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
  |  Caitlyn
  |  Cassie
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Erin
  |  Garrett
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jared
  |  Joey
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Ryan
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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Travels with Charley in Search of America
John Steinbeck
In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders through scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. Travels with Charley in Search of America is...
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The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
Quite simply, the finest storyteller I've ever read. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books. What can I say that hasn't already been said? Read this book, every bit of it, and then read it again. You more or less feel these stories rather than read them. —Recommended by Jackson, City Lights Books
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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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NW
A Novel
Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's new book is playful, psychogeographically rich, sometimes messy, dark, and has a wicked stiletto of an ending. Most of all, its subtleties hold up under the mulling over after you've finished reading it. A smart look at the complexities...
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My Friend Dahmer
Derf Backderf
Unlike many of the other cold-blooded, psychotic serial killers that we've seen throughout history, there's something remarkably "different" about Dahmer’s mind, his story, and his life. He had a considerably normal upbringing and, during his school...
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Sex at Dawn
How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha
In this controversial, thought-provoking, and brilliant book, renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha debunk almost everything we "know" about sex, weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology...
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Dusk and Other Stories
James Salter
Do you remember those rock tumblers that would turn any old pebble into a shining jewel? These stories are just like those jewels: endlessly worked until no rough edges remain, buffed to an impenetrable, bright surface in which you can almost see yourself. Excellent.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories
Bruno Schulz
This is a book that I will recommend to anyone and everyone. Schulz's writing is torrential, flooding the page with fantastic imagery in order to tell the experiences of a merchant family. Through this style, mundane details of everyday life become...
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Damascus
Joshua Mohr
Santa Claus tends bar as a stage 4 cancer patient, an artist, war vets, hipsters, and alcoholics collide in the San Francisco Mission bar Damascus. Mohr's pitch perfect, simmering, almost hard-boiled novel contains my favorite Hitler reference since..
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1Q84
Haruki Murakami
The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo. A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence...
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Drifting House
Krys Lee
Krys Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in California and Washington, and studied in the United States and England. She was a finalist for Best New American Voices in 2006, received a special mention in the 2012 Pushcart Prize XXXVI...
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The Psychopath Test
A Journey Through the Madness Industry
Jon Ronson
You may be one. But if you're not, someone you know is! An intriguing read. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played...
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El Narco
Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency
Ioan Grillo
The world has watched, stunned, the bloodshed in Mexico. Forty thousand murdered since 2006; police chiefs shot within hours of taking office; mass graves comparable to those of civil wars; car bombs shattering storefronts; headless corpses heaped...
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My Name Is Mina
David Almond
The prequel to the author's award-winning Skellig, which I haven't read and which one doesn't need to read to appreciate this little masterpiece. Almond basically takes us into the mind of a special child, an innocent, not yet corrupted by society's...

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