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

   
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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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You Can't Win
Jack Black
An amazing journey into the hobo underworld circa 1920. Jack Black takes his readers frieght-hopping around the still wide open West, becomes a member of the "yegg" (criminal) brotherhood and a highwayman, learns the outlaw philosophy from Foot-and-a-half George and the Sactimonious Kid, gets hooked on opium, passes through hobo jungles...
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The Poisoner's Handbook
Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
Deborah Blum
Fascinating and entertaining, tinged with both humor and horror, this account of the early years of forensic medicine in New York City is near unputdownable. We follow the city's Medical Examiner and head toxicologist as they develop the techniques for...
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Nazi Literature in the Americas
Roberto Bolaño
The book purports to be a biographical dictionary gathering 30 brief accounts of poets, novelists and editors (all fictional) who espouse fascist or extremely right-wing political views. While several meet violent ends, most are simply deluded...
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Wide Open Town
A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965
Nan Alamilla Boyd
What is it about San Francisco that makes this place so... subversive? This impeccably researched work connects today's queer rights movement to the brothels and bath houses of the 1850s. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Fahrenheit 451
60th Anniversary Edition
Ray Bradbury
The temperature at which book paper combusts! Written in 1951, this dystopian novel is a must-read in today's world of disappearing bookstores and young readers who have never held an actual paperback. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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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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Troia
Mexican Memoirs
Bonnie Bremser
For those who are interested in the Beats and want to dig a bit deeper beyond the usual suspects, this long-neglected memoir of hard life in Mexico is raw, naked, honest, full of feeling, and sometimes barely in control. While avoiding statements about...
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Bresson on Bresson
Interviews 1943 - 1983
Robert Bresson, Mylène Bresson
The master... on the master. Even when asked incredibly banal questions, Bresson remains Bresson. Essential reading. —Recommended by Jeff, 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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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
An Indian History of the American West
Dee Brown
Detailed from many tribes' histories: the story of how we destroyed the Native American peoples. It will make you weep at the end of each chapter. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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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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A Clockwork Orange
A Novel
Anthony Burgess
Oh my brothers, viddy your glazzies on this book, it's quite horrorshow! Written in the first person, using a language called nadsat that Burgess adapted from Russian, this dystopian future is filled with sex, violence and youthful droogs in their...
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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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