Staff Picks

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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.


 

$14.45
ISBN: 9780312421861
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - April 2004

Treading boldly on the tightropes between film, literature, myth and art, John Haskell turns ideas into scenarios and projects them on you, the reader, in ways that...well, you have to read to believe.

 

(Halley)


$13.56
ISBN: 9780307473547
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage Books USA - September 8th, 2009

I know this isn't the exact usual reason to staff pick a book but it was at a dinner that the publisher hosted in honor of this author and this book - a magical night in a private dining room on the second floor of the historic Savoy Restaurant, during an intense Spring downpour, that the idea of Jessica and I partnering to open Greenlight was born, so this book will always hold a special place in my heart. That said, I also loved the book and was quite moved by it. It is a beautifully written, sensitive and touching memoir by a father who has great love and affection for his mentally ill daughter. He writes with grace about his daughter's spiral into mental illness and this book is well worth reading.

 

(Rebecca)


By Oliver Jeffers, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator)
$15.29
ISBN: 9780399254529
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - March 4th, 2010

For curious children.

 

(Kit)


$16.96
ISBN: 9781595588333
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Press - September 4th, 2012

This is a thorough and diligent history of the Hollywood blacklist and 1950s American anti-communist paranoia as it finds expression in the movies of the time (perhaps most famously typified by Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers). This, along with The Dream Life (60s-70s) and a yet to be published Reagan-era book, form J. Hoberman's addicting trilogy chronicling both America's political and cinematic zeitgeists and their constant intermingling.

 

(Matt)


$13.56
ISBN: 9780679777502
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - November 11th, 1997

This is one of my favorite books by Peter Carey - it's what he does so well - delving into the other world of fantastic fiction with well-woven characters, playing out in an uncommon and unexpected plotline. It's got tinges of Fitzcarraldo, except instead of moving a big boat, Oscar & Lucinda must move a big glass church.

 

(Rebecca)


By Flann O'Brien, Denis Donoghue (Introduction by)
$11.86
ISBN: 9781564782144
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - March 1999

Flann O'Brien's real name was Brian O'Nolan, and he also wrote as George Knowall, Myles na gCopaleen, and Brother Barnabas. Our peg-legged narrator, on the other hand, remains anonymous throughout his entire absurd journey. The story is insanely entertaining, but I hope you like hysterical, terrifying nonsense. Actually, I take that back: it's not nonsense. There's definitely some kind of "cold, inexorable logic" here and we're just not allowed to grasp it. This book is unmentionable. It's the supreme pancake. I will quote it forever.

 

(Julian)


$9.35
ISBN: 9780983658580
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nouvella - May 1st, 2013

Derek Palacio’s debut novella circles Javi’s first boxing match in the days following Marcel’s murder. Oscar, the owner of the gym and Marcel’s brother, is left with his brother’s business and an inexperienced boxer. Through flashback, Marcel becomes larger than life as he links these two men together. Find your queer literary heroes here. (P.S. This novella is a debut! And if that isn’t cool enough, the publisher, Novella, only publishes limited copies and past authors include Emma Straub!)

 

(Jess)


$13.56
ISBN: 9781595340757
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Trinity University Press - July 12th, 2011

Aelian's zoological accounts are mostly ridiculous legends taken as fact, so when he stumbles on something resembling the truth it's almost a surprise. The whole thing is hilarious, made even better by the comically detached, earnest tone he uses to report on how bears are born as formless lumps, licked into shape by their mothers, or how starfish are at war with oysters. It's not 100% frivolous, though - there's plenty of real value for animal lovers interested in what Romans (apparently) believed about nature.

 

(Julian)


$6.79
ISBN: 9780440418320
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yearling Books - May 22nd, 2001

I think most book lovers can recall the book that changed everything for them.  Well, this one is it.  At twelve, after milling about mid-grade and young adult fiction for forever, I read the first book of Pullman's trilogy and soon realized that I had finally been taken seriously as a reader. Based on John Milton's Paradise Lost, The Golden Compass follows Lyra Belacqua, a cheeky young girl from Oxford--an Oxford not of this world, but another--and her search for her lost friend, Roger, as well as an elusive particle known only as Dust.  It's epic, it's complex, and it's written for a bunch of tweens.  Get it for your niece or nephew--they'll love you forever--and then read it yourself.

 

(Grace)


$11.89
ISBN: 9780316085250
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - January 29th, 1999

Every time I read the essays in this book, I have to tap my chest afterwards to start my heart beating. Beard takes you through her childhood friendships, relationship to her siblings, the end of a marriage, the death of her mother, the boys of her youth, and near misses. And sometimes it occurs all in one essay. This is one remarkable collection of writing.

