Word’s pick: “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah
The title of Trevor Noah’s memoir is not figurative — it’s literal. Growing up in apartheid Sourth Africa, Noah was hidden from anyone but his family until the age of 6, and when he stepped outside, he would walk beside women who matched his skin tone to keep his mother from being picked up by the police. It’s for fans of “The Daily Show,” for anyone still bitter Noah taking over the show from Jon Stewart, and for anyone who wants to know about living under apartheid. Noah conveys the reality of living in shanties with no running water and newspaper for toilet paper with a dose of humor — at least it kept him informed on current events!
— Ashanti Wallace-White, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” by Christopher Isherwood
While stumbling around in post-election grief, I stumbled on Isherwood’s “Mr. Norris Changes Trains,” a book for our dark times. The story follows British expat William Bradshaw as he navigates the seedy, beautiful underbelly of 1930s Berlin. As he falls into the orbit of Arthur Norris, an importer-exporter with shady friends, their relationship becomes a prism through which we can see the early rise of Hitler’s Germany. Isherwood’s novel is a gorgeous, seductive story that pulses with those lives — Jewish, communist, pacifist, gay — that would fall victim to the coming currents of hate.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “The Unreal and the Real” by Ursula K. Le Guin
I discovered Ursula K. Le Guin very late, and with every novel and essay I read I think: More. More magic worlds, more fierce intelligence, more bold explorations into the workings of power, the realms of men and women, the sweetness and bitterness of human life. Here is more: dozens of short stories, both fantastical and earthbound, along with Le Guin’s own calm, humorous, wry introduction detailing why she chose these famous and lesser-known pieces. It’s a rich feast for passionate fans or newcomers, best savored slowly and discussed at length.
— Jessica Bagnulo, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].