If you enjoy feel-good sports stories, “Queen of Katwe” by Tim Crothers should be your next pick! Recently adapted into a film from Disney, the story follows Phiona, a young girl from the slums of Uganda, who learns the game of chess and uses those lessons to overcome the struggles she was born. Her journey to becoming a chess champion was very inspiring, and had me cheering for Phiona to the end.
— Karrie Ducusin, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
Community Bookstore’s pick: “The Ballad of Pekham Rye” by Muriel Spark
Muriel Spark writes like she wants to get in trouble. Her vicious-edged wit is on display in “The Ballad of Pekham Rye,” a rich tableau of mischief and mayhem from which no character escapes unscathed. When the sinister Dougal Douglas arrives in Pekham promising salvation from the everyday, the quaint working-class town is thrown into chaos. Hearts are corrupted, marriages broken, and madmen are driven to murder — all the good things a Spark novel promises.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun
On Sept. 3, 1857, the ship Central America sank off the Carolina coast. Four hundred passengers and 21 tons of California gold vanished into the sea. More than a century later, Tommy, a maverick engineer from Ohio, made it his mission to find the ship and recover its gold. Author Gary Kinder digs deep into the accounts of the Central America’s survivors and victims, and of those who worked close with Tommy, turning a journey of scientific inquiry into a deeply personal read.
— Grace Ecton, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl