Staff Recommendations

A listing of current favorites, recommended by the bookstore staff. Check back for new recommendations each month as we bring you the best of what we're reading. Browse by title, author or staff member!



  Anah
  |  Andy
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Elaine Kahn
  |  Garrett
  |  Gent
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Matt
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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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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Brief Encounters with the Enemy
Fiction
Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Sayrafiezadeh follows his memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free (2010), with an arresting fiction debut that chronicles modern, nameless cities crumbling in the shadows of war. These eight stories offer first-person accounts of alienated men seeking significance, who view war as an opportunity for escape or adventure.
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Cool Gray City of Love
49 Views of San Francisco
Gary Kamiya
Cool Gray City of Love brings together an exuberant combination of personal insight, deeply researched history, in-depth reporting, and lyrical prose to create an unparalleled portrait of San Francisco. Each of its 49 chapters explores a specific site...
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Babayaga
A Novel
Toby Barlow
By the author of Sharp Teeth, a novel of love, spies, and witches in 1950s Paris—and a cop turned into a flea. Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It's 1959 and the cold war is going strong...
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Brewster
A Novel
Mark Slouka
A powerful story about an unforgettable friendship between two teenage boys and their hopes for escape from a dead-end town. The year is 1968. The world is changing, and sixteen-year-old Jon Mosher is determined to change with it. Racked by guilt over his older brother's childhood death and stuck in the dead-end town of Brewster, New York, he...
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Where the Heart Beats
John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists
Kay Larson
In this stunning biography of John Cage, Larson investigates how Buddhist concepts shaped Cage's approach to art, and the influence it had on other artists of his era (ie. Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, etc.). If you're a fan of Cage, you will...
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A Marker to Measure Drift
A Novel
Alexander Maksik
A hypnotic, spellbinding novel set in Greece and Africa, where a young Liberian woman reckons with a haunted past. On a remote island in the Aegean, Jacqueline is living alone in a cave accessible only at low tide. With nothing to protect her from the elements, and with the fabric between herself and the world around her increasingly frayed, she...
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Hallucinations
Oliver Sacks
In another fascinating work, Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat) unravels the mysteries of the mind in this neurological investigation of a mysterious, yet surprisingly common phenomenon. Using patient stories and personal anecdotes as his...
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The Day the Crayons Quit
Drew Daywalt
Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me -- now a #1 New York Times bestseller! Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is...
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The Faraway Nearby
Rebecca Solnit
In this exquisitely written new book by the author of A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit explores the ways we make our lives out of stories, and how we are connected by empathy, by narrative, by imagination. In the course of unpacking some of her...
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A Hologram for the King
A Novel
Dave Eggers
A sharp, clear, wide-eyed account of a businessman's troubles renders the destructive impact of global capitalism on everyman/woman. Also, the novel offers a "how to definitely not" self-care for a large, angry cyst if found on one's own neck...
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On Sal Mal Lane
A Novel
Ru Freeman
In the tradition of In the Time of the Butterflies and The Kite Runner, a tender, evocative novel about the years leading up to the Sri Lankan civil war. On the day the Herath family moves in, Sal Mal Lane is still a quiet street, disturbed only by the cries of the children whose triumphs and tragedies sustain the families that live there. As the..
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The Infinite Tides
Christian Kiefer
An impressive debut novel from NorCal poet, songwriter and recording artist Kiefer, full of achingly beautiful passages on loss and regret, yet leavened with self-aware humor and with wonderment at the banality of contemporary suburbia.
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Rough-Hewn Land
A Geological Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains
Keith Heyer Meldahl
The astounding story of 100 million years of Western U.S. history. Accessible, informative, scholarly, yet compellingly written—don't miss this eye-opener of a geology book! —Recommended by Nancy, City Lights Books

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