I Made it to City Lights Bookstore..Fun!

Sadly this is not my photo but a stock photo. The sun was too bright, the traffic both pedestrian and street was busy and too many reflections in the window.

Whenever I visit my sister in the San Francisco area I always drag her to City Lights Bookstore in downtown San Francisco.  It is one of the most wonderful bookstores I have ever been in. It is very hard not to buy everything on every shelf.  I did very well. I took a photo of a couple of books on the shelves to see if our local library at home has them. I know,  I know.  I was very discreet. I remember being in a bookshop in Ireland and took three pictures in order to feature the shop on my blog and the store owner gave me a scathing lecture, dripping with sarcasm. When I bought a journal from him and something else, I forget what it was,  he threw my change at me.  Needless to say I did not feature him or his shop in my blog as I don’t like to be negative here.  I often wonder if after two years how he is doing.

Anyway- I digress.  We spent an hour in the bookstore and then wandered back to a yummy looking cafe that had lots of Udon noodle dishes. It wasn’t busy when we first saw it on the way to the bookstore but upon returning the queue went out the door. We couldn’t wait as we only had a two hour meter.

Front window

My sister, who is a military veteran suggested we go over to the veterans medical centre and eat in their cafeteria.  It is built on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and sets high above it with magnificent ocean views out the glassed wall.  We had a very good lunch of chicken, mashed potatoes, hot gravy and vegetables plus a bottle of water for $6.00 each and enjoyed the beautiful views for free. After lunch we walked along the trail from the back of the ocean and around a very large golf course back to the street where our car was parked.  A wonderful day in 80 degree temperatures with a slight breeze.

After our day out we only had energy to eat chocolate chip cookies on the drive home. A good way to deal with heavy traffic.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy sharing them with you.



Before you enter the store  you must walk down the alleyway alongside the store to see the literary insets in the cement and the murals on the wall. I liked this mural. It represents the many authors who have been jailed in other countries for their written word.


There is a bar next door and this is the mural near their entrance.  A good place to go and have a cold drink.


Two of the literary tiles on the path down the alley.


Then we went into the store and stood in awe at the wonderful selection and the variety of authors. There is the main floor, plus a basement and an upstairs.


First stop was the shelves of periodicals and magazines.  I loved this periodical full of short stories, poetry and essays as well as some illustrations. It was big and I took note of it to see if our State Library has access to it.


I am sure our State Library has this so I will check it out if it does. I have heard of it but never read it. It’s a long ways from Tasmania.


These were the four magazines I did buy. They will slip into my carry on bag easily and should provide entertainment for the 24 hour journey home on Monday night.


I noticed this Australian book by its title right away. I will definitely see if our library has this. It sounds like a great Aussie read.


I was fascinated by this series of ‘Noir’ books.  I had never heard of them and don’t they look great, all together on the shelf. I would love to read these.  Have you read any of them?


When I went down the stairs I saw this door that leads to another place.  I am glad it is spelled out to those of us who arrive from far away places and still get a bit jet lagged.


I only include this book for a friend at home who I know adores squirrels, or “squiwwels” as Australians pronounce it. It is a long running private joke and you know who you are!!! The rest of you may  move on.

By the way, not having heard of John and Pamela, they were a couple of British playwrights who had an off and on love affair for 40 years and this is their tale.  It did look quite interesting but far too heavy and expensive to spend money on (at this time). Library??


This is the area around the Veteran’s Hospital where we walked after lunch. A very lovely area. Beautiful day out.

I hope you enjoyed our day.   If you are ever in San Francisco be sure to go to this wonderful bookstore.


16 thoughts on “I Made it to City Lights Bookstore..Fun!

  1. Sometimes I browse books very deeply thinking will I, won’t I, will I, won’t I – and if I walk out not buying (as I did at the Fidler lecture last week) it’s because I’ve decided I really just can’t buy another book I probably won’t find time to read. It’s never occurred to me that this behaviour might be viewed suspiciously. What a shame, though I understand it.

    It’s a point of honour with me that if I see something in a shop and/or try it on and/or try it out, and I decide I want it, I will buy it there. I do quite a bit of shopping online – shoes, clothes, books (though mostly the latter it’s only eBooks these days). But if a shop has a shoe, for example, in my size and I can try it on, I will buy it there. The other day, the shop didn’t have my size – or even my style – but after trying on that brand in my size, I ordered it from them because they’d put the effort in.

    Anyhow, I enjoyed this post. I haven’t been to City Lights. I’ve been to SF a couple of times in the 80s and 90s but have never spend “real” time there. One day.

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    1. I might write down name of book or take a quick pic of it but only if I am going to check the library. If I am to buy it I will do so at the store at the time. I don’t buy much fiction anymore because it is expensive, I read it in a coiple of days usually and then it gets put on the shelf. I tend to buy books that are keepers such as abeautiful classic, non fiction or reference in something I’m interested in.

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  2. I would so like to visit a book store with you, such as this you pictured. I have fallen into ordering from Amazon much to my chagrin, as so many of my favorite bookstores have closed. It is actually hard to find one in my town, I suspect I’d have to visit Chicago to fare better. At any rate, it was an enjoyable vicarious trip with you here.

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  3. it’s a great bookstore, especially if one prefers avant garde, noir, or out of the way titles… i used to go there occasionally and also to the Purple Onion across the street… which probably isn’t there anymore…. great pictures: they bring back memories… i trust senor Penguin found it diverting…

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  4. I remember that man in Ireland but can’t remember what small town we were in. We spent quite awhile in that shop and I wasn’t aware that he was angry until it was time to exit the store. The aura in that store was odd. I didn’t buy anything because his prices were high and I didn’t see anything I couldn’t do without. I’d say he’s probably no longer in business.


  5. Fascinating:)
    But I’m intrigued, why was the Irish bookseller so angry? Any time I’ve taken photos in a bookshop they’ve been pleased that I’m excited about their store. Did his rant explain his anger?


    1. Yes Lisa, he was stating that people came in and took pictures of books and then bought them in other places like Amazon looking for cheaper prices. But he stormed off before I could tell him why I was doing it. He only came back out again to take the money for the blank journal I bought. I’m sure he had other issues he was dealing with. Angry people usually do have more issues. My friend and I just shook our heads and left.


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