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
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jared
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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Thelonious Monk
The Life and Times of an American Original
Robin D.G. Kelley
Thelonious Monk is the critically acclaimed, gripping saga of an artist's struggle to "make it" without compromising his musical vision. It is a story that, like its subject, reflects the tidal ebbs and flows of American history in the twentieth...
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Hard Rain Falling
Don Carpenter
Don Carpenter's Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good—a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an...
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Just Kids
Patti Smith
Just Kids illuminates the impressive lover of literature that Patti Smith is. Her memoir will be of particular interest to City Lights enthusiasts as she is our quintessential reader, a fan of the Surrealists...
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Bicycle Diaries
David Byrne
David Byrne's travel diaries illuminate the amazing power that dislocating oneself from their homebase has on the senses. His work sends him to cities in the US and around the world, and the visits are anything but passive.
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Girls to the Front
The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution
Sara Marcus
In the early 1990s a group of friends in Olympia, Washington decided to tell the world what it felt like to be young and female in America. Through consciousness-raising meetings, zine exchanges, and numerous kick-ass all-girl punk bands, with the...
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Low Bite
Sin Soracco
Full of ovaries and bravada, this is not a girls-gone-wild-behind-bars pulp tale. But it is an underground classic thankfully back in print. It is also a picture of life behind bars and the hustle to stay cool and get out without playing out or getting...
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Mumbo Jumbo
Ishmael Reed
Mumbo Jumbo is a book that moves. Reed's grasp on American race relations allows him to develop characters that are absolutely absurd and uncannily realistic. What is created is a scathing satire that elicits as many winces as it does laughs...
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Border Songs
Jim Lynch
It is one of the particular pleasures of being a bookseller that every now and then I read a book that brings the world into sharper focus and ontological shadows into light. A book that creates a penumbra of perception that allows the world to shimmer wi
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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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The Painted Bird
Jerzy Kosinski
This controversial novel shows the horrors of a young boy who goes into hiding, running from the atrocities of the Holocaust in the beginning of WW2. Deeply moving with sadness & violence, it's a book you’ll not soon forget.
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The Woman Destroyed
Simone de Beauvoir
Okay, you've read The Second Sex each time it's been released, and you love our lady Simone, but you’ve never read this book?! Well, you are about to enjoy pure reading bliss. The best way to articulate the effectiveness of these stories is to say...
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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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Maldoror and Poems
Comte de Lautréamont
In forty years of reading fiction as an adult, this is the single most disturbing piece of literature I have ever come across. An influential text for the surrealists, Maldoror was published in 1869, one year before the author's death, at age 24! —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The City & The City
China Miéville
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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