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 Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
Quite simply, the finest storyteller I've ever read. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books. What can I say that hasn't already been said? Read this book, every bit of it, and then read it again. You more or less feel these stories rather than read them. —Recommended by Jackson, City Lights Books
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The Witches
Salem, 1692
Stacy Schiff
An unsensational, factual account of the oft-mythologized Salem witch trials. Schiff is a solid historian who makes this fact-dense, Protestant panoply enjoyable. —Recommended by Caitlyn, City Lights Bookstore
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Bukowski in a Sundress
Confessions from a Writing Life
Kim Addonizio
Behold the memoir of sex-positive rebel Kim Addonizio! This book moves from gritty/funny/sexy, to emotionally raw, in swift seamless strokes. By the end, you will feel that Kim is an old friend whom you know far too well, but who yoy think the world of because she's way cooler than you are. —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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The Other Paris
Luc Sante
Luc Sante is the master historian of the urban underground. This book will make you pine for the sometimes seedy but always flamboyant Paris of the past. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Bat-Man is Lost in a Woods
Number One
David Enos
The greatest mystery Bat-Man has ever faced may be the disappearance of his wife, Amity. The wooded acres surrounding their castle home offer few clues, and months of searching have led him no closer to the truth. In a case of this nature, even his unmatched investigative techniques may not be enough.
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Renee Gladman
In what I'd call 'metafictional literary essays', Renee Gladman references parts of her life and writing, with distance, as if she is an observable thing that we can spectate with wondrous glee. I 'nerd out' over the sentences she's meticulously crafted. It is clever, honest, entertainingly mundane, and so good.
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The Gilded Rage
A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump's America
Alexander Zaitchik
2016 continues to be the most surreal and unpredictable election year in recent memory and this is due in large part to one Donald J. Trump and the millions of Americans who made him this year's Republican nominee for president. As Trump continues to succeed despite behavior that would cripple any other politician, whether it is questioning...
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An Army of Lovers
Juliana Spahr, David Buuck
Based loosely on their own Bay Area literary lives, these two intellectual weirdos talk about the state of poetry and their process of writing. It's spot-on and brilliant, but then it gets weird—really strange weird! It had me nodding in agreement, gritting my teeth at its incantations, and laughing like a goddamn chimp—while in public!
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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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The Story of Alice
Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is all but steeped in the milieu and culture of Victorian England, so much so that reading this one feels less that Dodgson created Alice than that the age did, and that Dodgson was serendipitously poised to transcribe it— and not forgetting the young Alice Liddell without whom...
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Big Science
Ernest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military-Industrial Complex
Michael Hiltzik
The epic story of how science went "big" and the forgotten genius who started it all—“entertaining, thoroughly researched…partly a biography, partly an account of the influence of Ernest Lawrence's great idea, partly a short history of nuclear physics and the Bomb” (The Wall Street Journal).
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One Day Soon Time Will Have No Place Left to Hide
Christian Kiefer
Christian Kiefer rebounds from his sophomore effort and projects himself not only into the stratosphere, but into that rarefied stratum inhabited by the Curtis Whites, Rudy Wurlitzers and Peter Handkes of this world. I am so impressed I'm speechless... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute
Ivy Anderson, Devon Angus
Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute reveals the long lost memoir of Alice Smith, a sex worker from San Francisco in 1913. Discovered and edited by our very own bookseller, Ivy Anderson, and her partner in history, Devon Angus, this memoir uncovers complex intersections between gender, labor, and vice in San Francisco and the greater U.S.
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A Coney Island of the Mind
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The title of this book is taken from Henry Miller's Into the Night Life. In it, Ferlinghetti expresses the way he felt during a short period in the 1950s.
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I Work the Tenderloin
Michael Steinberg
A day in the life of tenant organzer Joe Singleton. Joe's fighting to help keep low income people in residential hotels in San Francisco that unscrupulous developers have other plans for. The latter want to turn the buildings into much more lucrative tourist hotels. There's just one problem...
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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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The Devil's Chessboard
Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government
David Talbot
An explosive, headline-making portrait of Allen Dulles, the man who transformed the CIA into the most powerful—and secretive—colossus in Washington, from the founder of Salon.com and author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers.
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A Novel
Edan Lepucki
Here's my kind of "beach read," perfect to accompany you while you scorn the cold and wind typical of San Francisco summers. Dig into Edan Lepucki's dark imaginings of utopian communities at the end of the world. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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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.