Staff Picks

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The booksellers on the Greenlight Bookstore staff read widely, and periodically recommend 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.

This page last updated February 5th, 2018.


 

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We Were Witches Cover Image
$16.11
ISBN: 9781558614338
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Amethyst Editions - September 5th, 2017

Demonized as a queer teenage single mother (can you believe it?!), the story's star Ariel is determined to get an education, become a writer, and make a good life for her and her small daughter. Chaos and joy thus ensues. 

A radical life deserves a radical genre, and Gore has invented one all her own. Read the first few pages of the book to see what I mean, and, from the bottom of my heart, best of luck putting it down.

We Were Witches is based on real-life and resistance—and the magic that reveals itself when the two are one.

Picked by Melissa in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Fish Girl Cover Image
$15.29
ISBN: 9780547483931
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarion Books - March 7th, 2017

You might be familiar with David Wiesner's gorgeous wordless picture books. Wiesner and co-author Donna Jo Napoli’s first foray into comics territory still relies on the strength of visual storytelling with Wiesner's trademark whimsy in this tale of a young mermaid (herself now the wordless one) striving to learn more about the mysterious world around her and specifically her place in it.

Picked by Geo in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780300198232
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press - September 24th, 2013

With a force of scrutiny that begets clarity, Vivian Gornick considers the Passion of Emma Goldman, and finds with Goldman as her subject the culmination of her lifelong intellectual project: an inquiry into the mad pursuit of life within a system of social inequities, and the rarefied self that is forged in that chase. Gornick's perfect sentences are perceived on the level of the muscle, the nerve. To read her on Goldman's irreducible conviction is to be imparted -- even briefly -- an acute and luminous sense of the way to exist in a world tumultuous, on a precipice, and pliant enough for change.

Picked by Stephanie in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Shoot the Piano Player Cover Image
$12.75
ISBN: 9780679732549
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - October 3rd, 1990

Quick and dirty, hip and grimy, Shoot the Piano Player packs a wallop that practically leaves a bruise. Here we find Eddie, a one-time concert pianist down on his luck, slinging melodies at a two-bit watering hole and keeping a generally low profile in the back alleys of Philadelphia. Then a little family baggage gets in the way and fouls up the whole deal. Ain't it always the way? The basis for Francois Truffaut's iconic film, Goodis' novel is a masterstroke of American noir.

Picked by Jarrod in Fort Greene


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Telepathologies Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780998053448
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Saturnalia Books - March 14th, 2017

Telepathologies is home to mourning as well as celebration. Charleston captures a thoughtful and empathetic mind contemplating the pains of the USA. From the poem "How Do You Raise a Black Child?" Charleston offers, "From the dead. With pallbearers who are half as young / as their faces suggest and twice the oxen they should be." Charleston isn't going to make it easy on you because they trust you as a collaborator in their work, and not just as an artful voyeur (as Seamus Heaney would put it). If you were a fan of Claudia Rankine's Citizen then Telepathologies shouldn't disappoint.

Picked by Nicholas in Ft. Greene


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Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era Cover Image
$16.96
ISBN: 9780195168952
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - December 11th, 2003

In Ta-Nehisi Coates list of "Five books to make you less stupid about the Civil War," this book was, without surprise, at the top of the list. McPherson's engrossing survey of this essential, perhaps seminal, American conflict, its causes, its content, and its aftermath is a gold-standard for single-volume history. Since it is the custom of the American public to elect not to engage - or even commemorate - their history, it tends, rather, to repeat on us, like indigestion. It is the task of unsung hero-storians like McPherson to keep the record straight while we're not looking.

Picked by Nick T. in Ft. Greene


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Zama Cover Image
By Antonio Di Benedetto, Esther Allen (Translator), Esther Allen (Preface by)
$13.56
ISBN: 9781590177174
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New York Review of Books - August 23rd, 2016

"His hair had been white forever. He was born old and could not die. His solitude was appalling.” Is that Santa? No, that's just the divine creator as hatefully described by our lovely anti-hero, Don Diego de Zama. Unable to escape godforsaken colonial Paraguay or his own wretched condition, forced to dissociate to a mesmerizing, staccato first-person (glimpses of Di Benedetto's screen-writing), Don Diego blurs through a life of maté, cold schemes, and violent temptation. Will his heinous attitude lead him out of purgatory? Probably not.

Picked by Julian in Fort Greene

 


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The Epicure's Lament Cover Image
$12.75
ISBN: 9780385720984
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - January 25th, 2005

Hugo Whittier is a foul human being -- but he has incredibly good taste.  As he prepares a lavish Christmas feast for his despised relatives and ponders his impending death, you won't be able to get enough of his merciless snark nor his mouth-watering menus.  This dark-but-light novel shows off Christensen's gifts as a food writer and as a creator of unforgettable characters, and it is immensely satisfying.

