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 author | publication date


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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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The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
A Novel
Michael Ondaatje
Ondaatje's fiercely poetic style gives potency to the violence and beauty surrounding Billy the Kid, and the genre of the Western in general. This book casts new light on an already mythic American era, creating a textual collage that takes us through...
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Coltrane
The Story of a Sound
Ben Ratliff
John Coltrane left an indelible mark on the world, but what was the essence of his achievement that makes him so prized forty years after his death? What were the factors that helped Coltrane become who he was? And what would a John Coltrane look...
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Coming Through Slaughter
Michael Ondaatje
Tragic, beautiful and strange. --Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books Bringing to life the fabulous, colorful panorama of New Orleans in the first flush of the jazz era, this book tells the story of Buddy Bolden, the first of the great trumpet...
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Command and Control
Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Eric Schlosser
The entirety of our nuclear policy folly, crystallized in and illuminated by the little-known Damascus near-tragedy. There is, for me, great sadness here... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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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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The Continental Op
Stories
Dashiell Hammett
Along with The Thin Man, this is my very favorite of Hammett's books. His unnamed detective appears in story after story, solving case after case, on the streets of 1920s San Francisco. The pleasure is not only in the telling, but in following, street by street, streetcar by streetcar, the Continental Op as he traverses The City...
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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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Counternarratives
Stories and Novellas
John Keene
Conjuring slavery and witchcraft, and with bewitching powers all its own, Counternarratives continually spins history―and storytelling―on its head Ranging from the 17th century to our current moment, and crossing multiple continents, Counternarratives' stories and novellas draw upon memoirs, newspaper accounts, detective stories...
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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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Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother's death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a...
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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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Dear Committee Members
A Novel
Julie Schumacher
This book will sneak up on you in unexpected ways. Sure, it's laugh-out-loud funny (and I would highly recommended that you indulge in reading at least some of it aloud with a friend), but it's also quite brilliantly conceived, and chock-full of some of the most satisfying use of vocabulary I've come across in a while.
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Dear White People
A Guide to Inter-Racial Harmony in "Post-Racial" America
Justin Simien
In the satirical tradition of the New York Times bestseller Stuff White People Like comes this witty companion book to the "incredibly entertaining" (Indiewire) film of the same name, which “heralds a fresh and funny new voice” (Variety). Right out of college, Justin Simien wrote a screenplay about the nuanced experiences of four black students.

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