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 title | author | publication date


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Writing to Save a Life
The Louis Till File
John Edgar Wideman
An award-winning writer traces the life of the father of iconic Civil Rights martyr Emmett Till—a man who was executed by the Army ten years before Emmett's murder. An evocative and personal exploration of individual and collective memory in America by one of the most formidable Black intellectuals of our time.
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White Tears
A Novel
Hari Kunzru
White Tears is a ghost story, a terrifying murder mystery, a timely meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music and Delta Mississippi Blues.—Recommended by Paul
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The Year of the Runaways
A Novel
Sunjeev Sahota
The Year of the Runaways is a stunning work of fiction that explores what it means and what it costs to make a new life, the capaciousness of the human spirit, and the power of humanity in the face of unspeakable suffering. —Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books
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Imagine Me Gone
Adam Haslett
Adam Haslett's new novel is devastating and darkly funny. Haslett's writing is graceful, and his intellectual curiosity is wide-ranging as he creates an unforgettable family's story tacking mental illness and race among other fraught topics. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishing
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Homesick for Another World
Stories
Ottessa Moshfegh
There's not a single character in this collection that I liked, but I was addicted to these stories, and found myself identifying with those characters—cursing myself for it. —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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Perfect Hair
Gender, sex, & love(?) presented as spectacular sequential art. This beautiful debut troubles the line between pleasant human interaction & detachment. Feels like floating above your body in a movie about yourself dreaming(?). —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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Red Parts
Autobiography of a Trail
Maggie Nelson
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From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
These chains must be destroyed; this world must be remade. —Recommended by Ivy
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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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Selected Works
Justin Chin, Jennifer Joseph
A Bay Area legend who knew how to excite readers, make them laugh, leave them devastated. Then, make them fall in love (with him), say "Heck yeah!" & clap their hands until it hurt—it still hurts. A beautiful soul taken too soon. —Recommended by Jared
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The People in the Trees
A Novel
Hanya Yanagihara
This novel is not for the faint of heart, but if you dig invented biography and imagined science, and you're up for a true anti-hero, then this is going to be your new favorite. —Recommended by Erin, City Lights Books
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Welcome to Painterland
Bruce Conner and the Rat Bastard Protective Association
The Rat Bastard Protective Association was an inflammatory, close-knit community of artists who lived and worked in a building they dubbed Painterland in the Fillmore neighborhood of midcentury San Francisco. The artists who counted themselves among the Rat Bastards—which included Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, Michael McClure.
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Pure Solar World
Sun Ra and Afrofuturism
Paul Youngquist
The first book to thoroughly explore Sun Ra's vast and wondrous vision, both as cosmic philosopher and Afrocentric historian/mythologist. An essential voyage for Ra fans. —Recommended by Michael
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Literary Wonderlands
A Journey Through The Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created
Laura Miller
Nothing is better than a book about books. This is exquisitely curated and wonderfully illustrated. Here are the fictional landscapes of Wonderlands, from ancient myths to the computer age. For every book we are given an essay, its history, the original covers, and quotations and fun facts. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books

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