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.
This antifascist historical epic transports us from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin in 1937 to the makeshift hospitals of the Spanish Civil War, narrating a journey of resistance under the stars of Kafka, Cervantes, Brecht and Joyce in breathless, beautifully twisting prose. Volume II’s English translation finally appears later this month, after 40 years of acclaim in Germany.
Picked by Michael in Fort Greene
A combination of Sherlock Holmes' other worldly perception and Easy Rawlins' street wise sensibility, Joe Ide's creation Isiah Quintabe, IQ for short, is proof his appreciation of the crime noir/mystery genre runs deep in his blood. Set in modern day Los Angeles, our detective navigates the treacherous underworld of hitman, cutthroats, and his ex-wife.
Picked by Dante in Fort Greene
After Yoshie's father commits suicide in a pact with an unknown woman, she begins to constantly dream that he is trying to find his phone to call her. Certain that it must mean something, she begins investigating his death, unraveling truths about her father that only lead to more confusion and pain. Intimate, personal, and close to the heart, this book is a beautiful, profoundly human portrayal of how we learn to cope with a loss that we can't make sense of, and ultimately, how to rebuild in the face of all the unanswered questions that remain.
Picked by Katie in Fort Greene
A much needed translation from Argentina’s best and most obscure poet. This collection is a great introduction to the oppressive and troubling mind of Alejandra Pizarnik, who committed suicide at the age of 36. Her poetry is definitely not for the faint of heart, but what she managed to create in her short career is some of the most beautiful, compelling, darkest, and imaginative poetry to ever come out of Latin America.
Picked by Oswald in Fort Greene
Set in the early 1970s, Nada chronicles the botched kidnapping of a US ambassador to France by a motley band of outsiders. The novel feels like a lost Jean-Pierre Melville film, with lean prose and an array of acronyms (see Luc Sante's superb introduction). At times reading like a communiqué, Manchette manages to subtly conjure the oppressive fog of political disillusion lingering among the margins of society in post-1968 Paris.
Picked by David in Fort Greene
A beautiful collection navigating the landscape of race, loss, and love. Abdurraqib's words may inspire you to cry big, globby tears in public spaces.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Picked by Arti in Fort Greene
Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s second collection of poems explores the complexity of gender roles within the landscape of the poet’s hometowns of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso. Through rich lyricism and strange imagery these poems investigate feminized labor, violence, and desire on the US-Mexico border. Haunting and visceral, this is a must-read for fans of Dorothea Lasky, Khadijah Queen, and Ocean Vuong.
Picked by Phoebe in Fort Greene
These stories constantly nudge and overlap one another at their boundaries. A main character of one story may pop up in the background of another, and gossip flies and kids are measured up against each other. You become aware of a full community of individuals, reaching for joy, success, and connection, in their own sometimes shocking ways. If you think you've read the immigrant voice, or the Asian-American voice, well think again!
Picked by Emily in Fort Greene
If you've ever wondered what It all means, why Art and History are a series of failures, why New York City is hell and heaven on Earth—have I got the book for you! Lovable everyman György Korin finds a manuscript in '90s Hungary that purports to explain the secret history of our world, and does what anyone would do: travel to NYC to upload the manuscript and commit suicide promptly thereafter. Short single-sentence chapters orbit madness, lucidity, the slapstick and the cosmic for anepiphanic, vertigo-inducing experience. This is my favorite novel of all time.
Picked by Abe in Fort Greene
It's easy to imagine a dystopian future; it’s harder to imagine a utopian one. Cory Doctorow dares to do it, and it’s sprawling, messy, hilarious, terrifying and inspiring – and sometimes, even believable. There are exciting action scenes, lots of characters and conversations, and so many ideas. Pick it up for a hopeful way to start a new decade's reading, and maybe start doing some imagining of your own.
Picked by Jessica in Fort Greene
This sumptuous historical novel charts the life of war photographer Lee Miller, who began her career as a model in late-1920s Paris and entered into a complex relationship with Man Ray as his muse, student and lover. Scharer's inviting prose makes it easy to slide into Miller's fascinating and criminally overlooked story. Highly recommended for fans of Paula McLain and Anthony Doerr.
Picked by Sarah in Fort Greene
With a new solo album out, I've been revisiting Kim Gordon's memoir, which walks down the memory lane of what it was like being a frontwoman in a band while trying to juggle life and parenthood. She walked a line between the art and music scene in NYC in the 1980s-1990s (and still does!), both informing her work. Gritty, alive with connections and cross-pollination of different mediums, it's a great window into the downtown scene and NYC creative life.
Picked by Rebecca in Fort Greene
There are few writers who capture middle America so beautifully. A poet and farmer, Berry writes with scathing clarity about American culture's detachment from Earth. Honestly, reading anything by him will make you think differently, but this collection includes an essay about what culture has in common with decaying soil that is unforgettable. If you enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy, it’s the natural next step to consider What Are People For?
