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
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  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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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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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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The Hakawati
Rabih Alameddine
Undertake The Hawakati with no bookmark, or with many. Local artist Rabih Alameddine has given us a book that deploys a deep and rarified appreciation of the storyteller's art to create the illusion of containing the entire world. His gateway is the eponymous hakawati, grandfather of the narrator, a bard who travels from Urfa to Lebanon...
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Breath
A Novel
Tim Winton
Breath is a story of risk, of learning one's limits by challenging death. On the wild, lonely coast of Western Australia, two thrill-seeking teenage boys fall under the spell of a veteran big-wave surfer named Sando. Their mentor urges them into a...
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In Defense of Food
An Eater's Manifesto
Michael Pollan
This book is as fascinating as all the reviewers keep telling us it is. Michael Pollan doesn't address every angle of every issue, but this book is a great starting point for thinking more critically and carefully about the foods we buy and eat...
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Jesus' Son
Stories
Denis Johnson
An absolutely flawless little gem, this book cuts like a diamond. Almost nobody is as good as Denis Johnson, and almost nothing he's written is as good as this: in its few short pages you get booze, drugs, love, heaven, hell, death, resurrection...
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The Pleasures of the Damned
Poems, 1951-1993
Charles Bukowski
In going through this comprehensive collection the reader is able to see past the dirty-old-man façade that has plagued Bukowski's writing and glimpse at moments of sincere compassion and prophetic epiphanies. His poetry is constantly morphing into...
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Coltrane
The Story of a Sound
Ben Ratliff
John Coltrane left an indelible mark on the world, but what was the essence of his achievement that makes him so prized forty years after his death? What were the factors that helped Coltrane become who he was? And what would a John Coltrane look...
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Díaz
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books The most talked about—and praised—first novel of 2007, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother...
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The Shock Doctrine
The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Naomi Klein
At the core of Klein's book is the use of cataclysmic events to advance radical privatization, combined withy the privatization of the disaster response itself. Klein argues that by capitalizing on crises, the "disaster capitalism complex" now exists...

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