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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

Image by Kathryn Kirk via the Brooklyn Book Festival’s Flickr

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Hullabaloo Books opens Friday at 711a Franklin Avenue, the space previously occupied by controversial pawn shop Crow Hill Jewelry. (You may recall their, uh, interesting mural of a baby decked out in gold and cash.) The store will carry fiction, poetry, cookbooks, children’s books, art, and African American history and culture, starting with used books and gradually phasing in new ones as well as magazines. A section will be devoted to Crown Heights authors and artists. Owner Michael de Zayas also owns Little Zelda and Wedge Cheesemonger on the same street. A New York Daily News story about the store replacing the pawn shop called it “evidence of [the] next chapter for gentrifying Crown Heights enclave.” What do you think? Will the store be a welcome addition to the neighborhood?

Protests Against a Pawn Shop on Franklin [Brownstoner]
Franklin Avenue Business Owner Fundraising for New Bookstore [Brownstoner]
Crown Heights Pawnshop Is Back [Brownstoner]  GMAP