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
  |  Jake
  |  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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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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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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The Other Paris
Luc Sante
Luc Sante is the master historian of the urban underground. This book will make you pine for the sometimes seedy but always flamboyant Paris of the past. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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You Can't Win
Jack Black
A classic of outlaw literature, Black's real-life account of cross-country train-hopping, prison breaks, opium addiction, and hobo living was an early inspiration for William Burroughs and continues to be passed around anarchist squats as a must read for those living outside the law. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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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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Stella
A Novel of the Haitian Revolution
Émeric Bergeaud
Stella, first published in 1859, is an imaginative retelling of Haiti's fight for independence from slavery and French colonialism. Set during the years of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), Stella tells the story of two brothers, Romulus and Remus, who help transform their homeland from the French colony of Saint-Domingue to the...
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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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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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Beauty Is a Wound
A Novel
Eka Kurniawan
The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humor, and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead.
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The First Bad Man
A Novel
Miranda July
A surreal and hilarious telling of how one woman found herself through self-defense videos, a reincarnated baby named Kubelko Bondy, and realizing that everyone is just as neurotic as you fear yourself to be. —Recommended by Caitlyn, City Lights Books

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