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
  |  Garrett
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by author | publication date


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John Barleycorn
Jack London
I would say that London is one of the best fiction writers to ever hold the pen. But these tales are more of a memoir of the man himself--a poor Bay Area native whose words of travel and woe and drunkenness and poetry would later give birth to the...
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John Saturnall's Feast
A Novel
Lawrence Norfolk
A beautiful, rich and sensuous historical novel, John Saturnall's Feast tells the story of a young orphan who becomes a kitchen boy at a manor house, and rises through the ranks to become the greatest Cook of his generation. It is a story of food...
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Journey to the End of the Night
Louis-Ferdinand Céline
When it was published in 1932, this then-shocking and revolutionary first fiction redefined the art of the novel with its black humor, its nihilism, and its irreverent, explosive writing style, and made Louis-Ferdinand Celine one of France's--and...
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Just Kids
Patti Smith
Winner of the National Book Award. Just Kids illuminates the impressive lover of literature that Patti Smith is. Her memoir will be of particular interest to City Lights enthusiasts as she is our quintessential reader, a fan of the Surrealists...
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Language Arts
Cedar Sigo
Language Arts, like Cedar Sigo, is playfully spontaneous. Sigo uses poetry as a way to record his own adventures as a reader, traveler, lover, poet, friend, and he welcomes the reader to share the experience. The pleasure he gets in writing these poems is infectious, and the resulting collection is absorbing for its movement...
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Last Words from Montmartre
Qiu Miaojin
Part epistolary novel, part suicide note, part textual experiment, and wholly unlike anything else. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Lazarus Project
Aleksandar Hemon
On March 2, 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, an Eastern European Jewish immigrant, was shot to death on the doorstep of the Chicago chief of police and cast as a would-be anarchist assassin. A century later, a young Eastern European writer...
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The Left Hand of Darkness
Ursula K. Le Guin
A pivotal work of feminist science fiction, this is a moving story of friendship, love, and the human condition, which takes place on the planet Gethen known as "Winter" and populated by androgynous beings. This book made me think about myself...
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Letters to a Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke
"…the love that consists in this: that two solitudes protect and border and greet each other." I think this book should be handed out to high school students along with free condoms and pamphlets on road safety. I think this book should be handed out...
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Lolita
Vladimir Nabokov
I've been a book lover all my life, but it wasn't until Lolita that I fully began to realize and appreciate the art of literature. Nabokov's style of writing will grip your heart mercilessly and refuse to let go - to the point where you'll empathize wholeheartedly with its twisted and tortured narrator. Forget the controversy that surrounds it...
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Long Division
A Novel
Kiese Laymon
Kiese Laymon's debut novel is a Twain-esque exploration of celebrity, authorship, violence, religion, and coming of age in Post-Katrina Mississippi, written in a voice that's alternately funny, lacerating, and wise. The book contains two interwoven stories. In the first, it’s 2013: after an on-stage meltdown during a...
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Love and Obstacles
Stories
Aleksandar Hemon
From the celebrated author of the bestselling Lazarus Project-"a dazzling collection of stories...further cementing [Hemon's] position among the finest fiction writers working in English" (GQ). The stories of Love and Obstacles are united by their...
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Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In this magnificent story of a romance, Garcia Marquez beautifully and unflinchingly explores the nature of love in all its guises, small and large, passionate and serene. Love can emerge like a disease in these characters, but it can also outlast bleak..
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Low Bite
Sin Soracco
Full of ovaries and bravada, this is not a girls-gone-wild-behind-bars pulp tale. But it is an underground classic thankfully back in print. It is also a picture of life behind bars and the hustle to stay cool and get out without playing out or getting...

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