The Brooklyn Book Festival is fast approaching and it’s time to get serious about your summer reading. After all, by the time the September festival rolls around, there could be a new Jonathan to obsess over — certainly you wouldn’t want to be the last to know.
With only three months to go, we’ve complied a list of the best new books from borough-based writers and publishers. So once you’ve plowed through Harry Potter’s latest adventure, toss these page-turners in the beach bag and start reading; whether it’s a quiet day in Prospect Park, a flight overseas or a trip on the L train, don’t leave home without one.
By most people’s standards, Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Mary South had it made: a successful career in book publishing and her own home, but somewhere around age 40, something changed. In her first book, South — a novice sailor — swaps her “normal” life to fulfill her dream of being one with the open sea. The memoir traces South’s journey and follows her around the world as she confronts her past and reinvents herself.
“The Importance of Being Dangerous,” from Downtown Brooklyn resident David Dante Troutt, is set during the economic boom of the 1990s, and tells the tale of a single mom, a dedicated defense lawyer and a troubled comedian struggling for a piece of the pie. When the three join a Harlem investment club, they plot to scam wealthy people who have harmed the neighborhood’s African-American community. But when one member’s fishy friend joins in, things go from dark to dangerous.
New from DUMBO’s Soft Skull Press and recently translated from Turkish, “The City in Crimson Cloak” definitely isn’t the most uplifting book on GO’s summer reading list — the book, set in Rio de Janiero, follows the main character Ozgur through bits and pieces of her unfinished, semi-autobiographical novel. Through the book-within-a-book approach, a broken woman struggles to make peace with life as she approaches her death.
Greenpoint’s Kate Christensen, author of “The Epicure’s Lament,” tells the tale of New York artist Oscar Feldman in this contemporary novel. More importantly, it focuses on the many ladies he left behind: a wife, a long-time lover and a sister. Five years after his death, the women begin to piece together his life for two competing biographers. The clashing perspectives of the womenfolk result in loads of dirty laundry and the uncovering of a scandalous second life Feldman led just over the Brooklyn Bridge.
It’s a bit late for what’s traditionally considered summer, but with the warm autumns we’ve been having, this quirky romance could still be read on a patio or in the park. Author Rudolph Delson hatched the idea for this book — an off-the-wall love story — on a walk through Park Slope. He writes about misanthropic Maynard, a complex ex-musician with a slew of quirks and a passion for filming fashion faux pas on the subway, and Jennica, a true romantic Californian with dreams of a life in the big city. Told by 35 narrators, including the 6 train itself, this is a classic New York tale.
The popular “Noir” series from Park Slope–based publisher Akashic Books all got started with “Brooklyn Noir” in 2004. Three years — and more than 10 volumes — later, the crime fiction series adds another title to its stable. Like the rest of the series, “Bronx Noir” is a multi-authored anthology of short stories from around the borough. From Brooklyn, to the Bronx, San Francisco, and Miami the noir mysteries are heating up this summer.