Community Bookstore’s pick: “How Not to Make a Human,” by Karl Steel
Sifting through esoteric medieval manuscripts for forgotten gems, Steel furnishes the reader with entangled stories of human beings and how we are shaped by nature. Chock full of stranger-than-fiction anecdotes about feral children, adventures in cannibalism, sky burial rituals, and more, Steel provides compelling documentation that thinking critically about the ecology has a much longer history than we may imagine.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].
Word’s picks: “White Girls,” by Hilton Als
This book is worth picking up for the first essay alone, a long-form dissection of a relationship that plays with the fluidity of gender, race, and sexuality, and that calls the entire notions of memory, identity, and longing into question. Als is a razor-sharp cultural critic, and several of the essays in this book changed the way I watch, read, and listen to media. This is a first-rate collection of criticism.
— Ryan Evans, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Topics of Conversation,” by Miranda Popkey
Miranda Popkey’s great debut novel “Topics of Conversation” is structured around a series of conversations and monologues about female sexuality, power, and misogyny that occur over the course of 20 years in the narrator’s life. The outstanding centerpiece is an angry recounting of the night Norman Mailer stabbed his wife, told through a Youtube video of a documentary outtake. It is great for fans of Mary Gaitskill, Renata Adler, and Ottessa Moshfegh.
— Matt Stowe, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].