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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.
Morbidly dark literary humor with some of the best food writing you'll ever read!
Meet Kamala Khan. She's a 16-year-old, Pakistani-American, Muslim teenager from Jersey City. She's also a superhero. These are her first adventures: discovering and learning how to control her weird superpowers, protecting Jersey City when no one else will, all while sort of being grounded by her strict parents. Read as Kamala comes to terms with who she really is, both human and... otherwise, because in her case, "secret identity" takes on multiple meanings.
I first came across Ralph Ellison through his essays, where I found a fearless interrogation of race relations, US culture, and politics. Invisible Man unfolds in much the same nexus and walked me through a political awakening, laying to rest any doubts I may have had about the social impact literature can have. It doubles as a kind of bildungsroman that blows Catcher in the Rye out of the water, making it required reading for all. Amidst strained race relations and a heated election, Ellison's masterpiece is more prescient than ever.
In this decades-spanning novel of a brilliant, haunted, mixed-race family of musicians and scientists, Richard Powers stretches what a novel can do until it almost breaks, or breaks the reader in a way that leaves you changed. All the horrors and hopes of race relations in America in the 20th century are here, and all of the beauties and enormities of theoretical physics, and all the heartbreaking transcendence of music. Trying to talk coherently about this book for me is like trying to write about a loved one who has died; it's too big to do right, but too important not to do. In my personal canon, this book is one of the pillars of my top five.
A poetic jazz fantasia in prose, N's ongoing correspondence with the enigmatic Angel of Dust turns the epistolary novel on its ear--then turns the ear inside out. Through musical shifts within the ever-evolving Mystic Horn Society, we're treated to a musicological, linguistic, and philosophical examination of the purpose of art as an ongoing dialogue between invisible entities. An ongoing epic for the spirit tongues of the ages.
With this new collection, Mr. Everett provides a warm tapestry of happenings set in the West. As with his last story collection, he paints the human condition with a gentle brush, always reflective and controlled, never pat. He writes characters of color neutrally. It is something I religiously strive for in my writing. His characters are everyday people thrust into situations that require more of themselves than they ever thought possible.
From an excavated footnote in Alice B. Toklas’ Cook Book, Monique Truong has coined a character so full in both body and spirit it is hard to imagine he was ever a mere emaciated presence. Bihn, a closeted gay man and Vietnamese exile in 1930s France, is the cook in Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’ rue de Fleurus household, such goes the story vis-à-vis plot. And yet, haunted by past desires and the voice of his reproachful and belittling father, Bihn finds himself adrift, and a story of race, sexuality and origin is carefully unearthed. This book started out as a fine read and then absolutely blew me away.
San Francisco, 1968-1977. The International Hotel on the corner of Kearney and Jackson is the epicenter of not only this book but also what's known as the Yellow Power movement. But this umbrella term, as Yamashita illustrates over the 10 novellas (one for each year) that make up I Hotel, doesn't do justice to the complexities, similarities, and differences with which each ethnic group and each individual deals. A political powderkeg of a novel, at turns explosive and poignant, and altogether a triumphant effort.
Jimmy can't figure out how to draw hands. A problem that wouldn't be so serious if he wasn't trying to write his next comic book masterpiece, Mini-Man. A great read for young, frustrated--and talented!--artists and weirdos. Fun fact: Jules Feiffer, the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth, drew from his childhood for inspiration.
This book has been on my favorites shelf since I was 14! The story of Ruby McQueen teaming up with her mother to reunite an elderly member of their book group with her long lost love is now very familiar but hooks me every time I open it. This book has it all, love-striking and love-spurning, friendship, family, adventure, and an excellent road trip; I'm getting excited to re-read it again just writing this! Read this book and then we can talk about how Travis Becker is the absolute worst.
Angela Carter is the master of retelling and re-twisting classic stories, and in this book she gives you an entirely new Gothic fairy tale that is strange and awesome. Perfect for rainy days or sunny days when you want to be in a rainy mood.
An ageing single lady decides to shirks spinster-ism and becomes a witch instead. Also, Warner writes like the disembodied spirits of Jane Bowles and Virginia Woolf colliding in a seance. What more could you ask for? A real gem.
