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

   
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    sort list by title | author


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Language Arts
Cedar Sigo
Here is the peopled world that a poet's mind can hold. Overheard lines cast into the poems make for a monologue out of probable dialogue. The book reads like the real world’s rubble without the poet’s overcooked glaze, but also brings out the creative reader in the poet. And we as readers traverse the real and the real contained within the...
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The Empathy Exams
Essays
Leslie Jamison
If you've got a glowing, tender heart and wonder how it's possible to feel so much, this is the book for you. Hypochondriacs are advised to skip essay #2.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Redeployment
Phil Klay
Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival...
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Annihilation
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 1
Jeff VanderMeer
The first part of a near-future trilogy which initially devastated me both conceptually and narratively, and then went off in a direction I wish it hadn't. But now that I've finished the second book, Authority, all that happened in the first book has taken on greater resonance, complexity, and strangeness. This is an important work.
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Piano Stories
Felisberto Hernández
Reading Felisberto Hernández's Piano Stories is like rolling a beautiful glass marble around in your mouth and forgetting your fear of choking. One of the strangest things I have ever read. It is wonderful. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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The Flamethrowers
A Novel
Rachel Kushner
Kushner's writing is authoritative and vivid, as exciting to read as the worlds she writes about. I could not put this down; it was intoxicating reading about a young woman making her way in worlds in which women don't usually get to exist, even in fiction. A cinematic, unstoppable, alienated and kick-fueled adventure.
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Tenth of December
Stories
George Saunders
George saunders has this ability to pair the grim with the quirky, the brutal with the bizarrely hopeful, so that his stories never tip over completely into darkness. He captures the nastiness of violence, consumerism and sexism while keeping the tone satirical—but not light—and creating that uncanny feeling of the familiar gone strange. It's...
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Hip Hop Family Tree 1
1970s - 1981
Ed Piskor
This is a well-documented history of the beginnings of hip hop. Beautifully drawn in Old School comic form; hilariously written and sharply dissected. Open to any page and you'll be hooked. New York City, DJs and graffiti in the late 70s? You can't beat it, because "the beat don't stop til the break of dawn!"—Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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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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Nina's Book of Little Things!
Keith Haring
Really fun art activity book. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books A book of imagination for the little Nina in all of us. Make a little mess, collect some little snowflakes, and draw the things a little bird might say in this book that asks its owner to make his or her mark on every page.
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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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Pierre Reverdy
Pierre Reverdy, Mary Ann Caws
This is a well organized book of translations of French cubist poet, Pierre Reverdy. Just out from the NYRB Poets series, this collection has some of the usual suspects of Reverdy translation such as Kenneth Rexroth (now back in print here mind you) and Ron Padgett, but also some exciting translations by John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara...
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John Saturnall's Feast
A Novel
Lawrence Norfolk
A beautiful, rich and sensuous historical novel, John Saturnall's Feast tells the story of a young orphan who becomes a kitchen boy at a manor house, and rises through the ranks to become the greatest Cook of his generation. It is a story of food...
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The Devil in Silver
A Novel
Victor LaValle
How long do you think you would not be mentally ill if you were locked up in a mental hospital with a monster and no release date? A nightmare with friends, and thanks to the way Victor LaValle pokes holes in the racism of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, it tickles. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books

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