I have not worked in a convenience store, but I have spent my life working in bookstores, and Sayaka Murata’s description of all the subtleties of working in a shop are on point! The main character Keiko follows her own path, which some criticize as “unambitious;” she spends her life working in a convenience store in Japan. She is one with the rhythm of the store, noticing when customers enter, how their purchases change the displays, eating food from the store, absorbing the store’s policies and rules. Keiko’s life gets derailed when a co-worker crosses her boundaries and the pressures of the outside world make her feel she should make changes. I won’t tell you what happens when she tries to branch out, but all of it makes for an incredibly good read.
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Flights,” by Olga Tokarczuk
Olga Tokarczuk’s novel “Flights,” winner of this year’s Man Booker International award, is a dizzying meditation on travel, movement, borders, and history. We try to keep up as our enigmatic narrator pulls us along through a cabinet of curiosities encompassing disparate time zones — and centuries — to show us missing persons, refugees, itinerant professors, self-dissecting anatomists, and much more.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun
Word’s picks: “Gross Anatomy,” by Mara Altman
Do you love Mary Roach, but wish her books were a little more profane? Do questions about the gendered, political nature of the female body coupled with thoughts of “what is that on my leg?” keep you up at night? I have the book for you. “Gross Anatomy” is a collection of essays about just that, what on Earth is going on with our bodies, and our obsession with controlling them. Why exactly do we want to prevent our bodies from doing what they are made to do? And why on Earth are they doing that anyway? With wit, humor, and plenty of honesty, Altman chronicles her explorations in this fantastic follow-up to her debut “Thanks for Coming.” You should pick that one up too.
— Hannah Oliver Depp, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbo