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.
“The Best American Short Stories of 2011” edited by Geraldine Brooks is a good choice to read during our shortest month of the year! When I don’t have much free time, short stories are a great choice so I can easily pick up where I left off. The Best American Series chooses top writers to contribute to each of their volumes, including mysteries, essays, sports writing, and short stories. My pick is in this collection is “Housewifely Arts,” by Megan Mayhew Bergman.
— Bina Valenzano, co-owner, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833-5115].
Nathan Englander’s new collection of stories, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” is probably going to be one of the most talked about books this season. His stories range from the bittersweet (“The Reader”) to the shocking (“Camp Sundown”). There were stories in this new collection that I adored and others that left me winded, but I can tell you one thing, it’s a collection of work I won’t soon forget. It’s well-crafted, engaging and without a doubt thought-provoking. Englander will discuss this new collection with friend and fellow writer, Colum McCann (author of the National Book Award-winning novel, LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN) on Thursday, February 9th. I, for one, can’t wait!
— Emily Russo Murtagh, interim events coordinator, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200].
In this great novel set in modern North Korea, Johnson has taken bizarre Kim Jong Il anecdotes, the horror stories of defectors, and his own experiences and combined them into a book that reminds us that behind the lives we can barely understand, there are people who want the same things we do. Fittingly, it’s darkly funny and absurdly serious. When most Americans talk about North Korea, they talk about how they can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like over there — with this book, Johnson gives us a good place to start.
— Stephanie Anderson, event manager