‘Dept of Speculation’ ‘While Beauty Slept’ ‘Karate Chop’

What to read this week

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WORD’s pick: “Dept. of Speculation” by Jenny Offill

This tiny jewel of a book is pensive, heartbreaking, glorious, and deftly, impeccably pieced together. Our narrator, known only as the wife, makes her way through endless everyday challenges — a crying baby, a shaky marriage, the never-ending task of reconciling the person you thought you would be with the person it seems you actually are. Ovid, Rilke, Kafka, astronauts, I Can Has Cheezburger — the things woven into her observations and consolations are familiar, but Offill’s brief, poignant snippets of a life are anything but ordinary. This little book is hard to explain and impossible to put down. At about 175 pages, you can devour it in one cold night.

— Molly Templeton, WORD [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096,].

The BookMark Shoppe’s pick: “While Beauty Slept” by Elizabeth Blackwell

A Brothers Grimm classic comes alive in Blackwell’s retelling of “Sleeping Beauty.” Elise Dalriss has kept quiet for over 50 years, allowing rumors to swirl about Rose, the princess asleep in her castle and awoken by true love’s kiss. But when her great-granddaughter finds a jewel-encrusted dagger in Elise’s trunk, the actual tale is finally revealed. Elise was lady-in-waiting to first the Queen and then Princess Rose. She experienced first-hand the evil that Millicent, the King’s sister, was capable of when she wanted her rightful place in court. A masterful twist at the end where the entire castle is asleep as a prince comes to save his princess brings our fairy tale to life. Truly magical and brilliant in its ordinary true-to-life retelling of a wonderful classic.

— Bina Valenzano, co-owner, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833–5115,].

Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Karate Chop” by Dorthe Nors

Danish writer Dorthe Nors’ slim but stunning story collection, “Karate Chop,” may be one of the best collections of 2014. Each piece, while deceptively short, contains enormous power and offers keen insight into the brief, sometimes overlooked, but often life-changing moments of our lives. I can’t wait to see more from this writer.

— Emily Russo, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200,].

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