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 Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Cracks the veneer. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books Also recommended by Peter, Andy & Paul, City Lights Books A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties.
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Barbarian Days
A Surfing Life
William Finnegan
Barbarian Days is William Finnegan's memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life.
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The Argonauts
Maggie Nelson
An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance...
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The Sellout
A Novel
Paul Beatty
—Recommended by Tân & Paul & Michael, City Lights Books
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Interlock
Art, Conspiracy, and the Shadow Worlds of Mark Lombardi
Patricia Goldstone
In the fateful month of March 2000, shortly after opening a hugely successful show in New York that unveiled the more nefarious financial connections of Presidential candidate George W. Bush, the hugely ambitious Conceptual artist Mark Lombardi was found hanged in his studio, an apparent suicide.
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Oreo
Fran Ross
It's hard to believe this book was published to so little acclaim when it first came out in 1974—and that it's languished for so many years in obscurity seems like a crime against culture. This is a work of highly sophisticated intelligence, welded to a freewheeling, absolutley fearless sense of humor—a mix that makes Oreo a wholly unique voice...
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SPQR
A History of Ancient Rome
Mary Beard
A sweeping, revisionist history of the Roman Empire from one of our foremost classicists. Ancient Rome was an imposing city even by modern standards, a sprawling imperial metropolis of more than a million inhabitants, a "mixture of luxury and filth, liberty and exploitation, civic pride and murderous civil war" that served as the seat of...
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Don't Suck, Don't Die
Giving Up Vic Chesnutt
Kristin Hersh
A longform creative obituary written to one of the great American songwriters of the last 25 years. Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses) offers this personal glimpse into her extremely complicated friendship with Chesnutt and life on the road as a solo artist in the early 90s playing for nobody. Wounded, prophetic. dreamlike, charming, and bloody.
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Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus
How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity
Douglas Rushkoff
When protesters shattered the windows of a bus carrying Google employees to work, their anger may have been justifiable, but it was misdirected. The true conflict of our age isn't between the unem­ployed and the digital elite, or even the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Rather, a tornado of technological improvements has spun our economic...
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Drugged
The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs
Richard J. Miller
"Morphine," writes Richard J. Miller, "is the most significant chemical substance mankind has ever encountered." So ancient that remains of poppies have been found in Neolithic tombs, it is the most effective drug ever discovered for treating pain. "Whatever advances are made in medicine," Miller adds, "nothing could really be more...
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No Name in the Street
James Baldwin
Both a stunningly personal document and a turbulent portrait of the late-Sixties and early-Seventies, this is Baldwin's literary equivalent of Sly Stone’s furious and despairing There’s a Riot Goin’ On. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books
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The Year of Lear
Shakespeare in 1606
James Shapiro
A brilliant rumination on how subversive and terrorist actions of late 1605 through 1606, as well as the citizenry's feelings about Elizabeth's replacement on the throne and the capital's experience with the plague, possibly informed and reconfigured the writing, performing, and publishing of the three plays attributed to Shakespeare...
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Dragonfish
A Novel
Vu Tran
"Vu Tran's Dragonfish is that rare hybrid marvel―a literary thriller, a narrative of migration and loss that upends the conventions of any form." ―Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names
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The Tupac Amaru Rebellion
Charles F. Walker
The largest rebellion in the history of Spain's American empire—a conflict greater in territory and costlier in lives than the contemporaneous American Revolution—began as a local revolt against colonial authorities in 1780. As an official collector of tribute for the imperial crown, José Gabriel Condorcanqui had seen firsthand...
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The Infinite Tides
Christian Kiefer
An impressive debut novel from a NorCal poet and songwriter, full of achingly beautiful passages on loss and regret, yet leavened with self-aware humor and with wonderment at the banality of contemporary suburbia. Oh yes, there's also the comet on a collision course with Earth. Just read the first few pages and decide for yourself.