The long hot days of summer are upon us here in the county of Kings, and many of us are turning to literature to find some semblance of escape. Summer reading is a great way to while away the days and relax in this beautiful city. The following are some recommendations for great summer reads set in Brooklyn.
Books set during Brooklyn summers make us feel in the know. You experience that story in a different way than someone from who knows where because, in their own, unique ways, these summer reads can evoke that particular scent of Nathan’s dogs on the grill, or the sting of a splinter on the boardwalk, even in the dead of winter. These are stories by Brooklyn, for Brooklyn and it shows.
First up, the short story collection “The Colossus of New York” by Colson Whitehead, in particular his short story “Coney Island.” Published in 2007, this collection explores what it is to be a New Yorker. The introduction by Whitehead is a lovely commentary on the city’s one constant: change. Reading Whitehead’s free-flowing, fast-moving prose is like trying to read the graffiti tags that fly past your window as you ride the N south — visceral and short, almost too quick to catch but appreciated when you do.
Summer is the perfect time for rereading an old favorite and any book that begins “Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York. Especially in the summer of 1912” must be a favorite of many a Brooklynite. “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith follows the life of young Fanny, an Irish girl growing up Brooklyn, and her friends and family in the neighborhood.
“Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson follows the life of another young woman, August, as she grows up in the same place at a different time. Woodson invites us to explore our own past just as August explores her own versions of the ubiquitous questions: “what ever happened to so-and-so down the block?” and “did you hear about — ?” This cleverly crafted novel is a short and easy seasonal read that will have you reminiscing about that one summer when that thing happened, because, as city-dwellers know, summertime is when the action goes down. “Another Brooklyn” was a finalist for this year’s One Book, One New York program — the largest public reading program in the country.
For many, summer means one thing and one thing only — time for the greatest of American pastimes, baseball. A fantastic book for learning more about the history of baseball in Brooklyn is “The Greatest Ballpark Ever: Ebbets Field and the Story of the Brooklyn Dodgers” by Bob McGee. Winner of the Dave Moore Award for the Most Important Book on Baseball in 2005, this nonfiction selection is perfect for history buffs and baseball fans alike. McGee takes readers through the highs and lows of one of the most beloved, perhaps the most beloved, baseball franchises in American history.
To most, the work of one of Brooklyn’s most famous sons comes to mind when thinking of Brooklyn summer reads, but consider instead one of the borough’s more famous daughters — Marianne Moore. While Moore is well known for her poetry, it is less widely known that she was a founding member of the Friends of Prospect Park and worked diligently to protect the beautiful outdoor spaces of her home. Grab a copy of her completed works, head to Prospect Park and enjoy the sunshine!