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 October 5, 2018.


 

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Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass & Sorcery Cover Image
$8.49
ISBN: 9781607069454
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Image Comics - April 8th, 2014

This rowdy crew is made up of crude and crass monster-slayers-for-hire, who get as much thrill from decapitating an evil dragon as a one-night-stand after a night of heavy drinking. For the Rat Queens, that oftentimes happens all in a row (with variations on order). Whatever (mis)adventures the Rat Queens have, they’re always entertaining. In short, Rat Queens is Lumberjanes for adults. 

Picked by Geo in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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The Last Samurai Cover Image
$16.11
ISBN: 9780811225502
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - May 31st, 2016

Helen DeWitt's THE LAST SAMURAI hinges on coincidences and chance but is never sentimental.  Sibylla is a struggling single-mom, who works as both a secretary at a British publishing house and transcribes old issues of dated magazines after hours. Her ten-year-old son, Ludo, reads Homer in Greek on the Tube and speaks some half dozen languages, which appear throughout the novel.  Ludo wants to know who his father is, but Sibylla refuses, referring to the man only as Liberace.  Its eccentricity and odd structure is seductive, and DeWitt's disruption, rejection really, of what defines a novel, makes is proudly idiosyncratic, fragmented and intertextual. 

Picked by D. in Fort Greene


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Dhalgren Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780375706684
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 15th, 2001

 

Dhalgren is a novel of collapse, of shifting realities and slippages in time precipitated by some unknown cataclysmic event, or many, or is it just the fabric of systems unthreading? I love Dhalgren because it feels like now, it feels like the past, future, and never. It speaks to the way I experience life and time: discontinuous and supernatural; and how I experience society: fragile, painful, beautiful, horrific. This book is how a dystopian collapse would go down: physical structures might fall, go up in flames, but people will attempt to claw onto the last bits of power and order they know, while others exist as if they always knew this day would come. 

Picked by Rex in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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News of the World: A Novel Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9780062409218
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - June 20th, 2017

At a time when many of us are questioning the contrived boundaries of masculinity, it’s a joy to get to know Jiles’s protagonist Captain Kidd, who is as hard-bitten as the classic heroes of the Western genre without sacrificing an ounce of compassion. I was touched by his frank affection for fierce little ten-year-old Johanna, who was taken from her white family years ago and raised by the Kiowa. Unprepared and unwilling to rejoin the world of forks and corsets, she proves to be a resourceful little hellion, and a wicked shot to boot. Kidd and Johanna make a delightful team, and I left feeling refreshed.

Picked by Sarah in Fort Greene


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The Emissary Cover Image
By Yoko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani (Translator)
$12.71
ISBN: 9780811227629
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - April 24th, 2018

The Emissary is one of the most satisfying books I've read in a while. Set in Japan post an unnamed disaster which causes children to be born essentially elderly and the elderly to be immortal, it is a story of Yoshiro, a great-grandfather, his great-grandson Mumei, and their co-dependence. Given the heaviness of the subject, the novel is very lighthearted! It is a beautifully written novel, with language that is graceful, colorful, and at times incredibly funny. If you like things, you will like this book!

Picked by Justin in Fort Greene


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The Book of Sand and Shakespeare's Memory Cover Image
By Jorge Luis Borges, Andrew Hurley (Translated by), Andrew Hurley (Introduction by), Andrew Hurley (Notes by)
$13.60
ISBN: 9780143105299
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - December 18th, 2007

This collection is, for me, Borges’ most satisfying. I love his earlier stories as well, but here I feel the old tyke relax. Instead of working to prove his paradoxes airtight, he seems more apt to grin, delivering his fairytales and fantasies without obligation. In the first story, “The Other,” which recounts the meeting of two men named Borges, the older tells the younger, “Perhaps our dream will end, perhaps it won’t. Meanwhile, our clear obligation is to accept the dream, as we have accepted the universe and our having been brought into it and the fact that we see with our eyes and that we breathe.” 

Picked by Niko in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Son (Giver Quartet #4) Cover Image
$8.49
ISBN: 9780544336254
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - May 6th, 2014

Little-known fact: Lowry's revered YA novel The Giver is actually the first of a quartet. All are worth reading, since Lowry expands on the weird biome she's created and the communities that try to thrive in it. Yet there is a special sense of closure—and a revisit to that feeling of creeping irony—in this fourth and final chapter, which tells the story of Claire, the young woman who gave birth to Gabriel. (And nah, as enjoyable as they are, you don't need to read the middle two to understand what's happening in this one.) 