 

(Jess)


$15.26
ISBN: 9781552452868
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coach House Books - May 13th, 2014

Father Christopher Pennant is sent to his very first parish, an idyllic small town in Canada. "Here was the man to whom they would confess the darkest things. It was important to feel him out. Mrs. Young, for instance, after she had watched him eat a piece of her macaroni pie, quietly asked what he thought of adultery." This book has everything: beautiful landscapes, delicious baked goods, small town gatherings, Canadians, inexplicable mysteries, a family curse, a young women wanting more from life, and faith called into doubt in more ways than one.

 

(Annie)


By Carter Goodrich, Carter Goodrich (Illustrator)
$13.59
ISBN: 9781416938934
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - March 22nd, 2011

Mister Bud loves his life of leisure until Zorro, the pug with an attitude and one serious under-bite, arrives.  Will Mister Bud have a comfortable nap and shift-position-and-nap-some-more time again?  Probably not, but maybe that's not so bad.

 

(Grace)


By James Thurber, Marc Simont (Illustrator), Neil Gaiman (Introduction by)
$12.71
ISBN: 9781590172759
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New York Review of Books - July 29th, 2008

With the whimsy and magic of a fairy tale and the clever playfulness that adults (and your own precociously smart children) will appreciate, this book is such fun. Thurber clearly loves words and shamelessly uses puns to tell his tale.

 

(Rebecca)


$13.60
ISBN: 9781566893749
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - September 9th, 2014

This book is so good it will give you night sweats. Jones' debut collection, Prelude to Bruise, is a cross between James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room and a jukebox that plays only Nina Simone. Each poem radiates from unearthed insight into the history of sexuality, masculinity, repression and violence and how they encircle the black body. Both the devoured and the devourer, this book should be savored like the last slice of pie on earth. Get it in your life.

 

(Angel)


$12.71
ISBN: 9780826415479
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Continuum - March 31st, 2004

An entertaining, engrossing pop culture study on one of Prince’s most complex and divisive albums (divisive when it first came out, at least—everyone loves it now).

 

(Geo)


$15.26
ISBN: 9780307473066
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage Books USA - August 10th, 2010

Thinking about this book makes me want to clasp my copy to my chest and stare off into the distance. This is for any grown up who has not grown out of loving fairy tales. For anyone who wants to get lost in a story. The woman at the center of the novel (but not really) is Olive Norris, a successful children's book author, who's gripping and haunting stories are interwoven with the narrative. I say not really because the novel encompasses multiple families and tells the stories of more than two dozen people, and does so brilliantly. Each character is so well drawn, so completely his or her self.

 

(Annie)


$15.30
ISBN: 9780312427993
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador USA - June 24th, 2008

Perhaps a good datpiff-ized alternate title would be $hock and Awe - it's the systematic restructuring of foreign governments in crisis by free-market ideologues for profit (a process Naomi Klein compares to shock treatment or enhanced interrogation). It's a staggering book. Please don't tell my dad it's my staff pick.

 

(Matt)


$14.45
ISBN: 9780312420604
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - January 1st, 2002

The story of Jean-Claude Romand tests the limits of believability. To all appearances, he led a comfortable bourgeois life with a good career as a doctor at the WHO and a nice family at home. When his family is murdered and he attempts suicide, the unraveling begins. Carrère crafts an eerie study in identity and evil in his telling of Romand’s unfathomable story.

 

(Alexis)


$15.29
ISBN: 9780670012763
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Children's Books - June 12th, 2014

Who needs sexy-teen-vampires or cruel dystopian universes when the world we live in is already ripe with unbelievable ways of living. Enter Starbird Murphy: a 16-year-old girl living on a hippie commune on farm in Washington. Growing up sheltered from the ways of the Outside World. She's never lived outside of the farm, held real money, eaten a candy bar or shopped at a mall. So when Starbird's world is imploded when she leaves the farm, becomes a waitress at a diner, attends high school for the first time, and discovers the bigness of her own life---prepare to just DIE from emotions. Starbird is bold, smart, brave, big-spirited, and loyal. Everything I wanted to be when I was 16, and #letsbereal, everything I want to be today. Here is a story to feast upon. BUY THIS BOOK.

