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
  |  Erin
  |  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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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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Better Than War
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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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 Dwarfs
A Novel
Harold Pinter
Because drama is, by its very nature, fiction stripped bare of all that is unnecessary, The Dwarfs, Pinter's only novel, is probably his most revealing work. Originally written when Pinter was 20, he revisited and revised it 42 years later, fashioning out of both his youth and his maturity a devastating prose take on themes...
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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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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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The Complete Stories
Clarice Lispector
Long-awaited and beautifully translated, Lispector's stories collected in their entirety read like an incantation commanding us into her charming and dreamy trance. Let each story bewitch you; there is simply no other way to experience this prose. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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The First Bad Man
A Novel
Miranda July
A surreal and hilarious telling of how one woman found herself through self-defense videos, a reincarnated baby named Kubelko Bondy, and realizing that everyone is just as neurotic as you fear yourself to be. —Recommended by Caitlyn, City Lights Books
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A, B, C: Three Short Novels
The Jewels of Aptor; The Ballad of Beta-2; They Fly at Ciron
Samuel R. Delany
Please read this even if for no other reason than to experience the mystery and charm of Delany's 1965 novel The Ballad of Beta-2, which I only recently discovered. This is classic 60s-era SciFi at its scintillating best. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Fat City
A Novel
Leonard Gardner
Fat City is a vivid novel of allegiance and defeat, of the potent promise of the good life and the desperation and drink that waylay those whom it eludes. Stockton, California, is the setting: the Lido Gym, the Hotel Coma, Main Street lunchrooms and dingy bars, days like long twilights in houses obscured by untrimmed shrubs and black walnut trees.
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Autobiography of a Corpse
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
These stunning stories by the Ukrainian-born master of the fantastic and paradoxical remind me of Gogol as much as they remind me of Borges: it becomes harder to tell which is more curious, the reality of reading fiction or the fiction being rendered as reality. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights Publishers

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