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.
Baby Ralph is taking in the world around him: sound, shapes, colors, soft foods, Baldwin, Ellison, Balzac, etc. Although he has limitations, his genius astonishes everyone except himself. A book that mixes an outrageous kidnap plot with philosophical theory to dizzying satisfaction, Percival Everett proves again why he is one of the most underrated American authors working today.
Told from the perspective of both Amanda (a careful mother) and David (a half child-half monster that is not her own), Schweblin brings us into a world reinventing a hybridity between the world of absurdist fiction, magical realism and Orwellian horror. This psychological thriller is a cautionary tale of helicopter motherhood, taking you inside and outside of time in dream-like spirals to return to the reader as a familiar paranoia; the suburban folklore of child loss to reality. If you love escapism, this book will eat you up!
A simultaneous interpreter in Buenos Aires leaves her job in hopes of living by rules of silence she developed in her manifesto. Mara’s new job as a museum security guard in a rural Argentine town seems ideal until her enlistment in a massive taxidermy project compromises her commitment to silence. Mara’s impact on her new community is messy and fascinating, and her single-minded pursuit of her strange ambition makes the novel perfect for fans of Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman.
This isn’t a book so much as a river. There are no periods, but you won’t be needing them. It pulls you through time—both linear and emotional--like nothing else. The second volume comes out March 17.
Pugtato finds a Thing, and begins a quest to discover what the Thing actually is. He asks his friends (surely someone must know), but nobody knows Thing's true purpose even though they pretend to. Everything in this story is deeply endearing from the gleam in this potato-pug's eye, to its perfect rotund shape, to its aptly named friends ("tomatoad" wow!). If you're in need of a hug in book form, this here is the book for you. Continue the fun: Pugtato Let's Be Best Spuddies comes out in March."
This is a great collection of short stories highlighting the cases of hard-boiled Private Investigator Jack Cardigan of the Cosmos Agency. It has all of the crackle and pop and sardonic wit of the Pulp Fiction written during the mid 1930’s and all of the suspense and intrigue of the period too. The crispness of the dialogue just pulls you in like a vortex and takes you under, back into another world and time when coffee costs a nickel but crime still didn’t pay; these stories are great escapist material and anyone who is a fan of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler or Cornell Woolrich will love this book. I hadn’t read these stories in two decades but when I picked this collection up again it reminded me why I love this era of American Mystery fiction so much.
Diving into the rich and varied lives of four women anthropologists who defined how we consider race and gender King writes with great insight and occasional humor about what society thought of them. Especially intriguing is the writing about Ella Deloria, a Dakota Sioux activist who wrote extensively about the Great Plains Native Americans. Take this book for inspiration and hope in carrying forward the incredible diversity of peoples living on Earth.
At a time when it's easy to get stuck in the doldrums, this slim volume of Sacks's work covers a range of philosophical and scientific subjects with the sort of depth, joy, and genuine curiosity needed to get your mind wandering again. Pick any essay depending on your mood and delve into the way time travels when you're busy or bored, or the way creativity takes a bit of aimless forgetting, or what exactly we're asking someone when we say "how are you?" A discursive pleasure from start to finish that tickled the sad sack in me.
This book is an accessible yet informative deep dive into social infrastructure and how it's affected American society in the past and the present (pre-pandemic), and how strategic and thoughtful planning around building intentional community networks, either physically/architecturally or socially, can affect how we function in the future. For example, in the 1995 Chicago heat wave, neighborhoods that had strong community networks, where people helped their neighbors, got through the crisis far better than disconnected neighborhoods. We weather storms better together. I read and deeply appreciated this book long before Covid and I've been thinking a lot about it again recently, as we start to shift toward the next phase of the pandemic: burgeoning rebuilding and recovery.
In the world of Deadendia, there's a portal to hell in the haunted house ride at Pollywood (like Dollywood, but maybe sort of ... evil?). The tone is more rollicking than scary, as the staff (trans gay teen Barney and his best friend Norma) navigate social anxiety, romantic complications, pet care, time travel, and keeping peace between planes of existence. I love these characters so much, and their saga has as much crazy wow-factor as a Marvel blockbuster, but with way more ethical accountability.
Set in a post-war Swiss boarding school, Fleur Jaeggy’s brief novel reads like a prose poem, excavating the pangs of youthful infatuation through the prism of time misplaced – and possibly misremembered. By turns haunting and tender, this selection pairs well with the arrival of cool autumn evenings.
A perennial favorite and one of the sources of our name, Fitzgerald's masterpiece is always a staff pick at Greenlight Bookstore.
Molly, a paleobotanist, is at her wits' end taking care of her two children while her husband is away on a business trip. One night a masked intruder slips into her home. What follows is a Twilight Zone episode that burrows and tendrils out into the safe spaces of your mind. Part thriller, part metaphysical nightmare, Phillips works her magic into the primal need to know oneself.
This is one of the books that kick-started my own waking-up process in the last few years, and it's a great entry point to contemporary literature on race in America. Smith studied under Crunk Feminist Collective founder Brittney Cooper (who interviewed him at his electrifying event at Greenlight in 2016), and his incorporation of gender analysis and acknowledgement of his own privilege as a straight man adds some beautiful depth to his smart, fierce account of struggling and growing into himself as a Black man in Obama-era America.
What I remember most about reading Hilton Als' White Girls is the sensation of my brain literally stretching to encompass his sentences. Sometimes I couldn't quite get there, but the experience was still glorious. I'm re-reading it now for his incomparable sensibility on race and gender, his universe-exploding cultural criticism, his brilliant touches in biographical sketches, his ease and his bite. Always unexpected and not for the faint of heart, this is one of the most worthwhile reading experiences I've ever had.
A delightful story about magic, identity, and growing into your family. Aster knows he is drawn to witchcraft, even though in his family that kind of magic is only for girls. With the help of a new friend (Team Charlie for life!) he embraces who he is and uses his gifts to save everyone from a mysterious, threatening force. A fun and thrilling story for young readers, but, hey, no age-ism here! Be the kid—and the witch—you were meant to be!
Thank goodness I read this for a book club because woah did I need to talk about it afterwards. It is quite possibly a perfect book, both in story and in structure. It follows the trip a Mexican woman takes from Mexico to the U.S. in search of her brother, and all the complexity surrounding her border crossing. But it doesn't just address the physical crossing (which is arduous and dangerous), Herrera also weaves in the mental and emotional logistics that surround human migration, cultural shifts, senses of place and of displacement, and the ensuing language shifts that a migrating person needs to navigate. It is short enough, and beautiful enough, that you may want to read it, then re-read it.
It's comforting to know that in this topsy-turvy world, we have stories like this one: a delightfully illustrated and tender reminder that cherished days with people you love are what make life magnificent, even when things don't go exactly as planned…