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

   
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    sort list by title | author


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The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin
The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher
Kim Bancroft
Northern California's book publishers are idiosyncratic, uncompromising, funky, forward-thinking, often brilliant, but largely unheralded beyond the state’s borders. Here’s the perfect book to shift that paradigm. Malcolm Margolin’s story of creating and sustaining Heyday Books, a vital Berkeley-based press celebrating its 40th anniversary...
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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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Hip Hop Family Tree 2
1981-83
Ed Piskor
The second installment of this acclaimed graphic novel hip-hop history (originally serialized on the popular website Boingboing) covers the years 1981-1983. Covering the early years of 1981-1983, Hip Hop has made a big transition from the parks and rec rooms to downtown clubs and vinyl records.
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The Half Has Never Been Told
Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
Edward E. Baptist
Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution—the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America’s later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in...
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Babayaga
A Novel of Witches in Paris
Toby Barlow
By the author of Sharp Teeth, a novel of love, spies, and witches in 1950s Paris—and a cop turned into a flea Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It's 1959 and the cold war is going strong. But Will doesn't think he's a warrior—he’s just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy...
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The Feel Trio
Fred Moten
Fred Moten is the real deal of contemporary poetry. And this book, The Feel Trio, is one of his best numbers to date. Reprinting at least one of his hard-to-find chapbooks, this book is made up of three sections of poems that flail the margins of the pedestrian and the philosophically sublime. A finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in poetry
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The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Quite the masterwork. A poignant delight with a sense of humor that sears to the bone. —Recommended by Scott, City Lights Books
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Bad Feminist
Essays
Roxane Gay
I compulsively read Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist whenever I could get a spare moment. My commute (my life!) was vastly improved as it felt like my coolest, smartest, pop-culture literate, and humane friend was sharing the ride, offering the low down on--and a considered critique of--the too numerous troublesome aspects of American life and culture.
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White Girls
Hilton Als
It is, simply put, a privilege to spend time with a writer like Hilton Als. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Barbarian Days
A Surfing Life
William Finnegan
A deeply rendered self-portrait of a lifelong surfer by the acclaimed New Yorker writer Barbarian Days is an old-school adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little understood art.
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The Mad and the Bad
Jean-Patrick Manchette
Michel Hartog, a sometime architect, is a powerful businessman and famous philanthropist whose immense fortune has just grown that much greater following the death of his brother in an accident. Peter is his orphaned nephew—a spoiled brat. Julie is in an insane asylum. Thompson is a hired gunman with a serious ulcer...
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On Sal Mal Lane
A Novel
Ru Freeman
In the tradition of In the Time of the Butterflies and The Kite Runner, a tender, evocative novel about the years leading up to the Sri Lankan civil war On the day the Herath family moves in, Sal Mal Lane is still a quiet street, disturbed only by the cries of the children whose triumphs and tragedies sustai
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All the Light We Cannot See
A Novel
Anthony Doerr
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
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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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