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
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Ryan
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest
Barbara Guest, Hadley Haden Guest
If you're looking for poetry by an avant-garde, modernist woman, you need go further than New York School legend Barbara Guest. From her 1960 debut The Location of Things to her 2005 finale The Red Gaze, this landmark collection places her in the select company of forebears like HD, Mina Loy, and Marianne Moore. —Recommended by Garrett, City Lights
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Envelope Poems
Emily Dickinson, Jen Bervin, Marta Werner
Although a very prolific poet, Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) published fewer than a dozen poems. Instead, she created small handmade books. In her later years, she stopped producing these, but she continued to write a great deal, and at her death she left behind many poems, drafts, and letters.
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Kill 'Em and Leave
Searching for James Brown and the American Soul
James McBride
An unconventional, Citizen Kane-like search for an essentially unknowable man, and the results are fascinatingly oblique and as deep as the heavy funk that the Godfather committed to wax. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books
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Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
A Novel
Sunil Yapa
On a rainy, cold day in November, young Victor—a nomadic, scrappy teenager who's run away from home—sets out to sell as much marijuana as possible to the throng of WTO demonstrators determined to shut down the city. With the proceeds, he plans to buy a plane ticket and leave Seattle forever, but it quickly becomes clear that the history-making...
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Brightfellow
A Novel
A humid, shining, feverish gem. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Other Paris
Luc Sante
Luc Sante is the master historian of the urban underground. This book will make you pine for the sometimes seedy but always flamboyant Paris of the past. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Bukowski in a Sundress
Confessions from a Writing Life
Kim Addonizio
Behold the memoir of sex-positive rebel Kim Addonizio! This book moves from gritty/funny/sexy, to emotionally raw, in swift seamless strokes. By the end, you will feel that Kim is an old friend whom you know far too well, but who you think the world of because she's way cooler than you are. —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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The Devil's Chessboard
Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government
David Talbot
An explosive, headline-making portrait of Allen Dulles, the man who transformed the CIA into the most powerful—and secretive—colossus in Washington, from the founder of Salon.com and author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers.
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California
A Novel
Edan Lepucki
Here's my kind of "beach read," perfect to accompany you while you scorn the cold and wind typical of San Francisco summers. Dig into Edan Lepucki's dark imaginings of utopian communities at the end of the world. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Music for Mussolini
Nick Johnson
Excellent debut from San Francisco-via-Baltimore poet Nick Johnson, which is stuctured in musical movements in order to deconstruct and reconstruct his world—both fictional and real, political and apolitical. Like getting to know someone. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights Publishers
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An Army of Lovers
Juliana Spahr, David Buuck
Based loosely on their own Bay Area literary lives, these two intellectual weirdos talk about the state of poetry and their process of writing. It's spot-on and brilliant, but then it gets weird—really strange weird! It had me nodding in agreement, gritting my teeth at its incantations, and laughing like a goddamn chimp—while in public!
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The Attempt
A Novel
Magdaléna Platzová
This novel was destined for any lover of history, modern philosophy, and radical politics. Like The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but without the lightness. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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The Angel of History
A Novel
Rabih Alameddine
Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS.
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Whipping Girl
A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, 2nd Edition
Julia Serano
Serano weaves those necessary connections between the trans and feminist movements by revealing how transphobia and misogyny feed on each other. A needed and groundbreaking work for anyone curious about the future of gender. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books

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