Friday, December 26, 2014

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NY1 teams with contributors from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and Essence Magazine to review the latest books and book-related trends.

The Book Reader: "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore"

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Andrew Losowsky of The Huffington Post reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in NY1's twice-weekly living segment, "The Book Reader."

This week, I thought I'd share two of my favorite novels from last year that changed the way I look at the world.

"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" by Ben Fountain is a fictional story set in Texas during the second Iraq war, about a group of soldiers who have returned as heroes following a bloody battle with insurgents. The story takes place during their Victory Tour, building up to a public appearance in the Dallas Cowboys halftime show.

Available in paperback and download, this intimate, brutally satirical book reminds us of the disconnect between those who fight and those who cheer them from back home. If you aren't close with any serving military, and even if you are, this book truly shows how disorienting it is for soldiers to talk to people who have no understanding of what they've been through. It's a truly great piece of writing whose message I believe will endure.

The other book's message won't endure because it's very much a product of this moment - and hugely enjoyable for it. "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by former Twitter employee Robin Sloan achieves the remarkable feat of celebrating both print and digital. Set inside a bookstore that hides a mystery among the volumes on its shelves, its fast-paced plot features a girl who works at Google, piracy of typography, and a 500-year-old secret society.

Though the characters and plot aren't anything remarkable, this witty tribute to storytelling and the Internet makes you think in new ways about what can technology can do for us - and what it can't.

It's available now in hardback and, fittingly, download.

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