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
  |  Jackson
  |  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 Gunman
A Novel
Jean-Patrick Manchette
Forget whatever you've read about the film. This is the darkest of dark noirs, in the tradition of Jim Thompson, and the last novel Manchette would publish before his early death. Every word Manchette wrote is worth your time, much as those of one of his predecessors in French minimalism, Georges Bernanos, is. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights
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How to Grow Up
A Memoir
Michelle Tea
This is the memoir Lena Dunham wishes she wrote. Michelle Tea's adventures and exploits offer readers plenty to be entertained by, including the best description of a so-called "work-life balance" I've ever heard of. The real value of this book, though, is her truly hard-earned wisdom. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Cool Gray City of Love
49 Views of San Francisco
Gary Kamiya
Cool Gray City of Love brings together an exuberant combination of personal insight, deeply researched history, in-depth reporting, and lyrical prose to create an unparalleled portrait of San Francisco. Each of its 49 chapters explores a specific site or intersection in the city, from the mighty Golden Gate Bridge to the raunchy Tenderloin...
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The Sellout
A Novel
Paul Beatty
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship...
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Just Kids
Unabridged Audiobook
Patti Smith
Patti Smith reads her award-winning memoir
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Here
Richard McGuire
A beautiful exploration of a single place through time, from void to form to void again. Go ahead, open to a page, any page... —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books Also recommended by Paul, City Lights Books
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This Is Not My Hat
Jon Klassen
When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it's a good thing that enormous fish won't wake up. And even if he does, it's not like he’ll ever know what...
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Kibo and the Purple Dragon
Carmen Gil
One morning, a purple dragon flies in through Kibo's window. In fright, the little boy runs off to some truly extraordinary places, but when he returns home and looks in the mirror, the dragon is still there — and he's right behind him! This time, though, he’s a little more purple and a little bigger than the last time Kibo saw him.
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An Unnecessary Woman
A Novel
Rabih Alameddine
One of the Middle East's most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with an enchanting story of a book-loving, obsessive, seventy-two-year-old "unnecessary" woman. Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced...
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Going Clear
Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright provides an extremely detailed and page-turning history of Scientology: including a full biography of the extraordinarily ambitious and controversial L. Ron Hubbard and the religion he founded, pieced together from hundreds of interviews with former Scientologists, brought all the way to the present.
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"Literchoor Is My Beat"
A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions
Ian S. MacNiven
A biography—thoughtful and playful—of the man who founded New Directions and transformed American publishing. James Laughlin—a poet, publisher, world-class skier—was the man behind some of the most daring, revolutionary works in verse and prose of the twentieth century.
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Area X
The Southern Reach Trilogy
Jeff VanderMeer
A near-future trilogy, here handsomely packaged in one volume, which has been my single most unexpected "find" of the year. The first book, Annihilation, found me intrigued, yet cautious. Imagine the unspeakable horror of John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing. Authority, the second volume, was an absolute revelation...
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The Wind's Twelve Quarters
Stories
Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin is a writer about whom enough good things cannot be said, and who has a broad enough body of work that there is something for everyone. I could have picked any number of her novels, but this collection is exceptional as both an introduction to many of her major themes and in sheer storytelling terms.
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Widow Basquiat
A Love Story
Jennifer Clement
A vivid portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat in 80s New York City. Graffiti, drugs, music, and the relationship between him and his muse Suzanne Mallouk. This is a sad, moving, and poetic read about this fascinating artist.—Recommended by Don, City Lights Books

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