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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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Fahrenheit 451
60th Anniversary Edition
Ray Bradbury
The temperature at which book paper combusts! Written in 1951, this dystopian novel is a must-read in today's world of disappearing bookstores and young readers who have never held an actual paperback. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Black Hole
Charles Burns
This is a beautifully drawn and eerie novel set in the 1970s. Seattle teens get a disease that transforms them into mutants. Their battle against this and other more normal high school situations, makes for a frighteningly good read.
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Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
If you are a geek for 80s popculture taking place in Virtual Reality in the futuretime of 2044, solving videogame mysteries to win the ultimate prize, then this book is for you. I loved it to bytes! —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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The Sisters Brothers
Patrick deWitt
This humorous Western novel takes place in the 1850s as two brothers on horseback search for a man they are paid to kill. Philosophy, love and greed spouting from their lips, they meet insane characters on the road from Oregon to San Francisco...
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The Nick Adams Stories
Ernest Hemingway
Written in the 1920s and 30s, these short stories follow protagonist Nick Adams and his family through periods of his life, his jobs, and the war, from his childhood on. One story was made into the classic 40s film noir The Killers. Adams' life runs...
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Big Sur
Jack Kerouac
An interesting biography of what happens when fame and age taint the dream of being "on the road" in the life of this aspiring poet. The book details Kerouac's descent into alcoholism and hope for salvation. I think this is one of his greatest...
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The Painted Bird
Jerzy Kosinski
This controversial novel shows the horrors of a young boy who goes into hiding, running from the atrocities of the Holocaust in the beginning of WW2. Deeply moving with sadness & violence, it's a book you’ll not soon forget.
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Hip Hop Family Tree 1
1970s - 1981
Ed Piskor
This is a well-documented history of the beginnings of hip hop. Beautifully drawn in Old School comic form; hilariously written and sharply dissected. Open to any page and you'll be hooked. New York City, DJs and graffiti in the late 70s? You can't beat it, because "the beat don't stop til the break of dawn!"—Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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The Psychopath Test
A Journey Through the Madness Industry
Jon Ronson
You may be one. But if you're not, someone you know is! An intriguing read. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played...
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I'm Your Man
The Life of Leonard Cohen
Sylvie Simmons
Beautifly written, impossible to put down, and an absolute must for any Cohen fan! Or, for that matter, for any fan of the worlds of travel, religion and poetry, as well as the inner workings of the music industry. Cohen was such an interesting man...
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Tortilla Flat
John Steinbeck
If you've never read Steinbeck, now's the time. This is the perfect time to read about a district in Monterey, not far from here...an hilarious ride with the local poverty-stricken, kind-hearted folks who Steinbeck liked to compare to the Knights of...
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Snow Crash
Neal Stephenson
From the opening line of his breakthrough cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson plunges the reader into a not-too-distant future. It is a world where the Mafia controls pizza delivery, the United States exists as a patchwork of...
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Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust
Nathanael West
The Day of the Locust (1939) is West's great dystopian Hollywood novel based on his experiences at the seedy fringes of the movie industry. Said novelist and screenwriter Budd Schulberg: "A new public [has] discovered in the writings of West...