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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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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The Hakawati
Rabih Alameddine
Undertake The Hawakati with no bookmark, or with many. Local artist Rabih Alameddine has given us a book that deploys a deep and rarified appreciation of the storyteller's art to create the illusion of containing the entire world. His gateway is the eponymous hakawati, grandfather of the narrator, a bard who travels from Urfa to Lebanon...
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Death with Interruptions
José Saramago
Saramago's latest work in English is a danse macabre with the ancient conundrum of the curse of deathlessness. As in his great novel Blindness, Saramago narrates a preternatural epidemic in mythic wide-angle, dream up a world where people stop dying...
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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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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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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? 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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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
A Novel
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, while the villagers mock his predicament, stands on its own...
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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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Jesus' Son
Stories
Denis Johnson
An absolutely flawless little gem, this book cuts like a diamond. Almost nobody is as good as Denis Johnson, and almost nothing he's written is as good as this: in its few short pages you get booze, drugs, love, heaven, hell, death, resurrection...
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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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Black Hole
Charles Burns
This is a beautifully drawn and eerie novel set in the 1970s. Seattle teens get a disease that transforms them into mutants. Their battle against this and other more normal high school situations, makes for a frighteningly good read.
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The Barbary Coast
An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld
Herbert Asbury
You're standing right in it! The Barbary Coast. 150 years ago this area was a den of such vice and iniquity that it would've made even the Marquis de Sade blush. Find out why... —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books

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