Brooklyn is known as the “borough of churches,” but it is gaining a reputation as a borough of books. Steeped in literary history, it is home to some of the greatest writers and characters in literature.
We all know the classics. But what are the best books that embody Brooklyn’s spirit today? On Friday, the Brooklyn Eagles, volunteer fundraisers for the Brooklyn Public Library, gave their answer. (more…)
Brooklyn is officially so important that it needs its own guidebook — a side note in a general tourists’ guide to New York City won’t cut it anymore.
Guides to the borough aren’t completely new, of course — Not For Tourists has been publishing them for the better part of a decade — but on September 15 we’ll see the first Brooklyn book from acclaimed travel publisher Fodor’s. It’s 100 percent written by Brooklyn-based writers and gorgeously illustrated by Claudia Pearson, who’s been a mainstay at the Brooklyn Flea for years. (more…)
What book best captures Brooklyn’s zeitgeist? That’s the question on the minds of the book lovers behind the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize, who’ve just announced the finalists for this year’s inaugural contest.
The shortlist — 15 fiction works and 14 nonfiction — was culled from nominations submitted by borough bookstores and staffers at Brooklyn’s public libraries.
The prize was created by a group called the Brooklyn Eagles, who volunteer, raise money and otherwise advocate for the Brooklyn Public Library. They’re looking to honor “authors who have lived in Brooklyn, portrayed the borough in their work or addressed themes relevant to its life and culture.” (more…)
The Brooklyn Book Festival takes place Sunday, September 22, but there’s a whole week of Bookend events for literary nerds to enjoy every night until the festival. Starting Monday night, there will be book readings, literary discussions and other fun events at book stores, bars, and all other kinds of venues across Brooklyn. Compete in Nerd Jeopardy at BookCourt, attend the launch party for Art Spiegelman’s new comic book at Greenlight, or enjoy an evening of readings from Haitian authors at Crown Heights’ Five Myles Gallery. And all of the Book Festival events are free!
On Friday a new comic book store opened on Bergen Street between 5th Avenue and Flatbush. Bergen Street Comics comes c/o a husband-and-wife team who told us it’s their first business venture. The blog Geekanerd hailed its arrival by noting that it’s “not just any old comic shop, but one with leather seats, exposed brick, and original art on the walls. Rocketship may finally have some competition for all those Best Comic Store in Brooklyn awards.” The shop is located on the Pintchik-owned stretch that’s seen the arrival of a bunch of new businesses in the past few years, including Babeland, Organic Heights and Unnameable Books. Click through for an interior shot. Bergen Street Comics [Official Site] Bergen Street Comics Opens In Brooklyn’s Park Slope [Geekanerd] GMAP(more…)
Last year, a consortium of architects, scholars, real estate developers and urban planners formed a co-operative called The Metropolitan Exchange, or MEx, in downtown Brooklyn (that happens to be the name of the building in which they roost, at 33 Flatbush Avenue). Tomorrow evening, the brain trust makes its first official offering by way of the debut of a lecture series, Metropolitan Exchanges, “intended to spark dialogue between community members, architects, planners, activists and politicians about transformations to Downtown Brooklyn.” Tom Angotti of Hunter College will speak about his new book New York for Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate. “Professor Angotti will help to contextualize opportunities and challenges to community planning in Brooklyn by sharing stories from his book, discussing how activists have moved beyond simple protests and have formulated plans to protect neighborhoods against urban renewal, real estate mega-projects, gentrification, and environmental hazards.” For more events, check their Web site.
