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
  |  Cassie
  |  Chris
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Emmitt
  |  Garrett
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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    sort list by title | publication date


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Furious Cool
Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him
David Henry, Joe Henry
In this loose and lyrical labor of love, brothers David and Joe Henry have brought Richard Pryor back to pulsating life, capturing his spirit and genius and the monumental demons that fueled him. It's billed as a biography but it's really more than that, delving deep enough to make you look at Pryor and his legacy in a whole new light. —Recommended
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Piano Stories
Felisberto Hernández
Reading Felisberto Hernández's Piano Stories is like rolling a beautiful glass marble around in your mouth and forgetting your fear of choking. One of the strangest things I have ever read. It is wonderful. —Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
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Women in Clothes
Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton
Through original interviews, conversations, surveys, projects, diagrams and drawings from over six hundred contributors—including Miranda July, Cindy Sherman, Elif Batuman, Mac McClelland, Lena Dunham, Molly Ringwald, Tavi Gevinson, Rachel Kushner, Roxane Gay and Sarah Nicole Prickett... —Recommended by Layla and Vanessa, City Lights Books
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How to Change the World
Reflections on Marx and Marxism
Eric Hobsbawm
"We need to take account of Marx today," argues Eric Hobsbawm in this persuasive and highly readable book. The ideas of capitalism's most vigorous and eloquent enemy have been enlightening in every era, the author contends, and our current historical...
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Rubicon
The Last Years of the Roman Republic
Tom Holland
As America takes its first tentative steps towards becoming a militaristic imperial power, the parallels to the Roman Empire become difficult to avoid. For anyone wishing to see how this scenario played out 2,000 years ago, I cannot recommend this book...
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All About Love
New Visions
bell hooks
It really is all about love. - Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books. "The word "love" is most often defined as a noun, yet...we would all love to better if we used it as a verb," writes bell hooks as she comes out fighting and on fire in All About...
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The Elementary Particles
A Novel
Michel Houellebecq
An international literary phenomenon, The Elementary Particles is a frighteningly original novel—part Marguerite Duras and part Bret Easton Ellis—that leaps headlong into the malaise of contemporary existence. Bruno and Michel are half-brothers...
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The Empathy Exams
Essays
Leslie Jamison
If you've got a glowing, tender heart and wonder how it's possible to feel so much, this is the book for you. Hypochondriacs are advised to skip essay #2.—Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Red Dust
A Path Through China
Ma Jian
Red Dust is a rich, strange, searching travelogue through the outposts of communist China by an adventurous, dissident poet. Author Ma is often compared to the Beats--but imagine if Kerouac had to escape from a Kafka novel in order to go "on the road"...
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Already Dead
A California Gothic
Denis Johnson
A modern Northern California noir classic, as dark and unfathomable as the Lost Coast. —Recommended by Layla, City Lights Books
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Jesus' Son
Stories
Denis Johnson
An absolutely flawless little gem, this book cuts like a diamond. Almost nobody is as good as Denis Johnson, and almost nothing he's written is as good as this: in its few short pages you get booze, drugs, love, heaven, hell, death, resurrection...
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The Orphan Master's Son
Adam Johnson
An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master's Son follows a young man's journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world's most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea. Pak Jun Do is the haunted son..
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Pym
A Novel
Mat Johnson
A comic journey into the ultimate land of whiteness by an unlikely band of African American adventurers Recently canned professor of American literature Chris Jaynes is obsessed with The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe's...
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Welcome to Braggsville
A Novel
T. Geronimo Johnson
From the PEN/Faulkner finalist and critically acclaimed author of Hold It 'Til It Hurts comes a dark and socially provocative Southern-fried comedy about four UC Berkeley students who stage a dramatic protest during a Civil War reenactment—a fierce, funny, tragic work from a bold new writer.

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