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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Lion Songs
Thomas Mapfumo and the Music That Made Zimbabwe
Banning Eyre
Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country's anti-colonial struggle and Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer, and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country's anti-colonial struggle and cultural identity.
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My Struggle Book 4
Karl Ove Knausgaard
With each volume of My Struggle that is published in English, Knausgaard emerges more clearly, in all his human ambiguity. Volume Four presents a portrait of the artist as a young man, marinated in alcohol and sexual failure. It is awkward, painful, occasionally shocking and often very funny, particularly if you have ever been (or known) a teen...
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Essential Deren
Collected Writings on Film by Maya Deren
Maya Deren
Until now, Maya Deren's essays on the art and craft of filmmaking have not been available in a comprehensive volume equally handy for students, film enthusiasts, and scholars. Essential Deren: Collected Writings on Film contains all of Deren's essays on her own films as well as more general essays on film theory.
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A History of Money
A Novel
Alan Pauls
A major new novel from the writer Roberto Bolaño called "one of the best living Latin American writers" Alan Pauls, one of Latin American literature's rising stars, combines the intimate and the political in a novel that, although it is set in Argentina in the 1970s and '80s, will bring to mind books like Choire Sicha's Very Recent History...
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Preparing the Ghost
An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer
Matthew Gavin Frank
Part giant squid, part historical investigation, part ice cream memoir. Don't expect your typical oceanic essay, instead read in awe as Frank explores the limits of memory and sea monsters.—Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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Love Me Back
A Novel
Merritt Tierce
This novel is not perfect, but it is one of the few contemporary works of fiction that have lodged in my brain and poked at my softer parts once finished. It's cold, bitter work to get through this, but Tierce is a writer I'll be watching. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Liminal War
A Novel
Ayize Jama-Everett
When Taggert's adopted daughter goes missing he suspects the hand of an old enemy. He gathers friends, family, and even those who don't quite trust that he has left his violent past behind. But their search leads them to an unexpected place, the past, and the consequences of their journey have a price that is higher than they can afford.
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Dark Sparkler
Amber Tamblyn
The lives of more than twenty-five actresses lost before their time—from Marilyn Monroe to Brittany Murphy—explored in a haunting, provocative new work by an acclaimed poet and actress. Amber Tamblyn is both an award-winning film and television actress and an acclaimed poet. As such she is deeply fascinated—and intimately familiar—with the...
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Divine Horsemen
The Living Gods of Haiti
Maya Deren
This is the classic, intimate study, movingly written with the special insight of direct encounter, which was first published in 1953 by the fledgling Thames & Hudson firm. Maya Deren's Divine Horsemen is recognized throughout the world as a primary source book on the culture and spirituality of Haitian Voudoun.
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The Sympathizer
A Novel
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Cracks the veneer. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books. Also recommended by Peter & Paul, City Lights Books
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Ongoingness
The End of a Diary
Sarah Manguso
A strange thing happened when I finished this book: I realized I could not really remember what words had been said, but instead the deep sensations I felt while reading. This is a hypnotic exploration of time and memory that evokes much but prescribes little (and that's a good thing). —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Sellout
A Novel
Paul Beatty
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship...
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The Story of Alice
Lews Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland
Following his acclaimed life of Dickens, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst illuminates the tangled history of two lives and two books. Drawing on numerous unpublished sources, he examines in detail the peculiar friendship between the Oxford mathematician Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell, the child for whom he invented the Alice stories.
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Distant Neighbors
The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder
Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Chad Wriglesworth
In 1969 Gary Snyder returned from a long residence in Japan to the Sierra foothills, where he intended to build a house and settle with his wife and sons. He had just published his first book of essays, Earth House Hold. A few years before, Wendell Berry left New York City for farmland in Port Royal, Kentucky, where he built a small studio...
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Assholes
A Theory
Aaron James
What does it mean for someone to be an asshole? The answer is not obvious, despite the fact that we are often stuck dealing with people for whom there is no better name. We try to avoid them, but assholes are everywhere—at work, at home, on the road, in the public sphere—and we struggle to comprehend why exactly someone should be acting like that.
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H Is For Hawk
Helen Macdonald
When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own.
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Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar
Richard Brautigan
This book and everything else by Brautigan are worth reading and rereading. Having influenced writers such as Haruki Murakami and Tom Robbins, his comic perplexed thoughts of romance intermingle with his dying, insane black comedy, and the ghosts living inside our coffee cups. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books