“The Chain” is one of the best works of investigative journalism I’ve read in a long time. The book focuses on factory farms in Middle America, and then branches out to cover immigration, workers’ rights, animal welfare, nutrition, and environmental sustainability. Ted Genoways reports from a place where multiple issues intersect and affect one another, and he does so with factual support for his story and compassion for the people in it.
— Geo Ong, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl
Word’s pick: “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead has written in almost every genre, but this blending of history and fantasy has created my favorite novel. “Underground Railroad” takes the idea of a literal railroad and applies it to the real trials of slavery. Whitehead’s gift for character and dialog are on full display in the brilliant Cora and bold Cesar, whose escape the novel follows. People will tell you this novel is important and powerful, which it is, but it is first and foremost a transportive read.
— Hannah Depp, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
This newly translated book by 2015 Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich is a profound exploration of the fall of the Soviet Union, told by the victors and victims themselves. She stitches together diverse, moving stories that chronicle the absolute suffering of the Great Patriotic War, optimism about the socialist future, life in the prison camps, and the shouts of revolution in streets, all to create an entrancing, often horrifying document of the Soviet fall and aftermath. At a time when our politics are becoming tangled in Russian intrigue, “Secondhand Time” is an essential — and deeply moving — read.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun