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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.
With The Infatuations, Javier Marías doesn't utilize stream of consciousness so much as he takes you step by step through the internal logic of his characters as they investigate the concepts of grief, love, and identity. The expansive sentences alone would keep you flowing from one page to the next, and that's not to mention the suspenseful scenario straight out of Hitchcock or Claude Chabrol.
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.
When I am not thinking about anything else, Edgar sometimes sneaks into my mind (yes, we are on a first name basis). The frustration I now feel at not being able to communicate with dogs as effectively as Edgar is nearly unbearable. Edgar Sawtelle is mute, using his own private language to communicate with both humans and dogs alike. This story is graceful and powerful, fleeting supernatural encounters make it a warm ghost story, and the Sawtelle family with all their quirks is brought to life in language that won't leave me alone.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
A perennial favorite and one of the sources of our name, Fitzgerald's masterpiece is always a staff pick at Greenlight Bookstore.