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

   
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    sort list by author | publication date


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As Lie is to Grin
David, the narrator of Simeon Marsalis's singular first novel, is a freshman at the University of Vermont who is struggling to define himself against the white backdrop of his school. He is also mourning the loss of his New York girlfriend, whose grandfather’s alma mater he has chosen to attend. —Recommended by Paul
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Assata
An Autobiography
Assata Shakur
Assata's personal and political convictions are uniquely her own, and essential. Through this book, she inspires critical thought, & lends to a deeper understanding of the injustices that plague the judiciary & prison system to this day. —Recommended by Jared
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At the Existentialist Cafe
Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others
Sarah Bakewell
Bakewell manifests the freedom and thrill of existentialism with hardly any of the dread. You are free. You decide. —Recommended by Caitlyn
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Atomik Aztex
Sesshu Foster
A fantastical gonzo Aztlán mythology, where modern Aztecs and immigrant ghosts uncover blood sacrifice in Los Angeles
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The Attempt
A Novel
Magdaléna Platzová
This novel was destined for any lover of history, modern philosophy, and radical politics. Like The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but without the lightness. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Authority
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 2
Jeff VanderMeer
The second part of a near-future trilogy which, with every page I read, becomes ever more enigmatic and in need of resolution. The first book, Annihilation, brings to mind the unspeakable horror of John Carpenter's The Thing, while Authority recalls the institutional paranoia of Three Days of the Condor. An important work.
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Autobiography of a Corpse
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
These stunning stories by the Ukrainian-born master of the fantastic and paradoxical remind me of Gogol as much as they remind me of Borges: it becomes harder to tell which is more curious, the reality of reading fiction or the fiction being rendered as reality. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights Publishers
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The Autobiography of Malcolm X
As Told to Alex Haley
Malcolm X
Malcolm X understood the ways in which both Western media and history would depict him with horns and as a symbol of violence. Being so much more than this, this book is eye-opening, transformative, and of the highest literary merit. A Must-Read! —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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Bad Feminist
Essays
Roxane Gay
I compulsively read Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist whenever I could get a spare moment. My commute (my life!) was vastly improved as it felt like my coolest, smartest, pop-culture literate, and humane friend was sharing the ride, offering the low down on--and a considered critique of--the too numerous troublesome aspects of American life and culture.
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The Ballad of Black Tom
Victor LaValle
People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn't there. Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written...
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Barbarian Days
A Surfing Life
William Finnegan
Barbarian Days is William Finnegan's memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life.
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The Barbarian Nurseries
Héctor Tobar
A riveting tale of class, race, and social mores in contemporary Southern California. Araceli, the Mexican maid of the Torres-Thompson family, leads us on a Los Angeles odyssey that reveals the topography of a culture through Tobar's nuanced portrayal...
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The Barbary Coast
An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld
Herbert Asbury
You're standing right in it! The Barbary Coast. 150 years ago this area was a den of such vice and iniquity that it would've made even the Marquis de Sade blush. Find out why... —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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