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!

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

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    sort list by title | author

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Leaving Orbit
Notes from the Last Days of American Space Flight
Margaret Lazarus Dean
Feeling torn between great science writing, a searching memoir, a critique of government, and some literary criticism? Fear not, they can all be had in one volume, and this is it. A surprisingly emotional take on the end of NASA's space shuttle program—but so much more. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Story of Alice
Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is all but steeped in the milieu and culture of Victorian England, so much so that reading this one feels less that Dodgson created Alice than that the age did, and that Dodgson was serendipitously poised to transcribe it— and not forgetting the young Alice Liddell without whom... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Painted Horses
A Novel
Malcolm Brooks
In the mid-1950s, America was flush with prosperity and saw an unbroken line of progress clear to the horizon, while the West was still very much wild. In this ambitious, incandescent debut, Malcolm Brooks animates that time and untamed landscape, in a tale of the modern and the ancient, of love and fate, and of heritage threatened by progress.
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The Argonauts
Maggie Nelson
An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family. Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of...
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The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic
Sam Quinones
Two horrifying tales of unintended consequences, brilliantly interwoven by a master of narrative nonfiction. Powerful and important. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Legions of Boom
Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews in the San Francisco Bay Area
Oliver Wang
Armed with speakers, turntables, light systems, and records, Filipino American mobile DJ crews, such as Ultimate Creations, Spintronix, and Images, Inc., rocked dance floors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s. In Legions of Boom noted music and pop culture writer and scholar Oliver Wang chronicles...
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What About This
Collected Poems of Frank Stanford
Frank Stanford
This book couldn't have reached me soon enough. Many of us devoted Frank Stanford fans have been waiting for this book for many, many years. It is comprised of both published and unpublished poems, and for the exception of a few reissued books, I would say that 75% of these poems have been practically impossible to get a hold of.
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An Angeleno's Atlas
Patricia Wakida
This literary and cartographic exploration of Los Angeles reorients our understanding of the city in highly imaginative ways. Illuminated by boldly conceived and artfully rendered maps and infographics, nineteen essays by LA's most exciting writers reveal complex histories and perspectives of a place notorious for superficiality.
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The Sympathizer
A Novel
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Cracks the veneer. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books. Also recommended by Peter, Paul & Andy, City Lights Books
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All Involved
A Novel
Ryan Gattis
A propulsive and ambitious novel as electrifying as The Wire, from a writer hailed as the West Coast's Richard Price—a brutal and mesmerizing epic of crime and opportunity, race, revenge, and loyalty, set in the chaotic streets of South Central L.A. in the wake of one of the most notorious, incendiary, and racially charged trials of the 1990s...
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Fifteen Dogs
A Novel
André Alexis
Winner of the 2015 ScotiaBank Giller Prize "What does it mean to be alive? To think, to feel, to love and to envy? André Alexis explores all of this and more in the extraordinary Fifteen Dogs, an insightful and philosophical meditation on the nature of consciousness. It's a novel filled with balancing acts: humour juxtaposed with savagery...
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So You've Been Publicly Shamed
Jon Ronson
An introspective, often uncomfortable, and always compelling examination of public shaming in the era of social media. Despite the fact that this form of punishment was outlawed more than a century ago, Twitter "vigilantes" have inspired its resurgence. Jon talks with folks whose lives have been touched (and sometimes ruined) by this intense new...
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On Time
Poems 2005 - 2014
Joanne Kyger
On Time contains poem that speak like smoke rings drifting through a Bolinas afternoon. I can say with certainty that she is one of best poets writing in English today, and we are lucky to be alive to read her thought-nerves doing what they do best in a mundane and profound and ever-changing world. —Recommended by Jackson, City Lights Books
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A Novel
Lily King
From New England Book Award winner Lily King comes a breathtaking novel about three young anthropologists of the '30's caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying the Kiona river tribe...

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