Picked by Emily in Fort Greene


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Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780399184765
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - October 25th, 2016

Okay! I think I popped out of my mother's womb crying, not from the shock of entering this loud world, but because they weren't the loud sounds I wanted to hear. So, as I got older, and started to make my own decisions, naturally I gravitated to rock n roll! punk! riot grrl! "LOUD! I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!" music. Sleater-Kinney allowed me to explore myself as a teenager, and still does, to this day! But hey, this isn't about my relationship with Carrie's band, and it's not all about Sleater-Kinney. This memoir is a beautiful reflection on a confusing childhood, self-identity, relationships, self-care and so much MORE. A wonderful read that I have pushed onto almost all my friends. Carrie is a force, both to be reckoned with, and one to find comfort in.

Picked by Erika in Prospect Lefferts Garden


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The Long Goodbye (A Philip Marlowe Novel #6) Cover Image
$12.75
ISBN: 9780394757681
Availability: Available at our distributor; usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - August 12th, 1988

If Dashiell Hammet invented the hard-boiled lexicon, Raymond Chandler turned it into poetry. Here, we find the consummately down-and-out Philip Marlowe on a case that slips in and out of focus so many times that by the middle of the book, the plot seems to have dissolved entirely. But that hardly matters because, like Marlowe, the reader is pulled forward by vague uncertainly rather than any definable outcome. There's a reason Chandler has been citied as an influence by eveyone from Tom Waits to the Cohen Brothers, and it's all in The Long Goodbye. A great read to see you through the last languid months of summer.

Picked by Jarrod in Fort Greene


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Austerlitz Cover Image
By W.G. Sebald, James Wood (Introduction by)
$14.45
ISBN: 9780812982619
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Modern Library - December 6th, 2011

I knew Austerlitz was going to be a special read by the third or fourth page. I don't recall it being anything specific, but I could already feel the narrative picking up a subtle momentum, like a train embarking on its scenic route. Austerlitz is meandering and descriptive and a lot like getting to know someone over many cups of tea. Underneath layers of experiential storytelling, there lies the actual narrative about a hundred pages in, and getting there is somehow just as mesmerizing as having gotten there. 

Picked by Geo in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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All the World Cover Image
By Liz Garton Scanlon, Marla Frazee (Illustrator)
$15.29
ISBN: 9781416985808
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beach Lane Books - September 8th, 2009

The simplest words, for the smallest child, about the biggest things: morning and evening, seasons, families of all kinds, work and play, food and music and being young and old. The sweetest rhyme and rhythm, and pictures you can look into again and again and always find something new. This is a book for all ages, and for all seasons, but especially for summer.

Picked by Jessica in Prospect Lefferts Gardens 


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Sirena Selena: A Novel Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9780312263928
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - August 1st, 2001

I always feel an unease when I return to this book: a quickening of the heart, a sudden empty of my stomach, and tears racing down my cheeks. Mayra Santos-Febres' Sirena Selena is a wonderful book that at its heart asks us all how have we lied to ourselves and why? Pick this up if you've loved, if you've been hurt, been the cause of hurt, and/or just want a good read.

Picked by Nicholas N. in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Claire of the Sea Light (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780307472274
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - July 1st, 2014

On the night of Claire Limyè Lanmè's 7th birthday, a day of love marked by the death of her mother, she disappears suddenly into the night. As Claire runs throughout the novel, the book's readers are are pulled into the interwomen lives of the community in Ville Rose, Haiti.  A stunning fable about love, family and sacrifice, Edwidge Danticat earns her place as one of our most gifted storytellers. 

Picked by Itiola in Fort Greene


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Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9780062569028
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - June 27th, 2017

This book is a totally heartwarming, tender gem. I picked it up on a whim, as neither a usual graphic novel reader nor someone who had a clue who Jomny Sun is, and I could not put it down. We follow a little aliebn who thinks all of the animals on earth are ‘humabns’, and learns lessons about what it means to be human from the animals. It’s full of what feel simultaneously like grand philosophies on humankind and naïve hilarious one liners. It’s great for all ages and the cutest book ever!! 

Picked by Laura in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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The Watchmaker of Filigree Street Cover Image
$14.45
ISBN: 9781620408346
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 3rd, 2016

 I love cozy Victorian novels with women scientists and gay romances and some science and some magic and some danger and some philosophy and maybe a little bit of time travel.  Are there other novels like that?  I don't care, this is the best one.

