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Greenlight Staff Picks are 15% off!
All of the booksellers on the Greenlight Bookstore staff read widely, and each periodically recommends books they've especially enjoyed. You can peruse and purchase current staff picks from the list below, or from our in-store Staff Picks display any time. Discounts are factored into the prices in this list.
When more than a dozen whales beach themselves on the shores of the Bahamas over the course of a single March day in 2000, marine researcher Ken Balcomb knows that something unusual has happened. What he finds out is shocking: a classified Navy sound experiment threatening the lives of underwater animals in the area. The rest of the book takes you through a labyrinth of government red tape and secrecy, following a cast of characters with motives both personal and political.
Annie Dillard was the first writer who cracked open the world for me with her close examination of the natural world and transformation of it into ambitious metaphors. But Amy Leach (forgive me) blows Dillard out of the water. This is essay as poetry, science, self-help and philosophy, full of delight and pathos and in love with language and everything else. Also you will learn things about goats, pea plants, and sea urchins that you will never forget.
THIS IS THE STORY every adventurous, nerdy, smart, goofy, in-love-with-life girl should read. My grownup girlfriends are indignant they didn't have it when they were younger, and my 3yo. daughter wants to be a Lumberjane when she grows up. There is not a token girl to round out the gang. They are (variously) good at math and kung fu and leadership and animal husbandry and problem solving; they are dressy or butch or tomboyish or punk or suburban; their dialogue is peppered with inside jokes about feminist icons and clever silliness a la Scott Pilgrim. Oh, and boys would totally be into it too, if they like things that are funny and smart and unexpected yet totally satisfying.
In reference to being asked on an awkward first date, are you afraid of the dark? "Oh, you think darkness is your ally, but you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was a man, and by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING! Just kidding. The answer is no." Samantha Irby's essay collection contains some of the rawest material I've ever read.
The eerie, fabulist fictions of Henry Dumas are a rich composite of myth, cosmology, and folklore akin to a version of The Twilight Zone as hosted by Sun Ra. Actually, Dumas penned the liner notes for Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy, and his stories were requisite texts for Ra's early 70s Berkeley lectures. Amiri Baraka lauded him as a key contributor to the Black Arts movement, and Toni Morrison thought he was a genius. Sadly, he was killed before his praises came to light, though the reverberations of his work helped shape much of what followed in its wake. Henry Dumas may be the closet literary equivalent we have to the work of Eric Dolphy or Albert Ayler. His writing is of this world, and beyond it.
A small town is overrun with hordes of stray dogs, extreme health retreats abound and a sentient robot finds itself exploring the true meaning of love. You will be engrossed in the dark humor and brilliance of Julia Elliot's bold new voice.
And so we come to another installment of Annie's Greatest Unreliable Narrators. This book offers not one but SEVEN narrators, all of them compelling and definitely unreliable. The story is so engaging and compelling I don't want to spoil a moment of it. I'll just tell you there's a man who has loved a woman for a long time. They are not in touch. But he's decided to win her back. I'll just tell you that it's a well-written, philosophical, psychological thriller. A big, juicy plot, full of hairpin turns. Expect to exclaim "WHAT???" in whatever public places you read. Expect to be won over by a constellation of richly drawn, deeply flawed, utterly sympathetic characters. Expect to lose yourself in this story.
This book is worth reading for the recipes alone. Kate Christensen reintroduced me to the singular deliciousness found in writing about food that I first fell in love with when I read the Redwall series. Food here is delicious, is sensual, is a portal into past moments and places, is life sustaining and saving, is home, is self. Read the book for the recipes, but expect a generous helping of an incredibly insightful and honest and beautifully written narrative. Like all good comfort food, like all well-lived lives, Kate's story of finding her way through life is warm and filling and a little on the sloppy side.
This collection is a concentrated dose of Deforge's comics, the most efficient way to consume as much of his work as possible. It's also just a great spread of stories - quick mini-comics, long, otherwise out-of-print earlier things, and some more recent favorites like "Canadian Royalty" and "The Sixties." Deforge's most bizarre, unsettling, and abstract work can consistently be found in issues of Lose, where alienation and grotesquerie have never been so funny.
