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.

For any immediate questions or concerns, see our contact page or give us a call at (415) 362-8193

Featured and Recommended Titles at the City Lights Bookstore

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Migrant
The Journey of a Mexican Worker
José Manual Mateo
This absolutely exquisite book relays the truths about immigration, utilizing the ancient form of the codex to a startling contemporary effect. —Recommended by Stacey, City lights Books
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Tesla
Inventor of the Electrical Age
W. Bernard Carlson
Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the...
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Chicken
Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent
David Henry Sterry
I've never read anything quite like this memoir. David Henry Sterry performs a high-wire act in his vaudevilliain telling of life as a prostitute in 70s Hollywood. Alternately sad and hilarious, Sterry provokes serious thinking about family, sexuality, and addiction. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Books
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We Are Our Brains
A Neurobiography of the Brain, from the Womb to Alzheimer's
D. F. Swaab
A vivid account of what makes us human. Based groundbreaking new research, We Are Our Brains is a sweeping biography of the human brain, from infancy to adulthood to old age. Renowned neuroscientist D. F. Swaab takes us on a guided tour of the intricate inner workings that determine our potential, our limitations, and our desires.
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The Barbary Coast
An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld
Herbert Asbury
You're standing right in it! The Barbary Coast. 150 years ago this area was a den of such vice and iniquity that it would've made even the Marquis de Sade blush. Find out why... —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Cool Gray City of Love
49 Views of San Francisco
Gary Kamiya
Cool Gray City of Love brings together an exuberant combination of personal insight, deeply researched history, in-depth reporting, and lyrical prose to create an unparalleled portrait of San Francisco. Each of its 49 chapters explores a specific site...
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Annihilation
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 1
Jeff VanderMeer
The first part of a near-future trilogy that initially devastated me both conceptually and narratively, and then went off in a direction I was hoping it wouldn't. But now that I've finished the second book, Authority, all that happened in the first book has taken on greater resonance, complexity, and strangeness. This is an important work.
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The Book of Monelle
Marcel Schwob
A dark, haunted book by a man who was a secret literary influence on an astonishing number of great avante-garde writers. Schwob wrote this about, and for, a young girl of the streets whose death shattered him. He channels both the thunder of...
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Language Arts
Cedar Sigo
Language Arts, like Cedar Sigo, is playfully spontaneous. Sigo uses poetry as a way to record his own adventures as a reader, traveler, lover, poet, friend, and he welcomes the reader to share the experience. The pleasure he gets in writing these poems is infectious, and the resulting collection is absorbing for its movement...
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Fridays at Enrico's
A Novel
Don Carpenter
Don Carpenter was one of the finest novelists in the West. His first novel, A Hard Rain Falling, published in 1966, has been championed by Richard Price, and George Pelecanos called it "a masterpiece... the definitive juvenile-delinquency novel and a damning indictment of our criminal justice system." His novel A Couple of Comedians is thought...
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The Gangster We Are All Looking For
Thi Diem Thuy Le
Recommended by Tan, City Lights Books: this acclaimed novel reveals the life of a Vietnamese family in America through the knowing eyes of a child finding her place and voice in a new country.
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Pierre Reverdy
Pierre Reverdy, Mary Ann Caws
This is a well organized book of translations of French cubist poet, Pierre Reverdy. Just out from the NYRB Poets series, this collection has some of the usual suspects of Reverdy translation such as Kenneth Rexroth (now back in print here mind you) and Ron Padgett, but also some exciting translations by John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara...
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A Marker to Measure Drift
A Novel
Alexander Maksik
A hypnotic, spellbinding novel set in Greece and Africa, where a young Liberian woman reckons with a haunted past. On a remote island in the Aegean, Jacqueline is living alone in a cave accessible only at low tide. With nothing to protect her from the elements, and with the fabric between herself and the world around her increasingly frayed...
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A Philosophy of Walking
Frédéric Gros
In A Philosophy of Walking, a bestseller in France, leading thinker Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B — the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble — and reveals what they say about us.
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Blasts Cries Laughter
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
A new, shorter collection by America's preeminent living poet and social activist, who is just as fiery and provocative as ever at 94 years old. Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Blasts contains blasts, blessings, and curses in the vortex of today, taking its cues from the original little magazine, Blast, published by Wyndham Lewis with Ezra Pound...
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A Is For Activist
Innosanto Nagara
A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.
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Green Girl
Kate Zambreno
With the fierce emotional and intellectual power of such classics as Jean Rhys's Good Morning, Midnight, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, and Clarice Lispector's The Hour of the Star, Kate Zambreno's novel Green Girl is a provocative, sharply etched portrait of a young woman navigating the spectrum between anomie and epiphany.
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The Anthropology of Turquoise
Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky
Ellen Meloy
Greater than Silko, equal to Solnit. What an immense pleasure to hear the voice of this smart and witty desert dweller, and how restorative to know that human beings can be like this. Yes, there is some turquoise involved. —Recommended by Gent
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The Faraway Nearby
Rebecca Solnit
In this exquisitely written new book by the author of A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit explores the ways we make our lives out of stories, and how we are connected by empathy, by narrative, by imagination. In the course of unpacking some of her own stories—of her mother and her decline from memory loss, of a trip to Iceland...