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English Muse: City Lights

Thursday, February 18, 2010

City Lights

There are lots of interesting places to visit in San Francisco, yet I always end up at this bookstore...
City Lights is the cradle of the Beat Generation, and I could spend hours browsing the shelves. On Tuesday evening, Silicon Valley visionary Jaron Lanier was at the store discussing his new book, You Are Not A Gadget, a manifesto on how technology is changing our culture. The author was greeted by a standing-room-only crowd. (Of course, I had to buy his book, along with five others.)

Books are so heavy to lug home from a trip, but I can't help myself. I love Strand Bookstore in NYC, and then there's the Tattered Cover in Denver. Every time I went home to visit my parents in Albuquerque, NM, I would stop in Salt of the Earth books on Central Avenue. (Like so many independent booksellers, the store is unfortunately now closed.)

Books --and the stores where they're sold -- feed the soul. So here I am, books in tow...

What's your favorite bookstore?



Blogger pearl. said...

That looks like an amazing bookshop.
I love books so much, if they didn't cost so much my room woud be swarmed by them!
My fve book store would have to be Berkalow Books in my little hometown. Its a huge shop half of which is second hand and the other half are new books. It also stocks rare books and has the most beautiful cards and wrapping paper you have seen. Oh and it has an adjoining cafe with super muffins :)
Pearl xo

February 18, 2010 at 10:28 PM  

Love that store darling, another fave stop in SF would be 'Green Apples' on Clement St~ it's as charming! Next visit to the store are yummy dim-sum places as well!

February 18, 2010 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Mlle Paradis said...

Love the Strand. A good store to love in L.A. is the Skylight on Vermont. I used to LOVE the Rizzoli's in NYC.

February 18, 2010 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Solanah said...

Oh you need to go to Powells Books in Portland Oregon, it's a terrific store!

February 18, 2010 at 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Liana said...

God I love San Francisco. I also always end up in bookstores. Strand is great. You'll be interested to know that when I was in London, there was an amazing bookstore called Daunt Books :)

February 19, 2010 at 1:11 AM  
Blogger Elfie said...

I don't have a favourite bookstore. But I have a couple of favourite op shops which double as second hand bookstores...

February 19, 2010 at 3:40 AM  
Blogger jamaica byles said...

Love the Strand of course but my absolute fave is Shakespeare and Co. in Paris on the left bank.Great place to get lost in.....

February 19, 2010 at 3:58 AM  

now I remember where you must visit=
My fave SF shop~ they've since scaled down the gallery size, but still worth a visit!
Lurrrrve it!!
xo as always*

February 19, 2010 at 4:46 AM  
Blogger Breenuh said...

Powell's (mentioned Solanah) is definitely my favorite. Not only is it independent, but it takes up a whole block! Pretty much any book you've ever wanted or didn't know you wanted can be found there (and if not, they'll order it for you). Plus, they have a combination of old and new books, and a cafe to top it all off. I couldn't recommend a place on Earth more.

February 19, 2010 at 5:08 AM  
Blogger Simply Luxurious said...

Powells is amazing as they've all mentioned. Make sure you're going to their downtown store. You could easily stay there for the entire afternoon.
I also love book sales of used books. They are usually located in a convention center for a weekend and everything is a steal. This is always exhilaratiing because you never know exactly what you'll find.

February 19, 2010 at 5:21 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I want to go now! Thanks for this post Tina. Sadly, we only have chain stores here. Isn't that gross?

February 19, 2010 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger 50centlove said...

I love how the street is slanted in the first picture. I have never been to San Fran, but I am fascinated with the hills.

February 19, 2010 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Melissa Blake said...

I could probably stay in that bookstore all day!

February 19, 2010 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Brandi said...

The Strand is at the top of my list, but that may be because I haven't been to many other cities that have bookstores like The Strand and City Lights. It makes me so happy to know that places like this still exist, in the middle of a world being taken over by larger companies. I don't think they're something any one of us is willing to see disappear.

February 19, 2010 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Giulia said...

Buying Lanier's book this weekend at Politics & Prose in DC. City Lights looks quite spiffed up on the outside since I was last there. Used to be inexpensive (fairly) to mail books home from trips...I used to do it from overseas as well.

February 19, 2010 at 7:50 AM  
Blogger Jessica Druck said...

what's even more amazing about this book store is that it's not only my favorite in the world, but Vesuvio is next door-- one of my favorite bars. One of the best blocks in the city!

February 19, 2010 at 8:31 AM  
Anonymous jen jafarzadeh said...

Strand is the best! I'm loving my local bookstore — Spoonbill in Brooklyn. So many cool indie books and they have this lunar calendar I haven't seen anywhere else.

February 19, 2010 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Joanna said...

City Lights is my favorite! I always have to go in there whenever I'm in the city. Sounds like an interesting event on Tuesday.

Another bookstore I love is John Sandoe Books in Chelsea, London. It's a tiny, cramped space where you can books bursting on shelves and stacks of books lining the floors of the narrow, winding staircase leading up to the second (or as the Brits say, first) floor. It's a magical place.

February 19, 2010 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Avid Reader said...

I second jamaica, I love the Shakespeare and Co. in Paris. Also, the Elliott Bay Bookstore in Seattle is awesome and Blackwell's in Oxford, England. The basement there is unbelievable.

February 19, 2010 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Hope said...

I went to Powell's books for the first time in January and I loved it! Used bookstores are one of my favorite places to visit. I used to live in NYC and went to Strand weekly. I'm going to SFO for the first time in a week, and I can't wait to visit City Lights! Thanks for sharing!

February 19, 2010 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Uncle Beefy said...

Oh, Miss Tina... I may not live there but as my birthplace I feel a strong connection every time I'm there. Loving seeing it through your eyes and am thankful for the little visual getaway. :)

February 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Tangy Tidbits (Tina Tang Team) said...

Hello! That bookstore gave me the goosebumps! I would LOVE to visit this place! Being situated in New York City, I would have to say I agree with you on STRAND! I always end up there during the summertime with my ice coffee in hand! Come visit our blog and site at!!! Can't wait for your next blogpost! I also checked out your nextpage site and I adore your polaroid heart! Really creative and unique idea!

February 19, 2010 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Molly McGonigle said...

I love this bookstore!! I went there over the weekend with my boyfriend and we were in there for an hour and a half. Also, Powells in Portland is awesome.

February 19, 2010 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger hawthorne girl said...

salt of the earth was a great store, and as mentioned above, you must go to powells if you are ever in portland but my absolute fave is shakespeare and co. in paris. did you make it there?

February 19, 2010 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Terresa said...

My favorite book store is the library. (I'm a public librarian, through and through.)

Great thought here, I'm going to check out You Are Not a Gadget.

February 20, 2010 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger marthalena said...

L.A: Book Soup on the Sunset Strip! Diesel in Malibu and Diesel in Brentwood can be great...and Skylight in Los Feliz has an amazing pulp section.

Farther North: Munro's Books in Victoria, B.C. is a really pretty, church-like bookstore.

And in Hawaii: Bookends in Kailua.

How's that for a motley selection?

February 20, 2010 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger V. said...

I still miss Salt of the Earth -- that was a wonderful store.

February 25, 2010 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger sisters in black frocks said...

it is a great bookstore, but since im a los angeleno booksoup is my alltime fave!

March 13, 2010 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger These are my adventures. said...

Sorry for my belated comment. I just moved to San Fran from Denver, and I was so excited to see you mentioned City Lights and Tattered Cover, two of the greatest bookstores ever! Oh, how I miss the Tattered Cover...

March 23, 2010 at 1:09 PM  

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