The first word that came to mind after reading this collection was graceful. Cyn Vargas puts the reader in an immediate state of self-reflection with her stories. If you can stand some self-reflection on loneliness, childhood, marriage, and family secrets, then this book will not disappoint you.
If you follow our staff pics wall, you might remember that I picked the first book in the series, Say Hello to Zorro, last fall. Just like George Lucas' The Empire Strikes Back, Zorro and Mister Bud's second work is even better than the first because dog + cone = pure unbridled joy.
Zaroodle badooble karoodle froodle, fa shoozle.
It's hot and noisy out there in NYC, so why not complement your senses with some dystopian fiction? Published in 2002, just shy of the ascent of smart phones and Google Glass, Feed presents a world where corporations have a direct (and trendy!) feed into the human body and mind. It's an uncomfortable read because Anderson's world seems shockingly similar to our own. Good for adults, GREAT for teens.
A fired professor of American literature Chris Jaynes, has an utter fixation with Edgar Allan Poe's only novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. When he finds a manuscript that confirms the reality of Poe's fiction, he brings together an all-black crew of six to follow Pym’s trail to the South Pole. With little but the firsthand account from which Poe acquired his story, Jaynes and his crew embark on an epic journey that is funny, entertaining and highly compelling.
I just feel like there is never a bad time for a perfect book. A perfectly crafted feminist work at that. Verlee's second collection is just that: a timeless, poignant work that jolts, provokes, gushes, and flies. That's actually my ideal summer read (and fall read, winter read, spring read). Just a good ol' fashion kick you in the non-nuts, make you pray for mercy, make you glow from your best self, make you grateful for a fearless truth-telling confessional Goddess like Jeanann Verlee.
Maggie Nelson isn’t just writing about the color blue, she’s writing about depression and loneliness and how to let go of a lover. Does this sound cliché? It’s not, I promise you. She talks about other writers writing about blue. Failed grant applications. Blue items she finds on the ground. Blue items her friends mail to her. Friends she calls her Blue Correspondents. This book brings you love, a lifting of your loneliness. Maybe that sounds cliché. It’s not, I promise you.
This book occupies the space where wacky hijinks mutate into actual bad news: slapstick falls mean broken legs, cute gibberish means missing teeth, comic misunderstandings mean rejection, isolation, prison. Borb should maybe have a warning label, though it's not like it's something we don't see every day: he's just another homeless guy, made strange by his occupancy of a Little Rascals style comic strip. Cartoonist Jason Little is a master of carnivalesque panels that belie the bleakest humor; you can't help but admire his willingness to show us what we are often unwilling to see.
This 1992 Pulitzer Prize winner, set in the 70s, develops themes that are, disconcertingly, still important and vital today. Reading Smiley's novel after seeing Mad Max: Fury Road, the book felt simpatico with that blockbuster's righteously feminist query: "who killed the world?" Coincidentally, both feature gas shortages, car crashes, monstrous patriarchs, and irrigation.
I remember when this book first came out. I remember how striking and powerful the combination of Angelou's poetry was with Basquiat's drawings. When I heard that Maya Angelou passed away in 2014, the first thing I did was pull this book off the shelf and reread it. It's just as powerful and resonant as it was when it first came out in 1993, and it speaks in a special way to children about fear and bravery and being small in a big big world.
My grandmother's name was Helen, and she was born in Troy (I was too but I'm not a Helen so that's neither here nor there). Each Helen poem is worthy of Ancient Greece... or Upstate New York.
These stories were written by a person known as Winter, and these are the most beautiful Wintery stories I've had the pleasure of reading. She's a master of the art of building a place and the places she builds are sad and beautiful. Just pick it up and read the first story and you'll see what I mean.
A perennial favorite and one of the sources of our name, Fitzgerald's masterpiece is always a staff pick at Greenlight Bookstore.