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
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | publication date


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Parting the Waters
America in the King Years 1954-63
Taylor Branch
Parting the Waters is the first volume of Branch's essential history of the Civil Rights movement. This book is on Obama's reading list and it should be required reading for everyone...
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Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar
Richard Brautigan
This book and everything else by Brautigan are worth reading and rereading. Having influenced writers such as Haruki Murakami and Tom Robbins, his comic perplexed thoughts of romance intermingle with his dying, insane black comedy, and the ghosts living inside our coffee cups. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Imperial San Francisco
Urban Power, Earthly Ruin
Gray Brechin
Think San Francisco is just some peacenik eco-urban utopia? Think again-- this city was built upon greed, corruption, ecological waste, and haphazard technology from its very start. But aren't all cities? —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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A Lucky Man
Stories
Jamel Brinkley
Jamel Brinkley's stories, in a debut that announces the arrival of a significant new voice, reflect the tenderness and vulnerability of black men and boys whose hopes sometimes betray them, especially in a world shaped by race, gender, and class―where luck may be the greatest fiction of all. —Recommended by Andy
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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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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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Found Audio
N.J. Campbell
Here—for the first time—is the complete archival manuscript of the mysterious recordings accompanied by Singh's analysis. —Recommended by Andy
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Power Ballads
Garrett Caples
A power ballad was a hair metal band's voyage into the softer side of rock, compromising to the integrity of the genre, but genuine and trailblazing. So too is Caples' Power Ballads. His poems and prose pieces are bizarre and hilarious, in which Dylan and Bowie sit alongside the French surrealists, with the occasional turn into heartfelt...
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The Revolutionaries Try Again
A Novel
Mauro Javier Cardenas
Extravagant, absurd, and self-aware, The Revolutionaries Try Again plays out against the lost decade of Ecuador's austerity and the stymied idealism of three childhood friends—an expat, a bureaucrat, and a playwright—who are as sure about the evils of dictatorship as they are unsure of everything else, including each other.
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Water and the California Dream
Historic Choices for Shaping the Future
David Carle
The history of water is the history of the world. Carle has provided us with a fantastic framework for understanding California's past, present, and future, and makes a strong case for how we can transition away from exploitation and scarcity, and towards sustainability. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington
Reader, devour me if this quote tickles you at all, "he had golden skin like the corpse of a child preserved in an old and excellent liquor." —Recommended by Cassie & Ivy
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Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
Stories
Raymond Carver
With this, his first collection of stories, Raymond Carver breathed new life into the American short story. Carver shows us the humor and tragedy that dwell in the hearts of ordinary people;
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America is Not the Heart
A Novel
Elaine Castillo
An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history. —Recommended by Paul
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Selected Works
Justin Chin, Jennifer Joseph
A Bay Area legend who knew how to excite readers, make them laugh, leave them devastated. Then, make them fall in love (with him), say "Heck yeah!" & clap their hands until it hurt—it still hurts. A beautiful soul taken too soon. —Recommended by Jared

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