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.
The BookMark Shoppe’s pick: “The Devlin Diary”
“The Devlin Diary” by Christi Phillips reminds me of a mix between “The DaVinci Code” and “The Birth of Venus.” The novel follows Claire Donovan of Cambridge, class of 2008, as she tracks down a vicious killer that stalked Londoners during the 17th century. “The Devlin Diary” is filled with political intrigue, true historical facts, and proof that a secret cannot stay buried forever.
— Bina Valenzano, co-owner, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833-5115].
Greenlight’s pick: “The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine”
Alina Bronsky’s second novel is a delight. Tim Mohr does a fine job translating the sure-footed narration of one woman’s family life through the twilight of the Soviet regime. Quirky Rosa meddles in every aspect of her daughter’s life in the name of her Tartar heritage, bringing vibrancy to the otherwise bleak outlook of the 1980s Eastern Bloc. (Editor’s note: This is the second appearance of Bronsky’s novel in book picks, so that should tell you something.)
— Rebecca Fitting, co-owner, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200].
WORD’s pick: “The Dewey Decimal System”
Composer and musician Nathan Larson plunges us into a Manhattan gone mad. The city’s infrastructure has been derailed by a massive bombing and our narrator, an amnesiac ex-soldier rechristened Dewey Decimal, is doing his best just to get by. For him, that means squatting in the New York Public Library, running odd jobs (mostly violent in nature) for the district attorney, and following an obsessive-compulsive disorder–inspired system to keep his post-traumatic-stress-disorder–born neuroses at bay. But his most recent job may trump even his system’s ability to maintain order in the chaos. Stark and gripping, this one should go to the top of your summer reading pile.
— Jenn Northington, events manager, WORD [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383-0096].