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

   
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    sort list by author | publication date


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Insomniac City
New York, Oliver, and Me
Bill Hayes
"A beautifully written once-in-a-lifetime book, about love, about life, soul, and the wonderful loving genius Oliver Sacks, and New York, and laughter and all of creation."--Anne Lamott
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Island of a Thousand Mirrors
A Novel
Nayomi Munaweera
Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families. Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, Yasodhara's and her siblings' lives are shaped by social hierarchies, their parents' ambitions...
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It Chooses You
Miranda July
July is an incredible artist. She's also a film director, actress and screenwriter (Me and You and Everyone We Know) and this book chronicles her strange yet endlessly intriguing creative process. She finds herself with writer's block during...
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Jane
A Murder
Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson has a lot of fans on staff at City Lights, and I'm the latest member to join the club. Nelson compellingly portrays the murder of her aunt using a mix of memoir, theory, and poetics. Suggest reading "The Red Parts" (a nonfiction account by Nelson) first. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights, Publishers
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Jazz and Cocktails
Rethinking Race and the Sound of Film Noir
Jans B. Wager
Film noir showcased hard-boiled men and dangerous femmes fatales, rain-slicked city streets, pools of inky darkness cut by shards of light, and, occasionally, jazz. Jazz served as a shorthand for the seduction and risks of the mean streets in early film noir.—Recommended by Michael
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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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John
A Play
Annie Baker
The perfect elements for quirky theater brilliance—set in a B&B filled with tchotchkes and terrifying dolls, a young couple attemp to save their relationship, all the while touring the Civil War's bloodiest battlefield. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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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 Dies at the End
A Novel
David Wong
A drug called Soy Sauce. A portal to an Alternate Universe. Gore, Demons, Floating Worms, Scorpion Creatures, Shadow Men and more weirdness in this humorous take on the "save the world" formula. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Just Above My Head
James Baldwin
Read this book immediately. Just Above My Head is James Baldwin's masterpiece: a deeply moving story of human connection and redemption. This book is about families, given and created, about the trans-formative power of art...
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Karl Marx
Greatness and Illusion
Gareth Stedman Jones
As much a portrait of his time as a biography of the man, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion returns the author of Das Kapital to his nineteenth-century world, before twentieth-century inventions transformed him into Communism's patriarch and fierce lawgiver. Gareth Stedman Jones depicts an era dominated by extraordinary challenges and...
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Kill 'Em and Leave
Searching for James Brown and the American Soul
James McBride
An unconventional, Citizen Kane-like search for an essentially unknowable man, and the results are fascinatingly oblique and as deep as the heavy funk that the Godfather committed to wax. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books
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Kiss of the Spider Woman
A Novel
Manuel Puig
Focusing on film, prisons, politics, gender and sexuality, and equipped with theoretical footnotes, this a multilayered novel, an inventive masterpiece, and a never-to-be-forgotten classic. And as it is told almost entirely with the dialogue between the two characters, one must decipher the truthfulness or otherwise of the narrative based solely...
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Known and Strange Things
Essays
Teju Cole
A blazingly intelligent first book of essays from the award-winning author of Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief With this collection of more than fifty pieces on politics, photography, travel, history, and literature, Teju Cole solidifies his place as one of today's most powerful and original voices.

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