What books would you recommend to your teenage self?

We asked City Lights staff what books you wish you could recommend your teenage self.
Here are their responses:


The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers




I don’t know if I could have actually appreciated these books as a teenager in the ways I would hope for myself to (also, some of them weren’t published when I was a teenager) – but assuming this question exists in a complete vacuum/fantasy, I would recommend:

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
The Last Generation by Cherrie Moraga
Grapefruit by Yoko Ono
Bad Reputation: Performance, Essays, and Interviews by Penny Arcade
The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde
All books featuring work or interviews by Jack Smith, Paul Thek, Ana Mendieta, and Leigh Bowery.


The Gangster We Are All Looking For – Thi Diem Thuy Le
All About Love – bell hooks
White Boy Shuffle – Paul Beatty
something by Octavia Butler




Most important book I read as a teenager was Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead,
which prepared me for the assholes I would encounter for the rest of my
life, up to and including today.

If I were to recommend books I didn’t read as a teenager I would probably
say that I needed to read Vonnegut and Burroughs, because once past the teen
years those books lose a lot (and I still haven’t read them!)



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