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
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jared
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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The Spindlers
Lauren Oliver
Decades from now Lauren Oliver will be remembered as one of the best and brightest children's authors of this generation. The Spindlers is her second novel for younger audiences and is destined, in my estimation, to become a classic, to be mentioned in the same breath as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.(for ages 8-12) —Recommended by Jeff
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The Ass's Tale
A Novel
John Farris
Negrophobia meets Forest of a Thousand Daemons in late 50s Manhattan. -or- Pin-the-tail on The Golden Ass, a surreal journey in search of James Moody.—Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams
Mark Dery
"I must not think bad thoughts. I must not think bad thoughts." These lyrics by the band X have been my mantra on many occasions as I trudged my way here and there. Lucky for us that Mark Dery goes deep into the territories that many of us shun, illuminating the absurdity, humor and truths found on the dark side. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights
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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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An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
2015 Recipient of the American Book Award Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land.
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Better Than War
Stories
Siamak Vossoughi
Very short stories. Honest stories. Stories that show the big heart of little moments. How that matters. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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The Watchers
A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I
Stephen Alford
We think we have evolved—we haven't. The politics of any age are the politics of all ages. Whether 5000, 2500, 1000, 500 or 50 years ago, the reasoning and methods are the same. They win, we lose. Parallels abound with both the Cold War and Post-9/11 Weltenschauung. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Sidewalking
Coming to Terms with Los Angeles
David L. Ulin
In Sidewalking, David L. Ulin offers a compelling inquiry into the evolving landscape of Los Angeles. Part personal narrative, part investigation of the city as both idea and environment, Sidewalking is many things: a discussion of Los Angeles as urban space, a history of the city's built environment.
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Farm City
The Education of an Urban Farmer
Novella Carpenter
An hilarious and inspiring account of one woman's attempt to feed herself entirely off of what could be grown on an abandoned lot in West Oakland—including turkeys, rabbits, and one Chez Panisse gobbling pig. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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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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The Lost Art of Finding Our Way
John Edward Huth
Long before GPS and Google Earth, humans traveled vast distances using environmental clues and simple instruments. What is lost when technology substitutes for our innate capacity to find our way? Illustrated with 200 drawings, this narrative―part treatise, part travelogue, and part navigational history―brings our own world into sharper view.
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The Jemima Code
Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks
Toni Tipton-Martin
Women of African descent have contributed to America's food culture for centuries, but their rich and varied involvement is still overshadowed by the demeaning stereotype of an illiterate "Aunt Jemima" who cooked mostly by natural instinct. To discover the true role of black women in the creation of American, and especially southern, cuisine...
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Absalom, Absalom!
A Novel
William Faulkner
Like sunbathing during open-brain surgery. Faulkner touches something pre-conscious, magical, and disturbing in this challenging but transcendental epic covering over a century of American history. —Recommended by Emmitt, City Lights Books
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Right Out of California
The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism
Kathryn Olmsted
In a major reassessment of modern conservatism, noted historian Kathryn S. Olmsted reexamines the explosive labor disputes in the agricultural fields of Depression-era California, the cauldron that inspired a generation of artists and writers and that triggered the intervention of FDR's New Deal.

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