Saturday, August 30, 2014

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

The Book Reader: "Gun Guys: A Road Trip," "Maggie & Me"

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TWC News: The Book Reader: "Gun Guys: A Road Trip," "Maggie & Me"
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Andrew Losowsky of The Huffington Post reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in NY1's twice-weekly segment "The Book Reader."

Books are slow. It usually takes a few years to get from idea to finished book, so it's not easy for them to be current. But sometimes writers get lucky, and the idea they had way back when is published just as everyone is talking about the same topic.

That's certainly the case for "Gun Guys: A Road Trip," a first-person voyage into the heart of gun ownership in the United States. The author, Dan Baum, is himself a gun owner, but a self-proclaimed east coast liberal one who sets out to listen to, and understand the mentality of those who stridently defend their Second Amendment rights.

This is the kind of narrative I'd been looking for -- a level-headed appreciation of both sides, far from overheated political posturing. It taught me how gun ownership makes some people more responsible as citizens. The book intelligently explains why an assault weapons ban may not make sense, and comes up with fresh and sensible proposals to reduce the number of gun fatalities in America.

I finished "Gun Guys" with far more empathy for gun owners and their rights, and a very different understanding of some of the issues at stake. If you're interested in realistic solutions around firearms in this country, I highly recommend it.

"Gun Guys" is out now in hardback and download from Knopf.

Also timely is Damian Barr's "Maggie & Me," out now as an e-book from Bloomsbury. Barr is a gay man who grew up in a working class area in Scotland, and this memoir parallels his own life with the prime ministership of Margaret Thatcher.

Barr idolized the British leader as a child, even as her policies encouraged homophobia and took away his father's job. This moving and provocative memoir was supposed to come out in hardback in the fall, but was rushed through as an e-book in the aftermath of Thatcher's recent death.

It's an excellent read, and a vital reminder of how much we are shaped by the culture which surrounds us, however much we struggle against its often-wrongheaded ideas.

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