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
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by author | publication date


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The Beats
A Graphic History
Paul Buhle, Harvey Pekar
I've read a lot of Beat books in my time here at City Lights, but none are quite as fun as this graphic history. The perfect collection for those who think they've heard all the stories about Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, et al. The Beats also provides...
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The Beautiful Struggle
A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
Ta-Nehisi Coates
An exceptional father-son story about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us. Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and...
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Beauty Salon
Mario Bellatin
Biting social allegory from one of Mexico's most exciting young authors: edgy, lyrical and cynically hopeful.
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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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The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
A harrowing portrait of depression, fearlessly illustrated by one of the most talented and incredible minds in modern literature. If you have an interest in understanding mental illness and its effects on creativity, let this be your cornerstone. Utterly devastating, but in the most beautiful way possible. It's one of my all-time favorites.
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Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is a tremendous gift to the world. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books Also recommended by Scott & Paul, City Lights Books
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Bicycle Diaries
David Byrne
David Byrne's travel diaries illuminate the amazing power that dislocating oneself from their homebase has on the senses. His work sends him to cities in the US and around the world, and the visits are anything but passive.
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Big Sur
Jack Kerouac
An interesting biography of what happens when fame and age taint the dream of being "on the road" in the life of this aspiring poet. The book details Kerouac's descent into alcoholism and hope for salvation. I think this is one of his greatest...
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Birds of America
Stories
Lorrie Moore
With every sentence flawlessly constructed, Moore writes stories energized by wit and human imperfection. This collection is essential for any short fiction lover's bookshelf.—Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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Black Hole
Charles Burns
This is a beautifully drawn and eerie novel set in the 1970s. Seattle teens get a disease that transforms them into mutants. Their battle against this and other more normal high school situations, makes for a frighteningly good read.
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Black Water Rising
A Novel
Attica Locke
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books Jay Porter has long since made peace with not living the American Dream. He runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy Houston strip mall—where his most promising client is a low-rent call girl—and he's...
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Book of Clouds
Chloe Aridjis
A Mexican Jewish woman, living in Berlin, meets a historian who shows her how the ghosts of the past are always still present in the buildings and public spaces of a city. One might stumble upon a still-intact Stasi bowling alley in a basement...
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The Book of Monelle
Marcel Schwob
A dark, haunted book by a man who was a secret literary influence on an astonishing number of great avante-garde writers. Schwob wrote this about, and for, a young girl of the streets whose death shattered him. He channels both the thunder of...
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Border Songs
Jim Lynch
It is one of the particular pleasures of being a bookseller that every now and then I read a book that brings the world into sharper focus and ontological shadows into light. A book that creates a penumbra of perception that allows the world to shimmer wi

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