Peter Golenbock’s tome of Kings County history, In the Country of Brooklyn: Inspiration to the World, chronicles our neighborhoods, and the characters they spawned, from the 1920s until now. Greeks in Red Hook, Russians in Brighton Beach, Curtis Sliwa, Neil Sedaka, Pete Hamill, Shirley Chilsolm, White Flight, Dodgers, Marty Markowitz (“Brooklyn’s cheerleader”) — it’s all in there. And while there’s plenty for the history buffs, some might be most interested in the latter chapters on recent Brooklyn issues: Atlantic Yards, the remaking of Coney Island and our own real estate boom. The book has a decidedly uncritical bent; he attributes our real estate boom to Ratner’s Metrotech and Atlantic Center projects, and finds a pro-AY subject to interview for the chapter. As for Coney Island, he profiles Thor Equities’ Joseph Sitt and his plan to build a “glitzy billion-dollar hotel/mall/Las Vegas attraction on the boardwalk.” Not sure if this is the Brooklyn stuff that inspires the world, but the book is chock full of other interesting Brooklyn tidbits that might excuse the rose-colored-glasses view of certain modern projects. The book goes on sale today.
Brooklyn was once known as the City of Churches, but John B. Manbeck’s new book, Historic Photos of Brooklyn (It’s part of a “Historic Photos” series from the publisher), documents more than religious structures. He’s gathered nearly 200 rare photographs from the Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Public Library, Kingsborough Historical Society, Library of Congress, and New York State Archives. Shots include the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge and the opening of the Brooklyn Dodgers. But getting back to the nickname, they sent us a sneak preview of some of the Borough’s beloved churches.
There are people in Brooklyn who write books, according to an article in this week’s Observer, a phenomenon that has resulted in a “literary community.” The piece, which is actually thoughtful, includes a “somewhat arbitrary” “Brooklyn Literary 100” broken down by neighborhood. According to the list, the most literary neighborhood is the Slope, which boasts 20 writers/editors/assorted other literary types, followed by Fort Greene (19 bookish folks named, including Jhumpa Lahiri, Jennifer Egan and Colson Whitehead), and Boerum Hill, where 13 men/women of letters, including Jonathan Lethem, reside. We find it ironic that the most literary neighborhood in Brooklyn, by this account, is also the one that’s seen the shuttering of two independent bookstores over the past year. The Brooklyn Literary 100 [NY Observer] Photo by mdash
In a sign of just how ridiculously busy we’ve been juggling the flea market launch and our blogging duties, we’ve somehow managed to neglect giving a shout-out to a fantastic new book by Diana Lind called Brooklyn Modern. (This omission is all the unforgivable given the fact that we have a frigging essay in the book, as does Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge.) Bottom line: Buy it. (Or at least go park yourself in a chair at Barnes & Noble and read it.) What we love about the book, which covers 18 homes in Broooklyn, is the the resourcefulness and creativity it reveals. In addition to the ground-up modern homes featured in the book, there are a number of older buildings revealed in their modern reinterpretations that we find particularly interesting. (There’s also some incredible photography by Yoko Inoue.) Diana is also taking part in a multi-day Q&A on the Times’ City Room Blog. Here’s a short clip: “No, I don’t think that these pseudo-Modern buildings [going up in Williamsburg] will be looked at with the same admiration that we reserve for brownstones. Very few large condominiums built in New York in the past half-century have been revered; I don’t see much of the work in Brooklyn as any exception.” Word.
The Times has a review of an intriguing new book called House Lust: America’s Obsession With Our Homes by Daniel McGinn (Currency, $24.95) that tackles questions many of us can presumably relate to, like, How did home renovations come to routinely turn families’ lives upside down? and Why do thousands of us now watch reality shows about home flipping or house hunting? Although the book doesn’t specifically zoom in on Brooklyn, or even New York City, real estate, it does examine larger cultural trends that hit close to home, such as how in recent years (before the subprime fallout, anyway) Americans came to see home ownership as the most valuable investment they could make, leading many to fetishize their homes. For example, McGinn looks at Fix-Up Fever in Newtown, Mass., where he finds owners engaged in renovations for the purpose of one-upping their neighbors. The author’s conclusion? Our homes may no longer be making us rich, but living through an era when we thought they might has resulted in a permanent shift in thinking â€” one that will leave many of us happily obsessed with houses for years to come. Who Needs a 401(k)? I’d Rather Have a Castle. Book cover from Amazon.