Have Some Questions for You

The past is not a place that film professor Bodie Kane is keen to revisit, until she accepts a teaching invitation at her alma mater, a New Hampshire boarding school. Back at Granby, teaching a course on podcasting, she confronts not only conflicting versions of her teenage self but the mysterious circumstances around the murder of her roommate, Thalia Keith. This campus novel is both an entertaining whodunit and a no-pulled-punches reckoning with the past.
Read about the other entries on the list.

I Have Some Questions For You is among Nicole Hackett's six top mysteries about motherhood and crime, Brittany Bunzey's ten books that take you inside their characters’ heads, Anne Burt's four top recent titles with social justice themes, and Heather Darwent's nine best campus thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 17, 2024

Five notable fictional works featuring sisters

Kimberly King Parsons is the author of the new novel We Were the Universe and the short story collection Black Light, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and the Story Prize. A recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and Columbia University, Parsons won the 2020 National Magazine Award for “Foxes,” a story published in The Paris Review. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner and children.

At Lit Hub she tagged five favorite fictional works featuring sisters, including:
Ruth Madievsky, All-Night Pharmacy

The first paragraph of Ruth Madievsky’s All-Night Pharmacy is perfectly emblematic of the sticky toxicity sisters can share:
Spending time with my sister, Debbie, was like buying acid off a guy you met on a bus. You never knew if it would end with you, euphoric, tanning topless on a fishing boat headed for Ensenada, or coming to in a gas station bathroom, the inside of your eyes feeling as though they’d been scraped out with spoons. Often, it was both.
It’s the “both” that captivates me—the way sisters can be so explosively unpredictable, can so suddenly shift their mood and allegiance. When Debbie disappears after a wild night of eating pills at Salvation, a trashy Los Angeles dance club, Madievsky’s unnamed narrator is pulled into a quest to find her sister and—now that their destructive relationship has somewhat dissolved—to find her own identity as well.

These charismatic sisters come through in gorgeous acoustics (Madievsky is also a poet), exuberant dialogue, and a plot so addictive you’ll try to gulp it down all in one go.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Five top Alice Munro short stories

Lisa Allardice is the Guardian's chief books writer.

She tagged five of the best Alice Munro short stories, including:
"The Beggar Maid" – New Yorker, 27 June 1977

This was the second Munro story to be published in the New Yorker in 1977, after Royal Beatings a few months earlier. Both are part of a series of stories following the character of Rose, over more than 40 years, and returning always to Hanratty, Munro’s fictional small town in southern Ontario. Rose’s life follows a very similar path to that of the author – from bookish girl growing up on the wrong side of town to scholarship, unwise first marriage, early motherhood, divorce, creative success and a measure of fame, and a return to the small town from which she longed to flee. It is an arc Munro revisited many times over the years. Here, in the fifth “Rose and Flo story”, our heroine has made first escape to University of Western Ontario in London (just like the author). As is the way of things for girls like Rose, she is only trading one trap for another: agreeing to marry privileged but priggish Patrick, who worshipped her and “because it did not seem likely such an offer would come her way again”.

Shame, self-delusion, ambition and regret, our inability to know our own minds – all the Munrovian raw materials are here. “It was a miracle; it was a mistake. It was what she had dreamed of; it was not what she wanted.” The inevitability of their doomed romance is clear from their first visits to their family homes: the plastic table cloth and tube of fluorescent light in the kitchen back at Hanratty; a lime-green plastic napkin holder in the shape of a swan, in contrast to Patrick’s parents’ mansion on Vancouver Island, where “size was noticeable everywhere and particularly thickness. Thickness of towels and rugs and handles of knives and forks, and silences. There was a terrible amount of luxury and unease.” Poor Rose.

Ten years of disastrous marriage ensue – she hits her head against the bedpost, he hits her; she smashes a gravy boat through the dining-room window (it was the decade of smashing gravy boats). “They could not separate until enough damage had been done, until nearly mortal damage had been done to keep them apart.” And, Munro continues in the next sentence, “until Rose could get a job and make her own money, so perhaps there was a very ordinary reason after all.” Munro was always alert to the economics of romance.

A chance encounter in airport late at night many years later results in a childish, ugly gesture, “a timed explosion of disgust and loathing”, which haunts the reader as it does Rose. How could anybody hate her that much, the middle-aged (now moderately famous TV presenter) Rose wonders. “Oh Patrick could, Patrick could.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Eight coming of age novels about immigrants & first generation Americans

Melissa Mogollon holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a BA from the George Washington University. Originally from Colombia and raised in Florida, she now teaches at a boarding school in Rhode Island, where she lives with her partner and dog.

Oye is her first novel.

At Electric Lit Mogollon tagged eight "incredible books that I hope will inspire the chaotic, weird, unrestrained, and glorious, blossoming 1st-gen immigrant in you." One title on the list:
All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews

Bless All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews because it delivers to us Sneha–a queer Indian woman in her 20s undergoing a self-examination of sorts concerning desire, community, financial security, and familial responsibilities. Sneha is apathetic, horny, and floating through her life-draining yet stability-providing corporate job in Milwaukee as she ponders what she wants vs. what is expected of her. Her tumultuous romance with an older white dancer and sometimes-intentional turn toward chaos make this an absolute necessary read for this list. Plus, the first chapter delivers one of the most iconic ending lines ever: “As the summer began, I move to Milwaukee, a rusted city where I had nobody, parents two oceans away, I lay on the sun-warmed wood floor of my paid-for apartment and decided I would be a slut.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

All This Could Be Different is among Vanessa Lawrence's eight books about young women searching for identity and purpose through work.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Four thrillers that explore a mother's worst nightmare

Andromeda Romano-Lax has been a journalist, a travel writer, and a serious amateur cellist. She is the author of The Spanish Bow, The Detour, and Behave, among others.

[The Page 69 Test: The Spanish Bow; The Page 69 Test: The Detour; Writers Read: Andromeda Romano-Lax (February 2012)]

Romano-Lax's new novel The Deepest Lake, set in Guatemala, is about a mother’s search for answers about her missing daughter.

At CrimeReads the author tagged four "emotional page-turners that convinced me the missing-child trope is both powerful and capacious, with room for further writerly exploration and interpretation." One title on the list:
Lisa Jewell, The Night She Disappeared

In Lisa Jewell’s The Night She Disappeared, we arrive at the story of a teen old enough to be a mother herself. Tallulah, 19, has gone on a date, leaving her baby in the care of her mother, Kim. Then Tallulah disappears. Kim has a hard time believing Tallulah would take off without her child, but then again, young adults are unpredictable.

Having thoroughly enjoyed my fill of mother-and-child stories in which the very young victim is unquestionably innocent, I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to novels like these precisely because the missing teen or young adult plays a more active and ambiguous role. Our grown or nearly-grown children sneak out, take risks, befriend the wrong people. They fail to answer emails and texts. They try on new identities. They make dangerous mistakes.

On top of that, everything we think we know about our older children relies on the interpretation of spotty memories. How serious was that crisis she had as a freshman in college? What was that argument we had last summer? A certain tone, a look, a silence—these are the clues which only a parent, not a P.I., can decipher.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 13, 2024

The 25 best time travel books

At the Waterstones blog Mark Skinner tagged twenty-five of the best time travel books. One title on the list:
The Midnight Library
Matt Haig

From the author of How to Stop Time comes this poignant, unique novel about regret, hope and forgiveness - and a library that houses second chances.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Midnight Library is among Mark Skinner's twelve great novels set in a bookshop or library and Clare Mackintosh's top ten books with “What if?” moments.

Also see Holly Smale's five time travel novels that explore what it means to be human and Damian Dibben's top ten time travel books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Ten novels about resisting productivity culture

Eliza Browning is an intern at Electric Literature.

She tagged ten writers who "use workplace fiction as a lens to examine late-stage capitalism, the gig economy, and the inevitable burnout." One title on the list:
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

36-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukura has never felt like she fits in, but when she starts working at the Hiiromachi branch of Smile Mart at the age of 18, she finds a sense of peace and purpose. By copying the social interactions and mannerisms of her coworkers, Keiko attempts to play the part of a “normal person,” until people around her begin to pressure her to get married and start a professional career. Convenience Store Woman is an incisive look at work culture and the pressure to conform in contemporary Japan.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Convenience Store Woman is among Anne Heltzel's seven books about women who refuse to fit in.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Six titles featuring killer women

Julie Mae Cohen is a UK-bestselling author of book club and romantic fiction, including the award-winning novel Together. Her work has been translated into 17 languages. She is vice president of the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK. Cohen grew up in western Maine and studied English at Brown University, Cambridge University, and the University of Reading, where she is now an associate lecturer in creative writing. She lives in Berkshire in the United Kingdom.

