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

   
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Gods Without Men
Hari Kunzru
Jaz and Lisa Matharu are plunged into a surreal public hell after their son, Raj, vanishes during a family vacation in the California desert. However, the Mojave is a place of strange power, and before Raj reappears inexplicably unharmed...
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Malcolm X
A Life of Reinvention
Manning Marable
Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist. Of the great figures in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a...
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The Continental Op
Stories
Dashiell Hammett
Along with The Thin Man, this is my very favorite of Hammett's books. His unnamed detective appears in story after story, solving case after case, on the streets of 1920s San Francisco. The pleasure is not only in the telling, but in following, street by street, streetcar by streetcar, the Continental Op as he traverses The City...
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Bob Dylan in America
Sean Wilentz
Wilentz is an historian by trade and it shows in his almost-anthropological survey of Dylan and the highlights of his life. It's almost as if Dylan himself were whispering the stories of his successes and travails into Wilentz's ear. But this book is...
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The Warmth of Other Suns
The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
Isabel Wilkerson
One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration...
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Orange Sunshine
The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World
Nicholas Schou
A startling, secret history of the "Hippie Mafia"—a group of surfer smugglers out of Laguna Beach who were responsible for the majority of the hash and LSD that literally fueled the psychedelic revolution. —Recommended by Andy, City Lights Books
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Los Angeles Stories
Ry Cooder
World-famous musician Ry Cooder publishes his first collection of stories.
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The Phantom Tollbooth
Norton Juster
Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books. This ingenious fantasy centers around Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog named Tock, Milo drives through the tollbooth's...
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Suttree
Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy's last book set in the South before he moved his focus to the West, this is an emotionally opaque but terribly powerful portrait of a damaged man. This book teaches by a sort of unrelenting immersion; plunging you into a world of vivid squalor...
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Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy's classic work, which Nabokov claimed was the best love story ever written, is beautifully rendered here in this subtle and lovely translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky. I think in Anna Karenina, more than any other of his works, Tolstoy...
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The Magicians
A Novel
Lev Grossman
A wonderfully-written novel of fantasy for adults. For any of fan of Narnia, Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings, but with a drunken, drugged-out edge. The true-to-life characters take you through the whirlwind of going to a university for magic...
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The Savage Detectives
A Novel
Roberto Bolaño
The late Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño has been called the García Marquez of his generation, but his novel The Savage Detectives is a lot closer to Y Tu Mamá También than it is to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Hilarious and sexy, meandering and...
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Super Sad True Love Story
A Novel
Gary Shteyngart
Did the opposable thumb evolve to text? Happy to find that I'm not the only one contemplating such serious matters. Shteyngart's new novel is sad, but also very heartwarming to those of us skeptical of, and concerned about, the role that electronic...
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Fatale
Jean-Patrick Manchette
Aimée Joubert, the central character in Fatale, is a matter-of-fact businesswoman killer. In only his third novel translated into English (the two others published by City Lights), Manchette delivers a terse, immediate tale where Aimée deals the...

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