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
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Garrett
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
A Novel
Ayana Mathis
The arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction. A debut of extraordinary distinction: Ayana Mathis tells the story of the children of the Great Migration through the trials of one unforgettable family. In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for
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Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses
Roger Corman: King of the B Movie
Chris Nashawaty
An excellent history of Corman, told by those who worked for him and with him and became the generation which liberated American film in the 1970s: Scorsese, Coppola, Nicholson, et al. Beautifully presented with color stills and posters blaring from every page! —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Long Division
A Novel
Kiese Laymon
Kiese Laymon's debut novel is a Twain-esque exploration of celebrity, authorship, violence, religion, and coming of age in Post-Katrina Mississippi, written in a voice that's alternately funny, lacerating, and wise. The book contains two interwoven stories. In the first, it’s 2013: after an on-stage meltdown during a...
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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...
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A Rage in Harlem
Chester Himes
In my opinion, the expatriate Himes is a neglected master of the hard-boiled crime story made famous by Hammett and Chandler. This is fantastic pulp, written by a quick and fiery voice. This is the first of his novels featuring Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones, two fantastic and memorable characters of the crime genre.
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Travels with Charley in Search of America
Centennial Edition
John Steinbeck
In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders through scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns...
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The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
What can I say that hasn't already been said? Read this book, every bit of it, and then read it again. You more or less feel these stories rather than read them. —Recommended by Jackson, City Lights Books
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Hyperbole and a Half
Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Allie Brosh
READ ALL THE THINGS!!!!! —Recommended by Anah, City Lights Books. This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative— like maybe someone who isn't me wrote it...
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Ghost Moth
Michele Forbes
A beauty of a novel, Irish writer Michele Forbes delves deep into consequences of unrequited love. Brought to you by the enigmatic Bellevue Literary Press, a publishing house curiously based in NYC's infamous Bellevue Hospital. One of their previous books was Paul Harding's unforgettable Tinkers. — Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Books
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The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia
Philip Lamantia, Garrett Caples, Andrew Joron, Nancy J. Peters
Many poets have contributed to the greatness of City Lights, but few more so than North Beach's own Philip Lamantia (1927-2005). Lamantia published his earliest work in avant-garde magazines when he was 15, then at 16 went to NYC to join the war-exiled Paris surrealists. Known as the foremost American surrealist, he also...
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Moondog
The Viking of 6th Avenue
Robert Scotto
Moondog was, without a doubt, one of the most intriguing human beings on the planet. A blind, homeless composer who made his own clothing and instruments, he was a self-proposed "viking" and a total enigma who roamed the streets of New York. Nonetheless, he wrote brilliant compositions and, ultimately, broadened the horizons of classical music...
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I'm Your Man
The Life of Leonard Cohen
Sylvie Simmons
Beautifly written, impossible to put down, and an absolute must for any Cohen fan! Or, for that matter, for any fan of the worlds of travel, religion and poetry, as well as the inner workings of the music industry. Cohen was such an interesting man...
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NW
A Novel
Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's new book is playful, psychogeographically rich, sometimes messy, dark, and has a wicked stiletto of an ending. Most of all, its subtleties hold up under the mulling over after you've finished reading it. A smart look at the complexities...
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Where the Heart Beats
John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists
Kay Larson
In this stunning biography of John Cage, Larson investigates how Buddhist concepts shaped Cage's approach to art, and the influence it had on other artists of his era (ie. Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, etc.). If you're a fan of Cage, you will...

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