Greenlight Staff Picks are 15% off!
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 April 5th, 2018.
Shirley Jackson is one of my horror queens! If you're a fan of the macabre then buckle up! This Gothic tale will hold you uncomfortably close and won't disappoint. Jackson's perfectly haunting and atmospheric world oozes agoraphobia and throws some witchcraft into the mix. I am getting excited just thinking about it! The goosebumps are rising.
Picked by Erika in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Mary Posa works as a henchgirl for the local supervillain. She doesn't necessarily like being bad, but it pays the bills. When an aspiring superhero with a not-altogether useful superpower convinces her to try do-gooding, will Mary stay the course or turn heel against her better judgment? The adventures of this henchgirl are hilarious and heartfelt, capped by a pretty unexpected "Because comics" denouement.
Picked by Geo in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
I have been reading this book with my five-year-old, and it has opened up conversations about racial injustice and resistance that she can understand. The illustrations are wonderful, the history is solid, and the prose is musical, as it should be in telling the story of one of the greatest anthems of the Civil Rights Movement. And the book doesn't end in the 1960s with "then everything was fixed", but lets the song go on singing in many voices into other struggles, providing courage and hope.
Picked by Jessica in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
You could read Pilgrim for the prose alone. You could read it, just as well, for the wit alone—Annie Dillard is a hilarious beast. While you’re at it, you might read this for the wonder of it all, for the incessant, insightful, wonder-filled seeing Dillard exercises. If you want a real treat, though, read this with the seasons—neverminding beginnings or ends either way; pausing, as needed, to let the seasons catch up. A year walking with the pilgrim is a year well spent.
Picked by Niko in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
B.H. Fairchild has been described as "one of those poets that prose writers love." This has proved to be true for myself. When it comes to poetry, I prefer the Metaphysicals with a smattering of Shakespeare. But Fairchild's narrative poems in lyrical free verse sweep me away--they immerse me in his mid-western, blue collar world, one in which low class and high culture are mingled, things that are not commonly considered beautiful are elevated, and Dodge trucks and iconography exist on the same plane.
Picked by Heather C. in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Lush with figs, flowers, dirt and feet that persist despite earth-shattering pains, Gay’s poetic universe makes magic of the ordinary and gives us gratitude as a form of rebellion. I return to these poems to feel better on a bad day and to make good days the best. A remarkably self-aware delight, this collection of odes and celebrations blooms with enough nuance to make even the most seasoned skeptic swoon.
Picked by Maria in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
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
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
Every time Brás dies, he has discovered different joys but seems to have the same regrets. This graphic novel applies the dramatic tone of popular comics to the everyday moments of this world, re-framing what doesn't sound like much to be, in actuality, the most grave and beautiful thing in the world.
Picked by Emily in Ft. Greene
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
Gone-Away World wins all the awards in the grand awards assembly in my head. It has the most gonzo pulp adventures, the wildest larger-than-life characters, the cleverest witticisms, the most absurd pratfalls, the most astonishing plot twists, the most biting critique of the military industrial complex, the strangest and most affecting love stor(ies), the deepest reverence for compassion and ingenuity, and the lowest tolerance for greed and hatred and stupidity. It's all action and laughs except then you find you really, really need to talk about it all with someone over a drink or seven. I can't actually tell you anything else about it because I might spoil something (I'm possibly overexcited), so read the back and then go ahead and buy it so you can start reading it and we can talk then.
Picked by Jessica in Ft. Greene
Nova is a space opera set in the 32nd century, rife with memorable personalities, an unflinching faith in the Tarot, captivating technologies (eg. a musical instrument that can simulate and stimulate all the senses), and sociopolitical commentary that feels particularly current. To put it simply, it's brilliantly fun, especially for those into genuine cyberpunk fiction (before there was such a thing).
Picked by Vanessa in Ft. Greene
Jenn Pelly's book is not just an illuminating piece of criticism and history about a specific album that has always been mythic and enigmatic to me, but also, more generally, a vital feminist reclamation of what it means to be punk that manages to weave together everything from Helene Cixous to Chris Kraus to 10 Things I Hate About You.
Picked by Matt in Fort Greene
On her deathbed, Terry Tempest Williams' mother made it a point to tell her she was leaving Williams all her journals. A strange inheritance (Williams was unaware that her mother kept journals) made all the stranger by the fact that every single one of them was blank. So begins Williams' musings and meditations on what it means to be a woman and what it means to have a voice. Lovely and wise, I find myself coming back to this book over and over again whenever I need a little guidance.
Picked by Kristie in Ft. Greene
Imagine packing a Knausgaardian quantity of life into one high-density snowglobe.
Picked by Jonah in Ft. Greene
Simply put this is a pretty quality tale of friendship and collaboration between two women with commonalities or origin, variations in dealing with life's bumpy and twisty road, edifices of turning the status quo on its head.
Picked by Dante in Ft. Greene
With a force of scrutiny that begets clarity, Vivian Gornick considers the Passion of Emma Goldman, and finds with Goldman as her subject the culmination of her lifelong intellectual project: an inquiry into the mad pursuit of life within a system of social inequities, and the rarefied self that is forged in that chase. Gornick's perfect sentences are perceived on the level of the muscle, the nerve. To read her on Goldman's irreducible conviction is to be imparted -- even briefly -- an acute and luminous sense of the way to exist in a world tumultuous, on a precipice, and pliant enough for change.
Picked by Stephanie in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
In Ta-Nehisi Coates list of "Five books to make you less stupid about the Civil War," this book was, without surprise, at the top of the list. McPherson's engrossing survey of this essential, perhaps seminal, American conflict, its causes, its content, and its aftermath is a gold-standard for single-volume history. Since it is the custom of the American public to elect not to engage - or even commemorate - their history, it tends, rather, to repeat on us, like indigestion. It is the task of unsung hero-storians like McPherson to keep the record straight while we're not looking.
Picked by Nick T. in Ft. Greene
"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
Even though summer is in the rear-view mirror, as a native New Yorker, I burst with pride at the rite of passage chronicled in this picture book of an infrastructure "muck up" family and friends can enjoy.
Picked by Dante in Fort Greene
Connor Willumsen is a master artist and storyteller, and his delicate line ties together this dreamlike, cyberpunk-esque tale involving a decaying metropolis, a mysterious jet-skiing DVD vendor, psychedelic drugs, and a pet crocodile named Blade. A gorgeous demonstration of the experimental possibilities of sequentiality and narrative in comics. Dazzling cartooning.
Picked by Ben in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
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
A perennial favorite and one of the sources of our name, Fitzgerald's masterpiece is always a staff pick at Greenlight Bookstore.
Calvino's book-of-books is the most satisfactory puzzle a book lover could possible wish for. Each chapter is a novel in itself, wildly different and mysteriously linked, building to an unimaginable but inevitable conclusion. This is the place to start with Calvino, the grand old man of literary puzzle-makers, and perfect for your own winter's night.
Picked by Jessica in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Based on a true story and written with a readable cadence, this is a working parents’ book, an NYC book, and an art and maker's book. In the 1980s the Church of Saint John the Divine started an artisan apprenticeship program, teaching neighborhood residents a trade so that they could have a local job. The mother in this story becomes a stonemason and works on the church. She's tired yet proud, and one day she brings her children to see the building and the fruit of her labor, and they're proud, too.
Picked by Rebecca in Fort Greene
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