City Lights Booksellers, San Francisco

4.6
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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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
1,004 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • Having watched ‘You’ on Netflix I didn’t think book shops like that really existed. Only corporate ones and online booksellers. I was pleasantly surprised to find City Lights had all the charm of the....  more »
  • Legendary... what else can be said about the most amazing bookstore in the US (powell in portland.. salute) and one of the most historic on the planet. The Beatniks made it their home as of 1953...  more »
  • Walk the portals and the stairway of City Lights Booksellers and feel yourself being escorted by some very great ghosts or friendly whispers from those perhaps cut short before fame and fortune could....  more »
Google
  • 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.
  • This is just an incredible place. The history running through it is almost unbelievable and the space reminds you of that while not feeling at all dated or dingy. In fact it's almost too neat and organized considering it's origins but there's just enough grit, posters and protest pamphlets and memorabilia dating back to the 60s to keep it totally authentic while being such a functional modern store at the same time. Awesome, broad selection of books, both beat classics and contemporary alternative/progressive works. Prices are maybe a tad high but come on, you know they have to charge that to pay the sky-rocketing rents and keep this institution going, it's worth every penny for the ambiance and historical significance. Will definitely drop by any time I can get to SF.
  • Next to Powell's bookstore in Portland Oregon, City Lights Booksellers & Publishers is the best. So many books, and who knew people still read. It's a thing. Very artsy store and patrons. Clean and organized. Whole floor dedicated to poems. This is a must visit place if you like books, knowledge or curious why people read.
  • Mecca for poetry lovers and beat era writers. It was celebrating their 71st birthday that day. Lawrence Ferlinghetti wasn't there yet. Warning: not terribly ADA friendly but entirely worth the risk.
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