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
  |  Joey
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Ryan
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author


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The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Quite the masterwork. A poignant delight with a sense of humor that sears to the bone. —Recommended by Scott, City Lights Books
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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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Surf Craft
Design and the Culture of Board Riding
Richard Kenvin
Surfboards were once made of wood and shaped by hand, objects of both cultural and recreational significance. Today most surfboards are mass-produced with fiberglass and a stew of petrochemicals, moving (or floating) billboards for athletes and their brands, emphasizing the commercial rather than the cultural. Surf Craft maps this evolution.
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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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Authority
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 2
Jeff VanderMeer
The second part of a near-future trilogy which, with every page I read, becomes ever more enigmatic and in need of resolution. The first book, Annihilation, brings to mind the unspeakable horror of John Carpenter's The Thing, while Authority recalls the institutional paranoia of Three Days of the Condor. An important work.
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The Empathy Exams
Essays
Leslie Jamison
If you've got a glowing, tender heart and wonder how it's possible to feel so much, this is the book for you. Hypochondriacs are advised to skip essay #2.—Recommended by Vanessa, 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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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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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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Autobiography of a Corpse
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
These stunning stories by the Ukrainian-born master of the fantastic and paradoxical remind me of Gogol as much as they remind me of Borges: it becomes harder to tell which is more curious, the reality of reading fiction or the fiction being rendered as reality. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights Publishers
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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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NW
A Novel
Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's new book is playful, psychogeographically rich, sometimes messy, dark, and has a wicked stiletto of an ending. Most of all, its subtleties hold up under the mulling over after you've finished reading it. A smart look at the complexities...
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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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