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 title | author | publication date


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The Devil's Chessboard
Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government
David Talbot
An explosive, headline-making portrait of Allen Dulles, the man who transformed the CIA into the most powerful—and secretive—colossus in Washington, from the founder of Salon.com and author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers.
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California
A Novel
Edan Lepucki
Here's my kind of "beach read," perfect to accompany you while you scorn the cold and wind typical of San Francisco summers. Dig into Edan Lepucki's dark imaginings of utopian communities at the end of the world. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Music for Mussolini
Nick Johnson
Excellent debut from San Francisco-via-Baltimore poet Nick Johnson, which is stuctured in musical movements in order to deconstruct and reconstruct his world—both fictional and real, political and apolitical. Like getting to know someone. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights Publishers
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An Army of Lovers
Juliana Spahr, David Buuck
Based loosely on their own Bay Area literary lives, these two intellectual weirdos talk about the state of poetry and their process of writing. It's spot-on and brilliant, but then it gets weird—really strange weird! It had me nodding in agreement, gritting my teeth at its incantations, and laughing like a goddamn chimp—while in public!
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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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The Angel of History
A Novel
Rabih Alameddine
Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS.
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Love Goes to Buildings on Fire
Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever
Will Hermes
Punk rock and hip hop. No wave, disco and salsa. The loft jazz scene and the downtown minimalists. In the mid-1970s, New York City was teeming with musical innovators and cross-pollinations thereof. Hermes paints a breathtaking and panoramic portrait of the era. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books. Also recommended by Jeff, City Lights
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Whipping Girl
A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, 2nd Edition
Julia Serano
Serano weaves those necessary connections between the trans and feminist movements by revealing how transphobia and misogyny feed on each other. A needed and groundbreaking work for anyone curious about the future of gender. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Kiss of the Spider Woman
A Novel
Manuel Puig
Focusing on film, prisons, politics, gender and sexuality, and equipped with theoretical footnotes, this a multilayered novel, an inventive masterpiece, and a never-to-be-forgotten classic. And as it is told almost entirely with the dialogue between the two characters, one must decipher the truthfulness or otherwise of the narrative based solely...
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Underworld
From Hoboken to Hollywood
Kaz
Kaz's comics are absolutley barbaric, disgusting, relentless, single-minded, perverse, highly offensive, and are executed on the page in a brutal manner only a seriously demented person would even attempt. There is hardly any other comic series ever which has filled me with greater joy. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights Publishers
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Water and the California Dream
Historic Choices for Shaping the Future
David Carle
The history of water is the history of the world. Carle has provided us with a fantastic framework for understanding California's past, present, and future, and makes a strong case for how we can transition away from exploitation and scarcity, and towards sustainability. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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All This Life
A Novel
Joshua Mohr
The next time one of your friends or family members asks you how the latest tech wave has changed things in San Francisco, hand them this book. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Karl Marx
Greatness and Illusion
Gareth Stedman Jones
As much a portrait of his time as a biography of the man, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion returns the author of Das Kapital to his nineteenth-century world, before twentieth-century inventions transformed him into Communism's patriarch and fierce lawgiver. Gareth Stedman Jones depicts an era dominated by extraordinary challenges and...
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We Eat Our Own
A Novel
Kea Wilson
An ambitious debut novel by an original young writer, We Eat Our Own blurs the lines between life and art with the story of a film director's unthinkable experiment in the Amazon. When a nameless, struggling actor in 1970s New York gets the call that an enigmatic director wants him for an art film set in the Amazon, he doesn’t hesitate...

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