Cohen's new novel is Bad Men, her first thriller.

[The Page 69 Test: Bad Men; Q&A with Julie Mae Cohen]

At CrimeReads Cohen tagged six female killer books, including:
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

Everyone in Geeta’s small Indian village believes that she killed her husband. Geeta didn’t kill him, but she doesn’t mind the reputation—it means they leave her alone, and she’s rid of an abusive man. But when other women in the village start approaching her for help getting rid of their own terrible husbands, Geeta’s quiet life is over. But she styles herself after Phoolan Devi, the legendary Bandit Queen, who smashed the caste system and fought against her abusers. A spirited, funny, touching book that, like most of these killer novels, is really about female community.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 10, 2024

Five top books about video games

Keith Stuart is a UK-based author and journalist; he writes about video games, technology and digital culture.

His books include A Boy Made of Blocks and The Frequency of Us.

Stuart's new novel is Love is a Curse.

At the Guardian he tagged five books from which "avid gamers and utter newcomers alike will learn much about video games and our modern digital world." One title on the list:
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

A surprise bestseller following its publication in 2022, Zevin’s beautiful and gripping novel follows a trio of young game designers fulfilling their dreams and falling apart in the process. Although there is plenty of accurate detail about making games, this is really a novel about love, care and inspiration, which just happens to take place in a development studio.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is among Garnett Cohen's seven novels about characters shaped by their cravings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Eleven self-help books that may change your life

At Vogue Mia Barzilay Freund tagged eleven self-help books that will change your life, including:
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert takes readers by the hand and guides them toward a more compassionate, cooperative relationship with the creative spirit. Her suggestions range from the practical to the philosophical—exploring everything from dressing up to attract inspiration to understanding creative labor as both playful and serious. Her reflections are wise and reasonable, whimsical without being trite. She shares meaningful insights from her own creative practice and gets candid about pressing ahead in the face of work-halting fear.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Nine novels about women living alone

Amy Key is a poet and essayist based in London. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Luxe and Isn’t Forever.

Her new book, Arrangements in Blue: Notes on Loving and Living Alone, was inspired by her viral Granta essay, “A Bleed of Blue.”

At Electric Lit Key tagged nine "novels about women living alone." Her "list—by accident rather than intent—is formed of books where in solitude women contemplate their relationship to other women (in the main), rather than to men." One novel on the list:
Kick the Latch by Kathryn Scanlan

Described by one critic as a kind of “ghosted memoir,” the book unfolds over a sequence of 12 chapters, each formed of several immaculate vignettes, told by Sonia, a horse trainer. It’s the sort of book that could be read all in one go; it has a powerful, propulsive energy. But I found myself reading one or two each night, as I would poems. Each sentence is perfectly calibrated, each left me fizzing with my own desire to create. It was almost too much, too potent! I’m obsessed with this book.

Sonia largely lives alone “in a trailer, a motel room, a stall at the track” and sometimes out of her truck. She describes the kind of living environment I would hate, a bedroom that “looked onto a cow pen” and the possibility of waking up to a goat chewing on my sleeve if I left the door open, but Sonia herself is so pulsing with her electric life, her passion for horses and sharp expressiveness, I felt I wanted to live like her, if not with her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Six novels whose crimes and mysteries grow out of place & manners

Peter Nichols is the author of the bestselling novel The Rocks, the nonfiction bestsellers A Voyage for Madmen, Evolution's Captain, and three other books of fiction, memoir, and non-fiction. His novel Voyage to the North Star was nominated for the Dublin IMPAC literary award. His journalism has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has an MFA degree from Antioch University Los Angeles, and has taught creative writing there and at Georgetown University, Bowdoin College, and New York University in Paris.

Nichols's newest novel is Granite Harbor.

