Biography, Memoir, & Belles-Lettres

Books in this online selection represent only a sliver of what we offer in the store. If you've got a particular book in mind and want to check on its availability, call us at 415-362-8193.

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H Is for Hawk
Helen Macdonald
The instant New York Times bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald's story of adopting and raising one of nature's most vicious predators has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel's temperament mirrors Helen's own state of grief after her father's death, and together raptor...
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When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi
For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, this inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?
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The David Foster Wallace Reader
David Foster Wallace, Karen Green, Bonnie Nadell, Michael Pietsch
Where do you begin with a writer as original and brilliant as David Foster Wallace? Here--with a carefully considered selection of his extraordinary body of work, chosen by a range of great writers, critics, and those who worked with him most closely. This volume presents his most dazzling, funniest, and most heartbreaking work.
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Don't Suck, Don't Die
Giving Up Vic Chesnutt
Kristin Hersh
A longform creative obituary written to one of the great American songwriters of the last 25 years. Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses) offers this personal glimpse into her extremely complicated friendship with Chesnutt and life on the road as a solo artist in the early 90s playing for nobody. Wounded, prophetic, dreamlike, charming, and bloody.
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M Train
Patti Smith
Reading this book provided a meditative type of joy, and also reassured me that there is nothing wrong with my coffee habit. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Writing Across the Landscape
Travel Journals 1960-2010
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Giada Diano, Matthew Gleeson
This long-awaited volume provides a panoramic portrait of art and life across the twentieth century, from Mexico to Morocco, Paris to Rome, and beyond.
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Stars Seen in Person
Selected Journals
John Wieners, Michael Seth Stewart
Four unpublished journals by a master of the form, one of the greatest American poets of the 20th Century.
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When the Sick Rule the World
Dodie Bellamy
A moving meld of essay, memoir, and story, When the Sick Rule the World collects Dodie Bellamy's new and recent lyric prose. Taking on topics as eclectic as vomit, Kathy Acker's wardrobe, and Occupy Oakland, Bellamy here examines illness, health, and the body -- both the social body and the individual body -- in essays that glitter with wit.
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Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is a tremendous gift to the world. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books Also recommended by Scott & Paul, City Lights Books
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To Protect and Serve Who?
Organizing a Movement to Abolish Police Violence
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Direct from City Lights: An essay-pamphlet by Mumia Abu-Jamal on ending police violence, a companion to the book Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writing of Mumia Abu-Jamal
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Writing on the Wall
Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal, Johanna Fernández
New Release: Mumia Abu-Jamal's essential perspectives on black experience, race relations, freedom, justice, social change, and the future of American society. With a foreword by Cornel West.
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I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career
The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955-1997
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Bill Morgan
Out Now: Marking the 60th anniversary of City Lights Publishers, we present the intimate correspondence of Ginsberg & Ferlinghetti, documenting one of the longest relationships between a publisher and a writer.
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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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Distant Neighbors
The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder
Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Chad Wriglesworth
In 1969 Gary Snyder returned from a long residence in Japan to the Sierra foothills, where he intended to build a house and settle with his wife and sons. He had just published his first book of essays, Earth House Hold. A few years before, Wendell Berry left New York City for farmland in Port Royal, Kentucky, where he built a small studio...

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