Love Your Bookstore: Greenlight Bookstore

November 13, 2019 | 4 min read

This piece is the fourth in a series of posts supporting the 2019 Love Your Bookstore Challenge, which is sponsored, in part, by The Millions.

For this year’s Love Your Bookstore Challenge—a campaign that promotes physical bookstores and runs from November 8 through November 17—we asked the staff at Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore for their must-read titles.

The Alley of Fireflies and Other Stories by Raymond Roussel

Roussel was an aristocratic dandy convinced of his own literary genius who looked like Hercule Poirot and wrote like Jules Verne on LSD. His work is deliciously strange, reading like schematics for dream architectures, often crafted by employing elaborate self-devised constraints and methods. This collection of his shorter works may be the best place of all to jump into Roussel’s bizarre oeuvre. It’s an absolute treat, making perfectly evident why Surrealists, Oulipians, and the New York School poets had such a lit-crush on him. (Jarrod)

6:41 to Paris by Jean-Phileppe Blondel

If you are a fan of Richard Linklater‘s Before trilogy films like I am, you will have an emotional calling to this novel. (Dante)

The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt

Sometimes I call Hunt’s style “magical realism,” but that doesn’t quite underline the absurdity of the situations she describes, which can feel either funny or unsettling, depending on how you approach reading them. Here you’ll briefly meet a group of high school girls in a pregnancy pact that demoralizes their town, a young wife who turns into a deer at night and can’t tell her husband, and an FBI-created robot that looks like a model and is stuffed with explosives, among others who will guide you on a full tour of emotions and haunting unforgettable imagery. (Emily)

Last Things by Jenny Offill

Last Things is one of the most striking, impressive, haunting books I’ve ever read. Offill pulls off an incredible feat: a complex book told by an 8-year-old narrator watching the deterioration of her parents’ marriage and her mother’s mental health. The tension and beauty of the novel lie in the reader’s understanding of what the narrator sees but is too young to interpret. This is the sort of book that you can’t put down until you finish, and it will stick with you for a long time after it’s done. (Katie)

In the Next Room by Sarah Ruhl

In the Next Room has been one of my favorites for many, many years running: a poetic examination of intimacy, female friendship, and sexuality that somehow makes you laugh hysterically one moment and weep openly the next. This play will have you in pieces by the time you reach the climax. (Rose)

Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan

At the center of this thought-provoking, suspenseful novel is Judith Carrigan, a transgender woman reckoning with a tragic incident in her past. She could serve as an exonerating witness for an old friend, but to do so she’d have to annihilate the carefully drawn line between her pre- and post-transition selves. As much a meditation on identity as it is a page-turning mystery. (Sarah)

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Surviving a terrorist attack will change everything…especially the rules of living on this plane of existence. This book tells two stories: one an inter-dimensional ghost love story and the other about the rising young star who wrote the story and is now trying to make it in New York’s publishing scene. Westerfeld masterfully keeps readers guessing in a thrilling novel that gives voice to fears about everything from falling in love to surviving a mass shooting to learning how to keep friends in the adult world for the first time. (Jackie)

Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs

Cartoonist Jacobs has long been known for being a leader in the Canadian underground comics scene, and with his release of Safari Honeymoon, it’s easy to understand why. Serving as both a poetic and humorous voice within a community that’s known to break with the conventions of visual storytelling, Jacobs creates work that is well worth pouring over multiple times. His attention to detail in both dialogue and the illustrative form makes for a body work that I always look forward to recommending! (Joey)

Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer

Boyer might be the Baudelaire of the 21st century. Describing feeling and its absence in a world of shock, Boyer gives form to a kind of life that has only emerged recently, a life amid precarity, numbness, and infoxication. (Michael)

A Twist in the Tale by Jeffrey Archer

I discovered this work by (Sir) Jeffrey Archer more than 30 years ago and if you enjoy reading well written short-stories in the vein of Graham Greene and W. Somerset Maugham, stories that have both a literary and cinematic quality with a bit of a twist, you too will surely enjoy this particular offering by Mr. Archer. (Mustafa)

Ocean of Sound by David Toop

Less a linear chronology of ambient music than an excavation of sound documentation throughout the 20th century. Toop—musician, educator, contemporary and friend of Brian Eno—catalogues, in an almost diaristic manner, sonic explorations: from a never-realized collaboration between Edgard Varèse and Charlie Parker to the new-German sounds of Kraftwerk. Recordings of Amazonian frog choirs are discussed with the same reverence as a Tokyo-based radio station where programming schedules are based on tidal patterns. Ultimately, this is a book about the transcendent nature of listening with patience and care—something we should all consider in this age of elaborate distraction. (David)

People in the Room by Norah Lange

Originally published in 1950, this Argentine novel explores the life of a 17-year-old girl who spends her days ignoring her family in favor of watching the people living in the house across the street. As mesmerizing as is it haunting and dark, the narrative builds an oppressive atmosphere of domestic life. A quick read that demands every page to be examined. Perfect for fans of Clarice Lispector and Virginia Woolf. (Oswald)

Blue Self Portrait by Naomi Lefevbre

Fleeing a failed fling by flying from Berlin to Paris (linguistically, culturally, emotionally), a young French pianist recounts where she thinks she went wrong. She pays particular attention to her tryst with a male, supposedly genius, German-American composer, though the range and density of her thoughts is startling in its precision and breadth. Not quite a monologue, all anxious musicality, her all-too-relatable remembrances create a cresting voyeuristic anxiety in the reader, building to an almost unbearable finish. Did I mention it’s laugh-out-loud funny? For fans of Molly Bloom, melancholy Euro-lit, monologues, classical music, and digressions. (Abe)

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