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!

  |  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 author | publication date

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Díaz
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books The most talked about—and praised—first novel of 2007, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother...
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A Novel
A humid, shining, feverish gem. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Broken World
Joseph Lease
"Poems as cool as they are passionate, as soft-spoken as they are indignant, and as fiercely Romantic as they are formally contained. . . . An exquisite collection!" – Marjorie Perloff
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The Buddha in The Attic
Julie Otsuka
In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San...
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Bukowski in a Sundress
Confessions from a Writing Life
Kim Addonizio
Behold the memoir of sex-positive rebel Kim Addonizio! This book moves from gritty/funny/sexy, to emotionally raw, in swift seamless strokes. By the end, you will feel that Kim is an old friend whom you know far too well, but who you think the world of because she's way cooler than you are. —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News
Kevin Young
Award-winning poet and critic Kevin Young tours us through a rogue's gallery of hoaxers, plagiarists, forgers, and fakers. —Recommended by Paul
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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
An Indian History of the American West
Dee Brown
Detailed from many tribes' histories: the story of how we destroyed the Native American peoples. It will make you weep at the end of each chapter. —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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A Novel
Edan Lepucki
Here's my kind of "beach read," perfect to accompany you while you scorn the cold and wind typical of San Francisco summers. Dig into Edan Lepucki's dark imaginings of utopian communities at the end of the world. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Theo Ellsworth
One of my very favorite books in any genre and a perfect gift to inspire young artists or writers. Ellsworth's drawings and stories are bursting with ideas on every square inch of the page, as he brilliantly reveals an artist's journey into their own "capacity" for self-discovery and creation. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights Publishers
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Caught Inside
A Surfer's Year on the California Coast
Daniel Duane
A finely written and lyrical account of a year spent in the singular pursuit of surfing, punctuated with illuminating episodes on the literary history of surfing, the physics of wave formation, and the lure of the California coastline.
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The Chain of Chance
A Novel
Stanislaw Lem
You can read this as a puzzle to be solved, which it is. Or you can read it as a blistering satire of detective fiction, which it also is. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books.
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The Changeling
Victor LaValle
When Apollo Kagwa's father disappeared, all he left his son were strange recurring dreams and a box of books stamped with the word IMPROBABILIA. —Recommended by Tân & Paul
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The Changeling
Victor LaValle
When Apollo Kagwa's father disappeared, all he left his son were strange recurring dreams and a box of books stamped with the word IMPROBABILIA. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, are settling into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll.
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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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