Friday, April 18, 2014

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NY1 teams with the Huffington Post and Slate.com to review the latest books and book-related technologies.

The Book Reader: "Vampires In The Lemon Grove", "The Bell Jar"

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Zoe Triska of the Huffington Post reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in NY1's newest living segment, "The Book Reader".

This week, I finished Karen Russell's "Vampires In the Lemon Grove". Many of the short stories in the collection are magical realism, and they're mostly pretty creepy. I really liked Russell's last novel Swamplandia! I found the ending of that novel problematic though, so I was excited to read her short stories since those are her area of expertise.

There were some endings for the stories that I found lacking. Russell has a problem with wrapping things up cleanly, and while that works well with some stories, it doesn't work for others. However, the writing is beautiful and the plots are magnificent.

The stories towards the end of the book are great. The story about a boy who ends up punishing himself for bullying an outcast at school is extremely touching, and Russell's story about U.S. Presidents who turn into horses after they die is hilarious.

The book is now available for download and in print format from Knopf.

Lately, the topic of book covers has been extremely hot. British publishing house Faber came out with a 50th anniversary edition of Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar". Many people, including myself, have complained about the book cover.

"The Bell Jar" deals with a mentally unstable girl who suffers from severe depression and makes several suicide attempts. It is considered a semi-autobiographical version of Plath's life. Plath went on to commit suicide by putting her head in an oven.

What I want to know is: Who made the call to put a girl on the cover looking at herself in a makeup compact and applying powder to her face?

Of course book lovers judge books by their covers. Book cover design is a big part of what helps keep physical books alive. It is important for book covers to display a key theme in the book, and there are some publishers who continue to do this very well.

I understand the dilemmas that the traditional book publishing industry is facing right now. They need to make money in order to stay in business. These embarrassing book covers are probably selling well with teen girls.

But should the publishing houses lose their integrity and insult women just to make money?

For debates about questions like these, and other book news, check out The Huffington Post Books section.

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