Staff Recommendations

A listing of staff proclivities, recommended by both past and present bookstore and publishing employees. Check back for new recommendations each month as we bring you the best of what we're reading or have read. Browse by title, author or staff member!

  |  Caitlyn
  |  Cassie
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

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Right Out of California
The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism
Kathryn Olmsted
In a major reassessment of modern conservatism, noted historian Kathryn S. Olmsted reexamines the explosive labor disputes in the agricultural fields of Depression-era California, the cauldron that inspired a generation of artists and writers and that triggered the intervention of FDR's New Deal.
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The Complete Stories
Clarice Lispector
Long-awaited and beautifully translated, Lispector's stories collected in their entirety read like an incantation commanding us into her charming and dreamy trance. Let each story bewitch you; there is simply no other way to experience this prose. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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Beauty Is a Wound
A Novel
Eka Kurniawan
The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humor, and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead.
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The First Bad Man
A Novel
Miranda July
Miranda July tells the story of Cheryl, a vulnerable, uptight woman in her early forties who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat, unable to cry. Cheryl is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six; she believes she has a profound connection with Phillip, a philandering board member at Open Palm, the women's self-defense studio.
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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
Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Future Days
Krautrock and the Birth of a Revolutionary New Music
David Stubbs
Whatever you think you know of this era, even if you are conversant with both Amon Düül I and Amon Düül II, you will find much here you probably missed. An invaluable history, and an indispensable guide to further exploration. Wow. Really. Wow. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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A Girl in Pieces
Isabel Quintero
Wish this book had been around during the angst of my youth, but at least one can pick it up now and revel in the author's grace and humor in dealing with very heavy subject matter. Isabel Quintero reminds us of the transformative power of journal writing, as well. (For ages 12 and up) —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Fat City
A Novel
Leonard Gardner
Fat City is a vivid novel of allegiance and defeat, of the potent promise of the good life and the desperation and drink that waylay those whom it eludes. Stockton, California, is the setting: the Lido Gym, the Hotel Coma, Main Street lunchrooms and dingy bars, days like long twilights in houses obscured by untrimmed shrubs and black walnut trees.
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The Visiting Privilege
New and Collected Stories
Joy Williams
The legendary writer's first collection in more than ten years—and, finally, the definitive one. A literary event of the highest order. Joy Williams has been celebrated as a master of the short story for four decades, her renown passing as a given from one generation to the next even in the shifting landscape of contemporary writing.
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Welcome to Braggsville
A Novel
T. Geronimo Johnson
From the PEN/Faulkner finalist and critically acclaimed author of Hold It 'Til It Hurts comes a dark and socially provocative Southern-fried comedy about four UC Berkeley students who stage a dramatic protest during a Civil War reenactment—a fierce, funny, tragic work from a bold new writer.
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Writing Across the Landscape
Travel Journals 1960-2010
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Giada Diano, Matthew Gleeson
This long-awaited volume provides a panoramic portrait of art and life across the twentieth century, from Mexico to Morocco, Paris to Rome, and beyond.
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A Manual for Cleaning Women
Selected Stories
Lucia Berlin, Stephen Emerson
Detox centers, laundromats, and triage units are not expected terrain for short stories, but these are the scenarios you find yourself in while reading Lucia Berlin. Her writing is absurdly real and tragically hilarious, often plucked from her own tumultuous life. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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The Sunken Cathedral
A Novel
Prose that refracts, that conjures the twisting paths of memories, that engulfs and soothes. Sad, lovely, and difficult to put down.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books Also recommended by Paul, City Lights Books
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Fran Ross
The best book I have read in years. A truly hilarious, surreal, anarchic and sharp as knives coming of age novel, which didn't find an audience when originally published in 1974. There are so many ideas, diagrams, and varying forms of prose contained within it's hard to summarize why you should read this, but you should.—Recommended by Layla

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