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

   
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    sort list by author | publication date


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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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Just Around Midnight
Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination
Jack Hamilton
By the time Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, the idea of a black man playing lead guitar in a rock band seemed exotic. Yet a mere ten years earlier, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley had stood among the most influential rock and roll performers. Why did rock and roll become "white"? Just around Midnight reveals the interplay of popular music and racial...
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Just Kids
Patti Smith
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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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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Leaving Orbit
Notes from the Last Days of American Space Flight
Margaret Lazarus Dean
Feeling torn between great science writing, a searching memoir, a critique of government, and some literary criticism? Fear not, they can all be had in one volume, and this is it. A surprisingly emotional take on the end of NASA's space shuttle program—but so much more. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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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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Liesl & Po
Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver's second book for younger readers, The Spindlers, absolutely blew me away, forcing me to reread this, her first. An adventure, a story of friendships, but also a meditation on coming to terms with loss, on letting go of and remembering...
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The Liminal People
The First Book of The Liminal Trilogy
Ayize Jama-Everett
Razor. Plush. Fast. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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The Liminal War
The Second Book of The Liminal Trilogy
Ayize Jama-Everett
When Taggert's adopted daughter goes missing he suspects the hand of an old enemy. He gathers friends, family, and even those who don't quite trust that he has left his violent past behind. But their search leads them to an unexpected place, the past, and the consequences of their journey have a price that is higher than they can afford.
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A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation
John Corbett
Improvisation rattles some listeners. Maybe they're even suspicious of it. John Coltrane's saxophonic flights of fancy, Jimi Hendrix's feedback drenched guitar solos, Ravi Shankar’s sitar extrapolations—all these sounds seem like so much noodling or jamming, indulgent self-expression. "Just" improvising, as is sometimes said.
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Little Labors
Rivka Galchen
Precisely what I imagine internal mother musings to be, all written remarkably in the company of a puma-like baby human. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books

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