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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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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Travels with Charley in Search of America
John Steinbeck
In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders through scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. Travels with Charley in Search of America is...
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Hyperbole and a Half
Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Allie Brosh
READ ALL THE THINGS!!!!! —Recommended by Anah, City Lights Books. This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative— like maybe someone who isn't me wrote it...
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The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia
Philip Lamantia, Garrett Caples, Andrew Joron, Nancy J. Peters
Many poets have contributed to the greatness of City Lights, but few more so than North Beach's own Philip Lamantia (1927-2005). Lamantia published his earliest work in avant-garde magazines when he was 15, then at 16 went to NYC to join the war-exiled Paris surrealists. Known as the foremost American surrealist, he also...
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I'm Your Man
The Life of Leonard Cohen
Sylvie Simmons
Beautifly written, impossible to put down, and an absolute must for any Cohen fan! Or, for that matter, for any fan of the worlds of travel, religion and poetry, as well as the inner workings of the music industry. Cohen was such an interesting man...
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NW
A Novel
Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's new book is playful, psychogeographically rich, sometimes messy, dark, and has a wicked stiletto of an ending. Most of all, its subtleties hold up under the mulling over after you've finished reading it. A smart look at the complexities...
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Turbulence
Samit Basu
A wild ride. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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The Lost Art of Finding Our Way
John Edward Huth
Long before GPS, Google Earth, and global transit, humans traveled vast distances using only environmental clues and simple instruments. John Huth asks what is lost when modern technology substitutes for our innate capacity to find our way...
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Sex at Dawn
How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha
In this controversial, thought-provoking, and brilliant book, renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha debunk almost everything we "know" about sex, weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology...
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Dusk and Other Stories
James Salter
Do you remember those rock tumblers that would turn any old pebble into a shining jewel? These stories are just like those jewels: endlessly worked until no rough edges remain, buffed to an impenetrable, bright surface in which you can almost see yourself. Excellent.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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A Hologram for the King
A Novel
Dave Eggers
A sharp, clear, wide-eyed account of a businessman's troubles renders the destructive impact of global capitalism on everyman/woman. Also, the novel offers a "how to definitely not" self-care for a large, angry cyst if found on one's own neck...
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The Autistic Brain
Thinking Across the Spectrum
Temple Grandin
A cutting-edge account of the latest science of autism, from the best-selling author and advocate When Temple Grandin was born in 1947, autism had only just been named. Today it is more prevalent than ever, with one in 88 children diagnosed on the...
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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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Mingus Speaks
John F. Goodman
A sun speaks. At times promethean, hilarious, and vexing, this is Mingus as spontaneous combustion. The music is in his words.—Recommended by Scott, City Lights Books
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The Infinite Tides
Christian Kiefer
An impressive debut novel from NorCal poet, songwriter and recording artist Kiefer, full of achingly beautiful passages on loss and regret, yet leavened with self-aware humor and with wonderment at the banality of contemporary suburbia.

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