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
  |  Caitlyn
  |  Cassie
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Erin
  |  Garrett
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jared
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Ryan
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author


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The Watchers
A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I
Stephen Alford
We think we have evolved—we haven't. The politics of any age are the politics of all ages. Whether 5000, 2500, 1000, 500 or 50 years ago, the reasoning and methods are the same. They win, we lose. Parallels abound with both the Cold War and Post-9/11 Weltenschauung. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Babayaga
A Novel of Witches in Paris
Toby Barlow
By the author of Sharp Teeth, a novel of love, spies, and witches in 1950s Paris—and a cop turned into a flea Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It's 1959 and the cold war is going strong. But Will doesn't think he's a warrior—he’s just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy...
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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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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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A Marker to Measure Drift
A Novel
Alexander Maksik
A hypnotic, spellbinding novel set in Greece and Africa, where a young Liberian woman reckons with a haunted past. On a remote island in the Aegean, Jacqueline is living alone in a cave accessible only at low tide. With nothing to protect her from the elements, and with the fabric between herself and the world around her increasingly frayed...
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Memento Mori
A Novel
Muriel Spark
Poignant, hilarious, and spooky, Memento Mori addresses old age In late 1950s London, something uncanny besets a group of elderly friends: an insinuating voice on the telephone reminds each: Remember you must die. Their geriatric feathers are soon thoroughly ruffled, and many an old unsavory secret is dusted off.
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The People in the Trees
A Novel
Hanya Yanagihara
This novel is not for the faint of heart, but if you dig invented biography and imagined science, and you're up for a true anti-hero, then this is going to be your new favorite. —Recommended by Erin, City Lights Books
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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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I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams
Mark Dery
"I must not think bad thoughts. I must not think bad thoughts." These lyrics by the band X have been my mantra on many occasions as I trudged my way here and there. Lucky for us that Mark Dery goes deep into the territories that many of us shun, illuminating the absurdity, humor and truths found on the dark side. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights
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The Faraway Nearby
Rebecca Solnit
In this exquisitely written new book by the author of A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit explores the ways we make our lives out of stories, and how we are connected by empathy, by narrative, by imagination. In the course of unpacking some of her own stories—of her mother and her decline from memory loss, of a trip to Iceland...
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Conspiracy Theory in America
Lance deHaven-Smith
Along with David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, Professor deHaven-Smith is one of the very few in academia who consider conspiracy as the historical phenomenon it is and not the political and cultural hot potato it has become in the last half-century. For anyone with an open mind. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Annihilation
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 1
Jeff VanderMeer
The first part of a near-future trilogy which initially devastated me both conceptually and narratively, and then went off in a direction I wish it hadn't. But now that I've finished the second book, Authority, all that happened in the first book has taken on greater resonance, complexity, and strangeness. This is an important work.
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Piano Stories
Felisberto Hernández
Reading Felisberto Hernández's Piano Stories is like rolling a beautiful glass marble around in your mouth and forgetting your fear of choking. One of the strangest things I have ever read. It is wonderful. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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Tenth of December
Stories
George Saunders
George saunders has this ability to pair the grim with the quirky, the brutal with the bizarrely hopeful, so that his stories never tip over completely into darkness. He captures the nastiness of violence, consumerism and sexism while keeping the tone satirical—but not light—and creating that uncanny feeling of the familiar gone strange. It's...

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