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 November 13, 2017.


Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent Cover Image
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

Their Eyes Were Watching God Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060838676
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - January 1st, 2006

In Zora Neale Hurston's timeless novel, we follow the resilient Janie Crawford on her journey for love and self-discovery in the rural South. In the soft veil of the night, Janie returns to her hometown to pass down her story to her closest confidant, Phoebe. Through a story-within-story frame, the world blossoms from the pear tree "soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees" to Janie's reclamation of her story and her life. Nothing short of a literary treasure, Hurston remains one of America's most remarkable and celebrated storytellers.

Picked by Itiola in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Blackout Cover Image
By John Rocco, John Rocco (Illustrator)
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

Anti-Gone Cover Image
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

The Sonnets Cover Image
By Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley (Editor)
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

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

Picked by Heather M. in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

The Waves Cover Image
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

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

Picked by Nicholas in Fort Greene

Incendiary Art: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780810134331
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Triquarterly Books - February 15th, 2017

"You can name yourself a man, walk taut and tall and will your voice / to stomp, but still be upended by demons, ain't that something?" Investigating some of America's devastating, but crucial moments: the murder of Emmett Till, the murder of Mike Brown, bombing of the Birmingham church, riots in Los Angeles, Smith weaves together a poetic overview of the damage and investigates where love resides in the body once a love one has been murdered, a city that been set ablaze, and a country too "colorblind" to notice any of it. 

Picked by Nicholas in Fort Greene

Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear Cover Image
ISBN: 9781940842011
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Museyon - December 1st, 2014

What does Kuma-Kuma Chan do all day? He eats breakfast (he grows the lettuce and tomatoes in his garden). He lies on his roof and watches the clouds float by. In the evening, he writes a long letter to a friend. A quiet book, a peaceful book, about finding joy in the little things.

Picked by Jen in Fort Greene

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

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

Curveball Cover Image
By Jeremy Sorese (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781910620052
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nobrow Press - November 17th, 2015

Check out how local comics hero Jeremy Sorese envisions our interaction with technology in a future that's not so far away and yet not quite here. Stay to see his hopes for our interaction with each other, with what comes to us naturally and what we'll probably never get over. Within the lilting lines of his highly recognizable and personal brush style, everything looks great, despite the looming robotic uprise.

Picked by Emily in Fort Greene

Jurassic Park Cover Image
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

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476777412
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 4th, 2017

This is the best kind of nonfiction: a heart-pounding story that also contains an immense education. The story starts with hundreds of years of intellectual culture in western Africa centered in the city of Timbuktu, distilled in wonderful anecdotes and cogent story arcs, and climaxes in the the risky smuggling of ancient illuminated manuscripts out of danger during the early 2000's.  Hammer's exciting reporting from Mali over the last decade reveals the cyclical struggle between tolerant and extremist forms of Islam, the complexities of the West's relationship with militants, and the courage of Muslims in nonviolent defense of  art and culture.  It even has some ideas on how lovers of books might practice their own quiet acts of bravery and resistance in hostile times.

Picked by Jessica in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

The Liars' Club: A Memoir Cover Image
By Mary Karr, Lena Dunham (Foreword by), Brian Rea (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780143107798
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - November 10th, 2015

In the introduction to the 10th Ann. edition of The Liar's Club, Mary Karr writes that the responses to her memoir have been what a writer always dreams of--"to plug a reader into some wall outlet deep in the personal psychic machine that might jumpstart him or her into a more feeling way of life." While Karr has many heartbreaking stories of her childhood, she writes about them with the kind of humor that only comes from a deep love of her family and hometown. Mostly set in Texas, with a brief stint in Colorado, her descriptions and metaphors immerse you in her young world and give you new words and ways to think about your growing-up years.

Picked by Heather C. in Fort Greene

The Apothecary Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142422069
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Puffin Books - February 12th, 2013

Picked by Grace in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe Cover Image
By Deborah Blumenthal, Laura Freeman (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781499802399
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Bee Books - January 17th, 2017

Deborah Blumenthal's biography of the African-American designer Ann Cole Lowe, who created Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding dress, deals squarely with the obstacles of poverty and prejudice she faced, while celebrating the pure joy of creation and beauty.  This a great gift for fashion-obsessed girls (or boys), with some real depth as well as some couture thrills -- my own small aspiring fashion designer now has Lowe's gowns in her look book.

Picked by Jessica in Fort Greene

Pippi Longstocking (Puffin Modern Classics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142402498
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Puffin Books - April 21st, 2005

Didn't you know that Pippi Longstocking is the strongest girl in the world? Petty thieves and naughty bullies that cross Pippi's path have all learned that the hard way. Her no-big-deal super-strength, matched with her loyalty to friends and her - how should I say? - singular logical reasoning, makes Pippi the friend you want in any circumstance, not to mention the character you'll love reading about.

Picked by Geo in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Changing, Changing Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807615539
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: George Braziller - September 1st, 2005

Aracelis Girmay's changing, changing is an homage to the experiences that shape us, and to the persons/spaces/places we might become. As much collage as visual poem, this book is a foray into imagination and possibility. It's a page turner, but you do not want to turn the page. My only wish is that it could come in poster-sized!