Picked by Jessica in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Prez, Volume 1 Cover Image
By Mark Russell, Ben Caldwell (Illustrator)
$12.74
ISBN: 9781401259792
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: DC Comics - February 9th, 2016

Imagine that someone completely unqualified gets elected President. (Okay, maybe that's not that difficult to imagine.) Well, imagine that something like Twitter or our country's biggest companies play a bigger role in our election than we could ever want. (Ugh, okay, fine.) Well, despite those unsettling similarities, Prez still holds at its center the all-important question: Can one good person still make a difference?

Picked by Geo in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Good Night, Planet: Toon Level 2 Cover Image
By Liniers
$11.01
ISBN: 9781943145201
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Toon Books - September 12th, 2017

Argentine-born, New England-based cartoonist Liniers bases his comic strip stories on the real-life adventures of his small daughters, their pets and stuffed animals -- which gives them the quirky pacing and language of a day in the life, especially one with small children and/or animals.  This autumnal story of a small stuffed deer who comes to life at night, plus a dog, a mouse, the moon, and some cookies, is wonderful for snuggling up with together, or for emerging readers, who will find the ratio of words to meaning highly rewarding. 

Picked by Jessica in Fort Greene


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Memorial: A Version of Homer's Iliad Cover Image
By Alice Oswald, Eavan Boland (Afterword by)
$13.56
ISBN: 9780393347272
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 18th, 2013

So it looks like Jacob and I both staff picked translations of the Iliad. Is there perhaps an unconscious draw towards national, global, and "heavenly" conflict in order to process our own upturned world order? Maybe! In this version of the Iliad Alice Oswald removes all parts of the epic except for the scenes where mortals die. A visceral meditation on war and loss and a reminder to us all that when conflict and war are made naked they become the dead and nothing else.

Picked by Grace in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent Cover Image
$18.70
ISBN: 9780853459910
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Monthly Review Press - January 1st, 1997

A historical documentation and denunciation of the capitalist and imperialist exploitation of Latin America, Open Veins spans the early days of colonialism to its contemporary state. The form of Galeano’s book is poetic (especially in its original language) rather than political, theoretical jargon. Censored and criticized by many, Open Veins is proof of the power of confronting our inherited past and communicating it to those who are not satisfied with the myths fed to them by the powers that be.

Picked by Vanessa in Fort Greene


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The War Nerd Iliad Cover Image
By John Dolan (Adapted by)
$19.51
ISBN: 9781627310505
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Feral House - October 10th, 2017

Remember the Iliad? That crusty epic poem no one wanted to read in high school? It's back, only this time it's wrested from the hands of be-tweeded classics professors and rendered in simple prose, with all the gore, sex, and dark humor thrust into the limelight. In other words, it's in a form your teenage self might have actually stood a chance at finishing. The storyteller, John Dolan, is a marginal poet and failed academic (I mean those as compliments) who has found a cult following as the self-styled War Nerd. And his version of the Iliad feels like a pretty good distillation of what draws people to his War Nerd persona. It's astute and searching where others would be lazy and cliched, relentlessly self-deprecating and pessimistic, and doesn't shy away the sentimental or nostalgic when needed - it is Greek myth, after all.

Picked by Jacob in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Blackout Cover Image
By John Rocco, John Rocco (Illustrator)
$15.29
ISBN: 9781423121909
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Disney-Hyperion - May 24th, 2011

Even though summer is in the rear-view mirror, as a native New Yorker, I burst with pride at the rite of passage chronicled in this picture book of an infrastructure "muck up" family and friends can enjoy.

Picked by Dante in Fort Greene


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Anti-Gone Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9781927668511
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Koyama Press - September 5th, 2017

Connor Willumsen is a master artist and storyteller, and his delicate line ties together this dreamlike, cyberpunk-esque tale involving a decaying metropolis, a mysterious jet-skiing DVD vendor, psychedelic drugs, and a pet crocodile named Blade. A gorgeous demonstration of the experimental possibilities of sequentiality and narrative in comics. Dazzling cartooning.

Picked by Ben in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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The Sonnets Cover Image
By Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley (Editor)
$15.30
ISBN: 9780140589276
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - October 1st, 2000

I love this book. Nowhere else will you find trace elements of Frank O'Hara, Shakespeare, and John Cage in such a heady swirl. A master of humor and pathos, and a grand-poobah of New York School poetics, Berrigan mined traditional subject matter, then turned the formal idea of the sonnet inside-out by collaging his lines via a chance operational method. These poems are tender and bemused hymns of possibility, freeing both form and poet from preexisting conventions.

