Monday, February 20, 2017

Top ten books about the immigrant experience

Abeer Y. Hoque is a writer, photographer, and editor. Her new book is Olive Witch: A Memoir.

One of the author's ten essential books about the immigrant experience, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

Forget that Island of a Thousand Mirrors is Nayomi Munaweera’s first book. You won’t be reminded of it for a second. Not with that assured plot, the omniscient and precise characterization, the beautiful language, and the telling of tragic war torn history through the eyes of children and ordinary people. The story follows three children growing up in Colombo through civil war, the Tamil resistance movement, and a new life in America. It’s all seamlessly done, Munaweera taking charge of the storytelling like the fables of old. This book is a fast ferocious education in Sri Lankan history, a wrenching treatise on the horrors of war, and a deeply moving story of families, childhood friendships, and adult relationships. “This is what it means, then, to be spoiled. It means to be broken. It means forever.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ten top alternate Londons in fantasy

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged ten favorite alternate Londons in fantasy. One title on the list:
The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman

The London visited by Library Spy Irene in the first book of Cogman’s popular series is definitely “alternate,” in the sense that it’s fairly squirming with vampires, faeries, and werewolves. The mysterious book the magical librarians have been sent there to retrieve there has already been stolen when they arrive, and Cogman has a lot of fun playing with Alternate London’s Alternate Criminal Elements, which begin a complex game of violent maneuvers to take control, giving us a deep-dive into her vision of a grim, magical city.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ten amazing novels that begin “Dear Diary"

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged ten amazing novels that begin “Dear Diary," including:
Random Acts of Senseless Violence, by Jack Womack

Womack’s 1993 novel should have made a big splash, considering his award-winning work up to that point, but it was largely ignored (some blame the garish cover). The diary of 12-year old Lola, who goes from a sheltered girl attending a tony private school in Manhattan to a streetwise gangster as a near-future American society falls apart around her spins a frighteningly plausible story of decline—one that resonates even more sharply today.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 17, 2017

Five books to read if you loved "Hidden Figures"

Swapna Krishna is a freelance writer, editor, and giant space and sci-fi geek. At Tor.com she tagged five books to read if you loved Hidden Figures, including:
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

You may not realize that employing women as human computers goes back long before NASA and the age of spaceflight. In the mid-1800s, Harvard University began using the wives, sisters, and daughters of their resident (male) astronomers as calculators, but later began employing women in their own right. In an age when photography was transforming the astronomy, it was women who were tasked with studying the photographic glass plates of the sky each day. Women made some of the biggest discoveries in astronomy in this era, heralding the beginning of the discipline of astrophysics, yet their contributions have largely been forgotten to history. Sobel’s book begins in the 1880s and continues all the way through the 1950s, celebrating the different women who worked over the years to advance our understanding of the universe.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Top ten books about the Vikings

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough is the author of Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Saga. One of her ten top books about the Vikings, as shared at the Guardian:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Continuing the theme of Norse myths reimagined for the modern era, American Gods is a classic in the genre. Immigrants to America have brought their gods and guardian spirits with them, but as beliefs fade, so does the power of the old gods. New deities have risen to take their place, and the scene is set for a modern-day Ragnarok – the final battle in Norse mythology, where the gods must fall.
Read about the other entries on the list.

American Gods is among Jeff Somers's ten sci-fi & fantasy books that take on norse mythology and ten top SFF stories lousy with giant spiders, Josh Ritter's six favorite books that invoke the supernatural, and John T. Ottinger's top 12 science fiction and fantasy novels and stories that are uniquely American.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Five unexpectedly romantic novels

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged five unexpectedly romantic novels, including:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

Westley is but a farm boy, but he loves the beautiful Princess Buttercup, and she too loves him, but it is not to be, because they come from different stations in life. Nevertheless, Westley leaves his beloved to find his fortunes, learns the skills necessary to become worthy of her, reunites with her, and then gets himself horrifically tortured and killed because the Princess is betrothed to the evil Prince Humperdinck. Mere temporary setbacks for Westley. With a little help from Miracle Max, Westley fights off death because he simply has to be with Princess Buttercup. The book simply must have a happy ending. As you wish.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Princess Bride is among Darren Croucher's top six 1980s (and 80s-inspired) novels, Nicole Hill's five best novels written as genre parodies that stand on their own and eight notable royal figures in fiction, Jeff Somers's five best grandfathers in literary history, Sebastien de Castell's five duelists you should never challenge, the Guardian's five worst book covers ever, Rosie Perez's six favorite books, Stephanie Perkins' top ten most romantic books, Matthew Berry's six favorite books, and Jamie Thomson's top seven funny books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Twelve top books about the Syrian experience

At Signature, Keith Rice tagged twelve of the best books to understand the Syrian experience, including:
A Word for Love by Emily Robbins

Emily Robbins’s debut novel, A Word for Love, introduces us to Bea, an American exchange student living in Syria. In writing this novel, Robbins tapped into the knowledge and experience she gained during her own time in the Middle East as a Fulbright Fellow in Syria from 2007 to 2008. During that time, just before the Syrian War, she studied religion and language with a women’s mosque movement and lived with the family of a leading intellectual.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: A Word for Love.

