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 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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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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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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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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Blood at the Root
A Racial Cleansing in America
Patrick Phillips
A gripping tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, Georgia, and a harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America. Forsyth County, Georgia, at the turn of the twentieth century was home to a large African American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children.
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The Revolutionaries Try Again
A Novel
Mauro Javier Cardenas
Extravagant, absurd, and self-aware, The Revolutionaries Try Again plays out against the lost decade of Ecuador's austerity and the stymied idealism of three childhood friends—an expat, a bureaucrat, and a playwright—who are as sure about the evils of dictatorship as they are unsure of everything else, including each other.
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A Manual for Cleaning Women
Selected Stories
Lucia Berlin
Detox centers, laundromats, and triage units are not expected terrain for short stories, but these are the scenarios you find yourself in while reading Lucia Berlin. Her writing is absurdly real and tragically hilarious, often plucked from her own tumultuous life. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books and also by Peter, City Lights Books
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Don't Suck, Don't Die
Giving Up Vic Chesnutt
Kristin Hersh
A longform creative obituary written to one of the great American songwriters of the last 25 years. Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses) offers this personal glimpse into her extremely complicated friendship with Chesnutt and life on the road as a solo artist in the early 90s playing for nobody. Wounded, prophetic. dreamlike, charming, and bloody...
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The Visiting Privilege
New and Collected Stories
Joy Williams
The legendary writer's first collection in more than ten years—and, finally, the definitive one. A literary event of the highest order. Joy Williams has been celebrated as a master of the short story for four decades, her renown passing as a given from one generation to the next even in the shifting landscape of contemporary writing.
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Flyboy 2
The Greg Tate Reader
Greg Tate
To call Tate a critic is like calling Charles Mingus a bassist—his intellectual, compositional and lyrical expansiveness catapults one into the cosmic slop of consciousness and opens new neural pathways. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books
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American Gods
Author's Preferred Text
Neil Gaiman
What happens when you stop believing in mythical gods and spirits? You'll find out in this award-winning fantasy novel. Follow the adventures of Shadow, a convict released early from prison because of his wife's untimely death. It's a nonstop, entertaining ride. You'll meet a few of the old gods of yesteryear, and the (mostly evil) new gods of...
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M Train
Patti Smith
Reading this book provided a meditative type of joy, and also reassured me that there is nothing wrong with my coffee habit. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers

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