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
  |  Cassie
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | publication date


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White Girls
Hilton Als
It is, simply put, a privilege to spend time with a writer like Hilton Als. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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West of the West
Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Killers in the Golden State
Mark Arax
With his reportage and essays, Arax is mining territory somewhere between Rebecca Solnit and James Ellroy—here you'll find both thoughtful musings on geography and intense crime investigations. Written with real vitality and engagement, this book makes...
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The Barbary Coast
An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld
Herbert Asbury
You're standing right in it! The Barbary Coast. 150 years ago this area was a den of such vice and iniquity that it would've made even the Marquis de Sade blush. Find out why... —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Shotgun Seamstress
Zine Collection
Osa Atoe
Shotgun Seamstress collects all of the issues of a fantastic punk fanzine into one book that focuses on African American queer & feminist artists and musicians. Full of interviews, reviews, and so much more, Shotgun Seamstress was put out from 2006-2012
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Violence Girl
East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story
Alice Bag
The proximity of the East L.A. barrio to Hollywood is as close as a short drive on the 101 freeway, but the cultural divide is enormous. Born to Mexican-born and American-naturalized parents, Alicia Armendariz migrated a few miles west to participate...
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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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The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard
J. G. Ballard
First published in 1978, this collection of nineteen of Ballard's best short stories is as timely and informed as ever. His tales of the human psyche and its relationship to nature and technology, as viewed through a strong microscope, were eerily...
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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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Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung
The Work of a Legendary Critic: Rock'n'Roll as Literature and Literature as Rock'n'Roll
Lester Bangs
If you ask me, Lester Bangs was one of the great American writers to ever live and think about anything worth living and thinking about—-it just so happened he chose rock 'n roll magazines as a platform. These handpicked reviews, essays, and random thoughts were handpicked by Greil Marcus to showcase Lester's singular and often copied voice.
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The Half Has Never Been Told
Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
Edward E. Baptist
Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution—the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America’s later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in...
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City
A Novel
Alessandro Baricco
An intellectually powerful and refreshing narrative seen through the eyes of a boy prodigy with a strong will and an overactive imagination. This book has many dimensions - it's both complex but child-like, metaphysical and intensely thought-provoking, romantic in its all of its subtleties. I fall in love with it every time I read it...
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Babayaga
A Novel of Witches in Paris
Toby Barlow
By the author of Sharp Teeth, a novel of love, spies, and witches in 1950s Paris—and a cop turned into a flea Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It's 1959 and the cold war is going strong. But Will doesn't think he's a warrior—he’s just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy...
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Turbulence
Samit Basu
A wild ride. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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The Sellout
A Novel
Paul Beatty
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship...

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