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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    sort list by author | publication date


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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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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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The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
A harrowing portrait of depression, fearlessly illustrated by one of the most talented and incredible minds in modern literature. If you have an interest in understanding mental illness and its effects on creativity, let this be your cornerstone. Utterly devastating, but in the most beautiful way possible. It's one of my all-time favorites.
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Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking
Philippe Coudray
The silly logic of a very serious bear! Benjamin Bear does everything in his own funny way, whether it's drying dishes on a rabbit's back or throwing a ball at a friend to make him play. In this series of gags starring a very loopy bear...
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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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Big Sur
Jack Kerouac
An interesting biography of what happens when fame and age taint the dream of being "on the road" in the life of this aspiring poet. The book details Kerouac's descent into alcoholism and hope for salvation. I think this is one of his greatest...
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Black Hole
Charles Burns
This is a beautifully drawn and eerie novel set in the 1970s. Seattle teens get a disease that transforms them into mutants. Their battle against this and other more normal high school situations, makes for a frighteningly good read.
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Black Water Rising
A Novel
Attica Locke
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books Jay Porter has long since made peace with not living the American Dream. He runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy Houston strip mall—where his most promising client is a low-rent call girl—and he's...
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Bob Dylan in America
Sean Wilentz
Wilentz is an historian by trade and it shows in his almost-anthropological survey of Dylan and the highlights of his life. It's almost as if Dylan himself were whispering the stories of his successes and travails into Wilentz's ear. But this book is...
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The Book of Monelle
Marcel Schwob
A dark, haunted book by a man who was a secret literary influence on an astonishing number of great avante-garde writers. Schwob wrote this about, and for, a young girl of the streets whose death shattered him. He channels both the thunder of...
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The Book of Other People
Zadie Smith
If "hell is other people" (as Sartre once said), then this book affirms just the opposite. To raise money for 826 New York, Zadie Smith commissioned 22 of today's most provocative contemporary writers to "make somebody up." The result? A diverse collection of fantastic character sketches that both entertain and arouse the imagination.
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Border Songs
Jim Lynch
It is one of the particular pleasures of being a bookseller that every now and then I read a book that brings the world into sharper focus and ontological shadows into light. A book that creates a penumbra of perception that allows the world to shimmer wi
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Boy, Snow, Bird
A Novel
Helen Oyeyemi
Named one of 2014's most anticipated books by CNN, The Huffington Post, Bookpage, Time.com, The Chicago Tribune, Vulture, Philadelphia Inquirer, Real Simple, The Millions and Flavorwire. From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.

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