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

   
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The Fire Next Time
James Baldwin
If you can honestly say that a book has never changed your life, then you haven't read The Fire Next Time. Said to have helped "galvanize" the Civil Rights movement, this powerful book beautifully, honestly, and, at times, heart-breakingly confronts the issue of race and racism in this country. Required reading for anyone interested in literature
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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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A Cure for Suicide
A Novel
Jesse Ball
All of Ball's books are beautiful, but the heart-stopping beauty of this book's complex internal logic reaches the sublime. It is its own argument for existence. —Recommended by Erin Kind of like how you can read all of Vonnegut when you're young, I've read all of Ball's work into my 30s. —Recommended by Jake, City Lights Books
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The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin
The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher
Kim Bancroft
Northern California's book publishers are idiosyncratic, uncompromising, funky, forward-thinking, often brilliant, but largely unheralded beyond the state’s borders. Here’s the perfect book to shift that paradigm. Malcolm Margolin’s story of creating and sustaining Heyday Books, a vital Berkeley-based press celebrating its 40th anniversary...
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The Idiot
Elif Batuman
The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary.
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The Sellout
A Novel
Paul Beatty
—Recommended by Tân & Paul & Michael, City Lights Books
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The White Boy Shuffle
A Novel
Paul Beatty
Ever been smacked so hard it makes you giggle? Me neither. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books Paul Beatty's hilarious and scathing debut novel is about Gunnar Kaufman, an awkward, black surfer bum who is moved by his mother from Santa Monica...
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Are You My Mother?
A Comic Drama
Alison Bechdel
Pretty heady stuff going on here as Bechdel cross-examines her childhood to consider how she was affected by a smart, artistic, but emotionally-removed mother, and a repressed, angry father. If you don't regularly gravitate towards graphic novels, but love memoirs, this might be the ideal book for you to get a sense of the amazing genre.
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Envelope Poems
Emily Dickinson, Jen Bervin, Marta Werner
Although a very prolific poet, Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) published fewer than a dozen poems. Instead, she created small handmade books. In her later years, she stopped producing these, but she continued to write a great deal, and at her death she left behind many poems, drafts, and letters.
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Daphne
A Novel
Will Boast
A San Francisco novel unlike any other, perfectly suited for this city's current epoch. —Recommended by Caitlyn
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Last Evenings on Earth
Roberto Bolaño
Roberto Bolaño's story collection Last Evenings on Earth was acclaimed by Francine Prose in The New York Times Book Review as "something extraordinarily beautiful and (at least to me) entirely new.... Reading Roberto Bolaño is like hearing the secret...
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The Savage Detectives
A Novel
Roberto Bolaño
The late Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño has been called the García Marquez of his generation, but his novel The Savage Detectives is a lot closer to Y Tu Mamá También than it is to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Hilarious and sexy, meandering and...
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Wide Open Town
A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965
Nan Alamilla Boyd
What is it about San Francisco that makes this place so... subversive? This impeccably researched work connects today's queer rights movement to the brothels and bath houses of the 1850s. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Fahrenheit 451
60th Anniversary Edition
Ray Bradbury
The temperature at which book paper combusts! Written in 1951, this dystopian novel is a must-read in today's world of disappearing bookstores and young readers who have never held an actual paperback. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books

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