At CrimeReads the author tagged six (plus) "novels whose crimes and mysteries grow out of place and manners," including:
Jane Harper, The Dry

Jane Harper’s novels are set in Australia, beginning with The Dry, three of them featuring her detective Aaron Falk, others are stand-alone mysteries. Usually involving cold cases—not always murders, sometimes deaths resulting from tragic relationships—Harper’s slow-burn but cinematically rendered stories unwrap layers of Australian communities, family secrets, broken friendships that are defined by landscapes both beautiful and harsh.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Dry is among Kate Alice Marshall's five mysteries and thrillers about returning to your hometown, Olivia Kiernan's seven modern classics of small town mystery, Sarah J. Harris's top eight mysteries with images that might stay with you forever and Fiona Barton's eight favorite cold-case mysteries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 6, 2024

Fifteen books for fans of "Fallout"

At B&N Reads Isabelle McConville tagged fifteen books for fans of the post-apocalyptic TV-drama Fallout, including:
Lessons for Survival: Mothering against "the Apocalypse" by Emily Raboteau

American Book Award-winner, Emily Raboteu (Searching for Zion) knows in today’s climate (both environmental and social) we all need a stark reminder of the fragility of our planet and humanity — especially after enduring the fear of emerging from the vaults to a war-torn landscape alongside Lucy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Seven titles about women chasing love abroad

Juli Min is a Korean-American writer based in Shanghai. She holds an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson, and she studied Russian and comparative literature at Harvard University.

Her new novel is Shanghailanders.

At Electric Lit Min tagged seven books:
[all are] narratives about women pursuing love in foreign countries (and, in one case, foreign universes). All these novels follow characters experiencing literal and emotional displacement. They are met with the challenge of redefining their relationships, and themselves, on new grounds.
One title on the list:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

An “Americanah” is a Nigerian who returns to Nigeria after spending time in the U.S. and adopting Americanisms. Ifemelu, the heroine of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s contemporary romantic masterpiece, is one such returnee, who feels neither completely at home while studying abroad in America nor after moving back to Lagos. At every turn, Ifemelu is confronted with her outsider status, in life and in love. But her great romance is with Obinze, her college sweetheart from before leaving Lagos, and who has also lived life on two continents.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Americanah is among Amber Medland's top ten books about long-distance relationships, Lupita Nyong’o’s ten favorite books, Yara Rodrigues Fowler's ten favorite tales told in multiple languages, Greta Gerwig's ten favorite books, and Nada Awar Jarrar's ten favorite books about exile.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Five books that serve as love-letters to American cities

At The Amazon Book Review editor Erin Kodicek tagged five "great reads that also serve as love letters to the US cities in which they take place," including:
Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie


Skye Falling features a flawed, but lovable, heroine you can’t help but root for—a woman in constant motion, adept at maneuvering around life’s messiness, until one day she makes a discovery that stops her in her tracks. Skye Falling is a hilarious and heartfelt story about coming of age (in midlife!), filled with a cast of characters that McKenzie portrays with obvious affection, including the City of Brotherly Love.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 3, 2024

Five top books about eating

Sophie Ratcliffe is professor of literature and creative criticism at the University of Oxford and a fellow and tutor at Lady Margaret Hall. In addition to her scholarly books, including On Sympathy, she has published commentary pieces and book reviews for the Guardian, the New Statesman, and the Times Literary Supplement, among other outlets, and has served a judge for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction and the Wellcome Book Prize.

Ratcliffe's forthcoming book is Loss, A Love Story: Imagined Histories and Brief Encounters.

At the Guardian she tagged five of the best books about eating, including:
The Gastronomical Me by MFK Fisher

Fisher’s pioneering “gastrography” or “foodoir” won plaudits on its 1943 publication. Most famously from one of greatest poets of the 20th century. “I do not know of anyone in the United States who writes better prose”, wrote WH Auden. Fisher’s story is about her personal experience of food and the pain of war. She writes richly and variously of food and communion, of “the warm round peach pie and the cool yellow cream”, of how she “ate bread on a lasting hillside” or “drank red wine in a room now blown to bits”. An extraordinary combination of travelogue and feminism, strawberry jam and oysters, fascists and refugees, love and hunger.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue