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The Watchers
A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I
Stephen Alford
We think we have evolved—we haven't. The politics of any age are the politics of all ages. Whether 5000, 2500, 1000, 500 or 50 years ago, the reasoning and methods are the same. They win, we lose. Parallels abound with both the Cold War and Post-9/11 Weltenschauung. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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My Name Is Mina
David Almond
The prequel to the author's award-winning Skellig, which I haven't read and which one doesn't need to read to appreciate this little masterpiece. Almond basically takes us into the mind of a special child, an innocent, not yet corrupted by society's...
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We Believe the Children
A Moral Panic in the 1980s
Richard Beck
If you lived through this, as I did, you know where this is going. If you didn't, you will not believe what we, as a country, will choose to believe, if told to do so. Both surreal and infuriating, in equal doses. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Poisoner's Handbook
Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
Deborah Blum
Fascinating and entertaining, tinged with both humor and horror, this account of the early years of forensic medicine in New York City is near unputdownable. We follow the city's Medical Examiner and head toxicologist as they develop the techniques for...
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Bresson on Bresson
Interviews 1943 - 1983
Robert Bresson, Mylène Bresson
The master... on the master. Even when asked incredibly banal questions, Bresson remains Bresson. Essential reading. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Female Brain
Louann Brizendine, MD
Men and women. What are we even doing on the same planet? Everything you've suspected is true. Though our bodies function a little bit differently, the real gulf between the sexes is in the place where we really exist: the brain. Neurophysiological....
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School of Fear
Gitty Daneshvari
Madeleine, Theo, Lulu and Garrison—each frightfully afraid of something (ghosts, moths, etc.)—are sent to the even more frightening School of Fear, where they will have to learn to cope with their phobias... or else! (For ages 8-12) —Recommended by Jeff
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A, B, C: Three Short Novels
The Jewels of Aptor; The Ballad of Beta-2; They Fly at Ciron
Samuel R. Delany
Please read this even if for no other reason than to experience the mystery and charm of Delany's 1965 novel The Ballad of Beta-2, which I only recently discovered. This is classic 60s-era SciFi at its scintillating best. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Profiteers
Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World
Sally Denton
The co-author of one of the best books ever written on Las Vegas—and its meaning for America— sets her critical eye on the behemoth that is Bechtel. For students of 20th century realpolitik, an excellent companion to David Talbot's The Devil's Chessboard.​ —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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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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The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
A Novel
Peter Handke
If one were not to immerse oneself in the early films of Wim Wenders, this is possibly the best representation of 1970s German Existentialism in print. Michel Houellebecq may possibly not exist if it weren't for Handke. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Love Goes to Buildings on Fire
Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever
Will Hermes
Punk rock and hip hop. No wave, disco and salsa. The loft jazz scene and the downtown minimalists. In the mid-1970s, New York City was teeming with musical innovators and cross-pollinations thereof. Hermes paints a breathtaking and panoramic portrait of the era. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books. Also recommended by Jeff, City Lights
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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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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.

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