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

   
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Girl in a Band
A Memoir
Kim Gordon
This sharply observed, collage-like memoir of a life in music and art left me inspired and ready for a new musical vision. The evocative Didion-esque depiction of Kim's girlhood in the post-Manson landscape of Los Angeles, the wild early '80s downtown NY art / no wave existence then, of course, her years spent playing bass in Sonic Youth…
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Bitchfest
Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine
In the wake of Sassy and as an alternative to the more staid reporting of Ms., Bitch was launched in the mid-nineties as a Xerox-and-staple zine covering the landscape of popular culture from a feminist perspective. Both unabashed in its love for the...
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The Last Werewolf
A Novel
Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but otherwise in the pink of health. The nonstop sex and exercise he's still getting probably contribute to that, as does his diet: unusual amounts of flesh and blood (at least some from friends and relatives). Jake, of course, is a werewolf, and with the death of his colleague...
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The Woman in the Dunes
A Novel
Kobo Abe
If you've seen the 1964 Teshigahara film you've already experienced Abe's brilliance (he wrote the screenplay as well). If you haven't, read this first. The haunting story of a vacationing entomologist trapped in a sand-pit with an enigmatic woman, while the villagers mock his predicament, stands on its own...
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Speedboat
A Novel
Renata Adler
This reads like a walk through a particularly outrageous dinner party—overheard intellectual chatter, salacious gossip, and mundane offhand remarks swirl around, reigned in by a cool narrator who perhaps most evokes Didion at her driest, wit-wise.
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The Hakawati
Rabih Alameddine
Undertake The Hawakati with no bookmark, or with many. Local artist Rabih Alameddine has given us a book that deploys a deep and rarified appreciation of the storyteller's art to create the illusion of containing the entire world. His gateway is the eponymous hakawati, grandfather of the narrator, a bard who travels from Urfa to Lebanon...
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An Unnecessary Woman
A Novel
Rabih Alameddine
One of the Middle East's most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with an enchanting story of a book-loving, obsessive, seventy-two-year-old "unnecessary" woman. Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced...
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Flight
A Novel
Sherman Alexie
A harrowing time-travel adventure starring an unforgettable young Native American who finds himself center stage at seminal historic moments. A darkly observant, funny, and moving tale. —Recommended by Nancy, City Lights Publishers
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Rules for Radicals
Saul Alinsky
How'd Obama do it? Read his playbook to find out. What Machiavelli's The Prince is for the oppressor, Rules for Radicals is for the oppressed. Required reading...
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The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas
David Almond
David Almond strikes again with yet another crazily-inventive, oddly off-kilter, and utterly and bafflingly English fable about how we all really do fit in... somewhere. A must-read. (For ages 9-12) —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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White Girls
Hilton Als
It is, simply put, a privilege to spend time with a writer like Hilton Als. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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West of the West
Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Killers in the Golden State
Mark Arax
With his reportage and essays, Arax is mining territory somewhere between Rebecca Solnit and James Ellroy—here you'll find both thoughtful musings on geography and intense crime investigations. Written with real vitality and engagement, this book makes...
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Out of the Vinyl Deeps
Ellen Willis on Rock Music
Ellen Willis, Nona Willis Aronowitz
Ellen Willis captures the excitement, danger and kicks inherent in the 60s and 70s NY music scene, creating a passageway back to a long gone era with insights that are disarming, politically charged, and hilarious, while at the same time transmitting...

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