Staff Recommendations

A listing of current favorites, recommended by the bookstore staff. Check back for new recommendations each month as we bring you the best of what we're reading. Browse by title, author or staff member!



  Anah
  |  Andy
  |  Don
  |  Elaine
  |  Elaine Kahn
  |  Garrett
  |  Gent
  |  Jackson
  |  Jeff
  |  Lawrence
  |  Layla
  |  Linda
  |  Matt
  |  Michael
  |  Nancy
  |  Paul
  |  Peter
  |  Scott
  |  Stacey
  |  Tân
  |  Vanessa

   
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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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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 Lost Art of Finding Our Way
John Edward Huth
Long before GPS, Google Earth, and global transit, humans traveled vast distances using only environmental clues and simple instruments. John Huth asks what is lost when modern technology substitutes for our innate capacity to find our way...
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Crow with No Mouth
Ikkyū
A 15th century Zen monk-poet, one of my very favorites, who does his tradition proud: so lusty, so stark. Stephen Berg's translations in run-on lines capture a charming voice. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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A Visionary Madness
The Case of James Tilly Matthews and the Influencing Machine
Mike Jay
Anything I might possibly say could in no way prepare you for this exploration of madness, conspiracy and duplicity, in which one man's apparent delusions are actually borne out by historical fact. Try transposing Sirhan Sirhan to the 18th century... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Escape Velocity
A Charles Portis Miscellany
Charles Portis, Jay Jennings
Escape Velocity is a long overdue book of miscellany from the Arkansas legend and author of the enormously famous True Grit, culled from his newswriting days, covering Civil Rights events as well as reviewing for top-name magazines of the period, Portis is ceaselessly witty, telling, and, above all, real to his subjects.
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Beijing Coma
A Novel
Ma Jian
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books Dai Wei, a PhD student and protestor in Tianan-men Square in June 1989, was caught by a soldier's bullet and fell into a deep coma. But as the millennium draws near, he begins to emerge from unconsciousness...
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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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Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour
A Narrative History of Black Power in America
Peniel E. Joseph
Joseph is a brilliant American historian. He writes with the narrative verve of E.P. Thompson and C.L.R. James. An engrossing and important history...
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The Cats of Copenhagen
James Joyce
The Cats of Copenhagen was first written for James Joyce's most beloved audience, his only grandson, Stephen James Joyce, and sent in a letter dated September 5, 1936. Cats were clearly a common currency between Joyce and his grandson. In early August 1936, Joyce sent Stephen "a little cat filled with sweets"—a kind of Trojan cat...
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It Chooses You
Miranda July
July is an incredible artist. She's also a film director, actress and screenwriter (Me and You and Everyone We Know) and this book chronicles her strange yet endlessly intriguing creative process. She finds herself with writer's block during...
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The Phantom Tollbooth
Norton Juster
Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books. This ingenious fantasy centers around Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog named Tock, Milo drives through the tollbooth's...
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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...

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