The Page 69 Test: A Word for Love.

Writers Read: Emily Robbins (January 2017).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 13, 2017

Lydia Peelle's six favorite books

Lydia Peelle is an accomplished writer of short fiction. Her first novel is The Midnight Cool. One of the author's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Multispecies Salon, edited by Eben Kirksey

What's more revolutionary than contemplating the rights and interconnectedness of plants, animals, fungi, even microbes — and then aspiring to a more expansive post-humanist society? This collection's contributors include such radical thinkers as Karen Barad and Donna Haraway. Reading it, my heart enlarges and my mind breaks free of its ruts.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Five literary crushes for Valentine's Day

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged five literary crushes from books he's read, including:
Scarlett O’Hara (Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell)

Now here is a woman who is self-reliant, can get things done, and doesn’t need a man. That’s the whole point of Gone With the Wind. She journeys from being a “silly” Southern belle who’s so spoiled that she can’t and won’t do anything for herself, and then the War of Northern Aggression breaks out, and before you know it, Scarlett is fighting off troops, defending her home and family, making awesome dresses out of what’s literally hanging in the window, and rising above it all to never go hungry again. You don’t want her, Rhett Butler? Well she doesn’t even need you.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone With the Wind is among Tara Sonin's six literary antiheroines you’ll love to hate (and maybe love, too), four books that changed Jodi Picoult, five books that changed Kimberley Freeman, Becky Ferreira's seven best comeuppances in literature, Emily Temple's ten greatest kisses in literature and Suzi Quatro's six best books, and was a book that made a difference to Pat Conroy. It is on the Christian Science Monitor's list of the ten best novels of the U.S. Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Five of the best climate-change novels

Three Guardian editors came up with five of the best climate change novels, including:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

There’s a brief reference to what could be nuclear attack or a comet strike – “a sudden shear of light and then a series of low concussions” – but the slow process of climate change isn’t mentioned in this terrifying 2006 novel about a man and his young son struggling to survive after the fall of civilisation. Make no mistake, though, this is a book about environmental apocalypse: what would happen to humans, and our humanity, if the natural world was no longer a self-replenishing, bountiful support system for the higher apes who scratch at its surface but just another dead rock in space.

In the first years after the catastrophe, the roads were crowded with refugees, foraging remaining food stocks. Survivors descended into “bloodcults”, savagery and cannibalism. Nine years on, if the man and boy meet other humans, they will almost certainly be raped and eaten. The father keeps a pistol by him, to kill his son and then himself when the time comes; the mother committed suicide years before. This is a hard book to read but also, as Andrew O’Hagan put it, “the first great masterpiece of the globally warmed generation”.

McCarthy writes in an unrelenting, declamatory prose somewhere between the Bible and late Beckett, stripped for the most part of the adornment of apostrophes and speech marks and the breathing space provided by commas. He grapples not only with human suffering and savagery on a baroque, almost unimaginable scale; with faith, love and the blunt urge to survive; but with the existential horror of the possible end of the human race. The fragility of human endeavour and the terrifying consequences of our choices are the message to take from this devastating book.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Road appears on Claire Fuller's top five list of extreme survival stories, Justin Cronin's top ten list of world-ending novels, Rose Tremain's six best books list, Ian McGuire's ten top list of adventure novels, Alastair Bruce's top ten list of books about forgetting, Jeff Somers's lists of five science fiction novels that really should be considered literary classics and eight good, bad, and weird dad/child pairs in science fiction and fantasy, Amelia Gray's ten best dark books list, Weston Williams's top fifteen list of books with memorable dads, ShortList's roundup of the twenty greatest dystopian novels, Mary Miller's top ten list of the best road books, Joel Cunningham's list of eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror, Claire Cameron's list of five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Isabel Allende's six favorite books list, the Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Joseph D’Lacey's top ten list of horror books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Ken Jennings's list of eight top books about parents and kids, Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. In 2009 Sam Anderson of New York magazine claimed "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 10, 2017

Six timeless & timely must-reads for Black History Month

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. For B & N Reads she tagged "six timeless and timely must-reads" for Black History Month, including:
Between the World And Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Atlantic correspondent Coates earned the National Book Award—along with countless other accolades—for this slim but profound book, a riveting and incredibly timely cultural critique and personal narrative delivered in the form of letters to his young son. Touching on moments both significant and small, Coates addresses race, politics, class, violence, and other cultural ideas while asking and exploring questions that may not quite have answers yet. Evocative and thought-provoking, Coates’ modern-day exploration of what it means to be black will have you rethinking the world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Between the World And Me is among Ted Koppel's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top alt history YA novels

At the BN Teen blog Nicole Hill tagged seven top alt history YA novels, including:
Dodger, by Terry Pratchett

It wasn’t often that the late Pratchett dallied from his long-running Discworld series, but when he did, he knocked it out of the park. Here, he hangs all his comedy chops on Dodger, a 17-year-old urchin in Victorian London. With one Good Samaritan act, Dodger’s world gets turned upside down, as he climbs the social ladder to rescue a young girl. Along the way, he has run-ins with real-life heavyweights including Charles Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli, and colorful fictional characters like Sweeney Todd. You just never know who’ll turn up.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue