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
  |  Erin
  |  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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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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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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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 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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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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Iggy Peck, Architect
Andrea Beatty
A hilarious, irreverent book about doing your own thing. Meet Iggy Peck—creative, independent, and not afraid to express himself! In the spirit of David Shannon's No, David and Rosemary Wells's Noisy Nora, Iggy Peck will delight readers looking for irreverent, inspired fun. Iggy has one passion: building.
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Shakespeare's Lost Kingdom
The True History of Shakespeare and Elizabeth
Charles Beauclerk
Let me state at the outset that the author is a descendant of the Earl of Oxford and a scholar active in proposing the earl as the author of the works attributed to Shake-Speare. That said, I would still recommend this to anyone who has ever read...
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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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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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