A new year means new books for students to consider, and with releases ranging from Tina Fey’s first funny foray to a postmodern writer’s posthumous novel, there’s plenty to look forward to.
The Oracle looks at some literary releases sure to soon stock bookstores.
“Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” by Jane McGonigal
For gamers who want to put down the controller and pick up a book, video game designer Jane McGonigal’s new book, “Reality is Broken,” offers an easy transition with its subject matter and “Halo” references.
Or maybe it’s actually good that the world plays an average 3 billion hours of video games a week, “Reality is Broken” argues, because it shows people at their most focused and increases social skills.
McGonigal also created “EVOKE,” a game developed by the World Bank Institute where players must solve social problems like poverty and food security.
The book’s critics say it doesn’t fully address troubles like violent video games, but the topic alone should persuade students to temporarily turn off their consoles – even if it’s in exchange for a Kindle.
Or read: “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website” by Daniel Domscheit-berg, due for release Feb. 15, is a tell-all with another technological theme.
“Unfamiliar Fishes” by Sarah Vowell
Essayist and public radio personality Sarah Vowell has attempted to make American history accessible – whether it’s by framing presidential assassination tales through a road trip or comparing Puritan history to “The Brady Bunch” episodes.
Her new written work “Unfamiliar Fishes” centers on the year 1898, when the U.S. annexed Guam, Puerto Rico and Hawaii in particular.
In leading up to the event, the book promises to cover Hawaii’s history – from rules about women sharing tables with men to President Barack Obama’s boyhood memories.
For students even remotely interested in the history of the 50th state, “Unfamiliar Fishes” should offer a wry, breezy read.
Or read: “Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason” by Mike Sachs, due for release March 1, offers more witty writing from another comedic essayist.
“Bossypants” by Tina Fey
Former “Saturday Night Live” and current “30 Rock” comedian Tina Fey releases her sure-to-be-popular literary debut in April.
“Bossypants” collects essays on subjects that range from breastfeeding to growing up as a nerd.
After winning the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor last year, Fey now has the chance to work in Twain’s same field, and a blurb jokingly credited to him reads, “Do not print this glowing recommendation of Tina Fey’s book until I’ve been dead a hundred years.”
If the cover art of her posing with disturbingly hairy arms is any indication, Fey still seems willing to at least offer up her image in the name of humor.
Or read: Fellow comedian Patton Oswalt’s essay collection “Zombie Spaceship Wasteland,” which is available now, tackles everything from movie theater memories to crummy comedy clubs.
“The Pale King” by David Foster Wallace
Best known for his 1,079-page humorous opus, “Infinite Jest,” author David Foster Wallace had been tooling on his third novel “The Pale King” from 1997 to 2008, when he committed suicide.
“The Pale King” pares down more than 1,000 pages of unfinished work into a 576-page finished product, which the Daily Beast suggests could be the most anticipated posthumous book since Nabokov.
The story involves IRS agents within a Peoria, Ill., examination center that is so mind-numbing it comes equipped with boredom survival training.
This might not seem like the most thrilling plot, but the publishers claim Wallace’s work “takes agonizing daily events … and turns them into moments of laughter and understanding.”
Or read: “While Mortals Sleep” by Kurt Vonnegut, available now, provides a posthumous collection of 16 previously unpublished short stories from the satirist.