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!



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

   
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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Quite the masterwork. A poignant delight with a sense of humor that sears to the bone. —Recommended by Scott, City Lights Books
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Island of a Thousand Mirrors
A Novel
Nayomi Munaweera
Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families. Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, Yasodhara's and her siblings' lives are shaped by social hierarchies, their parents’ ambitions...
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Walter Benjamin
A Critical Life
Howard Eiland, Michael W. Jennings
Walter Benjamin is one of the twentieth century's most important intellectuals, and also one of its most elusive. His writings--mosaics incorporating philosophy, literary criticism, Marxist analysis, and a syncretistic theology--defy simple categorization. And his mobile, often improvised existence has proven irresistible to mythologizers.
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Furious Cool
Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him
David Henry, Joe Henry
In this loose and lyrical labor of love, brothers David and Joe Henry have brought Richard Pryor back to pulsating life, capturing his spirit and genius and the monumental demons that fueled him. It's billed as a biography but it's really more than that, delving deep enough to make you look at Pryor and his legacy in a whole new light. —Recommended
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In Case of Emergency
A Novel
Courtney Moreno
This excellent debut novel is about trauma––how we deal with it, are exposed to it, and invite it into our lives––through the eyes of a rookie EMT entering a (possibly) dangerous new romance with a brain-damaged veteran, mourning the disappearnce of her mother, and working 24-hour shifts in South Central LA. —Recommended By Chris, City Lights
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Hip Hop Family Tree 1975-1983
Gift Box Set
Ed Piskor
A special slipcover and a special comic are included in the smash hit's gift set. To celebrate the resounding critical and commercial success of the first two volumes of Ed Piskor's unprecedented history of Hip Hop, we are offering the two books in a mind-blowingly colorful slipcase, drawn and designed by the artist.
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Women in Clothes
Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton
Through original interviews, conversations, surveys, projects, diagrams and drawings from over six hundred contributors—including Miranda July, Cindy Sherman, Elif Batuman, Mac McClelland, Lena Dunham, Molly Ringwald, Tavi Gevinson, Rachel Kushner, Roxane Gay and Sarah Nicole Prickett... —Recommended by Layla and Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Acceptance
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 3
Jeff VanderMeer
The third part of a near-future trilogy which, with every page I read, becomes ever more enigmatic and in need of resolution. The first book, Annihilation, brings to mind the unspeakable horror of John Carpenter's The Thing, while Authority recalls the institutional paranoia of Three Days of the Condor. I'm only a few pages into Acceptance...
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Dissident Gardens
A Novel
Jonathan Lethem
A dazzling novel from one of our finest writers—an epic yet intimate family saga about three generations of all-American radicals At the center of Jonathan Lethem's superb new novel stand two extraordinary women: Rose Zimmer, the aptly nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, is an unreconstructed Communist who savages neighbors, family...
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Command and Control
Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Eric Schlosser
The entirety of our nuclear policy folly, crystallized in and illuminated by the little-known Damascus near-tragedy. There is, for me, great sadness here... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin
The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher
Kim Bancroft
Northern California's book publishers are idiosyncratic, uncompromising, funky, forward-thinking, often brilliant, but largely unheralded beyond the state’s borders. Here’s the perfect book to shift that paradigm. Malcolm Margolin’s story of creating and sustaining Heyday Books, a vital Berkeley-based press celebrating its 40th anniversary...
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Bad Feminist
Essays
Roxane Gay
I compulsively read Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist whenever I could get a spare moment. My commute (my life!) was vastly improved as it felt like my coolest, smartest, pop-culture literate, and humane friend was sharing the ride, offering the low down on--and a considered critique of--the too numerous troublesome aspects of American life and culture.
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All the Light We Cannot See
A Novel
Anthony Doerr
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
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Hip Hop Family Tree 2
1981-83
Ed Piskor
The second installment of this acclaimed graphic novel hip-hop history (originally serialized on the popular website Boingboing) covers the years 1981-1983. Covering the early years of 1981-1983, Hip Hop has made a big transition from the parks and rec rooms to downtown clubs and vinyl records.

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