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!

  |  Caitlyn
  |  Cassie
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

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The Gangster We Are All Looking For
Thi Diem Thuy Le
Recommended by Tan, City Lights Books: this acclaimed novel reveals the life of a Vietnamese family in America through the knowing eyes of a child finding her place and voice in a new country.
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The Wind's Twelve Quarters
Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin is a writer about whom enough good things cannot be said, and who has a broad enough body of work that there is something for everyone. I could have picked any number of her novels, but this collection is exceptional as both an introduction to many of her major themes and in sheer storytelling terms.
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A True Story of Murder in America
Jill Leovy
"Ghettoside is fantastic. It does what the best narrative nonfiction does: It transcends its subject by taking one person's journey and making it all our journeys. That's what makes this not just a gritty, heart-wrenching, and telling book, but an important one. From the patrol cop to the president, everyone needs to read this book."
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Angle of Yaw
Ben Lerner
A National Book Award finalist, Angle Of Yaw is a sharp and flowing intervention into politics, plastics, emotional chiaroscuro, and many et ceteras. Presented as a series of prose poems periodically interrupted by verse, this book gives its reader a...
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Dissident Gardens
A Novel
Jonathan Lethem
A dazzling novel from one of our finest writers—an epic yet intimate family saga about three generations of all-American radicals At the center of Jonathan Lethem's superb new novel stand two extraordinary women: Rose Zimmer, the aptly nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, is an unreconstructed Communist who savages neighbors, family...
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Every You, Every Me
David Levithan
A powerful exploration of those intense relationships we form in high school, relationships we assume (no, not assume, know) will define our lives. And those assumptions are always wrong. This realization tears apart a group of friends as they try to...
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The Ask
A Novel
Sam Lipsyte
A New York Times Bestseller A New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceMilo Burke—husband, father, development officer at a third-tier university—has just joined the burgeoning class of the newly unemployed. Grasping after odd jobs to support his...
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Água Viva
A Novel
Clarice Lispector
Lispector at her most philosophically radical. A meditation on the nature of life and time, Água Viva (1973) shows Lispector discovering a new means of writing about herself, more deeply transforming her individual experience into a universal poetry. In a body of work as emotionally powerful, formally innovative, and philosophically profound as...
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Black Water Rising
A Novel
Attica Locke
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books Jay Porter has long since made peace with not living the American Dream. He runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy Houston strip mall—where his most promising client is a low-rent call girl—and he's...
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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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Border Songs
Jim Lynch
It is one of the particular pleasures of being a bookseller that every now and then I read a book that brings the world into sharper focus and ontological shadows into light. A book that creates a penumbra of perception that allows the world to shimmer wi
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"Literchoor Is My Beat"
A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions
Ian S. MacNiven
A biography—thoughtful and playful—of the man who founded New Directions and transformed American publishing. James Laughlin—a poet, publisher, world-class skier—was the man behind some of the most daring, revolutionary works in verse and prose of the twentieth century.
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Jean-Patrick Manchette
Aimée Joubert, the central character in Fatale, is a matter-of-fact businesswoman killer. In only his third novel translated into English (the two others published by City Lights), Manchette delivers a terse, immediate tale where Aimée deals the...
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The Gunman
A Novel
Jean-Patrick Manchette
Forget whatever you've read about the film. This is the darkest of dark noirs, in the tradition of Jim Thompson, and the last novel Manchette would publish before his early death. Every word Manchette wrote is worth your time, much as those of one of his predecessors in French minimalism, Georges Bernanos, is. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights

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