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
  |  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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Look
Poems
Solmaz Sharif
Starting with the title itself, Sharif's goal is lterally to pull apart the sterile language and phrasing taken directly from military strategy, analysis, and description, and reveal the complications of life affected by war. This is an astonishing book. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights Publishers
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Orson Welles's Last Movie
The Making of The Other Side of the Wind
Josh Karp
The genius film director's true insane behind the scenes of a film that was shot, somewhat edited, but never released. Including interviews from those who worked on it, and stories that will make you smile, Mr. Welles gives us a swansong of a biographical cinema experience. Hard to believe that fact is stranger than fiction. —Recommended by Don
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My Private Property
Mary Ruefle
Marvelous prose poems inside! Colorful pinwheels of sadness (or happiness) spinning throughout, and the titular poem about shrunken heads—what more could a reader ask for? —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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Innocents and Others
A Novel
Dana Spiotta
Dana Spiotta's new novel is about two women, best friends, who grow up in LA in the 80s and become filmmakers. Meadow and Carrie have everything in common—except their views on sex, power, movie-making, and morality. Their lives collide with Jelly, a loner whose most intimate experience is on the phone. Jelly is older, erotic, and mysterious.
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Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
A Novel
Max Porter
Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar--a man adrift in the wake of his wife's sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons who like him struggle in their London apartment to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness...
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Envelope Poems
Emily Dickinson, Jen Bervin, Marta Werner
Although a very prolific poet, Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) published fewer than a dozen poems. Instead, she created small handmade books. In her later years, she stopped producing these, but she continued to write a great deal, and at her death she left behind many poems, drafts, and letters.
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The Queue
A Novel
Basma Abdel Aziz
In a surreal, but familiar, vision of modern day Egypt, a centralized authority known as 'the Gate' has risen to power in the aftermath of the 'Disgraceful Events,' a failed popular uprising. Citizens are required to obtain permission from the Gate in order to take care of even the most basic of their daily affairs, yet the Gate never opens...
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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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The Devil's Chessboard
Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government
David Talbot
An explosive, headline-making portrait of Allen Dulles, the man who transformed the CIA into the most powerful—and secretive—colossus in Washington, from the founder of Salon.com and author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers.
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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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The Angel of History
A Novel
Rabih Alameddine
Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS.
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Love Goes to Buildings on Fire
Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever
Will Hermes
Punk rock and hip hop. No wave, disco and salsa. The loft jazz scene and the downtown minimalists. In the mid-1970s, New York City was teeming with musical innovators and cross-pollinations thereof. Hermes paints a breathtaking and panoramic portrait of the era. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books. Also recommended by Jeff, City Lights
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A Manual for Cleaning Women
Selected Stories
Lucia Berlin
Detox centers, laundromats, and triage units are not expected terrain for short stories, but these are the scenarios you find yourself in while reading Lucia Berlin. Her writing is absurdly real and tragically hilarious, often plucked from her own tumultuous life. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books and also by Peter, City Lights Books
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Don't Suck, Don't Die
Giving Up Vic Chesnutt
Kristin Hersh
A longform creative obituary written to one of the great American songwriters of the last 25 years. Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses) offers this personal glimpse into her extremely complicated friendship with Chesnutt and life on the road as a solo artist in the early 90s playing for nobody. Wounded, prophetic, dreamlike, charming, and bloody...

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