Even in Long Island City, Queens, one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in New York City, 2018 was not exactly shaping up as a banner year for real estate.

What are some good books on being an effective broker, be it in real estate, stocks and so on?

Those are two very distinct and specific disciplines. I would encourage you to investigate each of the industries. Shadowing a few different people in each business is going to help much more. Each of those have several different subcategories.