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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.
This slim volume is so much more than it presents itself to be. These 40-odd pages praise not only the shadows that the architecture of a Japanese home creates but the shadows of Japanese culture in general. You can read it in an afternoon, and it can stay with you for a lifetime.
Going back to the debut novel by an established master is a little like discovering baby pictures of a friend: it's a delight to see the potential for what they'll become, as well as the specific charm they had then. David Mitchell (internationally acclaimed author of Cloud Atlas) is definitely recognizable in this wonderful first novel -- in his structural innovation, his outrageously good sentences, and most of all in his uncanny (ghostly?) ability to write in the voices of wildly different characters. He also knows how to spin an incredibly good yarn that will keep you turning pages with that familiar delight.
Todd Colby delivers the freshest book of love poems that I've read in a long time. If you put your ear close enough to this book, you can hear the echoes of O'Hara and Schuyler co-versing with Colby's own immediate, effervescent voice. These are portraits of a love unafraid to be laughed at a little in all of its jubilant mess.
In a fantasy genre world where Tolkien's elves, dwarves and pointy-hatted wizards are still the dominant motifs... one author dares to build on another culture's magical traditions for her smart, contemporary, and thoroughly enjoyable fantasy novel. Set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, G. Willow Wilson's fast-paced yet thoughtful story involved an undermotivated hacker, a repressive government, a rich man's daughter and the girl next door... oh, and marids, effrits, sila, and vetala, who may look semi-human or far more genie-like depending on the circumstances. The author's take on the experience of living in an Islamic world is fresh and nuanced, while the story, including romance, chases, flashy technology, and ancient magic, is much more fun than walking into Mordor.
I love to recommend this for little girls who are in that princess phase. Rose knows her way around being royal (it's all about the accessories), but her story is really about imagination and family. On a day when she is sometimes the Queen of France and sometimes Rose, the little girl's conversations with her parents, her handling of a pricked finger, and her ultimate decision about who she wants to be, are charming, giggle-worthy, and maybe even a little tear-jerking. The tone and illustrations ring true to family life, and Rose (who may be a dragon tomorrow) is a great heroine.
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.
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.
For curious children.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
So you have questions. Is this collection of short stories engrossing? Yes, I believe so. Is it funny? I did spit out my Guinness. Is it bizarre and dark? Yes, there are touches of that too. From the aftermath of a young black jazz musician appropriating the Confederate Flag as a source of pride in South Carolina to a wayward stranger's gift in fixing everything from toasters to the already pronounced dead, Percival Everett's collection is a perceptive two hundred page example of the human condition.
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.
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)
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.
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.
A perennial favorite and one of the sources of our name, Fitzgerald's masterpiece is always a staff pick at Greenlight Bookstore.