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 C.
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Erin
  |  Garrett
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jared
  |  Joey
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Ryan
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
A Novel
Sunil Yapa
On a rainy, cold day in November, young Victor—a nomadic, scrappy teenager who's run away from home—sets out to sell as much marijuana as possible to the throng of WTO demonstrators determined to shut down the city. With the proceeds, he plans to buy a plane ticket and leave Seattle forever, but it quickly becomes clear that the history-making...
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The Witches
Salem, 1692
Stacy Schiff
An unsensational, factual account of the oft-mythologized Salem witch trials. Schiff is a solid historian who makes this fact-dense, Protestant panoply enjoyable. —Recommended by Caitlyn, City Lights Bookstore
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Bukowski in a Sundress
Confessions from a Writing Life
Kim Addonizio
Behold the memoir of sex-positive rebel Kim Addonizio! This book moves from gritty/funny/sexy, to emotionally raw, in swift seamless strokes. By the end, you will feel that Kim is an old friend whom you know far too well, but who you think the world of because she's way cooler than you are. —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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An Army of Lovers
Juliana Spahr, David Buuck
Based loosely on their own Bay Area literary lives, these two intellectual weirdos talk about the state of poetry and their process of writing. It's spot-on and brilliant, but then it gets weird—really strange weird! It had me nodding in agreement, gritting my teeth at its incantations, and laughing like a goddamn chimp—while in public!
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Water and the California Dream
Historic Choices for Shaping the Future
David Carle
The history of water is the history of the world. Carle has provided us with a fantastic framework for understanding California's past, present, and future, and makes a strong case for how we can transition away from exploitation and scarcity, and towards sustainability. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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The Revolutionaries Try Again
A Novel
Mauro Javier Cardenas
Extravagant, absurd, and self-aware, The Revolutionaries Try Again plays out against the lost decade of Ecuador's austerity and the stymied idealism of three childhood friends—an expat, a bureaucrat, and a playwright—who are as sure about the evils of dictatorship as they are unsure of everything else, including each other.
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The Visiting Privilege
New and Collected Stories
Joy Williams
The legendary writer's first collection in more than ten years—and, finally, the definitive one. A literary event of the highest order. Joy Williams has been celebrated as a master of the short story for four decades, her renown passing as a given from one generation to the next even in the shifting landscape of contemporary writing.
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American Gods
Author's Preferred Text
Neil Gaiman
What happens when you stop believing in mythical gods and spirits? You'll find out in this award-winning fantasy novel. Follow the adventures of Shadow, a convict released early from prison because of his wife's untimely death. It's a nonstop, entertaining ride. You'll meet a few of the old gods of yesteryear, and the (mostly evil) new gods of...
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Imperial San Francisco
Urban Power, Earthly Ruin
Gray Brechin
Think San Francisco is just some peacenik eco-urban utopia? Think again-- this city was built upon greed, corruption, ecological waste, and haphazard technology from its very start. But aren't all cities? —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Wide Open Town
A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965
Nan Alamilla Boyd
What is it about San Francisco that makes this place so... subversive? This impeccably researched work connects today's queer rights movement to the brothels and bath houses of the 1850s. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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A Brief History of Seven Killings
A Novel
Marlon James
Winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, Marlon James combines masterful storytelling with his unrivaled skill at characterization and his meticulous eye for detail to forge a novel of dazzling ambition and scope.
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Counternarratives
Stories and Novellas
John Keene
If I were on a deserted island and had to pick one book to read over and over again, I. would. take. this. one. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books Also recommended by Andy, City Lights Books
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Dragonfish
A Novel
Vu Tran
"Vu Tran's Dragonfish is that rare hybrid marvel―a literary thriller, a narrative of migration and loss that upends the conventions of any form." ―Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names
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Signs Preceding the End of the World
A Novel
Yuri Herrera
Signs Preceding the End of the World is one of the most arresting novels to be published in Spanish in the last ten years. Yuri Herrera does not simply write about the border between Mexico and the United States and those who cross it. He explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one...

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