Welcome to City Lights Bookstore!

A literary meeting place since 1953, City Lights is a landmark general bookstore, internationally known for its expert selection of books and for its commitment to free intellectual inquiry. Here you can check out our events calendar, browse a selection of featured books, new releases and recommended titles from the City Lights staff, sign up to receive City Lights newsletters, and learn a bit of the history of City Lights.

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Featured and Recommended Titles at City Lights Bookstore

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The Attempt
A Novel
Magdaléna Platzová
Moving deftly between the anarchist salons of 1912 New York and Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Movementof 2012, this novel was destined for any lover of history, modern philosophy, and radical politics. Like The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but without the lightness. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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The Angel of History
A Novel
Rabih Alameddine
Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS.
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The Jazz of Physics
The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe
Stephon Alexander
More than fifty years ago, John Coltrane drew the twelve musical notes in a circle and connected them by straight lines, forming a five-pointed star. Inspired by Einstein, Coltrane had put physics and geometry at the core of his music. Physicist and jazz musician Stephon Alexander returns the favor, using jazz to answer physics' most vexing...
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Whipping Girl
A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, 2nd Edition
Julia Serano
Serano weaves those necessary connections between the trans and feminist movements by revealing how transphobia and misogyny feed on each other. A needed and groundbreaking work for anyone curious about the future of gender. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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American Heiress
The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst
Jeffrey Toobin
From New Yorker staff writer and bestselling author of The Nine and The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson, the definitive account of the kidnapping and trial that defined an insane era in American history On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a...
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Nothing Ever Dies
Vietnam and the Memory of War
Viet Thanh Nguyen
All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the bestselling novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of the conflict Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War―a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both nations.
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The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu
And Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts
Joshua Hammer
To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean's Eleven. In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands...
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We Eat Our Own
A Novel
Kea Wilson
An ambitious debut novel by an original young writer, We Eat Our Own blurs the lines between life and art with the story of a film director's unthinkable experiment in the Amazon. When a nameless, struggling actor in 1970s New York gets the call that an enigmatic director wants him for an art film set in the Amazon, he doesn’t hesitate...
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Dadaglobe Reconstructed
Tristan Tzara
Dadaglobe was to be the definitive anthology of the Dada movement. Had it been published in 1921 as planned, it would have constituted more than one hundred artworks by some thirty artists from seven countries, showing Dada to be an artistic and literary movement with truly global reach. Yet it remained unpublished.
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Who Rules the World?
Noam Chomsky
The world's leading intellectual offers a probing examination of the waning American Century, the nature of U.S. policies post-9/11, and the perils of valuing power above democracy and human rights.
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Jane
A Murder
Maggie Nelson
Jane tells the spectral story of the life and death of Maggie Nelson's aunt Jane, who was murdered in 1969 while a first-year law student at the University of Michigan. Though officially unsolved, Jane’s murder was apparently the third in a series of seven brutal rape-murders in the area between 1967 and 1969.
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The Revolutionaries Try Again
A Novel
Mauro Javier Cardenas
Extravagant, absurd, and self-aware, The Revolutionaries Try Again plays out against the lost decade of Ecuador's austerity and the stymied idealism of three childhood friends—an expat, a bureaucrat, and a playwright—who are as sure about the evils of dictatorship as they are unsure of everything else, including each other.
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The Reactive
A Novel
Masande Ntshanga
From the winner of the PEN International New Voices Award comes the story of Lindanathi, a young HIV+ man grappling with the death of his brother, for which he feels unduly responsible. He and his friends—Cecelia and Ruan—work low-paying jobs and sell anti-retroviral drugs (during the period in South Africa before ARVs became broadly distributed).
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We, Robots
Staying Human in the Age of Big Data
Curtis White
In the tradition of Jaron Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget, a rousing, sharply argued—and, yes, inspiring!—reckoning with our blind faith in technology Can technology solve all our problems? Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many of our most famous journalists, pundits, and economists seem to think so.
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A Manual for Cleaning Women
Selected Stories
Lucia Berlin
Detox centers, laundromats, and triage units are not expected terrain for short stories, but these are the scenarios you find yourself in while reading Lucia Berlin. Her writing is absurdly real and tragically hilarious, often plucked from her own tumultuous life. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books and also by Peter, City Lights Books
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Spain in Our Hearts
Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
Adam Hochschild
From the acclaimed, best-selling author Adam Hochschild, a sweeping history of the Spanish Civil War, told through a dozen characters, including Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell: a tale of idealism, heartbreaking suffering, and a noble cause that failed.
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Dear White People
A Guide to Inter-Racial Harmony in "Post-Racial" America
Justin Simien
In the satirical tradition of the New York Times bestseller Stuff White People Like comes this witty companion book to the "incredibly entertaining" (Indiewire) film of the same name, which “heralds a fresh and funny new voice” (Variety). Right out of college, Justin Simien wrote a screenplay about the nuanced experiences of four black students.