Picked by Jarrod in Fort Greene


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The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini Cover Image
By Benvenuto Cellini, George Bull (Translator), George Bull (Introduction by)
$14.45
ISBN: 9780140447187
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - November 1st, 1999

If you are a student of artist history, recently read Walter Isaacson's best-selling Leonardo Da Vinci, or are a Caravaggio cognoscente, you should pick up this artist's first-person account of Renaissance Italy. With an easy directness, Cellini--a Florentine goldsmith born in 1500--describes a city where diversity was valued and a time when Liberal Arts scholarship was a life's purpose. On any given day, there's also violence and murder, love and unguarded sexuality. Unlike da Vinci and Caravaggio, Cellini shares the struggle of his creative process through one of the most important autobiographies in the Western canon.

Picked by Heather M. in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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The Waves Cover Image
$13.56
ISBN: 9780156031578
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harvest Books - July 3rd, 2006

The Waves presents life in language in its most unrestricted form. Woolf calls the book a "play-poem." Brace yourself. Go forth.

Picked by Melissa in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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A Family Is a Family Is a Family Cover Image
By Sara O'Leary, Qin Leng (Illustrator)
$15.26
ISBN: 9781554987948
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Groundwood Books - September 13th, 2016

Picked by Nicholas in Fort Greene


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Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures Cover Image
$21.25
ISBN: 9781933517575
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wave Books - August 7th, 2012

SHORT LECTURE IN THE FORM OF A STAFF PICK:
Feast your eyeholes on Ruefle's tricked-out poetry grimoire, devised to invoke not a knowing of language but an unknowing of everything.  For fans of: Yoko Ono's Grapefruit, @astropoets, Noname, cupping a handful of water while you're underwater, watching nothing slip out.

Picked by Stephanie in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Jurassic Park Cover Image
$8.49
ISBN: 9780345538987
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - September 25th, 2012

More horror! More nerdy science talk! Less time with those pesky kids! Plus, you could even listen to the pretty film score while you read. The book is as much a classic as the movie, and if you like this one, there are lots of other excellent Crichton books waiting for you.

Picked by Hannah in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg Cover Image
By Kate Evans, Paul Buhle (Editor)
$16.11
ISBN: 9781784780999
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Verso - November 3rd, 2015

Rosa Luxemburg's best-known slogan, "Socialism or Barbarism," was no mere figure of speech—struggling to achieve the former, she was murdered by who would become Hitler's SS. While occasionally clumsy, Kate Evans' graphic bio energetically portrays Luxemburg's immense intellect, her unwavering conviction, and her bone-deep love of life. Much of the text comes from Luxemburg's own writings. As Luxemburg put it in one of her last letters, "enthusiasm combined with critical thought—what more could we want of ourselves!"

Picked by Jonah in Fort Greene


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Dance Cover Image
By Andre Lepecki (Editor)
$21.21
ISBN: 9780262517775
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mit Press - August 10th, 2012

This collection of essays, manifestos, interviews, theoretical texts, photographs and scores is a comprehensive resource for the thinking dancer. Or for anyone in search of clues and contradictions for whatever secret projects they have in store. This book is for the ones who strive to create a thoroughly uncanny existence, and for the ones who wonder what it means to move.

Picked by Stormy in Fort Greene


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The Great Gatsby Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780743273565
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - October 1st, 2004

A perennial favorite and one of the sources of our name, Fitzgerald's masterpiece is always a staff pick at Greenlight Bookstore.


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If on a Winter's Night a Traveler Cover Image
$12.71
ISBN: 9780156439619
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - October 20th, 1982

Calvino's book-of-books is the most satisfactory puzzle a book lover could possible wish for. Each chapter is a novel in itself, wildly different and mysteriously linked, building to an unimaginable but inevitable conclusion. This is the place to start with Calvino, the grand old man of literary puzzle-makers, and perfect for your own winter's night.

Picked by Jessica in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Me and Momma and Big John Cover Image
By Mara Rockliff, William Low (Illustrator)
$14.44
ISBN: 9780763643591
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - August 28th, 2012

Based on a true story and written with a readable cadence, this is a working parents’ book, an NYC book, and an art and maker's book. In the 1980s the Church of Saint John the Divine started an artisan apprenticeship program, teaching neighborhood residents a trade so that they could have a local job. The mother in this story becomes a stonemason and works on the church. She's tired yet proud, and one day she brings her children to see the building and the fruit of her labor, and they're proud, too.

Picked by Rebecca in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Push Cover Image
$12.71
ISBN: 9780679766759
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 29th, 1997

I first read Push over 20 years ago, and it's stayed with me all this time. It holds up upon re-read, and it's time for a new generation of readers to discover or re-discover this book. Searing, relentless, shocking and visceral. Lyrical, poetic, necessary. Despite the overwhelming atrocities inflicted upon her by life, 16 year old Precious is a character who still has hope. You will take her into your heart and she will never leave you.

Picked by Rebecca in Prospect Lefferts Garden