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
  |  Cassie
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author


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Island of a Thousand Mirrors
A Novel
Nayomi Munaweera
Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families. Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, Yasodhara's and her siblings' lives are shaped by social hierarchies, their parents’ ambitions...
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In Case of Emergency
A Novel
Courtney Moreno
This excellent debut novel is about trauma—how we deal with it, are exposed to it, and invite it into our lives—through the eyes of a rookie EMT entering a (possibly) dangerous new romance with a brain-damaged veteran, mourning the disappearance of her mother, and working 24-hour shifts in South Central LA. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights
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The Half Has Never Been Told
Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
Edward E. Baptist
Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution—the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America’s later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in...
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Command and Control
Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Eric Schlosser
The entirety of our nuclear policy folly, crystallized in and illuminated by the little-known Damascus near-tragedy. There is, for me, great sadness here... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Babayaga
A Novel of Witches in Paris
Toby Barlow
By the author of Sharp Teeth, a novel of love, spies, and witches in 1950s Paris—and a cop turned into a flea Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It's 1959 and the cold war is going strong. But Will doesn't think he's a warrior—he’s just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy...
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Dear Committee Members
A Novel
Julie Schumacher
This book will sneak up on you in unexpected ways. Sure, it's laugh-out-loud funny (and I would highly recommended that you indulge in reading at least some of it aloud with a friend), but it's also quite brilliantly conceived, and chock-full of some of the most satisfying use of vocabulary I've come across in a while.
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The Feel Trio
Fred Moten
Fred Moten is the real deal of contemporary poetry. And this book, The Feel Trio, is one of his best numbers to date. Reprinting at least one of his hard-to-find chapbooks, this book is made up of three sections of poems that flail the margins of the pedestrian and the philosophically sublime. A finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in poetry
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Kibo and the Purple Dragon
Carmen Gil
One morning, a purple dragon flies in through Kibo's window. In fright, the little boy runs off to some truly extraordinary places, but when he returns home and looks in the mirror, the dragon is still there — and he's right behind him! This time, though, he’s a little more purple and a little bigger than the last time Kibo saw him.
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The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Quite the masterwork. A poignant delight with a sense of humor that sears to the bone. —Recommended by Scott, City Lights Books
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Bad Feminist
Essays
Roxane Gay
I compulsively read Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist whenever I could get a spare moment. My commute (my life!) was vastly improved as it felt like my coolest, smartest, pop-culture literate, and humane friend was sharing the ride, offering the low down on--and a considered critique of--the too numerous troublesome aspects of American life and culture.
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White Girls
Hilton Als
It is, simply put, a privilege to spend time with a writer like Hilton Als. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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The Mad and the Bad
Jean-Patrick Manchette
Michel Hartog, a sometime architect, is a powerful businessman and famous philanthropist whose immense fortune has just grown that much greater following the death of his brother in an accident. Peter is his orphaned nephew—a spoiled brat. Julie is in an insane asylum. Thompson is a hired gunman with a serious ulcer...
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Last Words from Montmartre
Qiu Miaojin
Part epistolary novel, part suicide note, part textual experiment, and wholly unlike anything else. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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On Sal Mal Lane
A Novel
Ru Freeman
In the tradition of In the Time of the Butterflies and The Kite Runner, a tender, evocative novel about the years leading up to the Sri Lankan civil war On the day the Herath family moves in, Sal Mal Lane is still a quiet street, disturbed only by the cries of the children whose triumphs and tragedies sustai

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