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
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Garrett
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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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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The Pleasures of the Damned
Poems, 1951-1993
Charles Bukowski
In going through this comprehensive collection the reader is able to see past the dirty-old-man façade that has plagued Bukowski's writing and glimpse at moments of sincere compassion and prophetic epiphanies. His poetry is constantly morphing into...
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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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The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia
Philip Lamantia, Garrett Caples, Andrew Joron, Nancy J. Peters
Many poets have contributed to the greatness of City Lights, but few more so than North Beach's own Philip Lamantia (1927-2005). Lamantia published his earliest work in avant-garde magazines when he was 15, then at 16 went to NYC to join the war-exiled Paris surrealists. Known as the foremost American surrealist, he also...
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Fridays at Enrico's
A Novel
Don Carpenter
Don Carpenter was one of the finest novelists in the West. His first novel, A Hard Rain Falling, published in 1966, has been championed by Richard Price, and George Pelecanos called it "a masterpiece... the definitive juvenile-delinquency novel and a damning indictment of our criminal justice system." His novel A Couple of Comedians is thought...
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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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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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Pierre Reverdy
Pierre Reverdy, Mary Ann Caws
This is a well organized book of translations of French cubist poet, Pierre Reverdy. Just out from the NYRB Poets series, this collection has some of the usual suspects of Reverdy translation such as Kenneth Rexroth (now back in print here mind you) and Ron Padgett, but also some exciting translations by John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara...
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Journey to the End of the Night
Louis-Ferdinand Céline
When it was published in 1932, this then-shocking and revolutionary first fiction redefined the art of the novel with its black humor, its nihilism, and its irreverent, explosive writing style, and made Louis-Ferdinand Celine one of France's--and...
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Who We Be
The Colorization of America
Jeff Chang
Race. A four-letter word. The greatest social divide in American life, a half-century ago and today. During that time, the U.S. has seen the most dramatic demographic and cultural shifts in its history, what can be called the colorization of America. But the same nation that elected its first Black president on a wave of hope...
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Widow Basquiat
A Love Story
Jennifer Clement
A vivid portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat in 80s New York City. Graffiti, drugs, music, and the relationship between him and his muse Suzanne Mallouk. This is a sad, moving, and poetic read about this fascinating artist.—Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
If you are a geek for 80s popculture taking place in Virtual Reality in the futuretime of 2044, solving videogame mysteries to win the ultimate prize, then this book is for you. I loved it to bytes! —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Open City
Teju Cole
Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency wanders aimlessly. The walks meet a need for Julius: they are a release from the tightly regulated mental environment of work, and they give him the opportunity to process...
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Los Angeles Stories
Ry Cooder
Available Now: World-famous musician Ry Cooder publishes his first collection of stories.

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