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
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

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Mark Slouka
A powerful story about an unforgettable friendship between two teenage boys and their hopes for escape from a dead-end town The year is 1968. The world is changing, and sixteen-year-old Jon Mosher is determined to change with it. Racked by guilt over his older brother's childhood death and stuck in the dead-end town of Brewster, New York...
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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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The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years
David Talbot
During the "thousand days of camelot," JFK and his attorney general brother Bobby were not regarded at all as the iconic, mythic wunderkinds they've become. They were weak, pro-detente doves, soft on communism, antithetical to all that was American...
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The Buddha in The Attic
Julie Otsuka
In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San...
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A Novel
Richard Ford
"First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later." Then fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank, his sense of normal life is forever altered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives...
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The Cats of Copenhagen
James Joyce
The Cats of Copenhagen was first written for James Joyce's most beloved audience, his only grandson, Stephen James Joyce, and sent in a letter dated September 5, 1936. Cats were clearly a common currency between Joyce and his grandson. In early August 1936, Joyce sent Stephen "a little cat filled with sweets"—a kind of Trojan cat...
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Caught Inside
A Surfer's Year on the California Coast
Daniel Duane
A finely written and lyrical account of a year spent in the singular pursuit of surfing, punctuated with illuminating episodes on the literary history of surfing, the physics of wave formation, and the lure of the California coastline.
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Chelsea Girls
A Novel
Eileen Myles
A series of revealing tidbits into this punk-rock poet's most intimate moments. Reckonings with queerness, alcoholism, self-loathing, and the uncompromising creative drive fill this magnificent work to the brim. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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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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A Novel
Alessandro Baricco
An intellectually powerful and refreshing narrative seen through the eyes of a boy prodigy with a strong will and an overactive imagination. This book has many dimensions - it's both complex but child-like, metaphysical and intensely thought-provoking, romantic in its all of its subtleties. I fall in love with it every time I read it...
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A Clockwork Orange
A Novel
Anthony Burgess
Oh my brothers, viddy your glazzies on this book, it's quite horrorshow! Written in the first person, using a language called nadsat that Burgess adapted from Russian, this dystopian future is filled with sex, violence and youthful droogs in their...
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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 Stories
Grace Paley
These stories are brilliant. Grace Paley is incredible. --Recommended by Candra, City Lights Books
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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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