6 Nonfiction Books Written by Brooklyn Creative League Members
by Neil Carlson, BCL co-founder
Since Brooklyn Creative League opened in 2009, we’ve had dozens of writers ply their trade in our community. And why not? We offer an affordable, well-managed space that serves the needs of working writers of all stripes.
For those who, like Ernest Hemmingway, need just “a clean, well-lighted place,” our Think Tank is the perfect place to work. The Think Tank section of our offices is a no-phone zone, which allows members to work in a quiet section of the office.
“It’s such a relief to leave the house every morning knowing that I have a dedicated space for heads-down writing,” said novelist Roger Gibian. “When you have those flashes of creativity, you really need peace and quiet in order to develop them. That’s what BCL has that others don’t. I looked at a lot of spaces, and BCL was the only one that had a dedicated quiet space in addition to other amenities—phone booths, meeting rooms, the lounge. I love being able to get up, chat with friends in the lounge, and then head back to my focused work.”
For writers who have more interactive work needs, such as journalists and nonfiction writers, BCL’s roomy desks, phone booths, and meeting rooms make research and interviews so much easier. “BCL was the perfect place for me to research and write my book,” noted Matt Easton, whose first book, We Have Tired of Violence, was published in June. “Having a dedicated desk allowed me to have all my research materials—dozens of books, boxes of files and primary documents, notes and drafts—right at my fingertips. And with two young kids at home, the fact that I could leave my apartment and work out of BCL made all the difference.”
In honor of Easton’s book launch, we decided to do a quick rundown of all the books that have been written here at BCL over the years. It’s an impressive list—acclaimed novels, best selling nonfiction titles, even children’s books. There are 12 books in total, and this is part I, featuring 6 nonfiction books.
Published in June by the New Press, Matt Easton’s nonfiction thriller, We Have Tired of Violence: A True Story of Murder, Memory, and the Fight for Justice in Indonesia, is a riveting true-crime thriller about the 2004 assassination of Indonesian human rights advocate, Munir, and his family’s search for justice. Drawing on Drawing on interviews, courtroom observation, leaked documents, and police files, this book uncovers a dramatic murder plot that reaches to the top of Indonesia’s powerful secruity services, and documents the titanic struggle to bring the perpetrators of Munir’s death to justice.
When the award-winning journalist Charles Duhigg published The Power of Habit back in 2014, the book was an immediate hit, landing on bestseller lists for The New York Times, Amazon.com, and USA Today, and garnering widespread praise. Duhigg had a knack for explaining complex scientific research in accessible and actionable form. Using cutting-edge neuroscience, Duhigg showed how “habit loops”–a trigger, followed by a behavior/action, and then a result–shape so much of our behavior. Most important, Duhigg offered readers a concise, practical framework for changing habits. How’s that, you ask? Better read the book yourself.
Remember when the Presidents were sane, sober stewards of the republic? Sigh. Published in 2012, Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas is an intimate portrait of the partnership between Barack and Michelle Obama, a marriage that shaped a presidency and a nation. So settle in, grab a cup of coffee, and read about the halcyon days of the American experiment, when presidents didn’t lead insurrections and conspire to overturn free and fair elections.
With baseball season in full swing, baseball fans will appreciate The Year of the Pitcher, Sridhar Pappu’s brilliant history of the 1968 rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals’ Bob Gibson & the Detroit Tigers Denny McLain, two of the greatest pitchers to play the game. With the troubled summer of 1968 as the backdrop, Pappu’s narrative not only brings to life these two larger-than-life characters as they led their teams to the World Series, but skillfully shows how their rivalry embodied the disparate hopes and contradictory beliefs of a nation that seemed to be coming apart at the seams.
Want to be more productive? Well, forget about it. In Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, Oliver Burkeman shows us how to get off the hamster wheel by embracing our human limitations and focusing instead on the quality of our relationships & experiences. Drawing on a wide range of thinkers–ancient philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual teachers—Four Thousand Weeks is a witty, erudite rebuke to our cultural obsession with productivity, efficiency, and self-improvement. Burkeman makes a compelling argument trying to “life hack” one’s way to happiness is not only futile—old habits die hard!—but more importantly misdirects us from what truly makes us happy.
Season Two of HBO’s Succession, which dramatized the Roy family’s oily effort to purchase the media company owned by a rival family, owes a huge debt to War at the Wall Street Journal, Sarah Ellison’s chronicle of Rupert Murdoch’s 2007 acquisition of The Wall Street Journal. Ellison, who worked at the Journal and won praise for her coverage of the $5 billion sale, was perfectly positioned to tell the whole story. Her longstanding relationships with the Journal reporters and editors afford her an insider’s knowledge of which rocks to look under; yet, as a line reporter, she maintains enough distance that her reporting remains rigorous and—dare I say it?—fair and balanced. Moving between the boisterous newsroom and the swanky estates of the Bancroft family, Ellison presents a gripping portrait of power, wealth, and privilege shape the media landscape we all inhabit.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our book feature, showcasing more artists!
Are you a writer looking for a place to settle down and work on a big project? Come check us out in Clinton Hill by the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We’ve got private offices, desks, and more, so bring your ideas and ambition, and get those creative juices flowing.