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!



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

   
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I Hotel
Karen Tei Yamashita
I can say without any equivocation that I Hotel is an amazing literary accomplishment and one of the most pleasurable reading experiences I have ever had. I believe I Hotel stands on the same plane of accomplishment as Roberto Bolaño's The Savage...
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The City & The City
China Mieville
A wonderfully labyrinthine novel. Ostensibly a murder mystery cum police procedural, Mieville has much more on his mind here -- how does a class of people define itself and coexist with another class of people with whom it may, on the surface, have...
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Black Water Rising
A Novel
Attica Locke
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books Jay Porter has long since made peace with not living the American Dream. He runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy Houston strip mall—where his most promising client is a low-rent call girl—and he's...
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The Beats
A Graphic History
Paul Buhle, Harvey Pekar
I've read a lot of Beat books in my time here at City Lights, but none are quite as fun as this graphic history. The perfect collection for those who think they've heard all the stories about Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, et al. The Beats also provides...
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Written on the Body
Jeanette Winterson
Winterson creates a dense vison of intimacy, and an interresting take on relationships. A unique read. —Recommended by Luke, City Lights Books
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Coming Through Slaughter
Michael Ondaatje
Tragic, beautiful and strange. --Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books Bringing to life the fabulous, colorful panorama of New Orleans in the first flush of the jazz era, this book tells the story of Buddy Bolden, the first of the great trumpet...
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The White Boy Shuffle
A Novel
Paul Beatty
Ever been smacked so hard it makes you giggle? Neither have I. —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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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 Woman in the Dunes
Kobo Abe
If you've seen the 1964 Teshigahara film you've already experienced Abe's brilliance (he wrote the screenplay as well). If you haven't, read this first. The haunting story of a vacationing entomologist trapped in a sand-pit with an enigmatic woman...
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Sacred Games
A Novel
Vikram Chandra
Sacred Games is a sprawling, exuberant, old-fashioned story, detailing the intertwined lives of the gangsters of modern Mumbai. Vikram Chandra peppers his narrative with Hindi words that give one a sense of closeness with the characters. Detailing the...
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Ottoline and the Yellow Cat
Chris Riddell
I can't say enough about this series. The stories are simple, engaging and emotionally-grounded. The characters are quirky and unforgettable. And much of the fun comes from discovering the odd little details in the wonderful illustrations. (For ages 7-10)
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Helping Me Help Myself
One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone
Beth Lisick
Beth Lisick emerges as one of the great storytellers of our generation, joining the ranks of David Foster Wallace and Cintra Wilson with her hilarious and poignant tales of immersion into the million-dollar self-help industry.
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The Lost City of Z
A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
David Grann
A fascinating tale of travel, intrigue, and finding a lost city of gold in the Amazon jungle. The author tries to retrace the steps made by Percy Fawcett (the great explorer from the early 1900's), who went searching for the lost city with his son—neither
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Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother's death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a...

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