Sunday, May 28, 2017|2 a.m.
New York City– On a bright afternoon in late April, the day before the opening of Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, the author Emma Straub was apologetically shooing away prospective clients.
A lady with a dog poked her head in the door, which was still being painted, to say that “there has actually never been more buzz” about a shop opening in the neighborhood. Straub, an owner of the bookstore, told her the location was dog-friendly and invited her to come back when it opened.
The space, a former clothes shop on Smith Street, still smelled like fresh paint and sawdust. By the register were shelves filled with new fiction and nonfiction and a bookcase devoted to eclectic titles released by The New york city Evaluation of Books. Close by, the fiction area held a mix of contemporary works and classics, consisting of two editions of “Middlemarch,” Straub’s preferred novel.
Personnel choices sat on the opposite wall– Straub, 37, had recommended “Magic for Beginners,” a collection of short stories by Kelly Link. Down a couple of stairs, a separate intense, airy space with exposed brick walls, wood rafters and a skylight was filled practically totally with children’s books.
“This is the best part of the store,” Straub stated, as she climbed up into an octagon-shaped wood reading nook for kids.
Cobble Hill has been without a bookstore given that BookCourt, a precious community organization, closed at the end of last year. Neighborhood locals were stunned to lose the store, which had been a neighborhood center and literary gathering area for 35 years.
Straub, who utilized to work as a bookseller there, was specifically troubled. It “was my outright preferred location to be,” she said.
She and her other half, Michael Fusco-Straub, asked if they could take over the shop, but the owners had chosen to sell the buildings. So the couple opened a shop nearby.
Books Are Magic is opening in the midst of a renaissance for independent booksellers. The American Booksellers Association counted 1,775 members around the country in 2016, up from 1,410 in 2010. And Straub is joining a small however growing club of novelists who moonlight as booksellers– their ranks consist of Larry McMurtry, Louise Erdrich, Ann Patchett, Judy Blume and Jeff Kinney.
Straub maintained a couple of touches from BookCourt, including the blond wood racks, which she salvaged. “The whole point of a book shop is to help people find something new,” she said.
In the spirit of driving discovery, we asked Straub and five other authors in the independent book business what they read and advising to clients this summer. Here are their choices.
AUTHOR OF “Modern Lovers” BOOK SHOP: Books Are Magic in Brooklyn
“The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” by Hannah Tinti. “She’s one of those people you can forgive for taking her time in between books, since they’re so gratifying.”
“Saints for All Events” by J. Courtney Sullivan. “It’s fabulous and clever and feels larger than her other books.”
“Mrs. Fletcher” by Tom Perrotta. “He’s coming here to have a signing and talk to Megan Abbott. This is exactly what’s so fun about having a book shop. I get to require all these authors I enjoy to come here and have conversations with other authors I love.”
AUTHOR OF “Commonwealth”BOOKSTORE: Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee
“Chemistry” by Weike Wang and “The Leavers” by Lisa Ko. “These launching books could not be more different, however they each tell the story of a first-generation Chinese-American whose life kips down instructions I never saw coming. ‘”Chemistry” seems a romantic funny (it’s amusing, it’s romantic), however it just gets much deeper and darker and richer by the page. ‘”The Leavers” is a gritty and agonizing story of migration in which the American dream is continuously re-examined along with the Chinese dream. Here’s another thing Wang and Ko share: They are both terrific writers who have written 2 of this summer’s finest books.”
AUTHOR OF “A Gambler’s Anatomy”BOOKSTORE: Red Gap Books, a used and uncommon book shop in Blue Hill, Maine.
“Broken River” by J. Robert Lennon. “For several years now my most dependable beach reading has actually been Ross Macdonald and Barbara Pym, in old paperbacks that are just enhanced by salt air and potato-chip-greasy fingers. Both write books so just like one another that I’m never sure whether I’m rereading one I’ve checked out 2 or 3 times before– another sign of age– however I’m constantly heard chuckling greatly aloud at the accuracy of the insights or murmuring in pleasure at the freshness of the storytelling.
If I was at the counter of a brand-new book shop, nevertheless, the title I ‘d stack up by the register this summer is J. Robert Lennon’s “Broken River,” which I had the luck of reading in galleys. It’s a tense, surprising thriller, with perverse overtones of the Coen bros variety, however including an enigmatic narrative device, a kind of ‘”haunting of the point-of-view”– one which proves, as ever, that the book can do things absolutely nothing however the novel can do. I’m practically all set to reread it.”
AUTHOR OF The best-selling “Journal of a Wimpy Kid” series
BOOKSTORE: An Unlikely Story, in Plainville, Massachusetts.
“Papi” by David Ortiz and Michael Holley. “Big Papi is a Boston icon, and I can’t wait to go into his narrative, which was co-authored by another sports icon, Michael Holley.”
“Radical Candor” by Kim Scott. “Scott’s experiences leading groups at Google and Apple resulted in this book, which upholds a workplace culture where leaders care deeply about their workers and challenge them to be their best selves.”
“Dog Man: A Tale of 2 Kitties” by Dav Pilkey. “The ‘Pet Man’ series has caught fire, with the very first 2 books taking home on The New york city Times best-seller list. Pilkey is the king of kids’ comics.”
“Borne” by Jeff VanderMeer “The cover alone had me hooked. Is the lead character a plant? An animal? Something in between?”
AUTHOR OF “LaRose”BOOKSTORE: Birchbark Books in Minneapolis
“Al Franken: Giant of the Senate” by Al Franken. “Turns the timeless born-in-a-shack increase to political workplace tale on its head. I skipped meals to read this book– also uncommon– due to the fact that every page was amusing. It made me deliriously delighted to learn that Franken has actually banned the word ‘robust’ in his office.”
“Standard Variance” by Katherine Heiny. “About a completely mismatched New York City couple whose child, with autistic propensities, is an origami prodigy. Both heart-piercing and, crucially, uproarious.”
“The Futilitarians” by Anne Gisleson. “About an Existential Crisis Reading Group with a secret handshake.”
“The Song Poet”‘ by Kao Kalia Yang. “The charming story of Kao Kalia Yang’s father, town life, war life, refugee life, then a St. Paul housing task; America’s secret war in Laos; and an individuals’s history as sung by Bee Yang and kept in mind in remarkable and poetic detail by his daughter.”
AUTHOR OF “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret”BOOK SHOP: Books & & Books in Key West, Florida.
“Exactly what to Do About the Solomons: by Bethany Ball. “There’s nothing more exciting as a bookseller (or a reader) than finding a new author who develops remarkable characters in a setting we don’t see every day. Funny, sexy, and clever.”
“All Matured” by Jami Attenberg. “I read it two times, laughing, flinching, as well as wrecking.”
“Sunshine State” by Sarah Gerard. “Our clients constantly ask for anything embeded in Secret West. This is the next finest thing– all of Florida. And it’s got a terrific cover.”
2 detailed books for any ages:
“Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White” by Melissa Sugary food
“I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark” by Debbie Levy, highlighted by Elizabeth Baddeley