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.
On the surface, “Fragile” is a story of the kidnapping of a young girl in a small town outside of New York City. But beneath this simple story, Lisa Unger shows how one single event can turn an entire community apart, and how life will never be the same, not only for the family involved, but the whole town.
— Bina Valenzano, co-owner, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833-5115].
I have a soft spot for books set in my hometown, Bakersfield, California, often described as “dusty” — it’s two hours from L.A. and a world apart. Manuel Muñoz makes the combination of small-town intimacy, desert bleakness, and the proximity to Hollywood into the perfect setting for a tragic and unconventional late 1950s noir mystery, featuring a shy Mexican singer, the town’s golden boy, a failing hotel, and the making of “Psycho,” among other elements. It’s masterfully written, with great characterizations and a powerful sense of atmosphere, and the story is as haunting as an old country song.
— Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, co-owner, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200].
You should read this novel partly because it will make you think, and partly because it is surprising, but mostly because it’s brilliant. Jesse Ball has created an intense portrait of a family being torn apart by war without giving any details other than those of the characters themselves — the war, their city, their country, all are unspecified, making the book a universal cry against political violence. But William and Molly, father and daughter, are achingly familiar, and their story will catch you and hold you captive. “The Curfew” is a short, precise and haunting masterpiece.
— Jenn Northington, events manager, WORD [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383-0096].