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
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jared
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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Black Nature
Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry
Camille T. Dungy
An exquisite collection; some personal favorites can be found on pages 7, 14, 26, 77, 132, and 338. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books Black Nature is the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets, a genre that until now has not commonly been counted as one in which African American poets have participated.
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The Witches
Salem, 1692
Stacy Schiff
An unsensational, factual account of the oft-mythologized Salem witch trials. Schiff is a solid historian who makes this fact-dense, Protestant panoply enjoyable. —Recommended by Caitlyn, City Lights Bookstore
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A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon
New (Soma)tics
CAConrad
A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon collects 27 new and previously published exercises and their emerging poems, incorporating unorthodox steps in the writing process from the tangible everyday to the cosmos of the imagination.
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The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You
Frank Stanford
The stream of consciousness in this book will rip any innocence you may have into nonexistence. This is a cult classic, and an exemplary long poem, which like dynamite, will explode upon your reading of it. —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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A Season in Hell & The Drunken Boat
Arthur Rimbaud
Rimbaud is the reason I fell madly in love with my inner turmoil, madness, and depressive state of being. His work embraces queer anguish in way that is unparalleled in its influence across countries and in the hearts of artists and writers for decades. This edition of A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat, published by New Directions...
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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 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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San Francisco
A Map of Perceptions
Andrea Ponsi
San Francisco is a city designed for artists and wanderers. From North Beach, to Chinatown, to the cold, rough surf of Ocean Beach, to Marin, both visitors and lifelong residents have endless opportunities to explore new neighborhoods, buildings, environments, and cultures just by getting in the car, hopping on a cable car, or by simply...
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Spain in Our Hearts
Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
Adam Hochschild
From the acclaimed, best-selling author Adam Hochschild, a sweeping history of the Spanish Civil War, told through a dozen characters, including Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell: a tale of idealism, heartbreaking suffering, and a noble cause that failed.
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The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Cracks the veneer. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books Also recommended by Peter, Andy & Paul, City Lights Books A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties.
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The Sunken Cathedral
A Novel
Kate Walbert
Prose that refracts, that conjures the twisting paths of memories, that engulfs and soothes. Sad, lovely, and difficult to put down.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books Also recommended by Paul, City Lights Books
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A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation
John Corbett
Improvisation rattles some listeners. Maybe they're even suspicious of it. John Coltrane's saxophonic flights of fancy, Jimi Hendrix's feedback drenched guitar solos, Ravi Shankar’s sitar extrapolations—all these sounds seem like so much noodling or jamming, indulgent self-expression. "Just" improvising, as is sometimes said.
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Eternity Street
Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles
John Mack Faragher
"John Mack Faragher is one fine writer, bringing early L.A. to life as the setting for all manner of horrific killings and gruesome justice. Eternity Street will keep you up at night ruminating on the roots of American violence."―Richard Wightman Fox, University of Southern California, author of Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History
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The Slave's Cause
A History of Abolition
Manisha Sinha
Received historical wisdom casts abolitionists as bourgeois, mostly white reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Manisha Sinha overturns this image, broadening her scope beyond the antebellum period usually associated with abolitionism and recasting it as a radical social movement in which men and women...

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