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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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.
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In Case of Emergency
A Novel
Courtney Moreno
This excellent debut novel is about trauma—how we deal with it, are exposed to it, and invite it into our lives—through the eyes of a rookie EMT entering a (possibly) dangerous new romance with a brain-damaged veteran, mourning the disappearance of her mother, and working 24-hour shifts in South Central LA. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights
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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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All the Light We Cannot See
A Novel
Anthony Doerr
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
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The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin
The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher
Kim Bancroft
Northern California's book publishers are idiosyncratic, uncompromising, funky, forward-thinking, often brilliant, but largely unheralded beyond the state’s borders. Here’s the perfect book to shift that paradigm. Malcolm Margolin’s story of creating and sustaining Heyday Books, a vital Berkeley-based press celebrating its 40th anniversary...
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Wise Latinas
Writers on Higher Education
Jennifer De Leon
College can be a complex time for Latinas, who are traditionally expected to leave home when they get married. In her essay "Only Daughter," author Sandra Cisneros remarks, “After four years in college and two more in graduate school, and still no husband, my father shakes his head even now and says I wasted all that education.”
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Over Easy
Mimi Pond
A charming/hilarious coming of age tale told in graphic novel form that depicts Mimi's existence as an art school drop out finding a new life behind the counter of an Oakland diner, and casting off the relics of the hippie age for the new punk dawn of 1978. —Recommended by Layla, City Lights Books
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Furious Cool
Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him
David Henry, Joe Henry
In this loose and lyrical labor of love, brothers David and Joe Henry have brought Richard Pryor back to pulsating life, capturing his spirit and genius and the monumental demons that fueled him. It's billed as a biography but it's really more than that, delving deep enough to make you look at Pryor and his legacy in a whole new light. —Recommended
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Here On the Edge
How a Small Group of World War II Conscientious Objectors Took Art and Peace from the Margins to the Mainstream
Steve McQuiddy
Here on the Edge answers the growing interest in a long-neglected element of World War II history: the role of pacifism in what is often called "The Good War." Steve McQuiddy shares the fascinating story of one conscientious objector camp located on the rain-soaked Oregon Coast, Civilian Public Service (CPS) Camp #56.
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Hip Hop Family Tree 1975-1983
Gift Box Set
Ed Piskor
A special slipcover and a special comic are included in the smash hit's gift set. To celebrate the resounding critical and commercial success of the first two volumes of Ed Piskor's unprecedented history of Hip Hop, we are offering the two books in a mind-blowingly colorful slipcase, drawn and designed by the artist.
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Painted Horses
A Novel
Malcolm Brooks
Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist on her way to Montana, with a huge task before her—a canyon "as deep as the devil's own appetites." Working ahead of a major dam project, she has one summer to prove nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. From the moment she arrives, nothing is familiar...
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Acceptance
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 3
Jeff VanderMeer
The third part of a near-future trilogy which, with every page I read, becomes ever more enigmatic and in need of resolution. The first book, Annihilation, brings to mind the unspeakable horror of John Carpenter's The Thing, while Authority recalls the institutional paranoia of Three Days of the Condor. I'm only a few pages into Acceptance...
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Surf Craft
Design and the Culture of Board Riding
Richard Kenvin
Surfboards were once made of wood and shaped by hand, objects of both cultural and recreational significance. Today most surfboards are mass-produced with fiberglass and a stew of petrochemicals, moving (or floating) billboards for athletes and their brands, emphasizing the commercial rather than the cultural. Surf Craft maps this evolution.
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Women in Clothes
Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton
Through original interviews, conversations, surveys, projects, diagrams and drawings from over six hundred contributors—including Miranda July, Cindy Sherman, Elif Batuman, Mac McClelland, Lena Dunham, Molly Ringwald, Tavi Gevinson, Rachel Kushner, Roxane Gay and Sarah Nicole Prickett... —Recommended by Layla and Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Command and Control
Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Eric Schlosser
The entirety of our nuclear policy folly, crystallized in and illuminated by the little-known Damascus near-tragedy. There is, for me, great sadness here... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Authority
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 2
Jeff VanderMeer
The second part of a near-future trilogy which, with every page I read, becomes ever more enigmatic and in need of resolution. The first book, Annihilation, brings to mind the unspeakable horror of John Carpenter's The Thing, while Authority recalls the institutional paranoia of Three Days of the Condor. An important work.