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
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jared
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | publication date


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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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John
A Play
Annie Baker
The perfect elements for quirky theater brilliance—set in a B&B filled with tchotchkes and terrifying dolls, a young couple attemp to save their relationship, all the while touring the Civil War's bloodiest battlefield. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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Another Country
James Baldwin
James Baldwin's Another Country is one of the most powerful books I've ever read. As only he so beautifully and evocatively can, Baldwin places the reader in the eye of the storm of late 50s American tensions around race, gender, class, power, and freedom
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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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Going to Meet the Man
Stories
James Baldwin
Start with "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon." If the title of that story doesn't get you then you are lost anyway. —Recommended by Maia, City Lights Books "There's no way not to suffer. But you try all kinds of ways to keep from drowning in it."
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A Cure for Suicide
A Novel
Jesse Ball
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. Here is another beguiling tale of love running up against security in a not-too-distant American(?) future of peculiar social design. —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 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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We Believe the Children
A Moral Panic in the 1980s
Richard Beck
If you lived through this, as I did, you know where this is going. If you didn't, you will not believe what we, as a country, will choose to believe, if told to do so. Both surreal and infuriating, in equal doses. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Three Novels
Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
Samuel Beckett
Beckett's trilogy has to be one of the greatest feats of voice and language ever written. This is the book that turns woe into exhilaration. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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Pond
Claire-Louise Bennett
A gentle reminder that life is living and breathing prose, this water is shimmering and warm. Jump in! —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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A Manual for Cleaning Women
Selected Stories
Lucia Berlin
Detox centers, laundromats, and triage units are not expected terrain for short stories, but these are the scenarios you find yourself in while reading Lucia Berlin. Her writing is absurdly real and tragically hilarious, often plucked from her own tumultuous life. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books and also by Peter, City Lights Books

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