Who can you always count on when you’re in a bind and need a good book? Your neighborhood bookstore, of course, whose employees read all the newest books before you do. That’s why we’re running this semi-regular column featuring must-reads, handpicked and written about by the staff at some of our favorite independent bookstores in Brooklyn.
“Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Stout is … all about Olive Kitteridge. Half told thru the eyes of the small town neighbors who know her best, readers get a perceptive, accurate portrait of a woman sometimes patient, sometimes stern. The other chapters of filled with Kitteridge’s thoughts and feelings on life in Crosby, Maine. This fictional story celebrates the joy and tragedies of a very human character.
— Bina Valenzano, co-owner, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833-5115].
Lev Grossman’s epic follow-up to his bestselling novel “The Magicians” brings back Quentin Coldwater, his directionless Brooklyn hero. He’s found his place as a king of the magical land of Fillory, but goes questing for more adventure. His story is told alongside that of his high school friend Julia, who took a more dangerous, back-streets route to magicianhood. Their respective journeys take them to European mansions, dingy safehouses, and alternate worlds, through encounters with old friends, dragons, and gods — but their awkwardness and struggles are painfully realistic. Grossman’s irreverent hero’s quest delivers, action, suspense, philosophy, and some really wonderful magic.
— Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, co-owner, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200].
Manhattan, New Year’s Eve, 1938: A time where men eagerly lit a woman’s cigarette and heated debates over art and literature were the norm. Two twenty-something girls out on the town looking for adventure meet Tinker Grey, a young man of means, and their lives are changed forever. I’m a sucker for New York City nostalgia as it is, but Amor Towles’s book had me completely hooked from the start. The characters are vibrant and alive, and the descriptions of New York are poetic, so much so that the city is a character in and of itself. I loved every minute of it. (Editor’s note: This is the second appearance of Towles’s novel in book picks, so that should tell you something.)
— Christine Onorati, owner, WORD [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383-0096].