Picked by Jessica in Fort Greene


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The Milk of Dreams Cover Image
$13.56
ISBN: 9781681370941
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYR Children's Collection - May 16th, 2017

Soak in the wildly imaginative mind of surrealist painter and writer Leonora Carrington. Darkly playful (and often grotesque) illustrations accompany the stories of this genuinely bizarre book for children and adults alike.

Picked by Vanessa in Fort Greene


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For the End of Time: The Story of the Messiaen Quartet Cover Image
$21.21
ISBN: 9780801472978
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Cornell University Press - March 24th, 2006

The gold medal for "Most Beautiful Piece of Music" must go to Olivier Messiaen's 1941 magnum opus "Quartet for the End of Time". The eight-movement piece moves from jarring timbres and short repetitive rhythms to slow and outright gorgeous melodies; at times these changes occur within single movements. This book details the harsh circumstances in which the piece—composed while Messiaen was a prisoner during WWII—was written. Using interviews with Messiaen as well as other members of the original quartet (clarinetist Henri Akoka, violinist Jean le Boulaire and cellist Étienne Pasquier), it's a fascinating read aned a great introduction for anyone unfamiliar to Messiaen's work.

Picked by Justin in Ft. Greene


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A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories Cover Image
$14.45
ISBN: 9781250094735
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - August 2nd, 2016

A lot happens in this audacious collection of stories: a lifetime of incident and insight. Loosely autobiographical—even in conversation with her own children Berlin would blur the real and imaginary—it spans the experiences of a prodigiously hardworking woman. From cleaning houses or working at an ER in Oakland to falling for a scuba diver on the Pacific coast of Mexico, Berlin's characters toil, love, leave, and start over, clearing a path of observations. 

Picked by Ben in Ft. Greene


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How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9781250032447
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - June 25th, 2013

Sheila Heti’s voice is indispensable and unlike any other—fearless, dynamic, rigorous, yet unfailingly funny and sexy. If you’re interested in personal approaches to philosophical questions (like Maggie Nelson), sincere visions of female friendship (like Ferrante), the fluid boundary between fiction and confession (like Knausgaard), or the ethics and obligations of artistic practice, How Should A Person Be? is an exciting and wonderful discovery. Heti has shown me again and again how to better approach the project of living.

Picked by Lily in Ft. Greene


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Zama Cover Image
By Antonio Di Benedetto, Esther Allen (Translated by), Esther Allen (Preface by)
$13.56
ISBN: 9781590177174
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - August 23rd, 2016

"His hair had been white forever. He was born old and could not die. His solitude was appalling.” Is that Santa? No, that's just the divine creator as hatefully described by our lovely anti-hero, Don Diego de Zama. Unable to escape godforsaken colonial Paraguay or his own wretched condition, forced to dissociate to a mesmerizing, staccato first-person (glimpses of Di Benedetto's screen-writing), Don Diego blurs through a life of maté, cold schemes, and violent temptation. Will his heinous attitude lead him out of purgatory? Probably not.

Picked by Julian in Fort Greene

 


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Autobiography Cover Image
By Benvenuto Cellini, George Bull (Translated by), George Bull (Introduction by), George Bull (Notes by)
$14.45
ISBN: 9780140447187
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - November 1st, 1999

If you are a student of artist history, recently read Walter Isaacson's best-selling Leonardo Da Vinci, or are a Caravaggio cognoscente, you should pick up this artist's first-person account of Renaissance Italy. With an easy directness, Cellini--a Florentine goldsmith born in 1500--describes a city where diversity was valued and a time when Liberal Arts scholarship was a life's purpose. On any given day, there's also violence and murder, love and unguarded sexuality. Unlike da Vinci and Caravaggio, Cellini shares the struggle of his creative process through one of the most important autobiographies in the Western canon.

Picked by Heather M. in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


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Push: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$12.71
ISBN: 9780679766759
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 29th, 1997

I first read Push over 20 years ago, and it's stayed with me all this time. It holds up upon re-read, and it's time for a new generation of readers to discover or re-discover this book. Searing, relentless, shocking and visceral. Lyrical, poetic, necessary. Despite the overwhelming atrocities inflicted upon her by life, 16 year old Precious is a character who still has hope. You will take her into your heart and she will never leave you.

Picked by Rebecca in Fort Greene


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The Great Gatsby Cover Image
$14.45
ISBN: 9780743273565
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 30th, 2004

A perennial favorite and one of the sources of our name, Fitzgerald's masterpiece is always a staff pick at Greenlight Bookstore.


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