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 Flamethrowers
A Novel
Rachel Kushner
Kushner's writing is authoritative and vivid, as exciting to read as the worlds she writes about. I could not put this down; it was intoxicating reading about a young woman making her way in worlds in which women don't usually get to exist, even in fiction. A cinematic, unstoppable, alienated and kick-fueled adventure.
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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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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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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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If You Want to See a Whale
Julie Fogliano
If you want to see a whale, you will need to know what not to look at. Pink roses, pelicans, possible pirates . . . If you want to see a whale, you have to keep your eyes on the sea, and wait . . .and wait . . . and wait . . . In this quiet and beautiful picture book by Julie Fogliano and Erin E. Stead, the team that created the Boston Globe-H
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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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American Gods
Author's Preferred Text
Neil Gaiman
What happens when you stop believing in mythical gods and spirits? You'll find out in this award-winning fantasy novel. Follow the adventures of Shadow, a convict released early from prison because of his wife's untimely death. It's a nonstop, entertaining ride. You'll meet a few of the old gods of yesteryear, and the (mostly evil) new gods of...
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Drifting House
Krys Lee
Krys Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in California and Washington, and studied in the United States and England. She was a finalist for Best New American Voices in 2006, received a special mention in the 2012 Pushcart Prize XXXVI...
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We the Animals
Justin Torres
An exquisite, blistering debut novel. Three brothers tear their way through childhood— smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off...
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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 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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1493
Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
Charles C. Mann
From the author of 1491—the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas—a deeply engaging new history of the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs. More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. Isolated from each other, the two halves of the world developed radically different...
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Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
If you are a geek for 80s popculture taking place in Virtual Reality in the futuretime of 2044, solving videogame mysteries to win the ultimate prize, then this book is for you. I loved it to bytes! —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books

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