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 title | author


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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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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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The Possessed
Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them
Elif Batuman
Batuman is a natural storyteller. Her love of literature is delightfully infectious. Using the Russian greats as inspiration for research and travel, her exploits reveal a writer who is at once keenly observant, erudite, sensitive and truly hilarious.
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Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk
Tony DuShane
Gabe is a teenage Jehovah's Witness convinced God will kill him at Armageddon for masturbating. But Gabe's not alone: there's Peter, who writes swear words in the margins of his papers; Jin, the Korean kid who subsists on Ho Hos and Doritos; and...
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In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
Daniyal Mueenuddin
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books "The rural rootedness and gentle humour of R.K. Narayan with the literary sophistication and stylishness of Jhumpa Lahiri."—Financial Times Passing from the mannered drawing rooms of Pakistan's cities to the harsh..
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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 Adoration of Jenna Fox
Mary E. Pearson
This is a near-flawless the-future-is-today sci-fi novel. Although written for a teen audience, it captivated and held me until the very end, beginning with its enigmatic title. I highly recommend this for both its peek at our biologically-uncertain...
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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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Three Novels
Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
Samuel Beckett
Beckett's trilogy has to be one of the greatest feats of voice and language ever written. This is the book that turns woe into exhilaration. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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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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Season of Migration to the North
Tayeb Salih
Tayeb Salih is able to inscribe the mythic onto everyday life throughout Season of Migration to the North. The narrator of the novel must confront his home after studying abroad, and finds that a new presence has entered his community. What is revealed is a thoughtful look into human interaction after the colonial legacy, and the social residue...

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