City Lights Booksellers, San Francisco

#3 of 65 in Shopping in San Francisco
Gift & Specialty Shop · Historic Site
City Lights Booksellers, a funky bookstore founded by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, serves as a literary meeting place in San Francisco. Stop in and have a look around this independent bookstore/publishing house established in 1953 and famous for the obscenity trial it faced after releasing Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" in 1956. Located between North Beach and Chinatown, this bookstore became a historic landmark in 2001. You can also shop the unique book collection here, which focuses on world literature, arts, and politics. With our online itinerary creator, San Francisco attractions like City Lights Booksellers can be center stage of your vacation plans, and you can find out about other attractions like it, unlike it, near it, and miles away.
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City Lights Booksellers reviews

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1,017 reviews
  • Such a charming bookstore with an amazing history. They published and supported a lot of my favorite poets, and they are still supporting wonderful literature today. So happy I got to visit.  more »
  • This bookstore is indeed historic and worth a visit, especially if you love books. And make a purchase to keep it going. Famous for the Beatnik and Beats era, but also just a community institution.....  more »
  • Always a delight. So many incredible books. I love coming in here and browsing. Inevitably, I snap up one or two titles. My favorite section is the American Indian section. There are always lots of titles dedicated not only to history, but to current affairs and politics of ongoing settler colonialism which challenge us to re-examine our legitimacy as occupants of this land. They also have many great titles on labor and on SF history and travel which I love. Upstairs is the poetry room dedicated to the beats, mostly men of course. Among them you may find a woman or two whose talent and depth exceeds all the men. I enjoy the poetry room because it is the quietest, most secluded part of the store. There is a table and chair which invites you to sit and read some verses or write a couple yourself. The room overlooks an alley and neighboring rooftop which one could use to simulate the idea that they were writing in their kitchen in a cramped North Beach apartment. Cheaper than renting your own!
  • Great bookshop! Green Apple has a healthy mix and selection of both used and new books. The tables out front are definitely worth a look! I spend quite a while rifling through them & emerged with too many gems for cheap.

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