 

(Angel)


$12.75
ISBN: 9781555974114
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - November 2004

I always felt short stories were a tantalizing tease to the potential a writer would be able to conjure up in future novels. Here Percival Everett proved he had potential in excess. His collection leaps expertly from folktale to satire. Engrossing, yes. Funny, yes. Bizarre, yes, a touch of that too. One favorite is "The Fix", about a man who is discovered beaten in the street by a sandwich shop owner and is brought on by the owner as a handyman. Little does he know the man's talents go beyond just fixing toasters. The other favorite is "The Appropriation of Cultures", in which a young black jazz singer uses the confederate flag as a badge of honor.

 

(Dante)


By Nathanael West, John Sanford (Afterword by), Jonathan Lethem (Introduction by)
$12.71
ISBN: 9780811218221
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - June 23rd, 2009

A two-for-one of West’s dark, deformed vision of America. Miss Lonelyhearts follows the demise of a journalist unraveled by the despair he reads in advice-seeking letters. The Day of the Locust charts the stories of the Hollywood fringe. Both stories take turns for the worse and the violent crescendo is shocking and palpable.

 

(Alexis)


$13.60
ISBN: 9780316019118
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - April 21st, 2011

Did you just turn up your beak at my staff pick? Think again. Crow Planet is more than a fascinating meditation on crows. Lyanda Lynn Haupt weaves a narrative that not only examines the complicated and dark history of the species but also looks at the overlap of human and animal geographies, and why crows may outlive us all.  In short, crows are awesome and mysterious creatures.

 

(Halley)


$14.44
ISBN: 9780544259003
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarion Books - March 4th, 2014

Does Peggy know her way of life casts a dull, pallid light on the wasteland that is the life of a city chicken?  Bok. She only finds solace in her routine until the winds of fate whisk her away to the cold, disorienting, nightmare of modernity.  Peggy copes by following the sunflower of hope, the one thing that reminds her of home. Bok.  Peggy is one of us.  Peggy is all of us. And now, without further Bok, we present you: Peggy.

 

(Halley & Sam)


By Hilda Hilst, Adam Morris (Translator)
$11.01
ISBN: 9781612193458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House Publishing - April 29th, 2014

It's a frightening and beautiful effort in a long line of attempts to represent interiority on the page.  It's a formal & figural ode to human brokenness.  It's a really, really good book to read over a (several) drink(s) as you sit alone in the dark corner of the bar, or on the train home afterwards.  Also, read it to your dogs.

 

(Sam)


$13.60
ISBN: 9781573227339
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - May 1999

When proposed with the idea of being Godfather to his close friends new born baby girl, our protagonist Will Freeman tells them, and I'm paraphrasing, "You know me. I'll drop her at her christening. I'll forget her birthdays until her 18th, when I'll take her out and get her drunk...and possibly, let's face it, you know, try and shag her. I mean, seriously, it's a very, very bad choice." This is just a sampling of the sort of creation we are dealing with in the maestro Nick Hornby's tale of growing up when you're already in your mid-thirties.

 

(Dante)


By Laurence Cosse, Alison Anderson (Translator)
$12.75
ISBN: 9781933372822
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - August 31st, 2010

A secret committee of booklovers and writers open a bookstore in Paris that claims to sell only the very best that literature has to offer. When one of the committee members is gravely hurt, the rest of group looks outside to its enemies, other readers and writers who are disturbed by the bookstore's apparent snobbery. A fun, dark comedy about reading, books, criticism and literary snobbery. Which side are you on?

 

(Emily)


$15.26
ISBN: 9780823429493
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Holiday House - March 14th, 2014

For those still feeling hungry after Suzanne Collins' epic trilogy exploded through their lives, may I suggest plunging into the world of Eden and the Badlands, where a heroine even more conflicted than Katniss Everdeen navigates a dystopia even more disturbingly familiar.  A ravaged landscape of poverty with one (walled) oasis of plenty, a gang of scrappy eco-terrorist teenagers pitted against an intractable system, an extremely human android (or two) who might or might not be able to overcome their programming, and some swooningly convincing romantic moments make this an addicting and often surprising read -- and like Collins' tale of economic inequality, it's a book whose extreme readability belies some serious ideas just beneath the surface.

 

(Jessica)


By Betsy Bird, Brandon Dorman (Illustrator), Betsy Bird (Illustrator)
$15.29
ISBN: 9780061960833
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Greenwillow Books - April 2013

What do you do if you love to dance, but performing in front of an audience turns you into an ice pop? You start a school for dance. What do you do if no one signs up to take lessons from you... and then a bunch of giants ask you to teach THEM how to dance? In this funny and warm and wonderfully illustrated book, we learn that you say YES. It turns out that anyone can get stage fright, even giants. But it also turns out that anyone can dance, and that giant dance parties are very, very fun.

 

(Annie)


$12.75
ISBN: 9780743273565
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - October 2004

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