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

   
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Open City
Teju Cole
Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency wanders aimlessly. The walks meet a need for Julius: they are a release from the tightly regulated mental environment of work, and they give him the opportunity to process...
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Ghost Wars
The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
Steve Coll
Comprehensively and for the first time, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Steve Coll recounts the history of the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and sowed the seeds of the September 11 attacks.
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Los Angeles Stories
Ry Cooder
World-famous musician Ry Cooder publishes his first collection of stories.
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A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation
John Corbett
Improvisation rattles some listeners. Maybe they're even suspicious of it. John Coltrane's saxophonic flights of fancy, Jimi Hendrix's feedback drenched guitar solos, Ravi Shankar’s sitar extrapolations—all these sounds seem like so much noodling or jamming, indulgent self-expression. "Just" improvising, as is sometimes said.
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The Day the Crayons Quit
Drew Daywalt
Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me -- now a #1 New York Times bestseller! Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is...
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Conspiracy Theory in America
Lance deHaven-Smith
Along with David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, Professor deHaven-Smith is one of the very few in academia who consider conspiracy as the historical phenomenon it is and not the political and cultural hot potato it has become in the last half-century. For anyone with an open mind. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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A, B, C: Three Short Novels
The Jewels of Aptor; The Ballad of Beta-2; They Fly at Ciron
Samuel R. Delany
Please read this even if for no other reason than to experience the mystery and charm of Delany's 1965 novel The Ballad of Beta-2, which I only recently discovered. This is classic 60s-era SciFi at its scintillating best. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Crude Reflections/Cruda Realidad
Oil, Ruin and Resistance in the Amazon Rainforest
Lou Dematteis, Kayana Szymczak
An indigenous community's landmark legal case to hold Chevron accountable for its contamination of the Amazon
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The Profiteers
Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World
Sally Denton
The co-author of one of the best books ever written on Las Vegas—and its meaning for America— sets her critical eye on the behemoth that is Bechtel. For students of 20th century realpolitik, an excellent companion to David Talbot's The Devil's Chessboard.​ —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams
Mark Dery
"I must not think bad thoughts. I must not think bad thoughts." These lyrics by the band X have been my mantra on many occasions as I trudged my way here and there. Lucky for us that Mark Dery goes deep into the territories that many of us shun, illuminating the absurdity, humor and truths found on the dark side. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights
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The Sisters Brothers
Patrick deWitt
This humorous Western novel takes place in the 1850s as two brothers on horseback search for a man they are paid to kill. Philosophy, love and greed spouting from their lips, they meet insane characters on the road from Oregon to San Francisco...
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Deadwood
Pete Dexter
Deadwood, Dakota Territories, 1876: Legendary gunman Wild Bill Hickcock and his friend Charlie Utter have come to the Black Hills town of Deadwood fresh from Cheyenne, fleeing an ungrateful populace. Bill, aging and sick but still able to best any man...
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Writing Across the Landscape
Travel Journals 1960-2010
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Giada Diano, Matthew Gleeson
This long-awaited volume provides a panoramic portrait of art and life across the twentieth century, from Mexico to Morocco, Paris to Rome, and beyond.
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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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