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!

  |  Caitlyn
  |  Cassie
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Emmitt
  |  Erin
  |  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 Good Day to Die
Jim Harrison
The genius hilarity of Harrison is solidified in his second novel of pure poetic adventure. Fast paced and reminiscent of Bukowski, Kerouac and Hunter Thompson. It's a drug-filled alcoholic rage when a group of three people set out to save the Grand Canyon from a Dam being built. —Recommended by Don, 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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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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One Day Soon Time Will Have No Place Left to Hide
Christian Kiefer
Christian Kiefer rebounds from his sophomore effort and projects himself not only into the stratosphere, but into that rarefied stratum inhabited by the Curtis Whites, Rudy Wurlitzers and Peter Handkes of this world. I am so impressed I'm speechless... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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In the Country
Mia Alvar
In these nine globe-trotting tales, Mia Alvar gives voice to the women and men of the Philippines and its diaspora. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar's stories explore the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined.
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Innocents and Others
A Novel
Dana Spiotta
From "a major, unnervingly intelligent writer" (Joy Williams)…"rich, funny, learned, and tonally fresh" (Jeffrey Eugenides), comes a novel about aspiration, film, work, and love. Dana Spiotta's new novel is about two women, best friends, who grow up in LA in the 80s and become filmmakers. Meadow and Carrie have everything in common...
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The Abundance
Narrative Essays Old and New
Annie Dillard
Hypnotic, hallucinatory, ripe, unsparing, weird, gorgeous—Dillard is all of these but none say quite enough. A master. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books

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