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


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Shakespeare and Company, Paris
A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart
Krista Halverson
Our "sister" bookstore finally gets the biography it deserves. Exquisite and intimate, Krista Halverson brings together the stories of the many brilliant people involved with Shakespeare & Co. over its long and fruitful history. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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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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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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Power Ballads
Garrett Caples
A power ballad was a hair metal band's voyage into the softer side of rock, compromising to the integrity of the genre, but genuine and trailblazing. So too is Caples' Power Ballads. His poems and prose pieces are bizarre and hilarious, in which Dylan and Bowie sit alongside the French surrealists, with the occasional turn into heartfelt...
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Of Being Dispersed
Simone White
I keep thinking if I keep this book close to me then Simone White will befriend me and share her brilliant thoughts as she moves through the world, but until then I'll just keep reading this stellar collection. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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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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Welcome to Painterland
Bruce Conner and the Rat Bastard Protective Association
The Rat Bastard Protective Association was an inflammatory, close-knit community of artists who lived and worked in a building they dubbed Painterland in the Fillmore neighborhood of midcentury San Francisco. The artists who counted themselves among the Rat Bastards—which included Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, Michael McClure.
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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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Known and Strange Things
Essays
Teju Cole
A blazingly intelligent first book of essays from the award-winning author of Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief With this collection of more than fifty pieces on politics, photography, travel, history, and literature, Teju Cole solidifies his place as one of today's most powerful and original voices.
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Jane
A Murder
Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson has a lot of fans on staff at City Lights, and I'm the latest member to join the club. Nelson compellingly portrays the murder of her aunt using a mix of memoir, theory, and poetics. Suggest reading "The Red Parts" (a nonfiction account by Nelson) first. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights, Publishers
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The Underground Railroad
A Novel
Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk...
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Orson Welles's Last Movie
The Making of The Other Side of the Wind
Josh Karp
The genius film director's true insane behind the scenes of a film that was shot, somewhat edited, but never released. Including interviews from those who worked on it, and stories that will make you smile, Mr. Welles gives us a swansong of a biographical cinema experience. Hard to believe that fact is stranger than fiction. —Recommended by Don
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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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Trace
Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Lauret Edith Savoy
In this provocative and powerful mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, Savoy explores how the country's still unfolding history, and ideas of "race," have marked her and the land. From twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds...

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