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!

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

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Utopic San Francisco exists in the unrelenting imaginations of some of our most brilliant local artists and activists. This series of essays and photographs challenges us to reimagine urban space as an artistic playground for all—not just for techies and the nouveau riches. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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The Sunken Cathedral
A Novel
Prose that refracts, that conjures the twisting paths of memories, that engulfs and soothes. Sad, lovely, and difficult to put down.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books Also recommended by Paul, City Lights Books
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A Novel
Renata Adler
This reads like a walk through a particularly outrageous dinner party—overheard intellectual chatter, salacious gossip, and mundane offhand remarks swirl around, reigned in by a cool narrator who perhaps most evokes Didion at her driest, wit-wise.
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The Hakawati
Rabih Alameddine
Undertake The Hawakati with no bookmark, or with many. Local artist Rabih Alameddine has given us a book that deploys a deep and rarified appreciation of the storyteller's art to create the illusion of containing the entire world. His gateway is the eponymous hakawati, grandfather of the narrator, a bard who travels from Urfa to Lebanon...
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An Unnecessary Woman
A Novel
Rabih Alameddine
One of the Middle East's most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with an enchanting story of a book-loving, obsessive, seventy-two-year-old "unnecessary" woman. Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced...
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A Novel
Sherman Alexie
A harrowing time-travel adventure starring an unforgettable young Native American who finds himself center stage at seminal historic moments. A darkly observant, funny, and moving tale. —Recommended by Nancy, City Lights Publishers
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Fifteen Dogs
A Novel
André Alexis
Winner of the 2015 ScotiaBank Giller Prize "What does it mean to be alive? To think, to feel, to love and to envy? André Alexis explores all of this and more in the extraordinary Fifteen Dogs, an insightful and philosophical meditation on the nature of consciousness. It's a novel filled with balancing acts: humour juxtaposed with savagery...
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The Watchers
A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I
Stephen Alford
In a Europe aflame with wars of religion and dynastic conflicts, Elizabeth I came to the throne of a realm encircled by menace. To the great Catholic powers of France and Spain, England was a heretic pariah state, a canker to be cut away for the health of the greater body of Christendom. Elizabeth's government, defending God's true Church...
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The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas
David Almond
David Almond strikes again with yet another crazily-inventive, oddly off-kilter, and utterly and bafflingly English fable about how we all really do fit in... somewhere. A must-read. (For ages 9-12) —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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My Name Is Mina
David Almond
The prequel to the author's award-winning Skellig, which I haven't read and which one doesn't need to read to appreciate this little masterpiece. Almond basically takes us into the mind of a special child, an innocent, not yet corrupted by society's...
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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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