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!



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

   
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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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A Rage in Harlem
Chester Himes
In my opinion, the expatriate Himes is a neglected master of the hard-boiled crime story made famous by Hammett and Chandler. This is fantastic pulp, written by a quick and fiery voice. This is the first of his novels featuring Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones, two fantastic and memorable characters of the crime genre.
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Old and Cold
Jim Nisbet
The new noir tour de force by the riveting Jim Nisbet. What's a guy to do, when he lives under a bridge and has an unshakeable thirst for martinis? kill for cash. so goes the logic at the heart of Old and Cold, leading to a spree of hits that are...
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Mute Objects of Expression
Francis Ponge
Part poetry, part notebook writings, this imaginative book is classic Ponge. Here he takes objects to the limits of description, often retracting or rebutting his own pursuits it getting at the essence of such natural wonders as birds, insects, and flowers. Never claiming to it in the act of writing poems, Ponge's technique...
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Travels with Charley in Search of America
Centennial Edition
John Steinbeck
In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders through scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns...
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Travels with Charley in Search of America
John Steinbeck
In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders through scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. Travels with Charley in Search of America is...
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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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Dissident Gardens
A Novel
Jonathan Lethem
A dazzling novel from one of our finest writers—an epic yet intimate family saga about three generations of all-American radicals. At the center of Jonathan Lethem's superb new novel stand two extraordinary women: Rose Zimmer, the aptly nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, is an unreconstructed Communist who savages neighbors, family, and...
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Hyperbole and a Half
Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Allie Brosh
READ ALL THE THINGS!!!!! —Recommended by Anah, City Lights Books. This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative— like maybe someone who isn't me wrote it...
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Ghost Moth
Michele Forbes
A beauty of a novel, Irish writer Michele Forbes delves deep into consequences of unrequited love. Brought to you by the enigmatic Bellevue Literary Press, a publishing house curiously based in NYC's infamous Bellevue Hospital. One of their previous books was Paul Harding's unforgettable Tinkers. — Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Books
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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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Moondog
The Viking of 6th Avenue
Robert Scotto
Moondog was, without a doubt, one of the most intriguing human beings on the planet. A blind, homeless composer who made his own clothing and instruments, he was a self-proposed "viking" and a total enigma who roamed the streets of New York. Nonetheless, he wrote brilliant compositions and, ultimately, broadened the horizons of classical music...
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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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NW
A Novel
Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's new book is playful, psychogeographically rich, sometimes messy, dark, and has a wicked stiletto of an ending. Most of all, its subtleties hold up under the mulling over after you've finished reading it. A smart look at the complexities...

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