Picked by Stormy in Fort Greene

Lunch Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780872860353
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: City Lights Books - January 1st, 2001

The poems in Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems are the actual sound of Manhattan's heart beating, and it's thanks to San Francisco press (and fellow indie bookstore!) City Lights that we have them in this perfect, pocket-sized form. Ideal for reading in a park, on a train, on the steps of the Met, or anywhere else you might find yourself, the Lunch Poems are humble, beautiful without being sentimental, and absolutely momentous in scope. These poems are for you.

Picked by Melissa in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg Cover Image
By Kate Evans, Paul Buhle (Editor)
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

Dance Cover Image
By Andre Lepecki (Editor)
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

Herland Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394736655
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon Books - February 12th, 1979

A must-read for feminists, misogynists and everyone in-between. Three hapless explorers, all 'strapping young men' discover access to a utopian island inhabited solely by a population of intellectually and culturally advanced women. The men make a series of missteps and broad assumptions as to the capabilities, interests, whims and desires of women that are so true to life it's comical and meantime, the woman navigate it all with capable grace. With the tone of the world these days, and with the momentum of Handmaid's Tale, Herland (which vastly predates yet likely helped to inform Atwood as a writer) is ripe for rediscovery.

Picked by Rebecca in Fort Greene and Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Blood of the Dawn Cover Image
By Claudia Salazar, Elizabeth Bryer (Translator)
ISBN: 9781941920428
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - December 6th, 2016

A work of profound lyricism and voice, Blood of the Dawn follows the intersecting lives of three women during the height of The Shining Path's reign of terror in Peru. Seething and sorrowful, rending and redemptive, Salazar Jimenez's novel of brutal beauty holds much more than it's hundred or so pages would suggest and will leave you exhausted by its end.

Picked by Kelly in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Distant Star Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811215862
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - December 17th, 2004

A tale of poetry, semiotics, and serial murder, Bolano's Distant Star examines the vapid and violent nature of right wing art while holding to the nauseating, fever dream vision of good noir. Starting right at the onset of Pinochet's coup in Chile, the novel follows an unnamed narrator who contends with his new pariah status and seeks to unravel the mystery of Carlos Wieder and his sinister New Chilean Poetry. Political, lamenting, and certainly creepy, this is the perfect little novel to kick off your 2017 reading list.

Picked by Kelly in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Good Morning, Midnight Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393303940
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - December 17th, 1999

Good Morning, Midnight is the story of Sasha, a woman in crisis; aging, lonely, she struggles to shoulder the weight of her depression. As she reels around Paris, floundering under the waves of memories that knock her around the city, she searches for anything -- alcohol, clothes, men -- to dull her tremendous pain. It's a bleak but unforgettable book.

Picked by Jen in Fort Greene

Erasure Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555975999
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 25th, 2011

In a literary canon that spans over twenty five titles, to me this is Everett's Magna Opus. This book takes a satirical look at the left turn an author takes when his latest book doesn't move the needle in the publishing world and turns to Urban Fiction, piggybacking off the success of an Oberlin educated writer's newest release We's Lives in da Ghetto.

Picked by Dante in Fort Greene

Happiness, Like Water Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544003453
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - August 13th, 2013

Picked by Jean in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Beverly Cover Image
ISBN: 9781770462250
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Drawn & Quarterly - January 26th, 2016

Soothing pastels and stripped-down layouts give way to the sort of quiet anxiety and all-too-real hopelessness that calls to mind Chris Ware. Some shocks come suddenly: a deranged daydream, an ominous stranger. More affecting, though, is the way the six stories slowly bleed together, with subtle tensions becoming major themes and small characters muttering the disappointing, revealing sound bites that form the texture of a place. Drnaso’s Middle America is hollow, but he’s an incredible artist.

Picked by Julian in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

What Does It Mean to Be an Entrepreneur? Cover Image
By Rana DiOrio, Emma D. Dryden, Ken Min (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781939775122
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Pickle Press - January 26th, 2016

This inspiring book asks its reader what it means to be an entrepreneur. It starts off with 'Does it mean making lots of money? No, the book tells us - it does not. But it slowly transitions from the negatives to the positives, which as a small business owner, I can attest are true: being an entrepreneur means asking what if, solving problems, thinking outside of the box, following your dream, saying Yes I Can and moving forward through your fears. The list goes on, and the book itself is a delight.

Picked by Rebecca in Fort Greene

Exercises in Style Cover Image
By Raymond Queneau, Barbara Wright (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811220354
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - January 31st, 2013

A peevish young man is jostled on a public bus, then receives unsolicited fashion advice from a friend. That's the whole story, but Queneau tells it 179 different ways: backwards, in sonnet form, in cockney slang, in zoological metaphor...this is a book for any adult who grew up loving The Phantom Tollbooth, and perhaps for some precocious kids too.

Picked by Hannah in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


The Great Gatsby Cover Image
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.