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!



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

   
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    sort list by title | publication date


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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
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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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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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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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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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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Surviving the Extremes
What Happens to the Body and Mind at the Limits of Human Endurance
Kenneth Kamler
Combining personal experience and scientific knowledge, Kammler weaves together the stories of victims and survivors of the most extreme conditions on Earth: high altitudes, deserts, open sea, deep sea, jungles, and outer space. An amazing book.
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Fear, some
Douglas Kearney
Recommended by Tan, City Lights Books. Stealing tropes from militancy to minstrelsy, Fear,some broadcasts from the slippery moments when personal, national, racial and aesthetic anxieties overlap.
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Thelonious Monk
The Life and Times of an American Original
Robin D.G. Kelley
Thelonious Monk is the critically acclaimed, gripping saga of an artist's struggle to "make it" without compromising his musical vision. It is a story that, like its subject, reflects the tidal ebbs and flows of American history in the twentieth...
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Big Sur
Jack Kerouac
An interesting biography of what happens when fame and age taint the dream of being "on the road" in the life of this aspiring poet. The book details Kerouac's descent into alcoholism and hope for salvation. I think this is one of his greatest...
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The Infinite Tides
Christian Kiefer
An impressive debut novel from NorCal poet, songwriter and recording artist Kiefer, full of achingly beautiful passages on loss and regret, yet leavened with self-aware humor and with wonderment at the banality of contemporary suburbia.

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