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
  |  Erin
  |  Garrett
  |  Greg
  |  Ivy
  |  Jared
  |  Lawrence
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Ryan
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | author | publication date


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The Attempt
A Novel
Magdaléna Platzová
This novel was destined for any lover of history, modern philosophy, and radical politics. Like The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but without the lightness. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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The Angel of History
A Novel
Rabih Alameddine
Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS.
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Whipping Girl
A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, 2nd Edition
Julia Serano
Serano weaves those necessary connections between the trans and feminist movements by revealing how transphobia and misogyny feed on each other. A needed and groundbreaking work for anyone curious about the future of gender. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Water and the California Dream
Historic Choices for Shaping the Future
David Carle
The history of water is the history of the world. Carle has provided us with a fantastic framework for understanding California's past, present, and future, and makes a strong case for how we can transition away from exploitation and scarcity, and towards sustainability. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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All This Life
A Novel
Joshua Mohr
The next time one of your friends or family members asks you how the latest tech wave has changed things in San Francisco, hand them this book. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Sharks in the Rivers
Ada Limón
Just give the title poem a read, and dive into the blue. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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The Revolutionaries Try Again
A Novel
Mauro Javier Cardenas
Extravagant, absurd, and self-aware, The Revolutionaries Try Again plays out against the lost decade of Ecuador's austerity and the stymied idealism of three childhood friends—an expat, a bureaucrat, and a playwright—who are as sure about the evils of dictatorship as they are unsure of everything else, including each other.
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A Manual for Cleaning Women
Selected Stories
Lucia Berlin
Detox centers, laundromats, and triage units are not expected terrain for short stories, but these are the scenarios you find yourself in while reading Lucia Berlin. Her writing is absurdly real and tragically hilarious, often plucked from her own tumultuous life. —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books and also by Peter, City Lights Books
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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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The Visiting Privilege
New and Collected Stories
Joy Williams
The legendary writer's first collection in more than ten years—and, finally, the definitive one. A literary event of the highest order. Joy Williams has been celebrated as a master of the short story for four decades, her renown passing as a given from one generation to the next even in the shifting landscape of contemporary writing.
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M Train
Patti Smith
Reading this book provided a meditative type of joy, and also reassured me that there is nothing wrong with my coffee habit. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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The Underground Railroad
A Novel
Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk...
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Wide Open Town
A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965
Nan Alamilla Boyd
What is it about San Francisco that makes this place so... subversive? This impeccably researched work connects today's queer rights movement to the brothels and bath houses of the 1850s. —Recommended by Ivy, City Lights Books
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Big Science
Ernest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military-Industrial Complex
Michael Hiltzik
The epic story of how science went "big" and the forgotten genius who started it all—“entertaining, thoroughly researched…partly a biography, partly an account of the influence of Ernest Lawrence's great idea, partly a short history of nuclear physics and the Bomb” (The Wall Street Journal).

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