It takes a full, present tense retelling of Limonov's life to unspool his character, but Carrère is only pushing the knot down the thread, tantalizing us with the unspoken promise that if we can comprehend this repulsive, strangely noble paradox of a man we might grasp something profound about Russia and the web of recent history. But things are more complicated than they seem, and Eduard thrashes away from our sympathy at every turn.
Another installment of Annie's Greatest Unreliable Narrators. Also another installment of Books Featuring Extended Scenes in Laundromats. Who knew that was the secret to great literature? Margaret works in market research. Her friend Clara is perpetually pregnant. Her roommate Ainsley decides she wants a baby - but no husband. (Men spoil families.) Margaret's got Peter, who is nice enough. So why is Margaret suddenly unable to eat meat? And then eggs... and then anything. Atwood called this a protofeminist book. I call it a necessary read for anyone who has ever felt their borders blurring into another, who has wondered what it is we gain and what we lose in our relationships.
The most economical crime novel I know & no doubt one of the best. It's set mostly in the Boston underworld of the 60s & features sundry mid-level gangster lowlifes, mucho desperation, etc. The dialogue is slick & exact. Maybe afterward you'll check out the highly regarded 1973 film by Peter Yates, starring Robert Mitchum as Eddie "Fingers" Coyle. (I'm a read-the-book-first nerd.) Possible trivia: Odd connections between this book and Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown? Machine gun dealing, deals with the ATF, double-crosses, a character named JACKIE BROWN? What?
In a sleepy Norwegian town nearby, 11-yo. girls Siss and Unn meet at school and quickly form an intense bond. Then, just before a snowstorm that blankets the ice palace, Unn vanishes. The mystery of her disappearance becomes a backdrop for a deeper question: What is happening to Siss? Even Siss herself can’t say, as her memories of Unn, her social roles at school, and her sense of her own identity grow slippery and mercurial. This book is heartbreaking, but it isn’t sad; Vesaas evokes the vibrant, confusing connections between kindred spirits with a sharp beauty that lights up a seemingly dark story.
It's been ten years since hip hop visionary J Dilla passed away. Legend has it that Dilla finalized his landmark album Donuts on his death bed. Regardless of whether that's true, the mythology adds to the album's mystique, pondered even further when the hip hop community learned of his passing at age 32. This slim volume on J Dilla reflects the beauty of life in the sadness of death, and the enduring spirit that he managed to mix into his last batch of music.
Fellow Melville House author Derek Raymond says that this book "Serves as a tap on the shoulder — a necessary reminder that what is dead is not buried, and what is buried is, unfortunately, not dead." On the evening of October 17, 1961 twenty-thousand Algerians marched in Paris in defiance of and in protest against a curfew imposed by Maurice Papon, chief of the Paris Metropolitan Police. The protesters were met with ferocious and uninhibited violence. Eleven-thousand were arrested; more than one thousand injured; as many as three hundred were killed, many of them thrown into the Seine, from which their bodies were later recovered. Didier Daeninckx introduces us to a fictional observer of the riot, Roger Thiraud, a middle-aged history teacher in a public school, only steps from his home and his waiting, pregnant wife.
This book breaks down the disparity between the have and the have-nots with humor because that is the only humane way to tackle the subject matter without ripping the book in half. When reading this book I couldn't help but think to myself, have we honestly forgotten how to treat each other? When you are born into the world, it belongs to you - at least that is what I still believe, but that mantra has taking a beating.
Some people talk about writers' writers; well, Sergio Pitol is a reader's reader. Pitol is like a sponge - absorbing books, architecture, art, and travel - soaking up an ocean of experience where and no drop goes to waste. And his sponginess is infectious too - before I could bring myself to finish the first installment of his memoir trilogy, I was compelled to read Conrad, Bulgakov, Chekhov and more. Though originally from Mexico, Pitol spent much of his life abroad in Europe as a diplomat and translator (two sides of the same coin I like to think). When asked how it feels to be an ex-pat, Pitol gives the best possible answer: "Language is my homeland."
A perennial favorite and one of the sources of our name, Fitzgerald's masterpiece is always a staff pick at Greenlight Bookstore.