Staff Recommendations

A listing of current favorites, recommended by the bookstore staff. Check back for new recommendations each month as we bring you the best of what we're reading. Browse by title, author or staff member!



  Andy
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Garrett
  |  Gent
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Matt
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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The Scar Boys
A Novel
Len Vlahos
A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock 'n' roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world...even if you carry scars inside and out. In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay--help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses...
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Piano Stories
Felisberto Hernández
One of the strangest things I have ever read. It is wonderful. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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The Flamethrowers
A Novel
Rachel Kushner
Kushner's writing is authoritative and vivid, as exciting to read as the worlds she writes about. I could not put this down; it was intoxicating reading about a young woman making her way in worlds in which women don't usually get to exist, even in fiction. A cinematic, unstoppable, alienated and kick-fueled adventure.
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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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Tenth of December
Stories
George Saunders
George saunders has this ability to pair the grim with the quirky, the brutal with the bizarrely hopeful, so that his stories never tip over completely into darkness. He captures the nastiness of violence, consumerism and sexism while keeping the tone satirical—but not light—and creating that uncanny feeling of the familiar gone strange. It's...
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The Trip to Echo Spring
On Writers and Drinking
Olivia Laing
Olivia Laing took an epic road trip across the states, to various spots that were previously associated with famous alcoholic writers, in an effort to understand all the ways that booze affected them - their lives, their loved ones, and ultimately, their writing. Laing is a fantastic writer, having successfully dissected a tragic illness that is..
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Hyperbole and a Half
Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Allie Brosh
READ ALL THE THINGS!!!!! —Recommended by Anah, City Lights Books. This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative— like maybe someone who isn't me wrote it...
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The Great War
July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme
Joe Sacco
From "the heir to R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman" (Economist) comes a monumental, wordless depiction of the most infamous day of World War I. Launched on July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme has come to epitomize the madness of the First World War. Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed and another 40,000 were wounded that first day, and...
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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
A Novel
Ayana Mathis
The arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction. A debut of extraordinary distinction: Ayana Mathis tells the story of the children of the Great Migration through the trials of one unforgettable family. In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for
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Nina's Book of Little Things!
Keith Haring
Really fun art activity book. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books A book of imagination for the little Nina in all of us. Make a little mess, collect some little snowflakes, and draw the things a little bird might say in this book that asks its owner to make his or her mark on every page.
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Pierre Reverdy
Pierre Reverdy, Mary Ann Caws
This is a well organized book of translations of French cubist poet, Pierre Reverdy. Just out from the NYRB Poets series, this collection has some of the usual suspects of Reverdy translation such as Kenneth Rexroth (now back in print here mind you) and Ron Padgett, but also some exciting translations by John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara...
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Chicken
Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent
David Henry Sterry
I've never read anything quite like this memoir. David Henry Sterry performs a high-wire act in his vaudevilliain telling of life as a prostitute in 70s Hollywood. Alternately sad and hilarious, Sterry provokes serious thinking about family, sexuality, and addiction. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Books
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Command and Control
Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Eric Schlosser
The entirety of our nuclear policy folly, crystallized in and illuminated by the little-known Damascus near-tragedy. There is, for me, great sadness here... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses
Roger Corman: King of the B Movie
Chris Nashawaty
An excellent history of Corman, told by those who worked for him and with him and became the generation which liberated American film in the 1970s: Scorsese, Coppola, Nicholson, et al. Beautifully presented with color stills and posters blaring from every page! —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books

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