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!



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

   
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Escape Velocity
A Charles Portis Miscellany
Charles Portis, Jay Jennings
Escape Velocity is a long overdue book of miscellany from the Arkansas legend and author of the enormously famous True Grit, culled from his newswriting days, covering Civil Rights events as well as reviewing for top-name magazines of the period, Portis is ceaselessly witty, telling, and, above all, real to his subjects.
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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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The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
What can I say that hasn't already been said? Read this book, every bit of it, and then read it again. You more or less feel these stories rather than read them. —Recommended by Jackson, City Lights Books
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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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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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Enon
A Novel
Paul Harding
Hailed as "a masterpiece" (NPR), Tinkers, Paul Harding's Pulitzer Prize–winning debut, is a modern classic. The Dallas Morning News observed that "like Faulkner, Harding never shies away from describing what seems impossible to put into words." Here, in Enon, Harding follows a year in the life of Charlie Crosby as he tries to come to terms with...
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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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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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