01/06/16 1:05pm

Happy New Year, Brooklyn Based readers! We’re excited to be back to our regularly scheduled Ideal Week, now that the holidays have passed. We get it though–between Sober January, the credit card statement that just landed in your inbox, the deep chill that is visiting us from points north and the all around quietness of January, this might be one of the best weeks of the year to come straight home from work and curl up on the couch, eat soup and watch The Americans, or Transparent or Making a Murderer. That said, Brooklyn never closes, and there’s plenty to do outside of your apartment–and, if you’re feeling like keeping your wallet in your pocket, it’s actually a great time to go out. There are lots of free events on the list this week, made even cheaper if you’re not adding a couple of beers to the evening.

taketwoThursday, Jan. 7 Ever walked away from a situation and wished you could have handled it differently? If you’re human, the answer is probably yes. That collective regret is the basis for Take Two Storytelling, a new-ish monthly show where performers tell two versions of the same story, the first the way it actually happened, followed by their revised, fantasy version. Hosted by Elana Lancaster and Harvey Katz, this month’s storytellers include seven-time Moth StorySLAM winner Sandi Marx, Drawn Out creator Nisse Greenberg, local storyteller Jean Le Bec, MTV contributing writer Cassie J Sneider, and a story from Mr. Katz himself. Admission is free, doors open at 7:30pm, this month’s show is at C’mon Everybody, a sweet Bed-Stuy venue that is worth a trip in and of itself (the Diablo Guapo, made with tequila, pomegranate-beet juice, ginger beer and agave sounds like a serious remedy to winter). (more…)

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10/31/13 1:00pm


This year’s Best of NYC 2013 issue of the Village Voice featured a hefty offering of new restaurants to try, stores to patronize and places to visit, and as a literary enthusiast, I felt both proud and and a bit smug about the Voice naming the Franklin Park Reading Series as NYC’s Best Reading Series. Booklynites have long known the delight of writer Penina Roth’s brainchild, but in the past two years, the event has become hard to ignore for anyone in New York City who loves books.  From Sam Lipsyte, to Justin Taylor to Colson Whitehead, all across the fiction and non-fiction spectrum, the series has been a veritable guide to what’s happening in the book world. Meanwhile, Roth herself has become a stalwart supportor of literary scene in Brooklyn, keeping herself ever-aware of new books, upcoming authors and book news, and tirelessly spreading the word. Beyond the reading series, Roth works hard to help new voices find an audience, and to keep like-minded people connected.

The Franklin Park Reading Series is proof that the literary scene still lives and thrives and New York City, only now, it’s just over the bridge.  We caught up with Penina Roth to gather some insight into how the series was born and how it grew to be the city’s best reading series. Warning: your to-read list is about to be filled through 2015.

How did Franklin Park Reading Series start? Tell me about the first one. How did you find your location?
As a longtime Crown Heights resident and community news reporter, I was very attuned to the neighborhood’s transition, beginning in 2007. In researching articles on local real estate and culture, I talked to many merchants and residents, old and new, and decided it would be fun to host an entertaining and enlightening community-wide event that could bring different groups together, including new transplants, Caribbean Americans and Hasidim. A big part of my research involved hanging out in Franklin Park’s courtyard, talking to the patrons and learning about their interests and backgrounds. It turned out that many of them were lit enthusiasts like me, and I thought there’d be an audience for a literary event. Since I’d profiled Franklin Park for a Styles piece in the Times, I was friendly with the owners and they let me use their large bar room for free, for what was supposed to be a one-off event. At the time I only had three friends who’d published books–Matthue Roth, Liza Monroy and David Goodwillie–and I thought the reading could be a showcase for them. Forty people showed up at our first reading in March 2009 and bought a lot of beer, so the owners were happy and asked me to make it a monthly happening.