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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.
I remember reading this book for the first time and feeling everything become still. I still get that feeling when I look at the cover. It is filled with prose so beautiful and a structure so artful yet organic that it becomes like a vase of flowers in a room, around which everything converges. Whether you love or hate the work of Virginia Woolf or the movie adaptation, Cunningham's best novel can transport you into silence.
Are you okay with books that haunt you, maybe even damage you? This one has its obvious terrible happenings -- the story involves choir boys suffering under abuse from a male authority figure. But it also clings to me in ways I can't even explain -- I have no experience to compare it to, and yet it feels somehow personal in the intimacy of its adolescent voice. Alexander Chee is a writer I am always hoping to hear more from -- I'm thrilled (and a little scared) that his second novel is finally coming out next year
This book is not about birds. It is about a monster that no one can see, and it is brilliant. Josh Malerman has taken the horror stories we love, unraveled them, and woven something else, something new and truly gripping. You'll read it in one night, under the covers, with a flashlight and an open mouth.
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.
Told in Jonas’ voice, we encounter his own failing marriage set up against his parents’ marriage. He sets out on a road trip, essentially following his parents’ footsteps, to learn who they were to each other and how they expected their lives to unfold. He’s in search of what made him. This book is so beautiful, I dare you not to feel anything.
I was surprised (perhaps, even--dismayed? incredulous?) to discover that this lyrical novel of Burma in the late 1800s was written by a 26-year-old med student out of San Francisco. No two worlds could be more opposite. If you have more curiosity about the former than the latter; if you loved Heart of Darkness; if you hated Heart of Darkness; if you wish you were a time traveler; if you want to know what happened to a very old piano shipped to the farthest edge of the British Empire--this is the book for you.
Oh, Cesar Aira, you have done it again. Shantytown reminds me how powerful stories can be, how people’s lives intertwine just as delicately and with just as much fragility as pirated lights strung above a shantytown - always delivering a new message to those who know where to look. A new drug, a corrupt police officer, and a charmingly curious, rather slow narrator drive both the mystery and the beauty of Shantytown. As a New Yorker, you will thank him for the perfect "slip it in your back pocket" packaging when you tear your nose away from his books long enough to leave the house.
Think of Robin Hood. Take away the comfy mythical English setting, and replace with a rich and dusty corner of the real world, with all too familiar traditions of corruption and exploitation. Imagine the bandit king starts out as just an angry, rebellious young man. Imagine why and how someone like that might become a hero of the people, and what messy sacrifices that must entail. Yashar Kemal (1923 – 2015), himself a populist rabble-rouser, created in Memed and his world something bewilderingly authentic that hurts as well as heals.
Believe me, I'd have to be very confident in the quality and accessibility of a She-Hulk comic to recommend it to you knowing you may very likely respond with eyes askance. Writer Charles Soule, drawing on his own experience as a lawyer, smartly scripts the tale of a recently-fired attorney who struggles while opening her own law practice in DUMBO (and, yes, also happens to be a giant green rage monster who occasionally smashes). Artist Javier Pulido's Loves and Rockets-ish lines lend a wonderfully, and appropriately, indie vibe to the character-driven plots.
Baker's thoughts bleed so subtly that I'd turn back in the book and be shocked to discover how his tone had changed. His devotion (madness?) results in some intensely memorable descriptions of both physical nature and the emotions of his birds. I found myself reading with two minds: fascinated as an outsider tracing his obsessive spiral, but totally absorbed by his hypnotic, immersive routine. Beautiful, misanthropic, and often brutal nature writing that forces you to go outside.
If you read this book and don't fall in love with it, find me and defend yourself.
When I first read this I was taken with Perec's cleverness and the magnificent complexity of the story. And many years later I still am. He's created a universe in one apartment block. The craftiness of his architecture, the wit of his allusion - the result is playful but not frivolous.
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.
My next installment in Annie's Greatest Unreliable Narrators series. David loves his wife, Franny. Franny seems to be missing, or maybe dead. He keeps remembering something... and this detective keeps asking him questions... and then there are the threats in the sugar bag under a stone by the mailbox: "I WILL CROSS-STITCH AN IMAGE OF YOUR FUTURE HOME BURNING. I WILL HANG THIS IMAGE OVER YOUR BED WHILE YOU SLEEP." Who are the threats from? Who are they to? For those who have been diligently purchasing EVERY book I recommend, a bonus question: What other book in the A.G.U.N. series features extended time at laundromats?
Edan Lepucki's short novella is a vicious character study of.... Honestly, people, I only choose the book because of its cover. I'm really not that deep, ladies and gentlemen. T.S. Eliot I am not.... But truthfully this novella is a brutally funny and cringe worthy depiction of what a relationship can turn into if it isn't done for the right reasons.
Part literary scholarship, part memoir, Kate Zambreno's Heroines explores the forgotten or oft-misremembered diaries, letters, and memoirs of literary wives, lovers, and artists from the modernist age. While freeing Jane Bowles, Zelda Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, and co. from the silence placed upon their work by their male contemporaries, Zambreno, perhaps to her surprise, must face this same silencing when she starts an impassioned blog on the subject.
So you've read A People's History of the United States and naturally, you want more! Become a total Zinn fan and read this phenomenal set of personal essays that reflects on the events that led him to become both a writer and a maker of history. Written in Zinn's signature style that ignites passion, curiosity, and frustration within readers, he offers intimate reflections on some of America's most volatile years and will make you question what it actually looks like to participate in a democracy.
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.
Reading Galeano always feels like tapping into a memory with the compassion and romantic flair cranked way up. Embraces is especially personal; stories of his own life bounce off those of others, finding a way to cope with certain parts of history and celebrate what's usually forgotten. His crazy illustrations perfectly capture all the dissonance and absurdity that often comes with looking back at the world.
If you think BJ Novak's picture book (you know, the one with no pictures) is a silly read-aloud, just try this one.
Every page is full of straight-faced silliness, but with an oddly linear storyline. It's been my son's favorite story book for a month straight now, so I guess if he could write, this would be his staff pick, but instead I'm doing it for him. The more I read it, the more wondrousness I find within.
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.
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.
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.
A perennial favorite and one of the sources of our name, Fitzgerald's masterpiece is always a staff pick at Greenlight Bookstore.