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
  |  Erin
  |  Garrett
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jared
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

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Painted Horses
A Novel
Malcolm Brooks
In the mid-1950s, America was flush with prosperity and saw an unbroken line of progress clear to the horizon, while the West was still very much wild. In this ambitious, incandescent debut, Malcolm Brooks animates that time and untamed landscape, in a tale of the modern and the ancient, of love and fate, and of heritage threatened by progress.
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An Angeleno's Atlas
Patricia Wakida
This literary and cartographic exploration of Los Angeles reorients our understanding of the city in highly imaginative ways. Illuminated by boldly conceived and artfully rendered maps and infographics, nineteen essays by LA's most exciting writers reveal complex histories and perspectives of a place notorious for superficiality.
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On Time
Poems 2005 - 2014
Joanne Kyger
On Time contains poem that speak like smoke rings drifting through a Bolinas afternoon. I can say with certainty that she is one of best poets writing in English today, and we are lucky to be alive to read her thought-nerves doing what they do best in a mundane and profound and ever-changing world. —Recommended by Jackson, City Lights Books
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I Learn from Children
An Adventure in Progressive Education
Caroline Pratt
"A lucid presentation of what progressive education can accomplish."—The New York Times How should schools prepare students for the Information Age? The successful worker of the future – a creative, independent thinker who works well in teams—would seem to be too self-contradictory to be the deliberate product of a school.
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The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs
Richard J. Miller
"Morphine," writes Richard J. Miller, "is the most significant chemical substance mankind has ever encountered." So ancient that remains of poppies have been found in Neolithic tombs, it is the most effective drug ever discovered for treating pain. "Whatever advances are made in medicine," Miller adds, "nothing could really be more...
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Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar
Richard Brautigan
This book and everything else by Brautigan are worth reading and rereading. Having influenced writers such as Haruki Murakami and Tom Robbins, his comic perplexed thoughts of romance intermingle with his dying, insane black comedy, and the ghosts living inside our coffee cups. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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The Half Has Never Been Told
Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
Edward E. Baptist
Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution—the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America’s later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in...
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Maggie Nelson
A perfect collection of fragments; a chronicle of an obsession that will obsess you, too. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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A Novel
Lily King
From New England Book Award winner Lily King comes a breathtaking novel about three young anthropologists of the '30's caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying the Kiona river tribe...
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Boy, Snow, Bird
A Novel
Helen Oyeyemi
Named one of 2014's most anticipated books by CNN, The Huffington Post, Bookpage,, The Chicago Tribune, Vulture, Philadelphia Inquirer, Real Simple, The Millions and Flavorwire From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.
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In the Light of What We Know
A Novel
Zia Haider Rahman
A bold, epic debut novel set during the war and financial crisis that defined the beginning of our century One September morning in 2008, an investment banker approaching forty, his career in collapse and his marriage unraveling, receives a surprise visitor at his West London townhouse. In the disheveled figure of a South Asian male carrying a...
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The Gunman
A Novel
Jean-Patrick Manchette
Forget whatever you've read about the film. This is the darkest of dark noirs, in the tradition of Jim Thompson, and the last novel Manchette would publish before his early death. Every word Manchette wrote is worth your time, much as those of one of his predecessors in French minimalism, Georges Bernanos, is. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights
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An American Lyric
Claudia Rankine
So groundbreaking is Rankine's work that it's almost impossible to describe; suffice it to say that this is a poem that reads like an essay (or the other way around) — a piece of writing that invents a new form for itself, incorporating pictures, slogans, social commentary...
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Cool Gray City of Love
49 Views of San Francisco
Gary Kamiya
Cool Gray City of Love brings together an exuberant combination of personal insight, deeply researched history, in-depth reporting, and lyrical prose to create an unparalleled portrait of San Francisco. Each of its 49 chapters explores a specific site or intersection in the city, from the mighty Golden Gate Bridge to the raunchy Tenderloin...

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