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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The Barbarian Nurseries
Héctor Tobar
A riveting tale of class, race, and social mores in contemporary Southern California. Araceli, the Mexican maid of the Torres-Thompson family, leads us on a Los Angeles odyssey that reveals the topography of a culture through Tobar's nuanced portrayal...
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The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
A harrowing portrait of depression, fearlessly illustrated by one of the most talented and incredible minds in modern literature. If you have an interest in understanding mental illness and its effects on creativity, let this be your cornerstone. Utterly devastating, but in the most beautiful way possible. It's one of my all-time favorites.
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The Sisters Brothers
Patrick deWitt
This humorous Western novel takes place in the 1850s as two brothers on horseback search for a man they are paid to kill. Philosophy, love and greed spouting from their lips, they meet insane characters on the road from Oregon to San Francisco...
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The Orphan Master's Son
Adam Johnson
An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master's Son follows a young man's journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world's most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea. Pak Jun Do is the haunted son..
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Always in Trouble
An Oral History of ESP-Disk', The Most Outrageous Record Label in America
Jason Weiss
In 1964, Bernard Stollman launched the independent record label ESP-Disk' in New York City to document the free jazz movement there. A bare-bones enterprise, ESP was in the right place at the right time, producing albums by artists like Albert Ayler...
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The Grey Album
On the Blackness of Blackness
Kevin Young
Taking its title from Danger Mouse's pioneering mashup of Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' The White Album, Kevin Young’s encyclopedic book combines essay, cultural criticism, and lyrical chorus to illustrate the African American tradition of...
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Many Subtle Channels
In Praise of Potential Literature
Daniel Levin Becker
This book presents us with Oulipo—the mischievous group of writers whose obsession with words knows no limits. Levin Becker expertly describes the members of the group, each one uniquely working to devise linguistic puzzles to write within.
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Zeno's Conscience
A Novel
Italo Svevo
This modernist classic deserves its reputation as a masterful immersion in the contortions of one neurotic mind. It's the voice here that wins one over, as our hero good-naturedly dissects his own petty motivations, gets caught up in layer after layer...
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Tapping the Source
A Novel
Kem Nunn
A noir set in the burned-out post-hippie landscape of early 1980s Huntington Beach. Often referred to as a "surf noir" novel, perhaps because of the lean, stripped-down evocative prose and the mystical hue of the plot. And of course, there's the fact that the book is set around the seedy edges of Southern California's surf culture. Sonic Youth...
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Mr. Fox
A Novel
Helen Oyeyemi
Fairy-tale romances end with a wedding, and the fairy tales don't get complicated. In this book, the celebrated writer Mr. Fox can't stop himself from killing off the heroines of his novels, and neither can his wife, Daphne. It's not until Mary...
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Antwerp
Roberto Bolaño
This book is actually a labyrinth. —Recommended by Dia, City Lights Books. Antwerp's signature elements—crimes and campgrounds, drifters and poetry, sex and love, corrupt cops and misfits—mark this, his first novel, as pure Bolaño.
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Love and Obstacles
Stories
Aleksandar Hemon
From the celebrated author of the bestselling Lazarus Project-"a dazzling collection of stories...further cementing [Hemon's] position among the finest fiction writers working in English" (GQ). The stories of Love and Obstacles are united by their...
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The Complete Poems Of Kenneth Rexroth
The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth assembles all of his published longer and shorter poems, and includes a never-before-published selection of his earliest work. Rexroth's poems of nature and protest are remarkable for their erudition and biting...
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House of Prayer No. 2
A Writer's Journey Home
Mark Richard
Based on its subject matter and jacket copy, this might have been an inspirational memoir. But in Mark Richard's hands, the story of his own life is weird and unsettling and haunting and very much like an ocean hiding outlandish fauna somewhere beneath...

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