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The Possessed
Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them
Elif Batuman
Batuman is a natural storyteller. Her love of literature is delightfully infectious. Using the Russian greats as inspiration for research and travel, her exploits reveal a writer who is at once keenly observant, erudite, sensitive and truly hilarious.
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Sea of Poppies
Amitav Ghosh
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books The first in an epic trilogy, Sea of Poppies is "a remarkably rich saga . . . which has plenty of action and adventure à la Dumas, but moments also of Tolstoyan penetration--and a drop or two of Dickensian...
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The Beautiful Struggle
A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
Ta-Nehisi Coates
An exceptional father-son story about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us. Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and...
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Nobody's Home
Essays
Dubravka Ugresic
"Every day and age has its rules. Currently, good behavior dictates that we be politically correct, evade conflicts, espouse tolerance, and make no hasty judgments. To be judgmental is viewed as one of the most reprehensible human traits. People are...
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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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Three Wishes
An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats
Pannonica de Koenigswarter
An unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at jazz legends In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, Pannonica de Koenigswarter, known as Nica, was a constant and benevolent presence on the thriving New York jazz scene. Known as the Jazz Baroness (she was born into...
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The Shock Doctrine
The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Naomi Klein
At the core of Klein's book is the use of cataclysmic events to advance radical privatization, combined withy the privatization of the disaster response itself. Klein argues that by capitalizing on crises, the "disaster capitalism complex" now exists...
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Falling Man
A Novel
Don DeLillo
There is September 11 and then there are the days after, and finally the years. Falling Man is a magnificent, essential novel about the event that defines turn-of-the-century America. It begins in the smoke and ash of the burning towers and tracks...
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The Savage Detectives
A Novel
Roberto Bolaño
The late Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño has been called the García Marquez of his generation, but his novel The Savage Detectives is a lot closer to Y Tu Mamá También than it is to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Hilarious and sexy, meandering and...
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Lost City Radio
A Novel
Daniel Alarcón
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books For ten years, Norma has been the on-air voice of consolation and hope for the Indians in the mountains and the poor from the barrios—a people broken by war's violence. As the host of Lost City Radio...
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The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion
From one of America's iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage--and a life, in good times and bad--that will speak to anyone...
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Queer Beats
How the Beats Turned America on to Sex
Regina Marler
An essential addition to the Beat ouevre. Regina Marler's passionate and informed scholarship infuses the entire book. Queer Beats is one of those rare books that takes familiar material and is able to give the reader a fresh look at the Beats. —Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books
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Wanderlust
A History of Walking
Rebecca Solnit
Drawing together many histories-of anatomical evolution and city design, of treadmills and labyrinths, of walking clubs and sexual mores-Rebecca Solnit creates a fascinating portrait of the range of possibilities presented by walking.
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The Fire Next Time
James Baldwin
If you can honestly say that a book has never changed your life, then you haven't read The Fire Next Time. Said to have helped "galvanize" the Civil Rights movement, this powerful book beautifully, honestly, and, at times, heart-breakingly confronts the issue of race and racism in this country. Required reading for anyone interested in literature

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