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
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Ivy
  |  Jackson
  |  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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White City, Black City
Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa
Sharon Rotbard
A compelling case study of cultural hegemony: the colonizer versus the colonized. Important. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
20th Anniversary Edition
Sherman Alexie
This is a great start to the Alexie oeuvre: a collection of interconnected stories of native American life on and around a reservation near Spokane. Humorous, surreal imagery; poetic storytelling. You can't go wrong with any Sherman Alexie! —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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In the Light of What We Know
A Novel
Zia Haider Rahman
A bold, epic debut novel set during the war and financial crisis that defined the beginning of our century One September morning in 2008, an investment banker approaching forty, his career in collapse and his marriage unraveling, receives a surprise visitor at his West London townhouse. In the disheveled figure of a South Asian male carrying a...
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A True Story of Murder in America
Jill Leovy
"Ghettoside is fantastic. It does what the best narrative nonfiction does: It transcends its subject by taking one person's journey and making it all our journeys. That's what makes this not just a gritty, heart-wrenching, and telling book, but an important one. From the patrol cop to the president, everyone needs to read this book."
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The Gunman
A Novel
Jean-Patrick Manchette
Forget whatever you've read about the film. This is the darkest of dark noirs, in the tradition of Jim Thompson, and the last novel Manchette would publish before his early death. Every word Manchette wrote is worth your time, much as those of one of his predecessors in French minimalism, Georges Bernanos, is. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights
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How to Grow Up
A Memoir
Michelle Tea
This is the memoir Lena Dunham wishes she wrote. Michelle Tea's adventures and exploits offer readers plenty to be entertained by, including the best description of a so-called "work-life balance" I've ever heard of. The real value of this book, though, is her truly hard-earned wisdom. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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An American Lyric
Claudia Rankine
So groundbreaking is Rankine's work that it's almost impossible to describe; suffice it to say that this is a poem that reads like an essay (or the other way around) — a piece of writing that invents a new form for itself, incorporating pictures, slogans, social commentary...
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Cool Gray City of Love
49 Views of San Francisco
Gary Kamiya
Cool Gray City of Love brings together an exuberant combination of personal insight, deeply researched history, in-depth reporting, and lyrical prose to create an unparalleled portrait of San Francisco. Each of its 49 chapters explores a specific site or intersection in the city, from the mighty Golden Gate Bridge to the raunchy Tenderloin...
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The Sellout
A Novel
Paul Beatty
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship...
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Just Kids
Unabridged Audiobook
Patti Smith
Patti Smith reads her award-winning memoir
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Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas!
Philippe Coudray
Benjamin Bear walks on water, rides a square-wheeled bicycle, and wears a fishbowl helmet under the sea. Told in the form of one-page comic strips, each of Benjamin's adventures is a hilarious gag, a puzzle, a mini physics lesson, or sometimes all three.
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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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An Unnecessary Woman
A Novel
Rabih Alameddine
One of the Middle East's most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with an enchanting story of a book-loving, obsessive, seventy-two-year-old "unnecessary" woman. Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced...
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Going Clear
Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright provides an extremely detailed and page-turning history of Scientology: including a full biography of the extraordinarily ambitious and controversial L. Ron Hubbard and the religion he founded, pieced together from hundreds of interviews with former Scientologists, brought all the way to the present.

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