01/02/17 7:51pm

thridreconIt’s winter, or at least it will be this weekend. The holidays are over. The inauguration looms. All the cookies are gone. If you’re not tempted to just crawl under the covers on the couch and spend the rest of the month watching all the dumb television you missed this fall, well, you’re a better person than me. We gotta stick together in this thing, though. Here are a few articles and books I’ve read lately that have been inspiring, or, important to stay warm all winter, infuriating, or informative in a way that will guide that fury. Onward!

• If you’re not exactly feeling happy right now, maybe you at least feel like your life has meaning? Scientific American’s blog tells us that meaningfulness, whether it comes from work, play or protest, is good for us.

• A friend recently introduced me to the interfaith work that The Reverend Dr, William J. Barber II is doing, working to reintroduce morality into politics as a way to address racism and poverty. I just got his book The Third Reconstruction and I’m excited to read it.

• Professional troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, has a book coming out in February and it guaranteed to be appalling. Here’s why boycotting publisher Simon & Schuster is not going to be effective, and could actual harm progressive writers.

• Here’s why hate speech matters, from Errol Lewis at The Daily News.

• Lewis mentions an essay that appeared in Tablet in the above article, but it’s not linked.  It’s called What to do about Trump.


06/16/14 5:00pm
Tue June 24, 2014
Emma Straub discusses her new fictional tale of family disfunction, The Vacationers on June 24 the Inkwell Cafe. Straub photo: Jennifer Bastian

Emma Straub discusses her new fictional tale of family disfunction, The Vacationers, on June 24 at Inkwell Cafe. Straub photo: Jennifer Bastian

It’s still early in the season, but Brooklyn author Emma Straub may have already penned this summer’s best beach read with her new novel The Vacationers. Straub’s second novel, about a family dealing with various interpersonal crises and secrets during a two-week stay on the Spanish island of Mallorca, has attracted praise everywhere from The New York Times to NPR, since its release last month. (She talks about it with us here). Part of its popularity stems from the book being such a breezy read, as NPR puts it, with plenty of entertaining plot lines and wit—which is kind of what you want in a book about now. In case you’re curious to hear her take on all the talk, Straub will sit down with Biz Mitchell to discuss The Vacationers as part of the PLG Reading Series at Inkwell Cafe on June 24. Conversation starts at 7:30pm.

08/15/13 11:18am

lostgAfter we published our summer reading recommendations a few weeks ago, we realized that it was lacking in the non-fiction department. So here are three true life page-turners from Brooklyn authors, all extraordinarily well researched, reported and written. They’re also all about sex, drugs, murder and the justice system, perfect for your late summer reading.

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker

In the spring of 2010 Shannan Gilbert’s screams roused the tiny beach enclave of Oak Beach from early morning slumber. She frantically ran from house to house pounding on doors, residents called 911, then she disappeared. Several months later the Suffolk County Police Department discovered the bodies of four young women, wrapped in burlap and dumped in the scrubby weeds of Gilgo Beach, a short walk from where she was last seen. Not one of them was Shannan.

In marked departure from the serial killer genre, Robert Kolker, a contributing editor at New York Magazine, makes the victims, not the monster, the central focus of Lost Girls. With every page, every detail, every quote, he paints five incredibly nuanced portraits of five complicated, difficult, troubled and ultimately hopeful young women, all of whom worked as escorts, advertising their services online. Even though Kolker’s book inevitably lacks closure–whoever murdered his five protagonists remains at large–the way he traces each woman’s path keeps you turning the pages, hurtling with them through dead-end jobs, drug use, bad boyfriends and family drama all the way to Gilgo Beach. It’s a feat of reporting and of clear-eyed, unflinching compassion that is not to be missed. –Annaliese Griffin (more…)

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08/13/13 9:47am

photo (8)

Noticing Windsor Terrace was in need of an indie bookstore of its own, nearby Community Bookstore in Park Slope decided to open a second location, Terrace Books, which specializes in secondhand titles. Photo: Community Bookstore

Independent bookstores are alive and well in Brooklyn, with shops opening in Windsor Terrace and Crown Heights and a new outpost for an old favorite coming to Jersey City soon. Curl up with your summer reading list, blow through that stack of trashy romance novels and warm up your Kobo–the bookstores are coming.

Hullabaloo Books

Hullabaloo is the latest business venture from Michael de Zayas, a Crown Heights local who has started collecting storefronts on Franklin Ave. like Monopoloy properties. De Zayas owns Little Zelda cafe and Wedge cheese shop, and now plans to open the up-and-coming neighborhood’s first bookstore on Sept. 30 in a former pawn shop on Park Place. The space is small and de Zayas plans to reserve the limited shelving for new and used fiction, poetry, cookbooks, children’s books, art and local authors, including an entire section devoted to Crown Heights authors. Plans are also in the works to create a community reading garden, and de Zayas is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a free event series.

Terrace Books

Because books, like leftovers, are even better the second time around, when the owners of Community Bookstore decided to open a second shop in Windsor Terrace, they chose to stock the shelves with used books–though the store does offer a small selection of new books and quick delivery of new titles from Community Bookstore. Terrace Books officially opened in mid-July, and co-owner Stephanie Valdez says so far so good. “Business has been great,” she says, “and we’re enjoying the chance to connect with both new customers in the neighborhood and many of our regulars from Community Bookstore.” As of now, they’re not buying secondhand books, but they plan to in the future as they settle into their new digs.

WORD Jersey City

Possibly the coolest part of the new WORD outpost coming to Jersey City is the walk-up coffee window that will open to commuters in the morning. Noting that coffee and books make good bedfellows, WORD’s owner Christine Onorati worked plans for a cafe into the blueprints of her second space, which is expected to open in mid-September. Keeping it all in the family, the Jersey spot will sell soups, salads and sandwiches prepared next door at her cousin’s Italian restaurant Roman Nose. It’ll be second verse, same as the first so far as book titles and selection goes, with WORD Jersey City offering a similar stock to what’s on the shelves of the store’s original location on Franklin Street in Greenpoint.

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