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

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    sort list by title | author

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I Learn from Children
An Adventure in Progressive Education
Caroline Pratt
"A lucid presentation of what progressive education can accomplish."—The New York Times How should schools prepare students for the Information Age? The successful worker of the future – a creative, independent thinker who works well in teams—would seem to be too self-contradictory to be the deliberate product of a school.
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The Faraway Nearby
Rebecca Solnit
In this exquisitely written new book by the author of A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit explores the ways we make our lives out of stories, and how we are connected by empathy, by narrative, by imagination. In the course of unpacking some of her own stories—of her mother and her decline from memory loss, of a trip to Iceland...
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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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Conspiracy Theory in America
Lance deHaven-Smith
Along with David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, Professor deHaven-Smith is one of the very few in academia who consider conspiracy as the historical phenomenon it is and not the political and cultural hot potato it has become in the last half-century. For anyone with an open mind. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Over Easy
Mimi Pond
A charming/hilarious coming of age tale told in graphic novel form that depicts Mimi's existence as an art school drop out finding a new life behind the counter of an Oakland diner, and casting off the relics of the hippie age for the new punk dawn of 1978. —Recommended by Layla, City Lights Books
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Phil Klay
Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival...
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The Spinning Heart
A Novel
Donal Ryan
In the aftermath of Ireland's financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.
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Southern Reach Trilogy Book 1
Jeff VanderMeer
The first part of a near-future trilogy which initially devastated me both conceptually and narratively, and then went off in a direction I wish it hadn't. But now that I've finished the second book, Authority, all that happened in the first book has taken on greater resonance, complexity, and strangeness. This is an important work.
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Piano Stories
Felisberto Hernández
Reading Felisberto Hernández's Piano Stories is like rolling a beautiful glass marble around in your mouth and forgetting your fear of choking. One of the strangest things I have ever read. It is wonderful. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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The Flamethrowers
A Novel
Rachel Kushner
Kushner's writing is authoritative and vivid, as exciting to read as the worlds she writes about. I could not put this down; it was intoxicating reading about a young woman making her way in worlds in which women don't usually get to exist, even in fiction. A cinematic, unstoppable, alienated and kick-fueled adventure.
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Tenth of December
George Saunders
George saunders has this ability to pair the grim with the quirky, the brutal with the bizarrely hopeful, so that his stories never tip over completely into darkness. He captures the nastiness of violence, consumerism and sexism while keeping the tone satirical—but not light—and creating that uncanny feeling of the familiar gone strange. It's...
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Hip Hop Family Tree 1
1970s - 1981
Ed Piskor
This is a well-documented history of the beginnings of hip hop. Beautifully drawn in Old School comic form; hilariously written and sharply dissected. Open to any page and you'll be hooked. New York City, DJs and graffiti in the late 70s? You can't beat it, because "the beat don't stop til the break of dawn!"—Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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Hyperbole and a Half
Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Allie Brosh
READ ALL THE THINGS!!!!! —Recommended by Anah, City Lights Books. This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative— like maybe someone who isn't me wrote it...
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The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
20th Anniversary Edition
Sherman Alexie
This is a great start to the Alexie oeuvre: a collection of interconnected stories of native American life on and around a reservation near Spokane. Humorous, surreal imagery; poetic storytelling. You can't go wrong with any Sherman Alexie! —Recommended by Don, City Lights Books

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