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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.
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.
Whether you love or hate the writing of David Foster Wallace, his thoughts on rap have the potential to fascinate you regardless. In 1989, when rap was gaining underground prominence but still years away from the global popularity it would eventually achieve, two white male writers in Boston decided to write a book on the subject. What results is a unique perspective on the burgeoning art form, captured in the cross hairs of race, media, and consumption on a national scale.
Sometimes I get sad that I'm not still reading this book. Of Human Bondage spans the course of decades and bears witness to an orphan with a clubbed foot (all good stories are about orphans, you know), who grows up, unsure of what to do with his life; a young man who falls disastrously in love, who grows older but not necessarily wiser. He is intelligent and easily embarrassed, earnest and eager, defensive and sometimes cruel, but above all he's a man searching for his life. The mistakes along the way make you want to throw the book at a wall, but his search to make sense of life and make something of his will make you sorry to say goodbye at the last page.
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.
So it is currently the season known as Winter, these stories were written by a person known as Winter, and 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.
A sort of pataphysical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which alcohol replaces chocolate, and Rimbaud's "derangement of the senses" theory becomes a basic life philosophy. Add to that a whiff of Gurdjieff, some exaggerated debauchery a la Rabelais or Bosch, and you'll find yourself becoming a bit parched. Or have you already drunk your fill? Daumal is a prankster supreme, and this book may well be the whoopee cushion placed upon the chair of gatekeeping intellectual hierarchy.
It's no secret that Grimm's fairy tales involve a lot of eating and being eaten. Leave it to Lucy Cousins (of Maisy fame) to resolve those dark tales into brightly illustrated versions totally appropriate for toddlers, without getting rid of the compelling strangeness of the originals. Classics like "Goldilocks" and "The Billy Goats Gruff" are joined by lesser-known gems like "The Enormous Turnip". I don't know whether it's the Grimms or Cousins or both, but my three-year-old reaches for this book at almost every story time.
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.
The famous saying is true, indeed you can't throw a rock in this city in any direction without hitting a writer. Such is true for this bookstore. Many writers come in and out, many of them lovely or talented or both. Ben Dolnick is one of those lucky ones who falls into that last category. He'd been a regular for years before I picked up one of his novels, and when I got to the third chapter of this one I was like OH MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MY BRAIN? THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. Don't be like me! Don't wait years before reading this compassionate, elegant, hilarious, rare and unrelenting storyteller.
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.
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.
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.
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.