Picked by Jackie in Fort Greene
Zine meets practical manual meets bikespiration? Yes please. I was riding a bike every day for two years before I even learned how to grease a chain. So when I finally got my hands on this book, and realized there were helpful pictures and diagrams as well as step-by-step instructions for basic and more complex bike maintenance, as well as stories from people who are often marginalized in the largely white/hetero/masc scene of the bike shop, I felt like my world had been flipped. Keep it, get grease on it, give it to a friend, and get out there for a ride in this gorgeous sunshine!
Picked by Nora in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
A not so well to-do married couple in one of the oldest counties of concentrated wealth in America who unexpectedly cross paths with a never well-intending underworld front man in a story written so well that it could as easily be classified as both a literary novel and a crime thriller. Full of suspense and stolidity, sensuousness and savagery, sardonic wit and sanguine virtue, this one left me satisfied on all fronts.
Picked by Mustafa in Fort Greene
Innovative and disobedient to colonized structures of poetry, You Da One calls upon an "I" that no longer feels singular. By dissecting a universal understanding of identity and mob mentality, Tamayo reminds readers that a digital body is always in question. These poems complicate the multiplicity of self, attempting to collage a body into the “one,” while calling to mind what happens/is happening to a body that so often wishes to be decolonized.
Picked by Katixa in Fort Greene
Make no mistake, you will cry. Or at the very least be moved by the story of a single Syrian family in Assad-ruled Aleppo. It's wrought with passion and hope. The writing is eloquent, crystal clear, and harrowing in that it attaches itself to you for all 240 pages and then some. Time does what it wants in this book, and what it wants is to come back to the beginning and make characters and readers reflect on memory and the weight of the past. This crushing read is required for anyone looking to better understand Syria's current state. I first read this book 3 years ago and it has remained a consistent favorite of mine. Seriously, look no further.
Picked by Ikwo in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
In Udala Trees, two girls fall in love in a country at war with itself, where such a thing could cost them their lives. Ijeoma and Ndidi are children from different tribes when they meet during the Nigerian civil war. All too soon, they find themselves having to submit to familial and societal pressures, and the cost of doing so or not. These pages are drenched with emotion, and every sentence will rip you from your reality. I'm a sucker for a coming-of-age story, and even more so for a love story, and this book is no exception.
Picked by Ikwo in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
If this book were a beverage, it would be a warm cup of tea on a chilly day. A young robot named Z receives a mysterious letter in a bottle. It's signed, 'Love, Beatrice.' What is love? Z wonders, but it does not compute. Delightfully illustrated with soft landscapes and quirky, angular robots, readers journey alongside Z to discover the meaning of this perplexing word. An absolutely miraculous way to show kids just how many different things love can be. Every time I read it I feel warm, and cozy, and safe. I hope you do, too.
Picked by Rose in Fort Greene
There are stories, and there are stories. There are songs, and there are songs. There are rugs, and there are rugs. Some things, without our full understanding, embody a certain and ineffable brand of magic. Weaveworld is one of these things—the story concerns the fate of a hidden world of magic and rapture that, to save itself from certain destruction, has woven itself into an oriental rug. With this wide and sprawling epic, Barker delivers boundless wonder and unspeakable horror with a voice unlike any other out there today.
Picked by Austin in Prospect Lefferts Garden
On a spring day in 1988, Geraldine Cuotts is attacked on the outskirts of the reservation she calls home. Narrated from the perspective of her thirteen-year-old son, Joe, The Round House is at once a coming-of-age novel as well as a reckoning with native identities, land and the female body. As Joe and his father (a judge on the reservation, desperate to avenge his wife) grapple with the trauma their loved one has experienced, he's also forced to come to terms with the fact that men, even men we love and cherish, can violate us in unexpected ways. If the material sounds heavy, fear not. In Erdrich's capable hands this heavy subject matter is both delicate and direct, the prose fast moving and the language exquisite. It was my favorite book I read last year.
Picked by Wynne in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
There was a brief period last year where my sister toyed with the idea of not vaccinating my niece (ultimately, she did). New mothers grapple with the same fear, it seems: one of contamination—of failing in salubrity and, therefore, motherhood. New mother Eula Biss shared these fears and chose to investigate: In turns tender and tough, Biss dispels the myths of the anti-vaxx movement and reveals how they erode not just our trust in medicine, but our trust in each other. Fear is infectious, but so is knowledge. Take a deep breath. This’ll only hurt for a second.
Picked by Austin in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Arguably the only thing better than Lindgren’s original novel is this wacky comic strip of her beloved character, Pippi Longstocking. There’s something about the kooky artwork, the bold primary colors, and dialogue that sometimes verges on non sequitur that will prime readers previously unfamiliar with the Strongest Girl in the World. (And that recent Chance the Rapper shout out doesn’t hurt, either.)
Picked by Geo 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.