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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Hip Hop Family Tree 1
1970s-1981
Ed Piskor
This is a well-documented history of the beginnings of hip hop. Beautifully drawn in Old School comic form; hilariously written and sharply dissected. Open to any page and you'll be hooked. New York City, DJs and graffiti in the late 70s? You can't beat it, because "the beat don't stop til the break of dawn!"—Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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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 Twelve Tribes of Hattie
A Novel
Ayana Mathis
The arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction. A debut of extraordinary distinction: Ayana Mathis tells the story of the children of the Great Migration through the trials of one unforgettable family. In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for
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An Army of Lovers
Juliana Spahr, David Buuck
Based loosely on their own Bay Area literary lives, these two intellectual weirdos talk about the state of poetry and their process of writing. It's spot-on and brilliant, but then it gets weird—really strange weird! It had me nodding in agreement, gritting my teeth at its incantations, and laughing like a goddamn chimp—while in public!
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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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The Day the Crayons Quit
Drew Daywalt
Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me -- now a #1 New York Times bestseller! Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is...
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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 Infinite Tides
Christian Kiefer
An impressive debut novel from a NorCal poet and songwriter, full of achingly beautiful passages on loss and regret, yet leavened with self-aware humor and with wonderment at the banality of contemporary suburbia. Oh yes, there's also the comet on a collision course with Earth. Just read the first few pages and decide for yourself.
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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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Are You My Mother?
A Comic Drama
Alison Bechdel
Pretty heady stuff going on here as Bechdel cross-examines her childhood to consider how she was affected by a smart, artistic, but emotionally-removed mother, and a repressed, angry father. If you don't regularly gravitate towards graphic novels, but love memoirs, this might be the ideal book for you to get a sense of the amazing genre.
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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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The Trouble with Being Born
E. M. Cioran
Crotchety old man snarks about the pointlessness of life. Wonderful. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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John Dies at the End
A Novel
David Wong
A drug called Soy Sauce. A portal to an Alternate Universe. Gore, Demons, Floating Worms, Scorpion Creatures, Shadow Men and more weirdness in this humorous take on the "save the world" formula. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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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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