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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

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Movies, books, and TV shows in Queens – how many have you seen?

A while back we wrote an article on the books set in Queens, and we’ve followed up with a list of movies and TV shows set in Queens. It’s pretty cool to see parts of Queens in these moving pictures. So check out our list and let us know if we’ve forgotten your favorite film or TV show. We’re always interested in learning more!

LIC Living is here

We Heart Astoria has posted about LIC Living, a new shopping spot in LIC at 5-35 51st Ave. They sell home decor, candles, women’s accessories, clothing, and kids stuff. It was started by Jillian Tangen and Rebekah Witzke, local LIC friends who shared a common vision when it came to what a boutique shop should be. They noticed there weren’t many shopping options in the neighborhood, so they opened up their own shop. It sounds like a fab place and we look forward to checking it out!

Getcher German grub at Gottscheer

Serious Eats recently visited Gottscheer Hall in Ridgewood – for Date Night, no less – and found an “irony free zone” and lots of delicious sausages (krainerwurst is our favorite) with classic accompaniments (spaetzle, sauerkraut). And beer. Glad to see them have some fun and enjoy one of Ridgewood’s oldest establishments.

Who’s reachin’ out to capture a moment? Everyone knows it’s Wendy

Wendy, the giant alien looking star structure that was living in the courtyard of MOMA PS 1 for Warm Up this past summer, made it onto the Best Buildings 2012 list by Architizer. Architizer is a database of architecture online, and they have a blog, where the list was published. There are 12 buildings total on the list with two others from the US, one from Australia, and the rest from Europe and Asia. As for the others on the list, we think Gardens by the Bay in Singapore is pretty spectuacular.

“Edible” sushi in Astoria – Chowhounds share their faves and what to forgo

Over on Chowhound there is a discussion on where to get “edible” sushi in Astoria. Not surprisingly, Linn has devoted fans – and we can attest to how delicious the sushi is – as does Watawa, which would probably win the People’s Choice Award of sushi (whereas Linn would win the Academy Award – it’s extremely sophisticated and of very high quality). We’ll let you read the list for the ones that are not recommended.

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Walk into any NYC bookstore, and they’ll have plenty of titles on display related to Brooklyn and Manhattan. But ask for books that take place in Queens, and you might get a blank stare. The literature covering our borough may not be marketed as aggressively, but it does exist – so we took it upon ourselves to uncover some of the novels, short story collections, and memoirs set in Queens neighborhoods. Here’s our guide; maybe you’ll find a few titles to add to your wishlist.

Anthologies

Forgotten Borough: Writers Come to Terms with Queens, edited by Nicole Steinberg (2011)

Nicole Steinberg grew up between Corona and Jackson Heights, and her lifelong love of Queens led her to put together this collection of contemporary stories, essays, and poems. To give you a sampling of the voices and neighborhoods found within the anthology: Julia Alvarez writes about racial integration in Jamaica Estates, Marcy Dermansky writes about going into labor while eating at Cafe Bar in Astoria, Margarita Shalina writes about watching gas tanks get blown up in Maspeth, and John Weir writes about a gay Queens College professor spending time at a pornographic movie theater in East Elmhurst.

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Over the years, the Queens Library has evolved to become much more convenient than it used to be. For instance, in the past you could only return library books when the library was open, and some of the branches kept inconvenient hours for that sort of thing. Now when you want to return a book, you can do it through one of the self-service touch-screen kiosks located outside the branches at all hours.