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

   
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All Souls' Rising
A Novel of Haiti
Madison Smartt Bell
Madison Smartt Bell had already made a good writing career probing the dark corners and sinister sides of contemporary American culture when he busted out with All Souls' Rising, a publishing sensation in the mid-90s. This epic historical novel...
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Beauty Salon
Mario Bellatin
Biting social allegory from one of Mexico's most exciting young authors: edgy, lyrical and cynically hopeful.
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Our Only World
Ten Essays
Wendell Berry
As the United States prepares to leave its long war in Afghanistan, it now must contemplate the necessity of sending troops back to Iraq, recalling General Colin Powell's advice to President Bush: "If you break it, you own it," as the world’s hot spots threaten to spread over the globe with the ferocity of a war of holy terror and desperation.
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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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Amulet
Roberto Bolaño
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books Amulet is a novel of extraordinary intensity by literary phenomenon Roberto Bolaño: "the real thing and the rarest"—Susan Sontag Amulet embodies in one woman's breathtaking voice the melancholy and violent recent...
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Antwerp
Roberto Bolaño
This book is actually a labyrinth. —Recommended by Dia, City Lights Books. Antwerp's signature elements—crimes and campgrounds, drifters and poetry, sex and love, corrupt cops and misfits—mark this, his first novel, as pure Bolaño.
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The Savage Detectives
A Novel
Roberto Bolaño
The late Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño has been called the García Marquez of his generation, but his novel The Savage Detectives is a lot closer to Y Tu Mamá También than it is to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Hilarious and sexy, meandering and...
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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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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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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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