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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Becoming Richard Pryor
Scott Saul
A major biography—intimate, gripping, revelatory—of an artist who revolutionized American comedy. Richard Pryor may have been the most unlikely star in Hollywood history. Raised in his family's brothels, he grew up an outsider to privilege. He took to the stage, originally, to escape the hard-bitten realities of his childhood.
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I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams
Mark Dery
"I must not think bad thoughts. I must not think bad thoughts." These lyrics by the band X have been my mantra on many occasions as I trudged my way here and there. Lucky for us that Mark Dery goes deep into the territories that many of us shun, illuminating the absurdity, humor and truths found on the dark side. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights
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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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An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
2015 Recipient of the American Book Award Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land.
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Better Than War
Stories
Siamak Vossoughi
Very short stories. Honest stories. Stories that show the big heart of little moments. How that matters. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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The Watchers
A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I
Stephen Alford
We think we have evolved—we haven't. The politics of any age are the politics of all ages. Whether 5000, 2500, 1000, 500 or 50 years ago, the reasoning and methods are the same. They win, we lose. Parallels abound with both the Cold War and Post-9/11 Weltenschauung. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Sidewalking
Coming to Terms with Los Angeles
David L. Ulin
In Sidewalking, David L. Ulin offers a compelling inquiry into the evolving landscape of Los Angeles. Part personal narrative, part investigation of the city as both idea and environment, Sidewalking is many things: a discussion of Los Angeles as urban space, a history of the city's built environment.
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Chelsea Girls
A Novel
Eileen Myles
A series of revealing tidbits into this punk-rock poet's most intimate moments. Reckonings with queerness, alcoholism, self-loathing, and the uncompromising creative drive fill this magnificent work to the brim. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Our Only World
Ten Essays
Wendell Berry
In this new collection of ten essays, Berry confronts head-on the necessity of clear thinking and direct action. Never one to ignore the present challenge, he understands that only clearly stated questions support the understanding their answers require. For more than fifty years we've had no better spokesman and no more eloquent advocate...
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The Dwarfs
A Novel
Harold Pinter
Because drama is, by its very nature, fiction stripped bare of all that is unnecessary, The Dwarfs, Pinter's only novel, is probably his most revealing work. Originally written when Pinter was 20, he revisited and revised it 42 years later, fashioning out of both his youth and his maturity a devastating prose take on themes...
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The Lost Art of Finding Our Way
John Edward Huth
Long before GPS and Google Earth, humans traveled vast distances using environmental clues and simple instruments. What is lost when technology substitutes for our innate capacity to find our way? Illustrated with 200 drawings, this narrative―part treatise, part travelogue, and part navigational history―brings our own world into sharper view.
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The Year of Lear
Shakespeare in 1606
James Shapiro
A brilliant rumination on how subversive and terrorist actions of late 1605 through 1606, as well as the citizenry's feelings about Elizabeth's replacement on the throne and the capital's experience with the plague, possibly informed and reconfigured the writing, performing, and publishing of the three plays attributed to Shakespeare...
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Right Out of California
The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism
Kathryn Olmsted
In a major reassessment of modern conservatism, noted historian Kathryn S. Olmsted reexamines the explosive labor disputes in the agricultural fields of Depression-era California, the cauldron that inspired a generation of artists and writers and that triggered the intervention of FDR's New Deal.
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The Complete Stories
Clarice Lispector
Long-awaited and beautifully translated, Lispector's stories collected in their entirety read like an incantation commanding us into her charming and dreamy trance. Let each story bewitch you; there is simply no other way to experience this prose. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books

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