Staff Recommendations

A listing of current favorites, recommended by the bookstore staff. Check back for new recommendations each month as we bring you the best of what we're reading. Browse by title, author or staff member!



  Andy
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Garrett
  |  Gent
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Matt
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author


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The Beats
A Graphic History
Paul Buhle, Harvey Pekar
I've read a lot of Beat books in my time here at City Lights, but none are quite as fun as this graphic history. The perfect collection for those who think they've heard all the stories about Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, et al. The Beats also provides...
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Pain Killers
A Novel
Jerry Stahl
Jerry Stahl tears up the literary scene with his razor sharp wit and darkly hilarious prose. He puts a magnifying glass to consensus reality, burning through it's thin veneer with delicious irony. Punk Rabbi, cultural critic, prankster, master wordsmith!
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The Lost City of Z
A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
David Grann
A fascinating tale of travel, intrigue, and finding a lost city of gold in the Amazon jungle. The author tries to retrace the steps made by Percy Fawcett (the great explorer from the early 1900's), who went searching for the lost city with his son—neither
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The White Album
Essays
Joan Didion
First published in 1979, The White Album records indelibly the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s. Examining key events, figures, and trends of the era—including Charles Manson, the Black Panthers, and the shopping mall—through the lens of her own...
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The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb
R. Crumb
Crumb approaches Genesis in good faith: working from Robert Alter's translation, he engages earnestly with the text and allows its ancient words to fascinate his drawing. To his great credit, he thereby avoids the vices of abridgment, interpolation and...
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What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us
Laura van den Berg
There is a monster in every one of these stories. Some are imaginary: like the Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster. Some are real: like snakes, global warming, and divorce. A beautiful and exciting debut from a young writer who is one to watch.
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Sea of Poppies
Amitav Ghosh
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books The first in an epic trilogy, Sea of Poppies is "a remarkably rich saga . . . which has plenty of action and adventure à la Dumas, but moments also of Tolstoyan penetration--and a drop or two of Dickensian...
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Hard Rain Falling
Don Carpenter
Don Carpenter's Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good—a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an...
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Death with Interruptions
José Saramago
Saramago's latest work in English is a danse macabre with the ancient conundrum of the curse of deathlessness. As in his great novel Blindness, Saramago narrates a preternatural epidemic in mythic wide-angle, dream up a world where people stop dying...
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The Tanners
Robert Walser
Loosely based on his own life and his large family, The Tanners follows Simon Tanner as he wanders from job to job, in search of a calling. Along his journey of self-definition, we meet his other siblings: the painter brother whose romantic brooding...
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Beauty Salon
Mario Bellatin
Biting social allegory from one of Mexico's most exciting young authors: edgy, lyrical and cynically hopeful.
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Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust
Nathanael West
The Day of the Locust (1939) is West's great dystopian Hollywood novel based on his experiences at the seedy fringes of the movie industry. Said novelist and screenwriter Budd Schulberg: "A new public [has] discovered in the writings of West...
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Three Novels
Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
Samuel Beckett
Beckett's trilogy has to be one of the greatest feats of voice and language ever written. This is the book that turns woe into exhilaration. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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Beijing Coma
A Novel
Ma Jian
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books Dai Wei, a PhD student and protestor in Tianan-men Square in June 1989, was caught by a soldier's bullet and fell into a deep coma. But as the millennium draws near, he begins to emerge from unconsciousness...

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